Tag Archives: aubergine

Solo dining @ The Reliance, Leeds

It was Friday late afternoon and I was home alone, plans with the best mate were cancelled and my husband was visiting his best mate. So what to do for dinner, I couldn’t be bothered cooking for one so went to the old faithful twitter for advice in my moment of need!! Thankfully @LeedsFoodnDrink came to the rescue. They asked if I to wanted to stay in or go out and I’d replied the latter. I realised the other day after reading an article about dining solo that I’m more than happy dining out alone just as much as I do with my mates, I don’t really know why that is, but I do. A few minutes later they tweeted back suggesting the Reliance. I’ve been to the Reliance many times and always had a good time whether it be a sunday brunch/lunch/dinner, so when the suggestion popped up on my twitter feed I quickly said ‘yes’.

The Reliance is a gastro pub found in Leeds city centre on a corner of North Street at the end of town. It’s been around for years now and has a very faithful following amongst Leeds folk.IMG_3960

I headed into town and arrived before it got too busy, it was Friday evening and all so I knew if I was going on spec I’d need to head down early-ish. The Reliance always has a very relaxed feel to it, it has a nice open bar area, the main dining room is up a few steps, a private dining room for parties and a smaller sitting room with comfy leather chairs. The place is very open with lots of light coming from it’s huge windows, and the main dining room has really blossomed since they knocked a wall down and made the space a lot bigger. The kitchen is far more open than it used to be and feels like a more welcoming space. The place is decked out simply with lots of wooden tables and mismatched chairs which I like, it’s not pretending to be something it isn’t.

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They have a lovely menu, not just the usual pub grub, they try to a bit more adventurous and even produce their own charcuterie in situ, using Yorkshire rare breed meat. I was so tempted to have a little platter to start with, but I thought better of it having already spoken about it glowingly at another Leeds favourite Friends of Ham. The Reliance provide the Fennel Salami and Coppa for their delicious Yorkshire Board.

After a long look at the menu and their specials board, I finally chose the cod and crab cake followed by the aubergine parmigiana. I’d had parmigiana in a few other eateries in town and thought it would be interesting to compare them.

I happily tucked into the fresh bread that was placed on my table while the starter was being prepared. I was really looking forward to it and when it arrived I was very happy. They were great, perfectly cooked little fish cakes, really moist and both main components were balanced and their flavours could be picked out with ease. I really liked the smokey chilli jam, the smokiness really came through, but didn’t mask the flavour of the fish and the chilli gave a huge smack of heat to the dish. My only gripe would be that I wish the portion size was a little bigger, with three fish cakes instead of two, as they were small.

Crab and cod cakes with smoked chilli jam
Crab and cod cakes with smoked chilli jam

The aubergine parmigiana arrived, first it was a little difficult to eat just because of the pot it was baked in, it was very tomatoey and had a lot of sauce, quite a bit of cheese and the aubergine tasted good but wasn’t as soft as I may have expected it to be. The caponata was nice and chunky, I’m not the greatest lover of olives, so I could pick them out and eat the capers, onions and aubergines which were lovely and soft, but still retain some of the umaminess from the olives. The caponata had a nice sharpness to it, and wasn’t swimming in oil which was a good thing. I loved the focaccia, I think it was the best bit, lovely and soft middle, with good flavour from olives and was great for mopping up the tasty oil from the caponata and tomato sauce in my pot. I’ve eaten parmigiana in a few other places in town and this tasted good, but I preferred the others just because I like a little less sauce and for slightly softer aubergine.

Aubergine parmigiana, Reliance baked focaccia and caponata
Aubergine parmigiana, Reliance baked focaccia and caponata

The service is always good here, whether you’re at the bar or eating, they are friendly, relaxed and informative when needed. I especially like the staff here because they don’t fuss around you. Apart from the food they are marked highly in the drinks stakes, with a good wine list and arguably an even better beer and lager list. It’s got lots of variety and the place host guest ales and ciders on a regular basis, making use of the talent from local independent breweries.

