Category Archives: coffee

OnRoundhay Festival Preview, by Lucy Reynolds 

I am currently counting down the days to the OnRoundhay Festival on Saturday 17th September and I’m happy that it’s less than a month away now. Aside from the awesome combo of bands like Wolf Alice, Primal Scream and the mighty James, I am equally excited (OK, it’s food…I’m a lot more excited) about the John Lewis Food Village, which appears to offer a little bit of just about everything to the hungry festival goer. Leeds Indie Food are offering an embarrassment of riches, with Loiner legends Manjit’s Kitchen and Laynes Espresso, alongside a personal favourite of mine, The Madeleine Express, which is basically Noisette Bakehouse on wheels. If you haven’t tried one of Sarah’s cakes, you haven’t lived. The sea salt chocolate brownie is so delectable, you’d sell your granny to get another!

img_2276
Manjit’s Kitchen
img_2284
Laynes Espresso
img_2279
Madeleine Express

I’m not one to just stay with my tried and tested favourites though. After a lot of dancing and prancing to music, I will definitely be trying dishes from Clawhide, Bánh mì Booth, Yakumama and Piggie Smalls. It also appears to be the year of the ‘shack’ with The Mac Shac, Crabbieshack and Longhorn’s BBQ shack serving up tasty treats…I hope I actually have time to catch the music. There are even more food stalls to choose from…I’ll just have to fast for a week I suppose and then blog about my gluttony after, giving all my gastronomic choices the obligatory shout out. Phew, I feel stuffed already. 

img_2289
Claw hide
img_2291
Bánh mì Booth
img_2267
Yakumama’s tacos

And to top that, we have just had the exciting announcement that Olia Hercules, of Mamushka fame, is going to be part of the Chef line up, joining fellow gastronauts like Murray Wilson of Horto, Greg Lewis of Pintura and Simon Jewitt of Norse, along with other accomplished chefs from far and wide. So much to see and only one day – I’ll make sure to wear my running shoes to get around everything I want to see.

The OnRoundhay Festival marks the long awaited opening of the Leeds’ branch of John Lewis and I, for one, cannot wait! Just another jewel in Leeds’ crown – make this honorary Northerner a bit dewy eyed. Who needs London when you’ve got Leeds? 

http://www.onroundhayfestival.com

All photos courtesy of I Like Press


 

Advertisements

Chicago

Ok, so why visit Chicago?? It’s probably not the first place that springs to mind when picking a North American holiday, but as we found out it’s got lots going for it. Before the trip my knowledge of the city came from stuff like the Chicago marathon, their love of deep dish pizza, Edward Hopper’s painting ‘Nighthawks’, being called the Windy City and watching The Good Wife. Fairly standard stuff, apart from that I was a bit clueless. 

Here’s some great things about the city:

It’s so flat!!

Chicago’s dead easy to get around on foot, but if walking big distances aren’t your thing or you want to venture further afield, the L (elevated train system) is cheap and straightforward to use. On our walkabouts we found Chicagoans so likeable and friendly, the city was far less crowded than New York and I’d say a lot more relaxed too.

Make the most of FREE stuff!!

One of the best things was the amount of free stuff to enjoy, including:

Millenium Park 

A public park slap bang in the Loop where you’ll find Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavillion and the Crown Fountain. Definitely a tourist magnet, Cloud Gate’s seen from North Michigan Avenue and is a landmark that just lures people in.

img_8921-2

img_8902-2

img_8900-2

img_8898-2

img_8944-2

Free views anyone?!

As much as I wanted to experience the Sky Deck in the Willis Tower, I didn’t like price tag, especially when I found out a well known ‘secret’ spot with a fantastic view for free in the John Hancock Centre. Venturing up to the Signature Room on the 95th floor rewarded us with a great view for nowt, in our case we nipped into the ladies toilets where the photo was taken, as the restaurant wasn’t open yet. 

img_7837

We got another free view at Cindy’s in the Chicago Athletic Association, this cool bar has a terrace overlooking Millennium park and cracking cocktails to go with it!

img_8906-3

img_7129-2

img_8940-4

Chicago Cultural Centre

We loved its Tiffany-stained glass domes, marble lobbies and mother of pearl mosaics. 

img_7616-1

img_8036

img_8035-3

Lincoln Park Zoo 

Easy to get to, lots of different animals (200+ species) to see and free to boot; what’s not to like?! We spent a couple of hours there easy!

img_8971-2

img_8972-2

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Centrally located, just off Millennium Park and the Chicago Institute of Art. It was one of our lasts stops before our plane back to the UK and I’m glad we managed to fit it in as this small but perfectly formed museum likes to show contemporary work from new national and international photographers.  

