Tag Archives: Meanwood

Zucco slap-up celebration meal!

Another school year ended on 17th July, as you can imagine this is always a time to celebrate for any teacher. Apart from that, my other cause to celebrate was the decision to teach high school part-time from September, after working my backside off for 14 years. So with this in mind a slap up meal was called for!!

I visited Zucco when it opened last year, where between myself and my dining companion we devoured seven plates for Sunday lunch. I remember quite clearly talking about it very positively, and if I’d been a betting person could’ve put money on Zucco becoming a favourite haunt amongst food lovers. Since then it’s developed a very popular following, people have fallen in love with the humble simplicity of their food and use of ingredients.

Arriving on a warm Friday evening, bang on 7pm for our booking, it was no surprise to see the place already starting to fill up. Zucco’s menu is ideal for sharing with a plethora of dishes to choose from, we decided to pick six dishes to share; two fish, two meat and two veg.
A prosecco cocktail was ordered which was lovely and light, the cube of sugar floating and fizzing gently around the glass provided our entertainment.

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There are many wonderful sounding dishes on the menu it’s hard to leave any behind, so after some helpful advise we were happy to have our order taken. Our server said the two fish would be our first course, the meat and veg would arrive together. That worked for us, and I’m sure for the kitchen too. I remember last time as Zucco’s was still in its infancy, service from the kitchen was a tad slow and a little haphazard, as dishes were brought over once cooked without much order.

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Our first course showed us the promise of good things to come, with simplicity in presentation which you don’t often see in these parts. This was the other half’s first experience with soft shell crab and it didn’t disappoint. Beautifully cooked sweet crab meat with a giving exterior, coated in the thinnest of batters lending itself perfectly to be eaten whole. Lovely dish.

I ate Fritto Misto last time and nearly fall for it every time I see it on a menu, so it wasn’t a surprise when I chose it again. It’s a highly enjoyed dish where you literally just dive in, grab something along with a swipe of aioli. My selection of mixed fried seafood included lightly battered squid, whitefish, whitebait and a prawn. The only mini slight gripe was the squid, which in my opinion would have benefitted from being taken out of the fryer a tad sooner, allowing the squid to have more give in it’s texture. Apart from that the rest was wolfed down without much hesitation, lightly crisp, sweet prawn and juicy fish and whitebait. With a quick squeeze of lemon I’m easily pleased.

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After a little break in between courses, our meat and veg dishes were brought over. Even though the chicken was really the other half’s dish, I managed to snaffle some myself, with permission of course! The chicken itself was very moist and had a texture like it had been poached or sous-vide, then griddled forming light charring marks. Topped with thin slithers of chilli and garlic, it was pleasant, and even though I can appreciate the subtleties of the dish, it could have had more welly!

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I selected the beef, another beautifully simple dish with braised meat woven through wide strips of pappardelle pasta. The beef was fantastic with a lovingly soft, giving texture and lots of flavour, whilst the pappardelle was al dente and silky. A great dish!

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Our accompaniments came in the form of zucchini and mushrooms, both of these were winners and a much loved part of the meal. I’d read much about deep fried zucchini from fellow food lover Elizabeth Dix (Whip Until Fluffy) fame, so this gave me the green light to my choice. Saying that, what did I think to it? Well, the zucchini fries were light, thinly coated in batter and with a pinch of salt, they’d make me happy any day of the week! Whilst the mushrooms had a very savoury meatiness! Possessing a fab crust and punchy flavours to boot! From the first mouthful, the other half who tends to be a lot more reserved in expressing feelings towards food until asked, quite openly gushed at how good it tasted!

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I was pretty much full now, but the other half had spotted the Panna cotta, probably his go to Italian dessert. It arrived, not in the classic style of turned out on the plate, which allows the wobble factor to be tested out, but instead in a small glass topped with berries and sauce.
Comments included: creamy and full of vanilla (very evident on closer inspection). Even though he prefers Panna cotta to be served alone without anything else, the fruits did bring a component of sharpness to the dish to cut through it’s creamy richness. I personally think they should be served with something exactly for this purpose. But we can agree to disagree!

