Category Archives: Restaurants

New menu at Bundobust

Bundobust is one of those outfits that only seems to have been on the scene for two minutes, but at the same time, I can’t imagine Leeds without it.

Ant and I headed down to Bundobust last night to try out the five new dishes they’ve recently popped on the menu, and we definitely weren’t disappointed.

My favourite was the egg bhurji, one of the more expensive dishes priced at £6. It’s an Indian style scrambled egg, cooked with cumin, coriander, peppers and chilli, but it’s only mildly spicy. It comes with a soft naan-like flatbread and is the best winter comfort food. It paired exceptionally well with my gin and tonic, which was garnished with grapefruit. I’m not sure what tonic was used but it was a very sweet, fruity, earthy version of a G&T that really complemented the food.

I also loved the far far, a bowl of colourful fried rice puffs tossed in Bundobust’s own spice blend. They reminded me of Walkers French Fries, texturally, but with an amazing sweet-tangy-spicy flavour. At £2.50, I would definitely order these as a bar snack if I was just heading in for drinks.

Ant preferred the onion gobi bhaji bhaji (£4). It’s not actually one of the new dishes, but we couldn’t resist ordering it. These are the bhajis you hope for when you order a takeaway: light, golden and fluffy, a million miles away from the greasy overcooked mess that normally arrives. They come with a tangy tamarind and red pepper chutney that adds flavour and cuts right through the bhaji’s richness.

Had you told me a few months ago that I’d soon consider a vegetarian Indian restaurant one of the best post-work spots in Leeds, I’d have laughed. Thank you, Bundobust, for changing my mind!

Some of our meal and our drinks were complimentary, but this is my honest opinion as always.

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BurgerSearch 4: Twisted Burger Co at Jake’s Bar

BurgerSearch posts document my search to find the best burger in Leeds, as part of my 30by30 goals. I’ve got plenty of places on my list, but I’m very open to suggestions, too! Where was your best ever Leeds burger from?

Venue: Twisted Burger Company, in residence at Jake’s Bar, Call Lane
Burger: Club Classics Vol. One, £6.95

Burger Patty 18/25

I either like my burger patties massive and meaty, or thin and tasty. Twisted burgers are of the latter variety, and in most of their burgers you get two thin, tender patties that fill a hole without being too overfacing. Delicious!

Bun, toppings and fries 20/25

The patties are nestled into a potato bap, which was light and fluffy whilst having some serious staying power. The burger is packed with iceberg lettuce, as I firmly believe all burgers should be, and the techno burger sauce adds some creamy zing. The cheese is a little nondescript flavourwise, but perfectly gooey. My plain fries were hot, crispy and served in a huge basket – sharer portions are absolutely not for the faint-hearted.

Service and atmosphere 15/25

It’s a little surreal going to Jake’s Bar during the day, sober. Truth be told, the place scrubs up quite nicely and comes across as an altogether respectable place. It was a bit quiet, but I imagine weeknights have a bit more buzz about them than a Saturday lunchtime. In fact, things were already starting to pick up when we left. The service was smiley, attentive and efficient, especially considering that they were battling with a missing delivery and a malfunctioning POS system. I’m also a big fan of Jake’s cocktails, so it was nice to sip on a Blighty Mojito (a gin based mojito with a cucumber twist) while I ate.

Value for Money 22/25

Now would be a good time to mention that I was invited down to try these burgers for free. Having said that, though, I actually thought that for the quality this was really good value for money. The price for the Club Classics and the Notorious PIG that Ant had, plus sharing fries and two Cokes, was £20.15. The cocktail did boost the bill a bit, which is obviously to be expected.

Total 75/100

This puts Twisted Burger Company into second place so far, which I think is fair. Although this isn’t a permanent residency, it is the second one they’ve done in the last year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it extended or see it lead to a more permanent home in Leeds. I for one would welcome them with open arms!

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BurgerSearch 3: MEATliquor

BurgerSearch posts document my search to find the best burger in Leeds, as part of my 30by30 goals. I’ve got plenty of places on my list, but I’m very open to suggestions, too! Where was your best ever Leeds burger from?

I’ve fancied giving the Leeds MEATliquor a try since it first opened, and this review from Rich, who knows his food, only encouraged me.I headed down for a chilled weeknight burger and drink with a few friends last week.

