Thursday, 24 July 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | THE WOODS

Last week I was invited to come and try Chapel Allerton's newest venue, The Woods.

Opening earlier this month, the three floor venue hosts a restaurant, bar and stage area for film screenings and live music. With the food being my main area of interest I had a look at the menu before accepting and was intrigued by what was on offer.


The menu is large, which for some can be off putting. However, the Woods specialises in dishes cooked using a wood fired oven, there are plenty of options for wood fired meats, fish and pizzas, with a section dedicated to vegetarian affair. They also serve brunch every weekend and a weekly Sunday lunch.

Arriving at around 7.30pm, the restaurant on the second floor was busy but not full. We got to choose a table and sat down. The waiters were eager to take our orders immediately but we sent them away twice before we even managed to get through the whole menu!


First up is wine. We went for a bottle of the house red, a French wine called Soubremont Domain Merlot Grenache (£12.00). This was served quickly, however it was not poured into our glasses or asked to be tasted but just meekly plonked on the table by the very shy waiter.

The wine was good. Perfect temperature, nice and well... I'm no wine conniseaur. It was certainly quaffable and that's always a good thing.


We set down to ordering our starters and our mains. I went for the Mini Cured Meat Board (£2.90) off the bar snacks/tapas menu whilst the boy ordered the Mozzarella, Tomato with Basil Leaves (£4.50) from the starters menu.


The Mini Cured Meat Board was indeed rather twee! Served on a small wooden platter was one slice of salami, one and a half slices of chorizo and a slice of prosciutto. These were drizzled with oil and a sprinkling of rock salt, but served lonesome with no bread. Considering that tapas is usually based around the concept of sharing, this wasn't exactly ideal. Luckily I was dining with a vegetarian.


The Mozzarella, Tomato with Basil Leaves also took us by surprise. We were expecting something along the lines of a Caprese salad with sliced fresh mozzarella, but what was served was a stack of chopped, skinned tomatoes with hard mozzarella cubes, a single basil leaf and a drizzle of infused oil. It was moulded and stacks on the plate, with a little bit of a collapse on arrival.


On to our mains. We both ordered pizza at the same time as we ordered the starters. We waited a total of fifty five minutes before our mains came and that was a good forty minutes after the starters, with our dirty plates removed just as the mains were served.

Arriving at our table were two 12" wood fired pizzas. I ordered the Smoked Mackerel, Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic and Basil (£7.90) - I ordered mine without cheese due to a mega cheese fest that had ensued that week. I also genuinely really like and in most cases prefer a pizza without cheese. The base was spot on, light but not soggy. This was a very nice pizza indeed and the interesting toppings were warmly welcomed as I have never had smoked mackerel on a pizza before.


The veggie got excited over the toppings that came on his pizza with Garlic Wild Mushrooms, Thyme, Artichoke, Lemon, Parsley and Pecorino Cheese (£7.90). As with mine, the base was crispy and light with a good crust. The flavours were all there and it made for a hearty feast at a good price.


We also ordered a Seasonal Leaf Salad (£2.50) on the side. This was also unfortunately forgotten and brought to the table after our mains were served.


We finished our mains and went straight to the pudding menu. Obviously we had to try the Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream (£3.50) and we opted to try their Vanilla Cheesecake (£3.50) too.


The puddings were hit and miss. First up was the cheesecake... the texture was rather unpleasant so we quickly left this and moved on to what was a winner! The brownie was warm, fudgey, dense and packed full of walnuts. Served with a scoop of proper vanilla ice cream and a toffee sauce this was very good indeed.


An overall interesting experience at The Woods. Service was not great but it also wasn't terrible. They have only been open a few weeks and as with all new venues and restaurants these are the toughest few to get things right.

I would be interested to return to see how the menu's differ as they change to reflect each season, as well as to see the service progress.

Have you been down to The Woods?


Disclaimer: I was invited to review this restaurant with a complimentary meal for myself and a guest, however all the views within this review are my own honest opinions.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | CAFE MOOR

Following on from my previous post of eating in Kirkgate Market, this is also another gem which anyone who lives in Leeds would be happy to tell you about.

Cafe Moor serves up North African and Middle Eastern influenced street food and has a rather impressive stall situated into the left hand front entrance of Kirkgate Market.


Run by Kada, he says that "this is a great place for people who love good food, great value and authentic flavours and the market is the ideal location for us because we focus on affordable, fresh food made to order right in front of the customers, from really fresh ingredients".


If the food on display and wafting smells of shawarma and tagines aren't enough to get you going then their menu will do the trick. Affordable starters, meals, wraps and sandwiches are available from Monday-Saturday from 10-5pm, making this the perfect stop for a cheap and tasty lunch on the go.


