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. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Cross Keys, East Marton (near Skipton)

Off A59, East Marton, Skipton, BD23 7LP | 01282 822 326 |

Type of Food: Pub

This will just be a quick blog post. This weekend I went to visit my parents in Merseyside and we decided to go the scenic way, up to Skipton and down  through Lancashire. 
Setting off around 1pm we decided to grab lunch at a pub on the way, hence the impromptu stop off at The Cross Keys. 

We weren't wanting much, something quick and not from a microwave. The Cross Keys delivered. Situated about 15/20 minutes along the road to Clitheroe from Skipton it was perfectly located. The atmosphere was just what you'd expect to and had a great local feel without being too intimidating. 

All the food claimed top be local and fresh which is a massive plus in my books plus the menu looked great. I had a roast chicken and chorizo sandwich which came with homemade chips, the big proper kind. Filled the gap. The chicken was a bit dry and possibly a bit overcooked, but we did arrive three minutes before they stop serving so I expect it had been cooked for a while! It also came with one of my pet hates, a random side salad. I don't see the point in them if there isn't going to be any care and attention made. The chips however were delicious. 

Overall it wasn't bad and it's always great to see a pub serving lunch without the use of microwaves! The menu looked great and I would definitely stop off there again but I wouldn't make a special journey. 

Viva, Leeds

9-11 Bridge End, Leeds LS1 7HG | 0113 242 0185 |

Type of Food: Italian

Price:  2 starters, 2 mains, 2 alcoholic drinks = £40
Occasion: Date Night
Date Visited: February 2013
Overall Rating: **** Very Very Good

I always avoid Italians. In Leeds City Centre there must be more Italian restaurants than any other kind but the quality is always usually so patchy. Also when you search Italian you are bombarded by chain after chain after chain. Don't get me wrong, just because it's a chain doesn't make it bad. I just would rather try somewhere different and get something I cant get in any other large city. After a good 20 minutes searching the internet we decided on Viva on Bridge End (just at the end of Briggate past Nandos). God knows I've walked passed this place so many times and I've never really noticed it.

Saturday night was busy. Viva is lively but not boisterous. The decor was almost perfect. Not to over the top but still authentic. 

My one issue with Viva stems from when we arrived. We called in advance to check if a reservation was required and was told just to pop down. When we arrived there were four other couples all perched around the tiny bar waiting for a seat. The owner (I assume) greeted us with a warm handshake and said the wait would only be ten minutes  Ten minutes came and went and in that time only one of the four couples had been seated despite the nearest two tables to the door remaining empty for the duration of the time we had been waiting. All of a sudden the four couples got seated within about 5 minutes  Not sure what was happening but it  didn't look great that we were waiting for so long. 
Once seated the service was efficient but not so quick you felt rushed to leave. 

Italian food can be very standard sometimes. Some menus just list off a variety of pasta dishes you can get in any frozen food aisle. Viva's menu was reasonably concise especially on the pasta dishes but it was varied. I'd had my heart set on pasta all afternoon and that only changed once I had seen the table next to me and what looked like the most delicious Calzone I had ever seen. By this point the waiter had brought over a complimentary bruschetta which was beautiful. Having just watched a celebrity Masterchef episode where John Torode was talking about the perfect bruschetta I was quite keen to try a 'proper bruschetta' and this didn't disappoint. For starter I had deep fried mozzarella which came with a decent portion. Rich and gooey it was just right. Not to hard not to flaky. And then the Calzone...
The standard restaurant calzone tends to shove as much as possible into it and essentially make it to be just a pizza that's folded over but Calzone can be so much more! Viva's take on it is much more simple focusing on a light pizza bread and inside just the cheese and garlic with a tomato sauce around the outside. Complimenting it all with a light small rocket salad.

