Beach Hut Cafe, Watergate Bay.

We had arrived in Cornwall for a weeks holiday late on Friday night watching the sky become clearer and clearer showcasing a blood red moon, good omens for the week ahead?
We awoke on Sat morning to a gloriously sunny day and despite a chilly breeze we had a late breakfast in Padstow or should this place now be called PadStein? A foodie heaven nowadays with not only Rick Steins various establishments but highly acclaimed newcomers like Six now making the headlines. However for us a week on holiday in the UK means a week that is as much a holiday for The Lad (Chester our old dog) so we can only pick places that allow him to come too, Cornwall is great in this respect as I think it is probably the most dog friendly place in the UK.
So with the sun beaming we decided that a trip to Watergate Bay to watch the sunset was in order, unfortunately Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen does not take dogs but underneath it is a recommended Cafe Bar called The Beach Hut where the views are breathtaking. A huge beach, incoming tide with waves making the sea appear as if it is made of milk AND the sun setting slowly, pretty perfect. The informality of the place is deceptive as the bar is well stocked, service attentive and food pretty good. We were hungry so went for three courses, fish soup which comes with croutons on the side as well as grated cheese and a spicy mayo for me, grilled prawns with garlic mayo for D both were very tasty perfectly cooked. For mains I had mussels in Thai green sauce with D opting for the veggie option of Falafel burger. The mussels were fab but the burger didn’t quite work as a burger but the individual ingredients worked very well.

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We shared a marmalade sponge whilst the sun set the sea on fire. A cheeky cheap Rose went perfectly. For a basic lunch or dinner the specials fresh each day are displayed on the board.. we would definitely recommend this place and not only for the views.

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Which brings us on nicely to our second visit two days later, D had calamari to start and I went for a small nibble of anchovies these were followed by a Cornish bratwurst Po Boy plus pulled pork (not as big as you would think, just right) and a main of the grilled prawns for D. To finish D had a hot chocolate with the full marshmallow/jazzies extravaganza and I had a cognac. The sun put on a show again!

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G&D.

Trinity Leeds

Trinity Centre in Leeds is apparently the biggest Shopping Complex opening anywhere in Europe this year. It think it is named after the old Trinity church which it appears is having an interior make up but desperately needs a full on exterior clean as it looks forlorn outside the huge shiny new structure sharing it’s name. The Trinity centre is a Trinity of shops, bars and restaurants covered by an amazing glass roof that is designed so it overlaps in various places allowing gaps to the outside. The weather has been particularly cold but every time we have been it is like being “inside” a fridge so seeing ladies in heels and skimpy clothing rushing between bars is kind of odd. I have to admit other than to buy a pack of refills from The Pen Shop I haven’t been around the shops but there are some new to Leeds.
What is different is that there isn’t the normal obligatory shopping centre food hall although Giraffe, Carluccios, Waggamama and Yo Sushi represent the chains and the rest are smaller more stylish set ups.
In turn we have tried out Angelica (more later), The Alchemist and it’s sister bar The Botanist both of which serve great cocktails but very different in style. The Botanist is quirky and more shabby chic and although very busy right now the staff appear in better control, whether a pit stop whilst shopping or a pop in for one or two it has a nice friendly atmosphere. There is a heated outside area where you can see into the open kitchen which we liked very much but summer we thinks…
The Alchemist is aimed to be upmarket with a “science of mixology” vibe, serving the drinks in an elaborate mix of laboratory style vessels. All very intriguing and theatrical but the the thing is it is not all substance as the cocktails inside the vessels are on the whole excellent. The terrace has nice urban views and will be full in summer. We haven’t eaten at either the Botanist or Alchemist so can’t comment.

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So, onto D&D Group’s Angelica and Crafthouse which I guess are the anchor leisure food/drink destinations at Trinity. I am told this is D&D Group’s first foray outside of London where amongst others they own the very upmarket Le Pont de la Tour and Quaglino’s so the expectation is huge. Our first visit to Angelica was on a soft launch 1st Saturday night, as you would expect the joint was buzzing, there were eight of us booked in to eat but they can’t sit eight on one table so we had adjoining tables for dinner but then butted up after. The big idea is the raw fish bar which I was particularly looking forward to so you can imagine my disappointment when the ice behind the glass was covered in empty shells, looked good but EMPTY??

