Tag Archives: lunch

Khana Bombay Cafe, Leeds

Many moons ago, when I first moved to Leeds my mates and I would start out the weekend in Headingley. Every Friday, I’d get there around 4pm with a friend/work colleague and we’d set up stall in the Arc. On a weekly basis a ritual of feasting on plates of potato wedges with white wine started?!?! Who knows why, it sounds bizarre now! Our mates would join us and at closing time we’d pile into taxis and head into town, Oporto to be exact, which is where we’d be until the early hours. One thing I also remember was back in those days, the Lounge cinema was still doing business on the corner by the Arc, one of the last films I watched there was Lord of the Rings one December (not sure which part) we’d sit on the red velvet seats with our drinks from the downstairs bar. 

How things have changed since those days – the Lounge closed years ago, was vacant for ages and my memory fails me to what’s been there in recent times, but obviously nothing that had staying power. 

My jaunt up to Leeds in the Easter hols had come after my Chicago trip, so my spending budget was tight – always frustrating when I just want to try as many spots as possible! 

For one reason or another, Headingley was were I was catching up with an old mate, and keeping an eye on the city’s food scene I sort’ve knew there were a few places to try. Khana Bombay Cafe was one that was open all day and their food deals came as a bonus. Advertised as an all-day cafe the menu has lots to get the juices flowing, and in a similar style to faves Bundobust and Tharavadu have gone for a modern feel. 

The restaurant benefits from large windows letting light in and also the upstairs for extra dining space. Whilst downstairs there’s an open kitchen, a spot of nostalgia on the walls with old photos and the odd bit of quirky decoration, e.g. the front of a truck doubling as the front of a counter. The bit I found a little odd were the ropes, picking a table by the window meant I was faced by ropes slightly reminiscent of nooses hanging from the ceiling. These ropes draped across towards the window and hung down like school gym ropes, you probably know the ones I mean?! Maybe I just didn’t get the whole aesthetic!


The deals on paper looked straight forward, but needed clarification – could we still get 50% off the lunchtime offer – which was a good one in its own right. The answer was ‘yes’, so after quite a long time perusing the menu and chatting, we got our act together and ordered.

The lunch deals looked too tempting – 3 small plates for £10, followed by curry/biryani with two sides for £14 and by sticking to water, we hoped for a bargain lunch especially with the 50% discount also applying.

Apart from a couple of other tables we were the only people there, it was Easter hols so students were few and far between. Smells from the kitchen very gently wafted across, suggesting a decent ventilation system especially with an open kitchen! 

Waiting times were fine, as they should’ve been considering it wasn’t busy, so soon we were brought a vegetable samosa chaat, chicken kathi roll and an aloo tikka. My favourite was the kathi roll, which on its own was a good size and filled with lots of nicely spiced chicken. The samosa chaat was tasty, but lacked the punch I was expecting, my love of the samosa chaat from street food queen Manjit of Manjit’s Kitchen remains. The balance between crunch from samosa and soft chickpea and tangy sauce was a bit off kilter too, personally a little less of the chickpea and more samosa for me, but that’s me being very picky. The aloo tikka were also gently spiced and could’ve been a little crisper on the outside, however tasty nonetheless. 

A short wait for the main courses brought a chicken karahi, plain naan and steamed rice, all of which couldn’t be faulted. The curry was really enjoyable, had the spiciness I expected and came in a generous portion. I love it when naan breads aren’t piddly tiny things and this wasn’t, coming with a bit of chew and beautifully blistered and gnarly every now and again it was a good one. The rice, steamed was lovely and fluffy, so all in all the three together was a winner in my book. 

So how much did our lunch come to – an absolute steal at £12.35 in total!!! I’m not sure how long the deal is on for, if it is remember to book online to qualify for the discount. Overall Khana Bombay Cafe is doing lots of things right, the food’s tasty and service is friendly. It’s great to see the place being used again – I hope it lasts!!

Khana Bombay Cafe

North Lane

Headingley 

Leeds

http://khanabombaycafe.com

 

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Whitelock’s Ale House, Leeds

When you think of the pubs in Leeds, Whitelock’s is synonymous with the very best. The oldest public house in the city celebrated a 300th birthday this year, but certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels since being taken over by a new owner in 2012. This much-loved establishment has always been renowned for its history and a passion for championing real ales from local breweries, all served by very knowledge staff. However, Whitelock’s isn’t all about quality beverages, they’ve given plenty of attention to a food menu that suits the pub with classic, hearty dishes made using ingredients from local producers, in particular Kirkstall Market. 