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I love the simplicity of the drinks menu at Zucco, going for a classic list of Italian cocktails, the other half went for the Negroni next, he’d never had one before so fancied trying one. Unbeknownst to him, only because he’d never paid attention to the ingredients it was quite a bitter drink. Too bitter for him, so I gladly offered my services and took it off his hands instead!

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The total cost of our meal with drinks was £59.40, without tip.

More than a year on and I think Zucco is still one of the best places to eat out in Leeds at the moment, be it lunch or dinner. Yes, it’s not the cheapest, but the quality of the food and service makes the difference for me.

Food: Ingredients cooked simply and well. Lots of choice and hard not to choose lots!

Service: Much improvement in a smoother delivery from the kitchen. Knowledgable and helpful staff, unfussy and efficient.

Atmosphere: A popular place which generates a lovely busy ambience. 

Zucco
603 Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS6 4AY
0113 2249679
http://zucco.co.uk


Zucco on Urbanspoon

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Sunday lunch @ The Hungry Bear, Leeds

This Sunday we had lunch at The Hungry Bear, for one reason or another it’s taken me ages to get to Meanwood and try them out. The last time I ate here was months ago at Zucco, the independent Italian ‘small plate’ restaurant just across the road. They opened last year and have joined the rest of the Meanwood food scene, which is becoming a bit of a haven with some great bars, cafes and restaurants, such as East of Arcadia, Alfred bar and the aforementioned Zucco. On appearance the exterior of the place is quite unassuming, but as you walk closer the sight of The Hungry Bear becomes apparent. On entering it’s quite small and petite,  nicely decked out with large grey slate tiles, walls adorned tastefully with prints and a lovely selection of wooden tables and chairs which looked just right in their surroundings.  

 

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imageOur server brought us some menus and immediately pointed us to their homemade ales, which are brewed on the premises upstairs, but we decided to opt for some wine which was reasonably priced. This was quickly brought over with some tap water, which was a really nice touch.

After a quick nosey at the menu, we both fancied two courses so two courses it was!! They had a good looking menu with quite a few dishes from both starters and main courses that would have suited me just fine!!! We were on paper spoilt for choice. Starters are priced between £4.50 – £7 and main courses £8.90 – £14.50.

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We decided to start with scallops and smoked salmon, then for the main course I won the battle of the belly pork on this occasion, my other half had to settle for his second choice of the burger. While the starters were being prepared we were brought an amuse bouche, which was a lovely surprise. A white onion velouté to be exact which was delicious, light but creamy, well seasoned and full of flavour. A fantastic start, and definitely a good sign for the rest of the meal!

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I must say we felt comfortable very quickly here and found the place homely, even though the restaurant is on a well known busy road, I know this all too well from running countless times up Stonegate and Meanwood Road while training for one of my silly races, you really wouldn’t think it from the inside at all.

Our starters arrived not long after with great anticipation and didn’t disappoint.

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Both went down really well, my scallops were well cooked, no sign of these being rubbery little bullets, the chorizo added smokiness, and with the salty crispy pancetta it was a great combination. The other half also devoured his starter in a matter of minutes, the salmon accurately smoked was accompanied by a well flavoured, smooth puree. The crisps were good in flavour, the chive one could have been thinner and more crisp, but did deliver on taste.

Our main courses looked very appetising and after taking my compulsory snaps I dove right in. I was loving the look of my plate, regular readers may have read of my love of belly pork and this reaffirmed my affection for this cut of meat. Moist, juicy and flavourful, partnered by a lovely puree, iron rich greens and a hearty cassoulet, all of which really worked. I loved every mouthful. Oh, I can’t forget the crackling, one of the best I’ve had in a long time, cooked attached to the belly so it possessed a good mix of crispness while also having that sticky, chewy texture. A great crackling! I was a good girl though, sharing it with the other half who also showered it with equal amounts of praise. 

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The other half’s burger looked great too, being gluten intolerant he left the bread, which I happily ate. His comments about the dish were that the burger was good, well cooked and was topped with good pulled pork. He wished there’d been more pulled pork though as it was rather tasty. The chips were excellent and were incredibly soft in the middle with a good crust on the outside. The burger patty on its own could have done with being a tad more flavourful, but when eaten with the pepper, relish and lettuce was a tasty mouthful.

