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. For 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.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.
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.
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!!
From the outside of the restaurant and its unassuming location, you could be excused for overlooking Dough Bistro, nestled on Spen Lane in the north of Leeds. Armed with a Groupon voucher for the tasting menu (I love a bargain) and with my equally food obsessed mother, we walked into the small, rustic setting and were greeted by the very friendly staff. We had a 6pm booking so it was quite quiet but we sat behind an elderly couple who already had started on the taster menu and whose noises of appreciation made us quietly confident of the quality of the food.
The waitress gave us a menu which outlined the seven courses and gave details for the wine which accompanied it (we only chose the food option minus the wine flight mainly because we are lightweights – seven glasses of wine would probably have ended up with us in Leeds Police station). I’m not sure whether I’m a fan of knowing what’s coming, mainly because it takes away the element of surprise, but my mum enjoyed it. The first course was apple wood smoked salmon filled with lobster mousse with black caviar and chives. The reason I have no photograph of it is due to the minuscule portion and my immense greed – I inhaled it before I could think of photographing it. More of an amuse bouche, it was delicious and the black caviar was fantastic on top, popping saltily in the mouth.
The next course (and in my opinion, the best of the night) was the Yorkshire buffalo with mushroom and Rigwelter ale sauce and Leeds chorizo potato salad and beetroot salsa.
A beautiful plate was put in front of us and the taste was even better. The buffalo was rare and tender and the chorizo salad was mildly spiced but incredibly creamy. The knockout element was the ale and mushroom sauce though. The depth of flavour was incredible and it perfectly complimented the buffalo – I could have eaten that dish again and again.
Next up was another seafood dish – cold water prawns with a chilli and lime mayonnaise dressing with coriander oil, wild rocket and pineapple salsa.
Having been a life long hater of mayonnaise, both myself and my mum were not really looking forward to this course, but to our surprise it was delicious. The pineapple salsa was sharp and brought out the sweetness in the prawns, whilst the peppery rocket cut through the creamy sauce. Altogether a good dish, but I would have liked a warm dish as both the previous dishes were cold.
The next dish was a palate cleansing sorbet of blackcurrant and Tanqueray gin.
Simply presented, it certainly cleansed the palate and packed a lot of fruit flavour but lacked any sense of gin unfortunately. However it didn’t detract from the taste and our palates were ready for the next course.
Placed in front of us was an impressive plate of belly of pork, crackling, celeriac purée, baby vegetables and a seared Whitby scallop on a slice of black pudding.
The scallop was huge and cooked to perfection – slightly opaque in the middle and sweet. The black pudding is an obvious partner with the scallop but also worked well with the richness of the pork, which was pull-apart tender and moreish. The crackling was tasty and crunchy although lacking seasoning, as was the celeriac purée which seemed to get lost on the plate. The baby vegetables were merely cubes of carrot and swede which ,whilst tasty for a brief period, added nothing to the overall impact of the dish. Overall, a good dish but lacked the taste of the buffalo dish.
Our first dessert was coffee posset, with Bailey’s syllabub with crushed ginger and oat crumble.
Served in a small shot glass, it was quite hard to get the spoon to the bottom but that just shows how scrumptious it was. The creamy oaty top was gorgeous enough but when the Bailey’s syllabub was delved into – whoa mama! I would have happily bathed in that syllabub…I know that sounds strange, but try it first, then tell me you wouldn’t do the same.
The last dessert was a dark chocolate and Amaretto set mousse, Amaretto sauce and Amaretto ice cream with a chocolate crisp.
Whilst looking the part, the set mousse was solid and extremely hart to eat – after some deft manoeuvring with a spoon, a stray piece ricocheted and nearly took my eye out, much to the amusement of the older couple sat behind us, who had obviously experienced the same challenge as us. However, once the chocolatey brick was conquered, the taste was reminiscent of nougat and the Amaretto sauce was divine. Not the best dessert but tasty nonetheless. With it we requested the dessert wine which was a triumph – a Chaputier Muscat sur lie, 2008. Heady with floral notes, the sweetness was perfectly matched to the dessert – a lovely end to an overall enjoyable meal.
So, for the reduced cost of the Groupon voucher, this seven course menu was well worth the cost. I’d recommend anyone to try out this little bistro – local produce, delicious cooking and friendly service. I’ll definitely go back.
