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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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

The Ribman cometh

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I went to meet Mark Gevaux AKA The Ribman to write a post for The Culture Vulture, leading up to street food, art and music festival Amazing Graze on the 5/6th April at Left Bank in Leeds.

I like ribs. Which meat eater doesn’t? There isn’t a better meaty pleasure than tender meat, falling of the bone and for the more resistant morsels, gnawed off the bone. Leeds has kind of fallen in love with ribs all over again.

In the eighties and nineties, there were more tex-mex Americana joints in Leeds flogging poor quality ribs than you could shake a saucy stick at. And then they all vanished as we kind of fell out of love with them. Some of us rib fans waited patiently for the tide to turn, and guess what? It has.

Recently we’ve seen a resurgence in ribby pleasure in the city of Loiners. Rib Shakk, Cattle Grid and the newcomer Red’s are all delivering great quality rib action and that’s just to name a few. We might have a surfeit of rib activity, but the good will out and I’m all for a bit of competition.

But can ribs work as street food? And why would you even bother?

London based Mark Gevaux AKA The Ribman (‘Best Ribs in London’ is his gauntlet throwing strapline) has been causing a street food sensation with his off the bone pork baby back ribs at London street food festivals across the capital. His USP is that he lovingly takes the deliciously tenderised, smokey meat off the bone and serves the meat – after cooking it *overnight* by the way – in an enormous bun with his trademark ‘Holy Fuck’ sauce. Oh yes!!

Of course this kind of dirty deliciousness is all the rage in London right now and who are we to complain? I caught up with Mark at street food market Kerb at Kings Cross last week – I was of course taking my journalistic assignment very seriously…only to discover that Mark takes ribs very seriously indeed. In between being interviewed by a Danish TV film crew, he told me his pork is from free range animals, he makes all his own sauces and he even personally picks up his bespoke bread buns from a baker in South London every morning.

Mark is an interesting character: a trained butcher who has come to street food by a circuitous route via Spain and London. He has a loyal customer base and usually sells out by 2pm every day, so his advice to me was get there early. Of course I did and before I chatted to Mark I had to try the merchandise. I can vouch for the Holy Fuck sauce and he’s not kidding about tender, juicy rib meat that is the very essence of the pig. All served in a fresh, chewy bun on a freezing cold afternoon in Kings Cross. Perfect.

Mark is really looking forward to seeing what the good people of Leeds will make of his ribs and so am I. If you are partial to moist rib loveliness combined with kick ass sauces, then to be quite frank you need to be first in the queue when he rocks up in April.

The Loaf – Crich, Derbyshire

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There are not many places where you get welcomed as a friend, eat delicious food, but also get to take home baking equipment and bread making advice.

After my last post about Jeera in Crich, I promised to review The Loaf on our next visit to pizza night. It was only half way through eating my Capricciosa that I remembered this, so apologies for the rather rushed phone photos. Not much gets between me and my food.

Other than special events like Storytelling nights or Children in Need, The Loaf only opens as a pizza restaurant on Wednesday’s, but it’s a real midweek bonus if you remember to book one of the two sittings. The pizzas are baked in the ovens that are used to bake gorgeous bread for the cafe, and various other outlets, during the day. They have a perfect thin, slightly chewy crust and a traditional selection of toppings. The dessert options are delicious too, tonight we shared the lemon cheesecake and apple frangipane tart. There is no alcohol licence so you need to take your own wine if you fancy a glass, but Ed especially likes their coffee and always finishes the evening with an Americano.

To go along with their bread baking classes various baking accoutrements are now on sale. So tonight I have come home with a traditional cane proving basket, a grignette (a blade for slashing the dough) and a reclaimed oven stone for baking on. I also got a some invaluable advice on how to use it all.

So, Pizza Night is well worth a visit…and I promise that my next post will be a little farther afield than ‘right on my doorstep’.

Jamie’s Italian

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Superstar foodie chef Jamie Oliver finally has a presence in Leeds. The most northerly outpost of his Italian restaurant chain has finally opened in Leeds, with surprisingly little fanfair. There has been a lot of buzz in the foodie blogs about when it might open and after a week of ‘soft launch’ to get things up to speed, it was officially opened last week.