So far so good, our Sunday lunch was going really well! We had a nosey at the desserts and by my surprise we both ordered one.

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The other half’s passion fruit brûlée was lacking in passion fruit, but this really suited him as he loves traditional creme brûlée, it being one of his favourite desserts. So even though the passion fruit was absent, he certainly wasn’t complaining and thought it was excellent!! I’m not one who would not normally order a sponge based dessert, but this was YUMMY and incredibly moist. The cake was really light, airy, had lots of poppy seeds throughout and came with a great taste of orange.

Overall we had a lovely meal in The Hungry Bear. It’s been a while since I ate in Meanwood last, but I’ll certainly be back a lot sooner, and probably at The Hungry Bear!! 

I definitely recommend it!!

Food: Nice size menu, enough choice for everyone from starters to desserts. Tastes great and very satisfying.

Service: Friendly service, staff unfussy but efficient and attentive when needed. Food arrived from the kitchen in good time and there were no overly long waiting times.

Atmosphere: Lovely and cosy atmosphere, nice ambience. Not pretentious in any way. 

The Hungry Bear
10 – 14 Stonegate Road
Meanwood
Leeds
0113 2740241
http://www.thehungrybear.co.uk


The Hungry Bear on Urbanspoon

Inaugural Cupping event @ North Star Micro Roasters, Leeds

Of all the non-alcoholic beverages I drink coffee isn’t really one of them, I may order a caffè latte (which maybe a bit lame to coffee connoisseurs), but in general I drink it very rarely. On Thursday afternoon I’d received a message on Twitter from North Star Micro Roasters, a Leeds based company who’s primary ethos is to produce coffee from ethically sourced Arabica beans.

IMG_4636They are based on Meanwood Road in close proximity to other Leeds Independents Leeds Bread Co-op and Ridgeside Brewery, and had very kindly invited me to their Inaugural Cupping event, I had no idea what a cupping event was, but I was really intrigued so drove down that evening. As soon as I walked in I saw sacks of their coffee beans stood next to their roaster called Roxanne – a 5KG Toper and a whole host of people from local businesses, friends and family.

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DSC_0444Within the first five minutes I had spoken to two people involved in this new venture, born in April this year. Being pretty much a coffee virgin, with virtually zero knowledge about coffee I was quickly involved in a conversation about how each stage of the process was performed from picking the perfect coffee beans to roasting them to perfection, culminating in a coffee which possessed a consistency of flavour with each batch of beans. I had no idea it was so technical and being a science teacher by day, found it quite scientific. 

They have a range of single origin coffees for pour over and two house espresso blends – Czar Street Seasonal Espresso and Dark Arches Espresso. Part of their work at the roastery will be dedicated to collaborating with businesses in order to create bespoke blends unique to their individual tastes. 

What was also great to hear was their interest and commitment to the people who work on the land and do all the growing, picking and processing. North Star are working with Harrogate based Falcon Speciality Green Coffee Importers and both share the same ethos of sustainability, where fair prices are paid to farmers for coffee, the land is used in a way that respects the environment and the continuous improvement of coffee flavour profiles are all at the heart of their business. In turn this will hopefully build relationships that will last and prosper, allowing farmers to continually re-invest. All of North Star coffee is fully traceable, fully certified internationally or audited by Falcon trained social auditors, which ensures that the land where our coffee is grown and the people who grow it are treated with respect.

For the inaugural cupping we saw Roxanne, the 5kg Toper in its element roasting a batch for the evening and during this the profile of the beans was being monitored in terms of the beans temperature to ensure a consistent flavour profile for each batch.

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Mike Riley from Falcon Speciality Green Importers, who’d previously work for Taylors of Harrogate for 25 years as Head of Coffee introduced the cupping event and showed an infectious passion for his craft, he spoke lyrically about each coffee that would be tasted, its origin and flavour notes. For the next hour or so people were invited to taste away, comparing coffee from different areas be it Nicaragua, Columbia, Ethiopia and Rwanda to name a few. Coffee was also being used on the La Marcocco Linea espresso machine by expert Barista Ellis Hall, this would also be available for training at the roastery as part of their service to customers.