Venue: MEATliquor, Trinity Centre, Bank Street
Burger: Bacon Cheeseburger, £8.50

Burger Patty 23/25

Huge. Juicy. Tender. Pink. Flavourful. This patty ticked every single box and then some.

Bun, toppings and fries 22/25

I need to talk about the bacon. It wasn’t rashers, it was some sort of reconstituted sheet (?) of bacon that absolutely blew my frickin’ mind. The cheese was plentiful and perfectly gooey, and the sauces oozed out of the bun and got everywhere – I made extensive use of the kitchen roll on the table. The cheese fries were perfect, loaded with generous handfuls of cheese and all hot and salty underneath. (Some might find them too salty; I thought they were perfect.) I gave an extra point because the bun wasn’t brioche, which was refreshing, but I took it back off again because the Dead Hippie sauce they rave about wasn’t all that.

Service and atmosphere 20/25

Service was pleasant and efficient, which is all I ask for. I found the atmosphere fairly chilled – it had a late night diner/pool hall feeling to it, and was quite unlike the dark, loud basement I was expecting.

Value for Money 18/25

It’s on the pricey side, but it’s amazing. Three of us had a burger, a side and a drink each and it came to £56.65, including a service charge and a £1 charity donation. I’d consider that to be quite a lot for a one course meal, but it was a) very filling and b) bloody good.

Total 83/100

I had high hopes for MEATliquor and it has delivered. This is the first time I’ve walked away from a burger and thought: yes, that could have been the best burger in Leeds. I’ve got plenty more places to visit, so anything could happen, but I can definitely see myself returning here pretty soon as well.

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BurgerSearch begins: Byron Burger

It’s been a great week for my 30by30 challenge! As well as collecting Christmas craft ideas, I’ve made a start on one of my other goals: find the best burger in Leeds. Most of the delay in this has been down to fine tuning the scoring system, trying to decide whether toppings are worth as many points as the bun, or how much the service should count for. Obviously, it doesn’t really matter, but tasks like this with numbers and neatness are right up my street- they appeal to my perfectionist side!

I’d also been wondering where to try first. I didn’t want to set the bar too high or have a disappointing first burger, so in the end it was a good thing the decision was taken out of my hands. We were in town at a loose end, and Ant picked Byron Burger for dinner. We had a lot of fun critiquing the burgers and tweaking the scoring system even more – sadly, I think we enjoyed this bit more than we enjoyed eating the burgers!

Venue: Byron Burger, Lands Lane, Leeds
Burger: The Byron, £9.50

Burger Patty 15/25

The burger was cooked medium and was perfectly pink in the middle. It was obviously good quality meat and was a really nice texture. However, I thought it could have had a bit more taste to it, honestly. I’d have liked it to be a bit more seasoned and a bit juicier. It was good, but not amazing.

Bun, toppings and fries 20/25

We opted for thick cut chips rather than fries, and they really were good. Hot, with fluffy insides, and with the crispy skin still on. The cheese was a really good mature Cheddar, and the bacon was salty and not too crispy. I know a lot of people like really crispy bacon, but I like it quite chewy and this was just right. There was also tons of iceberg lettuce which added a nice cool crunch. The bun (brioche OF COURSE) held together nicely, but because the burger wasn’t that juicy, it wasn’t much of a challenge.

Service and atmosphere 16/25

The atmosphere at Byron Burger was quite nice. It’s got a distinctive industrial, exposed brick sort of style, and the warm lighting and low level music was a refreshing change from some of the dark, noisy, nightclub style eateries that festoon the city centre. Service was fine, not especially friendly but efficient, which for me is more important.

Value for Money 10/25

Two burgers, the chips, aioli and two soft drinks came to £29.05. This is probably quite standard pricing for this style of burger joint – a sit down place that positions itself as a quality burger provider that’s all about the taste. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think the burgers were amazing and shelling out £15 each (bearing in mind we’d shared a side) felt a bit much.

Total 61/100

Not a bad score, but not great, and I think it reflects quite well on the experience. Not bad burgers, but with room for improvement, and not, I felt, at quite the right price point. If I’m paying £9.50 for a burger, and extra for a side, I want to feel really positive about it, instead of just okay. Not, for my money, the best burger in Leeds.

