From Po Boys to Pulled Pork and beyond

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Just before Christmas, I was invited to eat at the brand new sister restaurant to The Pit in Leeds city centre, the rather sensibly named Pit Chapel Allerton, due to its location. For those of you who don’t know Leeds very well, Chapel Allerton is about ten minutes drive outside of the city centre and quite an up and coming place, if it’s not actually up and come already.  There are already a number of cool restaurants and bars, one being the highly prized Mexican Pinche Pinche, so it’s well worth the detour if you are in the city.
Back in the day, Chapel Allerton wasn’t always this nice so it’s good to see it grow and the out of town vibe spread with new bar and restaurant openings, the latest of which is The Pit. Pretty much a carbon copy of the Central Leeds operation in terms of branding, design, menu and interior, The Pit is a big restaurant with equally large ambition and clearly they believe that the market is there for them to open here.
It was another ‘getting the kitchen up to speed’ event but this time a lunch table was offered. We paid for our drinks and the food was laid on and it was order at the bar as there was no table service for some reason. No issue, so we ordered from the same menu the Central Leeds restaurant has, which is extensive Americana. I’d been to the original restaurant a few months ago and I have to say was a little disappointed, so was eager to see if there was any difference with the Chapel Allerton outpost.
My lunch companion and I went for nachos and fried catch of the day to get things underway, both of which were perfectly good. It’s all straight forward food here so it’s all about getting the small things right – so far so good. I ordered the half roasted chicken for mains with mac and cheese side and my fellow luncher opted for the very good looking fillet burger, which came perfectly rare as ordered. The chicken came with sweet potato fries and a lip smackingly hot peri peri style sauce which was on the money and still makes my mouth water as I write this.
The menu is very much in vogue  right now and the time is right for burger / rib / nachos / po boys / pulled pork et al – and a particular emphasis on attracting a younger crowd will ensure the success of places like this.
With Schooners of Brooklyn lager to wash it down, this was the perfect easy going lunch and, in my opinion, a more enjoyable experience that the previous meal at the Central Leeds restaurant. Perhaps it was down to the food ordered or the nuances of the individual restaurants, I’m not sure. The service was better in Leeds, but the food was marginally better in chapel Allerton.
I’m sure they will iron out these wrinkles in both restaurants in the coming months, but one thing is for sure, restaurants in Leeds that serve this kind of cuisine will have one eye over their shoulder at The Pit Leeds and Chapel Allerton – there is a lot of ambition and investment here, and I get the impression they won’t settle for second best.

Hotdog hijack in Edinburgh

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On a recent business trip to Scotland, we decided to take in the sights and sounds of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the evening. This has long been an ambition of mine and although this was a fleeting visit, we took the opportunity to take in some interesting food along the way.

On the recommendation of Mr Manwich, our resident sandwich guru, we booked in at a pop up restaurant in the backstreet cool bar, Cabaret Voltaire. Now I’m old enough to remember the new wave electronic band of the same name – so it was a good start to proceedings. The bar was an underground vault and struck the right hipster note in terms of vibe and setting.

The pop up was called the Hotdog Hijack and very interesting it was too. Fast, dirty food washed down with decent vino accompanied by some quite serviceable pizzas. Service was a bit slow but  they’d run out of buns as the waitress informed us breathlessly as she dashed off to the shop to buy some more. My chilli dog ‘El Dog Bandito’ was on time and on the money, but some of our party weren’t so lucky.

It wasn’t high brow but it fitted in well with the random, fun nature of the Fringe though, and as we wandered off to see our first comedian of the night we felt pretty happy with our choice.

Here’s a picture of a hot dog:

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Meat Liquor

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This is a place in London I’ve been looking forward to visiting. It does what it says on the tin: Meat and Liquor. On trend dirtbag food and cocktails – perfect!

The menu is pretty simple: burgers, sliders, chilli fries, fried pickles – you get the picture… all served up with real attitude and great cocktails. The restaurant itself is very rock & roll too with nightclub-loud rock music (great playlist BTW) and super subdued lighting (ie almost pitch black) all adding to the Hollywood Boulevard vibe. The interior design of the restaurant is right out The Lost Boys too with uber cool graffiti montage imagery creating an exciting and almost illicit American roadhouse feel.

Prices were very reasonable too especially given the restaurant’s location near Mayfair. £8 for mains is very sensible and actually compared to Leeds prices, pretty much a bargain.

It’s worth noting there’s a no booking policy as is the other trend right now but as we were eating early doors, we strolled right in. When we left about 8pm there was a very long line waiting to be seated.

It’s very much a down with the kids joint and who am I to argue??? We had a fun time and if you fancy a really mischievous night out eating and drinking what you shouldn’t, then Meat Liquor is the place for you.