With a new chef at the helm, there are starter and light bite plates like the Heirloom beetroot and Yorkshire fine fettle salad or the stunner of a chorizo dish, accompanied with peas and mint sitting on top of a crumpet. Large chunks of chorizo from award winning Lishman’s of Ilkley had a beautiful smokiness without being too intense, peas (and their pods) brought sweetness and a lovely soft crumpet all made for a real scrumptious starter.

As far as main courses go there are classics such as beer battered fish and chips, Lishman’s sausage and mash and the homemade beef and ale pie with chips and veg which was my choice, also a few regularly changing specials. Even though the pie wasn’t fully encased in pastry, all was forgiven as it was a comforting and delicious crowdpleaser. The pastry lid itself was perfect – golden, crisp and flaky, and not let down by the filling underneath of tender beef and rich gravy, laced with ale. Along with good chunky chips and seasonal veg it was a wholesome plate of damn tasty food!

Whitelock’s is definitely serving food to match the quality of its drinks, this can only be an amazing thing and simply reinforces that yes, it may be in its 300th year, however the place is still pushing itself and striving to be even better than it already is!!! 

Whitelocks Ale House

Turks Head Yard
Leeds
LS1 6HB

0113 2423368 / 0113 2453950

http://www.whitelocksleeds.com

Tapas Brindisa, Soho

Last weekend was a VERY long overdue reunion with our uni mates, my old friend Sarah and I always try to get everyone together, with all of us being married and most with children now it gets harder every time, but nevertheless ten of us managed to make it last Saturday. Nights out with these lot are well known for being excessive is many ways, the hilarity resulting from these reunions would mean absolutely nothing to anyone else, but have become folklore amongst us. Stories which have become embellished as the years have passed being included at weddings in the grooms speech and business meetings, go figure?! I’m sure you all have these types of memories with your friends too. 

We weren’t all meeting until later that afternoon so knowing from experience how the day would play out, doing a good job of lining the stomachs was imperative, otherwise the consequences weren’t worth entertaining!! So after a full breakfast at ours we hot footed it on the quick line to Waterloo and soon settled into Soho, where we’d be based for the night.  A few early drinks and it was time for a late lunch, we all wanted something to graze on that wouldn’t be too heavy, so I thought tapas – possibly the ultimate in grazing food. I knew there was Tapas Brindisa nearby and we were soon ordering more wine and perusing the menu.

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It’s somewhere I’ve been a couple of times before because the staff are really friendly and the food is reliably good. To be honest, this is a pretty easy review to write – the other half and I order six dishes to share and when there’s hardly a noise coming from a group of diners faced with a table full of food, that can only be a great sign. All of the plates resonated very positively, my favourites being the generous wedge of tortilla with chorizo – came with all the qualities I hoped for; served warm, good ratio of potato/egg/chorizo so there was a delicate meaty smokiness going on and very importantly it’s texture was squidgy and lovingly soft. The buñuelos de bacalao or salt cod fritters were perfect and quickly demolished; a delicately crisp exterior giving way to a gorgeously light filling, the right level of saltiness and rich, unctuous aioli to go with it. Another favourite was the ox cheek – the beautiful giving meat which just pulled apart with the lightest of touches, deep in flavour and matched by a butternut squash puree and silverskin onions. The one that caught me off guard was The Meatball (my husband’s choice) – I’m normally a goat cheese hater and avoid it all costs, but this has done a lot to converting me…maybe it was helped by the fact there was a combination of rump steak and their Iberico pork morcilla surrounding the cheese, who knows?!

Tortilla de chorizo
Ox cheeks
The Meatball
Buñuelos de bacalao
Crispy pork belly

If I was to fault any one of the dishes it’d be the pork belly, don’t get me wrong the flavours were there, the sweetness from the meat and the crackling was crisp and salty, but the layers of fat were very thick and the only thing left on any of the plates. All in all – a pretty awesome lunch for us and also our friends who’s corn fed chicken, croquettes and salad got polished off very easily too.

