Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Castle, Wakefield

Pub Sunday roasts are something of a rarity for me. I used to eat them all the time but was usually left with a sense of disappointment, stuffed to the gills but not really satisfied, so in recent years I've rather given up. One or more of the crucial elements always underwhelms (overcooked meat, undercooked roasties, overcooked veg, stale Yorkshires, you get the picture).

So two roast dinners in the pub in barely more than a month is highly unusual round these parts, could The Castle's roast platter for two (£11.95 each) do any better than The York?

The first things to note are the Yorkshire puddings! Look at them. They unnerved me a little, putting me in mind of The Blob. Fortunately I think the heat had killed them off before they had chance to escape the oven and wreak havoc, but I made completely sure by smothering the bastards in gravy and eating them.

I quite enjoyed eating them too, though they were just a trifle past their best, in the way that pre-cooked and reheated Yorkshires always are.

On to the meat, the pleasant but not overly exciting triumvirate of beef, pork and turkey. Why no lamb? Why? Because you can roast half a tonne of boring turkey breast at minimal cost and with even less effort I suppose. Lamb is always a trickier prospect for volume catering. When will they invent a cow-sized sheep? Come on science, must try harder.

The turkey was predictably dull, the beef better, and the pork a pleasant surprise. Cut in thick slices from (I think) a rolled loin it was moist, packed with flavour and the best of the three by far.

The vegetables didn't disappoint being neither underdone (roast potatoes) nor over (everything else) and they also hid a little bonus cluster of pigs in blankets, which pleasingly were not made with lowest common denominator sausages. The whole lot held together well with a competent gravy, supplied separately in a jug of generous proportions.

We shared a pudding, which was a good job as it was gargantuan, a rhubarb and apple crumble (£5.50) easily suited for two. The crumble was a little bit dusty, more butter please, but the filling was good. Not overly sweetened, letting the tartness of the fruit shine through and mingle well with the creamy custard.

I enjoyed this. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but the good things outweighed the bad. The bill came to around £35 including soft drinks and service.


343 Barnsley Road

The White Swan, Leeds

I like the Leeds Brewery pubs and bars, each of them is a reliable place for a drink or a bite to eat. Nothing mindblowing, but you know you can walk in at most hours of the day and expect to be fed and watered well.

This was just the case last Saturday. Original plans went awry and I was racking my brains for alternatives in that part of town. The White Swan did the job.

It's a standard pub food menu, there are burgers, sandwiches, sausage and mash, fish and chips and so on. All a little more expensive than your average chain pub but the food is better than average.

Mussels and chips for me. The mussels were plump and fresh, and not at all bearded or gritty. The leftover creamy, briney liquor kept me happily slurping away and dipping chips for an age. They would have been great chips (I'm not averse to skin-on once in a while) with an extra minute or so in the fat, they tasted lovely but were just a little on the floppy side.

A 6oz Steak across the table was also declared a success. I tried a bit and it was good;- pink, properly seasoned and rested. The accompanying chips were the same as mine, tasty but slightly underdone.

A side of onion rings were magnificent though, the batter light and crunchy and the innards sweet.

With a pint of I can't remember what and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, the bill was just shy of £30. Service was quick, the food enjoyable.


Swan Street

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ho's Restaurant, Leeds

I had a monumental craving for noodles on Friday. I'm heading off on an exploratory pho mission this Friday, but just couldn't wait a whole extra week. Only a massive steaming bowl of noodles, meat and broth was going to satisfy. Ideally noodles of a substantial, carbolicious, chewy nature.

I'd noticed before that Ho's has an extensive menu in Chinese and wondered what delights it might be hiding beyond the standard stuff on the English menu, so thought I'd give it a try.

Things didn't get off to a very promising start, the conversation with the waiter going something like this:

Me: Is the Chinese menu different to the English one?
Him: Yes
Me: Has it got any noodle soup dishes on it?
Him: No
Me: Do you do any noodle soup dishes?
Him: Yes
Me: What?
Him: Duck or char siu or beef, thick or vermicelli egg noodle.
Me: (wishful thinking) Any hand pulled noodles or other noodles at all? What sort of broth? Any spicy versions?
Him: No. I can bring chilli oil.
Me: err ok, char sui and vermicelli then please.

