Gallery Forty One

I’ve often jogged past Gallery Forty One, on Kirkstall Road, just near the Morrisons Superstore, and never really given it a second thought, however, a few weeks I go I noticed a huge sign saying the restaurant had one ‘Best Suburban Restaurant of the Year 2015’ in the Oliver Awards, and so I decided we had to check it out. That sign has probably been there for ages, but I only just spotted it!

We wandered down for a Friday night date a few weeks ago, and were greeted by friendly staff in a reasonably quiet restaurant, with neat decor and comfy seats. I perused the menu with a glass of white wine, whilst Ali dashed to the cash point as the card machine was broken – I’m glad we were warned at the beginning of the meal, rather than after our bellies were full, and we had that post-prandial slump!


For my starter I opted for calamari, served with a lemon and tartar sauce. The deep fried rings were crisp and light, with soft, delicate squid inside, complimented beautifully with the citrus sauce. They weren’t the best calamari I’ve ever had (that was in South Africa, by the coast!), but it was a pretty decent starter, and got me in the mood for some more food!


Ali initially went for the prawns and avocado, however they had run out for avocado, so decided on the bruschetta instead. Tomatoes, garlic and basil were served on top of toasted bread, drizzled with olive oil. It tasted fresh and flavourful, with the basil really enhancing the tomatoes.


For our main course, we both went for pizza (as always!). I chose the ‘Gallery 41’ – a meaty pizza with parma ham, salami, pancetta and  pepperoni, garnished with rocket. The toppings were really tasty, with ooey-gooey cheese, salty meat, and a decent tomato based sauce, however the base wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. It was very thin, without that doughy crust that I love. I did enjoy it, but the toppings were definitely the best bit!


Ali had the Catalana pizza – pepperoni, chicken, peppers, onions and mozzarella, and again the toppings were the highlight. The pizza was rammed full of topping, with something going on in every bite. Ali enjoyed the base more than I did, and declared it a solid pizza!


We shared some side orders, as we were both pretty hungry. We got the fried courgettes, and some french fries. I loved the courgettes – some nutritious veggies, covered in delicate, herby batter! Yum! The fries were good too – I think Ali ate most of them!


For dessert, Ali knew what he was going to get before we even started the meal, he went for the Raspberry Eton Mess cheesecake, his favourite combination of dessert stuff! It was a dense cheesecake, piled high with meringue and raspberries, with a raspberry sauce and cream to finish it off. Ali loved it. The sweet cheesecake was smooth, with a crunchy biscuity base, cut with the more tart raspberries, and tangy sauce.


I had the Toffee Dime Crunch pie, which was a sugar explosion! It had sweet crunchy cookie base, topped with a smooth, soft, white chocolate mousse, toffee sauce, chocolate sauce, and finished with dime bars. It was good, but my teeth were a bit on edge afterwards from all that sugar, but I enjoyed the cookie and toffee flavours together with the softer more delicate white chocolate taste.

Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Gallery Forty One. The staff were really friendly, and did well at communicating the few technical hitches to the customers. The atmosphere is great, it feels really relaxed, and a bit more chilled out than some of the city centre restaurants. The food was tasty, not five stars, but definitely a good, solid meal. I’d recommend the restaurant for a good value, family friendly meal out.


Trattoria Il Forno

Ever since we moved out of the city centre Trattoria Il Forno has been top of my list of places to go. We actually tried to visit on our anniversary, but unfortunately it’s closed on Mondays. We finally got the chance a few weeks ago, when I pretended I was carb loading for the Great North Run (any excuse to eat great pizza!).

This small, family run pizzeria is currently ranked the third best restaurant in Leeds on TripAdvisor, but when we went I think it was number 1! The top three keep switching and changing with each other! Trattoria Il Forno serves traditional, freshly made pizza, along with other Italian classics. The restaurant is quite small, but with neat furniture and clean lines in the decor, it feels a lot bigger. It feels laid back and relaxed, and with the enticing smell from the wood burning oven filling the restaurant, it creates a great atmosphere for a fantastic meal.

We started on a bottle of red wine, whilst perusing the menu and chatting to the waiter about whether Ali could eat an entire 20 inch pizza on his own…We decided he couldn’t (on this occasion anyway!).


