Tag Archives: crab cake

Soul Kitchen @ The Wardrobe, Leeds

I went to the new Soul Kitchen in The Wardrobe, Leeds for a Friday night catch up with the best mate. The Soul Kitchen is a new venture that’s taken over the kitchen at the popular Leeds venue. They describe their food as home cooked recipes with a soul food twist, inspired by the classic dishes of the deep south, Caribbean and Creole Cuisine.

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They had a really intriguing menu with lots of dishes that jumped off the page at me, just due to the fact I only have basic knowledge about this type of food.

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We were quickly brought over some water without even being asked, which was a great touch and asked about any drinks, so we ordered a bottle of wine. I really liked the thoughtful and friendly service from the start. We ordered the unusually sounding odds ‘n’ sods to share, then the creole jambalaya and lamb skewers with different sides.

Before our starters arrived a lady brought over a dish from the kitchen to have before our starter –  a gumbo with bread and honeyed butter. The gumbo was served up in cool enamel pots and after the first dunk thought it was really yummy. I loved the sticky, sweet honey with the butter and the fresh bread was very soft and had a tasty sweet flavour to it. The gumbo was great, with a spicy kick and plenty of vegetables making it quite a hearty start to our meal. We were both pleasantly surprised how good it was!!

Gumbo with bread and honeyed butter
Gumbo with bread and honeyed butter

Our Odds ‘n’ Sods were brought to the table just as we were finishing the gumbo. We had a feeling that portion sizes were generous at this place, as even though this was a starter to share you would still consider this a large portion for two. Not that I’m complaining, I’m sure no one is a fan a tiny portions of food! It looked really good, we had a bucket of whitebait, two large chicken wings and crab cakes to work our way through.

Odds 'n' Sods - whitebait fries, Jamaican crab cakes and
Odds ‘n’ Sods – whitebait fries, Jamaican crab cakes and American bingo wings
Condiments!
Condiments!

They also brought over two metal buckets of condiments, some named brands and then a bucket of their in-house sauces, including BBQ, hot, and very hot.

Ok, the whitebait had a delicately spiced, thin crust on the outside. Soft flesh which made it very easy to munch away on the tasty morsels. The wings were juicy and again had a delicately spiced crust, its meat was pulled off the bone with ease. The crab cakes were soft on the inside and full of crabby flavour. All were delicious and also very filling!! We used some of the in-house condiments, the hot and very hot sauces were both good and not too fiery adding a little extra to the starters. Personally we thought they could be made hotter to pack more of a punch!!

So we’d steadily worked our way through two courses in quick succession of each other and were wondering how big the main courses would be. Both of us realised we were filling up quickly from the gumbo and shared starters, and before we knew it they were bringing over what looked like more enormous portions of food!

From my basic knowledge I knew that jambalaya was a traditional Louisiana Creole dish and was influenced by paella, which I’m a huge fan of. Traditionally made with smoked sausage, usually Andouille sausage, chicken rice, shrimp, celery and spices.

Creole jambalaya with spiced plantain
Creole jambalaya with spiced plantain

My jambalaya was served in a cast iron pan and was certainly a very hearty portion, 2 large King prawns sat proudly on top of the rice filled with lots of chicken, sausage, peppers and peas. I’d chosen a side of spiced plantain, I’d been introduced to plantain by a university housemate and have loved them ever since, especially during our travels around Cuba. These had been cooked well till they were soft, but not mushy and the subtle spicing didn’t detract from the distinctive flavour of the plantain, which is far less sweet compared to its distant relative the banana. This is a good thing as I hate bananas!!!

Creole jambalaya
Creole jambalaya
Spiced plantain
Spiced plantain

Neither of us could believe our eyes when we saw the board of lamb skewers and 2 sides as they were put in front of my friend.  It was mahoosive!!! Normally my partner in crime is very good at steadily grazing away, but she knew she would have to admit defeat to this beast of a dish!!

Lamb rump skewers with collard greens and chunky chips
Lamb rump skewers with collard greens and chunky chips
Collard greens
Collard greens

There was a selection of rubs and glazes that the lamb skewers could be flavoured with, from which the chilli, lime and coriander was picked. I was told the lamb had good flavour but there could been have more of a lime/chilli/coriander hit as the rub was subtle. Also, they thought the meat was quite chewy, but maybe that is normal for lamb rump rather than some other cuts of meat. In terms of the side dishes neither of us really knew exactly what Collard greens were, after some research I know now these are a staple food in traditional American South cooking. They were basically cooked greens, such as cabbage and kale, both these and the chips were fab! Far too much food but luckily for us they offered to pack up the leftover skewer for takeaway, which my friend’s other half wolfed down at home.