When I say unpromising I don't mean to sound ungrateful, his English wasn't great and I think he was trying to help. Unpromising as I didn't think Ho's was shaping up to be the place of my noodle dreams.

So here's what arrived, and it certainly satisfied my craving. The noodles weren't brilliant, but were at least properly cooked so they retained bite throughout. The broth was a little one dimensional but still tasty in a generic umami sort of way. The char siu pork was the highlight, a generous serving, very tender and sweet, the marinade having permeated right through the flesh. A couple of stalks of pak choi rounded things off, providing a bit of colour and health.

Not bad, and reasonably priced at £7.50 for the noodle soup and £1 for a large pot of Chinese tea. There's a lot that warrants further investigation at Ho's though. They obviously don't specialise in soup noodles, but I'd like to know what's on the extensive Chinese menu, and I've a feeling all of the roast meats will be good. There's also a fairly extensive dim sum menu available at lunch and a bakery downstairs.

I grabbed a custard tart from the bakery on the way out, which turned out to be lovely. A light, eggy filling and exceedingly light, almost ethereal pastry. Really good. I'll definitely be back to sample the pork buns and the intriguing sounding sausage bread (as recommended by Jools, cheers for that).

6/10 for the noodles, but 8/10 for that custard tart

115 Vicar Lane

Monday, 23 April 2012

Johnny Fontane's, Leeds


On Friday night I headed down to Johnny Fontane's, a new American diner soon to be opening on Great George Street. I was surprised to find they've occupied the large corner unit that was formerly Brio's. It's a very big restaurant, an ambitious place for an independent just starting out, and rather pleasing to see that the site hasn't been taken on by one of the usual chain suspects.

The restaurant has been kitted out in what I've decided to call diner moderne. There are classic diner stylings (red leatherette booths, Coca-Cola trays, the condiments), but with the plastic chairs, picture windows and sleek bar the overall look is more contemporary. Not sure what I'm waffling on about here, interior design is not my thing so I'll shut up before I look foolish. Whatever it is I like it.

Burgers are the order of the day. The freebie offer was any single burger, any side and any drink which will usually set you back a very reasonable £9.99. The invitation said I'd been invited to share a table with other food and drink bloggers which gave the impression of everyone being seated together, getting a bit of a speech from the owner and so forth as is often the case with these things. In practice it was a bit of a free-for-all, I did sit with some other bloggers but only because we turned up at the same time.

It's a semi-self service ordering system. Order food and drinks at the bar, receive a pager, when it bleeps collect your food from the service point. Perfectly fine in theory but things did go a little awry when the server forgot to give me a pager and my order ended up attached to the next one.

Teething problems with the service system aside, was the food any good? Yes it was. The bacon cheeseburger was the equal (probably better actually) of any other I've eaten in Leeds. The patty had a pronounced beefy flavour that wasn't overwhelmed by the other ingredients and was cooked medium as stated on the menu. The meat was definitely good quality, I'd have no qualms about ordering the burger medium rare or rare in future.

Those other ingredients were all as they should be in a classic burger; - just lettuce, tomato, plasticky cheese and crisp, streaky bacon. The only improvement for me would be the addition of pickles as standard, I didn't notice until afterwards that the menu does say these can be added on request. I guess they've decided that more people don't want pickles in their burger than do. No pickles! What's wrong with you people?

The bun was also high quality and held up well, not falling to bits as the burger was eaten. If I had one criticism it's that the bun was a little too substantial for the filling, but I'd easily rectify that in future by ordering a double.

The fries were delicious in a slightly filthy way, being of the sort that manage to combine crusty, crunchy bits with a touch of grease, as opposed to dry, rustlier frites. As with the burger patty, you could tell they've done their homework sourcing ingredients, as they had a great potatoey flavour, tasting of much more than the frying fat alone. I also sampled one of the onion rings, which was even more delicious than the fries, the batter crunchy, herby, salty and very more-ish.

