Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I created this blog simply because I love food and drink. I love consuming it and I love talking about it. What you will find here is a very real account of my experiences of eating and drinking in Leeds and beyond. All opinions are my own, all photos are taken on my own camera phone, I wont beat about the bush, I’m passionate about what I like and I will point out what needs to change. This is not a polished and professional blog. This is raw passion.

Advertisements

Temple Coffee and Donuts, Leeds

I had been dying to try this place ever since I found out it was coming to Leeds. Living at the other side of town, I didn’t even care that it was a 25 minute drive away, I was just so excited! I arrive an hour before closing time on a Saturday to find that all the donuts are sold out. Sad times. I tried again the following Saturday at 1.30pm, sold out of all but one flavour donut. I wanted the full experience so I decided to leave it this time and return when there was more choice. Fast forward another week and I’m in! Got there at 11.30am and there was plenty of stock to choose from. The place was heaving though and people were sitting outside despite it being absolutely freezing. We were incredibly lucky and as we were ordering a sofa became available and the friendly man behind the counter spotted this and pointed it out to us before we missed out.

It was really hard choosing a donut as there were so many exciting looking colours and flavours including vegan and gluten free donuts. I went for a chocolate orange donut and it was huge! I ordered a donut each for my husband and I, a Chai latte for me and cappucino for him and the bill came to over £12!!! for coffee and donuts! The donuts alone were £3.50 each! After taking our drinks order we were told that our drinks will be brought over for us so we took our seats on the sofa. The venue is really cool and has a garage kind of vibe. It’s a really unique and trendy layout but it was absolutely freezing! The donuts were big and we wanted to enjoy our coffee with the donuts so we ate slowly while we waited for our drinks. We waited, and waited, and waited. We watched loads of drinks being taken away from the counter, each time wishing it was ours. I was getting to the point where I thought I might have to cancel the drinks and leave but as I took the last bite of my donut, the drinks arrived.

My Chai latte was disappointing. Apart from a sprinkling of spice on the top it was basically just warm milk. My husbands cappucino was lovely, perhaps a bit on the small side but came with a pretty design on the top which always pleases me. I have heard from lots of people that the coffee at Temple is excellent so I think I just mad ea bad choice. I’d like to go back and try some of the more colourful and unique flavours, however, I’d be tempted to take out as those seemed to get their drinks much quicker. I’m not fussed for the donuts, having tried them and speaking to others with a similar view, they donuts look a lot better than they are. It was only 11.30am and both myself and my husband thought they were stale.

It’s one of those places I reckon everyone should try if you can but I’m not sure I’d ever feel the need to return.

Atmosphere 8/10 (Might have been more like 9/10 if it was summer)
Quality 6.5/10
Service 6/10
Value 6/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 7/10

Skosh, York

The first thing that strikes you about Skosh is how incredibly stylish it is. They have clearly put a lot of effort in to the decor and creating a certain vibe. It was a Friday lunchtime and it was incredibly busy. It helps to do your homework before arriving at Skosh. It’s fine dining and so carries a matching price tag. They use a small plates system and food comes out as and when it’s ready. Much like a tapas style experience but with asian style food. We were greeted by a gentleman who did explain this to us, however, he also made it clear that he was somewhat annoyed by other customers who had not understood the concept. It was an odd welcome.

Service was quite slow at first. This was somewhat understandable due to the busyness, however, it doesn’t take that long to pour and bring two glasses of Cava. The fizz came in little beaker type vessels which was suitably quirky but I much prefer my fizz in a flute. We ordered 6 dishes between us and it totalled just over £50 plus extra for drinks and service. We only ordered savoury dishes so can’t comment on the sweets but they did look nice. Some of the dishes are more expensive than others and you can see why.  We ordered a range including sourdough with butter and gunpowder spice. It was nice but I’m not sure it’s £3.70 nice given the portion size is quite small.  We had some mid range dishes including Skosh fried chicken (£6.50), duck liver mousse with passionfruit and apple chutney and miso baguette (£6.50) and curried mussels (£7). The fried chicken was distinctly average and served with hollandaise sauce that neither myself or my husband were keen on but that’s more about our preferences. The duck liver mousse was lovely but the baguette to mousse ratio was disappointingly disproportionate. The curried mussels were delicious and presented in a way I’ve not seen before, I really enjoyed it. It would have been even better if it came with some sort of bread.  I think the chicken was overpriced but the other two dishes were priced fairly. At the more expensive end we ordered scallops with parsnip, wasabi and apple (£14) and pork belly with vindaloo sauce, pickled carrots and yoghurt rice (£14). These dishes really did shine and you can see why they were at the higher end. The flavours were much more complex and really enjoyable. If I had to choose which was best out of those two I would have to say the scallops. Would I say they were worth £14 each? Hmmm yeah go on then. It is fine dining after all.