Overall we enjoyed our first dining experience of soul food at Soul Kitchen, I’m sure its not going to be only time I eat here. The staff were friendly, instantly likeable and efficient, maybe sometimes too efficient as we could well have done with longer breaks in between courses, this was partly our fault too though for not asking!! The menu is currently a work in progress as they asked for customer feedback, this obviously means the Soul Kitchen team are keen to improve and even though they are not quite the finished article yet, with a few little tweaks I’m sure it will be. We did benefit from their introductory 50% discount off food, so in the end the total cost of our meal including tip was £42 for 2 people.

I’d recommend Soul Kitchen and will definitely be back!!

Food – tasty, hearty portions, would be even better if the dishes had more kick.

Service – friendly staff, helpful and quick.

Atmosphere – good buzz from the DJ in the background.

Soul Kitchen
The Wardrobe
St. Peters Square
Leeds
LS9 8AH
0113 383 8800
http://www.thewardrobe.co.uk/

 
Soul Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Rustique, York

I met up with a couple of old friends in York this week and for lunch we tried out popular restaurant Rustique, located on Castlegate near the Jorvik Centre. York is a popular city with locals and tourists alike and has a number of fine dining establishments, such as Melton’s restaurant and The Blue Bicycle, but it also has its fair share of chain restaurants too. This means independents need to work increasingly harder to stay open, e.g. just a number of weeks ago, J. Baker’s Bistro Moderne, arguably one of York’s finest restaurants closed down unexpectedly. image As their name suggests they serve rustic French food, in a bistro setting. The restaurant has a pleasant dining room, with walls covered with French prints from artists such as Toulouse Lautrec. IMG_3499 They offer an extensive ala carte menu, but also a very reasonably priced set menu of 2 courses for £12.95 or 3 courses for £14.95. It was good to see there was plenty of choice available for each course on the set menu too, including French classics steak frites and moules marinière. IMG_3501 We ordered a bottle of the house white and some sparkling water, which was brought over promptly. Our starters were brought out and we were all pretty pleased with what we saw: they all looked good and we tucked in immediately. I chose the Basque egg and it was a very tasty starter, even though the component parts were all put together in the same dish, they all still had their own individual flavours and were cooked very well. I really liked the mix of the different sausages with the potatoes, and the paprika with the oil from the chorizo gave it a lovely flavour. It looked like a small tapas-sized dish, but it was a sizeable portion to start off with.  I was reliably informed that the crab cake was crispy on the outside, soft and nicely ‘crabby’ on the inside. Very tasty. The pâté starter seemed to go down well too, to the point that my friend, who had quickly wolfed down her crab cake was then sampling some of the pate and onion marmalade!

Pate de foies de volaille - chicken liver pate with french bread and red onion marmalade.
Pate de foies de volaille – chicken liver pate with french bread and red onion marmalade.
Cromesquis de crabe -homemade crab cake served with a sweet chilli sauce
Cromesquis de crabe -homemade crab cake served with a sweet chilli sauce
Basque egg - pan fried Toulouse sausage, chorizo, new potatoes and peas cooked with smoked paprika and finished with a baked egg
Basque egg – pan fried Toulouse sausage, chorizo, new potatoes and peas cooked with smoked paprika and finished with a baked egg

After a good start, it didn’t take long for our main course to be brought out.

Steak frites - pan-fried rump steak with garlic butter and fries
Steak frites – pan-fried rump steak with garlic butter and fries
Tartelette au fromage de chevre et tomates séchées
Tartelette au fromage de chevre et tomates séchées – goats cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlet, served with new potatoes and a mixed leaf salad
Confit de canard - slow roasted leg of duck served with dauphinoise potatoes, red wine and red currant jus
Confit de canard – slow roasted leg of duck served with dauphinoise potatoes, red wine and red currant jus