On this occasion I ordered a wrap and went for the Falafel King (£4). A souped up falafel wrap containing falafel, grilled haloumi, roasted aubergine, chips, humous and gherkins served in an Arabic flatbread.

Placing my order I was given a complimentary cup of their mint tea which served as a refreshingly sweet palate cleanser.


With a quick service my food was made fresh before my eyes and served to me within five minutes. The wrap itself was stuffed full of all its components and looking pretty damn good!

All the flavours worked really well together however it was quite dry due to all the stodgey ingredients and could have benefited from some extra sauce. Despite this it was bloomin' tasty and made for a nice change to what you might come across from your favourite sandwich haunt.


I can also highly recommend their Humous Salad Wrap (£1.50) which is bargainous and great value for money and also healthier on the waistline too!

Have you been to Cafe Moor?
Do you have any other favourite places to eat in Kirkgate Market?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | CARIBBEAN CAFE

Situated at the top of Butchers Row in Kirkgate Market is a Caribbean food haven which I finally got round to trying the other day.

Caribbean Cafe, opened a few years back and is run by Dean Cuffy and serves up a selection of fish, chicken, meat and vegetarian dishes as well as wraps and a breakfast menu.

I went with my sister an her boyfriend last week as I was showing them round the wonderful market. We decided to stop for a spot of lunch at the Caribbean Cafe and squeezed are way into the tiny cafe.


Greeted immediately we were asked what we wanted. I wanted the oxtail but unfortunately it wasn't on that day. There was however lots of nice chit chat with the staff and we all ordered different dishes with s selection of rice, salsa's and salad on the side.


We ordered the Stewed Saltfish with spicy rice and tomato salsa, the Callaloo and Fried Plantain and Jerk Chicken with rice and coleslaw - these were all £5 each.

All were very generous in portion size - a very large lunch indeed but it was welcomed with wide mouths on that cold and rainy day. Our rice came with optional gravy on the top which was a nice little extra and the salsa's were fresh and in a light marinade.

My saltfish was chunky and in a tomato sauce with onions and peppers. It was slightly spicy and had a good peppery kick.




The jerk chicken was marinated and roasted. Again a slightly spicy sauce which wasn't too sweet with the chicken thighs very moist and juicy.


The callallo (no picture I am afraid as my camera battery died!) was delicately curried in a light sauce which made for a tasty vegetarian option with the fried plantain.

We saw a few students coming in to buy some wraps and these were piled high with delicious fresh fillings for a bargain of £3. I will definitely be going back to purchase a wrap to take out in the near future and to also try their other dishes.


It's a great little cafe with friendly vibes and feel food Caribbean food. You can't go wrong for the price and there is definitely something for everyone here. Why not give the Caribbean Cafe a go next time your in the market?


Monday, 26 May 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | MEAT BOARD AND WINE AT OUTLAWS YACHT CLUB

Last week myself and friend Diane went to go and check out an offer that we had been meaning to snap up for quite some time. Every Tuesday from 5pm, Outlaws Yacht Club have a offer of a meat or cheese board and a bottle of house wine for a mere £15 - perfect for sharing!


We went for the meat board option and for their house red. The house red was a Luis Felipe Edwards Lot 40 Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. Served at the right temperature this was pretty damn good for a house wine! 


Settling nicely into our bottle of wine, the Meat Board arrived about 10 minutes latter on a wooden platter with a plate of sourdough on the side.

A wooden board was ladened with Lonzino, Chorizo, Salami and a thinly sliced Pancetta - although I am not 100% sure if this is correct as the meats were not listed anywhere and did not match the description in the menu. Three little pots also accompanied the meat which were local producer Made by Jim's ale chutney, a red wine jam and olive oil.


The sourdough bread was served warm and slightly toasted. I would have prefered it to have been left un-toasted but the bread itself was delicious with a subtle flavour of aniseed drawing through - it was very good bread indeed.


The meats were served at room temperature. We tucked in and started working our way through the different cured meats. The chorizo was served in chunky slices, it was quite subtle for a chorizo and was slightly underwhelming in flavour for me. I prefer chorizo when it is strong and smokey.

The other meats were all tasty enough but were personally not a selection I would have gone for if I had been able to choose. Some of the cuts were extremely fatty... as most cured meat is, but I prefer leaner cured meats (or at least without strips of fat) over these.

Working our way through the board this was great food to share and to talk over. We were offered more bread and chutney as we'd some how managed to demolish the plater of sourdough that came with the board and devour the very more-ish chutney.


