Friday, 29 June 2012

Fazenda, Leeds

Meat. More meat! More meat! The battle cry remains the same, the venues change. From time to time the lifelong (well they haven't ditched me yet anyway) friends I met at University and I like to meet up to drink, make merry and eat a lot of something large and meaty.

It might be in curried form, it could be Chinese or perhaps a barbecue. In days of yore the cry originated in the kebab shops of Hyde Park, the meat of dubious quality, foot long strips of it stuffed in budget pitta and doused in hot sauce.

Nowadays I wouldn't touch that stuff. Honest. Well alright I might if you plied me with enough booze first. But it's a very rare occurence. I like to think our palates have developed, become refined over the years, learned to appreciate subtle tastes and quality. In practice it's probably just that we can afford to spend more than £3.50 on dinner.

Last Saturday we tried something a little different, a visit to Leeds' one and only Churrascaria, a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. Fazenda is a Rodizio, a Churrascaria where the meat is grilled in huge chunks on giant skewers which are then fetched to your table where the flesh is sliced directly onto your plate. This continues indefinitely using a beer mat traffic light system. Leave your mat on green, and hey presto. Meat! More meat! Flip to red and they'll stop.

If you like meat this seems like a very good idea. If you don't I wouldn't bother.

In practice it's not always such a good idea. I've got history with the Rodizio. Some years ago I spent a few weeks in Brazil (and its equally meat-tastic southern neighbour Argentina), the final week of which was in Rio where I did literally nothing but eat meat at a Rodizio and drink Caipirinhas. Alright not quite literally, but that's the abiding memory. Presumably I was lying on the beach with the meat and booze sweats inbetween times.

After the excesses of Brazil I didn't go near another Rodizio for another few years until a couple of very underwhelming experiences in a London restaurant. Meat that was mostly overcooked and poor quality, the best cuts showing up far too infrequently. Compared to the generosity and quality we'd experienced in Brazil it was a waste of time.

Fast forward another couple of years to Fazenda. Would it be like a true Brazilian Rodizio, or would it follow the annoyingly common British approach to this sort of thing (i.e. offer all you can eat, hide behind a gimmick, then don't worry about the quality because they'll be queuing out the door anyway)?

Thankfully it was much more like the true Brazilian experience. Meat! More meat!

Did I mention the salad bar? While the meat and various other sundry items (chips, beef empanadas, pao de queijo) are fetched to you, the salad bar is self service. I was quite impressed with the salad bar at Fazenda. Plentifully stocked, good quality, a selection of cold cuts available as well as green stuff in case unlimited hot sliced meat just isn't enough.

The bread from the salad bar was good but the pao de queijo (little cheesy rolls) were a bit chewy and rubbish. I liked the beef empanadas though. Good and meaty. Always makes sense to commence an all you can eat meat barbecue meal with some little meat pies.

And then the meat began to arrive. Beefsteak in a multitude of ways. Rump and tail of rump and picanha, or cap of rump, the King of the Rodizio.

Even a bit of fillet, and then some ribs. None of it was overcooked, everything ranged from medium through to rare, no well done steak in sight. Not the best beef I've tasted, but decent stuff and handled well.

There were sausages, Brazilian style chorico and black pudding, both delicious these. The black pudding was a soft squidgy delight, more like a French boudin than a British pud.

Lamb was over marinaded in a slightly artificial tasting minty sauce, but was beautifully cooked within, pink and tender.

There was chicken, no breasts I'm pleased to say, but crispy skinned thighs and also hearts. I had high hopes for these after enjoying them on holiday last year, but sadly they were like rubber balls.

Meat! More meat! It continued until closing time, we dined late, the beef getting ever rarer as time progressed. The final skewer was blue, virtually raw, I think they'd doused the flames but brought it to us anyway.

Finally spent, my faith in the Rodizio restored, we headed off, fortified for the rest of the night.

It's a fun evening a meal at Fazenda, but not a cheap one. On a weekend night the all you can eat Rodizio will set you back £28 (weeknights and lunchtimes are cheaper). By the time we'd quaffed a load of drinkable but unspectacular Malbec our bill topped out at £44 per head including well earned service (we worked those meat waiters hard). The meat was good but not excellent, so if you want to stuff your face I'd go here, but if you want a genuinely fine piece of meat I'd go elsewhere.


