Dakota Deluxe bar, Leeds

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I cannot rate this place highly enough. It has fast become a favourite of mine. The customer service is impeccable, the decor is decadent and the atmosphere is incredibly relaxing. The staff make you feel at home at the same time as making you feel valued. The drinks list is fantastic and the cocktails are gorgeous. I almost didn’t want to do a review because it’s that good, I don’t want to share it! However, I couldn’t not tell you all and I would certainly urge you to go!

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

 

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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!)

 

Gluten free afternoon tea: 2 Oxford Place, Leeds

It’s no secret that I’m an afternoon tea fan. After a month of being gluten free, I had spent all week looking forward to a gluten free afternoon tea.

2 Oxford Place is a lovely little venue. Tucked away from the masses but still central, it has the feel of a cosy living room yet the convenience of being easy to get to. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed and a couple of hours whizzed by in no time. Although that could have been down to catching up with friends!

You can see from the pictures that the food was plentiful. Too much food in fact for the three of us to manage. We each took home a box of leftovers! It all came beautifully presented. The china cups and saucers were gorgeous and I loved the glass bottle of water.

So on to the main bit, the food. The sandwiches were lovely and such a treat for a gluten free eater. Some gluten free breads are awful! I would have liked to see some meat options and perhaps some smoked salmon. The choices we had were salmon paste,egg, cucumber and cheese and chutney. Although perfectly pleasant, a somewhat disappointing selection.  There was a LOT of cake! Never a bad thing! The cakes were nice and again a welcome treat for a gluten free eater. You can definitely tell the difference between a normal scone and a  gluten free scone. It was really nice but not quite like the real deal.  I didn’t try every cake because there was just way too much but everything I did try was nice. I took some Bakewell tart home for my husband who was pleasantly surprised and said he wouldn’t have known it was gluten free. On balance I personally would have preferred some more savoury selections and a little less on the sweet side.

What let the experience down slightly was the service. The staff were polite and did check on us a couple of times but overall there were too many things that let them down. We had pre-paid a deposit for afternoon tea with a glass of fizz, yet we had to ask for the fizz. I would have expected them to come over and ask us if we are ready for said fizz. A member of staff brought the glasses over while wearing her coat and clearly on her way out. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this so much if she hadn’t repeated how unprofessional it was to her colleague as she served us. I had ordered Earl Grey tea and was brought some sort of smokey tea. To be fair, the smokey tea was really nice. However, it wasn’t what I asked for. We had a menu on our table which listed everything that was in the afternoon tea. Not happy with the mountain of cake we already had, we noticed that there was Victoria sponge on the list but not on our cake stand. We mentioned this to a waitress who went to investigate. She came back and explained that the Victoria Sponge was only on their sample menu. This was a little odd as everything on that menu was on our stand except the sponge. We were sitting right in front of the bar yet it seemed to take ages to get anything, the fizz, the bill, the card machine etc.

Overall, it was a nice experience. If you are 100% gluten free and need an afternoon tea then I would recommend it. Personally, I wouldn’t return for afternoon tea. At £25.00 per head, I’ve had a lot better and a lot cheaper. BUT, that is me who plays gluten free and could take the hit and eat gluten full. I would consider returning to 2 Oxford Place for lunch or dinner but I would hope for better service.

Atmosphere 9/10
Quality 6.5/10
Service 6/10
Value 6/10
Unique 10/10
Overall 6.5/10

2 Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3ZX, 0113 234 1294

 

 

 

Vice and Virtue, Leeds

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A recent trip to the theatre gave me the perfect opportunity to visit a restaurant from my ‘On my radar’ section, Vice and Virtue.

Blink and you miss it, Vice and Virtue is situated in a building in the Northern Quarter over the road from Sandanista. The building used to be home to a strip club and although they have done their best with it, there are still some reminders left behind in the bar, such as the stage and the rope barrier.

That said, the bar is cosy and well stocked. The cocktail list is good, varied and creative. We had a strawberry and basil gin cocktail and a rhubarb flavoured gin cocktail, which was called Yorkshire Lass. Both were dreamy! The barman was very friendly and enthusiastic and offered to make us whatever our hearts desired.