The staff and service was great and the atmosphere was an overall pleasant one. For £15 this is a great option to go for if you want to share some food over a drink with a friend and want to enjoy a nice relaxed evening in nice surroundings. There is something about this place which I really like - it's not pompous or over hip and makes for a nice escape from some of the busier Leeds bars. I will be back to try out more of their menu soon.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | LAYNES ESPRESSO SUNDAY BRUNCH #3

Laynes Espresso, current residents at the Belgrave Music Hall, host a Sunday brunch service every month. My previous experiences (see my posts here and here) have been a bit hit and miss. The food is always great but there were a few problems with service when it launched earlier this year. After missing a the last few I was invited last weekend to join my friend Sarah and her family for her birthday brunch.

The menu looked very impressive. All five dishes sounded delicious but I was particularly eyeing up the French Toast again (I have had it before and it is the stuff of dreams!). With the menu changing for each service to adapt to available seasonal produce it was nice to see asparagus included.


We were a group of four and we decided to order all five dishes so we could try a bit of everything. 

Service was much quicker than in previous visits. All of the dishes came within thirty minutes of ordering them. More staff were on to take orders and the system had been ironed out to be a smooth and quick service. 


First up we have the heavenly French Toast (£7.50)! This came served as two slices of thick brioche which was crisp on the outside but moist and delicate on the inside without being soggy. It was topped with caramelised banana, an almond brittle, espresso mascarpone and maple syrup.

I loved all the flavours and textures in this dish. The espresso mascarpone was quite over powering but it's bitter taste cut through the sweetness of the rest of the dish, giving it a nice contrast and balance.


The next dish was the 36 Hour Pork Belly BLT (£8) - this was almighty in size and proportions. A thick wedge of focaccia was filled with cos lettuce, plum vine tomatoes, avocado, bacon mayonnaise and a slab of pork belly.

This looked extremely impressive. I'm not a massive fan of pork... and particularly pork belly so this wasn't the dish for me but it was received well by others on the table. The pork was melt-in-the-mouth and very tender. Even for pork belly though this was mainly just fat with a very small ratio of meat in the portion we were served.


The Heritage Tomato (£8) dish was delicately presented. A slice of toasted sourdough was topped with sliced heritage tomatoes served with an avocado mousse, salted ricotta, poached egg and then topped with puffed rice (yes they are not caterpillars!).

I love heritage tomatoes for their diversity in appearance and in flavour. With a few different tomatoes in this dish, the flavours were predominantly smokey, with the tomatoes having a meaty texture. 


On to the Beetroot Cured Salmon (£8) we were served a plate of beautiful dark pink salmon, naturally dyed by the beetroot, with a pea, feta and sweetcorn fritter, poached egg, avocado puree and dill creme fraiche. 


And last but not least was the English Asparagus (£8.50) which came served on a piece of toasted sourdough, topped with four stalks of asparagus coated in black sesame seeds and miso, a round of goats cheese and a poached egg which had been deep fried and coated in panko breadcrumbs.

This dish was the savoury winner for me. The goats cheese was slightly melted from the heat of the asparagus and the egg and made it all nice and gooey. The asparagus was cooked al dente and had a good bite to it. Delicately seasoned with the sesame seeds and miso the asparagus flavours shone through.The egg was a masterpiece, I loved the concept and the idea and was fascinated by how it had been made. This dish was a real beauty. 

Overall we were very pleased with the food, service and impressed with the menu. I look forward to seeing what the next menu brings!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | NOONSHINE CAFE ROUND #2

Last week I was in between some flat viewings down by the market and needed to escape the heat and the sun! I'd been hankering after the crab salad from The Grub and Grog Shop for most of the month but had so far always missed their Friday lunchtime servings at the Noonshine Cafe hosted at Outlaws Yacht Club (see my previous post on my last visit here).

The perfect opportunity to sample their seasonal salad for this month.


Made to order I watched the Crab Salad being made in front of me. The menu all looked very appetising but it was definitely salad weather on that hot day.

Jim and Dan, the duo behind The Grub and Grog Shop were happy to share their inspiration for this dish and talk about how they source their produce locally and their suppliers. Their passion is inspiring and each dish on their monthly seasonal menu has a lot of thought and love gone into them.


Before came a plate piled high of beautiful colours and ingredients. The salad itself was made of brown crab cooked in Golden Owl Saison with jersey royals and pickled raddish with a Saison reduction and homemade shellfish mayonnaise.

Not only was this pretty to look at, it had a great variety of flavours and tastes too. One of Jim's most cited inspirations is a book called The Flavour Thesaurus and this influence is reflected in the creativity and composition of each of their dishes.


I loved the addition of the edible flowers and wild fennel which come with their salad. These are sourced from a local project run by the University of Leeds called The Bardon Grange Project. This project is volunteer run and supports and teaches people how to grow their own produce and encourage people to eat locally produced food. 


Noonshine Cafe is hosted by The Grub and Grog Shop every Friday lunch at Outlaws Yacht ClubOn offer is a tasty and affordable lunch menu (available to have in or takeaway) alongside an amazing selection of cakes from Noisette Bakehouse, North Star Micro Roasters coffee and fresh retail loaves from Leeds Bread Co-op.