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Various dishes from sashimi to steak, to cold lobster left all eight of us underwhelmed, the service was also poor. However the drinks and atmosphere were superb and the views from the snow covered terrace are amongst the very best in Leeds centre, this coupled with the sincerely apologetic staff we decided we should go back but not for dinner. Lunch definitely and drinks without a doubt. After our trip to Casa Mia we decided to go back to Angelica for drinks to make sure we all would have a very “relaxing” Monday. We had a little persuading to do to get in as it was pretty packed but it was worth it, we had a fantastic night. My recommendation is not any of the great cocktails but the Venezuelan rum “Diplomatico” which is amazing.
This brings us nicely on to Crafthouse and our date night dinner. I have to add that we had had a good 10 day break from all the eating out by this time……. I know it has been a full on month so will we will be taking it easy for a while??
The Crafthouse space is all glass with a great mix of furniture from bar stools allowing seating looking into the kitchen to intimate tables enjoying a great view and a dining table for eight or more. Very impressive format.
The Executive chef Lee Bennett has created a nice menu that will challenge all the high end establishments in Leeds and beyond. Originally from Bridlington but travelled far and wide Lee has not lost all his roots with Bridlington, Lobster and “Ginger Pig’s” beef being a key part of his repertoire. They have what is called a Josper, some kind of amazing BBQ type grill which allows cooking at a high temperature adding that lovely sealed crisp effect along with smokiness without losing the ability to keep meat succulent inside.
As we had not had a date night for a while we decided what the hell and went all out. Laurent Perrior Rose, Grilled Lobster, Rib of Beef(accompanied by a very reasonably priced £21 carafe of Chianti)assiete of deserts and cheese over 4 hours. D and I can honestly say the Lobster was The Best and we were treated by the chef to a small amuse bouche version of his signature Lobster Bisque which was incredible in it’s depth of flavour with a heavenly texture

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How do you follow that, well Lee was showing off we think because the Rib was not only amazing but without doubt the finest beef we can remember tasting. We were pretty much beaten even though we didn’t finish all the beef so to our shame the desserts weren’t given full attention but we tried a little each of all of them and….next time! We waited for a while before cheese thankfully it was not a massive plate but just right portions of local cheeses which to be honest we played with but were lovely. The prices for the above are high but in our opinion worth it. This place will challenge it’s competitors to reach higher.

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Finally we had a very quick Monday night meal at Cielo Blanco a lovely independent Mexican and decided on the Street Food menu which allows you to choose 3 dishes for £10.95, we had slow cooked baby back ribs, pulled pork tacos, prawn tostados, mackerel and salsa verde tacos additionally we had a Mexican Fish Butty which was interesting. Mrs S had Mojito’s and I had a Modelo beer plus a couple of Virgin Mary’s to accompany the meal all were excellent. A nice friendly spot for a quick different experience.

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Will the Trinity Centre kill off the rest of Leeds High Street? I don’t think so if the Council gets it right and supports lots of variety with independents, festivals, street entertainment and develop a proper City Centre Strategy. Leeds is continuing to change so far for the better, let’s hope it stays that way.
G&D.

Casa Mia Chapel Allerton

As neighbourhoods go Chapel Allerton in Leeds is turning into one of those cosmopolitan enclaves of relaxed family leisure gathering that makes you feel good. Just recently we had two impromptu pop ins to Casa Mia followed by Easter Sunday Lunch with “the kids”. Six of of us sat in a place full of families enjoying a chilled out afternoon it was quite heart warming.
Antipasto, ribs, black pasta, pizza…

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Lots of vino followed by desserts from the fantastic display in the chiller meant we were in there nattering away for hours. Just before we called it a day we were treated with an alcoholic ice cream delight with Grappa/Limencello on the house.

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A true neighbourhood needs these types of anchors surrounded by lots of independents and Chapel Allerton is amongst the best in Leeds. Casa Mia is good value, great food and attentive service…
G&D.

