Harewood Food and Drink Project, Hidden Harewood: A Feast For Spring

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The best way I can describe this experience is like going to an amazing wedding without having to dress up, buy a gift or endure any of the boring bits. I had read reviews of the previous Hidden Harewood events but nothing can prepare you for such a unique immersive dining experience. The event is described as a moving feast as guests are guided around various locations across the estate to indulge in wonderful seasonal produce, most of which has come from the estate itself. The chef behind the food is Josh Whitehead, who you might know from The Ox Club in Leeds.

Arriving in glorious sunshine at the cricket pavilion, we checked in and made our way over to collect our welcome drink (included in the ticket price). We both chose a wonderful gin and tonic made with Harewood Gin, garnished with blood orange. It was so delicious we had to get another one afterwards. We were then treated to our first canapé, which unfortunately I don’t have a photo of because I was just too excited to get involved! It’s described on the menu as Buttered radish, Lamb fat and Parkin. Radishes were buried within a lamb butter with a Parkin soil sprinkled over the top. To try it, you had to grab the stalk of the radish and scoop it through the parkin speckled butter. It was so much fun and so delicious!

 

 

 

 

After the first canapé, We were shown to the ‘party buses’, which looked like this….

 

 

 

What followed was a bumpy but incredibly picturesque journey around the estate where we saw Deer, Hebridean sheep and lambs, rolling hills and beautiful nature. We eventually stopped at the Bluebell Forest. It looked and smelled absolutely incredible! The next bit of fun was looking out for our menus that were hanging from the trees, what beautiful menus they were.

 

 

As we arrived at the other side of the forest, we were introduced to our next Canapé, Raw lamb leg, katsuobushi “Tonnato”. This was beautifully presented on small log coasters.

 

 

Next, we made our way across a field to a small barn containing two long bench tables which were beautifully decorated with candles, flowers and soft lighting. The barn doors were left open leaving a stunning backdrop of the sun setting behind the forest trees. It was a tight squeeze you had to get used to sharing your space very quickly.

The first thing brought to us was called Paris – Brest. It was a nod to the Tour De Yorkshire. It was a wheel of sweet pastry filled with lambs liver chantilly. It was absolutely delicious. There were a few of these wheels spread out amongst the two tables in a real family dinner type sharing style. This helped to set the tone and encourage guests to get familiar with each other. You could tell it was the first course as there were leftovers due to everyone being too polite to help themselves!

 

The next dish was a Glazed Autumn Ale Bread, the glaze made with Harewood Ale. This was served with Wild Garlic, Black Truffle butter and Yorkshire Rapeseed oil. The bread alone was incredible and the accompaniments really enhanced the dish.

Then came the next course which was Watercress Potage with Asparagus, Egg Yolk and Yuzu. This was a lovely palate cleansing dish and the Asparagus tasted really fresh and lovely. For me, I struggled to find the Yuzu flavour but enjoyed the dish all the same.

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The highlight of the meal for me was the main course, the Harewood Hebridean Lamb served with War of the Roses Sauce, Rhubarb Sambal and Smoked Eel Fricassée. This was absolutely delicious, I could have eaten it twice. My only complaint here is that there wasn’t a lot of the accompanying veg to go around and the dish was quite small for a main. That said, we didn’t go hungry and we did get a generous Yorkshire Pudding served on a little log coaster.

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The next course was really unique and one of my favourites. It was a Yorkshire Blue cheese ganache with grapes, celery and oats. For me this was a wonderful blend of flavour and texture, I liked how the sweetness of the grapes balanced out the saltiness of the ganache and the oats added a lovely crisp texture.

The final course was a Yoghurt Parfait with Elderflower and Whipped tea, which came with some lovely crunchy bits. This was pleasant, nicely presented and a good mix of textures.

 

Through the course of the night, guests became much more sociable with each other and it was lovely to spend the evening with other like-minded foodies. The hours flew by and I only noticed how late it was because it started to feel chilly. There was a slightly awkward bit after the final course when people were unsure of where to go next but we were soon shown through to the Carr House where there were comfy sofas inside and benches and firepits outside. Blankets were handed out and it was a really sumptuous environment to relax in. My husband and I took our drinks outside to enjoy by the firepits. I had an Espresso Martini and he had a Gin and Tonic. The Espresso Martini was made with Gin rather than Vodka and it didn’t quite work for me. It was nice to try it as it was a twist on the usual but I just couldn’t enjoy it. The Gin and Tonic was delicious and I had total drink envy. The menu did state at this point that there would be Parkin and “Whitby Goth” but I couldn’t find either of these things. My husband did ask for some Parkin which was brought out to us swiftly but I’m yet to discover what Whitby Goth is.

