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

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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

Bilboa bar, Leeds

We are spoilt for choice with tapas in Leeds but Bilboa should not be overlooked! I came here with a large group of women and the service was fantastic. They were the perfect combination of seamless efficiency and friendly attentiveness. We were welcomed by a friendly member of staff who guided us to our table and talked through the menus, making recommendations.

The menu has the classics on there that you want such as spanish omelette as well as different things t make them stand out, such as ox cheek in rioja. I went for the ox cheek, a special of scallops with black pudding and some chorizo in cider. Great flavours, decent portions and fast service. Happy customer!

The gin selection was good, with some of my favourite spanish gins including Gin Mare and Nordes. A gin and tonic was a little pricey at £10.50 but my glass was full and the garnish was almost perfect, missing an olive in the Gin Mare.

The waiters glided in and out of sight as and when needed and nobody seemed to be waiting long for anything, pretty impressive considering the size of our group. More impressive was the fact that they sorted us all out with individual bills and again this was done with no fuss in an efficient manner.

Great place, great food, great service, great gin list. I shall be back.

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

Hessian, Oakwood, Leeds

I recently stopped off at the new Hessian cafe for a cappuccino, just to have a nosy at the new addition to Oakwood parade. After browsing the menus and meeting a member of staff there, I knew I would be returning.

Bank holiday weekend seemed like the perfect time to try it out for lunch. We were greeted by warm and welcoming staff. It was great to see a familiar smiley face from Sunshine Bakery amongst the staff crew, I hope he will be a permanent fixture. Hessian is only a small venue and it was bank holiday but I was pleasantly surprised to see how busy it was in there. I love that the menus are small, less pressure on the staff means better quality produce. The food is everything I love, healthy, hearty and wholesome. I love the Mediterranean theme.

I really like the decor and the feel of the place. The small dining area in front of the open plan kitchen has a real cosy, living room feel to it. The only drawback of this is that it is quite cramped and when it’s busy it can get really loud. The chef had a system where he rang the bell when a dish was ready for service to collect. It was so bustling in there that the waiting staff kept missing the bell.

We drew the short straw somewhat with the service. One of the best things about Hessian is the staff team. They are smiley, friendly, helpful and just the right level of chatty. Apart from the man who was serving us unfortunately. He was pleasant enough but it really seemed like he’d rather be anywhere else but there. I had ordered a salad that came with grains, when the salad came there were no grains. I raised this with our waiter and he seemed surprised, went away and came back and said “We ran out of grains, that’s why there weren’t any”. I can think of better, more apologetic ways of putting that message across. I believe a good staff team communicates and the waiting staff and chef should work together to ensure that everyone knows what is and isn’t available before the customer orders. I heard other customers order things and their waiter/waitress knew what was and wasn’t available. There did seem to be quite a lot of things they had run out of but they are new, it was a busy bank holiday and it was late in the afternoon. Overall, the rest of the staff are lovely and fit in well with the welcoming attitudes shown in the other venues on Oakwood parade.

I ordered the grilled halloumi salad which comes with super grains (if you’re lucky), avocado, leaves, roasted red peppers and honey and mustard dressing. My husband ordered Jamon, picante cheese, roasted red pepper and pesto grilled melt. We were both happy with our food. We had ordered polenta wedges but they had run out and in the end we were nicely full anyway. One thing to keep in mind is that they serve the food when it’s ready so you may not eat at the same time, we didn’t. I’m assuming that is usual practice but I’m not sure. Our waited didn’t mention it but as mentioned, he wasn’t exactly on the ball. I also noticed that they offer gluten free bread, always a bonus in my book.

We had some lovely drinks. A nice beer, gin and tonic and a gorgeous espresso martini. I’ve had great espresso martinis and I’ve had some awful ones and this one was definitely up there with the good’uns. The drinks are quite reasonably priced too, £5 for a prosecco, around £7 for a cocktail or gin and tonic.

