Tag Archives: steak

Fire Lake Grill House, Leeds

The Radisson Blu hotel isn’t one that springs to mind as a destination for a meal, since the unveiling of their multi million refurb I’d read some reviews and got a free invitation to try the place out, so thought why the hell not?! From the outside there’s not much to give the impression it’s got a brand spanking new restaurant, there’s just one of those folding display thingamebobs indicating the existence of their new Fire Lake restaurant and cocktail bar. 

They’ve obviously spent money on interiors going for more of a boutique hotel vibe. I used to walk passed, peer inside and think it looked nice enough for a business meeting perhaps, but nothing really drew me in. The new cocktail bar on the left of the entrance is a bit of a draw and it’s a good strategic move putting it there, luring in a steady stream of well dressed customers to the plush bar.

The rest of the space is divided into comfortable seating areas with statement hanging fire pit, cosy dining areas, plush semicircular booths with a view towards the kitchen, in particular the pass and Josper grill. I was certainly impressed by the design they’d gone for and seems like they’ve spent their money well.

We were seated at one of their semicircular booth type affairs, so we could see the chefs at work and given a few minutes to look over the menuOn first impressions it looked a little try-hard and over complicated – definitely requiring some early explanation, such as calling starters ‘mingling platters’ – what’s that supposed to mean, also ‘bundles’ which are basically set meals shown on display boards, one of which was a 3-course bundle with ‘no bills wines’?! A short time was spent trying to decipher the menu, then a few questions were asked – some answered more successfully than others. I now know that the ‘no bills wines’ are glasses of medium house wine, however I’m still none the wiser what the hand held pulled pork item is – is it a sandwich, a wrap, a bao? Your guess is as good as mine!

I felt a little sorry that the waitress was put in a situation where she had to explain the random terminology to us, but I suppose if they’re there, it’s simpler to clarify things from the start.

On the plus side we had no complaints about drinks, we were recommended a fantastic bottle of wine to go with our meal; a Brazilian Miolo Tannat which was quite full bodied, very smooth and drank very well. 

From the starters (or mingling platters) I chose crab croquettes, deep fried breadcrumbed stuff I couldn’t go wrong with, whilst my friend went for mussels. The croquettes were lovely and golden, but were let down by the contents which I found cloying and lacking in crab. The tomato and wild garlic chutney it came with was tasty, but I didn’t get much of the wild garlic and the addition of charred spring onions was surplus to requirements. The mussels weren’t particularly big but were well cooked, with some lemon focaccia to dunk into the liquor delicately laced with Sam Smiths bitter.  The focaccia itself was lovely and soft, however I would’ve preferred it minus the lemon. 

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For the main course I went straight to the ‘cooked on coal’ section which listed a few fish and seafood dishes then the rest meat, such as fillet steak, the fashionable onglet (hangar) steak, also corn-fed chicken and sausages. The menu mentions the use of cooking on charcoal, so it would’ve been nice if staff spoke about it, considering it’s an important aspect to their food. It all arrived nicely presented, however it was off putting having a thick piece of string still tied around the meat (on both plates). Personally I also could’ve done without the paraphernalia – the silver buckets and gravy in glass jars (brought on the same plate as the food) weren’t doing anything for me either.

Food-wise the fillet was perfectly cooked, but I didn’t really get the smokiness I expected. The chips and intense gravy (their title not mine) were both good, in particular the gravy which was glossy, rich and full of meatiness and the tomato and mushroom were nice enough accompaniments. Alongside me the rib was also well cooked, however the béarnaise needed more sharpness and punch. One thing on the menu that we were intrigued by were the Bradford onion bhajis, we were told the menu tried to have a link to the local area…. fair enough but I found it bizarre to have them on the menu then have nothing else to really go with them. We ordered a portion to check them out and I was disappointed – the thickness of the batter was ok, but they didn’t hit the mark in spice and were a little bland. 

For desserts we went for the selection to share, the best bits were the moist ginger cake and the liquorice ice cream which was excellent, the worst bit the warm doughnuts which were heavy.  

Overall our experience was a little hit and miss, I think the menu tries too hard to impress and would be better keeping things a little simpler. It isn’t the cheapest of places to eat and therefore the quality needs to match this. The restaurant has only recently reopened so maybe still finding its feet, the staff were lovely so I hope they iron out any niggles.