Public art 

The city has so much free art on display, some donated by world famous artists, such as Picasso, Miro, Chagall and Henry Moore. We saw many wandering around the city, whilst many were in the city’s municipal buildings. 

img_8994-2

img_8989-2

img_8995-2

Garfield Park Conservatory 

Easily reached with a trip on the L, this is one of the largest conservatories in the country and was well worth a trip out. There’s a beautiful palm house, fern room, dessert house and tonnes more. If you LOVE succulents, cacti, ferns and palms you will absolutely LOVE this place!

img_9021-2

img_7861-1

img_7851-1

img_7850-1

National Museum of Mexican Art

Another highlight reached by a trip out of town on the L, this museum’s located in the Pilsen neighbourhood. The area itself has lots of character with street art and this gem of a museum, full of thought provoking and beautiful pieces. I wished we’d been able to spend more time to really explore Pilsen, in particular see the colourful murals and try out some of amazing Mexican food we kept smelling. 

img_7889-1

img_7898-1

Explore the outer neighbourhoods

I kept reading about Chicago’s hipster suburbs and in hindsight we should’ve done more of it. The 606 is a useful stretch to consider – an elevated park trail linking four neighbourhoods together (Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown). A couple of hours spent in Wicker Park before our flight home were definitely well spent, soaking in a bit of suburban culture and a tasty Furious Spoon ramen feed en route.

img_8065-1

img_8112-1

img_8079

Chicago by night

Many of the buildings become illuminated and bring the city’s skyline to life at night. 

img_8908-2

img_8909-2

img_8907-2

img_8950-2

Obviously not everything’s free (shame), here’s some of our favourites:

Chicago Institute of Art 

A place I could’ve stayed all day – their collection of American Art, Impressionist and Post Impressionist pieces were plenty to satisfy my artistic needs. One high point was seeing Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, I was like an excited child when I spotted it from afar! 

img_9004-2

img_9002-2

Architecture boat tour

This was one of the best things we did – learning about the history of the city, the architects and their buildings that shaped the area after the Great Chicago Fire from interesting and knowledgeable guides. I can’t recommend doing this more, 75 minutes well spent!!

img_8985-2

img_8974-2

img_8984-2

img_8981-2

Great food scene

Maybe it doesn’t possess the reputation of other cities, such as New York and San Francisco, but Chicago has plenty going on. With lots of fantastic independent restaurants and bars, the city has a great food and drink scene to brag about, it’s not all deep dish pizzas and hotdogs either! 

Some of our food highlights included:

Minghin Cuisine – this all day dim sum joint was our first port of call after landing in the city. With lots of dim sum classics and roasted meats to choose from, I was completely in my element and ordered far too much (no surprise there!), and ended up being so full I couldn’t manage any more food until the following day!

img_7120-1

img_7176-1

img_7171-1

img_7166-1

img_7175-1

img_7178-1

img_7164-1

img_7173-1

img_7170-1

img_7180-1

Korean at Crisp was a great lunch stop – quick service, inexpensive menu choices (korean burritos, bibimbap, sandwiches, fried chicken etc) and really tasty food. My Seoul steak bowl of bulgogi beef and rice, paired with two awesome sauces was particularly good, inparticular their mayo based ‘atomic sauce’ and ‘smoky spicy BBQ,’ a spicy gochujang sauce.

img_7502-1

img_7505-1

Japanese at Momotaro was booked weeks in advance after reading fab reviews. The restaurant, located in popular Fulton Market District had an interesting cocktail list and mixologists who definitely knew their stuff. Waiting staff were helpful, which was much needed as the menu covers a lot of bases, so even for those knowledgeable with Japanese cuisine it may take of bit of deciphering. For me the hot dishes stood out more compared to the sushi, but on the whole we enjoyed the experience.

img_7593

img_7603

img_7604

img_7607

The Publican in Fulton Market District is one of the city’s current hotspots (along with Momotaro), it’s basically a large beer hall serving great food and lots of it! Expect a menu heavily laden with seafood and pork dishes, brought to diners sitting at long communal tables stretching across the hall from end to end.