Patatas alioli

Corn fed chicken leg

Croquetas de jamon

Traditional potato tortilla

Yes, the area’s spoilt for choice with great places to eat, but you won’t go far wrong with Tapas Brindisa.

Tapas Brindisa Soho

46 Broadwick St

London

W1F 7AF

http://www.brindisatapaskitchens.com/tapas-brindisa-soho/

So’s Kitchen, Woking

I’m very slowly working my way around Woking, trying to find tasty independents to get fed and wondered if there was a decent Chinese in the area. I’d seen a Chinese restaurant called So’s Kitchen near Woking train station and after a little research that was wholly positive I suggested going for lunch. Stepping inside it was kinda refreshing not seeing the traditional red and gold interiors and was quite modest in comparison. The menu had classic dim sum, a lunch menu with both rice and noodle dishes then an a la carte menu, no surprises to catch you out and all pretty standard stuff.

Lunch started really well with dumplings – tasty pot stickers filled with pork and prawn, nicely charred on the bottom and polished off in a couple of minutes. The ha gau dumplings were juicy, lovely and translucent, however I’ve had plumper ones with more filling.

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Off the lunch menu there was a pork and rice dish that my husband fancied, the pork was of the char sui variety and tasty, however the rice was very very dry, I may be wrong but it’s like the rice was precooked, left to go cold so it loses moisture then used for the dish. I know this is often a method used to keep the grains separate but it did seem overly dry. I was, as always completely predictable with my choice – beef ho fun noodles! If I’m honest unless it’s a full on dim sum affair, being a creature of habit it’s what I ALWAYS order; they were ok, no more than that.  For me, a great beef ho fun has a delicate balancing act between soy and oiliness – too much oil makes it messy, too little makes it bland and dry. Finally the beef should be tender and soft. I love the oiliness of the dish, but these rice noodles didn’t have the glossiness, were a touch dryer and not as moreish.  It wasn’t saved by the seasoning either as it was lacking, the beef was bland and had lost tenderness.

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Overall it was ok, saved by the dumplings which was the highlight and I couldn’t fault the friendly and efficient staff. It was a bit of a shame, especially after reading lots of positive stuff on the web, I should probably revisit at some point, probably for the dim sum.

So’s Kitchen

1 White Rose Lane

Woking

Surrey

GU22 7AA

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sos-Kitchen/127966857252270

Where To Eat In Leeds!!

I began writing this post in January with the aim of it going on the blog when I was about to head down south, as that’s virtually happened here it is! The other day some friends asked if I’d eaten everywhere in Leeds and of course I haven’t, however I think I’ve tried many of the best and some of the worst in the city and can give some sort of judgement for what it’s worth. In the early days our regular haunts were places like The Reliance, Arts Cafe, Lucky Dragon (sadly no more), Salvos and Viva Cuba and fast forward fourteen years and the landscape has changed so much already, I can imagine on my visits back how it’s going to alter even further!!

With all this choice, choosing where to get a feed can be an arduous task, so to give you a helping hand in the decision making I’ve come up with my list of where to eat in the city. I’ve categorised them as best as I can, I’m sure there’s probably a better way of doing it, but I’ve tried my best.

I see this list as a flexible one, one that’ll change with new additions and possibly deletions if needed. Apologies to any more than worthy establishments left off, this list could go on and on all down to the fact the depth of quality available now is so good, but it has to stop somewhere! 

NB: places with an asterisk * are probably my absolute faves, I’ve included establishments which I’ve heard great things about on my ‘wish list’ and ones I’ve enjoyed that need revisiting.

Coffee / breakfast / brunch

*Laynes Espresso

Go for the best coffee, snappily dressed baristas and gorgeous baked goods from local baking legends Noisette Bakehouse, That Old Chestnut and Dumouchel! Prefer something savoury? The avocado on sourdough is a must even though it looks too beautiful to eat, or maybe one of their tasty sandwiches. Currently with two locations; the original on New Station Street, the second at Belgrave Music Hall, a third is soon to be revealed from a collaboration with Duke Studios resulting in the Sheaf St Cafeteria!

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Mrs Atha’s

Visit for its beautiful space with a bohemian vibe, great locally roasted Maude coffee and pretty vintage cups and spoons not just to gaze at, but also to use. Great for brunch – their pancakes win every time! 

