San Carlo Flying Pizza, Leeds

Since it’s rebirth we have visited the Flying Pizza a few times and always had a good time. However after a walk with our dog to Roundhay Park we decided to see if there were any seats available outside the FP so we could have a nice al fresco experience.
The seating is very nice outside the restaurant and it was empty so it raised our hopes. I went inside to ask if we were ok to sit outside and at first was told it may rain but then RUDELY because the Front Of House didn’t expect me to understand Italian the fact we had a dog with us the answer was no. I don’t mind if people are straight but I felt particularly offended. We are now sat outside VINeataly in Leeds a good hour later and the sun is out.
Personally and professionally we frequent Leeds Restaurants a lot but I will not spend my money or time where people have such bad manners. :-((
Ps the above mentioned dog and its owners are welcomed at The Star at Harome, The Devonshire Hotel, The Feversham Arms and many more highly regarded establishments..
VINeataly was great.. :-))
G&D.

A Stockholm Smorgasbord

Our second visit to Stockholm gave us the opportunity get to know the city a little more and to visit some of the excellent eateries on offer. So here goes with a small taster ….

Lisa Elmqvist – Saluhall – Ostermalm

For anyone who remembers the Jamie Oliver ‘Jamie Does‘ city guide series on TV, Stockholm was one of the destinations and the Saluhall was featured. This is the city’s permanent indoor food market with a couple of excellent seafood restaurants and even if your not dining it is great just to look around at the fantastic produce on display. Follow the links on the coloured text to find out more (I know this can be lazy blogging but it gives far more information than can be conveyed just by my writing). We had a couple of hours to kill and after looking over the fish and shellfish displays booked a table at Lisa Elmqvist’s for lunch prior to our return flight later that afternoon. The menu was extensive so we asked the waiter to recommend something, so we could sample the selection of fish and shellfish from the counter displays.

We had a sharing gourmet platter served with marinated and smoked salmon, bleak roe, trout roe, shrimps, skagen mix, crayfish mix, salt water crayfish, fried pickled herring, toast and accompaniments. A basket of crusty bread and a glass of crisp house white wine completed the package. The collection of flavours particularly the smoked fish and prawns were amazing. If you are into seafood this was one of my favourite lunches. Simple, fresh and the atmosphere of the market added to the experience.

We are now converts to the excellent cuisine on offer in Stockholm and have sampled a good selection recommended by city residents which we will share on the site with additional posts …… J&L.

Giraffe

We were invited to eat at the new Giraffe in Leeds by the PR company that takes care of their publicity. I’ve been a few times to the other Giraffe restaurants in London so was interested to see what the Leeds outpost was like.

Does Leeds really need another chain restaurant? That was the overriding thought for me. They’re ten a penny and the quality varies wildly from one to another. The flip side is that they do set the bar for good surroundings, staff training and quality of service, making life hard for the independents (as if it wasn’t hard enough).

So what was it like? Well firstly this is a grown up Bar and Grill version of the Giraffe chain. The only one outside London we were told and the style and quality of the interior design confirms that these guys have deep pockets and have ambition.

The food was a revelation too. Taking aside that we were being looked after we were very pleasantly surprised. I chose a large portioned Calamari to start which to be honest was a little bland but acceptable. For mains JD opted for a Cobb sandwich and thought I’d test the skill of the Grill chef with a rib steak. Both mains were excellent I have to say and the steak perfectly cooked and from a good source.

Service at all times was attentive and friendly as you’d expect with a third full restaurant. The bill for two including a bottle of house red ( which was good value too) was just over £50 which we felt was decent value given the quality and enjoyment of the experience.

So does Leeds need another chain restaurant? Well the answer is probably not but there are plenty of other substandard chain outposts in Leeds that should make way for Giraffe Bar and Grill. It certainly sets a high standard in the overall quality of the dining experience, surprisingly trumping Jamie’s and Carluccio’s for a start.

In the highly competitive dining market of Leeds, Giraffe adds another option for the diner looking for a mid range, good priced, relaxed experience.

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Dusseldorf

I had a 4 day business trip to Dusseldorf with a couple of colleagues and managed to get to a couple of places worth a mention.