 

Before long it was time to return to the Tractor to be taken back to reality. The evening was truly magical, an amazingly unique experience and I would urge anyone to book on to one of these events if you get the opportunity. Tickets were £75 per person and that included one welcome drink, further drinks went on a tab to be paid at the end. Between us, my husband and I spent another £50 on drinks and we didn’t go without. We had Gin, Beers, Wine, Prosecco and Cocktails. We were never without a drink. A total of £200 for the two of us to have amazing food and drinks in a phenomenal environment was totally worth it. I will definitely be booking on to Hidden Harewood event in the future. I can’t wait to see what else the team think of. Thank you Harewood Food and Drink Project.

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Atmosphere 10/10

Quality 10/10

Service 9/10 (Simply because we didn’t know how to access the Parkin and Whitby Goth!)

Value 10/10

Unique 10/10

Overall 10/10

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Mother’s day at Dakota Deluxe, Leeds

Usually my sister and I like to take my mum out for lunch on mother’s day and this year we decided on Dakota Deluxe in Leeds. I am generally a big fan of Dakota but I’d not had a Sunday lunch there before so I was intrigued to see how it was.

The food was delicious, tasty and generous portions. A lovely touch was that they brought my mum a glass of fizz on the house.

Before our starters came, we were brought some fresh bread with a tomato and cheese dip which was very nice but quite filling.

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Then our starters came which were lovely but again huge! I had a caprese salad whereas everyone else had tempura prawns. I really enjoyed mine but the others said that the dip for the prawns was very garlic heavy and subsequently overpowered the main and dessert.

Then came the roast for main. We all had lamb which was nice but some were more pink than others and mine could have been pinker.

The desserts were lovely but quite big, the brownie dessert, in particular, was massive!

 

Before we left they brought my mum a small gift of macarons to take away with her which I thought was a really nice added touch.

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At 3 courses for £25 you can’t go wrong with Sunday lunch at Dakota. Lovely food, good atmosphere and good value. My only gripe was that they kept taking the water jug away!

Atmosphere 10/10

Quality 9/10

Service 9/10

Value 10/10

Unique 8/10

Overall 9/10

Home restaurant, Leeds

Home restaurant is tucked away in between some shops on Kirkgate, you could easily walk past and never notice the unassuming door that opens up to a staircase leading to the restaurant. Our table was booked for 7PM and we arrived at 6.45PM. Luckily I knew where the restaurant was because when we found the locked door and the darkness behind it we could have easily assumed that we had got the wrong place. After a while of waiting outside in the cold looking far too nicely dressed to be where we were, we managed to catch the attention of a member of staff who looked to be starting her shift. She let us in and we were keen to see what awaited us upstairs.

As you travel up the lovely staircase, we are transported far far away from the loud chaos of the city centre. At the top of the stairs we are greeted and seated, a lady comes to offer us a drinks menu and to offer us one of two complimentary welcome drinks, lovely touch. I went with the gin and tonic option, a little bit put out because I had decided to have the Harewood gin and tonic to start and I didn’t know which gin this would be. Turns out it was the Harewood gin and tonic so I was over the moon!

While perusing the wine list we were given some canapes. One was a white chocolate shell filled with an alcoholic liquid centre which was pleasant and not too much like liqueur chocolates can be. It was nice but nothing special for me. The other one was a macaron which I think was coffee flavoured and I think the filling was duck liver parfait and cherry. It was gorgeous and really unique, I could have eaten a plate of them!

We were one of the first diners to go through to the restaurant. The decoration was elegant yet cosy and the tables were decorated beautifully.

We were given a menu so that we could see what was coming and they had gone to the trouble of writing happy anniversary on it for us which was a nice touch.

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We began with a small amuse bouche which was a nice addition before moving on to the starter type dishes. We started with the crab dish which was very tasty and beautifully presented. It came with a whiskey jelly which was really well-balanced and not overpowering. Next we had the leek tart which looked and sounded so simple but it was absolutely gorgeous, a really rich and unique flavour. Then we had the onion dish, which was pleasant but perhaps a bit onion overload. The individual elements were nice with some interesting textures but it felt like it needed something to break it up a bit. It did come with a splash of stout broth but it could have benefitted from being a bit stronger on the stout side and there definitely needed to be more of it.