Overall I’m glad I’ve been and tried it. I won’t hurry back. If I did return it would be on an evening for a special occasion and I’d choose more options from the higher end of the menu. This restaurant is linked to what used to be Van Zeller in Harrogate and I can see similarities in that I found the food there quite hit and miss. I know I’ll remember those mussels and the scallops but the rest was quite forgettable. I’d recommend to go and try it and I think your experience would depend heavily on your budget and choices.

Atmosphere 8/10
Quality 7.5/10
Service 7/10
Value 7.5/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 7.5/10

Neighbourhood, Leeds

20171113_134247

My first experience of Neighbourhood was late on a Friday night when the party was in full swing with a DJ and dance floor and double gin and tonics at a painful rate of £15.50 each! I nearly cried real tears. At that point I really didn’t think I would return.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I find myself here one Monday afternoon due to a special offer. I had looked through the food menu and found myself intrigued to try it so I came along with a friend. The atmosphere was incredibly different to my previous visit. In the light of day you can really see the effort that has gone in to the decor. It is very striking with bright lights and lots of colours.

It was very quiet but the service was good. The menu consists of main meals and small sharer plates. My friend and I opted for small plates so we could try a few different things. I had been really excited about trying the Lobster tacos but unfortunately, they had no lobster. This was a bit of a blow for me as the Lobster dishes were the main attraction for me. Nevertheless, we proceeded with our choices of Southern Fried chicken lil’ burgers (£12), Teriyaki beef skewers (£9), Chorizo croquettes (£6) and Tostadas (£7). The burgers were AMAZING! They were so tasty, definitely the favourite for both of us. The skewers were very forgettable, the teriyaki sauce was very thin and seemed just like plain soy sauce. The croquettes were really nice but I was surprised to see that they were just plain croquettes with Chorizo chopped in to the relish on the side. I was expecting the Chorizo to be inside the croquettes. The Tostadas were nice, nothing to write home about. I think the overall quality was good and I feel like I would have liked the lobster dishes and I would also like to try the popcorn prawns. The portions came in threes so which made some dishes easier to share than others.

I feel the skewers were over-priced and while the burgers were delicious, £12 seems a little steep. I was happy with the price having had 20% discount but not sure I would have liked the bill for lunch at full price. That said, they do an express lunch menu that includes 2 selected small plates and a soft drink for £10 which is a pretty good deal.

Overall I enjoyed it and would return to try some of the other sharer plates or a main meal.

Atmosphere 9/10
Quality 8/10
Service 9/10
Value 8/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 8.5/10

The Garden Room at The Mansion, Roundhay Park, Leeds

Afternooninroundhay

I love Roundhay Park all year round, but I find it particularly enchanting in the Autumn time. This afternoon, my husband and I decided to head over to check out a small art exhibition at The Mansion and have a cup of tea in The Garden Room, followed by a walk around the Upper Lake.

We waited a while for our order to be taken, it was fairly busy in the Garden Room. We were a bit put off by the high prices but decided we deserved a treat so we ordered some cake to go along with our tea. While my husband had standard tea (£2.40), I opted for a flowering tea (£3.80) because it sounded exciting. As lovely as it was to watch the flower opening, it was too delicately flavoured for me. I opted for the Loving Heart. I probably should have gone for the Erupting Volcano which sounds like it might pack more punch.

Down to the last dribbles of our tea, after waiting over twenty minutes, our cakes arrive. My husband ordered the Orange and Almond sponge with ice cream from the dessert menu. I opted for a slice of fruit cake with Hawes Wensleydale cheese and apple chutney (£5.95). There is something deliciously seasonal about fruit cake and Wensleydale. Unfortunately, this was not what arrived on my plate. Instead of Wensleydale, there was tiny sliver of cheddar along with a rock hard roll of butter. I received a generous slab of fruit cake which was initially very exciting, however, the cake had been refrigerated so it was cold, hard and dry. I couldn’t use my solid butter to help with this as it was unspreadable. The apple chutney was nice and I tried to use that to make the whole thing less dry but it just wasn’t enjoyable so a couple of mouthfuls in and I had to give up. My husband did really enjoy his dessert. His only comment being that, as it came with ice cream, it was hard to eat it from a slate. Particularly as he wasn’t given a spoon.