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Opposite

One of Leeds’ coffee indie originals and still up there with the best, its VQ hub is great for a pick me up whilst on the run, if your lucky to be near Chapel Allerton, head to the shop for a sit down, great Square Mile coffee and a slice of a little something from superstar vegan bakers That Old Chestnut.

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La Bottega Milanese

Their coffee’s served with Italian passion and partnered with pastries, antipasti and homemade pasta. With two venues to choose from; one in The Light and a second outpost in the city’s financial district on Bond Court.

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*The Greedy Pig

Visit for food cooked with love, the best full English and veggie breakfast in town at a bargain price too. What the place lacks in square footage it makes up for with great food and service from genuinely lovely people. If you spot their homemade scotch eggs on the counter, make sure you grab one before their all gone!

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*Grub and Grog Shop

Found in the relaxed surroundings of Northern Monk Refectory, their breakfast/brunch menu’s a real treat for anyone! There’s no half measures taken here and you’ll thank yourself for going – think homemade crumpets, breakfast baps, buckwheat blinis, kedgeree…the list goes on. Beverage wise there’s locally roasted North Star for a coffee fix and also Sheffield’s Birdhouse Tea Company for your drinking pleasure. 

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Belgrave Music Hall – Laynes Brunch

Usually held monthly (apart from summer months) Laynes Espresso currently serve Sunday brunch at Belgrave Music Hall and it’s a real Sunday treat. The regularly changing menu always has something a bit special for both lovers of the savoury or the sweet. Previous dishes have included sourdough french toast, sweetcorn fritters, salt beef hash all with extra trimmings! 

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On the wish list – Sociable Folk on Wellington Place and Kapow on The Calls.

Pan-Asian

*My Thai

My current fave amongst an ever-growing number of Thai spots in the city, with top quality food that’s dead cheap! It’s not the biggest spot which adds to the charm of the place, so booking ahead could be the way to go, if you are unlucky takeout is always good option saving you even more of your hard earned cash!

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Thai Aroy Dee

This very popular restaurant finally reopened a few doors from their original site after much anticipation……a few glitches on my first visit back, but I’ve been hearing good things since. Great to see their bargainous lunch offer is still available too – £6.95 for two courses! 

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NOM Deli

Leeds doesn’t have many Vietnamese spots to my knowledge, but this is definitely a handy one to know. Found on Great George Street and run by a lovely couple passionate about the food from their homeland. Their menu maybe short, but everything is made really well, in particular their Banh Mi’s baguettes which are damn good! Opening hours are limited, however they are perfect for lunch and kind to the pocket!! 

*Noodle House

This place may feel like a cafe, but the food it cooks up are restaurant quality! Mostly Chinese with a few Malaysian additions, you’ll see dishes ranging from tasty, filling wonton soup to roasted belly pork and rice, even suckling pig if your organised. Great food, quick friendly service and value for money. 

Bulgogi Grill

The idea of Bulgogi Grill is to cook your own dinner, think marinated meats and seafood, wrapped in lettuce with pickled veg, rice and lettuce! It’s not the cheapest on paper, but diners get lots for their money – you won’t leave hungry! Friendly and attentive without being in your face. On the up side it’s interactive and a bit of fun, on the downside it’s hard not to end up smelling of grilled food! 

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Fuji Hiro

Fuji’s been around for years and is still a popular choice for many, with its no frills canteen style feel and sizeable noodle and rice dishes. My go to dishes are edamame beans, ebi or spicy beef gyoza, then yaki soba or cha han. The two course set meals is the way to go here.  

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Sushi Waka

There aren’t many decent sushi places in the city, but this is one of them. At times the service can be a little sketchy, but they’ve definitely improved since opening. If sushi isn’t your thing, they also have an extensive menu covering all things like noodles, rice and Bento boxes!

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Another notable favourite – BangWok and their glorious pad thai, currently open weekday lunchtimes!!! 

On the wish list – Line Thai Oriental on Great George Street I hear is doing some good things. Also May’s Thai Cafe in Hyde Park – loved her food when she traded at Kirkgate Market, but am yet to visit the cafe. 

Curry

Tharavadu

Tharavadu have won an army of fans and awards aplenty with their warm, friendly staff and stunning Keralan food. Always seems busy, lunch (bargain lunch deal on offer) or dinner.

