Mans Market

When F’s Auntie Ruth offered to babysit last week, we jumped at the chance for a date night, and some much needed quality time together. We decided to go into the city centre for some dinner and drinks, and were keen to go somewhere we hadn’t been before. After a little googling and Instagram searching, we decided to check out Mans Market, a Chinese restaurant that describes itself as an ‘accessible, new age, hip restaurant and bar concept’ – what a claim!

Entering into a small little door, with a huge neon sign above it, and leading down a stair case with the wall adorned with golden waving cats, it looks like it might be a traditional Chinese restaurant, but then Mans Market opens out into a large space with an industrial warehouse type look, with clean, simple furniture, exposed brick work, and vaguely humorous posters saying ‘Man with one chopstick go hungry’!

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We were seated straightaway, and the waiter explained the ordering system, as we glanced over the menu. Man’s Market have adapted the usual speak to the waiter, and they deliver your food thing, and have gone for a bit of fun gimmick instead, where you scribble down your order on signs that say ‘feed me’, or ‘I’m thirsty’, and pop them on a huge peg hanging above the table. These are then collected and checked by the staff, and the orders put through to the kitchen. I quite like this idea, it is a total gimmick, and not very practical, but I like writing lists, and trying out new things, so it was a fun little quirk. Ali, however, loves chatting to waiting staff, usually trying to chat them up, or get free food from them, so it takes away some of that pleasure. (Saying that, we still managed a lot of chat with the staff as they checked the order, and when they brought the food out!).

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We started with prawn crackers, or actually two huge prawn crackers, I’ve never seen a bigger prawn cracker – served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. They tasted pretty much like most other prawn crackers I’ve had, but nevertheless, a nice start to the meal. We ordered a cocktail each, to get out evening going, I had the Man’s Market version of a pornstar martini, the Kobe Tai, a vodka based cocktail with jasmine, lychee, pineapple and lime, with a shot of prosecco on the side – it was yum! Ali had a number called The Way of the Daiquiri, which was also really tasty and refreshing – pineapple and passionfruit shaken with rum, lime and sugar.

For our starters we shared three different dishes, I was pretty hungry and indecisive! We chose crispy duck spring rolls, siu may (pork and prawn dim sum), and mushroom, bamboo and corn dumplings. My favourite were the dim sum, a lovely soft salty dumpling, filled to the brim with succulent meat and fish. Ali really liked the duck spring rolls, they were beautifully crisp, and so full of filling they were bursting open. They were served with a sweet plum sauce, spring onion and cucumber, which complimented the salty duck. The mushroom dumplings were also really tasty, with a strong mushroom flavour and yummy batter.

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We ordered a glass of wine, and a beer to keep us hydrated as our mains arrived, especially with all this salty Chinese food. Ali opted for the yellowbean and cashews, with chicken, which had a sweet soy sauce, plenty of succulent chicken, big chunks of carrot, and loads of cashews for added crunch. It went down very well!

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I decided on the roast duck, char sui and greens. The pork was delightful, lovely and tender, with huge chunks of the stuff! The greens were served in a flavourful soy based sauce, and were well cooked, with that little crunch left. The duck, however, was really chewy! The flavour was nice, and there was, again, loads of it, but it was so chewy it became hard to eat. Overall, it was a great dish, the chef just needs to check the duck!

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We shared some accompaniments to supplement our mains, some fried noodles, egg fried rice, and broccoli with chilli and garlic. I loved the vegetables! Broccoli is my favourite vegetable anyway, and it was totally jazzed up with the chilli and garlic, so tasty! The noodles and rice were simply noodles and rice, and were tasty just as they were!

We weren’t going to have dessert, just go to another bar for an after dinner drink, but the waitress told us that if we check in on Facebook we’d get a scoop of Northern Bloc ice cream for free! I can’t resist ice cream, especially Northern Bloc – it is the one of the best ice creams ever! I had chocolate and sea salt, and Ali had strawberry and black pepper, both of which were delicious and a lovely end to an enjoyable meal.

I enjoyed our dinner date at Mans Market, I found most of the food very good, apart from the duck, I enjoyed the atmosphere, and the little gimmicks made the experience a bit more fun! It’s definitely on my list as my go-to Chinese place in town!

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Grumpy’s

Ever since I spotted on Instagram that a pizza place was opening at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, next to the Mill Kitchen, one of my favourite coffee haunts, I’ve been itching to try it. We are huge pizza fans, and I’m all for having great food in the suburbs, so Grumpy’s is a winning combo for me. It’s been created by a pair of local residents, to be a a social and event space, offering great food and drink for the community in Farsley.