img_8010

img_8021

img_8025

img_8023

Tanta, this Peruvian restaurant really showed off the art of fusion food, with a concoction of European and Asian influences their menu makes a point of the cuisine’s diversity. I really liked the helpful serving staff, great cocktails; the Pisco Sour is recommended, great plates ideal for sharing and a lively atmosphere. We really loved the anticuchos skewers with New York strip, potatoes, corn and huacatay and the chafe aeropuerto, a side dish  of pork fried rice in a hot bowl, topped with a shrimp tortilla and a huge smack of spicy garlic in there for good measure. Enough to get scare off vampires! 

img_8195

img_8197\img_8201

Frontera Grill (N. Clark Street) was our Saturday brunch spot. A popular haunt with locals and tourists alike, it soon became full after we arrived and I’m not surprised – great brunch cocktails, lots of choice on the menu, really friendly staff and tasty food.

img_8287

img_8249

img_8255

img_8258

Coffee 

Chicago has great specialty coffee shops committed to serving direct trade coffee, we visited a few whilst we were there including Bowtruss, Intelligentsia and Asado. These three are definitely worth popping into with skilful baristas and great coffee!

img_7635

img_7271

img_8219

img_7613-1

img_7276-1

Doughnuts

I had no idea Chicago had a thing for doughnuts, but the city has shops aplenty with a huge variety for anyone with a sweet tooth to try! We saw many people going in for breakfast, one with a coffee seemed the done thing, from a long list we tried Firecakes, Do-Rite and Glazed and Infused, our favourite was definitely Firecakes. Personally I  found many just too big and too sweet (emphasising my lack of a sweet tooth), however saying that I still wish we’d managed to try The Doughnut Vault and Bombobar also.

img_7619-2

img_7630-2

img_7840-1

img_7841

img_8062-1

img_8059-1

Have you been to Chicago, what did you make of it?

Is there anything we should’ve done that we didn’t?! 

Lantana Cafe, Shoreditch

I’ve openly declared my love of brunch plenty of times here, in particular the boozy variety, but where did it all start….well a trip to Dublin where friends introduced us to the past-time at one of their favourite haunts Dillinger’s started the love affair and the rest is history. A couple of weekends ago we had a long overdue catch up but without crossing the Irish Sea, as they now live in London which is great for us! Being within easy driving distance we arrived at their flat in the Hoxton area of the city and deliberately hadn’t eaten all morning in readiness for late Saturday brunch and an ensuing all day session. A spot of research pointed me in the direction of Lantana Cafe on City Road and we arrived during what seemed peak time – just before 12pm, joining the back of a queue 5/6 deep.

After waiting around 10/15 minutes a member of staff looked at the queue and proceeded talking to the front half taking note of party numbers, whilst ignoring the rest of us! Pretty poor form, the issue was they hadn’t got an overall view of numbers they could’ve seated customers much more effectively with the tables they had remaining. Unfortunately they didn’t, so when it was our turn to be seated next, staff hadn’t accounted for our party of five and the next available tables only accommodated couples or a group of four. Basically meaning people who’d literally just walked in got seated straight away, we’d been waiting at least 25/30 minutes by then. All that without any form of apology whatsoever, we’d hoped for a better start. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand how it can be when a place is busy and staff are trying their best to please everyone. I’ve worked in restaurants and been in the same situation, but the basics should be paramount.

After one further wait we sat down, we quickly perused the food menu and briskly got our drinks order while we had the attention from a staff member – all zoning in on cocktails. The waitress asked if we’d wanted any coffees, we and simply replied ‘oh no, cocktails please!!’ A few Bloody Mary’s, an Aperol Spritz and mimosa ordered, it took a little while to get them so in the meantime we nabbed a staff member to take our food order. Aperol Spritz and mimosa are hard to get wrong and as it turned out were thirst quenchingly refreshing, however the Bloody Mary’s were very much on the tame side, lacked kick and were due a couple of twists of cracked black pepper, tabasco and some celery salt.

img_5995

The food looked great, but it didn’t arrive at the same time, with one of us having a sizeable wait (actually the whole table, because we didn’t want to be rude and start eating) and once again no apology when it was brought over.