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Brunch at The Wardrobe

Brunch is absolutely hands down the best meal ever. Pancakes, french toast, bacon, syrup and all else that is good on a big sticky plate. Yum!

It seems to me like Leeds has been lacking a good, casual brunch spot. Breakfast is covered thanks to The Greedy Pig, and we’ve got countless good lunch venues, but brunch is either a formal affair or an afterthought.

Enter: The Soul Kitchen at The Wardrobe.

I found out about The Wardrobe’s new brunch menu via a blogger’s event, where we signed up for brunch without knowing what the venue would be – you might have seen some chat about this on the #brunchiscoming hashtag on Twitter. When I found out we were headed to The Wardrobe, I was a bit surprised. It’s a great bar but not particularly on my radar as a place to eat, and definitely not somewhere I’d think to go during the day.

After sampling the food though, that all changed!

We tried four dishes from the menu, which is based on traditional dishes, with twists inspired by Caribbean and Creole cooking. I had the lemon curd and mascarpone pancakes, which I could not fault in the slightest. The homemade lemon curd was creamy and tangy, perfect against the cool mascarpone. The four huge, fluffy pancakes held up their end with no problem, not too heavy but a crazy generous portion to overindulge in on a Sunday morning.

I also got a taste of the bacon and egg muffins – eggs baked in a bacon wrapper – that Ant ordered, which were hot and salty with soft, rich yolks, a little lighter as a meal but still filling and served with a slab of fresh bread. Alice had waffles, which we were all looking forward to seeing but which were sadly a bit of a disappointment. They were slightly overcooked and a bit dry, but otherwise tasty and had potential to be another great dish. Finally, between us we all sampled the French toast with maple syrup and banana, which was a bit mushy, texture-wise but really sweet and tasty and possibly the ideal hangover food.

Don’t forget to check out the shakes too! They’re pricey for the size but amazing. I tried the million dollar shake featuring salted caramel, chocolate and shortbread but there are a few options which all sounded delicious.

I’m looking forward to taking friends here when they visit – it’s the perfect place for a lazy Sunday morning after a big Saturday night!

This time, we ate for free but I can’t wait to get back there and will be happy to pay.

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In other (foodie) news…

Get the scoop on all new foodie happenings in Leeds with Diane over on A Tale of Two Sittings

I haven’t been to Angelica but Amy makes it sound oh-so-swanky in her lovely review

This morning I’ve been giggling over this picture doing the rounds on Twitter. I do love eating somewhere a bit different but I also like rolling my eyes at a hipster cliche or a place that’s just too trendy for words.

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Twisted Burger Company at Aire Bar

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you’re probably aware of the Twisted Burger Company residency that’s just started at Aire Bar. TBC hail from Sheffield, where they’ve been churning out burgers at The Harley for over three years. It’s great to see a Yorkshire brand doing well, and as far as I can tell these guys deserve their success.

Although I couldn’t make the official launch, I decided to pop in on opening night to check things out the old-fashioned way. The sun was shining, we nabbed a seat on the deck, the burgers were half price – it seemed like everything was in our favour.

I’ve never been to Aire Bar, and although I knew where it was it’s not a place I’ve ever even thought about going. It’s a bit out of the way of my usual haunts and I’ve never really heard anyone say much about it. I’m glad I had a reason to go now! It’s got a great atmosphere and was full of professionals grabbing a post-work beverage. The deck was perfect for a sunny day, and even though the Leeds river bank isn’t always the prettiest place, it wasn’t a bad view at all and I enjoyed having five peaceful minutes before my date arrived.

I was a bit sceptical about how the service would be, after some recent poor experiences at hipster pop-ups, but these guys knew what they were doing. Despite the opening night crowds, there were no nerves and we got our grub in about fifteen minutes.

There’s plenty of choice in the menu, including a patty made from bacon, a fearsome looking triple burger, and some tempting sides such as jalapeno poppers, mac ‘n’ cheese or loaded fries.

I plumped for the Smokin’ Joe Frazier, boasting two chicken patties, bacon, cheese, homemade ranch dressing and relish. I asked for sauces on the side, as I’m picky about ranch and I thought the relish might be a bit too hot for me. I should have been more trusting of the chef, because I would do pretty much anything to get my hands on that ranch recipe. It was garlicky and tangy, with quite a thin consistency – not too oily or creamy. I seriously could not get enough of the stuff and whatever I ordered in the future, I’d have that on the side. I will not forget that ranch dressing!

