Thursday, 22 May 2014

Soul Kitchen, Holmfirth

10 - 12 Dunford Rd. Holmfirth | 01484 687 575 | | @SoulKitchenHD9

Type of Food: American

Price:  £20 per person (Starters, Main, Drinks)
Occasion: Bank Holiday Lunch with friends
Date Visited: April 2014

Overall Rating: ****

As we have covered in previous blogs, I love American Food. I think I've reviewed them more than any other kind of restaurant. When you think American Food (BBQ and soul food), the picturesque town of Holmfirth nestled in the beautiful Holme Valley is not going to be top of anyones list. But in one of the beautiful stone buildings lies Soul Kitchen. We came here with an American friend so the pressure was on. 

I read some of the reviews on Tripadvisor before setting off on my cross county road trip just to make sure it was going to be worth it and one of the (unfair) criticisms was the decor. To be blunt its not normally something I'm that bothered about. I wouldn't say it was very authentic, there weren't any booths and the tables are standard restaurant tables and chairs (albeit high quality with custom padding) but the room was bright, airy and clean so I'm not really sure what anyone could complain about. 
The picture above shows the paintings on wall and its clear a lot of effort has gone into it. Its fun and vibrant and I'm not sure who could be offended by it. 
From the website and menus its clear that the owners are going for American Food with a definite Yorkshire slant on service and the decor reflects that - I hope if they see that they'll know I mean that in a good way. 

I love tripadvisor and my favourite thing is when owners reply to criticism (you often get to see both sides of the story and you get an idea of their character). The main criticism of Soul KItchen is the time it takes for the food to arrive. It did take a while for it to turn up. BUT on the table there is a disclaimer that all the food is made fresh to order and that its not fast food. To top it off the food is fresh and  locally sourced (this is part of the reason I like to visit independently run restaurants). As I think is said on trip advisor, if thats not what you want, Frankie and Bennys or TGI Fridays may be a better bet.
Everyone was perfectly friendly and checked up on us so no complaints there. 

The menu wasn't what I expected. There was a lot of American food but then again there were a few non-American things which I think were wasting space. There were things on the menu (Biscuits & Country White Gravy most notably) I'd not seen before - my American friend enjoyed seeing that. Meat lovers will feel at home as there was a wide array of different meats cooked in different ways it was a challenge to choose.
Going back to the idea of a Yorkshire Taste on America there was definitely a few reminders of GOC on the Menu (The Yorkshire Terrier Dog and, Yorkshire Soul Burger) nestled amongst the food of the Deep South.
We ordered a few starters to share - I cant choose just one on an American menu. The pickles could have done with a bit longer friend for me but the others certainly enjoyed it. It was all very enjoyable. 
The mains were really enjoyable as well. There is a good choice of Burgers (I had the Mexican Burger), hot dogs and others I was well and truly stuffed. Every restaurant needs a 'special' something you cant get anywhere else and at Soul Kitchen it was the Waffle Burger. It certainly was a monstrosity (good thing) and one of the party ordered and enjoyed it. The burgers themselves - the meaty part -  was clearly homemade and was definitely a British take on it (quality mince and herbs). Sometimes American food - even good American food can 'feel' mass produced and these certainly didn't.  

Final Thoughts:
The food was really very good and we all had an enjoyable time which is just what you could hope for . 
Yorkshire (well the entire country) needs more restaurants like this. Ones that are proud of their local ingredients and can bring something new to the table. I hope they do well as a lot of hard work looks to have gone into every aspect of the restaurant from the menu to the decor. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Prego Restaurant, Brighouse

Waterfront Lodge Hotel, Huddersfield Rd. Brighouse | 01484 715 566 | | @PregoBrighouse

Type of Food: Italian

Price:  £30 per person
Occasion: Works Christmas Night Out
Date Visited: December 2013

Overall Rating: ** and a half - Dissapointing

Trying to sort a work's Christmas Night Out at the last minute for a group of 7 is never easy. We decided upon Preggo after one of the girls came here before and recommended it. 

The atmosphere is a bit odd in here. Not bad. But the room seems too big for what was inside. The furniture is nothing special (again, not bad) and the decor is rather plain. It is a hotel restaurant and that's really what it feels like. I had a look at the pictures on the website and maybe I'm remembering it wrong but I don't remember it look like the photos. 

