Category Archives: craft beer

The Cat’s Pyjamas, Leeds 

Hmmmm….Indian street food….small plates in Leeds….definitely rings a bell?! Leeds has its fair share of outstanding establishments – Bundobust and Manjit’s Kitchen automatically spring to mind, then there’s Prashad further afield in Drighlington who’ve flown the flag of great Indian food for years! So when The Cat’s Pyjamas opened in Headingley, I wondered how it would compare to these already well-loved spots, also how it would fit into the area itself. Back in the day, Headingley and Woodhouse Lane were the perfect places for a messy curry, I remember many a memorable night spent at Tariqs, Akmals or even Nafees (a late-nighter, think it’s now the Balti King?), so along with Khana Bombay Cafe is there a new breed of curry houses populating this part of Leeds?

I’d missed their launch event, but a few positive reviews and tempting food snaps on Instagram was enough to get us turning up on spec a few weeks ago. Already quite busy at 6pm, we managed to nick a table in-between bookings. One early plus was the varied gluten free menu, which kept my husband happy! Pity we were still a tad full from lunch at Lupe’s Cantina Mexicana, so instead of ordering a table full we sensibly chose a pickle tray/poppadoms, a couple of starters and a curry with rice. Of the two starters my favourite was the Keralan beef fry, an unexpected dish as the cow is considered a sacred animal in many parts of India, Kerala being an exception. Here the meat was beautifully tender and highly spiced. The Tandoori mixed grill didn’t really blow me away – the tikka prawns were juicy and gilafi seekh kebab (lamb) well flavoured, but I found the malai tikka (chicken) lacklustre, even though a mint chutney helped bring it to life I found it a bit wanting. 

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Tandoori mixed grill,  Keralan beef fry

The Kheema Matar was generously portioned up and as it was packed with minced lamb it was filling and I doubt I could’ve eaten the whole thing on my own. This highly flavoured dish came with a warming smack of heat and the addition of peas provided some sweetness to the dish.

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Kheema matar and pilau rice

Overall I liked the food, there were a lot of positives, but still a work in progress. Also considering it’s in Headingley, the place isn’t particularly cheap and I feel you get better value and tastier food elsewhere. 

The Cat’s Pyjamas

53 Otley Rd

Leeds

LS6 3AB

http://www.thecatspjs.co.uk

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Rola Wala

Rola Wala, remember them? Last year they did a stint as one of Trinity Kitchen’s monthly street food traders, selling their take on Indian street food. Since then, they’ve become a permanent food outlet in Trinity, taking up residence where Notes coffee once resided. So recently I was invited back for a visit, and even though I tend to put free invitations to one side, I thought it would be a good indie trader to revisit and see what they’ve been up to.

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Their menu still has a range of naan rolls, but also hot bowls which I don’t remember seeing last year, both coming with either non-veg or veg fillings. I went for one of the naan rolls, choosing a combo of fillings – roasted Mumbai gobi, lots of roasted veg…think sweet potato, kale, cauliflower, garlic, slices and lots more. Also the Punjabi paneer which had been nicely charred and lightly spiced. Not only very tasty, but pretty healthy too!

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Rola Wala have also teamed up with Leeds’ very own Leeds Brewery, resulting in the new Monsoon IPA and also with Square Root from London. Now considering I’m the last person to call myself an ale drinker, being far more comfortable with a glass of wine, their Monsoon IPA certainly made for a pleasing drop! The IPA helped to cut through some of the spice in the roll and was very drinkable and crisp in flavour. I reckon the two make great partners!!

The other new addition to their menu was their Real Soda, a result of their collaboration with Square Root London. Full of fresh natural ingredients and dead tasty to boot! Made with mango, turmeric and lime soda it was refreshing and you knew it was doing some good, especially as turmeric is known for its anti-oxidant qualities. Perfect on a warm, sunny day! 

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Note added- As mentioned at the top, I was invited back to Rola Wala so the food and drink was complimentary on this occasion. Freebies, I very rarely take up, but I did here, however, my opinions are what they are regardless. In fact, I’ve been back since as a paying customer.  