True to form, we ordered a sharing starter of Italian antipasto, which came nicely presented on a wooden slab with olives, ricotta stuffed peppers, and various cheeses and meats. There were only two small pieces of bread though, so we ordered some bread on the side as well to enjoy with the antipasto. Cheese wise we ate a big hunk of mozzarella, which was so creamy and rich, and some slices of manchego which gives a light, delicate flavour. On the meat front, there was parma ham, served with melon to offset the salty taste of the meat, chorizo, salami and some Serrano ham, all of which tasted great with the bread.


For our main course, we opted to share a 20 inch pizza with half of my choice of topping, and half Ali’s choice. Ali spent quite a while doing some maths to work out whether this was the best way of getting the most pizza for our money, rather than getting two separate 12 inch ones (You can take the accountant out of the office…). I decided on the Fungi Bianca for my half of the massive pizza, a ‘white’ pizza, with chicken, mushrooms, asparagus, mozzarella with a creamy parmesan and garlic sauce.  This may have been one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten! The sauce was so flavourful, with a good punch of garlic. There was lots of chicken and mushrooms, and the asparagus was spread throughout the pizza which gave a little bit of nutritious goodness as well as great taste. I don’t think I’ve had asparagus on a pizza before, but with garlic and mushrooms it worked so well together.

Ali had the Dorado for his half, a tomato sauce base topped with chorizo, red onions, chilli, mascarpone, peppers and mozzarella. Again, it was a great tasting pizza. The spicy chorizo and peppers filled your mouth with a kick, which was then beautifully complimented by the rich and creamy mascarpone. The dough throughout was crisp and light, a thin base with a great rise on the crust. I’m going to say it…I think this may be the best pizza place in Leeds!


As I’m always one for something sweet after dinner, we managed to slip in some ice cream before heading home. I had a scoop of Ferrero Rocher flavour, and a scoop of pistachio, whilst Ali went for the more fruity options with a scoop each of mango and raspberry. The Ferrero Rocher ice cream was gorgeous, so creamy and smooth, with small piece of hazelnut throughout, it tasted just like the chocolate itself. The pistachio was also great, with a nice, delicate flavour. Ali enjoyed his ice cream too, both packed full of the fruity flavour, tasting fresh and creamy.


We had such a great experience at Trattoria Il Forno, it definitely deserves it’s TripAdvisor rating! The food was incredible, the atmosphere was so welcoming and friendly, and the staff were kind, fun and helpful. We will definitely be heading back for more pizza soon, and would recommend that everyone else gives it a try!

Sous le Nez en Ville

The husband and I celebrated 2 years of marriage at the end of July, I can’t believe how quickly time flies! To mark the occasion we headed into town for a meal at Sous le Nez, a small French restaurant, located in the basement underneath the Quebec Hotel in the centre of the city. It had been recommended to us by our lovely friend, Laura, who is a brilliant cook and baker, she made our wedding cake in fact, so we knew it was a recommendation we could trust!

The restaurant is a little dark, creating a cosy atmosphere with a definite intimate feel, perfect for an anniversary date. We perused the extensive wine menu, and chatted away, before settling on a reasonably priced Spanish red. I had fun looking at all the wines for over £100 and more, finding the most extravagant and exciting one I could! Wine connoisseurs, this might be the restaurant for you!


It took me ages to decide what I wanted to eat, it all looked so good, I struggled to narrow it down, but I finally decided on the quail’s scotch egg for my starter, served with piccalilli, deep fried black pudding and sweet potato crisps. I wasn’t disappointed, the sausage was meaty and herby, with a soft and gooey egg in the middle. The black pudding was warm, and gorgeously peppery, which was well complimented by the sweeter piccalilli and potatoes. It was a delicious dish, and a good size for a starter.


Ali decided on the deep fried brie (I don’t think you can ever go wrong with deep fried cheese!), served with a pepper and mango chutney. Again, it was a good choice, the chutney was more like a sauce, but tasted good with flavours that enhanced the rich flavour of the cheese. The brie was strong, but soft and gooey, with a tasty crispy batter.