We all arrived at separate times and were asked to take a seat in the waiting area. There was a confusing array of menus (a special christmas one, a set piece one and another a la carte one. There wasn't any need. The waiter was a bit lax in ushering us to our table and we had to be asked to be seated rather than them coming to check.

The menu looked good. There was a few things I wanted to try. We had a garlic pizza bread while we waited and this was excellent. Then again, it's a staple and fairly basic so that wouldn't have been great if it was anything less. For my main I had a Garlic Kiev Calzone. It arrived late (about 5 min after everyone elses) as apparently someone had made the wrong dish. It was nice. Nice being the operative word. The pieces of chicken breast were large and all located in the same half of the calzone. The garlic sauce was strong and delicious but I had to have a few mouthfulls of dough before i got to the chicken and then it all came at once. 
After garlic overload there was dessert. Tiramisu. Again, it was nice. Nothing special. It was on par with the Tiramisu you can get from the supermarket but it was nice. There was a rich coffee liqueur taste in the base and the creamy top complimented it just right. It just fell a bit flat. 
My favourite part of the meal was the starter. Arancini - Rice Balls with a Napoli Sauce. The sauce was rich and the rice balls were cooked and flavoured well.
I just wanted to tell you about The Christmas Dinner option. One of the ladies I was with ordered this and when it turned up on the table (it turned up first for some reason) it made us all look at each other. There was 3 or four pieces of meat, a few roasted new potatoes and a small scattering (and i mean small) of veg. If this had been placed in front of me it would have been sent straight back.

The food wasn't bad (well mine wasn't). Not at all. For a hotel restaurant it could be considered above average. But for an italian restaurant it was disappointing. It was very average.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bojangles Cafe, Skipton

I'm clearly very fond of Skipton, I think I've blogged about Skipton more than nearly any other place. 
Skipton is a great day / evening / night out. There's loads to do and loads of places to eat and drink. There is one bar that I think deserves a special mention and that's Bojangles Cafe. By day its a cafe by night its a cocktail bar. It's very well priced, the drinks are excellent and the atmosphere is spot on. 
I came here for my birthday with a big group of friends and the owner gave us a round of shots. We would have stayed if we hadn't been running late for our meal reservation. 
So yeah! Thanks!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Neon Cactus, Leeds

35 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BT | 0113 245 8400 | | @neoncactus

Type of Food: Mexican 

Price:  Feast Menu £9.95 per person 
Occasion: Catch Up with friends
Date Visited: May 2013

Overall Rating: ***** AMAZING

I love Mexican food. 

Hold on, let me just clarify that ... I LOVE Mexican Food. 

By that I'm not talking about authentic Mexican food, not even authentic Tex Mex but the Tex Mex / Mexican food found in the UK. Nachos, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas ... I'm not really bothered. I love it all preferably with large dollops of guacamole and soured cream on top. Leeds doesn't really have a shortage of Mexican eateries, theres Las Iguanas near the corn exchange (a chain but I do genuinely love it there) or ...escobar up by Millennium Square or even Barburittos (although this is fast food). Out of all of them, I think Neon Cactus is my favourite. 

The Calls and Call Lane are known for their lively nightlife and their trendy bars and Neon Cactus blends right into the mix from the outside. Its very unassuming but once you walk through the door the atmosphere hits you! The decor is amazing and quirky and I must say I have never seen it too busy or too quiet. If you get there at the right time (around 6 if your planning on eating) there won't be a problem finding somewhere to sit. 


It's a bar so table service is largely minimal. Find a table and go from there. For a cocktail bar, a trendy cocktail bar (is that fair?) the staff are very friendly. When I've gone in for drinks the bar staff are always suggesting something new and I really like that. Food is always really quick as well. 

The drinks are just as important for me here as the food. I love tequila, in fact I think drinking here is one of the reasons I love tequila so much - now if thats not a compliment I'm not really sure what is! The cocktail menu is long and there is even a section for those who don't like tequila and if cocktails aren't your thing they have a good range of beers. My favourite drink is a Paloma. It's simple and refreshing. Tequila, Lime and Grapefruit Soda. 