Waterman’s Place
3 Wharf Approach
Granary Wharf

Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Good things to eat [Volume 10]: A Cornwall special

I didn't get round to visiting Cornwall until I'd passed thirty. I really shouldn't have left it so long.

Last summer I was on the north coast, in and around Newquay. Thereabouts the coastline is expansive; great sandy beaches, craggy cliffs, crashing waves and dunes. I loved it.

This year I was on the south coast, in and around the Fal estuary. Only 20 miles or so away, but completely different. Here everything is estuarine, muddy creeks snaking between low hills and little boats put-putting between tiny, secluded pebbly beaches. Sailing country, not surfing. Different but equally wonderful.

That's my ode to Cornwall done. You really should go. Now what about the food? If I could give you one piece of advice about eating in this part of the world, it's this: eat whatever you can drag alive from the sea.

The highlight, in both eating and 'cooking an agressive live creature for tea' terms was the crab. I'll own up, we didn't catch these ourselves, they were bought from a fisherman straight from his boat. Two rather large and not very happy spider crabs to be precise.

They were dormant while sat in the bucket (I think the fisherman said to keep them upside down to stop them getting frisky) but livened up no end as soon as they were removed.

It's only at this point you realise why they're called spider crabs, look at the length of those legs!

After a bit of a wrestle the crabs lost and were duly dispatched. They were pretty big so needed around half an hour on a rolling boil to cook through, and them came the tricky bit. Extracting all the juicy morsels of flesh from the body, claws and all of those legs was time consuming but very much worth it. A nutcracker came in handy.

I can't think of any imaginative words to describe their flavour, it was just fresh, sweet, crabby and utterly delicious. We did nothing more with it than eat it scooped up in a lettuce leaf or on butttered brown bread. Divine. It was surprisingly plentiful too, the pair giving up enough meat for eight people.

Out of the same estuary came tiny little shrimps, like the ones that usually end up potted. We did catch these, thought I can't claim the credit (that goes to AS's Aunty). They were almost as lovely as the crab, and in the same sort of way, just beautifully sweet and fresh. They're so tiny that removing the shells is nigh on impossible, but pulling off the heads and just crunching away at the rest worked just fine. I also finally developed a liking for the Chinese habit of sucking the goo out of the heads. Yum.

Still on the seafood front we ate some fat fillets of ling one evening. I'd not eaten this fish before but I'd definitely look out for it again. Before cooking it looked similar to a large cod loin, and the taste wasn't a million miles away either, though I thought it was a little more delicate texture and flavour-wise. Simply baked with lemon and herbs it was very enjoyable.

After an afternoon stroll into St Mawes I couldn't resist having crab again, this time a sandwich in the pub. It wasn't bad, but our crab won by a mile. The meat was fresh and sweet, but there wasn't a great deal of it for the price (£9.50) and it hadn't been picked very carefully (I counted three pieces of shell).

We didn't survive on seafood alone, and it's at this point I should thank my girlfriend's (that's AS in case you were wondering) relatives for their hospitality, and for their brilliant cooking. Except for the pub sandwich and my dubious contribution in manhandling a crab everything in this post is their work. Thanks everyone!

Puddings were no afterthought. For three evenings in a row dessert was a celebration of British fruit. For someone who loves our native fruits as much as I do, this was a very good thing. There was a dream of a brioche summer pudding, resplendent and crimson, and a mouth-puckeringly tart gooseberry crumble.

And then there was this, a rhubarb meringue roulade. Think rhubarb fool crossed with pavlova. Add extra cream, then eat far too much of it far too quickly on account of its deliciousness.

I've talked about lunch and tea, but not breakfast. There was more fruit, with yoghurt and granola, but you don't want to hear about that, you want breakfast meat.

Ta da! The best way to cook an enormous fry-up for loads of people is outdoors, in a huge paella pan. Eggs were squeezed in the gaps and the whole lot served from the pan as a centrepiece to the table. 

So there you have it. I can't think of many finer days than one that includes both black pudding and summer pudding, sunshine, crabmeat, and the sea. Go to Cornwall.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Castlebar, Ealing, London

I'm writing this for one reason, and one reason only: a damn fine burger.

The Castlebar isn't the most attractive of pubs. It was the night that Poland played Russia and the outdoor drinking area was noisy, windswept and more than a little bleak. TV commentary vied with Eastern European chanting and the Uxbridge Road traffic for aural supremacy. Loud was an understatement, conversation nigh on impossible.

