Category Archives: Christmas

My 2014 Favourites!

The time of year has come where we make lists of our favourite things, for me as a so-called food blogger, it’s time for me to look back at some of the memorable eating experiences I’ve had. So with that in mind I’ve scoured the last year and picked out my favourites.

These aren’t in any particular order by the way:

1. The Man Behind The Curtain – whether Leeds’ food and drink scene is heading towards a Michelin star is debatable, the execution of the food and the service here are second to none and deserves to have praise heaped on it. The food is innovative, aesthetically beautiful and exquisite to boot.

Part of the degustation menu

2. NOM Deli: one of the things I enjoy about food blogging is meeting people. I’m not the most out-going person, but this has brought me out of my shell more, and talking to like-minded individuals who base their work around the love of food is very inspiring. So when meeting the team from NOM Deli that’s what happened, they love the food from their native homeland and are serving their take on Banh Mi, bun and pho in Leeds city centre. I remember vividly trying the Banh Mi at Kirkstall Deli Market and being completely blown away by it! I’m definitely hoping to visit them again, to try out their Friday evening menu in the new year! Fancy reading about my experience at NOM, click here.

Banh Mi with BBQ pork

3. Stuzzi – this is another one of those wonderful combinations of brilliant food produced by the most passionate of people! I know I’ve recently written about this team, but what the hell because I adore their Italian food and their infectious love for their cuisine! Both of my Stuzzi experiences at the Belgrave Music Hall residency and at their new home in Harrogate have been memorable. To read about my Stuzzi encounters click here.

Stuzzichini sharing box

4. Tartine Bakery, San Francisco – this summer I spent seven days exploring the city to the fullest. If I was to choose one from the many amazing eats we had on that trip, for me it would have to be the afternoon we spent in the Mission District, firstly joining the back of an already long queue that hugged the building, then admiring and drooling over their beautiful bakes from afar. Having eyes on stalks to grab a table as soon as one came free then slowly devouring the prettiest tarts ever!!! The fresh fruit tart and lemon cream tart were both an absolute delight – so light and dreamy. A absolute must visit!! To read my experience of patisserie heaven in San Francisco, click here.

Lemon cream tart

5. The Reliance – this isn’t necessarily based on one of my most recent reviews, our annual Christmas lunch, but also from eating here many times over the years. It’s a firm favourite in my eyes delivering on many levels and all important ones for me; great food served at reasonable prices, lovely staff all found in a relaxed space. Our Christmas lunch a few weeks ago just reaffirmed this for me! To read about my last couple of visits click here.

Meatball sandwich
Meatball sandwich
Confit duck
Confit duck

6. Le Langhe – this Italian restaurant in York won me over with it’s perfect pasta, so much so that we ordered seconds! Simplicity in its ingredients, yielding tasty results, I could eat a bowl of that silky pasta all over again as I type, it was so good!! Click here to have a read of my visit.

Game ragu

7. Belgrave Feast – Oh I’ve eaten, and I’ve eaten well over the last year, enjoying amazing street food at Belgrave’s monthly feast!! I’ve gone on ALOT about the Belgrave in 2014 making it a difficult one to whittle down, so I thought which would I always go to time after time, without question I would have to pick out Arepa!Arepa!Arepaand Fu-Schnikens!! Both are extremely comforting, more-ish and damn tasty! 

SobreBarriga Arepa
Gua Bao with sticky ox cheek

Where have you had some memorable meals and why?

The Reliance Christmas lunch

A couple of weeks ago I posted about our annual tradition amongst our Leeds friends, to celebrate the festive period with a Christmas meal somewhere in the city. The Reliance was our venue of choice, coming out top in a great list of independents.

With a reputation of producing well-cooked food, served in simple and unfussy surroundings, it’s all about the quality of the food and also the service here! It’s no secret that I love the place, it’s been a venue we’ve frequented on and off for over a decade, so I couldn’t think of a better place to enjoy this annual event with our friends!

With a 1pm table booked and three courses coming our way, the other half and I arrived a little early to see a few of our old friends already there. The staff had reserved the private dining room for us, which I was so happy about! It looked lovely with sprigs of holly decorating the table, and customary Christmas crackers just waiting to be pulled. It was probably a stroke of genius unbeknownst to them that we ate in a separate room, as being a decent sized group with lots of boisterous individuals, there tends to be lots of loud laughter, chatter, stories and merriment during these get-togethers.