Being pushed for time, we moved quite quickly to the restaurant upstairs. The friendly barman happily gathered our drinks and carried them upstairs to our table for us. The dining room was also cosy and well laid out. It was pretty quiet as we were the only people there, but it was only 5.30pm. The staff upstairs were just as friendly and enthusiastic as the barman downstairs. We were presented with several tasting menus at various prices to peruse. They do an extremely reasonable pre-theatre menu at £23 per person. I was, however, tempted by the classic menu at £35 per person. There were also two other more ‘prestige’ menus available.

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Let’s start with the food -tastes great, looks great, creative, exciting. I love it when a meal surprises me (in a good way!) and this didn’t fail. The amuse bouche paired quails scotch egg with a blackberry coulis. Egg and blackberry you say? together? but wait…it works! Smoked oyster – delicious. The first dessert came with half the plate covered in red powder. I fast reverted to a child and had to dip my finger in it and taste it. I was smacked in the face with a blast of zing raspberry, just delightful. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Thyme ice cream but it was actually really nice and went well with the treacle pave. The pave itself I wasn’t that keen on. It was well executed but just not for me. The orange curd was absolutely gorgeous.

The staff here really stand out as being friendly, passionate and creative. I wanted a gin and tonic and asked the staff to surprise me with which gin they brought. The waiter immediately took on the challenge and with a look of excitement expressed that they relish the opportunity to get creative. I was assured that they were working on something special for me at the bar. Moments later I was presented with a beautiful copa glass of Old tom gin with rose liqueur and elderflower tonic, decorated with a rose head and petals. It looked and tasted absolutely beautiful.

I really liked it here. It’s different and it’s creative and it has a good vibe. Furthermore, it has potential to be even better and I would bet that the staff know that and embrace the challenge with passion and excitement. I’m looking forward to seeing how this place develops. My only concern is that it’s not somewhere you would walk past and drop in so it relies on people actively seeking it out. I’ll be doing my best to recommend it to people, I’d love to see this place a bit more busy.

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

 

 

Little Tokyo, Leeds

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Little Tokyo is one of the many hidden gems in Leeds. Tucked away behind House of Fraser, if you found yourself walking that way, you could be forgiven for walking straight past it. You would do better not to though.

The place itself is truly unique, with traditional seating and  big bridge over a fish pond. The atmosphere and setting transports you to a world well away from the back streets of Leeds City Centre. Occasionally on Friday and Saturday evenings you might even catch sight of the staff wearing strange costumes and fighting with light sabers. An unusual event and not quite fitting with the tranquil setting, but hey if that’s what they want to do, then why not!?

I have been here several times and the food never disappoints! I generally always go for my usual, Dim Sum Sui Mai with sweet chilli sauce to start and Chicken Teriyaki Bento box. The chilli sauce that comes with the starter is incredible! I have also tried some of the sushi and noodles dishes and they have been gorgeous too. They also cater for vegetarians and vegans – not just token dishes but a decent selection. If you ask me, a Bento box is the way to go. It comes in a tray separated into sections. Each box comes with salad, tempura vegetables, rice with a seaweed topping and a section for your chosen main. The salad dressing is just beautiful! It is wonderfully tangy with a hint of ginger. The boxes come in at around £15 and I have never left anything other than bursting full! Great value for money in my opinion. Unfortunately the lighting in my photos do not do it justice. I’ve been here on several date nights (with my husband!), with small groups of friends and larger groups and the atmosphere has been spot on. Now I’ve been talking about it, I’ll be craving it until I go again!

Atmosphere 9/10
Quality 8/10
Service 7/10
Value 8/10
Unique 9/10
Overall 8.5/10

Michelin star and fine dining

I have been lucky enough to eat in a few different Michelin Star restaurants around Yorkshire, UK and abroad. I have also eaten in many restaurants that I think deserve a star and some that I think don’t. Research tells me that Michelin Star criteria is as follows:

· The quality of the ingredients
· The skill in their preparation and the combination of flavours
· The level of creativity
· The value for money
· The consistency of culinary standards

When I visit a Michelin Star restaurant, it’s unlikely that I am going to visit it again so I drop the consistency criteria and I add service, presentation and atmosphere. Although service does not appear in the official criteria, it has a strong influence on whether I would return or recommend.

So, here I will talk about a few places that I have visited so far. I’m hoping to have plenty more to add to this list over time!

The Box Tree, Ilkley, Yorkshire, England

Being the most local to me, I really wanted The Box Tree to be amazing. Unfortunately, I found it to be too traditional. It didn’t excite me, it didn’t show me anything new. I liked the way the butter was carved in to a rose and that’s where my enthusiasm ended I’m afraid. I did like the cute little dining room and the cottage feel that comes with the restaurant. It’s a beautiful building, inside and out. I liked the structure of the meal, the canapés and pre-drinks in the Lounge area, but I also think this should be as standard anywhere with a star.