Leeds Indie Food Festival

You may have heard of a ‘little’ festival that’s celebrating everything food and drink related and coming to our city? Something called Leeds Indie Food Festival that’s coming thick and fast in May?!?! If you’ve been anywhere remotely near the city the last few months, surely you’re aware of this event for all food and drink lovers.

It starts on the 7th May, yes that’s just over four weeks away!! During the two and half week festival a staggering number of events have been crammed in, so much so it’s hard to filter them down to a manageable amount!! I’m gutted because there are so many that I’m not in Leeds for that would be straight on my list.

Don’t get me wrong I’d love to go to every single event, but however much I wish it just simply isn’t possible! However, if money and time were no object these would be on my must go to list:

&Totally Tutti Frutti (7-24th May), FREE

The Noonshine Cafe (7-24th May)

Gorse: A Dinner for Curious Gastronomes (7-9th & 21st – 23rd May)

Think About Food: British Seasonal Eating (9th May)

Meat School North with Cannon & Cannon: the other bits (11th May)

An Evening with the House of Fu-Schnikens (13th May)

Five Course food and wine pairing dinner at The Reliance (14th May), SOLD OUT!

Boozing and Bar Snacks, Thai style at Bang Wok (14th May)

The Wild Eat Pop-up with Olia Hercules (14-16th May)

Mama Girls Polish Milk Bar (16th May)

The Man Behind The Curtain x Laynes Espresso  (17th May)

Northern Coffee Guide Book Launch at Leeds Feast (23rd May), FREE

Leeds Feast (22nd/23rd May)

Bundobust presents: the Last Supper at Leeds Feast (23rd May), SOLD OUT!

All the information on events and tickets can be found on the Leeds Indie Food Festival website!!

That’s enough of what’s on my ultimate list, what about yours?

Bundobust!

Bundobust is OPEN! I know, it officially opened on the 11th July, but I’ve waited to say it for so long, so I’m gonna. It finally happened, with hoards of Leeds folk waiting for this moment for ages, from the looks of it on social media they were RAVENOUS!

Oh….are there some of you unaware of Bundobust? Well, I like to think of Bundobust as a meeting of minds from Prashad – locally and nationally renowned Gujarati restaurant originally from Bradford, now based in Drighlington, and The Sparrow – well known watering hole in Bradford. Serving up Indian vegetarian street food with style and drinks to match.

The team who came up with this gem are Mayur Patel (Prashad) and Mark Husak (The Sparrow), who’ve teased us with their pop-ups at different venues and events. So much so that when they planted the seed of a permanent venture in Leeds city centre, I’m certain a cry of joy could be heard across Leeds, that’s what I like to imagine happened anyway! 

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Following a couple of preview evenings a continuous stream of teasers on social media quickly ensued, and with early reviews praising both food and venue to the hilt, things looked promising and my expectations were high. By the time of the official opening, word had spread like wildfire demonstrated by a street-long queue waiting to get in!! 

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The place is very laid back – walking through the entrance you’re soon surrounded by a jigsaw puzzle of recycled doors, cushions made from sacks once containing rice and dhal, chip board, naked brick walls and also comes with a dose of quirky minimalism combined with a slice of charm.

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The place is a bit tardis-like, as from the street I didn’t expect the amount of square footage it actually has, and comes with an inspired inside/outside space.

The location could possibly be a stroke of genius; in the centre of town, but far enough from the hustle and bustle of Boar Lane. Maybe like the Northern Quarter, Bundobust’s presence, along with nearby neighbours Friends of Ham and Laynes Espresso will spark the resurgence of this end of town too!

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One thing I immediately noticed walking up to the bar is the signage, I LOVE it!!! This place sets its stall out immediately, with the phrase ‘no beef’ predominately positioned at the bar. 

They seem to have struck a harmonious chord, with the philosophy of combining craft beers and Indian street food at the heart of Bundobust. Not far off a match made in heaven, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t drink a lot of the stuff!! With this in mind they have a grand selection of handpicked beverages, chosen to pair well with Indian food such as IPA’s and Pilsners. Also great news for those with a gluten intolerance (other half included) Bundobust stock Mongozo, this means they don’t need to miss out either. 