The thing about ordering Mexican food is deciding what to have. Neon Cactus remove that obstacle for me with their 'Feast Menu' which I heartedly recommend. Is a 4 course menu for two with Nachos, Tacos, an enchilada or quesadilla and fajitas. Portions are all great and it lets you have a little bit of everything. The quality is amazing as well. Perfectly cooked and beautifully flavoured and all for less than a tenner each?! The chilli on the nachos is a particular favourite of mine (then again chilli always is). Given that I am lucky enough to have had multiple visits here I can safely say that each time the food has been consistently high standard.  

Neon Cactus probably takes the accolade for not only my my favorite restaurant in Leeds but one of my favourite bars too. In fact writing about it is making my very very hungry. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Red's True Barbeque, Leeds

Cloth Hall Street (nr Corn Exchange), Leeds LS1 2HD | 0113 834 5834 | | @redsTrueBBQ

Type of Food: American BBQ

Price:  £45 - 3 mains + 3 alcoholic drinks
Occasion: Catch Up with friends
Date Visited: May 2015

Overall Rating: **** and a half - Very Very Good

This is the place EVERYONE is talking about in Leeds and was definitely missing from the city centre which is dominated by mediocre chain restaurants and few good quality independent restaurants. I've been trying to come here a few times but there booking policy doesn't half make it difficult. Either way I finally made it (but not until 9:30 mind!).

Red's is busy. Like ALWAYS busy. They seem to have got the hype just about right but not fallen into the trap of trying to pile too many people into a small space at the expense of atmosphere and quality.
The first thing I notice about Red's is the neon signs outside advertising 'Free Smells' or the one above. When you walk inside it's very understated but looks good. 

Service is good. Scrap that, excellent. They have obviously tried to replicate the American approach to service to go with the food. You are always greeted by someone (once you've got passed the queue) and they are very attentive when your waiting for your food.
Now to bring up my gripe with Red's - the booking policy. Frankly it's ridiculous and in my opinion not very efficient. You can't book a table - unless your a party of 8 or more in which case you can book during the week. So instead of having people queuing outside they add your name to a list and call you when your times next. Doesn't sound too bad but the last time I've been there have been a couple of empty tables presumably because they are waiting for people to turn up (if they do). On the night we turned up, we arrived at 6:30 and were added to the list for an estimated time of 9:30. There isn't much to do in Leeds at that time except drink and by around 8 I was ready to go somewhere else. In fact last time I put my name on the list I did give up and went to the Cattle Grid around the corner but I had the decency to call and tell them so they weren't waiting around for me and could give the table to someone else. I can imagine that many don't or dawdle. What effectively they have in place is a type of reservation so I don't get why they don't just put a proper reservation system in place! Rant over and unfortunately it's taken a bigger chunk than I intended. 

The menu is simple - there isn't loads to choose from but it's just right! There aren't any starters - just 'little plates' to share or wolf down before or at the same time as your main. There signature dish (well I assume it's their signature dish because it's what people talk about the most) is their Donut Burger. Yes. Two burgers with onions, cheese and bacon served between two glazed donuts. Then there's everything you would expect. Hot Links, Brisket, Ribs, Pulled Pork and BBQ Chicken. After the wait, I was ready to be very critical but I had nothing to be critical about. It's all cooked beautifully and the homemade fries are delicious. Red's is definitely not somewhere to go if your on a diet. If you can stomach it after there are a couple of desserts. 

Red's had a lot to live up to. But the hype was deserved. Red's is a unique experience in Leeds and if you can handle the wait, or you can turn up early enough to avoid the wait is a great place to eat if not one of the best!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Shimla Spice, Shipley

69 Otley Rd., Shipley, BD18 2BJ | 01274599800 | | @shimlaspice

Type of Food: Indian

Price:  Platter Starter + Another Dish + 4 x main courses + sundries = Less than £60
Occasion: Catch up with my parents
Date Visited: April 2014

Overall Rating: ***** Amazing

I must apologise for not blogging recently. I've just moved house so eating out is a bit of an extravagance at the moment. My parents came up from Merseyside to visit this weekend and to help out with some odd jobs so I thought there was no better opportunity to treat them to THE BEST CURRY HOUSE IN BRADFORD. No other restaurant I've ever been to has ever been so keen to show off the awards it's won like Shimla. And why not? There are a lot and each one is deserved.

When you walk in, the first thing you notice is that the decor at Shimla is something else. Opulent to the point of gawdy and yet it works. Above the purple wallpaper with velvet pattern and the silver mirror frames there is a sunken ceiling lit with hundreds of LEDs.