Service aside, my breakfast burger was just what I needed with a really tasty meaty/herby sausage patty, crisp streaky bacon, a perfect fried egg with compulsory runny yolk, avocado and a little kick from a chilli ketchup. Supposedly there was some smoked cheese in the mix – the cheese element was definitely apparent, the smokiness not so much, whether it actually needed it was another question. On paper it sounded a lot, but in reality it wasn’t too large, I didn’t feel overfaced and if I’m honest was a bit relieved, especially knowing full well how all day sessions with these lot pan out.

img_6011

There was a similar feeling about the food across the table – we couldn’t grumble on portion size, the food cooked well, was tasty and did what a good brunch does and set us up nicely for the day ahead. There was spicy chorizo, runny poached eggs, silky scrambled eggs, salty crispy bacon and charred halloumi there to please. It was the niggles with service that made our experience really frustrating, and it was a shame because for me, having great service is so important! Apart from the initial wait, trying time after time to get the attention of waiting staff, and it wasn’t if we weren’t making it plainly obvious, while staff wandered past us countless times, without even an acknowledgment to the point where we just gave up. 

img_6008
Corn fritters stacked with streaky bacon, fresh spinach, roast tomatoes, smashed avocado, lemon crème fraiche with extra chorizo and halloumi cheese
img_5999
Poached eggs and pork and leek sausages on toast
img_6002
The Full Lantana – poached eggs with fried potato bread, bacon, roasted mushrooms, house baked beans and extra black pudding

img_6009
Scrambled eggs with streaky bacon on toast

Overall the food at Lantana was great, the Bloody Mary and their service needs work. 

Lantana Cafe

Unit 2

1 Oliver’s Yard

55 City Rd

London

EC1Y 1HQ

Ox Club @ Headrow House, Leeds

The Leeds food scene continues to grow from strength to strength, and one which has stood out from the crowd of this new breed is Ox Club. Anyone who loves food, who’s been in Leeds over the last year will probably have eaten something from Belgrave Music Hall conjured up by Ben Davy, the mastermind behind Dough Boys, Patty Smiths and British Street Food Award winners Fu-Schnikens. Ox Club’s hangar steak had already become a hit after a few flirtations at Belgrave, however it was their highly anticipated opening in Headrow House, even though delayed which became a bonus early Christmas present for Leeds folk. Its launch had the desired effect with a steady stream of yummy photos filling my Instagram feed, doing the inevitable and making me very eager to get my chops around some Ox Club fare! 

With dismay I thought it may be months until I’d be back in the north, but the food gods looked favourably upon me with a mates’ birthday dinner. Reading the news literally made me whoop with utter joy, so I decided to try brunch too – nothing wrong with a double whammy, eh?!

img_5643

Having seen the space in its early building site days and as Big Lil’s, its previous guise, the place is completely transformed with an understated dining space – bare wood, concrete floors and white painted brick walls. An open kitchen is adorned with the beast of a Grillworks Grill, providing the fire power to bring out the best in local produce showcased in the menu. Their thoughtful menus salute inspiration from a range of food cultures, in particular from a trip in North American with influences subtly reflected.

IMG_5677

Let’s start with brunch first – as per usual drinks to whet the appetite were of major importance with a Bloody Mary, Ox Club have a pimped up version with a simply genius move of using their very own steak infused vodka…yes you read right – S.T.E.A.K I.N.F.U.S.E.D V.O.D.K.A! So not only is there a balancing act from a smack of Tabasco heat, tomato sourness etc….there’s also steak meatiness! At the time this was the only brunch cocktail on the books, much to my disappointment, so I stuck to a trusty North Star coffee. 

Service is relaxed and easy going, all in a good way as people don’t take themselves too seriously here, but still give a helping hand with the menu if required. Expect food that’s something a little different from the norm – where boundaries are pushed as far as mainstream breakfast or brunch goes. There were three of us, but four dishes ordered – why? Well, I’m basically a greedy little bugger and didn’t want to settle on one, ordering a conservative two.

For all establishments serving breakfast/brunch it’s hard to get away from having a version of the full English on the roster. However, similarly to their evolution of Bloody Mary they have their own take which includes pork belly, German sausage and home fries. With extra bacon added on the side the other half was suitably well fed to tackle the rest of the day. In fact, the pork belly was so good they should put that on the sides menu, because I’d be all over it!

Ox Club breakfast

Kimchi chicken was my first port of call – the amalgamation of a multitude of tastes and textures playing around in my mouth was a joy! Crispy chicken, sourness and heat of fermented kimchi, balanced by the nutty wild rice and the addition of a fried egg with runny yolk makes it a winning dish!

img_5688
Kimchi chicken

Cassoulet was my second choice – a comforting dish with some tasty elements; in particular the sausages and Guinea fowl. However it lacked a little something, mainly because the flageolet beans were a touch under seasoned.

img_5690
Cassoulet

Their evening menu follows the small plates trend with dishes like hangar steak, ox cheek and razor clams, as well as plenty to tempt vegetable lovers. Notably a roasted cauliflower plate that’s quickly gained cult status and been at the forefront of diners memories!