The chicken patties – apparently made from 90% thigh meat and 10% chicken livers – were a bit new to me! They weren’t quite as nice as a really good chicken breast can be, but it made a nice change from the dry, overcooked chicken breasts that inferior places seem to think are worth charging a tenner for.

Overall it was a good burger, moist but not too sloppy, really filling, and served with wickedly moreish crispy French fries. The offbeat, casual vibe makes Twisted perfect for a post-work bite with friends and beers and sunshine.

If you’re following Twisted Burger on any of their social media (such as their twitter, which is here), your burger is half price until 20th April, so why not give it a try?

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In other news…

Here’s my other half’s review of the same meal over at The Indie Chef

This blog on The Culture Vulture about having fun with our city is a thought-provoking read

Some of these mini desserts look better than others, but on the whole the list makes me want to throw a dessert tapas party

DO NOT MISS Amazing Graze this weekend. See my review of the last Amazing Graze event here

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The Hungry Bear, Meanwood

Last weekend we headed over to Meanwood for a lazy Sunday lunch with some friends at The Hungry Bear. We’ve been meaning to go for a while, and I’m so glad we made the effort to visit this small but perfectly formed eatery that will surely help Meanwood make the leap from ‘up and coming’ to ‘trendy North Leeds suburb.’

After getting the important stuff out of the way (ordering Prosecco), I made my food choices, plumping for a smoked duck salad starter and a beef blade main. We also had a little surprise appetiser of a beautifully rich and smooth tomato and basil soup.

As a blue cheese hater – sorry – I requested that the smoked duck, pear and walnut salad come without that odorous addition, and had it with goat’s cheese instead. The duck was perfectly pink and flavourful, while the soft pears and crunchy walnuts added texture. I’m not sure the whole dish quite worked for me, but that’s very much my own fault for getting into the whole goat’s cheese situation. The individual ingredients were all fabulous.

The beef arrived swimming in gravy and with a Yorkshire pudding the size of my head (this is a good thing). The roast root vegetables were sweet with a touch of crunch, and the roast potatoes? Incredibly moreish. The beef itself was so tender it fell apart at the touch of my fork and had an intense flavour after 24 hours of cooking low and slow.

I still decided to squeeze in a dessert – might as well do it properly – and opted for the pistachio sponge with a lime crème fraiche. I love pistachio and I wasn’t disappointed by this light, tasty sponge. The lime crème fraiche had quite a zing and made a lovely alternative to heavy cream or ice cream, leaving a freshness on the palate.

The service was efficient and attentive throughout. It’s a small place but spread over two floors, so I did feel a bit sorry for the poor serving staff trooping up and down the steps with heavy plates! Other than that, though, the atmosphere is quite cosy, and we barely noticed that we were just a few feet from the main road through Meanwood.

We made quite an expensive do of this, with three courses and wine coming to £125 for 4. But, there are mains between £8 and £15 with starters and desserts at £6-7, so I wouldn’t rule it out for a good value lunch.

We make a point of trying a new restaurant at least every month or so (when funds allow!) and The Hungry Bear is the best we’ve tried in ages. It was the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon, with cosy, relaxed service and a stylish neighbourhood restaurant feel but top notch food and drink. Can’t wait to go back.

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In other news…

This Leeds Inspired round up of gigs in Leeds throughout February and March is a cracker.

Since neither of us work in town, the market isn’t that accessible to us, so lately we’ve been getting our fruit and veg via Market Delivered. Full post to follow, but I’m a fan.

Claire’s review of the pizzas at Sela Bar has left me dying to try them for myself!

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Taster Session at Create

Over the last couple of months, I’ve barely been able to log into Twitter without seeing at least one person mention that they’d been to eat at Leeds’ latest restaurant, Create. The thing that makes Create a bit different is that they’re a social enterprise: they give training opportunities to people who really need a fresh start, or to be helped back up onto their feet. Which is, of course, admirable, and no wonder people are talking about it. But the vast majority of the buzz I was hearing was about the food, not the concept. The reviews have been promising: see Leeds Guide, TripAdvisor or the Yorkshire Evening Post, who are reserved but identify tons of potential.