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Next week they are holding an evening with Knaresborough based Rooster’s Brewery, showcasing their food in a four course menu and food matching with their ales.

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I’d recommend The Reliance, it’s a place where you can sit and read your morning paper with a coffee, have a lazy lunch whilst people watching with friends, have dinner and stay into the evening or dine solo like I did. Total cost was £19.40 (without service charge).

Food: Tasty

Service: Great

Atmosphere: Relaxed, informal

Value for money: More than you’d pay for in a bog standard pub, but tastes great!

The Reliance
76-78 North St
Leeds LS2 7PN
0113 295 6060

http://www.the-reliance.co.uk

The Reliance on Urbanspoon

Pre-theatre tapas @ Sandinista

I’m a massive Strictly Come Dancing fan and had tickets for Midnight Tango, with Flavia and Vincent from the show @ The Grand Theatre booked for months. The criteria for food was somewhere I’d not been to before, but was also close to the theatre. Sandinista the popular Cantina bar was the place of choice on this occasion. imageFor those of you who don’t know of Sandinista, it’s a Latino based bar that has been open since 2002, just around the corner from nearby cocktail haven Mojo. From being such a successful bar in Leeds it has also opened a sister venue Smokestack on Lower Briggate and another Sandinista in Manchester.
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Even though I’d been many times for late night drinks on a Saturday, I’d never eaten there before. They had a couple of deals on offer – 3 tapas for £10 or 20% discount on food and drinks with a valid theatre ticket. We couldn’t miss an opportunity for having a cocktail as we were in one of the best cocktail bars in Leeds. We decided to partake in some cocktails of the mojito kind, so we could also reminisce about a well-loved holiday in Cuba.
Mojitos
Mojitos (of course!!)

They have a tapas menu with a lot of choice, both for meat eaters and vegetarians. Over the last few months I’ve been looking at places which also cater for gluten free and at least half of their menu is. Our man took a minute to go through the menu, including the specials and platters. We opted for a selection of 6 different dishes. The food took a little while to arrive (probably because we did order quite a lot of food), but they did arrive all at the same time and completely filled our table.

Gratinado de berenjas - Aubergine and tomato gratin
Gratinado de berenjas – Aubergine and tomato gratin
Croquetas de Bacalao - salt cod croquettes with aioli
Croquetas de Bacalao – salt cod croquettes with aioli
Rice and beans
Rice and beans
Tortilla - Spanish omelette with aioli
Tortilla – Spanish omelette with aioli
Alubias estofadas con panceta - roasted pork belly with a white bean and truffle cassoulet
Alubias estofadas con panceta – roasted pork belly with a white bean and truffle cassoulet
Chorizo asado - roasted chorizo with potato, onion, almond and manchego cheese
Chorizo asado – roasted chorizo with potato, onion, almond and manchego cheese

I didn’t know there to start we had so much choice, everything was yummy!! I think my favourites were the Aubergine dish – the aubergine had the right balance between being soft, but still had texture so it wasn’t like baby food. The melted mozzarella provided the seasoning and was unctuous and characteristically stringy. I loved the pork belly, with its crispy crackling and soft tender meat, it came with a tasty creamy white bean stew. Having a bowl of rice and beans will always remind my best mate and I of sitting in one of the many paladares in Havana and Trinidad. It was tasty, but not a patch on the ones we remember from those memorable Cuban evenings. The croquettes were good, possibly a little too ‘golden’ but the breadcrumb crust was light and thin and the filling was good, not too salty!! The tortilla was probably my least favourite, it was nice but a little under seasoned for my taste and more firm than I would have preferred. I will always compare tortilla to the heavenly ones I had on holiday in Northern Spain a few years ago. Where the egg bordered on being fully cooked or just runny, allowing the tortilla to have a little bit of give. All in all we enjoyed our pre-theatre meal and I was certainly very full at the end of it!!

We washed our food down with great mojitos, plenty of rum, mint and lime giving the drink its characteristic zing.

Overall the service was friendly, cocktails were great and the food was tasty. A couple of things I know i’m probably being a little picky about, but that aside I enjoyed the meal a lot.