Then we moved on to larger, more main type dishes, starting with the pork belly. This was a wonderful dish, really tasty, great textures, I loved the crackling stick! We then had monkfish and cauliflower, again this was really tasty. Finally, on the mains front, we had the pigeon and truffle dish. Now is a good time to point out that they time between dishes was about 15 minutes. During this time you have nothing to do but chat and sip your drink. By the time the pigeon came, I was quite tired, pretty full and a little bit light-headed from the wine! The pigeon is the 8th thing to come to the table and it’s probably about two and a half hours in from your arrival time, we were shattered at this point. That said, the pigeon was delicious, a real stand out dish but really rich. Unfortunately, due to how we were feeling by this point, we really struggled to finish it. Which was disappointing because it was very tasty.

This is the last of the savoury dishes and at this point, we are starting to be thankful that it’s nearly over. The waitress comes over to our table and clears our plates before announcing that they like to leave a 15-minute gap before dessert to let the food settle. Great in theory but this statement made us wince a bit. There had already been 15-minute gaps between some of the courses and if this was to be a significant gap then we were fearful of how long this would take. The first dessert came eventually and it was the lime, marmalade and toast dish. It was really nice, comforting yet zingy, it even managed to wake us up a little bit! One of the best fine dining desserts I’ve had, definitely in the top five. To finish we had a final dessert which was white chocolate and coconut. It probably didn’t help that we had lost the will to carry on at this point but this was a really bland and forgettable dish for me.

Once we finished we knew we could ask for the bill so we eagerly tried to get the attention of the waitress so that we can finally be released. The bill came and we were able to leave, three and a half hours after arriving. This took us to 10.30pm which didn’t leave us much of the night left for some after meal drinks. Perhaps the experience is less tiring on a Saturday night, this was a Friday after a full day at work and it just felt a bit much.  I could also be more suited to groups as there is more conversation to make the time go faster. That said, I did look over to a group and see a lot of tired looking faces but less yawning and watch glancing than I saw from other couples.

Overall the food was nice and I’d definitely like to go back and have one of the shorter menus.

Atmosphere 10/10

Quality 9/10

Service 7/10

Value 8/10

Unique 9/10

Overall 8.5/10

 

 

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

The Garden Room at The Mansion, Roundhay Park, Leeds

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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!

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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…..

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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

Tattu, Leeds

This is a frustrating review, to write and to read, because I’m about to tell you all about the magic of Tattu , how it’s customer service ethos is on point and plenty of reasons why you might want to go. I’m also going to tell you why it’s unlikely that I’ll return.

I arrived with my family for our table at 6PM. Tattu was so popular that this was the only table I could book for the night despite it being booked in advance. I was so excited to try the place, I didn’t care what time the table was. When we arrived I gave my name and booking details. The member of staff appeared to find me on the list but then there was long period of time where we stood waiting for instruction and the staff spoke to each other uncomfortably as if something had gone horribly wrong. Eventually we were seated.

It’s a strange atmosphere at 6PM on a summery day. The restaurant decor is very dark and sleek and sexy. The juxtaposition of this against the bright sunny windows felt somewhat clashed. It felt like being in a nightclub in the middle of the day. On that point, the music is just awful. There was loud house/dance type music pounding away at 6pm. I asked our waitress if the music was this loud during the week and she  somewhat proudly announced that it was and it gets louder from 9pm. It doesn’t really go with the tranquil imagery I associate with Chinese culture and it certainly doesn’t make for a pleasant eating environment. It’s almost impossible to have a conversation across the table. This is the reason why I am unlikely to return. I can think of lots of friends and family that I would like to take to Tattu to show them the decor and the food but I would never subject any of them to the atmosphere.

The tables are beautifully decorated but feel a little crowded. There doesn’t seem enough room for everyone to look at the menu and you have to hold it up as there is nowhere to lay it down on the table. Unfortunately, along with the horrendous music, there was an alarm that kept going off continuously. It wasn’t Tattu’s fault, their alarm was being triggered by the alarm of a neighbouring bar. This brings me on to one of the best things about Tattu, the customer service. The alarm was annoying, very annoying. The staff recognised this and  both our waitress and the co-owner came to speak to us to apologise and the co-owner bought us a round of cocktails to apologise. In my opinion, you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the way they handle their mistakes. Tattu had it bang on. We also waited an extremely long time for our dessert to arrive. Again the waitress and co-owner spoke to us, apologised and we got another round of free cocktails. This time it was a sharing cocktail and it was certainly a showstopper! and very tasty too!