One to revisit- The Corner Cafe on Burley Road.

Prashad and Bundobust fit into this category as well!!

Vegetarian / vegan

Prashad

Go to Prashad for superb Gujarati cooking where even the most stubborn carnivore has been known not to miss meat! Definitely worth a little trip to Drighlington!

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*Bundobust

This popular bar is just as well loved in its alternative guise as a street food venue, the two go hand in hand with their well crafted drinks menu and equally well thought food offerings. I ALWAYS find it really difficult not ordering a table full of food here, it’s a great spot any time of day, however week day lunch times they currently have a deal on – 2 dishes for £7.

Humpit

Found in the beautiful surroundings of the Corn Exchange, hummus and falafel are their thing and you won’t go wrong with their the falafel pitta or humpit classic! Run by really lovely people, great value for money and filling! Great spot for lunch in town.

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Central & South American

Cielo Blanco

The younger sibling of Neon Cactus found in Trinity. Think sharing boards, tostadas, burritos and enchiladas paired with cleansing juices and great cocktails. 

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Pinche Pinche

This suburban gem has served the folk of Chapel Allerton for years and has done so with tasty Mexican food. Great for catering to groups of varying sizes, their small plates are ideal for sharing, whilst their burritos, enchiladas or sharing platters can satisfy those with bigger appetites and larger groups!

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One to revisit – Neon Cactus, older sister restaurant of Cielo Blanco. For me, it has to be their feast menu (to share obviously) washed down with a caipirinha or two…!!! 

On the wish list – Casa Colombiana in the Grand Arcade. Tried the coffee but not the food, even though they’ve been on the list for a year!!

BBQ and Burgers

*Patty Smith’s

Arguably serve up the best burgers in Leeds, for me it’s a toss up between their ultra messy Dirty Burger (beef) or the spiced up Colonel Patty (chicken), on the fries side the double portion session fries are pretty awesome with smokey mayo and pancetta!! Find them at their home in Belgrave Music Hall or at festivals around the country.

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On my ‘wish list’ – Boss Burgers on Brudenell Grove,  I’ve heard from many as probably being the best takeaway burger joint in Leeds. Another one I’ve failed to visit and I can’t put my finger on why is Meat Liquor!!

Italian

*Zucco

Cracking Italian in suburban Meanwood, serving up plates to die for; including a mouth watering beef pappardelle and those deep fried zucchini which have semi-legendary status around these parts. Dead friendly staff and lip smackingly good cocktails too. 

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Livin’Italy 

This city centre bar/restaurant has a great selection Italian wines, friendly, knowledgeable staff and a small but great selection of Italian classics on the menu. My go to dishes are their humble lasagne and the porchetta accompanied by the odd Aperol Spritz!  

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Spanish

Bilbao Bar

At lunch and dinner they have a great tapas menu, while on Saturday’s their bar is fully laden with Basque-inspired pintxos, reminding me of time spent in San Sebastian. There are some very reasonable menu deals and you’ll be treated to dead friendly service.

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Pintura Basque Kitchen & Bar

Go here for a modern take on Basque cuisine, inspired by the tastes of northern Spain and their downstairs gin bar. Having visited a couple of times I enjoyed the food and liked the gin bar, but thought the service could be improved a lot. One for a treat, as always with tapas it’s easy to order a table full of food and end up with a hefty bill because it’s not the cheapest.   

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One to revisit – El Bareto, not been for years, but I hear it still delivers the goods! 

On the wish list – La Rambla on East Parade.

North African / Mediterranean

Cafe Moor

This fantastic stall at Kirkgate Market is a firm favourite with Leeds folk! It’s hard to hold yourself back and not to be tempted by a plethora of dips and salads whilst your order is prepared. Only open during market hours though and the popular chicken shawarma has been known to sell out way before closing time. A great spot to bag a bargain for lunch or takeaway tea.

 

Caravanserai

Cafe Moor’s second spot, to the side of the Corn Exchange, with seating upstairs and late opening hours, you get more of that authentic North African food and ambience.   

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Ephesus

This Rodley outpost brings the food of Turkey to Leeds with classics like Iskender kebab, kofte and Pide (Turkish version of pizza). Great food – it would be very easy to get full on the mezze options alone. 

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On my wish list – Darvish on Roundhay Road and Safran on Kirkgate.

