Sunday, 4 November 2012

Macy's: Headingley, Leeds

So glad that this cute little independant cafe opened and replaced the predictable starbucks. It is decorated in a vintage and laid back style. My first visit i enjoyed this deliciously indulgent hot chocolate and a toblerone brownie. Their huge range of flavours and speciality brownies was a huge attraction. The service was really friendly. So much so that when my sister came to visit we went for lunch. I had pumpkin and apple spiced soup and it was a really unique flavour and the bread was soft and fresh. My sister had a chicken and mayonaise sandwich which looked tasty. We both got fresh juices and really enjoyed the combination of flavours. Highly recommended and a grill opening in the evenings so expect another review soon.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Best curries in Bradford and Otley!

So I felt that my much neglected little blog needed some attention and last night when I couldn't sleep I decided that a really useful post would be one about the best curry houses in this area. Of course Bradford is the curry capital of Britain (well maybe Manchester and Birmingham's curry mile competes but...) so I thought that I would give you my top 5 recommendations according to category.

1) Best for good value - Karachi.
Address: 15-17 Neal Street, Bradford, BD5 0BX 
It is one of the oldest and most traditional curry houses in Bradford. It is  very plain interior and there are no frills but great food and even better prices. Starter, main and drink with sundries for under a tenner. Can't complain hey?

 2) Best for desserts: Akbar's cafe
Website  there are several cafe's and restaurants so take your pick, but I like the cafe best as it has a huge selection of Carte D'Or ice-cream- delicious and they make the best milkshakes and sundaes. It is Muslim run and so is dry (as curry houses can be and not a problem for me). My veggie friend said they didn't have a huge selection of veggie curries, but I have eaten here a few times and always loved it and I am veggie.

3) Best for take-away: Jewel of India

Address: 1 Bridge St
West Yorkshire
LS21 1BQ
It may be because this is just around the corner from us but it seems to recieve lots of positive reviews and praise. I like their selection of curries and their customer service is very good. If your order is over £20 then you get a free bottle of wine. I personally wouldn't eat here as it's quite small inside and I don't like it when you can hear everyone elses conversations etc so I always opt for take-away.

4) Best for veggies: Prashad
Address:  86 Horton Grange Road, Bradford, BD7 2DW
I love this place!  And I am certainly not alone - Gordon Ramsey praised it in one of his series'. It is vegetarian gujurati and this is my favourite type of cuisine - so much coconut and delicate flavours. The mixed platter starter is highly recommended - it is like Wonka Land for me so many exciting flavours and textures. The monster dosa is highly recommended - a flaky pancake filled with spicy curry, but make sure you share it on the table as its huge! I even took a meat loving, beer loving Aussie guy here and he loved it despite the fact that it doesn't serve alcohol - the mango lassie was a great alternative though!

5) Best for service: Westbourne Spice
Address: Bradford Road, Otley, LS21 3LS Website
 Our first visit was not a huge success as I think that we over ordered and felt so stuffed at the end that it ruined the experience. However this is now our go-to curry house. The service is amazing and you really do get treated like a King - nothing is too much for them. You are greeted and your coat is taken from you and
the banter is always great all evening. Food is brought to you on trolleys and your plate is cleaned and you get a hot towel - all evidence of a great service. The menu is varied and I have always enjoyed whatever they have recommended. A great pickle tray to start too. We came with my friends and theire little two year old and they provided a high chair and a balloon to keep her occupied and didn't seem to mind too much when she decided that she preferred to toddle around and mingle with the other customers.
We also held my friend's hen party here and they have a little seperate room which they decorated with balloons and banners. They helped to make it a really fun occassion and didn't mind when we were being a bit loud!
The photo below doesn't do it justice and it is lit up at night and is done out quite flashy inside - make sure you check out the etern

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Zizzi: Leeds and Shrewsbury

Both venues are new and the Shrewsbury restaurant is really nicely done out and has amazing toilets which are well worth a visit. We tried the new tapas menu and like most tapas its not the best value for money, but the mini calzones were the highlight.
Excuse the quality of the pics - am blogging from my phone (it's how I roll nowadays!)