Quality 7/10

Skill 5/10

Presentation 5/10

Creativity 5/10

Value 7/10

Service 8/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 6.5/10

The Burlington restaurant at The Devonshire Arms, Skipton, Yorkshire, England

 

Although The Burlington no longer has a star, I did visit it when it did and I have visited since. This review is based on my most recent visit, post star. I must acknowledge that my visit when it did have a star was significantly better.

This visit, there were many elements that I did enjoy and the presentation was beautiful. I just was not blown away as I had been previously. I liked the restaurant and the use of different areas for different parts of the meal, i.e. Canapés, Meal, Petit Fours. Another thing that I liked and think is really important, is when the waiting staff explain the course to you when they bring it.

Quality 8/10

Skill 8/10

Presentation 9/10

Creativity 7/10

Value 8/10

Service 8/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 8/10

The Peat Inn, St Andrews, Scotland

 

I just absolutely loved it here! The value for money is incredible. The setting is beautiful. The food is gorgeous. The only downside is that it;s not closer to where I live. I loved the Haggis, neeps and tatties canapés, they were a fabulous touch. The food was somewhat simple but really well done.

Quality 9/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 7/10

Creativity 7/10

Value 10/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 8/10

L’enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria, England

So L’enclume was my first restaurant with 2 Michelin Stars. The biggest difference that I saw between 1 star and 2 star is the level of skill. There are some dishes from 1 star restaurants that I enjoyed more than some of L’enclume’s 2 star dishes. Their level of skill and use of technique was fantastic. They made some very simple dishes taste unbelievably good. The downside to my experience here was that there were too many courses. There were 10 courses on the menu plus your standard extra. I would have preferred 7 amazing, unforgettable courses. The setting is beautiful and I think they use a lot of their own grown produce, which is always a bonus for me.

Quality 9/10

Skill 9/10

Presentation 9/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 8/10

Service 8/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 8.5/10

The Man behind the Curtain, Leeds, Yorkshire, England

I visited the Man behind the Curtain shortly before it got it’s Michelin Star. I have only visited here for lunch and not for dinner so my review is based only on the lunchtime service. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed. It’s very expensive, overpriced I daresay, and pretty average. Again this could be due to it being a lunchtime but there was very little atmosphere. The whole experience felt kind of uncomfortable. It’s a wide open space and I get that it’s meant to be trendy, but it felt cold and unwelcoming. I imagine if you placed some canteen tables in any art gallery, it would feel very much the same. I liked the knife and fork. They were cool. Like little paintbrushes.

I arrived in the restaurant, through the clothes shop and up in the lift. Nobody was there to greet me. I waited. Eventually got shown to my table. I was given a very expensive drinks menu to peruse. We ate our lunch. Some of the courses were well presented, some were not. The latter I couldn’t post pictures of on here. One looks like a dirty potty. Very off-putting. There was certainly creativity, but it didn’t always work. When it was time to leave, I had to get my own coat on my way out. Not really what I expected. I had really wanted this place to fill a gaping hole that Anthony’s left behind. Sadly, it was nowhere near.

Quality 5/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 6/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 5/10

Service 5/10

Atmosphere 3/10

Overall 5.5/10

Van Zeller, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England

So Van Zeller doesn’t have a star, but I think it certainly is achievable. As soon as I arrived, I compared it to Michelin Star experience which immediately alerted me to the fact that this was one to keep an eye on. The service was great, attentive without being overbearing. I did find, however, that the staff were often unable to answer my questions. I would have liked to see staff more knowledgeable about the menu and it’s contents. There were some minor tweaks, pigeon slightly over cooked for example, not nothing major. The Passionfruit tart with Cardamom ice cream was divine! Lovely setting, felt trendy yet comfortable.