I still haven’t eaten in the restaurant itself (apparently saving for a house deposit is more important than eating out?) so jumped at the chance to attend their first morning taster type session for free.

We all arrived at 11am, a bit bleary from Light Night the previous evening. We were greeted and sent upstairs, where coffee was available – I’m told it was lovely. I opted for orange juice, which was really delicious, obviously pure and not from concentrate. We were all seated at a long table and cracked on with working out whether we follow each other on Twitter, while we nibbled on some small mushroom pastries and little almond flavoured cakes (these did have a fancy French name which, unfortunately, eludes me).

In front of each of us were three wine glasses in a row, filled with small amounts of liquid. A very gentle sniff was all that was required to confirm that yes – this was the vodka we were going to learn all about.

Chris from Latitude Wines certainly knew his stuff. He gave us a quick tip on how to smell vodka (put your nose to the glass and breathe in gently through your mouth) and then spoke to us about Chase Vodka, their products and their manufacturing processes. We tried their standard vodka, their gin (which apparently is just flavoured vodka!) and their marmalade vodka. As I was driving, and I don’t drink generally so probably wouldn’t have enjoyed a good gulp, I just tasted the marmalade vodka by dipping my finger in. I have to say it tasted remarkably of marmalade…very orangey and tangy, but in a more full bodied way than an orange – what I’m trying to say is that it didn’t just taste of oranges but very specifically of marmalade! This is probably sacrilege but I imagine it would have been delicious with some lemonade. As you can see if you click on the links, these are pricey drinks and are really quite high end products. They’ve won tons of awards. The general feedback from other people at the table was firstly, they were super strong, and secondly, you could taste the difference between this and something like Smirnoff.

The demo table ready for action

Next, we headed downstairs for the food demo. This was led by the charismatic Richard Walton-Allen, who is Create’s National Executive chef. Before coming to Create, he was Executive Chef at Harvey Nichols, and he has over 20 years experience in the food industry. This experience was apparent as he took us through four different dishes with the help of Ed, the head chef. First, we were shown potted shrimp, second escabeche of bream, third, bresoala and fourth, beetroot cured salmon. The bresoala recipe was the only one we didn’t get to try, but seemed to be a massive hit. Everyone immediately said how great it would be for Christmas, and started discussing where they’d be able to hang it for a week, which is one of the steps of the recipe. The demonstration was great, you could see exactly what was going into the dishes and Richard also told us about the sourcing of their ingredients – they try to keep it as local as possible, but will use someone in Newcastle over someone in Leeds if they have much better produce.

Richard looking threatening with a knife. Salmon looking worried, with good cause

Once we’d seen all the dishes, our taster dishes were handed out (and about time too – by now it was 12.30pm and I was STARVING!). We tried (left to right) the beetroot salmon on a little blini, the escabeche of bream, potted duck (about to be added to the menu) and potted shrimp. Now, I’m not really the biggest fish fan but I tried everything and thought it was all delicious – really well cooked and nicely put together.

My sampler platter

As the morning came to an end, all I could think was how I’d heard such great stuff about Create’s desserts, and how we weren’t going to get to try any! Luckily, they’d thought about that and on our way out we were all presented with recipe packs along with a take home box with brownies, flapjack, meringue, biscotti and honeycomb inside. No, I didn’t share, yes they were all incredibly tasty!

The only negative points I would make were that it was a bit awkward both at the beginning and at the end in knowing what you were supposed to do. I’d have liked to have a little welcome talk at the beginning and a thanks and goodbye speech at the end. I think this opportunity could also have been used to tell us more about the social enterprise side of the business, which I for one was very curious about. Also, I would recommend making absolutely sure that you know and like what is going to be made and served. There was one vegetarian present and I can’t imagine it was that interesting for her since she will never make any of the foods, and there was also a rather brutal fish dissection that must have been especially unpleasant.

In future, these mornings will be every other Saturday, the next one being on Saturday October 22nd and focussing on wine tasting and Autumn cooking. They will be £10.75 each and if you’re interested in cooking and food, or in alcohol, then I think it’s brilliant value for money. Contact Create on Twitter or via their website to get more information. Personally, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Christmas one!

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