We ordered starters and they were all delicious. We had a mix of dim sum and small plates including Wagyu dumplings, lobster and prawn toast and mushroom spring rolls. They were presented beautifully and each tasted delicious. We ordered mains and again they were delicious and looked stunning. Between us we ordered Thai monkfish, caramel soy beef fillet and pork ribs. We had all ordered a different main initially but we were told that they had run out. This was extremely disappointing considering how early it was and that it was a Friday evening, the start of the weekend. I would expect a restaurant to be better stocked. We were advised to order two sides between the four of us as that was more than enough. The side portions are pretty small, I’d recommend ordering a starter each or maybe three between four. We waited an incredibly long time for dessert. Again they had run out of one of our choices, so we each ordered the cherry blossom dessert, which is a really fun and magical dish. It’s certainly worth ordering and is lots of fun but don’t expect anything as refined as the rest of the meal. It is cherry and chocolate flavour and involves candy floss. It makes you feel like a big kid but it just tastes like sugar, very lacking in flavour or quality. Unlike the rest of the food.

The cocktails are great but some are better than others. My first cocktail, recommended by the waitress, was very small and insignificant, not worth the £9. I was envious of everyone else’s that were bigger and better presented, some bubbled, some sparkled. I did later order a peepshow martini and it was incredible! Very good cocktails, I just wasn’t a fan of the ‘Eastside’.

Be careful when coming back from the toilets. They are pretty far away and when you get back through the door to the restaurant, everything is dark and there are mirrors everywhere. It’s hard to work out where to go and two of us walked in to a mirror!

While waiting for our bill a magician came over and did some tricks with us, he was very good and I liked the added fun. At one point, they had made a cocktail and didn’t know who to give it to so they gave it to my mum as it was her birthday, which was a nice touch.

The restaurant gets very smokey over the course of the evening. I wasn’t too bothered by it but it was irritating others.

All in all, I had a good night, but I think that was mostly due to the free cocktails! The food is great and I would love to return but not with the music. I can’t think of anyone who I would recommend it to. I suppose if you are looking for a party atmosphere even while you eat then this could be the place. For me, it was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t wait to leave. Unfortunately, we were there for around three and a half hours in total due to all the waiting. I was over an hour late to the bar I had booked for after my meal. Luckily the bar were fine about it and we could all relax in a peaceful atmosphere once we got there.

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Atmosphere 2/10
Quality 8/10
Service 8.5/10
Value 8/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 5/10

The Cat’s Pyjamas, Eastgate, Leeds

I was attracted to The Cat’s Pyjamas because I love Indian food but I find most Indian places to be very similar, this place has a twist. I’m a big street food fan and I’ve not tried Indian street food before, so I was excited to try it here.

The venue itself is unique, it has a good atmospheric street food feel yet it’s not too crowded and doesn’t have that ‘canteen feel’ that other street food venues have. The open plan kitchen brings lots of lovely inviting smells into the arena!

We were greeted and seated and given a menu. The menu is small but has a good mix of traditional favourites and things you may not have tried before. I like that the menu is small compared to the giant menus you see in traditional curry houses. My only criticism is that a fair chunk of the menu is vegetarian. I don’t mind that so much but my husband is a firm believer of it not being a meal if it doesn’t contain meat! That said, it’s a great place for a group of mixed vegetarian and meat eaters to go together.

We ordered poppadoms and a pickle tray. You just get a standard basket of poppadoms rather than paying per poppadom. The pickle tray was small but tasty and the poppadoms were plentiful. I ordered pani puri to start. They were like little fried baskets filled with tamarind chutney, chilli, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas. They came with a little flavoured water on the side which I had been using as a dip until a waitress came over and explained that the idea was to pour the water in! I wish I had been told that when I received the starter! My husband ordered Keralan beef fry which was a generous portion of chunky tender rump steak cooked with onions and spices and topped with coconut flakes. Both starters were very generously sized.

For main, I ordered Lamb Rogan Josh. It was nice, not the best curry I’ve ever had, not the worst. My husband had the Goan chicken, a mild and almost sweet dish. I wasn’t a fan but then I don’t like mild, sweet curries. We shared rice and an onion and corriander naan bread. The naan was lovely, really tasty and perfectly cooked, fluffy with a delicate crisp. I washed it all down with a mango beer which was delicious and my husband had a nice IPA.

In terms of service, it was all pretty quick and efficient until the end. It really annoys me  when they give you the bill and then disappear for ages. Clearly if I’ve asked for the bill, I want to pay it. I don’t want to look at it while you wipe tables. Generally, the staff were good, checked if things were okay without hassling us. They gave good advice about the food in terms of portions, flavours and consistency. The only downfall was that I missed out on eating the majority of my starter the proper way because it wasn’t explained to me from the beginning.

I think I would go back. There are still things on the menu that I would like to try. If I was craving the full curry experience, I would probably still go to the usual popular places but I’d take friends and family here for something different.

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