For my main course, I went for the duo of pork – firstly, a pork fillet with dijon mustard, pink peppercorns and watercress wrapped in ham and filo pastry, and secondly a pork belly served with crackling and a green apple chutney, all with a red wine sauce. This dish was so tasty, both porks were moist and tender, the mustard and pepper combination worked well with the succulent pork, nicely finished with the crispy filo. The crackling had a good snap and the apple chutney was flavourful and tart, complimenting the meaty pork.


Ali had a classic steak – rib eye with a peppercorn sauce. The steak was cooked exactly to his liking, tender and succulent, and the peppery sauce was creamy, with the just the right amount of kick.IMG_1453IMG_1452

We shared a few side dishes – some chips and dauphinoise potatoes for carbs, and some green veggies for nutrients! The chips were well seasoned and crispy, and the dauphinoise potatoes were incredible, with a garlic kick in every bite, softened by the cream and smooth potatoes.


We just about had room for dessert, I could only manage some ice cream (there’s always space for ice cream!), I went for a scoop of honeycomb, and a scoop of toffee, both were great, so creamy with delicate flavours. Ali had one of the specials, a white chocolate mousse, with dark chocolate truffles – a great choice. The mousse was creamy and light, with a soft, sweet white chocolate flavour, complimented by the stronger, more bitter dark truffles. It was beautifully presented, and made for a great finish to our lovely meal.


We had a great time at Sous Le Nez, and would certainly go again. It felt like a very traditional meal, they don’t try anything too fancy or quirky, just classic dishes done really, really well.

Dough Bistro

Finally, I’ve managed to grab an afternoon to do some work on the blog! The last few months have been a bit chaotic – we moved house and started new jobs, and I feel like it’s taken a while to get back on top of normal life! Ali and I  have not been going out for too many meals, partly because we aren’t on the city’s doorstep anymore, and partly because we just haven’t had the time! However, we have managed to sneak a few dinners in here and there.

At the top of my list to try when we moved out of the city was Dough Bistro, a former bakery, turned bar and restaurant, located in West Park. The chef creates a new menu each month, using in-season and local produce, and the results are incredible. We went on a Thursday evening, and it was very quiet, but it didn’t feel empty, despite there only being one other couple in the place. We started with a bottle of red whilst we perused the menu, and then decided to splash out and go for the four course option!


Firstly, we were presented with an amuse bouche, prawn gyoza with wasabi mayonnaise. It was so beautifully presented, part of me didn’t want to eat it! The gyoza was crispy on the outside, with a flavoursome, but delicate filling, which contrasted well with the spicier wasabi mayo. A great start to a lovely meal.


For my starter I opted for the pigeon breast with caramelised apple, pomegranate and pistachio, with a honey dressing. I was intrigued how the sweetness of the apple, pomegranate and honey would work with the rich meat, but it complimented it so well, and the sweetness just enhanced the nutty, gamey flavour of the bird. The meat was juicy, and cooked perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed my starter.


Ali went for the duck, served in a filo pastry, with Harrogate blue cheese, dried olive powder, and a puree, which unfortunately I can’t remember what it was! It tasted incredible though, all the flavours worked well together. The duck was moist, with a rich flavour, complimented by the strong blue cheese, with the crisp filo giving a different texture. Another winner!


Before the main course, we were presented with a scoop of mango sorbet, sprinkled with blackberry powder. I’ve never really had much opportunity to have a palette cleanser before, but what a great idea! It cleared my mouth of any meaty flavour, and it tasted fresh and fruity. Ali described it as having a extra dessert before a further meal!


For the mains, I went for the lamb and mint roulade, served with fried apple, apple chips and potatoes. The lamb was a cylinder of ‘pulled’ lamb, strongly flavoured with mint, and although the lamb was tender and delicate, the mint unfortunately overpowered it a bit too much for me. The apple chips was a great idea, but maybe a bit too much apple in my meal with my choice of starter too! However, the presentation of the meal was amazing, and and everything tasted beautifully fresh.