I’ve eaten at the Brighton restaurant earlier this year and very good it was too, so expectations are high for the Leeds operation. And after the disappointment of the failure to open Fifteen in the city, Jamie’s Italian has a great opportunity to firmly establish itself as a major player on the Leeds restaurant scene.

First things first – this is essentially a high class chain restaurant and although at times it’s easy to forget this, as everything is so well done, a chain it is – and all the more impressive for that. The second thing that hits you is the size of the place and the investment – the budget for the fit out alone is probably more than most restaurants make in a year. It’s a joy to behold from a design perspective with the interior stripped right back to the bare walls – very cool, modern and funky. First impressions are very good indeed.

We decided to eat early after a few drinks in Bar & Grill and sat down around 5pm. Top tip: to avoid the queues – and there are lots of people wanting to eat here – aim to eat between 5-6.30. I realise that’s early, but if not you’re in for a long wait and as we left at 7pm, the line was ten deep outside the door.

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The atmosphere is lively, laid back and very much of the moment. The waitress knew her stuff and recounted in detail the exact nature of the specials (Porchetta and Pollock respectively) so we opted for those and ordered the cured meat and cheese platter for two. Drinks took a little bit too long to arrive and considering the place was half empty, that wasn’t really good enough. As the restaurant filled up, people all around us were having to wait a little bit too long in between drinks and courses – it seemed like the staff were experiencing a few teething problems.

Our food arrived in fairly good time and the meats et al arrived on a rustic plank, supported by two tins of italian tomatoes – which was a nice touch and a little bit of theatre. The mains arrived and Julie’s porchetta was spot on although lacked the crispy crackling advertised and my pollock was nicely cooked although not quite the ‘chunky portion of white fish’ she promised. Well priced at £13.50 too. Washed down with a bottle of Venetian Pino Grigio, we were very happy indeed. I did take some pics of the food but the lighting was modishly low where we were sat and they are just too dark. These pics from the website perfectly represent what to expect:

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By now the restaurant was jumping and the early evening dinner crowd were in full swing. This would be a great, lively destination for a group of diners although the expected wait in the bar (if you’re lucky) might put a lot of people off. If you don’t mind a few beers before you eat, I suspect it would add to the evening. If you like to get seated as soon as you arrive (like me), then you’ll be frustrated.

We finished with a quite acceptable but quite orangey Tiramisu to share and the bill finally came to £70 including tip. Nice also to see that the practice of sticking 10% automatically on to the bill is not practiced at Jamie’s Italian.

Jamie’s Italian is a welcome addition to the Leeds restaurant scene – a big, hairy commercial set up that is completely in keeping with the city’s stature (some would say fur coat no knickers outlook, but not me) . I think it will have the knock on effect of boosting restaurant trade across the city too will be considerable, as people who can’t be bothered to wait or can’t get in, go elsewhere.

All in all, we felt it was pretty good value for the food and dining experience, although it seems that they’re still finding their way a little bit and I expect these minor details will get ironed out in the coming weeks. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the attention to detail right across the restaurant is terrific in terms of ‘brand Jamie’ – it all works and feels right. If you’re a fan of Jamie and his cooking, then a visit to this restaurant won’t disappoint.

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The best restaurant in Leeds?

Somebody asked me a really good question last night at my leaving do at Kendell’s Bistro.

“Come on then — which is the best restaurant in Leeds??”

Now I have to say that I found answering the question definitively very difficult. It’s not that we’re overly blessed with amazing restaurants on every street corner. Far from it. It’s just that depending what mood your in dictates which restaurant is number one at any given point.

I started thinking aloud and it kicked off a huge discussion, as you’d expect. I’ve given it further thought and for what it’s worth started to put together a sort of ‘best of’ in the city, depending upon what you want and how you’re feeling.

I’d be interested to know what other people think as it’s by no means definitive and I’ve probably omitted some of the best places, but I’m sure you’ll let me know.