1) Rustica pizza (I opted for it in wholemeal and it was really tasty) the mezzo et mezzo. One half had creamy new potatoes, cheese and thyme the other half had roasted peppers, chilli, rocket and mushrooms. It was a really great combo and made a change from the usual veggie options.

2) Squid ink linguine - the husband opted for this and said it was very tasty and not too overpowering or fishy.

3) The decor of the Shrewbury restaurant.

4) Dough sticks brushed with garlic butter and rosemary. A great choice to share as a starter.

5) The mini calzones mentioned above.

6) Three other dishes from the cichetti menu (or tapas for Italians) the meatballs, aubergine involtini and insalata caprese.

Check out the menu here. On a par with Pizza Express and more variety on the menu. Would highly recommend - but don't get the calzone as it looked a bit measly compared to the huge pizzas!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Cobbles and Clay Cafe: Howarth, Yorkshire

As part of our anniversary day out in Howarth we stopped at this cute cafe for lunch and to do some pottery painting. This would be a perfect place to bring kids. We sat in the outside dining area at the back and I liked the bunting and the rustic style.
He had a smoked salmon bagel and enjoyed it very much and the salad on the side. I had a platter of olives, hummos and pita. The hummos was homemade and was too sour and tart for my tastes. I loved the cute little heart shaped dishes that the dips came in.

  • limited but tasty menu
  • fun and entertaining in a great location
  • delicious cake - perfect for afternoon tea
This is their website

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Del'Aziz: Southbank, London

This restaurant has been described as Aladdin's cave of delights and it certainly lives up to this description. We went on a sultry Tuesday night in July and sat outside - we arrived early and were meeting friends so we had a mint tea before we began.
We went for the Levantine Feast for £22 for three courses and it was good value for money and we were 'stuffed' by the end of the meal. For starters you could chose from a variety of mezze and the best part was that they brought round a bread basket with at least five different varieties of homebaked bread and they were very generous and encouraged us to stock up. The hummus and baba ganoush comes highly recommended - there was also an option of hot starters.
We were all pleased with our mains - the portions were very generous and the flavours authentic. My aubergine and mozerella bake was delicious and well spiced - I loved all the melted mozeralla on the top. The lamb shish went down well - although they said it could have been more flavoursome.
The desserts looked delicious and were presented beautifully - it was difficult to chose! However, we found the cakes to be dry and mine (the pear and ginger) tasted of bicarbonate of soda too much. I am very picky about cakes - having sampled some delicious cakes and made very tasty ones too so this didn't live up.

Moroccan spiced lamb shish

Aubergine mozerella bake with French green bean salad

Vanilla and strawberry cake

Chocolate cake

Spiced pear cake
  • great location on Southbank
  • good value menu and reasonably priced a-la-carte
  • really helpful and attentive staff
  • yummy and abundant bread basket
  • lots of choice and variety in the menu

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

All Star Lanes Diner: Holborn London

On our recent trip to London for the Olympics we got a 'secret hotel room' (have you ever used this service - it's great!) on and were told it was in the West End and it turned out to be in Holborn and round the corner from the All Star Lanes - which is a fav in my family as we love anywhere that serves rootbeer!

We had a mixed experience this time around as the food was delicious, but the service was awful. We arrived around 8ish and we were famished. We were told that since we hadn't booked we may have to wait up to an hour, but that we could get drinks in the bar area and even order and start eating our food there if we wished. We said we would order drinks and wait for a table. I immeadiately dived into a rootbeer float and it was yummy! The bar area was full on hen parties and some of them were playing quite crude games and is was difficult to just chat and have a romantic evening with all that madness going on. After thirty minutes it seemed that some tables we free and so we went to check and they said we would have to wait longer. Another fifteen mins rolled by and other couples seemed to be getting seated before us. My husband went to investigate and this time they said that whoever we had spoken to had not registered our booking and that tables had been empty for the last half an hour - we were pretty annoyed and they seated us quickly. I felt that they could have given us free drinks or side or side orders and this would have placated me.