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Being the innovators that they are the team like to experiment, on the bar was a piece of apparatus I hadn’t seen before. Marko informed me it was a Hop Randall which infuses other flavours into beer, such as pineapple and apricot. Even though I’m not the greatest beer or ale drinker by any stretch of the imagination, I may have to sample this at some point!

For those without a penchant for ale, their wine and cocktail list may tempt you, including the Bhang Lassi which I remember fondly from their Belgrave residential. Nestled amongst the choice of soft drinks is the Indian staple Mango Lassi for non-alcohol drinkers. One thing I was gutted about just because I only spotted it as I was leaving – lovely soothing and warm House Chai, having been introduced to this by a mate, I need to remember to get some next time. A fantastic addition to the drinks menu, these guys really have thought of virtually everything!

So what about the food? The food menu or ‘munch’ as they’ve named it is short and concise, 12 items at present, but it’s also well planned as it consists of items which are ideal depending on how hungry you are, whether it be a few snacks to have with their beers, or something more substantial. Marko suggested one small snack with a drink or two, e.g. the Okra fries, for something to accompany it either a samosa-based dish (Bundo Chaat and Bhel Puri) or Bhaji, and for a more filling dish the Dosa, Pethis or Idli Sambhar.

I’d been preparing myself all day for this three courses it was! First the Okra Fries (their memory still echoes from their guest residential at the Belgrave), the Bhaji and Massala Dosa, and to drink a Mango Lassi. The Lassi was perfect for what had been a reasonably warm day, sweet and thick enough to make it incredibly moreish. The addition of the fennel seed and aniseed just makes it come alive and gives it vibrancy.

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Turn over from ordering to table was pretty reasonable; good news for my rumbling belly.

The Okra Fries are a great snack, perfect for dipping into while sipping on of their specially selected beverages. They are exactly as described on the menu – crisp and spiced.

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The bhaji were pretty much perfect – accurately spiced, fried perfectly so they arrived crisp. To complement the bhaji was a tangy sauce, which didn’t play second fiddle and definitely came through nicely. Gotta love fried stuff, in moderation of course!

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I love a Massala Dosa, I remember my first at Prashad and this is a smaller version of that. With a crisp, wafer thin rice flour and lentil crepes, the perfect vehicle for the curry it accompanies. A well balanced, all rounder of a dish – lightly spiced curry, the potato and onion are evident and haven’t just disintegrated, the lentil soup brings a little oomph and the coconut chutney does what it’s supposed to and cools it down when required.

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After all the pop-ups and the hard work, everything has come to fruition and I for one am a HUGE fan. Looking at the response they’ve had it’s obvious I’m one of many!! Bundobust does pose a problem for me though, just the fact that I literally walk up Mill Hill, passed Bundobust every time I come into Leeds may prove lethal, 100% in a good way that is!!

I suppose the saying ‘good things come to those who wait’, would ring true here as the team have delivered big time. If you haven’t been yet, you should go.
The cost of my meal was £15.50. 

I’d definitely recommend Bundobust!!!

Food: Great Indian street food, perfect for sharing or for having all too yourself!!

Service: Staff are lovely and friendly, good at helping with menu choices and food waiting times were very reasonable.

Atmosphere: Good atmosphere, the place had a real buzz even when it was just half full (got there before the after work crowd arrived).

Bundobust
6 Mill Hill  
Leeds
LS1 5DQ
http://www.bundobust.com

Tamper: Sellers Wheel – The North’s Coffee Community pt IX, Sheffield

I’m back on the trail hunting out the best independent, artisan coffee purveyors for my series on The North’s Coffee Community, this time in Sheffield with Tamper: Sellers Wheel. Located on Arundel Street near Sheffield Hallam University, Sellers Wheel was opened in August 2013 by Tamper owner Jonathan Perry and Ben Smith of The Hop Box.

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The original Tamper: Westfield Terrace is a place for coffee enthusiasts, with an intimate feel between barista and coffee drinker, while Sellers Wheel has a slightly different vibe. It’s a cafe with a greater emphasis on serving wonderful coffee, but also good food and thoughtfully selected craft beers/ales, which is where Ben’s expertise comes into play.  They’d like Sellers Wheel to be more like a brewery cafe, similar to what you may find in Jonathan’s previous home New Zealand.