The drinks list is also worth a mention, there are a few good American bottled beers, some British draft options (which hadn't arrived on Friday, but which will include Ilkley Brewery) and some top quality spirits (bourbon in particular) at very reasonable prices. I drank a Brooklyn Brown Ale which tasted to me like a sort of turbo Newcastle Brown, malty and a good match for the fries.

I'll happily return here and pay for food and drinks. As well as my own there were a few grumbles from others on Friday night (cold burgers, cold restaurant, burgers not consistently cooked and so on) but nothing that can't be ironed out through practice and experience. The food and drinks are all excellent quality, especially for the prices they are charging. I hope it's a big success.

For other perspectives (and better photos) from the same table check out what Neil and Ewan have to say.

Unit 1
40 Great George Street

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Katsouris Cafenion, Bury

When considering the increasingly strident debate about the future of Leeds Kirkgate market, it's worth taking a little look at Bury. What irritates me the most about the situation in Leeds is this insidious idea that there are two implacably opposed sides.

In the red corner we have the saviours of the people's market, aiming to preserve the market in existing form in perpetuity, a haven of cheap goods for the deserving poor. Piled high, prices low.

In the blue corner we have the evil peddlers of 'gentrification', those who dream of plush, anodyne food halls for the well-heeled elite. A sanitised ciabatta, olives and fine wine emporium, the prices high, the tone higher.

As if it were that straightforward. There are plenty of valid points on either side of this debate, but turning it into some sort of class war isn't going to help. What with the national government being rather keen on this approach we don't need people joining in at a local level. Which brings me back to Bury, and in particular, to Katsouris.

Katsouris is a deli of some renowned. The Bury outlet is the original, but they've also branched out into ('gentrified') Manchester. Bury Market doesn't appear to be particularly gentrified to me, but here it is. A delicatessen piled high with olives and capers and ciabatta and cured meats, many of which are cheap but some of which (the horror) are quite expensive.

Bury market: sneering poshos eating caperberries. Possibly.

Adjacent to the deli is the Cafenion, and ooh look the theme continues here. There are sandwiches on quality breads, stuffed with quality meats, served with good, proper coffee. The prices are fair, not dirt cheap, but fantastically good value. Everyone eats and drinks here, from suited office workers to chain-smoking grannies, I'm not detecting any silly them and us segregation.

There's an extensive display of cold sandwiches, all of which look excellent, but I was drawn to the hot sandwich list. They are all available on ciabatta as either 'half' or 'full', and greedy pig that I am I couldn't resist ordering the full club sandwich.

The club: less than half of it is visible in this photo

It was absolutely enormous, at £5.40 I should have realised. That might sound like a lot, but it's really two or three sandwiches. I ate half of it and took the rest home for tea. Packed with good quality sliced chicken, smoked ham, cheese and stuffing it was a beast. The stuffing was a little unnecessary though, I'd give that a miss next time, but other than that a great sandwich. Meat, more meat and cheese, decent bread. Simple but effective.

The coffee hit the spot too, strong but not bitter and less than two quid for a large Americano. If you've not been before I'd recommend a visit to Bury market, there's plenty more to it than Katsouris alone. Be sure to get your hands on a black pudding barm while you're there.


Katsouris Delicatessen and Cafenion
23-25 Market Square

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Pizza Express, Meadowhall

Pizza Express do seem to be popping up all over the place recently! The tried and tested formula of pizza, pizza and more pizza proving ever popular!

I had a craving for pizza the other evening so decided to give the Meadowhall branch a try. On arrival at the restaurant we were greeted and shown to a table by a friendly waiter. We were then offered menus and given the opportunity to order drinks while deciding what to eat.

I chose a glass of a Chianti, which was robustly flavoured and really yummy while my dining partner opted for the fresh and zingy Sauvignon Blanc. The restaurant itself is bright and airy, and we were amused to note that there's a projector TV screen on the wall that was showing Home Alone! What a great idea to keep the kids happy we thought!