With the 20% discount our total bill came to £35 (including tip) for 2 people. Pretty good I think, we both walked off to the theatre well fed and watered!! I’d always recommend Sandinista for drinks on a Saturday night, but I’ll also be recommending them for food now too!!

Sandinista Cantina bar

5/5a Cross Belgrave Street
Leeds
LS28JP
0113 243 0395
http://www.sandinista.co.uk/leeds/

Sandinista! on Urbanspoon

Déjà view @ The Golden Bengal, Horsforth

Last Saturday I’d organised to go for a curry with two friends and a toddler. I’d normally go to my local favourite Amaans in Morley, but I wanted try somewhere else and also venture a little further out, rather than my usual or the city centre. Having lived in Kirkstall a number of years ago I knew Horsforth and Cookridge quite well, but hadn’t been to any of the restaurants in a very long time!!! I’d asked for some advice on Twitter and one of the places that kept being tweeted was The Golden Bengal, when I did a bit of research I then suddenly realised I’d been there about 12 years ago when it was called The Golden Gate. On arrival we were greeted very warmly and this really set the tone for our meal. When we sat at our table, I was definitely having a déjà view moment as I was sat in the same seat looking out onto Low Lane that I’d sat in before. The interior is much different to how I remember, much lighter with a more open feel to it.

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The menu as you can imagine is very extensive and with the usual starters and main dishes, they also have some interesting curries in their signature and fusion dishes. After looking through the extensive menu, we were also given some helpful info on the dishes we decided. Our pickle tray arrived with all the customary goodies – zingy lime pickle (a fellow diner really loved it), the onion relish good because the onioniness, if that’s even a word had been tempered down. You can’t go wrong with a decent mango chutney and a very yummy spiced yoghurt dip.

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Our starters arrived and looked great, I surprised myself for not ordering my usual prawn puree, prawn bhuna combo but opted for a Aloo Chaat on purée instead. A huge thing for me this!!! I was glad for once that I didn’t order my usual, the potato was soft with a hint of garlic and the sauce was mildly spiced. The puree was crisp and the ratio of puree to chaat was just right. The other starters also went down a storm and were polished off in a matter of minutes.

Aloo chaat on puree
Aloo chaat on puree
Saag Aloo
Saag Aloo
Shammi kebab
Shammi kebab

Our main courses were brought out and I was looking forward to my prawn bhuna to see it if had changed much from the meal years before. After the first mouthful it felt like I was transported back 12 years, it tasted exactly how I remembered it. Aptly at the end of the meal one of the sisters said that they had the old chef back in the kitchen working his magic. Prawns perfectly cooked and a great tasting sauce, not too much tomato so just right for me. One of the best bhunas I’ve had in a long time!!! Accompaniments of pilau rice and chapattis were just as they should be too. The butter chicken was spot on!! Very moreish, soft chicken with the wonderful creamy sauce. We also ordered a Byngon bhaji and a plain omelette for a toddler. The Byngon bhaji was a lightly spiced aubergine side dish in a mild masala sauce, it was very tasty indeed and a new one for me, but definitely something I’d order again.

Prawn bhuna
Prawn bhuna
Lamb bhuna
Lamb bhuna
Butter chicken
Butter chicken
Byngon bhaji
Byngon bhaji
Plain omelette with chips and salad
Plain omelette with chips and salad

In terms of cost our total bill was £48 for a pickle tray, 3 starters, 4 main courses and lots of accompaniments and side dishes. The restaurant has a bring your own policy which makes it good value for money. Over the years the Golden Bengal had seen many changes, when I first ate here the father of the family, Mr Abdul Rashid ran the restaurant, but after his passing in 2010 his daughters took on the challenge of running the place. Their hard work has really paid off and it was great to be back after all these years. It’s a fab place for friends and families, the staff are very hospitable and really make an effort in welcoming you and making you feel at home. The food is just as good as I remembered it!!

The Golden Bengal
Low Lane
Horsforth
LS18 5NY
0113 2580751
http://www.thegoldenbengal.co.uk