The Pit

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When Rib Shakk closed down earlier this year we lost one of our go to rib / dirtbag / not so guilty pleasures restaurants. Anthony’s sous vide ribs were a succulents joy, but that is all in the past. Of course there is Red’s, but if you can get a table good luck and if I’m honest I don’t love their ribs as much as everyone else seems to. So we had what marketing folk call a gap in an emerging market, that is until The Pit opened.

Situated at the other end of town, The Pit is also all about the barbecue: pulled pork, ribs, burgers, wings, nachos… you get the chargrilled message. It’s also huge – the spacious interior used to be part of a nightclub and it’s been given an intelligent designer makeover into a contemporary american vibe, by way of Merrion Street. It’s also part of the ambitious and successful Arc Inspirations Group, the guys behind The Box, Trio, Napa and The Arc etc so we should expect great things.

First impressions are good and on the lunchtime we visited, the staff were on the case, friendly and attentive. After a drink at the bar, we took to our booth (I do like a good booth). At first, the menu is slightly bewildering I’ll be honest – there is a lot to choose from. But if you like this kind of food, and you know the difference between a Po Boy and a Big Link Dog, you’ll be right at home. We fancied the burger and lobster combo made famous by the eponymous swanky London restaurant chain, but the fillet burger was disappointingly off so we all opted for the ribs and lobster. This was the most expensive item on the menu too (why do I always do that?) and quite steep at £25.95 although it looked impressive. Okay, there is half of a (small) lobster, a side of ribs, fries, slaw but still a little on the pricey side for me. I noticed other items such as straight forward burgers were also on the wallet stretching scale for what they were – it did feel a little like the expensive fit out needed to be paid for in some way.

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The food was good, the ribs excellent – probably the best in Leeds right now, smoky, succulent with still some bite – the lobster was a little bland, (it tasted like it was probably frozen) and other stuff is standard fare although the sweet potato fries and mac & cheese were nice alternative sides. I do think sometimes it’s hard to really excel with this type of food as ultimately it has to be the basics done really well. Perhaps I’m being too harsh but I do think that they will have to up their game to compete and take a look at the prices. I’ve said it many times, but some restaurants in Leeds charge London prices without the accompanying quality of service or food. I wouldn’t put The Pit in this category, but if you fancy a plate of nachos, a couple of burgers or sides of ribs, throw in a few beers and before you know it, you’re easily North of £50. In my book, everything has to be brilliant to sustain those prices.

But The Pit is cool, make no mistake about it and any place that has a den in the basement with two ping pong tables available for hire, has to be good. The beer selection is superb and the wine sensibly priced, but this is a beer joint primarily although the cocktails are excellent, as I can testify). It’s location in the burgeoning ‘Northern Quarter’ will mean custom from the arena and out of town visitors.

 

Prashad

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I love meat.

I really do.

Roasted, fried, baked, poached, grilled and especially barbecued.

It all works for me and all you have to do is follow me on Twitter or take a look back through some recent posts on here to realise that meat is my food master, for sure.

So when someone mentions to me ‘vegetarian restaurant’, I go cold. I start to worry. I think I’m going to miss my beloved flesh. Earlier this year we ate at the fantastic Terre A Terre in Brighton which was the first really, really good vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to and that was thanks to the persistence of my long-suffering vegetarian sister Gill and do you know what? It was the first non meat meal where I didn’t miss the meat.

Prashad is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that has been successfully ploughing a high quality food furrow in Bradford for years and rocketed to fame as runners-up in Ramsay’s Best restaurant TV show in 2010. Recently opening a spacious new restaurant on the Leeds/Bradford border, this smart move will open their pretty unique style of cooking to a much wider catchment area.

A large party of us booked on their opening night last week, which in hindsight was probably not the wisest move in the world – there were a few glitches with timings and service yet to be resolved – but we had a really enjoyable evening.

And I didn’t miss the meat.