After taking time to peruse the menu (so much choice!) we decided to have some olives, garlic bread and dough balls to start. The olives were totally amazing. So fresh and lovely and flavourful. What a beautiful green colour too.

The bread and dough balls were a carb lovers paradise, we were really hungry so it was ok. The garlic butter with the dough balls was melt in the mouth delicious, but it was very garlicky though, so make sure to share with someone who doesn't mind garlic!

For my main course I had a fiorentina pizza, which unusually had an egg on it. The combination of egg with the spinach and olives on the topping was surprisingly yummy and authentic. The pizza base was also nice and thin which is apparently down to the staff who make it themselves after twelve weeks training!

My dining companion declared her Gustosa Magica Leggera to be a great success. It's a pizza with the middle cut out and replaced with salad. Perfect for those with smaller appetites, and apparently the name means Delicious! Magic! Light! in Italian which is appropriate as it really reflected that.

We hadn't managed to save room for dessert (we will next time, they had some really decadent choices!) so asked for the bill which arrived promptly. It was about £37 which was quite expensive but the food was nice so we would come again.

A nice place for authentic, flavourful Italian food with lots of choice in a friendly atmosphere with nice service.


Pizza Express

Monday, 16 April 2012

The perfect bacon sandwich

What with Bacon Sandwich Quest proving so underwhelming thus far, I thought it was high time I threw my own rasher into the ring so to speak.

I'm not the only one who's been pontificating on the bacon sandwich of late, and this post got me thinking. It might just be the case that the finest bacon sandwich imaginable is the one you make for yourself, to your own exacting specifications. My dream butty may not be the same as yours, but it works for me.

This was the bacon sarnie I ate on Sunday morning, and it was by far the best of the year to date.

I grill the bacon. I tend to err on the side of grilling as the method of choice as it ensures a good, even crispness to the fat. The grill should be medium hot rather than on the hottest setting, as the fiercest heat will result in fat that is charred rather than browned.

Three rashers of good quality, thick cut back bacon, unsmoked. Two is not enough, resulting in a flatly filled, linear sandwich. You need that extra rasher to create layers of bacon where they overlap. I love smoked bacon but prefer unsmoked in a bacon sandwich. Just do. A simple cure is best too, nothing too sweet.

As the bacon grills I prepare the bread. An intermediate level bread is best I think. Pappy white sliced is good, but a little too limp for fine, sturdy bacon. An expensive artisan, sourdough loaf would just be wrong, too strongly flavoured and too much heft to the crust. Thick slices from a supermarket bakery bloomer do the trick. You know the type, one of the animal themed ones (tiger, hedgehog, badger etc. I used tiger). White of course.

I buttered the bread, because, as we all know, everything is better with butter. There are no exceptions to this rule. Creamy, unsalted butter is great here, but I didn't have any so slightly salted it was.

Now it's time to add the sauce. Brown. HP or Daddies. Not ketchup. There are some who say ketchup is preferable as the vinegary molasses tang of brown sauce is too much in a bacon sandwich, assertive and overpowering. To those people I say: that's because you used too much. A smear is all that's needed, not a squirt or a splash. Sauce shouldn't drip everywhere as you bite into it. Just a smear adds a delicious fruity backnote and a hint of acidity.

The bacon is ready. Crisp fat, browned but not blackened. The flesh still moist but not damp and absolutely not wet. In it goes, and on goes the top slice of bread. A gentle squeeze and the heat starts to melt the butter into the sauce into the bacon fat.

And then it's time to eat. In no time at all it's gone, and all I'm left with is a grin and a strong mug of tea to wash it down. I think I've found a winner.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Tamper Coffee, Sheffield

Good pies and even better coffee. Antipodean heaven. That's what you'll find at Sheffield's Kiwi-run Tamper Coffee. You'll also find sandwiches, cakes and lovely service. I went here for lunch today and was impressed.