Quality 7/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 7/10

Creativity 7/10

Value 8/10

Service 7/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 7.5/10

The Samling, Windermere, Lake District, England

What an amazing lunch! Unfortunately, the lead up to the meal left me anxious that it was going to be below expectations. The lounge where we had our Canapés was a bit shabby. It felt clinical, rather than comfortable. The staff were pleasant and professional but could have been a bit more attentive. I was then taken through to the dining area, where everything changed! the setting was cosy and comfortable. The serving staff were knowledgeable and charming and the food was incredible. Each dish resulted in involuntary noises of pleasure. I just never wanted it to end! After the meal we were taken back to the shabby Lounge. Something that brought the experience down a bit here was that we were presented with a small selection of petit fours and asked to select some to share between us. Now petit fours are small by name and nature. You can’t taste them properly by sharing.  I would expect us to each be presented with a matching selection of petit fours. Afterall, you pay per person.

Quality 10/10

Skill 8.5/10

Presentation 10/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 9/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9/10

The Cottage in the Woods, Keswick, Lake District, England

What a find. It’s not Michelin Star (yet) but it is fine dining. This is a restaurant with rooms and I stayed here in August with the sole purpose of trying the restaurant. Although the rooms are pretty awesome. I didn’t know what to expect from this restaurant but I really enjoyed it. The views in the panoramic dining room are amazing! The menu is set and reasonably small which I like. I feel that this means the chef really knows the dishes. They only take on a certain amount of diners each night to ensure that the chef is not over worked and doesn’t compromise on quality. This is great if you’ve got a table but upsetting if you want one and haven’t booked. This was our experience the next evening. We stayed 2 nights and ate here on the first night. We were so impressed that we wanted to eat here again the following night but it was booked up, much to our disappointment. The food was well presented and had incredible flavours. I can still taste the caramelised white chocolate in the dessert! Beautiful. Also the wine pairings were perfectly matched and delicious wines, including a sweet Pol Roger Champagne.

Quality 9/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 8.5/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 8/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9/10

The Yorke Arms, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire

I really liked that the chef here is a woman, which is something you don’t see that often in Michelin Star. The building is beautiful and it’s in a lovely setting. I had a lovely night here, the food was really nice, nothing outstanding but enough to bring me back. Service was good. I went for dinner but I think it would also be a really nice lunch venue.

Quality 7/10

Skill 6/10

Presentation 6/10

Creativity 6/10

Value 8/10

Service 7/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 7/10

Holbeck Ghyll, Lake District, England

Holbeck Ghyll has unfortunately lost it;s star since I visited. I will always have a soft spot for this restaurant as it was our first Michelin Star experience and we loved every minute of it. I still remember the amuse bouche of butternut squash and gruyère velouté . I remember being surprised at all the little extras, the amuse, the canapès and the petit fours. It’s quite sad that these things have now become expectations, rather than surprises. The setting is lovely, it is part of a hotel which belongs to the small luxury hotels of the world collection. I love this collection.

Quality 8/10

Skill 8/10

Presentation 8/10

Creativity 5/10

Value 8/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 7.5/10

Crafthouse, Leeds, England

I’m not sure if Crafthouse is officially a fine dining restaurant, but I have been impressed every time I have eaten here. I like to come here for the Sunday lunch with unlimited prosecco, I find it excellent quality and value for money. Some places can be a bit tight with ‘unlimited’ drinks but I have never left Crafthouse sober!

Quality 8/10

Skill 8/10

Presentation 9/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 9/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9/10

Le table d’Eugene, Paris, France

I have definitely saved the best until last here. This is hands down the best meal I have ever had in my life. It’s a little unfair to put this place in as it’s hardly local to us Yorkshire folk. If you find yourself over in Paris, get this place booked! Also make sure you have the accompanying wine flight, it matched perfectly!

The restaurant itself is fairly small and soon fills up. It’s a strange place because the area where the restaurant is located feels quite rough around the edges. The restaurant inside couldn’t be more different. The service was excellent, we had two servers looking after us. They checked anything we would like to change on the menu before bringing our courses and amended where required. They had excellent explanations of the food and wine. We loved it so much that when we finished each course, we were jealous when we saw it going to another table because we knew what excitement was coming for them! The flavours were incredible. One dish had a carrot and it was the best carrot I’ve tasted in my whole life! The lamb was almost punched me in the face with flavour. The fish was perfect. The dessert was amazing, well one of the desserts, there were two. As well as three amuse bouche! This particular dessert was awesome, it was a chocolate dome that the waiter poured thick hot chocolate sauce over and it melted to reveal surprises inside. I know this is being done a lot now but I doubt it is with the same quality. I mean this dome had edible gold! I would go back here in a heartbeat.

Quality 10/10

Skill 10/10

Presentation 10/10

Creativity 9/10

Value 10/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9.75/10