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I’m not a huge connoisseur of Indian food but it seems like Prashad serves a kind of Indian continent fusion food. having visited India earlier this year, it really came home to me that india is a bit like Europe with the cultural diversity of many countries and cuisines to match. the food on offer ranges from hot and cold street food (Special Chaat is the very addictive signature dish of which Ramsay was particularly fond and ) to more traditional curries. We ordered a mixed starter plate for two that contained all the starter options – the textures and flavours were superb. It was a plate of food working its socks off I can tell you. the rest of the plates we all shared were all of the highest standard with punchy, shiny flavours at every turn.

Special mention has to go to the Chinese/Indian crossover Chilli Paneer, the Masala Dosa and the seasonal vegetable Handi – all served with a delicately light coriander rice and satisfyingly stodgy garlic naan.

The service is cheerful and made us all smile. It was opening night and it was a little laboured with new staff and systems clearly being bedded in. But Prashad is the kind of place that you readily forgive this because the food easily outweighs any negatives. You get the sense that the issues will be quickly resolved – the family clearly know how to run restaurants.

I predict Prashad will become as popular with the people of Leeds and move from its status of Bradford’s best kept secret to the go-to restaurant for non meat eaters and meat eaters alike. On top of all that, it’s only 5 minutes by car from where we live so very convenient for us!

 

Note: The pictures used in this post come from the Prashad cookbook, from which other Globetroffers have cooked extensively – and they swear by it. My shots from the night look a little haphazard, it could have been the wine…

The Angel Inn at Hetton

About six months ago I’d heard that The Angel at Hetton was looking for food bloggers to give complimentary vouchers to. It’s fairly common these days for restaurants, and in particular PR companies, to engage with food bloggers to spread the word about their ‘product’. It’s very much the modern way of doing things and can be a very effective way of spreading the word, especially if the bloggers have plenty of followers.

So I applied for the voucher and it arrived, worth £25. Generous, I thought, as I slipped it into my man cupboard (where I keep all my stuff).

And there the voucher sat, for quite some time, until we decided on a run out one Sunday for a spot of lunch in the Dales. Hetton is just North of Skipton – so not even an hour from Leeds – so very easy to get to. We’d booked an early 12 noon slot and by the time we’d arrived, we were ready for some snap as we say round these parts. Opting to sit in the bar (which I’d recommend if you decide to go), by the roaring log fire was the perfect location for the top-notch lunch we were about to enjoy.

Plenty of our friends had already been to The Angel so when we told them we were going it was old news. I kind of wondered if that’s why they were trying to spread the word again via food bloggers – The Angel has been very popular for a long time and these things definitely go in cycles, with newer restaurants coming on the scene and more established places becoming less in vogue.

But the relaxed, friendly country pub atmosphere at The Angel is spot on. Not even close to pretentious gastro, it wears its food credentials lightly with only the menu the giveaway that there is some serious foodie activity here. I’d say we were in Blue Lion territory here – another outstanding, unpretentious North Yorkshire inn serving outstanding food.

We both opted for the irresistible roast beef (topside) for mains and were delighted to be asked how we wanted it served (pink), I had the black pudding scotch egg to kick off and J had the ham hock terrine. Both starters were lovely. The mains were fantastic, probably the best Sunday lunch we’ve ever had in Yorkshire. The beef was perfectly cooked, the vegetables packed with flavour and the Yorkshire pudding would have floated away if it wasn’t full of red wine gravy. Admittedly we were ready for a roast dinner and it did not disappoint.

As if we weren’t full enough, the dessert menu looked too good to miss out on and we greedily hoovered up sticky toffee pudding (sublime) and pumpkin tart (different). Hardly able to move we sipped our coffee contentedly and congratulated ourselves on our superior decision-making this Sunday afternoon.

Three course Sunday lunch for two came to £62, including drinks which we though was excellent value — certainly in the price range of most places in and around Leeds. The only downside is you have to get in your car to get there, but if you pick the right day weather-wise then it’s a real Brucie Bonus to behold the fabulous Yorkshire Dales in the milky winter sunshine.

Note for vegetarians – there were lots of very good-looking veggie options on the menu, definitely not just a one option afterthought. We will definitely return.