Table service, friendly and efficient once someone's attention had finally been caught, was a bonus, but the beer selection was uninspired. I wasn't in the best of moods. RP persuaded me that the food was worth ordering. I remained unconvinced.

Sturdy cutlery and starched white napery arrived after we'd ordered, incongruous placed on the bench seating with the backdrop of football bedlam. A sign of the quality to come.

The burger was excellent. A thick, exceedingly juicy patty, served medium, with a defined beefy flavour. The supporting bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo were spot on too, though I'd have ditched the few rocket leaves that had also found their way in there. The bun held up to the challenge, in spite of the succulence, and the fries were plentiful.

The burger cost around a tenner, and was well worth it. On a warm night, with a football match of interest, I'd have loved the place I'm sure.

8/10 for the burger
5/10 for the pub

The Castlebar
84 Uxbridge Road
West Ealing
London W13

Castlebar on Urbanspoon

Friday, 22 June 2012

Holland's Pies


There's not much need for the freebie alert this time, as I'm not going to say anything very complimentary.

Holland's offered to send me a bag full of pies to review. Yes, yes I know they're hardly a gourmet brand. I know they sell them in supermarkets and they're probably cheap and nasty and horrid and full of unpleasant ingredients (to be fair, their website suggests otherwise. Make of that what you will). But really, who cares? Free pies right? I love pies.

From time to time I love a bargain basement pie too. A posh pie isn't always what you need. I used to have a borderline addiction to Gregg's for starters, and you can't beat a chicken balti pie at the football. The gist of it was this: was there any chance of me turning down a bag full of free pies that might just turn out to be nice? No.

Steak pie first. This was ok. The 'unique, golden shortcrust pastry' didn't seem particularly unique to me. It was thin but rather solid and tasteless. Not unpleasant it just passed me by without leaving much of an impression. You'll find the same stuff encasing all of the pies in the range.

The filling wasn't bad. There were a few good chunks of tender-ish meat (more than you'll find in a Greggs steak bake by way of comparison) in a fairly tasty but overly gloopy (too much flour at a guess) gravy. I ate it with mushy peas from a tin which were delicious of course.

A day or two later I ate the vegetarian joker in the pack, the cheese and onion pie. I really didn't like this one. The filling wasn't anywhere near cheesy enough, like they'd made a cheese sauce with a cornflour and margarine base and not very much mild cheddar. It left a weird coating on my teeth, as if I'd been slurping wallpaper paste through a straw. Not good. Horrid really.

The meat pie was better, more like a pork pie in style this one. The filling was of solid meat, pork and beef apparently, which had quite a pleasing slightly coarse texture. It tasted ok, but primarily of salt and pepper. I tried to ignore the scary quantity of fat that leached out of it during cooking though. Better on the baking tray than inside me I suppose.

In summary, I've eaten worse. I didn't get round to trying several others, which can now be found languishing in the depths of my freezer. I doubt they'll see the light of day unless I'm desperate and hungover.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Bangkok Café, Hyde Park, Leeds (takeaway review)

We're doing rather well for Thai food in Leeds right now. There's Thai Aroy Dee, Saengarun Thai and now Bangkok Café.

Located on the main drag at Hyde Park Corner, Bangkok Café is by far the smallest of these three, a takeaway really with just three little tables in the front for dining in. I picked up some food from there there the other night and was pretty impressed.

The menu covers all the usual curries and stir-fries, with some interesting and less common variants particular on the curry front, but I was drawn to the section headed 'Bangkok popular dishes' which is where you'll find the salads and a range of one bowl rice and noodle meals.

To see how they measured up (and because I bloody love them) against the competition I chose two of my favourites from Thai Aroy Dee, som tam with grilled chicken (B11 - Som Tum Gai Yang on the menu here) and the shrimp paste fried rice (B8 - Kao Pad Num Prim Kapi).

Expectations were high as I watched the staff prepare the meal, it's a one room operation so everything is made in front of you. The wok burner was properly cranked up for the fried rice, there's a flame grill for charring the chicken and a gigantic pestle and mortar appeared and the salad was pounded from scratch.

The tasting lived up to it. The grilled chicken was faultless. Two fat wings, succulent flesh, crisp salty sweet skin. The som tam started off gently but soon revealed a fierce building heat. Fiery and crunchy and delicious. If I had a criticism it seemed a little bit underpounded (not sure that's a word but it describes exactly what I mean so I'm sticking with it), the dressing not quite melded properly with the papaya and other bits and bobs.