Schellenburg Hotel and Restaurant was a good find. Spotted by a colleague on the way into the Expo we were visiting we decided to pop in as it was on the river Rhine right opposite the Exhibition halls gtand after 7 hours on the go very convenient. Asparagus is in season and highly regarded in the region so I started with a white asparagus with crayfish which was extremely fresh and tasty, great combo. For main I opted for a “ribs of lamb” otherwise known to us as a rack of lamb which was perfect. My colleagues had asparagus soup and beef steaks which looked great and were spot on. The portions are big kind of American size.
The view was amazing with a big fast flowing river, very busy traffic including huge cargo barges and even water skiing. Check it out if you are in town

My colleague was keen for me to try a typical “pub” so after a second very day we went into central Dusseldorf which was buzzy with people having fun inside and on the pavements. We tried the local dark beer which is generally taken in small glasses, the waiters make marks on your beer mat and you settle when you have had enough. I wasn’t given an option and I was told to have the pork a knuckle which is a local heart attack on a plate delicacy. The crackling was awesome and the dish is served with red cabbage and boiled potatoes. Heavy but now and again great fun.

G

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Jamie’s Italian – Nottingham

Last night was a night out for the girls. Our choice of restaurant for the evening was Jamie’s Italian in Nottingham. I love the online booking system at Jamie’s, it’s easy to see when a table’s available plus you get a text or an email to forward to your friends.

Cocktails

We arrived just in time for a drink in the bar and we ordered a selection of cocktails to set the evening off on the right track, I had my favourite Espresso Martini.

Our table was in front of the deli area, where huge hams, garlic and chillis are hung, and the antipasti planks are made up. We ordered a mixture of the Meat and Vegetable Planks plus the Bread Selection and the Crispy Squid. It was all delicious and perfect for sharing so it didn’t last long.

Jamie's Italian Planks

We were so busy catching up that I didn’t spend any time looking at the menu, so when it came to ordering mains I panicked and ordered by just pointing at something that I’d not tried before. It was the ‘Honeycomb Cannelloni 3 ways’ which was nice but perhaps a little bland. I do like the pasta dishes at Jamie’s, so perhaps I was just missing the rich meat flavour of the Ragù.

The ladies ordered steak and Fritto Misto, both of which looked lovely, the fish was very crispy and wrapped in vermicelli fried noodles. The side orders of posh and funky chips were delicious.  It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that, although the waitress was friendly and helpful she didn’t offer us any specials. I do tend err towards a special when it’s something that sounds interesting, but perhaps they had sold out.

I really like the environment at Jamie’s. The Georgian house that it inhabits is a beautiful building. There are lots of separate areas for diners that all have a different feel to them. Some can be used for larger groups and almost give a private dining experience. We made a note to bring a bigger crowd next time so we could have a room to ourselves. If we did that we would not be quite so close to the sweet couple at the side of us who were either fascinated by, or shocked by, our candid conversation.

The house is filled with interesting period details and furniture, all ‘contemporaried up’ with a Jamie Oliver style twist. The toilets are down in the basement in ‘the caves’ where they also store ‘merchandise’ and wine, all safely locked away.

We shared a couple of desserts which we couldn’t quite finish and gossiped and laughed until it was time to head home. Although the booking system tells you your table time is limited we didn’t feel rushed out in any way.

The bill was reasonable, especially as we included cocktails, wine and several sides and starters; it was around £150 for the 4 of us.

Jamie's - photo courtesy of Jamie Oliver.com

Photo courtesy of Jamie Oliver.com

It was a good evening and very enjoyable and we will definitely be back when we can think of a good excuse. Perhaps next time we will visit on a sunny lunchtime so we can sit out in the garden.

The Clarence Hotel, Dublin

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I do like Dublin.

It has a Northernness that makes me feel at home. The people are like Yorkshire people, but more approachable. Dour, self deprecating types that know how to have a good time. I”m sure we’re all from the same stock at the end of the day.

I’ve done business and pleasure in Dublin over the years and it’s a really good place to visit (Ryanair and prices apart) but it’s been through the mill economically recently and that definitely shows. The last time I was in Dublin was at the peak of the Celtic Tiger – well, things have definitely changed not just in Ireland but everywhere. We have clients in Dublin and we’ve been meeting them quite a bit so you might see a few more Irish posts in the coming months.

Anyway, we had a couple of hours to kill so we had breakfast at The Clarence Hotel. Famously owned by Bono and The Edge from U2 it’s one of the city’s landmark hotels. Me being a U2 obsessive imagines bumping into Bono at breakfast or Edge at the shoe shine machine (perhaps) but the hotel does the landmark thing with a typical Dublin light under a bushel approach – it’s not fancy per se, just cool and luxurious in a worn and comfortable kind of way.

Breakfast was highly reasonable and well sourced at £9 euros (what, eight quid) with good coffee and a roaring peat fire on a cold, rainy Dublin morning it was just the location we needed. Except there was no wifi and it was too early for Guinness – proving you can’t have everything.

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