Ali had the pork belly, served with pig cheek, chorizo oil, black pudding and mustard mash. Again, a gorgeously presented plate, full of piggy goodness! This was definitely the better main out of our two. The pork belly was soft and juicy, with crumbly black pudding, and a creamy, flavourful mash, which soaked up some of the chorizo oil for a added kick. We also shared a plate of chips, freshly and twice cooked, seasoned with garlic and salt.


I somehow managed to find room for dessert, and went for the ‘chocolate textures’ dish. A plate full of chocolate done in different ways, which included chocolate caviar, balls bursting with a chocolate flavour juice, similar in texture to those bubble tea balls; chocolate ganache, a creamy, rich, icing type texture; and dehydrated Nutella, which tasted like the spread on steroids as the flavour was so strong! It was meant to include a chilli chocolate brownie, but the restaurant had unfortunately run out, so replaced it was a slice of ginger cake, which was a welcome change in flavour actually, from the chocolate overload! It was a really interesting dish, with my mouth getting overexcited by all the different textures and the strong chocolate flavours. It was a great end to the meal.


Ali went for the strawberry pannacotta, one of his favourite desserts, served with a basil sorbet, meringue, fresh strawberries and a brandy snap. The pannacotta was rich, with a delicate sweet flavour, with the more sharp basil sorbet cutting through to break up the flavour. Another great dessert!

Our meal at Dough was great, we definitely want to come again and see what the next menu holds. The staff were kind, friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere of the place made for a very nice, intimate dinner date. For one of our first meals outside the city centre, we definitely picked a winner!

The Grub and Grog Shop

Nearing a few months ago now, a group of us headed to The Grub and Grog Shop, to celebrate a birthday. My friend Jo, the birthday girl, had negotiated a three course set menu for the evening, at an incredible price, so all we had to do was sit back, relax, grab some great drinks, and have amazing food presented to us!

The Grub and Grog Shop is located inside the Northern Monk Brewery, down in Holbeck, just outside the city centre, on the top floor refectory, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, alongside the 20 or so draft beers brewed on site, as well as other bottled numbers. They also serve pressed juices from the Leeds Juicery, another local, independent business. Ali tried the Tumeric Tonic – carrot and orange juice with a hit of turmeric, it was good and something a little different to kick off the meal!


To start we had pan fried river trout with cauliflower, cauliflower mash, hop syrup and pickles, and it tasted amazing. The trout was soft and delicately flavoured, paired nicely with both the soft cauliflower mash and the charred cauliflower steak, enhanced by the rich syrupy sauce, and sweetened pickles. The presentation was beautiful, which added to the whole feel of the dish. It was big though, and definitely could have been a meal course if it was paired with some potatoes!


For our main course, we had braised pork belly, with pickled chilli, greens, haricot beans and red cabbage, and again they don’t skimp on portion sizes here! The cut of meat was massive! The rich, succulent pork belly tasted incredible, with its flavour enhanced by the ale it was braised in. It was served with beans and greens, which were fresh and tasty with the occasional chilli thrown in for a kick. The main went down really well, a gorgeous birthday treat dish, and I think there were clean plates all round!


Lastly to finish the meal, the dessert was a sweet barley pudding, made with pearl barley, served with blood oranges, and an apple compote. It was my least favourite of the dishes, and most of my friends agreed unfortunately. The dish was huge, and a little overwhelming, and whilst the flavours were really good and well matched, the sharp blood oranges cut through the sweet apple beautifully, the texture of the barley pudding was a little off. I like the idea of sweet pearl barley, replacing the more traditional rice pudding, but something didn’t work about it. It didn’t have that smooth feel of a rice pudding, with the pearl barley remaining a little chewy, which made it feel like it was hard work to eat! We all gave it a go, but not many of us could finish the dish, but I am convinced the flavours worked together, it was just the size and texture that put us off!

Overall, however, our meal was fantastic. The space at the Northern Monk is perfect for a large event, or for more intimate drinks, and the food menus from the Grub and Grog Shop look great. The food was largely fantastic, and I’d definitely go there again. I’ve got my eye on the ox tongue hash from the breakfast menu to try next!