The fried rice tasted a whole lot better than it looks. Takeaway never looks pretty when you get it home, and a dish of several components all squashed in together isn't going to win any prizes for presentation. Ignore that and focus on the flavour and textures. Chewy (a bit too chewy, but that's a minor gripe) sweet pork, soft omelette and perfectly fried rice shot through with shallots, chillies and pungent fishiness from the prawn paste.

These two dishes cost £5.95 each, good value, and presumably eating in would cost the same. The staff were friendly and service efficient. I'll be back. Recommended.


12 Hyde Park Corner

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Northern Food on tour: Scotland round-up

Nothing we ate on our recent trip to Scotland was as exciting as our dinner at Wedgwood, but we didn't do badly. Here's what else we ate.

Espresso Mondo, Edinburgh

A late lunch on arrival in Edinburgh. The cafe was a bit scruffy but they had a nice line in loose leaf teas and coffee.

They made a nice brew but the food was less successful. A chicken panino with peppers, pesto and mozarella wasn't great. The chicken tasted low grade and processed and the accompanying salad was boring. Whoever decided dribbling catering pack balsamic glaze onto tortilla chips was a good idea wants sacking too. Reasonably priced for Edinburgh.


116 Lothian Road

Paperino's, West End, Glasgow

After the previous night's posh dinner we decided to lower the tone a little in Glasgow. Pizza and ice cream please!

The pizzas at Paperino's were pretty good, with a decent chewy-charred crust and quality toppings. The sausage on mine was lovely, coarse and spicy with loads of fennel.

Both of them were overtopped though. There is such thing as too much cheese and sausage on a pizza, there really is. Less can be more. Still, after scraping off some of the excess they went down a treat.

It's a quick, casual place, not really somewhere to linger but worth it for the pizza, for which prices are reasonable (around the £9 mark). Mark ups on side dishes and drinks let the side down though. £2.95 doesn't sound bad for a side salad, but it's poor for a side salad consisting of not very much of nothing remotely interesting, and a pint of Peroni shouldn't cost £4.65.

7/10 if you stick to pizza and tap water. Knock a point off if salad and booze is included.

227 Byres Road
G12 8UD

Paperino's on Urbanspoon

Nardini's, West End, Glasgow

Thanks (I think) to a large Italian immigrant population, many of whom set up business in the catering industry back in the day, Scotland, and Glasgow in particular is well endowed with pizza restaurants, caffs serving proper coffee and ice cream parlours.

This is a novel concept to residents of Yorkshire cities, which last time I noticed weren't particularly well stocked with ice cream parlours (If I'm wrong please do tell), so we had to follow up the pizza with a ridiculous dirty great ice cream sundae.

I can't remember the name of this, but it comprised raspberry syrup, raspberries and vanilla ice cream topped with an unfeasibly large quantity of whipped cream with three chocolate marshmallow snowballs shoved in it, and an assortment of wafers. Ace.

I think it cost about £6, but it served two with ease. Although I think I had most of it.


215 Byres Road
G12 8UD 

Nardinis Byres Rd on Urbanspoon

Avenue G, West End, Glasgow

Excellent coffee. A flat white was up there with those from my favourite coffee shops. Exceptionally smooth with quite a pronounced bitterness. Somehow still balanced though, delicious.

Toasted brioche was ok but slightly let down by the cheap butter and jam it was served with. The sandwiches and cakes looked very good though.

£2.20 for the flat white. Similar for tea. Cakes around £3. Table service, efficient and friendly.


291 Byres Road
G12 8TL

Avenue G on Urbanspoon

Curler's Rest, West End, Glasgow

I liked the look of the Curler's Rest, a tarted up pub on Byres Road. Bare wooden tables, plenty of space, a few good beers on draft, a pleasing enough but strangely familiar sounding menu.

Then I took a look at the website and discovered a new phenomenon. I'm calling it the 'stealth chain'. A pub run by a large corporation, with the same style and the same food as others run by the same large corporation. A chain pub. The difference being that said large corporation doesn't want you to know that it's a chain pub, because it's not aimed at people who like chain pubs.

I looked at the website (here it is: and immediately thought 'I've seen that before'.