The space has a really relaxed atmosphere, with an open plan set up – the bar in one corner, and the kitchen opposite. It was really busy, with every table full, and lots of chatter at the bar, clearly so popular already!

We grabbed a drink at the bar when we arrived, as our table wasn’t quite ready. Neither of us were very adventurous, and just had our usual go to drinks – a fresh glass of white for me, and a lager for Ali. We were seated pretty swiftly, by the friendly staff, who then forgot to give us menus!

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When we finally were noticed again and perused the menu, we decided to get the meat and cheese sharer starter, we were pretty hungry, and thought the meats and cheeses would go nicely with our drinks. The platter was pretty sizeable, with copious amounts of tasty salami, prosciutto, a strong blue, and a sharp cheddar. It was accompanied by salty olives, peppery rocket, apple slices, sourdough, crisp bread and a lovely fruity chutney. I really enjoyed it, I love sipping wine and eating cheese – not much to go wrong with that!

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On to the main event – the pizza! All the pizzas at Grumpy’s are named after men, grumpy men perhaps..! I decided on Bob – a tomato base, with blue cheese and basil pesto, with added prosciutto, and it was delightful. A lovely thin base, with a good doughy crust, great blue, and salty meat. It was a brilliant flavour explosion, and I enjoyed every bite!

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Ali couldn’t decide between Steve, a pepper and sausage number, and Frank, a pizza with a rosemary pesto base, chicken, onions and tomatoes, and eventually settled on Frank, but when it came to ordering accidentally said Steve! Names aren’t Ali’s forte! Luckily, Steve was a brilliant choice, with spicy sausage, tangy peppers and soft cheese all making a great pizza. We enjoyed our pizzas with another beverage – same again, which unfortunately took an age to come! I love that Grumpy’s was so busy, buzzing and popular, but it did make the service a little slow.

We didn’t have any space left for dessert, and were keen to get back to the baby, although next time I have my heart set on a peanut butter ice cream sandwich! I’d definitely recommend Grumpy’s for great drinks, and a solid pizza, outside of the city centre, I,’m sure we’ll be back.

 

Ox Club

The husband’s sister kindly offered to watch little F so we could go on a quick brunch date a few Saturdays ago – a lovely start to a week of annual leave for Ali. We decided to go to Ox Club in Headrow House as I have been lusting after their brunch for a while, after seeing so many gorgeous food pics on Instagram.

Headrow House is a little off the beaten track, down a little alley from The Main Street through Leeds City Centre. We ventured there last year, for the Leeds Feast, and I loved the atmosphere, the space, and all the different bits and pieces going on in one location. The Ox Club is a relatively small space on the ground floor, you can see right into the kitchen (and even eat at the counter if you want), which gives it a lovely homely feel. The serve dinner all throughout the week, brunch on the weekend, and have recently started a roast on a Sunday lunch too.

I ordered a cappuccino to get me going for the day, after an early start with F (lie-ins are no more since parenting began!) and Ali got a fresh orange juice. The brunch menu has a wide range of choice, from the more traditional Ox Club’s take on a full English, to sweet choices like coconut French toast to the more unusual breakfast choices like cauliflower shawarma. As other diners food was brought out I think I declared that I wanted everything!

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I eventually settled on the Korean fried chicken, huge chunks of juicy chicken, deep fried in a spicy batter, served with rice, kimchi, pickles and a crispy fried egg. It was awesome. The chicken tasted amazing, so succulent and juicy with a beautifully crisp batter full of flavour. The pickles and kimchi added another dimension of flavour, sweet and tart all at the same time, and contrasted well with the simple rice. I’d be hard pushed to try something else if I went again as I enjoyed this dish so much.

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Ali opted for the special of the day, a slow cooked beef brisket, served with spicy beans and poached eggs. He also got a side of home fries, which are essentially really good roast potatoes. The meat was gloriously tender, full of flavour, and a joy to eat. The eggs were perfectly poached, with a beautifully runny yolk spilling out when popped. The bean hash was smoky and rich, and balanced the light delicate eggs so well. The fries were perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Again, another super dish.

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Everyone needs to have brunch at The Ox Club, I really want to go back, and will definitely aim to make it there soon. The staff were so friendly, and helpful, so I reckon we’d be alright taking F if we needed to. I really enjoyed our brunch date, it was great to have some child-free time in such a great place with wonderful food!

