Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Salvo's - Headingley Lane, Leeds

Talk about Leeds institutions, this place is up there with the best. Recent winner of the F Words best Italian local restaurant and much deserved. Salvo’s has been cranking out Italian cuisine since 1976, that’s a long time and a good number of years before I was born, any way you should all know the back story.

If you don’t and you live in Leeds you probably don’t like food so I’m not sure why you are reading this. Sundays at Salvo’s and you can book, perfect as any other time you have to wait for a table!

We arrived just before 12.30 doors were still closed and the staff were having their briefing. I had promised myself I wouldn’t be one of these people who turns up at the doors of restaurant before it opens but I’m glad we were early.

Within moments of the door opening we were shown to our table and our coats whisked away, I turned around to survey the place and POW! It was packed...

Admittedly you do have to wait a little bit for service when it’s like this, the staff are getting everyone sat so it takes a while for everyone to get sorted.

A bottle of Lager takes the edge off while we are waiting to have our order taken and as my main action point for the afternoon is to have a nap a beer at lunch is in order.

They have a set menu to choose from which is fantastic value or you can choose from the full A’la Carte menu if you want. The lady had a Antipasto Alla Pecorara, which was smoked Ewes cheese with grilled Aubergines and Peppers, it looked beautiful.

I was sticking with the set menu and chose the Pate Della Casa. Which was typically smooth served with Orange Marmalade on crostini, could have done with a bit more bread as there was quite a lot of Pate which is not a bad situation to be in! The Orange citrus cutting through the creamy Liver.

Mains and I had to go for the Loin of Suckling pig served with roast Potatoes, Carrots and Parsnips with a Thyme Jus. The loin was deliciously marbled with creamy, velvet fat and the roast vegetables sat perfectly next to it.

I love pig so this was perfect, had the skin been a bit more like crackling I might have just had the perfect meal but as it was it was slightly chewy but beautiful all the same.

The lady went for the Tris, grilled red mullet, sea bass & king prawn with new potatoes and salsa Verde. Far too healthy for my liking but good god I almost thought I’d made the wrong choice for a moment.

I’ve been a number of times now and I’m yet to be disappointed with Salvo’s, long reign the Dammone clan!

Salvo's on Urbanspoon

Monday, 7 December 2009

Nation of Shopkeepers - Cookridge Street, Leeds

I’d been looking forwards to coming to this place for a while now, I’d heard good things about the food and wanted to know what had changed since the courtyard days. Climbing up the stairs we were greeted by a sullen Door Monkey.

Door Monkey: You got members cards?
Me: I wasn’t aware it was members only?
Door Monkey: Just wait...

Less than a minute later we were ushered in, apparently our now only moderately more friendly Door Monkey wanted some “Rugby Lads” to “fuck off” he wasn't letting them in so we had to wait.

I was not left with a great sense of hope about the place after our initial encounter with the door man, essentially the brand ambassador if you like. We got in... the bar was busy, dark and looked like it was getting into the swing of things... A band was setting up on Stage. This could be good me thinks...

Quick pit stop break was required so a few of us went. In the toilets chatting about the door debacle and another punter cheeps in with his view on situation “ I'm a member here, sometimes they don’t let people in if they don’t look cool enough”.

I politely explained the situation, he didn't seem to get that I wasn’t impressed with his insinuation that our group was possibly not cool enough to come in so my next response was slightly more condescending He mumbled “I don’t know why I bothered” as he walked away... “I don’t either... Thank you though” back to the bar.

The Lady and the rest of the group were still waiting to be served, the bar was busy so fair enough. Amstell on draft, nice! I think had we just walked straight in as we came in my view would be completely different right now but I hate the idea that people are not allowed because they don’t fit with the clique...

The guys who were refused entry didn't look like trouble and probably would have had one drink and moved on if they didn't like the place.

It could have just been the guy on the night, it might be completely different the next time but first impressions count a lot sadly. I’ll give it another go sometime but I’m not rushing back. There is an option for feedback on the website but sadly they don't give you the code...

Monday, 16 November 2009

Christmaskindlmarkt - Millenium Square, Leeds

Silly season starts earlier and earlier each year, this year it was the 13/11 and marked by the gates opening on the German Beer Market, or the Christmaskindlmarkt to give it is proper title... 

I don’t think it’s sole purpose is to get most of Leeds inebriated but it somehow manages to do this all the same. So it's opening day and moods are high.

I effectively sprint across Leeds to get there as early as I can.  For some reason on a Friday I feel the urge to get drunk quite that bit stronger after a week of work!

This place during the day and at dusk is a wonderful little winter wonderland, with its fayre and delightful little stalls selling all kinds of Christmas shit that I’ve never looked at but it certainly does change when the sun goes down.

People pour here after work to grab a table and stay as long as they can, something about the cold outside, the refreshingly crisp and powerful German Lager and the juicy Wurst to the soundtrack of Oompah music that makes us wish we were somewhere in Bavaria!

I’d planned to see the Lady so I couldn’t stay all night long but a couple of hours is enough these days to get me the wrong side of sober.

I’m pretty sure this won’t be my only visit to the Hangover Market this year but the first is always good, like visiting an old friend that always gets you in trouble...