Then I remembered: The Adelphi ( AS thought it looked familiar too. Then she remembered: The Lescar (

A couple of days later I was searching for somewhere good to eat in the vicinity of Waterloo station when I chanced upon the White Hart website:

So that's at least four not obviously chain pubs in four different cities spread over four hundred miles with virtually identical menus and the same photo of roast beef on their websites. Thanks Mitchells and Butlers you sly bastards.

Anyhow this is a subject to which I may return, but what of the food at the Curler's Rest? It started off wonderfully. After three courses with three wines, then pizza and ice cream, the last night of our break was supposed to be healthier. I accidentally couldn't resist ordering battered black pudding from the bar snacks list though. Oops.

It was worth the calories though. Nuggets of soft peppery pudding encased in a marvellously light crisp batter.

Things went rapidly downhill with the wild salmon fishcakes. They were alright, well flavoured but a bit claggy texture-wise. The accompanying salad was supposed to be little gem and beetroot, which it did contain, but not in such significant quantities as the other stuff that fell out of the salad bag (slightly slimy tasteless watercress mainly).

AS also had a salad; - halloumi, cous cous and whatnot in a spicy dressing. She liked it but it looked to be suffering from the same slimy salad affliction from where I was sitting.

We paid around £33 including a couple of alcoholic drinks each. The service was lovely.

6/10 (would have been less but for the black pudding)

256-260 Byres Road
G12 8SH

Curlers on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Wedgwood the Restaurant, Edinburgh

I wanted to find somewhere for a special meal in Edinburgh. Nothing too formal or ridiculously expensive but somewhere to enjoy a long leisurely dinner, three courses and plenty of wine.

My first couple of choices were out as we'd be in town on a Monday and they'd be closed. A spot of random internet browsing brought Wedgwood to my attention, and I was immediately attracted to their promise of fine dining without the pretentiousness, no table turning and a menu that read wonderfully well.

We were seated in the basement level dining room, a small, simple space given the impression of roominess by the mirror covering the entirety of the back wall. It was rather dark down there though, hence the atrocious photos in this post.

Good quality bread with a herb oil started things off nicely, as did a half bottle of a lovely ripe tasting Rias Baixas Albariño from a list with several wines by the glass as well as a few half bottles.

I began with nettle soup, poached quail's egg, blue cheese, crispy nettles. The soup was smooth, green, and enlivened by little bursts of tart creaminess from the cheese. I enjoyed this, though it was a little unexciting in comparison with the dish across the table.

AS had the stir fried shredded beef fillet, pear, rocket and spring onion salad, thai sesame and honey dressing. I tend to avoid Asian themed dishes in non-Asian restaurants, finding that they're rarely worth the effort. Underseasoned, unbalanced or just plain wrong. This wasn't. On the basis of the one mouthful that I ate it was utterly divine. Finely shredded almost tartare like beef, almost raw in the centre with just the hint of a browned crust adding savour, and a beautiful delicate, sweet nutty dressing. I'd gladly return to Edinburgh just for a plateful of this.

After the starters a palate cleanser arrived that was a contender for highlight of the entire meal. A shot glass containing raspberry puree and lime sorbet topped up with elderflower champagne and a raspberry. Amazing. A depth charge of bright, fragrant fruitiness. I love raspberries and I love elderflower so this was just a dream. 

It was a close run thing, but I reckon I won the mains. Wild scottish deer, creamed leeks, venison haggis, beetroot, basil pesto, truffle jus. This was the best piece of meat I've eaten in a long time. Seared perfectly on the outside and dark ruby red on the inside it was tender and deeply savoury. Combined with the haggis and truffle jus the whole was earthy, rich, very more-ish, and paired excellently with a peppery Rioja. I couldn't detect any flavour of basil but I'm not sure that I needed to.

Crusted mutton loin, braised neck, truffled goats cheese dauphinoise, nettle sauce, black pudding was also declared a resounding success. I didn't try enough of it to form an opinion, except for the black pudding which ended up on my plate, and that was delicious.

For pudding I went traditional; - very sticky toffee pudding with Caol Ila butterscotch. If I was being picky I'd point out that it wasn't actually that sticky, but that's an irrelevance as it was very good. Sweet and rich without being cloying, and served simply with top quality vanilla ice cream.

AS had the rhubarb and custard crème brulee, orange and ginger granita, rosemary syrup. I've no idea what this was like, so engrossed was I in my sticky toffee I didn't pay it much attention. There were no complaints so presumably it was good.