The flat white was pretty though not the prettiest I've seen, but tasted divine. A really rich coffee blend, not at all bitter, perfectly made so it was silkily smooth. An absolute delight. I could drink these all day.

I had to have a pie. Sadly there were no steak and cheese left. Anyone who's been to New Zealand or Australia will be aware of the regard in which pies are held in those nations (what with the pies and rugby and beer, both are rather like a sunnier Wigan), and to my mind the steak and cheese is king. I was so looking forward to eating one here, but had to settle for steak alone.

No matter, it was a lovely pie. Quite a flakey crust, not too dense, and chock full of chunks of tender beef bound in just the right amount of gravy. The little pot of crunchy, light coleslaw on the side was a nice touch too.

I also tried some of the brie and cranberry sandwich, and that was spot on as well. I was waffling on the other week about how genuinely good bread could elevate a sandwich from good to great. This was the case here, decent fillings and bread cut from an organic loaf with a lovely open crumb and chewy crust. The bread was advertised as being from the Cat Lane Bakery, definitely one warranting further investigation.

Excellent food and drink, and as I mentioned at the start friendly service from the guy in charge, who was enthusiastic and welcoming. Prices are fair at £2-2.50 for most coffees and £3-3.80 for sandwiches, although perhaps a little toppy for the pies at £3.60. That's a very minor quibble though, as they're certainly high quality. A great little place.


9 Westfield Terrace
S1 4GH

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Sullivan's, Hornsea, East Yorkshire

I love Hornsea. I'm not really sure why but I always have. If you've never been it's hardly the most exciting or attractive of seaside resorts. The small town centre, pleasant enough, dwindles away as you approach the coast until you reach a sort of no mans land by the sea. There you'll find a straggly assortment of buildings interspersed by car parks. A few amusement arcades, public toilets, chip shops, a leisure centre.

Photo by Tom Corser Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 England & Wales (UK) Licence:

Finally, a lot of promenade and wall, concrete stopping the whole lot from crumbling into the North Sea, then the beach. Pebbly, flat, straight, bleak. This is the Holderness coast, thirty-odd miles of windswept clay steadily disappearing, year on year. Concrete protecting the towns, the villages less lucky.

It's rarely too busy round here, the attractions too meagre. The beach unending, spacious. That's part of the appeal, no hordes as descend on Scarborough or Whitby. There are people around, but a few minutes walk and it's just you, the sea and the sky.

So we wander up and down the front, and stop for an age to listen to the waves and gaze at tankers far out in the bay. Bliss. Then we try, but fail, 20p a go, to grab a toy from the machine out front of the arcades. Until it's time for chips. One of the chip shops is Sullivan's, I've no idea if it's the best in town but it's where I always go, so Sullivan's it is.

Fish, chips and peas, too much salt and too much vinegar, washed down with fizzy pop. Sat on a bench on the prom, gazing out towards Holland.

The fish and chips were good, though not as good as last time. That's what I thought as I ate them. Flakey, fresh fish, good batter but the chips a little underdone and the peas too thick. But maybe memory doesn't serve me well, the food was probably the same. Perhaps it's the place that I'm remembering favourably. The breeze, the sea, the space and the sky.


34-38 New Road
East Yorkshire
HU18 1PW

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dispatches from Lincolnshire

I spent six days last month working in Lincolnshire; in Grantham, Boston and Lincoln. It's not a part of the world I know very well but armed with recommendations from helpful twitterers I managed to eat quite well. Here's what I ate in Boston and Lincoln.

Bizzarro, Boston

Bizzarro came recommended as 'the only decent place to eat in Boston'. I've no idea whether that's true or not, but it definitely was decent and a stroll round the streets didn't offer up much in the way of obvious competition.

It's an Italian restaurant with several dining rooms in a very old building in the historic part of town. There was a slightly eccentric air to the place, one the one hand it was fairly formal with starched linen tablecloths and top notch cutlery, on the other it seemed a little ramshackle (half the plaster seemed to have fallen off the wall on the staircase). Either way it was friendly and welcoming and I liked it.