The Brownlee Arms

We had a big get together with most of the Mums, Dads and babies from our antenatal classes a few weeks ago, held at the Brownlee Arms in Horsforth, so named for our Yorkshire triathlon heroes. It was a great venue for a large party, with lots of space, it was light and airy and had plenty of high chairs (which we didn’t actually need – the babies were still too young!). The staff (and other diners) were very accomdating to seven sometimes demanding babies and their parents!

The menu offers your usual gastro pub food, with a very extensive choice of roast dinners, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and such like. We’ve eaten there once before, for an evening meal, and we’re very impressed with the meals and service, but this time didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

A few of our fellow diners had starters – a homemade scotch egg served with piccalilli, which was delicious, with the yolk cooked just right and the tart piccalilli contrasting the smooth yolk very well; and the chicken liver pate, served with cider chutney and sourdough toast, again all very tasty with good complementary flavours.

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Ali went for the pork roast dinner, plenty of tender pork served with a perfectly cooked Yorkshire pudding, carrots, swede, cabbage and both roast and mash potatoes. It all tasted as a roast dinner should, the meal was classic and couldn’t really be faulted. Nothing too impressive, just a solid Sunday lunch!  Ali did, however, find a hair in his food, and whilst we aren’t too bothered by such things, we just joke it’s extra protein, a few of our friends were horrified, J was put off her own food, and E demanded a new dinner be given to Ali! The staff did apologise, and duly bought another second (hair-free) roast dinner, which Ali wolfed down!

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I had the pie of the day – a chicken and chorizo pot, covered in buttery puff pastry, served with chunky chips. I really enjoyed this dish, and thought it was much better than Ali’s roast! The sauce was flavourful, with loads of chunks of chicken, and plenty of spicy chorizo, and the pastry was lovely and crispy on top. The chips made a great vessel for mopping up the extra sauce!

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Some of our friends went for various burgers and wraps served with salads and chips. The pulled pork burger, cider braised with stuffing and apple sauce with sweet potato fries went down very well, with reports it tasted great, but the fish wrap, a beer battered number with tartar sauce, left my friend disappointed.

We didn’t have desserts, too much chatting, feeding and rocking the babies to sleep, left no time to peruse the dessert menu. I was pretty stuffed from my pie anyway, the portion was substantial.

So all in all a bit of a mixed bag from the Brownlee Arms – they certainly do a classic roast dinner well, and are very accommodating to large groups, but a few dishes need a bit of a tweak to get right. It’s not crossed off the list completely, but I’ll leave it a while before heading back.

The Reliance

A few weeks ago Ali and I managed to grab a quick lunch together in town, whilst the baby napped. We went to The Reliance, a place that has been on my radar for a while, but I’ve never managed to make it there. It’s right near the husband’s work so is ideal for a quick bite.

Although it was pretty quiet when we went, I still really enjoyed the atmosphere, it’s a light and airy place, with super friendly and accommodating staff, and I can see why it’s such a popular place. The menu features pub classics, alongside homemade charcuterie and cheese boards. They also offer an extensive wine list, including the option to take it home – I might have to send the husband on a post work wine run!

I went for the fish butty, clearly I was craving carbs that day! Big chunks of freshly Erdinger battered fish were wedged in massive fresh bread roll, and smothered in tartar sauce, with a token spinkling of rocket. It was really tasty and totally hit the spot! The fish was soft and light, covered in the flavourful salty batter, and the butter on the bread had melted into it a bit, giving it that perfect texture. I also guzzled a cappuccino, it was really good coffee, but I think I have become less fussy about coffee since having F.

Ali decided on the smoked bacon chop, served with a fried egg and chunky chips, the Reliance’s take on the traditional ham, egg and chips. It was a hearty lunch, with the salty bacon balanced by the crispy chips and a runny yolk. He also got some greens on the side, to balance out his meal a bit, which came al dente and drenched in a flavourful chilli and hazelnut butter.

We didn’t have time for desserts unfortunately, and I’m not sure I would have had space anyway. I’m sure we will pop by again for lunch, and I need to make sure we come for an evening meal at some point, I’ve got my eye and stomach on some charcuterie, cheese and wine!

