Tramshed

IMG_6026
It’s not in every restaurant that you see a real Damian Hirst artwork in the middle of a dining room, but then London’s Tramshed isn’t your everyday kind of restaurant. Tucked away in the super cool hipster backstreets of Shoreditch, Tramshed is the latest restaurant opened by Mark Hix, he of Chophouse and Lyme Regis fame.
The name gives away the building’s previous existence and the cavernous exposed brick interior is both wow and cool from the get go. We visited on a Sunday night and it was still jammed, so much so we could only get a seat at the counter, which turned out to be a great move.
Sitting at the counter you get instantaneous service, the eye of your server but a blink away. It delivers a more engaging experience too, one which we tend to shy away from in this country, perhaps it’s our famous reserved nature – but we really enjoyed it and I would recommend it here. We even discovered that our server’s dad came from Wakefield, now that wouldn’t have happened if we’d sat at a table.

The place is all hustle and bustle, with a lively, laid back, family friendly vibe early on a Sunday evening. Watched studiously by the cow and chicken in formaldehyde—which has pride of the place in the centre of the room – we ordered cocktails and perused the menu. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable taking you through the form on the menu—what you should order, how much etc,  some people get annoyed with this perceived nannying approach, but I like it: information is power, especially in a cool London restaurant.

The menu is very simple indeed, chicken or beef ( hence the Hirst artwork and many others in the same vein adorning the Hoxton hipster brick) except for a few bits and bobs, which add some variety to the stripped back offering. I confess I do like this kind of menu: it makes life super easy for me and given I’d had beef the day before, my life just got even easier so we shared a full Swainson House Farm chicken (barn-reared Indian Rock, no less) and the birds are served legs akimbo, with feet attached, golden roasted with a ceramic pot where the head could be. Quite dramatic and very cool.
Starters were simple but lovely: light as air Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers (oh my) and a shaved pumpkin and walnut fennel salad paved the way for a slap up feast that made us smile. Chicken, chips, onion rings, proper chicken gravy – before long we were knee deep in a perfect combination of a homemade / upmarket / dirtbag food experience. Some would say that is the perfect foodie storm and who can disagree?
IMG_6027
IMG_6029
Tramshed white vino was excellent at a sub £20 price in London—shame on pricey Leeds gaffs pricing wine as a way to boost revenues. We don’t mind paying of course, but it’s in London that you see the value of a highly competitive market.
As per usual our eyes were bigger than our bellies and the chicken beat us and in turn edged out the desserts, but we left happy and full, satisfied that London cool needn’t cost the earth and provide a warm and engaging experience.
Northern restaurants can learn a lot from this—and I note with encouragement that newbie Rare in Leeds has taken a few cues from Tramshed, with great success, more on that later…
IMG_6032

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.