We shared some nibbly bits and pieces with bread to start (these were rare work trips where I wasn't alone, making the dining out bit much more fun); olives, cheese stuffed peppers and balsamic pickled onions. All solid stuff and a cut above basic catering pack standard.

I had stuffed breast of lamb to follow, which was predictably fatty but delicious. The minced lamb, apricot and pine nut stuffing was too sweet for my tastes though, being a little too heavy on the apricots. The meal didn't come plated as pictured by the way, that's after I'd added vegetables from the generous and well cooked selection provided separately. The porchetta across the table was also declared a success.

Service was friendly and efficient and it's good value as well. Mains range from £10 to £18 including more roast potatoes and vegetables than you could eat, and the house wine is just £2.50 a glass. Nothing mindblowing but just the sort of reliable place you could return to again and again for a good meal.


23 Wormgate
PE21 6NR

The Tower Hotel, Lincoln

I'm sure Lincoln probably has plenty to offer food-wise, but this time we didn't make it out of the hotel. That was a least partly intentional, as a bit of advance research suggested the place had a good reputation for food. We ate in the bar but there's also a more formal restaurant.

A few nibbles to kick things off again. Olives, sun-dried tomatoes and some very more-ish cumin roasted nuts.

Roast squash soup was very smooth and sweet, but just a little watery. I'm afraid I can't recall what the red stuff was, but it didn't taste of anything much (extra sweetness maybe?).

My dining companion's starter was better; - a confit chicken, savoy cabbage and chestnut spring roll. I'd have really enjoyed eating this in the depths of winter. The filling was moist and tasty, the skin crisp and greaseless. It was in essence a big, crunchy festive tasting roast dinner pie tube.

Next up was the rather complicated sounding burger (6oz Hand-made Minced Lincolnshire Beef Burger, Toasted Muffin, Rustic Chips, Stilton Mayonnaise, White Onion Marmalade, Sautéed Mushrooms, Celeriac Remoulade) which could have been great, but wasn't.

I'd asked how the burger would be cooked, and was told medium so left it at that. It arrived well done with just a tiny hint of pink remaining in the middle, rendering it a bit dense and rubbery. A shame really as the meat was good quality, with a good beefy flavour discernable above the strong tasting accompaniments. The stilton mayo and onion marmalade were very good though, with very sweet onions and the rich, cheesy mayo adding tanginess and a bit of astringency. The chips were just ok.

Service here was fine and the bar area lively and obviously popular not just with hotel residents. Prices are probably about average for higher end pub type food (the burger was £10.50). Everything we ate was good quality but the execution was a little hit and miss.


38 Westgate

The Tower Hotel, Lincoln on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Bacon Sandwich Quest: March

Last time round I was hoping the next instalment of Bacon Sandwich Quest would be more exciting. Sorry folks it isn't going to be more exciting.

I really don't eat as many bacon sandwiches as I thought. Just two in March, neither of which were very exciting. Inexplicably I do seem to have taken photos of both of them though, so here they are.

A passable effort from Asda in Grantham, satisfactory in all areas but uncommonly small.

Another passable effort from Diana's Diner on Cross Green Industrial Estate in Leeds. Good bacon let down by a spongy, overfloured bap and watery tomatoes. Splendid service though, use of the word 'love' and a multititude of sandwich customisation options: spread on the bread, sliced or tinned tomatoes, sauce, how much sauce, pepper?

Presumably you can't stand the anticipation a moment longer, so without further ado here's the leader board.

Where's that?
Wilsons pie van
Diana's Diner
Cosy Caf
A19 Billingham

Must try harder in April.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Saengarun Thai, Leeds

I enjoyed a takeaway from Saengarun back in June last year, and made a mental note to return and dine in. What with one thing and another it's taken me nine months to get round to it, but I'm glad I finally did.

A group of us had a great meal there last weekend for a friend's birthday, so much so that I'm officially declaring it to be the second best Thai restaurant in Leeds (number one is Thai Aroy Dee of course). Officially as voted by me that is, which isn't really that official but never mind. It's very good, that's all you need to know.