  • The best for impressing a lover, partner, foodie or out of towner that thinks Leeds is full of ignorant yokels — Anthony’s Boar Lane
  • The best wow factor in a dining room, where a cool and glamorous experience is desired — Anthony’s Piazza
  • The best for consistently excellent service, food quality, conspicuous consumption with fashionista appeal and verve — Harvey Nichols
  • The best indian food in Leeds — Aagrah
  • The best bustling dining room, for the noisy and boisterous, fur coat and no knickers crowd — City Bar and Grill
  • The best fish restaurant — Livebait
  • The best breakfast in Leeds — Harvey Nichols (this has been scientifically proven by me)
  • The best italian food in Leeds — Salvo’s
  • The best local ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant — Diva Italiana, Pudsey

See what I mean? I could go on. All of the above restaurants are the best at any given point in time, and I think the best restaurant in some ways has to be an amalgamation of all of the above.

Now I’m going to stick my neck out. There’s a restaurant in Leeds that sticks to what it does best and concentrates on doing it incredibly well.

They’ve been beavering away, quietly serving in-the-know foodsters lovingly created food for the past few years, building a reputation as one of the best places to eat in the city. I’ll get to the point, and here it is:

The best all round restaurant in Leeds — Kendell’s Bistro.


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It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Steve Kendell’s cooking and his passion and determination to create stylish, unpretentious, authentic bistro food that in some ways flies in the face of fashion. This is a real feel-good restaurant. I’ve never come out of there feeling bad about anything. Like anything or anybody, it’s not perfect. When I think back to when we dined at Angela Hartnett’s in Mayfair last year, it was a glorious thing of perfection to behold. The closest to restaurant perfection I’ve ever experienced.

But we’re a funny lot aren’t we? I’ve noticed with brands we love, we’re prepared to let them get things wrong now and again (think M&S and their recent “we’ve boobed’ campaign) – and I think it’s the same with restaurants. We become loyal and align ourselves with what they are trying to do and it actually becomes part of our own personal brand and we in turn become evangelists. This has been the case with Kendell’s – I’m forever recommending the place to all and sundry, safe in the knowledge that whoever I tell will be safe in the hands of Steve’s team.

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Last night was my leaving do –  a fairly low key affair that ended messily in Mojo, at some godforsaken hour, drinking Sambuca. Earlier that evening we all enjoyed a superb meal at Kendell’s, the service was excellent, the food delicious and the whole experience was simply the best we could have had. This is a restaurant with heart and it cares about it’s customers and it’s food.

Get those right and you’re well on the way to boing the best restaurant in Leeds.

Norfolk Food Festival

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This is the last post of our weekend in Norwich and by pure coincidence on our recent visit it was the last days of the Norfolk Food Festival. Foodie events had been organised over the county starting from the 19th of September and culminated in Norwich with the mighty ‘Battle of the Bangers’ and a food theatre in the central Forum building. The public were asked to sample and vote for their favourite sausage from a range of local butchers cooked from a series of stalls outside the Forum. The variety and quality of the bangers was fantastic and although we did not get to know the eventual vote winner, we loved the bangers from the Walsingham Farms Shop Partnership, hope they did take the honours.

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The highlight of the event for me was the John Lewis sponsored cookery theatre inside the Forum with an impressive stage, cameras, large monitors for the close-ups and a line up of top local chefs. The main presentation we managed to see was by Roger Hickman from The Victoria at Holkham. Roger’s presentation was the preparation of three game dishes consisting of duck, pigeon and venison supplied from the Holkham estate. Each dish used seasonal and locally sourced produce and Roger’s presentation was both interesting and inspiring and his passion and talent for his cooking shone through. During the event several chefs had contributed to and were promoting the ‘Mealmakers’ recipe book in aid of the Princes Trust in Norfolk and for a humble five pounds was a deserving cause worth supporting and I look forward to trying some of the recipes from my copy. How easy the professionals make it look and three stunning dishes were prepared and demonstrated in approximately 40 minutes. Talking to Roger at the end of the presentation it was a pleasant surprise to find that he was involved with the original ‘Adlards’ restaurant another local favourite sadly now closed and missed. Roger originates from Garforth near Leeds ….. Well not much of a surprise there !!

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