We shared a single glass of dessert wine that was offered to us in two separate glasses without our asking, and certainly ended up with more than the single 125ml measure that we'd ordered. This was consistent with the service we received all evening, which was completely faultless as far as I'm concerned. Friendly, unpretentious, attentive without being obtrusive.

Including service we paid £125 in total, not cheap but entirely good value for the standard of cooking and service. Bearing in mind that over £40 of that was on wine you could eat here for considerably less than that. Excellent, highly recommended.


Royal Mile
267 Canongate

Wedgwood the Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Bacon Sandwich Quest: May

I don't know why I'm still bothering with this. I only ate one bacon sandwich in May, from a caff in Nottingham. Here's a photo of it:

Exciting huh? Don't let the uninspired appearance fool you though, it was a fairly good bacon sandwich. The increasingly uncommon use of sliced bread was welcome, and it was good bread too. Not the cheapest of plasticky loaves, but nothing too artisan either. Just right. Soft and accommodating.

The bacon was rough hewn and generously supplied. Maybe a little underdone, the fat could have done with a minute or so longer to crisp, but the flavour was mighty fine. Porcine.

It wasn't oversauced and service was swift. A good all rounder, it's done just enough to creep into the medal positions, like a competent heptathlete at the end of day one. Has it done enough to hold off stronger competitors as the tournament reaches its denouement? I doubt it. My money is on the Ennis of bacon sarnies storming through with a fine performance in the javelin (bread) and a personal best in the 800 metres (service). Or something. Only time will tell.

Leader board:

Sorry it's barely legible, I'm struggling with a better way to display it in Blogger. Suggestions anyone?

June will be more fun. We're only a week in and I've already eaten two bacon sandwiches!

Brown's, Leeds


I'm not about to enter the debate about whether dining at chain restaurants is a good thing, or a bad thing, or morally despicable, or not-what-a-self-declared-food-obsessive should do, or whatever. I might enter that debate, but not right now, suffice to say the following:

Do I eat at chain restaurants? Yes, from time to time. Some are better than others. I enjoyed a meal at Brown's a few years ago so was happy to accept this freebie.

Don't I prefer worthier, independent restaurants? Yes, on the whole. On average they're better and worth supporting over some corporate behemoth. But there's no hard and fast rule. Some independently run restaurants are crap. Some chains have committed staff who care, and sometimes serve decent food. Move along.

Brown's, in the Light, is a big place. Both restaurant and bar, it was bustling on a Friday night. Noisy, but not so loud you couldn't hold a conversation in the dining area. The two of us sat in a comfy corner booth with a good view of the entire room.

The menu is fairly extensive, covering grills, fish, pasta dishes and various other bits and pieces. There's also a specials board which included plenty of seasonal produce, welcome in a chain restaurant as they don't often bother with that sort of thing.

The starters were both very good. I opted for the seasonal choice and had grilled asparagus with prosciutto, a poached egg and hollandaise. The asparagus was tender and not at all woody and the egg was accurately poached with a properly runny yolk.

Across the table the mushroom feuilleté proved popular. That would be a puff pastry mushroom pie in case you were wondering. The mushrooms had loads of savoury flavour which was offset nicely by some caramelised pickled onions that were dotted around the plate.

Next up I chose pasta from the specials board, tagliatelle with smoked haddock, peas and broad beans in a cream sauce. The portion was enormous so I couldn't finish it, but what I had I enjoyed. The pasta was cooked just right, the peas and beans both tasted fresh and bright and the haddock was undyed and not too salty.

A main of belly pork was also declared a success, the meat succulent as it should be. The crackling was poor though, as it was completely rock solid. I liked the accompanying sweet potato dauphinoise too.

We shared a tarte tatin for pudding, which came with good quality vanilla ice cream. The main problem with it was that it wasn't a tarte tatin. You can't cut corners with a tarte tatin by assembling a disc of pastry and some cooked apples then pouring caramel sauce over them. That's not a tarte tatin.

We drank a bottle of Sancerre, a bone dry, minerally, very quaffable white. That was one of the more expensive bottles on the list but there are plenty available for under twenty quid. Service throughout was excellent, efficient and friendly.

Would I return and spend my own money at Brown's? Yes, two of three courses were pretty good, and the service and atmosphere pleasant. With so many good independents on my 'to do' list I doubt I ever will though. Prices are maybe a little steep, with starters around £5-8 and mains £10-18.

Browns Bar & Brasserie Leeds
The Light
The Headrow
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