On the first Friday of each month The Grub & Grog Shop launch a new menu and to celebrate the whole gang get together to host a mini market. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

OUT AND ABOUT | MANJIT'S KITCHEN FUNDRAISER AND SOCIAL

Last week I went to a very special event indeed. It was a fundraiser and social for Indian vegetarian street food traders Manjit's Kitchen. Last month they were the unfortunate victims of an attack whereby their van for trading was completely vandalised to the point of being written off. With this as their main way of getting to events and trading it was a big shock to their business and to their every day lives.

Manjit and Michael, the talented duo behind the business put faith in a blue horsebox which was pointed out to them. This then quickly became a new viable option for a portable street food kitchen to trade out of. They put together a Crowdfunder appeal to raise £4000 to help them get their new set of wheels made into a kitchen and get back on the road. This was amazingly reached in just under a week. To make their new vehicle safe and secure they decided to continue with "overfunding" and have at this point made £4741 and have nine days of donations left.


Back to the event... It was put on by Emma of Culture Vultures and Andrew of Northern StrEats/Fish& as an opportunity to raise more money for Manjit and Michael's new vehicle but also for friends and for those who had donated to come together to celebrate the campaign and Culture Vultures 5th birthday too. Held at Holbeck Underground Ballroom (The HUB) it was a great setting.

Street food traders from Leeds and Manchester united and give up their time and serve their food on a 'Pay as you feel' basis with all money donated to the Manjit's Kitchen crowdfunder appeal. Street food traders who collaborated with the event were Fish&, Manjit's Kitchen themselves, The Greedy Pig and Ginger's Comfort Emporium who had doubled up with Noisette Bakehouse to serve some delectable goods.


Heading over with Diane, we were both on a mission to share a bit of everything on offer. First up was Fish& who were serving up their notorious twisted fish and chips in taster cones. With fis in three different batters (normal, chilli and pepper) laid upon a cone full of chips.


The fish was very good. Extremely good actually and it was the freshest fish I have ever had in the form of fish and chips. Flaky but firm white fish in a light and crisp batter - not greasy and heavy like some of the traditional versions. The flavours in the batter gave a nice little kick to the eating experience too. I could have eaten this all night!


Next up was the stars of the show - Manjit's Kitchen! Back on form with the support and confidence of all their supporters they were here to trial run a new street food dish. In comes the Chapasty! 


A dry curry of beetroot and paneer marinated in masala with coriander, sev and spring onion then wrapped in a chapati into a pasty shape. These were truly intriguing and a great new take on the street food which they offer.

Manjit was on rolling duty, honourably rolling out each chapati individually and then filling them with the curry and the toppings before shaping it into a pasty. Michael was in charge of frying the chapasty's and giving them a nice bit of colour. Good teamwork! 



The resulting dish was a lovely golden chapati filled with a sweet flavourful curry. Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables and I love tasting it with different cultural influences and twists. This was definitely a winner for me. It was easy to eat, not too greasy and absolutely beautiful to look at too! These would make for a perfect little meal or snack to eat and I look forward to seeing them resurface on future menus at events.


Jo from The Greedy Pig had been busy making two variations of scotch eggs to bring to the event. I managed to get my hand on one of each. The meat option was filled with what I think was pork and chorizo. The egg yolk was runny, the meat juicy and tender and the coating was a light coating of fine breadcrumbs. These were seriously good. I'm not really a scotch egg eater but I think it's because I have memories of the horrible things that are available in the supermarkets. 


On to the vegetarian option... this was MIND BLOWINGLY good. My favourite vegetable made yet another appearance in this wonderous delight with a shredded beetroot filling surrounding the egg. It was seasoned very well and the whole texture in my mouth thing going on was incredible. 


Last but not least was the collaboration between Ginger's Comfort Emporium and Leeds favourite baker Noisette Bakehouse. Sarah from Noisette Bakehouse had made a selection of cookies to team up with Ginger's ice cream to make ice cream sandwiches. These looked really good but unfortunately I didn't get to try one. Ginger had packed up and was just about to leave by the time we had worked our way round to getting some ice cream. 


The evening ended with a raffle with lots of very generous prizes donated from a wide range of sources, including local independent businesses.

It was a fantastic evening with some really good vibes going on. It was not packed out with people but the people who were there were full of love, awe and support for Manjit and Michael. 
It is great to see the people behind Culture Vultures and Northern StrEats continuing to support and strengthen the food and culture scene in Leeds. There was such a good community feel that night and I was honoured to be part of it. The evening managed to raise over £840 too.

There is still time to donate to Manjit's Kitchen crowdfunder, to do so click here.