Shimla is nearly always busy. Not too busy mind, always just right. There is a large waiting area where you can either wait for your party to arrive, wait for a table (I've never waited more than 10 mins) or even wait for a take-away. 


Service in Indian Restaurants can always be touch and go. Especially in Bradford. Shimla really stands apart from the others here with it's excellent service. You are always greeted by a waiter when you walk in and while you're waiting for your seat the manager always acknowledges you. Working in the service industry, I know this is a big deal now apparently but in a restaurant I am still taken aback by it (especially given how busy they are). On this visit the wait was a bit longer than normal and he came over to apologise (not only to us but the party before us as well). Once seated, our order was taken quickly and the starters were out within 10 min or so. 
While eating our starter, I noticed that the lady at the table next to us was having issue with her food (not sure what but I've never seen that before at Shimla) and the manager and the waiters really went above and beyond fussing over her


When I first moved to Yorkshire I used to exclusively order Korma when I went for a curry. I like creamy mild currys and Korma largely seems like a safe bet. The menu at Shimla is exhaustive and there are about 4 or 5 different currys that fall into the category I would usually be drawn to and in the time I've been going I've had them all. I have two favourites; Mirpuri and Jaipuri. Luckily for me, my dad likes similar currys so I was able to get both tonight and share with him. 
To start however we had a grill platter and I ordered a dish of Chana Chaat (a spicy chick dish) to accompany it. The platter had everything you would expect, Lamb Chops, Chicken Tikka, Kebabs, Lamb Tikka and Fish Masala and all cooked and spiced perfectly. I'd never had the Chaat before so was quite looking forward to it and it was lovely. Not too spicy and not too much yoghurt. 
The currys are always the star of the show though. My Chicken Tikka Jaipuri was delicious. The Jaipuri is a tangy but creamy curry and one of their many 'award winning dishes'. My dad had the Chicken Mirpuri. The two currys are fairly similar with the Mirpuri being less tangy and less spicy than the Jaipuri. There is also more of a taste of cardamom and cloves in the Jaipuri, two flavours which I usually avoid but they compliment the creamy tangy sauce excellently. My mum went for something a bit different "Lamb Dansak" - a curry shop favourite albeit one I had avoided in the past due to the presence of pineapple, I did sneak a quick bite though and the lamb was cooked beautifully and the sauce with the lentils was not overpowered by the strong taste of pineapple. My partner had Lamb Garlic which I also had a bite of and again the lamb was cooked beautifully.

There is a reason Shimla has it's reputation. It is consistently amazing and it is just one of those places that everyone who loves curry should go. After an amazing night of food, I usually dread the bill but for all of that, the bill came out at less than £60.

I would go as far to say that Shimla is the definitive Bradford Curry House. 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Parlour

Calm Slate Farm, Off A59, Halton East, Nr Skipton, BD23 6EU | | @YorksDalesIceCr

Type of Food: American Style Diner / Ice Cream Parlor

Occasion: Just because
Date Visited: March 2013
Overall Rating: ***** Amazing

When you say it out loud it doesn't really make sense. An American Diner selling homemade Ice Cream in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales. But when your driving along the A59 from Skipton to Bolton Abbey the sign is right there. This way to the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Parlor

I've been coming here for years. Even before the diner was finished. When ever I have friends come visit, this is where we end up, and not just for the ice cream. 
The food here is just as big a draw than the ice cream if not bigger. I don't think there is a thing on the menu I couldn't eat and yet I always find myself taking the easy option. A Coney Island Hot Dog. Not your run of the mill hot dog, a bread bun and a sausage - not a cheap hot dog sausage - a real sausage, topped with chilli - home made chilli - with cheese, and jalapeƱos. This may be one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.

The drinks menu is just as exciting. This was my first Coke float since I was a child and it's great. They even have a special machine for them - not entirely sure what it does though. There's also a wide array of milkshakes, smoothies and sodas. 

And then there't the ice cream. I love ice cream and the range here is outstanding. I have only been let down by one flavor and that was Cappuccino - it tasted too much like coffee so god knows what I was expecting ... If you get hooked which is very easy to do, there's even freezers full of tubs of the stuff which you can take home.

All in all, this is one of my favourite places in Yorkshire. Amazing food; Amazing ice cream; and Amazing atmosphere.