Highlights off the menu were many, my favourite picks – chicken schmaltz, not on the menu as such but it was an opening gambit I’d be happy to start a meal with any day! Some restaurants may offer olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, not here – this nectar from the food gods was basically like chicken dripping, or in my mind roast chicken in liquid form. 

img_5744
Chicken schmaltz

The burrata was another favourite, something so simple giving maximum pleasure – beautifully creamy and smokey, treated simply with fennel, lemon and black pepper was a treat!

img_5754
Smoked burrata
img_5745
Nocellara olives on ice, orange and bay
img_5749
Ham hock rillettes, pickles and sour rye

Melt in the mouth Ox cheek that’d been cooked until its meaty gelatinous texture lovingly gave up in my mouth, bringing along with it deep flavours – sublime! Hangar steak beautifully cooked, a little more salsa verde with its umami herbiness would’ve made it even more awesome. It came with cracking chips too, with smoked sea salt and Bloody Mary ketchup – they’ve really thought of everything! 

Ox cheek 
img_5762
Hangar steak with salsa verde and watercress

Roasted cauliflower – this supposed ‘side dish’ has been winning the hearts of everyone and I’m not surprised. I’ve tried this veg roasted a few times, not always successfully. When done well it’s incredible and full of flavour, the innate taste of the vegetable changes and it’s brilliant at taking on more intense flavours. With a piquant romesco sauce and flaked almonds it’s a must order dish, even if your not a fan of the veg, this dish could win you over.

img_5766
Roasted cauliflower, romesco sauce, almonds and sherry vinegar
Coal roasted beetroot, goat’s curd, muscovado walnuts and chervil

Dessert-wise the lemon tart was always my first choice, I’m not the greatest dessert lover usually, but I can be tempted by something citrusy and this is one of my favourites, so much so it was our wedding dessert. As this only needs a few ingredients a lot can go wrong, so a pastry that’s short and crumbly is compulsory, filled with a silky creamy lemon filling, possessing a sharp enough hit of lemon just enough so you don’t wince. Ox Club’s was right up there and top notch. 

img_5786
Lemon tart with meringues and cream

It was only a matter of time before food maestro Ben Davy and his pals would open up a fully fledged establishment, with grown up plates of food which don’t cost the earth – Leeds is a very lucky place to have them! 

Ox Club

Headrow House

Bramleys Yard

The Headrow

Leeds

LS1 6PU

Sheaf St. Cafeteria, Leeds

Living down south means missing out on new openings and playing catch-up on visits back, this was the case with Sheaf St. Cafeteria and their collaboration with Laynes Espresso. Opened in early August and located in a much neglected part of the city centre, the Victorian building where Duke Studios now resides has been rejuvenated into an uber-cool space ideal for work and play, whatever takes your fancy.

If you’ve been to Belgrave Music Hall for Layne’s Sunday Brunch, you’ll probably be familiar with the veggie menu, including avocado on toast, shakshuka, pancakes and braised beans. Of course, where there’s Laynes expect first-rate coffee, here they’ve diverted from their regular roasters Square Mile to using coffee from Workshop instead.

It’s common for the humble egg to be a breakfast/brunch favourite, never more so in our household where it’s a definite staple and I love them cooked in any form! Since starting their Sunday brunch service, Laynes’ shakshuka has been a popular choice on the menu, hardly surprising to see it here then. Baked egg dishes are yummy because they’re so comforting, eggs work perfectly with other tastes and flavours – the warming background of spice and chilli heat, oozy eggs enveloped in an aromatic pepper/tomato sauce, all mopped up with a chunk of buttered sourdough – you can’t go wrong!! It’s also for satisfying both veggie or carnivore, add a little Merguez or chorizo or now a think about it a hit of Nduja in there and jobs a good ‘un!

This version had lots going for it – a gloriously runny yolk, lots of peppers and red onion still with a touch of bite in a thick tomato sauce. If I’m picky I’d say it could’ve done with more spice and chilli heat, but that’s totally my preference. My day still started off pretty well nevertheless!  

Sheaf St. Cafeteria

Duke Studios
3 Sheaf St
Leeds