Art’s Cafe

Ali and I finally headed out for a date night last week, the first since little F made her entrance, we are hugely grateful for her Grandma for hanging out with her! We headed to Art’s Cafe, on Call Lane, to take advantage of the last day of their brilliant 50% off food in January. I’d previously been for lunch there a long time ago, I remember the food being good, but I was with an old boss, and it was just a bit weird and awkward, so was grateful to go ago with my favourite person!

Art’s Cafe is a small, intimate restaurant, with a rustic, kind of living room type feel. We were shown to a small table in the corner, got settled in and started with an full bodied Italian red, which went down very nicely, all the while resisting the temptation to check my phone, or text my mother to check on the girl!

For my starter I choose the cider steamed mussels, served in a creamy bacon and onion sauce, with thick fresh bread. They were deliciously light and flavourful, with bursts of bacony goodness in each bite. The bread was hearty and soaked up the creamy sauce really well. Ali had the ham hock and pork belly terrine, served with apple, beetroot, and croutons. This was also really nice, meaty, seasoned well, with a little sweet kick from the apple. In all the excitement of actually being out for dinner, and having a an actual conversation with my husband, without a small child slobbering all over me, I forgot to take pictures of our starters! I can assure you they looked great, and were a brilliant start to the meal.

 

It took me ages to decide what to have for my main course, I was tempted by the whole menu! I eventually went for the chicken served with wild mushroom and Jerusalem artichoke gnocchi with braised chicory. The chicken breast with beautifully moist, with a crispy pan seared skin, and the gnocchi was pillowy smooth. The sauce had a strong mushroom flavour, and was again really creamy – a bit of a cream overload for me considering my starter, but worked well with chicken and gnocchi. Ali chose the steak, served medium rare, with garlic and truffle butter, chips and a rocket salad. The steak was cooked just right, good and meaty with the smooth, flavourful butter creating a great sauce. We also decided to share a side of spicy polenta chips, because, well, carbs! They were really tasty, with a wonderful texture and good kick.

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I was super full after all that food, but really wanted something sweet to round off to meal, so I persuaded Ali to share a dessert with me, promising him that he would get more of it! We shared the triple chocolate brownie, which came with frozen berries and a warm white chocolate sauce. I was glad we got just one dessert, it was huge! It was really chocolatey, gooey and rich, contrasting with the sharp berries and smooth sauce. (Turns out I forgot to take a pic of dessert too! I promise I will master the whole blogging thing one day!) We also had a glass of port each, which made a lovely end to a gorgeous meal.

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I throughly enjoyed our date night at Arts Cafe, the food was yummy, the staff friendly and helpful and it wasn’t too pricey, but if you can go when there is a great offer on its a bit better for the bank account! I would definitely recommend it for a relaxed, cosy dinner out.

A Year In Food…

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last blog post! The blog took a bit of a back seat over the last year, as the husband and I did a lot of exams, worked tough jobs, and most importantly of all made a tiny human! We’ve just been out for our first date night since the girl made her appearance nearly four months ago, and it reignited my love of good food, and letting everyone else know about it! We have been out for some wonderful meals in the last year before we became parents, enjoying what this great city (and beyond) has to offer. We are looking forward to exploring Leeds more, finding more wonderful places, and perhaps entering the world of baby friendly eateries! So, to revive Show Me The Food, here is a whirlwind tour of some lovely meals that didn’t, but should have gotten a whole blog post, this is our year in food…

Last October, which seems forever ago now, we ventured to a supper club named the Fat Faced Cat, hosted by a lovely couple who have a passion for great food, and sharing it with others in their own home. We ate for hours on end, with dish after dish of amazing home cooked food appearing, chatted with new people round one big dining room table with plenty of wine freely flowing. The evening started with prosecco cocktails in the living room, getting to know the other diners, whilst nibbling on sriacha popcorn (so moreish), popcron cockles (little fish explosions of yumminess), and candied bacon (great idea, and some people totally love this, but wasn’t for me). We moved through to the dining room, cracked the various wine bottles (a bring your own affair), and worked our way through five main courses and three desserts! The mains included a pig’s cheek doughnut, inspired by the menu at the Duck and Waffle, a glorious pairing of tasty shredded pigs cheek, and soft dough covered in sweet paprika; seabass ceviche,  which was so refreshing and light, a great palate cleanser; and melt in the mouth slow roast lamb flavoured with balsamic and thyme, served with creamy mashed potatoes.