Overall, I really like Hessian and hope it stays around. I can’t wait to come back for the evening menu and to sample some cakes. I did notice a message on their Facebook page apologising for not offering ‘the full Hessian experience’ over the bank holiday weekend. I think that’s fair enough and goes to show that they are a staff team that care.

Atmosphere 8.5/10
Quality 8.5/10
Service 8.5/10 (based on overall from both visits)
Value 8/10
Unique 8/10
Overall 8.5/10

Pintura, Leeds (Gluten Free friendly)

I have to admit that this is my third visit to Pintura and I love it more and more each time I go! This time was a little different as I wanted to see how easy it is to dine out when you are gluten free. Luckily I am gluten free at the moment by choice and not by necessity, but while I am doing it, I want to experience it fully. All I can say is that if everywhere is as helpful as Pintura was then we are getting it right as gluten free friendly society.

When the server had finished talking through the menu, I asked her which options were gluten free. She asked me if I was gluten free or Coeliac. Big tick. I responded and she replied saying that she would just check with the chef. Moments later, she comes back with my menu, altered to show what I can and can’t have. I was delighted to see that I could still have bread and dessert as I had completely written those off! I could even have cake!

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So, on to the food. We went for the garlic and tomato bread, Chorizo, Sirloin steak and fries, Marinated prawns and a pork special. The bread was delicious and you couldn’t tell any difference with it being gluten free bread. I said so at the time to my husband who replied saying he had forgotten that it was gluten free. The chorizo was gorgeous, it had a powerful taste without being overpoweringly strong and acidic like it can be. The texture was nice and soft, a good quality Chorizo. The steak was melt in your mouth and so tasty. My only criticism of this dish was that it came with fries and mustard but nothing to dip the fries in. Luckily I had alioli left over from the prawns. Also I would have liked some more fries as there wasn’t much when sharing between two. The prawns were beautifully fat and juicy, really tasty. I couldn’t taste any garlic in the alioli and would have liked it to be stronger, but that’s my personal preference. The pork trio special was a lovely treat. It came with steak, fillet and a rib, with a celeriac puree accompaniment and some sort of jus type thing. It also came with a separate tiny little crunchy apple, like a very mini toffee apple. Well that just made the evening for me! My only criticism of the special is that it’s pretty hard to share a small rib. Then came the desserts, chocolate mousse and Spanish almond cake, gluten free cake! The desserts were delicious, I didn’t want the cake to end. I’ve had the mousse before and it is deliciously rich and I love the way that it’s presented.

You can’t talk about Pintura without talking about gin. Their gin list is immense. I think it’s best list I’ve ever seen outside of the gin festival brochure. In fact I’m sure it is. A fabulous mix of local and international gins. I love the way that they actually give you a brief description of the gins, rather than just listing the names. They also offer some favourite gin and tonic combinations and of course they are all served with premium tonic, in a decent glass, with a garnish. Another big attraction for Pintura is the service. The staff are just so nice! I have thought this each time I’ve visited. A server came over to see if we needed more drinks. I asked for a Slingsby Rhubarb which is a favourite. The lady told me how she likes to drink it and offered to have one made up for me. I accepted the offer and let me tell you, Slingsby rhubarb with Double Dutch cucumber and melon is an absolute dream!

The other thing that I have yet to mention is the decor. Pintura is just a really lovely place to be. The entire place has a relaxed vibe, particularly the gin bar downstairs. They have managed a unique combination of modern, trendy, urban, relaxed and something almost vintage. I even loved the toilet!

I would urge anyone to go. It makes a fantastic date night but also somewhere to relax with friends and family. I can’t wait for my next trip, I have several gins left to try!

Atmosphere 10/10
Quality 10/10
Service 10/10
Value 9/10
Unique 10/10
Overall 9.99/10

(I really want to give it full marks but there were just a couple of teeny tiny little tweaks required. My full marks are hard to come by!)