We tried for ten minutes to get someone’s attention to complain, the staff walked around hurriedly with their heads down, showing no awareness or interest in the customers around them. Eventually someone came over and he then alerted his manager. The manager came over and instantly saw our point of view. He was very friendly and didn’t hesitate to offer us something else from the menu. We explained that we were in a hurry, more so that we couldn’t bare another wait, so the manager offered to remove the food from the bill, which we accepted. The manager was much more engaging than the rest of the staff and did make up for the experience. We did, however, have to wait a while to pay, despite having told him that we were in a rush, because he was busy chatting at another table!

The manager saw us and another table waiting to pay and came over and apologised. He apologised again to us for our experience and promised to be better next time, commenting that it was not their usual standard. I will return to The Garden Room because it is a lovely atmosphere with a fantastic view out of the windows and frankly I’m dying to try the afternoon tea!

20171105_144950

Atmosphere 10/10
Quality 7/10
Service 6/10
Value 6/10
Unique 8/10
Overall 7/10

Review update!: The Midnight Bell Sunday lunch, Leeds

About this time last year, I went to The Midnight Bell in Leeds for Sunday lunch and posted my review. You can find that review here .

The picture above left is the beef roast dinner from last year, the picture above right is the exact same menu choice this year. You can see instantly that the plate is nowhere near as full. The giant Yorkshire pudding is a welcome addition and there is some mashed potato underneath it. Behind it there was one single ‘roast’ potato which was about as crispy as a banana. It has about a spoonful of pale tasteless gravy, no comparison to the lashings of flavoursome ale gravy last time. You had to pay £1.50 if you wanted extra gravy. The cabbage was dry and bland, there was nowhere near as much veg in general. There was a decent enough amount of beef and it was good quality.

Overall it was a disappointment from last time. Along with the food differences, there was no atmosphere. I remember a time when you would have to book well in advance due to it’s popularity but there was only one other table there when I went. The staff appeared bored, huddled at one end of the bar looking glum. There was no mulled wine, perhaps it was too early for that. I did have a lovely pumpkin ale. In my opinion, their roast has gone downhill, I long for what it used to be and now I’m going to have to find a new favourite!

Atmosphere 6/10
Quality 6/10
Service 6/10
Value 6/10
Unique 6/10
Overall 6/10

53 Degrees North, Leeds

I’ve been bursting to try a bottomless brunch so when the opportunity arose for me and some of my girls to get together for something to eat, this was a must! There are loads of places doing bottomless brunch in Leeds at the moment so it was really hard to choose where to try first. After being tasked with the decision, I went with 53 Degrees North. At £20 per person, it’s reasonably priced which suits a large group and I like that the food is breakfast type food. I feel this is what brunch should be. You can get tipped sourdough, pancakes cooked breakfast. There are other items that you can add on for £5 each including pastries, grenola and a smoothie.

I also really liked that there was a good selection of drinks. As much as I love bottomless fizz, I don’t always want bubbles (or to get drunk in 0.5 seconds). The bottomless drinks include prosecco (with or without peach puree), bottles of sol, bloody mary, peach iced tea cocktails and non alcoholic drinks including hot drinks. The peach iced tea cocktails are divine but way too easy drinking! Saying that, the final batch was notably stronger than the rest.

I ordered scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on sourdough toast. The portion was much bigger than expected and the food was good quality. I did feel it was good value for money, however, I know some other places include two courses but are around £5 per head more expensive. I liked that you weren’t tied in to 2 courses with this one but if you did want to add on some pastries or anything extra, you could.

The atmosphere was good. We were in a booth and it felt like our own private space, we couldn’t hear the next booth. Although they might have been able to hear us after a few glasses of fizz! I liked the modern decor and the booth atmosphere. The floor is gorgeous but the place does seem like it could feel quite cold once the colder weather sets in.

We were a dynamic group of 5 women including a heavily pregnant lady and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that we have decided to set up a brunch club!

Atmosphere 9/10
Quality 9/10
Service 9/10
Value 8/10
Unique 8/10
Overall 8.5/10

Olive and Rye, Leeds

For a while Olive and Rye had been teasing me with their Instagram photos. Not least because I am a huge fan of Love Rouge bakery who supply some of the treats on offer at Olive and Rye.