Being the organiser of our annual gathering, I’ve always found it a tad stressful as the big things usually come down to me, even down to remembering what people have ordered! Our Christmas lunch started off with one of us being mightily late, still at the bus stop when I spoke to them, with my stress levels increasing thankfully the staff were lovely and accommodating as ever. The rest of us sat down to start eating as the last member of our group hadn’t ordered a starter, and the kitchen could hold back the main courses until they arrived. 

I was brought beetroot & gin cured salmon with horseradish cream, others the sweet potato and parmesan soup or a ham hock terrine. I can only speak for my salmon and it looked pretty as a picture on the plate. Perfectly cured, silky and delicious, with a horseradish cream being the ideal companion for the fish. Extra bread was brought out, the wine flowed and positive comments flew around the room, which I can only take as an indication of the success of the meal so far. 

Starters – Beetroot & gin cured salmon, sweet potato and parmesan soup

The staff were completely wonderful again, this time letting us have a little breather before the second course, allowing our friend to arrive in time for the mains. Of the five choices from the menu; confit duck and beef featherblade bourguignon were the most popular, whereas I loved the sound of the wellington. It’s not something you really see that often, I haven’t eaten one since our wedding six years ago, a beef wellington that day; this time it was filled with wild mushrooms and spinach. 

When brought to the table it looked like a pasty, no problem as I love them! Being a massive savoury fan pastry is something I have a huge affinity for, this was golden, crisp and buttery – right up my street. Generously filled and deliciously satisfying with woody mushrooms and spinach. For me the sign of a great vegetarian dish is when I don’t miss the meat, here I didn’t miss it at all!! Plenty of potatoes and kale were available for sharing and they brought extra chips, which we hadn’t even ordered. All plates were thoroughly polished off and there were no complaints from anyone! 

Wild mshroom and spinach wellington
Wild mushroom and spinach wellington
Confit duck
Confit duck
Beef featherblade bourguinon
Beef featherblade bourguignon
Sides - garlic & rosemary roast nre potatoes, greens
Sides – garlic & rosemary roast new potatoes, greens


So with the meal in full swing – cards opened, crackers had been pulled, hats were worn and bad jokes were told, our final course came soon after. All four dessert choices had been picked, I’d gone for poached pears wanting something light. Poached till soft, they needed just the smallest amount of effort to cut through them, and had taken on the flavour from the mulling spices. A light cream cheese, crunch from an oaty crumble base, and some of the poaching liquor adding extra moisture completed the dish. 

Mulled poached pear
Mulled poached pear
Goats cheese & water biscuits
Goats cheese & biscuits
Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding
Chocolate & orange mousse
Chocolate & orange mousse
Lemon posset
Lemon posset (from their main menu)

Not only was the food highly enjoyable, the service was impeccable and I was so grateful for the staff’s helpfulness and flexibility!! The Reliance was definitely the best choice for our Christmas lunch this year, it was so good I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll be doing the same again in twelve months time! My best mate and I even agreed, saying ‘this was THE best Christmas meal the Leeds lot have ever had together!!’

Are you visiting one of the city’s fantastic restaurants for a Christmas meal this year, which one?

The Reliance

76-78 North Street



The Reliance on Urbanspoon

Organising Leeds Christmas lunch!

Every December, the ‘Leeds lot’ that I call our Leeds mates all gather for a celebratory Christmas meal, it’s become a bit of a tradition within our group, and is something we’ve done as long as I can remember over the last decade or so. In the early years our festive lunch with all the trimmings was spent at the West End pub in Kirkstall, mainly because we all lived within a few miles of the place, and for many of us, it was our local. 

Some Christmas lunch dishes from the past

Over that period of time many friends have gotten married, moved further afield, had children making it more of a challenge to get us all together. As yours truly organises it, it’s always been a priority as soon as September arrives to get it organised. Why so early? I’m sure you know as well as I do, how hard it can be to organise a single date or place that a large group of people can attend at the same time!

It can be quite an arduous process and I have to treat it a bit like a military operation, but it all gets done in the end, sometimes after a little gentle cajoling to kick some into action. This year I’m so excited it’s at The Reliance, it’s a place I love and have eaten there on and off since moving to Leeds. Everyone’s selected their 2/3 courses and I’m eager to start tucking into our lunch in a couple of weeks time, having a laugh whilst wearing Christmas cracker hats and telling each other bad jokes. 

Of course there are other fantastic independents which also have a Christmas menu, including Shears YardArts Cafe BarCross Keys Bird & BeastKendells Bistro and Dish.

Are you visiting one of Leeds’ many restaurants for a Christmas meal, which ones?