Food wise, Viva was spot on. I don't think I have had such a good Italian meal out (but then again I don't really chose to go to an Italian and then again it's usually a chain like Pizza Express or something similar). My only gripe was the first 15 minutes waiting. Bar this I think it would have been a five star review!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Damn Yankee, Harrogate

4 Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1UE | | @DYharrogate

Type of Food: American

Price:  Main and 2 soft drinks = £15
Occasion: Meal out after a day out in the dales
Date Visited: February 2013
Overall Rating: Very Very Good **** and a half

Harrogate isn't really convenient to get to from Shipley especially by public transport on the off-chance I would like something to drink. However I had seen Damn Yankee on the internet and was desperate to give it a go. So looking for any old excuse (this time that we had been for a drive through the Dales and 'conveniently' came back through Harrogate) we went. Good American restaurants are generally hard to come by in Yorkshire. The only other place that springs to mind is the Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream Farm just outside of Skipton but that's more of a lunch time stop than an evening meal. I went with high expectations [n.b. see the review of Reds in Leeds]

One thing I cant fault this place on is atmosphere! It's spot on. The decor is flawless making it styled like an 'all-American' dinner. It's not authentic but then again it doesn't need to be. It's an American themed family restaurant not a museum. There was so much attention to detail right down to the brick walls and 'broken' plaster.

The staff were very friendly and efficient. The table next to ours had a kids party and the waitresses really went over board not only singing Happy Birthday but also chatting with him which I thought was nice.
For us they came over a couple a minutes after were eating to ask if everything was OK which was appreciated and they always checked to see if we needed any more to drink. 

I would have been very happy with a starter but the group I came with didn't want starters. American food is all about starters whether it be Nachos, Potato Skins or Mozzarella Sticks all of which featured on the menu here. Ho hum! Another excuse to go back.
For mains there were a wide array of burgers, Tex Mex, a grill and some lighter bites. I decide to go for the house chilli seeing as thought it claimed to be served in a tortilla basket and I do like myself a good chilli! It was as expected - top class. My only complaint would be a shortage kidney beans. The presentation was spot on and the tortilla basket was a great idea and complimented it nicely. 
The portion size was also spot on and would have gone nicely with a starter (sad face). To fill the gap however I grabbed some fries from my co-dinners. Very very nice!

Great food, great atmosphere and great value. Win Win Win!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Nawaab, Leeds

25 Wellington St, Leeds, LS1 4WG | 0113 244 2979 |

Type of Food: Curry

Price:  Starter + Main + an alcoholic drink = £20 each
Occasion: Catch up with former colleagues
Date Visited: Feburary 2013
Overall Rating: **** Very Good

I am always begrudged coming to Leeds for a curry. I live in Bradford (well Shipley) and to me its like getting a Eurostar from Paris to London for French food. Bradford has arguably the best curry houses in Yorkshire (if not the country). There is even a Nawaab in Bradford (2 if you include the one at Tong). The menus are the same where ever you go although I must say I prefer the atmosphere in the Leeds restaurant. Plus I was with a group of friends I would never convince to go into Bradford. 

It's a curry house. The standard tacky modern decor although to a high standard. It was quite busy and there was a stag do to boot. Although it didn't feel too much. Just right. 

Food was quick. Starters came before the poppadoms were done with. Given I was hungry I was delighted with that. Mains came quickly after that. There was a bit of a delay getting served at first but I think they were a bit short staffed.  

The range of starters at Nawaab is above average. In fact I don't think I've seen a longer list. Despite that, I had Tandoori Chicken Tikka. I know it's safe but it was saturday night, I was hungry and it was DELICIOUS. 
My favourite thing about coming to Nawaab is one of their specials: the Nirali Special. It's creamy and nutty but not sweet like a Korma. It's always delicious  I never have it with rice, always Roti or Naan
I ate it all. It was a challenge but it was to good to waste.

I love the Nirali Special. It's my favorite curry special in all the restaurants I've been to. Nawaab is a very good curry house. Above average but not the best. It's a pretty safe bet to be honest. I would definitely go just to try the Nirali Special. It's pretty unique. 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Creative Breads, Shipley

@ Shipley Health Food Shop, 40 Westgate, Shipley BD18 3QX | 01274 80 90 79 |

Type of Food: Bakery

I just wanted to quickly blog about the best bacon sandwich I have ever had. 

I love bacon sandwiches. I used to have them every Wednesday during our team meeting at work. But the sandwich I had from Creative Breads was by far the best. 

Countless pieces of bacon (possibly four but then again I didn't count I was too busy eating), home made bread. Cooked perfectly. Ideal

Anyone in the Shipley area needs to try it. In fact, anyone not in the Shipley area needs to make the effort to try it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

don't tell Titus ..., Saltaire

6 Victoria Rd, Saltaire Village BD18 3LA | 01274 595633 |

Type of Food: Bar Grub

Price:  2 mains + 3 pints = £35
Occasion: Sunday Lunch with friends
Date Visited: January 2013
Overall Rating: *** Good

Eating out twice in two weeks ... how extravagant! don't tell Titus ... is a place I've not been to for a good five years despite living within walking distance of where I live. Right in the heart of beautiful Saltaire Village it's very popular locally. 