The Black Swan

Ali and I headed out for a date night a few friday nights ago, with a meal and a film on the agenda. We chose The Black Swan, having heard it does great pizza and drinks, and then went to see Kingsman: Secret Service, which was hilarious. If you loved Kick Ass, you’ll love this, totally ridiculous and clever all in one.

The Black Swan is located on Call Lane, where BRB used to be. They have kept much of the same vibe as BRB, great pizzas, a good space, and late in to the night drinking which you would expect from a Call Lane venue. Food wise they offer a pizza menu, and a gastro pub menu, both of which are on offer in the 1st floor restaurant, where we chose to sit away from the after work Friday night drinkers. Downstairs  just the pizza meny is available. They serve typical pub dishes; sausages, pies, burgers, and stews, which all sounded filling and tasty, but when its a choice between pub food and pizza, Ali and I will always go with pizza! I had my usual white wine, and Ali had a pale lager, we are clearly creatures of habit! My wine was pretty disappointing actually, I got house dry, and it tasted a little off. Not the best start, however things picked uo with the pizzas! IMG_1134 I ordered a mushroom and truffle oil pizza, which the chef kindly added parma ham to at my request, despite protests from the waitress that each pizza is made to carefully consider the balance of ingredients! I’m sure it is, but the addition of meat is never a bad thing in my book! It was perfectly cooked, with a crisp, thin crust, and the flavours of the mushrooms came through with each bite. The parma ham was a great addition, it created a bite of salty, meaty goodness. I loved it!


Ali went for a pizza topped with chorizo and peppers, which again was gorgeous. The crust was thin, and cooked perfectly, with the perfect ratio of meat and cheese. He really enjoyed his pizza, and he enjoyed his beer which was a winner for the drinks! IMG_1133 We ordered a side of sweet potato fries, served with a garlic aioli, which unfortunately were a little over cooked. We still ate them, and the flavour of the sweet potato came through amongst the charred edges. The garlic mayo was a great add on however, and saved the dish. Garlic mayo should be a compulsory order with fries!

Overall, we enjoyed our relaxed, laid back date night at The Black Swan, the pizzas were awesome, and the staff were so friendly and helpful. The atmosphere is nicely chilled out, and I can certainly see why people go there for a post-work drink and a bite.

The Alchemist

I was working nights over Valentine’s Day weekend, so Ali and I decided to go for a post-work breakfast date to mark the occasion. After a little wander around town, perusing a few menus we settled on The Alchemist in Trinity, a bright and airy cocktail bar on the second floor of the shopping centre. I’ve never actually been for drinks there in the evening, but it always looks busy and popular, with a drinks menu as long as my arm full of wonderful concoctions! For a place mainly marketed as a watering hole it has a pretty good food menu, and the breakfast options were particularly appealing to us.


For drinks, I treated myself to a glass of prosecco, a substitute for champagne, which always reminds me of our honeymoon where I had a champagne breakfast everyday! Ali went for a mango shake, a mocktail with apple juice, orange juice, fresh passionfruit and mango syrup, swirled with a white chocolate foam, definitely a dessert drink, (anything is acceptable at breakfast in my opinion!), it was very sweet, and totally moreish!


I was pretty hungry after my night shift so went all out and opted for the English breakfast, which had it all – bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato, hash browns, black pudding, sausages, baked beans and toast. It was beautifully presented, and tasted incredible. The hash browns were crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside, the bacon crispy and the sausage pleasantly herby. My only bug bear with this meal was that the skin was still on the black pudding so I had a bit of a fight to scrape out the salty, peppery meat. Overall I loved it, and ate it all!


Ali went for the Mish Mosh, scrambled eggs mixed with chorizo, cheese, bacon, mushrooms and spinach served over white toast. The eggs was soft and light, with the salty bacon and chorizo blending nicely with the vegetables. It was really tasty, but not as filling as Ali had hoped, and he ended up ordering a bacon and egg sandwich in addition to satisfy his mega appetite!

We had a lovely date at The Alchemist, and would definitely recommend it for a great breakfast meal. We enjoyed the fact that it was reasonably quiet in the morning, and in the summer it would be great to eat al fresco on the little balcony. I definitely want to head back in the evening at some point to sample some of their cocktails, and see what it feels like when its buzzing with revellers!