Fire Lake

Radisson Blu Hotel

No 1 The Light

The Headrow

Leeds

LS1 8TL 

 

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

Crowd of Favours does us a favour!!!!

Friday date night and I’d suggested going to Crowd of Favours, the newest pub from the Leeds Brewery group on Harper Street near Kirkgate market. I’d read about it favourably since it’s opening and was anticipating good things.

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For beer drinkers they have the usual Leeds brewery beers and were hosting beers from Magic Rock Brewing.

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They had a short but succinct wine list and after a long week at school we certainly deserved some.

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We decided on a German wine, it’s not that often that you find a decent German wine in a pub these days, except the usual Riesling etc, but we decided on a Niersteiner. We hadn’t a clue what it was but were eager to find out what it tasted like, I must say we were pleasantly surprised with it with lots of subtle floral notes to it. I especially tend to swear to dry white wines and even though this was certainly more of the medium spectrum it wasn’t too full bodied in terms of a medium white wine. It didn’t take along and we were both quaffing quite happily.

Niersteiner, Gutes Domtal
Niersteiner, Gutes Domtal

I grabbed a menu off the bar as we were both pretty ravenous, the menu is broken down into quirkily titled ‘Small favours’ such as soup, lamb kebab, ‘Large favours’ for example Nicoise salad, halloumi cheese and vegetable skewers, ‘A crowd of burgers’ and ‘Crowd pleasers’, such as their cheese fondue.IMG_3339We both decided on their classic steak burger with all the trimmings. On such a warm afternoon the wine was definitely flowing nicely and when the burgers arrived it was like there was a silent fanfare in the background. It may have been because we were starving, but even I’ll admit that they looked pretty damn fine, and I’m not even the biggest burger fan.

Crowd classic steak burger served with cheddar cheese and smoked bacon.
Crowd classic steak burger served with cheddar cheese and smoked bacon.
Stacked high with Leeds pale battered onion rings, pickled chilli, gherkin and baby gem lettuce, served with hand cut homemade chunky chips, mayonnaise and homemade ketchup
Stacked high with Leeds pale battered onion rings, pickled chilli, gherkin and baby gem lettuce, served with hand cut homemade chunky chips, mayonnaise and homemade ketchup

Ok, now lets cut to the chase the burger…it tasted wonderful!!! The steak was juicy and moist, the smoked bacon cooked to perfection with crispy fat. The bun, if you’ve read any of my earlier blogs you’ll know I have a thing about the burger bun. Not to sound too Goldilocks-esque it was just right in terms of size, flavour and texture. The bun had a lovely neutral flavour so didn’t detract from the flavour of the meat, it had good charr marks and a fab crust. It was great to get a burger which didn’t have that sweaty exterior to it. The ketchup was tasty and the hand cut chips were a great partner. Still with the skins on and a decent chip size, not the silly overly large hand cut chips you often get these days. The burger was stacked with 2 onion rings, very yummy with thinly sliced onion coated in a light crisp batter, using Leeds Brewery’s very own pale ale. I left my pickled gherkin and chilli till last, they tasted fab too, in particular the gherkin which had just the right level piquancy. I struggled a little more with the chilli just due to the fact that I can be a little lame when it comes to heat. Now from the first bite, actually probably even before, if we had an ‘hmmm jar’, we would have raised a lot of money because we must have said it at least 20 times, we couldn’t stop singing its praises after every mouthful.

I’ll stop waxing lyrical about the food and get onto other important matters: service and cost. Service was really friendly and the cost was £40 for 2 adults. The place had a nice, relaxed feel about the place and lots of rooms scattered everywhere upstairs and downstairs. I’d definitely recommend going. The burgers alone were £10.50 each, not the cheapest, but I preferred it more than similar burgers I’ve had in Reds True BBQ and IT Bar.

Crowd of Favours
Harper Street
Leeds
http://www.crowdoffavours.co.uk/

Steak anyone?

Miller & Carter steak restaurant recently opened in January (part of the Light) in Leeds city centre, I’d fancied going for a while so we went for a late Sunday lunch. The interior is lovely with brown decor and bare brick walls, art work of bulls covering the walls.

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The staff were friendly and we were given the choice of where to sit, so we opted for a table near the back of the restaurant where it was a little quieter.