For me it was a toss up between the classics moules mariniere and the steak frites, but I was hankering for a decent steak, so steak frites was the winner this time. It had been really well cooked, medium rare as I’d requested and had a nice garlic butter sauce. The frites were thin and crisp and the portion size was not scrimped on either. The only thing I had a slight issue with, and it is a very picky thing, is I would have preferred pouring the garlic butter sauce myself, rather than having it already done. A nice little jug of the stuff would have done the trick, allowing me to control how much I wanted. Nevertheless, it was a pretty tasty dish and I was wholly satisfied and full at the end of the course. My dining companions also thought highly of their main courses, the goat’s cheese tart new potatoes and a well dressed salad was found to be yummy, its portion size was generous. The duck confit had a crispy skin, succulent meat with good dauphinois potatoes, and a lovely redcurrant sauce finishing it off nicely. When our waiter asked if we wanted any desserts, we all looked at each other and were resigned to the fact that we were all too full!

The staff were welcoming and efficient, our food was cooked well overall. The location of the restaurant is good as it’s in the city centre, but not on the more populated streets and a little out of the way. The total cost of the meal with wine was £58.20 for 3 people, so very reasonable and good value for money. Rustique has become so busy that they are opening another restaurant in Lendal next month, so if your in York it would be worth giving them a go.

Rustique
28 Castlegate
York
YO1 9RP
01904 612744
http://www.rustiqueyork.co.uk

Town Hall Tavern

Town Hall Tavern in Leeds city centre was the venue for lunch on a sunny Saturday with two worse for wear fellow diners. I thought it would be an ideal place as it usually serves great food, drinks with good service, the whole package really at a reasonable price.IMG_2730

They have a new spring menu divided into starters, small pick and mix dishes, signature dishes, pub classics, steaks and chops, vegetarian and sandwiches. My fellow diners wanted to stick to what would not upset their delicate bodies so stuck to the classics and chose homemade burger and dripping cooking chips and omelette with smoked haddock and chips, while I opted for a selection of starters and pick and mix dishes – crab cake, langoustine, pigs cheek scotch egg and chips.

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For drinks a glass of dry white wine, Bloody Mary and a diet coke. Service was as I come to expect here, friendly and chatty when needed (but still efficient), nice and relaxed exactly what the doctor ordered!!

Bloody Mary, white wine and coke
Bloody Mary, white wine and coke

Our food arrived and looked great, brought over with a smile too which is always nice.

Homemade burger with cheese, crispy bacon, crispy onion rings and dripping cooked chips.
Homemade burger with cheese, crispy bacon, crispy onion rings and dripping cooked chips.
Pig's cheek scotch egg with pickled onions and HP brown sauce.
Pig’s cheek scotch egg with pickled onions and HP brown sauce.
Crispy langoustine tails and crab cake with tomato and shallot dressing.
Crispy langoustine tails and crab cake with tomato and shallot dressing.
Free-range omelette with natural smoked haddock.
Free-range omelette with natural smoked haddock.

All tasted great, the omelette lovely and soft with rich free-range eggs and smoked haddock which was delicate and not too overpowering. The burger delivered in terms of flavour, with crispy bacon and lovely melted cheese, the beef burger moist and juicy. The all important bun was soft and just the right size for the burger, often burger buns overhang and are a bit of a waste. I had two boards of little delights, lots of fried goodies but all with their own distinct flavours. The scotch egg had a soft yolk with lovely slightly salty meat from the pig’s cheek, the breadcrumbs lovely and crisp. The langoustine were very moreish and I could have easily wolfed down a bowl full of the little gems. My crab cake had fantastic flavour from the crab meat and the tomato and shallot dressing helped to cut through the richness of the crab.

I’d seen on their Facebook page earlier that day a photo of their yummy desserts, so after a recommendation from our waitress I chose a trio of their ice-creams.

A trio of ice creams -vanilla, toffee apple, orange and cardamon.
A trio of ice creams -vanilla, toffee apple, orange and cardamon.

They were really creamy, all were excellent but my favourite was definitely the orange and cardamom. Underneath each scoop was a bed of what seemed like crushed sugary biscuit which gave a nice bit of crunch and an extra sugary hit.

The bill for food was £34.90 and including drinks the total bill came to £46.15 for 3 people, tip not included. On this occasion I was more than happy to include a tip as the service and food was fantastic. Having eaten here on many occasions for different reasons, whether it be a leisurely lunch, a speedy pre-theatre dinner or even for a Christmas meal with a large group of friends, I think it would be safe to say that I’m still a huge fan of this place.

Town Hall Tavern
17 Westgate
Leeds
LS1 2RA
0113 244 0765