The first time I came here, the atmosphere put me off. I thought it felt a bit to pretentious and stuffy. Not sure if that was because I was a student and anywhere were 'normals' went was too stuffy but that was the impression I had had before we went. On our visit on Sunday it was busy, not too busy but busy enough to have to wait 10 min for a table. To be fair, it does feel like a trendy bar, mainly because it is, but it actually felt welcoming today. I went with a large party so there wasn't anywhere suitable in the bar but luckily there was a restaurant upstairs with a table. We were taken upstairs after a short wait and were greeted to an empty room full of messy tables with a single exception, ours. Felt a bit odd ...

Can't really complain. We didn't wait long for service or food. The barman looked made sure we had a drink while we waited and they made us feel welcome.

The first thing I would point out, it is expensive so I expected high standard not just standard bar grub (which to be honest I expected)..It was a difficult choice as the menu sounded delicious. There were few things I couldn't have had. With it being a Sunday I went a bit traditional and ordered Leek & Chicken Pie and most of the others had a Sunday Roast (only one on offer, Pork). It was delicious. It came with 'fresh vegtables' (just carrots and turnip in the end) and my choice of potato (mash). Beautifully presented and filling. Couldn't have asked for more. It was so good I actually can't recall what everyone else's food was like.

Expensive bar grub. But very very good expensive bar grub. Would go again.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Med One, Huddersfield

10-12 Westgate, Huddersfield HD1 1NN | 01484 511100 |

Type of Food: Lebanese & General East Mediterranean cuisine. 

Price:  2 mains, 2 Starter, 1 Appetizer + 3 drinks = £35
Occasion: Dinner Out
Date Visited: January 2013
Overall Rating: **** Very Good

Getting the ball rolling, I went to for an after-work dinner in Med-One on Monday. I'd not had it on my list of places I wanted to go long, but it had been given a glowing recommendation and with it being only one block away from work seemed like a no-brainer. 


The atmosphere was OK. It was quiet but not too quiet. There was only one other party in, which is not always a great sign (I found out later there is an upstairs which had other dinners in). There was some (probably) authentic music in the background and the tables and chairs were new and clean. So far so good ... we sat down.

Good. Then again there were only four or five parties and two staff. We were given the right amount of time to order. Drinks came almost straight away, and food wasn't too long either (which was good as I could have eaten the menu I was that hungry!)

DELICIOUS! For starter there was a minor bread overload. Chef's specialty bread, hummus (with more bread) and Cheese Fatayer (a pastry topped with Feta cheese). The bread was light and not too filling at all, the fatayer, which I have never had before, was very satisfying and the hummus was just right, if not a little over-garnished with olives. The main courses were both eye-catching when they came. There was Kufta, a restaurant specialty and a giant kebab ladened with not one, but two flat breads! Talk about value for money. The bread complemented it well and wasn't too heavy and the meat was delicious and well-cooked!


Well worth it! I'm actually a bit concerned that it's so close to work and they are open for lunch time ... definitely recommended! There's so much more I want to try!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The First Post

So yes ... It's a new year and I've decided I want to share with the interweb my love of the excellent restaurants and bars in Yorkshire. 

The first rule will be:


I'm not saying these types of restaurants are bad, it's just because you can find out about these from anywhere on the internet and this is just a way of me sharing the new places I've found using the tools available to me. This will mainly be recommendations but one handy tool I have is Foursquare.

The second rule will be:


No real reason for this. If you want to find places in other places, then look somewhere else ... simples.

To help me keep track of the places I've been I've set up a Foursquare Page which you can follow me on if you so wish. I also have a Twitter account. 

The third rule will be:


When I want to try out a new restaurant, all I want to know is that it's got a good atmosphere, good service and most importantly GREAT FOOD. I don't need to know every little things that happened, every minute detail f the way the food looked and the way it tasted. I don't want to see crappy photos taken quickly on smart phones and you won't find any of that from me.

*definition of a chain:  a brand that own more than 5 of the same restaurant with the same menu / decor etc. Examples include Pizza Express, Nandos, Bella Italia etc.