One hungover Sunday afternoon seemed the perfect time to get myself over there for a bit of brunch. My hangovers need sourdough. There were a few customers in there by the time I met my friend, but it wasn’t heaving. The service, however, was very slow and it was hard to capture the waiters attention. There only appeared to be one person taking orders. My friend warned me how long it had taken her to get a cup of tea so I got my drinks order in quick. I pondered over my food order for a while, trying to choose between sourdough with stuff on top or some sort of sourdough sandwich. I’d decided on a reuben sandwich, a firm favourite of mine. Sadly, this was not meant to be. The waiter explained to my utterly shocked face that there was no bread. No sourdough. No bread of any kind. This created quite a problem for me because without bread, there weren’t many other savoury items on the menu, except salad. No hangover wants salad. This created quite the predicament for me and in the end I had to settle on waffles.

Savoury situation aside, the waffles were absolutely gorgeous. I got the ones topped with maple syrup, blueberries and pecans £7.50. My friend got pancakes topped with banana and maple syrup on the side £7.50 and she also had many compliments for her dish.

On my way out I couldn’t resist the magnificent cakes by the window and had to get a slice to take home. I mean, just look at it…..

20170924_171529

All in all I would definitely come back here. I like the cosy decor, the food is nice and the cakes are amazing. I would just hope for better service and a bread delivery!

Atmosphere 9/10
Quality 9/10
Service 6/10
Value 7/10
Unique 8/10
Overall 8/10

The Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley, North Yorkshire – Afternoon tea, bed and breakfast

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My husband treated me to a stay with afternoon tea here last week. I’ve had many an afternoon tea and I must say this one ranked highly! Not least because they offer a gin and tonic tea! Although I have to say it didn’t taste much like gin and tonic but nice all the same. The list of tea was impressive and quite difficult to choose one from. The tearoom is what you might expect from a North Yorkshire village, very quaint with cutesy crockery. The afternoon tea arrived and although it didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary, it was delicious. The sandwiches were simple flavours but delivered on fresh, good quality bread. The scones were warm and served with clotted cream, butter and jam. My only complaint is that out of the 4 scones, only one was filled with fruit. Either we were given 3 plain and 1 fruited by mistake or the spread of fruit wasn’t very even on the fruited batch. The little cakes were delicious, particularly the passionfruit meringue tart. Despite being pleasantly full by the end , I couldn’t help but lust after some of the treats, both sweet and savoury at the counter! All in all a very lovely afternoon tea which I would happily have again!

Atmosphere 8/10
Quality 8/10
Service 8/10
Value 7/10
Unique 7/10
Overall 8/10

As mentioned, we also stayed over the night and had breakfast the following day. The hotel is quite large and is located next to a lovely little church and opposite a large square surrounded by shops and pubs. Helmsley is a small village but has a lot to offer including it’s own castle ruins. The staff were very welcoming and polite. The room was clean and cosy and stocked with Molton Brown goodies. They even give you an apple and a bottle of water for your journey home when you leave! Our room was near the entrance to the beautiful gardens which was a lovely place to relax with a gin and tonic/cup of tea. We had a really peaceful stay, although we did find the room to be quite warm and there didn’t appear to be any air conditioning and the window didn’t stay open. The bed was comfy. The bathroom was very small, we couldn’t both be in there at the same time. Breakfast was in a nice and comfy dining room. There was plenty to choose from, both hot and cold options. We both went for the Yorkshire breakfast which was nice,although the bacon was rock hard and we had the impression that it was all reheated food. Backed up by the speed in which it arrived.

Comfort 8.5/10

Quality 8/10

Quietness 9/10

Service 9/10

Value 7/10

Unique 7/10

Amenities 7/10

Overall 8/10

 

The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire

The Star Inn has been on my to-do list for ages and I was lucky enough to be taken there by my husband for my birthday this week. The Star Inn is in a small place called Harome. We stayed in a nearby village called Helmsley, a lovely quaint little place with nice shops, art galleries and pubs to explore.  You can even visit the ruins of Helmsley Castle. Helmsley is a lovely place to stay but be warned that taxis will charge you around £15 each way for the 6 minute drive to Harome.

Back to the meal. Firstly it has to be said that the atmosphere in Star Inn is delightful. It’s quite hard to strike the balance between living room and restaurant and I’ve seen it done a few times but never achieved quite so smoothly as The Star Inn. There are two restaurant areas and we dined in what looked to be the smaller of the two. I loved the cosy feel and the quirky decor. I can imagine that it’s a wonderful place to be in the winter with the fire going.