The menu does have a few dishes that your standard American style diner in England doesn't. My husband had the basket of fried buttermilk chicken and found that really tasty and filling. I am veggie and although they do have a veggie 'burger' stack of halloumi and quorn etc I am not the biggest fan of substitute meat. Instead I got a variety of their starters as pictured below...

Holding up my huge onion ring - a nice crispy ring
The sweet potatoe fries which were served with the buttermilk chicken were my fav part of the whole meal
The mini mac'n'cheese was creamy and very indulent - but just the right size

Candied beetroot, mixed nut and goats cheese salad was a really satisfying mix of flavours

* Varied menu with some interesting dishes
* Great choice of side dishes and appetisers
* Rootbeer floats just like in the states
* Service a bit ropey or over the top and cheesy
* Great place to go with a big groups of friends or on a hen party

Wheatley Arms: Ilkley

I have a whole range of reviews to blog as I've just spend a week sampling many culinary delights in the Capital as we had Olympic tickets. For now I will stick to somewhere local that I have visited twice and both times I have been impressed with the service, ambience and the food - The Wheatley Arms in Ben Rydding just outside of Ilkley.

My first time here I had a goats cheese & red onion sandwich, with olive & sun blushed tomato salad and a side of hand cut chips. All the ingredients are fresh and good quality and so it was delicious. The hand cut chips were a particular highlight - I refused to share them as they were so tasty.
My second visit I had hot food and went for the pea and mint risotto. Risotto is one of my speciality dishes to make and so I am always quite critical when I have it at a restaurant - it was good that it wasn't too creamy or sickly as some can be, it was fresh and the pea and mint gave it a tangy and crunch taste and texture. It could have done with more grated parmesan on top as I do love my cheese. My dining partner had the fish and really enjoyed it. Their food is well made with really fresh ingredients. For dessert (see above) they have a huge selection of delicious ice-cream - not your usual neopolitan choice. I had a scoop of creme brulee and one scoop of white chocolate and it was served really nicely in a brandy basket. My partner had summer fruits merengue - which I would never have chosen and it looked a bit bland and lacking.
The service was quite good although we were near to the bar and the young staff seemed more busy flirting and chatting with each other than necessarily paying attention to the customers and I felt they should have been more professional.

* beautiful interior and lots of places to sit - from casual to formal
* fresh ingredients and well made food
* limited selection of veggie dishes
* reasonably priced for the quality
* worth going for the ice-cream alone (but then I do love ice-cream!)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Krispy Kremes: Birstall, Leeds

Ever since my exchange to UGA near Atlanta Georgia I have loved these babies. My roomate's family took me here and we got a dozen glazed and I fell it love with the sugary sweetness. They were nothing like the sugared jam donuts that I knew from kids parties where we had to compete not to lick our lips.
The fun thing about KK is that when the light is on you can get a free hot one straight off the conveyor belt. In the bigger stores they have a big window where you can see them making the donuts and follow the process - which is cool for little and big kids. They have a huge range of flavours and often seasonal specialities - like Sundaes for summer. This is good as there is always something new to try.
On this visit we got a great deal of a four donuts and summer smoothy for around £10 - I think it was less. I had a mango cooler and it was refreshing and not too sweet - so a nice contrast to the donuts. On the donut front he had a plain (as he's vanilla kinda guy) and a lemon meringue pie which I thought looked very tasty and he confirmed it was - nice and tangy with that meringuey crunch on top. I went for my usual the sprinkles and then tried the millinaire shortbread which had a delicious caramel centre and was generously topped with dark chocolate glaze and nuggets of shortbread. I would highly recommend it.