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DSC_0465There was a great buzz to the whole event and it showed that maybe I’m missing out here and should give coffee a try. One of the best things about the Leeds food and drink scene currently is the collaboration and support between independent ventures, on the night they had drafted in food from neighbour Leeds Bread Coop, pizza from Dough Boys and tamales from El Topo. Drinks were supplied by another neighbour Ridgeside Brewery.

Leeds Coop bread
Leeds Co-op bread
Cherry and chocolate tamales from El Topo
Cherry and chocolate tamales from El Topo

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It was a great evening showcasing coffees from another Leeds independent business. I think I left with a feeling that was evident from the start, that this team at North Star really show an innate passion for the humble coffee bean and this I’m sure can only be a wonderful thing. Leeds is certainly lucky to have them. I’d really like to visit them again in the near future and give coffee, which I hadn’t really given a chance before, a proper try. If it’s through a local, independent venture like this, which encourages me to enjoy this beverage then all the better for it!!!

North Star Micro Roasters
Unit 27
Penraevon Industrial Est.
Jackson Road
Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS7 2AP
http://northstarroast.com
http://leedsbread.coop
http://www.el-topo.co.uk
http://www.ridgesidebrewery.co.uk 

Italian Sunday lunch @ Zucco, Meanwood

Another jaunt to find good eateries outside of Leeds city centre brought me to Zucco on Meanwood Road, which has been open for a month or so.

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Following advisement from them, I booked a table for Sunday lunch, 12pm for 2 diners and a toddler in tow. The interior is very open, light and airy. Filled with lovely dark wooden tables and chairs, seating at the counter, simple black and white tiling and a wood panelled ceiling. Their menu is short but concise with starter-sized, sharing dishes using the freshest produce they can get that day. I liked how it’s all on the placemat and updated daily depending on the dishes available.

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Our man said 2 or 3 dishes per person would probably be enough, so we ordered a bottle of Prosecco and 7 dishes in all. Everything is cooked to order so we waited a little while, but were more than happy as the Prosecco was flowing nicely and even though we were the only diners in at the time, the atmosphere was still good with the buzz of the place in the background.

I was really impressed by the food, it was all very yummy. My favourites were the Fritto misto, I’m a sucker for deep fried stuff and this was especially good. Lovely crisp squid, little gems of whitebait and a sweet and juicy prawn. Cooked superbly. The baked melanzane (aubergine) was very much a winner in our eyes, lovely and soft, with a delicious tomato sauce and pecorino cheese providing a nice saltiness to the dish. The polpette (I assume from the title of the dish is his grandmother’s recipe) were very juicy and the spaghetti cooked al dente coated in lovely rich tomato sauce. The pizzetta with its thin base topped with fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil you really can’t go wrong!! It’s good to see quality ingredients treated simply and cooked really well.

Fritto misto
Fritto misto
Prosciutto crudo and mixed pickle giardiniera
Prosciutto crudo and mixed pickle giardiniera
Baked melanzane with pecorino
Baked melanzane with pecorino
Nonna's polpette and spaghetti
Nonna’s polpette and spaghetti
Chargrilled zucchini and red pepper salad
Chargrilled zucchini and red pepper salad
Rosemary potatoes
Rosemary potatoes
Pizzetta buffalo mozzarella and tomato
Pizzetta buffalo mozzarella and tomato

The place did fill up a little while we were there with groups of friends and families with children. All with the same idea as us I suspect, wanting a relaxed Sunday lunch. This is exactly what we got, we didn’t feel rushed in the slightest and by the time we realised we’d been there for about 2 hours. It definitely felt like somewhere you could relax with a nice glass of wine, gradually eat your way through the menu while chatting and leisurely watching the world go by.

In other matters, Zucco is a very child-friendly place and its menu is well suited for children. They’ll also do their best to cater for gluten free with prior notice, which is brilliant!! The service is friendly, unfussy and helpful. In terms of cost it was £60 (with tip) for 2 adults and a toddler with wine, pretty good considering the standard of the service and food. I really enjoy a Sunday roast, but I must admit I enjoyed this just as much!!

Zucco
603 Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS6 4AY
0113 2249679
http://zucco.co.uk