The Talbot, Malton

Readers of Globetroffers will know D and I are fans of North Yorkshire and James Martin so a trip to Malton for a weekend stay at The Talbot where James Martin is the Executive Chef was inevitable. The Hotel has been refurbished to a very high standard and is on a par with the excellent Feversham Arms in Helmsley. In line with most higher end Country Hotels The Talbot takes dogs so The Lad was very happy to tag long! Our room was very spacious and enjoyed a great view over looking the river.
Malton is only an hour from Leeds so we were easily there by lunchtime and enjoyed a lovely Sancrerre Rose accompanied with the very best simply presented piece of cured smoke salmon I have ever tasted anywhere, D had cheese which was all local artisan fare and well presented.
After a nice wander around the town which has some nice shops and an eclectic cultural “local” vibe with various events we decided to just chill in the room before dinner.
The decor is traditional country style which is set off well against high ceilings and just the right lighting. The service was good and the staff are knowledgable.
After such a brilliant experience with the salmon at lunchtime I decided to try it again for a starter as it had a twist, home cured organic with pickled ginger chaired cucumber ketchup and spring onions….. Posh or what? D decided on Gressingham duck smoked breast with foie gras which she said was very tasty.

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For mains D had Waterford Farm Pork with soured cabbage, caper and white raisin dressing and I stuck with fish and opted for North Atlantic Seafood with wilted spinach plus young vegetables which was good but not as nice as anticipated.

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The wine list is very extensive but we stuck with a the Rose.
As you would expect of James Martin the desserts were highly rated and did not disappoint just take a look at D’s crisp chocolate cylinder with blackberry mouse, creme fraiche sorbet and pistachios!!

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Great place to drop in or to stay.
G&D

Glasgow

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I think Glasgow is a pretty cool city. It doesn’t have the pretensions of Edinburgh, isn’t encumbered with an overblown sense of itself and it is comfortable in its own skin. Glaswegians are warm and friendly too – even if the accent gets the better of me from time to time – and are clearly proud of their city. Long ago it had a bad reputation as a violent and forbidding place and I’m sure like every city in the UK, it still has some places like that, in the main it’s a safe, vibrant, modern European city.

We have an office in the city and I’m lucky enough to travel there often and this week I spent two days in the city which meant a night on the town was in order. It’s great knowing people who are locals as they pre qualify every night out to make sure that we only go to the best / coolest / most interesting  places – and this week was no exception.

We headed out to the West End of Glasgow, about 15 mins cab ride from the downtown area, and a real upcoming, happening part of the city. Testament to this fact was our first port of call: Brewdog – the coolest chain of bars in the UK, serving an amazing array of craft beers from all over the world. Of course, we now have a Brewdog in Leeds and after visiting the Glasgow branch, a visit to the Leeds outpost will be in order. I had a pint of Punk IPA, one of their own brews and a properly unusual and striking pale ale it was.

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We were eating just around the corner at one of Glasgow’s more interesting restaurants The Butchershop. It’s style is ‘Manhattan neighbourhood steakhouse’ and it does look the part as Glasgow definitely reminds me of US cities in parts. As the name implies this is a real meat eater’s dream gaff with a simple but beautifully curated menu featuring a choice of prime cuts and accompaniments. It’s all about the meat here and as you’d expect these days the provenance of the animals it came from was impeccable.

It was a blokey dinner so it was steaks all round and I opted for Loch Fyne oysters to get things rolling. It’s worth mentioning also the Earl Grey Old fashioned cocktail I ordered was sublime – there is clearly some class mixology going on behind the bar. I plumped for a ribeye topped with bone marrow (oh my) and guys variously had Cote de Boef, Sirloin and rump. Thrice cooked chips were served in the obligatory miniature tin pail ( I would have sent them back if they hadn’t been) and there were some sides somewhere but to be honest it was the meat we were interested in.

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It was all superb and looking back on it, I can’t find a bad word to say about it. Prices were where you would expect although the signature cuts Cote de Boeuf and T Bone were slightly wallet challenging but we are talking about dry aged for 35 days here. The wine list was sensible and house Rioja we quaffed tasted like a much more expensive wine. Someone mentioned that the service seemed slow but as we were in a large group, it wasn’t really noticeable or indeed an issue.

Afterwards we found a couple of cracking bars – The Ben Nevis which had a jaw dropping array of whiskies and live traditional music and a uber cool bar The Kelvin Hall Cafe. All in all a great evening, next time you’re in Glasgow it’s well worth a trip out to the West End and in particular The Butchershop. Vegetarian options are available.