  • Great for a snack when out shopping in Birstall
  • They have drive-through if you are just out cruising and want something sweet
  • They do seasonal specials and are always revising their menus
  • If you go when the light is on you get a freeby

Monday, 25 June 2012

Outsider Tart: Chiswick London

So a few months back I was in London staying with my sister and she was working so I had the day to myself. She suggested I braved the Circle and District line and went to explore Outsider Tart. It is a cute little local bakery owned by two American guys who she said are a real scream as she had attended one of their cookery demonstrations. They are called David and David and she felt I would particularly enjoy chatting to the Southern David who is a real joker and we could have chatted about my days at UGA! Sadly after the trek from North London they weren't in the shop but I settled on a carrot cake whoopee pie and a key lime pie soda (they have a great range of American sodas) and sat for an hour chatted away to the waitress and a local who was a real hoot (as if I can't remember her name - I can do a great impression of her east end accent though!) and she even walked me to the nearest tube stop afterwards. I think this community sense is what they are all about and what they stand for - perhaps why they opted to open their shop in 'local' area as opposed to central London where it would be mostly tourists not local customers.
Since publishing their book they said many fans are making it an essential stop whilst visiting London, despite it's less than central location. They have a delicious range of bakes and I also tried their Mile High Club slice which had oatmeal and raisin cookie dough chunks and was gorgeous. Their bakes are all inventively named and all look just as tasty and full of different American style flavours and a refreshing break from cupcakes and other recent baking trends.
Their signature bake is their Hepburn brownie which has a delicate Cinnamon flavour and is pictured in the middle (I picked up these slices at their market stall - check out their blog for details of when they will be a food markets).

They have won an award for best shop design and I believe non-Southern David was formerly an architect. It has got a very welcoming feel with the bar with cakes on and stools so that everyone is sat together and can chat - as we did. Lots of locals popped in as they stock lots of American goodies like pancake batter, American sodas and lots of cake mixes etc.
So if you're in London I would highly recommend a visit - if not check them out at one of the many foodie markets.

Friday, 15 June 2012

La Comptoir: Stratford Westfield

After lots of fast food indulgence this plate of goodness caught my eye when out shopping in Westfield over half term with my sister. It is from Le Comptoir Lebanese cuisine - which I've never had before but always wondered about as I've seen a Lebenese in Leeds and always wondered what it would be. I am a huge hummus and so I went for the mezze platter and shared it with my sis. It was delicious, fresh and full of exciting flavours. The salad in the middle was yummy, the pulses (I think its tabouleh), the hummus was served nicely and wasn't too pungent, the falafel was hot and yummy and the baba ganoush was my favourite part of the whole platter. The fluro pink thing is a pickle and I was dared to try it, but it just tasted like a standard pickle! The little pastry was called a fatayar and it was stuffed with pine nuts and soft cheese and it was really tasty. The pita was useful for finishing it all off.
There was a great choice of drinks too and I went for the freshly made lemonade with ginger and lime, it was recommended to me and it was really refreshing.

I will defo be coming here again over the Olympics...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bill Grangers: Westbourne Grove

We love this area of London as it has really upmarket vintage shops and I always pick up good bargains here. My sister is a really foodie and she had read about Bill Granger's new place opening and so we swung by to check it out. There is a no booking policy and so we arrived early (before 12) and sat in the bar for about ten mins, but it was well worth the wait. It is a really light and airy place with a mirrored wall to make it seem a lot bigger than it is, you're pretty cosy with the tables around you and it can be difficult not to listen in to other people's conversations (or maybe I'm just too nosy!) The service was quite good, not overly friendly but quite quick and efficient.
The menu is quite small, but everything coming out of the kitchen looked fresh, delicious and well made. We shared a plate of courgette fries with corinader and lime mayo to start and they were so yummy I could have had two more plate fulls. Really tasty sauce too. Then we shared the canelloni with spinach and ricotta and the ricotta hot cakes with fresh banana and honey butter. Both dishes were delicious. The pasta was tasty, well seasoned and creamy and a good sized portion. The hot cakes were delightful and a real treat - but the ricotta gave them a savory/sweet pairing.

I would highly recommed this place as the atmosphere was great, the prices reasonable and the food really great quality. My only bugbear was the 12.5% service charge - not what you expect for a lunch and something which always irritates me when the service is just average.

* patio like light and airy ambience
* no booking so you may have to wait
* delicious, seasonal and fresh dishes
* great place for a brunch