Last year I broke a pair of £600 glasses on my way home from here. Hopefully this year’s cost won’t be so high (but I’ll keep a spare pair handy all the same)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Leeds Brewery

I’m all for a cheeky after work pint or two, it’s so good to unwind from a stressful day staring out of the window and moving spreadsheets around by sitting, drinking and talking shit with some good company... I’ve fallen in love recently with the Brewery Taps on New Station Street just near the Train Station.

It’s warm, it’s friendly and they serve really good beer! For those that don’t know Leeds Brewery was founded back in 2007 by a couple of guys who really love their beer and it shows, they’ve got 3 pubs in Leeds at the moment the others being the Midnight Bell (named after one of their beers, in Holbeck) and the Pin (not far from Tetley’s Brewery).

The seasonal beers are fantastic but the permanent collection really does deserve a special mention. Personally I think Leeds Best is awesome, easy drinking light, full flavoured and hoppy! They have a great selection of guest beers, lagers and ciders as well so it’s not just for Beer heads.

This place is dangerous though as the beer is very moreish so be prepared to fall out of here quite a bit later than you’d planned. That said you are 2 minutes stumble from the stations trains, buses and cabs so getting home shouldn’t be too difficult!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Ephesus Mangal - Bishopgate, Leeds

Sometimes things go so well and so right you are just amazed by the outcome... Leeds is a great party town but in my mind suffers a dearth of those little places that make a boozy night out end really well!

I’m not on about clubs and late night Whiskey bars, I’m on about the great little restaurants that look like hell but serve the best post pub food you could ever hope for...

I found a good one at last, so good I’ll be going back during the day. Ephesus Mangal is an amazing Turkish place in the Dark Arches (next door to Fry Ups) near the Leeds city train station.

It used to be a newsagents and has what we’d call beaten up charm about the place. Plastic table cloths, wooden chairs and you can see a chef preparing food whilst sat on an office chair.

None of this matters when you walk in though, you are met with this most delicious smell of meat cooking on a charcoal grill, they have a counter to display the kebabs in all their meaty glory as well as you walk in so immediately you know you are in for a treat.

The menu is what you’d expect... Grilled meats! Starters though come in hot and cold.  We went for the Patlican (Aubergine dip) with Bread and a Feta and Filo pastry dish.

The pastry was lush but completely overshadowed by the amazing Patlican also a dish of fresh tomato and oil was brought over to add another dish of dipping goodness to the spread.

The mains were immense... 2 large Cop Kebabs skewers (little cubes of Lamb) and 2 large Chicken Kebab Skewers, both were served huge plates of salad and rice. Now given that I’d been to the pub before hand and the place is BYOB I was starting to get a little hazy by this point.

The meal came to about £20 which was great and all was served incredibly quickly and professionally. Needless to say I’d missed my bus as I’d left it too late and ended up walking half the way home till the next one came but I was drunk and stuffed so It didn’t matter at all!

Ephesus Mangal on Urbanspoon

Monday, 26 October 2009

Arts Cafe - Call Lane, Leeds

Early bird at Arts Cafe as we were off to Edinburgh on the train... I hate eating to a timescale always so stressful, this is probably just me though, always looking at your watch thinking where’s the food! Needless to say my neurosis was unfounded and the food came out promptly.

Arts is a little, bijou bar restaurant type affair on Call Lane just near the Corn Exchange, nestled between the other more obviously “trendy” spots it’s seems like a little haven of peace and quiet from the throng outside.

It’s been in Leeds since I’ve lived here but hasn’t changed too much at all and this is a good thing, the menu is updated fairly regularly though so it stays current but the decor and atmosphere is still the same, chilled out, friendly and very easy going. I’ll stop wittering and get onto the food, 2 course for £12.50 or 3 for £15.00.

I’d gone with the Slow braised belly pork with Puy Lentils and sautéed apple which was delicious, the meat was perfectly cooked and just fell apart. I did think the Lentils could have been cooked that little bit longer, I’m all for al dente but not with Lentils.

The lady, looking delicious as ever bathed in a soft candle light, had gone for the Shredded Chicken and crème fraiche salad with Pancetta and figs which looked amazing but as I was too involved with my belly pork I didn’t try it! The mains came out quickly after the starter which calmed me down no end you’ll be pleased to know.

I’d gone for an old school dish of Tarragon crusted chicken with pancetta and creamed cabbage, the meat was cooked perfectly.

The crust added great texture and was delightfully aniseedy from the Tarragon but the creamed cabbage was just a bit too rich all in so the finished dish was a little off balance in my mind.

The lady had chosen Root vegetable pie with celeriac mash, she assured me this was delicious but I wasn’t having it... Vegetarian indeed!

All in all for 2 of us with some soft drinks and a couple of beers it was £35 which is pretty reasonable.

Arts Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Oktoberfest - Hudderfield Beer Festival

We got into Hudderfield shortly after 11 to a gloriously sunny reception and moods were high despite an outbreak of really fine rain blowing in all directions mischieviously bypassing any attempts to stay dry with an umbrella.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

That Mona Lisa

Café du Louvre... Quiche Lorraine, Frisee salad and french dressing in a sachet all served with the company of my beautiful lady! A great diversion from the cultural roller coaster happening elsewhere in the Louvre.