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This Grade II listed building was originally a silversmiths workshop based around a courtyard. The place has been stripped back, exposing the original brickwork and comes with a relaxed, semi-industrial feel.

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On entrance into Sellers Wheel I instantly got the feeling that even though this place has good square footage, with a large dining area, the coffee is still very much a big deal here, with their grinders and La Marzocca machine taking centre stage on the counter. Serving coffee to take out and sit-in, they have a concise menu of variations on a theme of espresso, all expertly made. For those wanting something a little cleaner they offer pour overs and Aeropress. There’s even a beautiful cold-brew drip tower on show; slowly dripping feeding away for hours on end (8 hours I think), resulting in a clean beverage that possesses low acidity and is well-balanced – an indication that these guys are serious about their coffee.

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Their single origin coffee of choice comes from London based roasters Ozone. This paired with their La Marzocca machine works well with their beans producing a great shot of espresso.

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I loved the look of the stripped back main cafe area, its rustic wooden benches and seating reminding me of old school chairs; it really suited the space and just seemed to fit.

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To accompany the coffee are an enticing array of baked goods which come from a variety of different sources, such as Wellbeck Bakehouse from Worksop, Sheffield based #brownies and their very own kitchen bakes the carrot cake and Anzac biscuits.

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Sellers Wheel with its extra space is well equipped to host events; such as their monthly supper club – Tamper Late, the last one celebrated Yorkshire produce from local suppliers. It’s also allowed them to demonstrate their culinary talents with food and coffee matching, using different brewing techniques to showcase their favourite single origin coffee in the best way.  Tamper Wind down – allows the perfect opportunity to chill out after work with wine, craft beer and cocktails every Friday. Lastly, Tamper Workshoptheir monthly coffee workshop where they hold cupping sessions and try out new coffees.

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In addition to their main dining room they are fortunate to have what they call the Board Room, available for hire, whether it be for meetings or larger groups who need a bit of space for relaxing, catching up with lunch/dinner from their main menu.

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I couldn’t visit without trying out their menu, they have an extensive breakfast/brunch menu ranging in price from £3.50 – £9. Both being fans of Eggs Benedict, I added extra smoked salmon to mine, whilst the other half went for bacon. I found the service friendly and warm, there’s a lovely relaxed feel to the space and I’d find it very easy to spend a lot of time in there. If only Sellers Wheel was in Leeds!!

Even though the place had really filled up quite quickly, service from the kitchen was pretty lively and brisk, fantastic as we were both pretty ravenous. I must say that when the plates arrived they looked very pretty indeed, but it’s not all about the aesthetics is it?!

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My dish had the flavours to match its good looks and is one of the best Eggs Benedict’s I’ve had in a while! Perfectly, and I mean perfectly poached eggs, with gloriously runny, golden yolks accompanying the hollandaise to sauce the dish. The hollandaise was deliciously smooth, but not too rich and clawing as it can be sometimes. The addition of a hash brown was a pleasant surprise, lovely and crisp adding extra texture and flavour. Plenty of metallic spinach and a vibrant red pepper sauce made it a fantastic mid-morning meal. I say ‘meal’ because it was a decent size.

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At £8.50, possibly a bit more pricey than your bog standard Eggs Benedict, but this wasn’t bog-standard, ours had additional extras – spinach, pepper sauce, hash brown, micro herbs and salmon making it well worth the price. Zero complaints on the opposite side of the table, during my usual need to take tonnes of photos before eating, (it’s a wonder that I actually eat), he’d already wolfed down nearly half of his, especially commenting on the crisp, salty bacon in a big way! A great way to set yourself up for the day ahead! 

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A lovely cafe which I think is a bit of an all-rounder, somewhere that has great coffee, food, drinks, is pleasing on the eye and an ideal place to spend time any time of the day – breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and dinner! In the future Tamper may start holding training courses for barista, possibly masterclasses, whatever avenue they choose to follow I’m sure it’ll match the high standard they’ve already set themselves!

Do you know of any fantastic independent coffee establishments that I’ve not visited yet in the area? I’d love to know if you have any recommendations!

Tamper Sellers Wheel
Arundel St
Sheffield
South Yorkshire
S1 2N
0114 2757970
http://tampercoffee.co.uk