We didn't share everything between everyone, splitting into smaller groups to order. I went three ways on a bit of a feast starting with a couple of salads and some dumplings.

We stuck to the classics with the salads, a som tam and a laab gai. The som tam was just as I remembered it, fresh, fiery and crunchy, an excellent rendition.

The laab was also pretty much perfect;- tender chicken, generous quantities of herbs and an assertive but balanced dressing.

Steamed pork and prawn dumplings (kanom jeeb) were fine, with a succulent filling but slightly overcooked skins. Nice but not quite up to the standard of the salads.

The highlight of the mains was this vegetarian mussaman curry. CW, if you read this, congratulations on a fantastic choice. I never think to order vegetarian curries or stir-fries in Thai restaurants, but I really should. In most cases the curry is all about the range and balance of flavours in the sauce, the meat being little more than inconsequential lumps of protein, providing a bit of texture but not much more.

Other things can do this job better, in this case cashew nuts and soft slices of tofu providing a wonderful contrast in textures and also adding flavour to the rich sauce. Crunchy, splintering cashews, their nutty taste enhancing the coconut rich broth. Spongy tofu soaking it all up as the spice builds. Really lovely.

A jungle curry with beef was good too, hot but refreshing with it, the broth zingy and herbal. The beef was a little bland and chewy though, it almost left me wishing for more tofu (never thought I'd ever write that).

The final dish was a pad ka prao (chilli and basil stir-fry) with pork. It tasted very good, no skimping on the basil as is often the case, but was a little wet for my tastes.

With jasmine rice to mop up the sauces and loads of beer (three each? maybe four?) the bill topped out at £25 a head including tip. Service was friendly but they did mess up a couple of things on our order, though the problems were quickly rectified. It's not an upmarket looking place but it is up a notch or two from Thai Aroy Dee in the decor stakes.

Recommended. I'll be back.


159 Briggate

Saengarun Thai on Urbanspoon

Monday, 2 April 2012

Relish, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

Relish is part of the mini empire run by the excellent Thornbridge Brewery. As a fan of their beer I had high hopes for the food and the experience in general. It's styled as a kitchen, bar and social which is probably about right. It's casual and lively but definitely not a pub, the emphasis being on the food with table service provided throughout.

The menu is fairly pubby though, sort of sturdy British in the modern style. There are pies and burgers, and things involving ham hock and scotching of eggs. Being greedy I opted for the Steak & Thornbridge ale pot pie, suet pastry of grain mustard/thyme/cheddar cheese, beef dripping potatoes, mushy peas and a jug of gravy (£12).

It was very good in every department save one. Sadly the suet crust pastry let the side down. If you get suet pastry right it can be a joy, and surprisingly light too (blowing of own trumpet alert - see this version). Unfortunately the Relish suet crust was thick, claggy, underdone and not much fun at all.

Back to the positives, everything else was great. Nice roasties, well-made proper gravy and excellent sloppy peas. The pie filling was packed with slow cooked tender meat and assorted vegetables bound in a very tasty gravy (perhaps seasoned with Sheffield's finest Henderson's relish?).

As an aside I can't help but complain about the lack of a plate. It seems like everywhere I go at the moment wants to serve me my dinner on a roof tile or a chopping board or a plank. I've said it before and I'll say it again: what is wrong with a plate? Why would I want to eat gravy from a chopping board? Why? Stop it. Rant over.

Across the table AS also declared her sausage, mash, Yorkshire pudding and gravy a success, the only criticism being a surfeit of gravy. AS is a Southerner though, so she obviously doesn't understand that there's no such thing as too much gravy, especially where sausages and mash are concerned. That's also the small portion (yes, small) costing just £6.

Good stuff overall, friendly service and reasonably priced at around £23 including drinks (Thornbridge Jaipur IPA - delicious). If they'd given me good pastry and put my dinner on a plate I'd have upped the rating a notch.


371-373 Ecclesall Road
S11 8PF
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