After we had ordered we were treated to an amuse bouche of a kind of biscuity crispbread and chutney. It was nice but not particularly remarkable. We were also given warm bread, one was black pudding flavour and the other was apple cider flavour. Both great breads, really nice. My husband ordered the blonde beer braised oxtail ravioli to start and I ordered the foie gras and black pudding with apple and vanilla chutney. We sampled a bit of each others and both agreed that the fois gras was the better of the two. It was very tasty and had wonderful balance with the chutney. The ravioli was somewhat disappointing. It was quite bland with no real depth or variation of flavour. There was no hint of the fresh horseradish shavings that I could detect. Both were presented beautifully though.

For main we both chose the deer with pistachio cake, pickled cherries, game juices and twiglets. Again it was presented beautifully and it was enjoyable, however, we both agreed that the combination of flavours didn’t really work. The deer and cherry went together beautifully but the pistachio cake seemed quite random and made the dish way too sweet. Perhaps it might have been better sprinkled over the dish rather than hefty chunks. Maybe even just roasted pistachios instead of the cake would have been better but the cake just did not do it for us at all. The twiglets were really hard to bite and really sticky so you didn’t want to pick it up with your hands but the cutlery couldn’t penetrate it. They didn’t really add anything to the dish either. The flavour was a nice savoury counter for the sweet cake but I would have preferred the game juices to have been more complex and flavourful and hit the savoury notes instead. We were surprised to see that the dishes came with huge complimentary sides as we haven;t experienced this at Michelin star venues before. It was a nice touch although we were too full to eat them and we did both think that the mains should be enough on their own.

For dessert we both ordered the special which was plum tart tatin with spiced toffee sauce and blackberry ice cream. The dessert was delicious! We both felt that it really stood out. We decided if we could start again we would have ordered a different main and he would have ordered a different starter but we both would have kept the pudding!

It has to be said that the value for money here is excellent. We had a 3 course meal each and a bottle of wine for well under £200, which is fantastic for Michelin Star prices. Although it may not be quite as refined as some places we have been, we loved the rough and ready Yorkshire edge to it and would definitely return. I would recommend it but not as a good example of Michelin star experience but as an example of good hearty food. I’d be tempted to come back and try out the tasting menu or maybe just lunch.

The service was good, not too in your face but made sure everything was okay. The waitress even dropped us back off in Helmsley as she couldn’t get us a taxi back!

Atmosphere 9/10
Quality 8/10
Service 9/10
Value 9/10
Unique 8/10
Overall 8.5/10

Dakota Deluxe, Leeds

It’s no secret that I love this place for drinking and socialising. Since discovering Dakota Deluxe, I’ve been intrigued to see what the food is like. I often like to test places out by their lunch as it’s a cheaper way of seeing if I want to splurge on a dinner there. So I had a look online and discovered their market menu. I shared the menu with a friend and we were both excited to book a table! Unfortunately by the time the big day came, that menu was no longer in use and we had to choose from the new lunch and light bites menu. A little disappointing as what we wanted wasn’t on this menu but we liked the look of it and it had options for our vegetarian friend.

For main we chose smoked salmon with potato pancakes £10, wild mushroom risotto £8 and charcuterie £8. The best value for money was by far the risotto. It was a decent portion and reasonably filling. The charcuterie was second best for value although my friend had to add the bread as a separate order. The bread does not come included in the price. Lastly was the smoked salmon. At £10, the most expensive of our choices, I expected to see 1-2 large medium thickness pancakes topped with a decent helping of smoked salmon. The amount of salmon was just right but the tiny pancakes didn’t touch the sides and made the presentation look really lacklustre and disappointing. I don’t mind paying the price but I want more for my money. It has to be said that the quality of each meal was fantastic, we each enjoyed what we had but we still felt hungry after.

So we had to order desserts, obviously. Now here is where we saw the Dakota quality shining though. Each dessert well worth the money. The lemon meringue cheesecake and the pineapple tart tatin both came in at £7 and the dark chocolate cremeux at £8. The tart supposedly came with a coconut ice cream but neither my friend or I could detect the coconut. The hazelnut ice cream that accompanied the cremeux was very tasty by all accounts. As you can see in the pictures, the presentation was really good, particularly with the cheesecake which is extra beautiful. Wonderful desserts, really enjoyed them.

Our table was on the terrace. As with any part of Dakota Deluxe, the atmosphere was luxurious and welcoming. I will definitely be back to Dakota for more drinks and socialising. I might be tempted to try the dinner menu but only for an occasion and it’s purely the desserts that would bring me back.

Atmosphere 10/10
Quality 9/10
Service 10/10
Value 8/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 9/10