And then, with zero space in my stomach I still managed to eat some of the desserts – I wanted to finish everything, it was all so beautifully presented and tasty, but I may have exploded! The gin and tonic granita was tangy, with a definite alcoholic kick, the strawberry and pistachio crumble was a lovely mix of sharp and sweet, but the favourite dessert of the night was the white chocolate mousse with kaffir lime. This was a rich and creamy mousse, with a perfect consistency, and intense chocolate flavour.

This supper club was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten, and if our hosts didn’t have such wonderful careers already, I would tell them to become professional chefs! If you can get your hands on a few tickets to their next event then consider yourself very lucky and enjoy it!

In January, my mother-in-law graduated at Durham Cathedral, so the whole family went out for a meal to celebrate her achievements. The Cellar Door provides riverside dining in a converted 13th century door, and if I wasn’t taken there by my in-laws I would never have known it existed, with it’s tiny entrance and narrow stair well leading down to the bright, airy restaurant. I think between us we sampled most of the menu, including version shank, roast pheasant and Arctic char, and all of it was delightful.

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All the dishes were well presented, a good size, and very yummy. My highlight was the peanut butter and jelly dessert (I’m sold on most things if peanut butter is featured!), which featured soft, gooey peanut butter brownies, served with a creamy raspberry mascarpone for that perfect blend of sharp and sweet. The staff were friendly and attentive, and helped make it a great celebratory occasion.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day last year, the husband and I made reservations at Ipsum Vinoteca, a small Italian wine bar, near the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It may not have been the best choice for us at the time, as they were running a special menu with a choice of just two starters, mains and desserts, and my being newly pregnant, my choice was very limited! Nevertheless, it was a good meal, very intimate with only five tables, and the atmosphere was very romantic. Unfortunately, the food was not that amazing, just nice. I had the octopus starter, and the turbot main, so maybe I just had seafood overload (it was the safer option compared with Ali’s pink meat choices!), but neither blew me away, and Ali felt the same about his pigeon breast and lamb rack.

The desserts, a baked cheesecake with berries, and a chilli chocolate lava cake were the best bit of the meal, with the cake a warming sweet gooey explosion, and the cheesecake, creamy and sharp. I’m not sure we’ll go again for dinner, but I would definitely like the visit to sample their wines, the choice looks incredible, and the staff seemed very knowledgeable.

In May, as part of the Leeds Indie Food Festival, we went to a Live Art Dining Experience, with food from Leeds favourite The Swine That Dines, with comedy, theatre and dance thrown in. It was certainly a new experience, and made for a very interesting dinner! We started with a do it yourself ramen in the comedian’s dining room, whilst learning what makes a great dinner party. The food was great, fresh noodles, fresh veg, and lots of additions to customise the meal! The comedian was ok, a bit of a lad for my liking, but he was funny, and he gave folk the opportunity to chat. The main course of cheese tart, sweet potato mash with salad was served with a dance and drama act highlighting the issues of feminism we are confronted with in today’s society. It was weird, interesting and highly entertaining! The food was just average, a bit cold, but did the job.

The desserts, presented on modern art installations were very tasty, and the dessert you chose determined the next act, a one on one performance! I chose a the profiteroles, with a sickly, sweet delicious sauce, and was ushered to a confession booth for a deep and meaningful chat! The evening was very different, enjoyable and fun!

And lastly, to end this mammoth blog post – for my 30th birthday, Ali took me to The Man Behind The Curtain, Leeds’ very own Michelin starred restaurant, and what a treat it was. The entrance is concealed inside Flannels department store, with a lift opening into a light and airy restaurant, with beautiful modern art decor. The tasting menu was kindly adapted to suit my pregnant body, so no raw meat or raw fish for me, whilst Ali ventured into new territory for him with oysters, squid and charcoal! Each dish was wonderful, with exciting, flavourful bites, and so different to anything I’ve eaten before. From a purely black item, even down to the bowl, with charcoal and squid ink added to cod loin, crispy potatoes and gem lettuce; to Iberian pork, egg yolk and edible egg shell, looking like it had cracked all over the plate; to a veal sweetbread served in a bright red steamed bun, with a spicy seafood sauce, everything tasted amazing, and the sometimes baffling pairings just worked.

The desserts excelled as well, my favourite was the violet ice cream topped with chocolate disguised as a piece of foil, smothered in a potato custard, topped with spicy puffed potatoes – weird, but it worked, and it was a lovely end to an amazing meal. I’d definitely recommend going, its a once in a lifetime experience, and I can see why you have to book months in advance!

So, there you have it, a few highlights from a wonderful year – bring on 2017 and show me the food!!