Pizza

*Ecco Pizzeria

This Headingley spot has a large menu, so I stick to the classics made by their Neapolitan pizza makers Pizzaiolo, using ingredients imported from Italy. Go for the classic Margherita Ecco – you won’t regret it, but if you prefer something more extravagant no doubt you’ll find it here!

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*Dough Boys

A slice of Dough Boys is hard to resist when you step into the Belgrave Music Hall, especially when it’s half price a slice!!! The Sausage Fest and Baa No More are my personal faves, but every now and again one of their themed pizzas catches my eye. 

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Sela Bar

This subterranean bar has served up great pizzas for years, there’s a short menu but everything is quality. Great vibe in there, especially on Wednesday reggae night.

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Posh / special occasion

The Man Behind The Curtain

Food/art, art/food – Michael O’Hare’s pushing the boundaries and doing it in Leeds which can only be an amazing thing. A tasting menu that not only looks stunning but pushes and prods the senses to the max. Perfect for a special occasion. If the multi-course degustation menu is a little out of your price bracket, they also serve a more pocket friendly lunch Friday/Saturdays.

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Kendells Bistro

Award-winning rustic French cooking from a Yorkshireman, has been a popular choice for many years. Booking is normally essential to nab yourself a table here and the food doesn’t disappoint. My only gripe is that even though the staff are really lovely and friendly, service can be slow – possibly a consequence of its popularity.

British

*The Reliance

A long time favourite of mine – The Reliance is friendly, relaxed, understated and serves great food using seasonal ingredients treated simply all day long. With a thoughtful wine list and beers to match, it’s only got better over the years!

*Grub & Grog Shop

Sublime heartwarming food produced from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, carefully prepared and beautifully cooked is what you’ll get here. Think charring, pickling, braising and a whole other manner of techniques used to create damn tasty plates!

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Supper clubs / pop-ups

The Noise of Strangers

A collaboration between a number of folk from Leeds’ food and drink scene, including chef Joe Hepworth of Hepworths Deli fame. If you’re lucky to get a ticket to one of their events you’ll be treated to an innovative menu served in an unusual dining space.

*The Swine That Dines

The Greedy Pig’s alter ego where thoughtful dishes are produced often using ingredients which are less commonly used. They may be better known for their love of pleasing the carnivores amongst us, however their vegetarian dishes are prepared and cooked with the equal aplomb. Their BYOB menu is perfect for sharing, all plates are £5 each so two/three people could treat themselves to the whole menu!!! 

Dinner at the Manor

Run by two food lovers who base their BYOB supper club events on well known cook books, it all takes place in a secret location which happens to be one of the homes of these two amateur cooks. You’ll be treated to a glorious multi-course experience and the chance to chat to fellow food lovers. Ticket prices can range depending on the event, but it’s always value for money in my opinion!! 

On the wish list – TrestleThe idea – 12 people sat around one table in an unusual location somewhere in Leeds. Gutted to have never made it to one of their events…. one day maybe….!

Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen Supper Club for a Persian feast and Mario Olianas’s (from Gusto italiano) Cena Sarda Dining Club for suckling pig!!! 

Other

*Friends of Ham

Another award winner, but rightfully so with thoughtfully selected meat, cheese, wine and craft ales and ciders in beautifully designed surroundings……there’s not much else to say really! Lovely, knowledgable staff who guide even the most clueless (meaning me) person in the art of cheese etc!! You’ll find me sat at the Ham Bar probably with a glass of wine and a board of meat!!! 

Ira B’s

Found in the suburbs of Moortown, this Jewish deli/cafe is a very popular spot. Famed for its sandwiches, including their awesome chicken schnitzel with potato latkes and the Grobber, their version of salt beef on rye reminiscent of what you get in NYC’s Katz’s Deli!!

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One to revisit (over and over) – Belgrave Feast – go for brilliant street food from a whole range of different cuisines, all under one roof in the Belgrave Music Hall, oh I mustn’t forget Sarah’s Noisette Bakehouse with her next level baking creations and Layne’s coffee!!!

I’ll be interested to see how new additions turn out over the next year, such as Turtle Bay, Smokehouse (I wasn’t too impressed by their Sheffield restaurant), The Brunswick and WIno Bar and Merchants!!

Any recommendations for the list of where to try on my visits back would be great!!!