I’d been looking forward to Trinity Leeds opening for ages and had been keeping tabs on which restaurants were going to open. I’d read a while ago that D&D who own The Bluebird in London and a host of others venues were going to open their first two restaurants outside of London here. We came on the first evening of their ‘soft launch’ and were greeted by a man at the door who led us to a lift up to the 6th floor, we then entered a darkened corridor where we were greeted and waited to be seated at our table. The inside of the restaurant has been fitted to a very high standard by Conran and Partners and has fabulous view across the city. We were greeted very hospitably and taken to our table, ordering a bottle of Soave and some water, both of which were brought to our table within a couple of minutes.
The menu comprises plates (starters), a raw bar which consists of sushi and sashimi, main courses and a salad section. We ordered scallops with chorizo and cauliflower and pork belly with sage and apple sauce. For our main courses we ordered a cockle, clam and mussel white risotto and a ‘Ginger pig’ chopped steak hamburger. The starters arrived quickly and were both very tasty, in particular the pork belly was excellent, the apple chutney being a classic accompaniment worked fantastically well and the pork was soft and tasted great. Even though there was no crackling the top was crisp, but it would’ve been nice to have the salty crackling to crunch through though.
My scallops arrived not as I’d expected. I was expecting a cauliflower puree with slices of pan fried chorizo and whole scallops, what I got was chunks of scallops with chopped chorizo and cauliflower florets. It tasty great but looked a little less to be desired. It was a little difficult to eat as they had served it in a shell which kept rolling around.
Our main courses then arrived , also quite quickly. The burger looked great and came with a side of triple cooked chips (as stated on the menu) and a gherkin. The burger came with a garnish of lettuce, cheese and some sort of pickled onion and had been cooked pink as requested. Now the taste was excellent, the burger had a strong, robust smoky flavour and the garnish worked well, in particular the cheese. The triple cooked chips were fine and the gherkin on the side a nice extra.
I’m a big fan of risotto so was looking forward to my main course, the rice was al dente and creamy, with a little bit of give which a good risotto should have. The shellfish was nice, but near the end there was a little bit of the grit, this was a shame as it had been a tasty plate of food.
We decided to order a dessert and chose the Burnt Cambridge cream (the English version of a Creme Brûlée) and the warm ‘seaside’ doughnuts with vanilla cream and spiced apple (chosen from a range of accompaniments like blackberry compote, whisky custard and warm chocolate sauce).
The creme brûlée was good, with a lovely crisp sugar top but lovely and creamy underneath. While the doughnuts were a bit of fun, little ring doughnuts covered in a vanilla sugar, the vanilla cream and apple were good partners to the doughnuts. Both were polished off within minutes.
We’d eyed up the cocktails being ordered by other people and decided to order a couple ourselves. Unfortunately the good service we had received during the meal had now slowed down considerably and even though we’d asked the waiter for a drinks menu, we had to grab our own after waiting at least 5 minutes because he’d forgotten and was serving other customers. This was a pity because even with a couple of little hiccups we’d enjoyed our meal. It felt that because we’d stopped eating the waiting staff had forgotten we were still paying customers. It took take at least 10 minutes to order them, after we managed to call someone over and then 10/15 minutes to receive them. Both tasted really good, but for £9 and £8 respectively they were small and after waiting a lengthy amount of time could have been drunk in a couple of minutes. For cocktails there are fantastic places in Leeds like The Maven, Distrikt and Mojo’s so I think I’ll probably stick to those in future.
I know I maybe harsh (because they’ve just opened) and obviously I don’t know what system they are running, but I was taught that waiting staff should always keep an eye on all the tables in their section until they have paid and left. We were served by a number of different people and there may have been a lack of consistency in service there. I’m sure it’ll improve and they’ll iron out these problems, as from what I saw last night it’s going to be a very popular venue.
In matters other than the food and drink, the starters range from £4-12.50, the sushi and sashimi £5-£28, depending on whether you want a small or full-size portion and the main courses £8.50-£15.
We had the benefit from 50% introductory food offer so our bill total was £72.80 for 2 people. I’m sure we’ll be back, it’ll be a great venue to come to in the warmer months, with it’s terrace and views across Leeds.
Hi, I'm Diane and welcome to my blog. I'm currently hopping between Leeds and the South finding the best and the worst in food and drink whilst on my travels. You'll find reviews and recommendations, sometimes the odd thing about running, travel and my life in general.