The menu is divided into starters, steaks, other main courses and side orders. The steaks range from an 8oz rump (£12.50) to a chateaubriand (£41.95) to share. Other main courses include burgers, sea bass, steak pie and barbecue chicken.

We decided on a cherry tomato, mozzarella and rocket salad and duck rilette to start, then an 8oz fillet and sirloin steak with five mushroom chasseur. Steaks come with a wedge of iceberg lettuce and a dressing of your choice.

In terms of drinks, there’s a good selection of wine at reasonable prices, starting at £13. We ordered a bottle of pinot grigio which was £14.50, a jug of water and a coke.

The drinks arrived within a few minutes, I’m not a snob or anything but having worked as a waitress in a restaurant during my university years, I have the understanding that the customer is always asked if they would like to taste the wine before the first proper glass is poured. This didn’t happen and the waitress just poured our wine and walked off.

The starters arrived and looked very nice, my duck rillete was delicious, the portion size generous, the caramelised onions soft with a lovely tangy sauce which cut through the pate well. The ciabatton were warm and nicely toasted so that was a good start.

Duck rilette, slow cooked shredded duck  pate with caramelised onions and toasted ciabatton.
Duck rilette, slow cooked shredded duck pate with caramelised onions and toasted ciabatton.

My fellow diner’s salad was a bit nondescript, the cherry tomatoes lacked flavour, the mozzarella was soft and quite creamy, but still nothing special and they’d had much better in other establishments. The pesto dressing didn’t have much impact and could have been used more.

Cherry tomato, mozzarella and tomato salad, with pesto dressing.
Cherry tomato, mozzarella and tomato salad, with pesto dressing.

A few minutes after our starters had been taken away, the waitress brought us our iceberg lettuce wedges, the lettuce was crisp and they tasted nice with the different dressings. The garlic wasn’t too strong which is always a good thing and the bacon had a nice saltiness.

Iceberg lettuce wedge with bacon and honey mustard, garlic and chive mayonnaise with parmesan.
Iceberg lettuce wedge with bacon and honey mustard, garlic and chive mayonnaise with parmesan.

This increased our anticipation for the main event, even more so when I could see from our table the chefs working in the open kitchen. Our steaks arrived and looked great, and apart from the lettuce wedge all steaks come with fries, something called an onion loaf, cherry tomatoes and a sauce of your choice.

Both steaks were ordered medium rare, the fillet was cooked to perfection, the lightly salted fries were crisp and the onion loaf (a bit like an onion bhaji) was tasty and a good addition to the dish.

Fillet steak with fries, cherry tomatoes and onion loaf.
Fillet steak with fries, cherry tomatoes and onion loaf.

My sirloin unfortunately was very salty. This was really disappointing because everything else on the plate was very nice, even the mushroom chasseur was a good accompaniment to the steak. The quality of the beef was excellent so the issue with seasoning was a real shame!!

Sirloin steak, with garlic butter and mushroom chasseur sauce.
Sirloin steak, with garlic butter and mushroom chasseur sauce.

The waitress came over but I had already eaten a third, I know I should have asked for another one, but I didn’t want to wait and don’t think I could eat another 8oz steak. To check I even asked my fellow diner (who likes salt) to taste it and he agreed. I just cut off the top layer and ate what was very succulent and juicy. I did mention it to the waitress when she cleared the table though.

We ordered desserts (usually we leave out desserts but we still had room in our stomachs), a creme brûlée and caramel apple crumble tart with custard. The creme brûlée is a favourite and part of the fun is breaking open the caramelised sugar top, unfortunately the top was very soft and there was hardly any sugar on the top (as you can see in the photo). The brûlée underneath was tasty though.

Creme brûlée.
Creme brûlée.

My apple crumble tart was nice, the custard ok, nothing special though.

Caramel apple crumble with custard.
Caramel apple crumble with custard.

In total the bill came to £73.95 for 2 people, (3 courses each) including a bottle of wine. I am very undecided on whether it was worth the price. It wasn’t cheap and I was surprised they misjudged the seasoning so badly on my steak (considering it’s a steak restaurant) and also with the other errors with the food. The service was fine but could be fine-tuned. I’m hoping this was a one-off and they don’t make these mistakes a regular thing. I doubt I’ll be a regular customer especially with the competition in the city centre.

Miller & Carter
56-58 The Headrow
Leeds
LS1 8TL