Sunday, 28 March 2010

Wasabi Teppenyaki - Granary Wharf, Leeds

With all the recent interest in the Granary Wharf project it seemed rude that we hadn't tried one of the stalwarts of the area Wasabi Teppenyaki.

Based next door to the newly open Hop and directly across from the latest addition in the Leeds hotel scene City Inn; Wasabi Teppenyaki is like a sleeping dragon set to cash in on the new developments around it.

We popped in on a Thursday night and I was quite surprised by how quiet it was, our welcome was friendly and we were quickly offered drinks by our host in a traditional Komono.

The restaurant is sleek and minimalist with low wooden tables in the waiting area, though not overly modern or appearing to be trying too hard in the decor.

After having a bit of time with the menus we were guided through the restaurant to the main act, the Hibachi grills... All steel and stone, the haze of heat and gentle discolouration in the steel top letting us know it was ready to go.

We shared a simple starter of of Tempura Prawns which I thought were beautiful, the Lady thought it was maybe a little oily. But dipped in soy, they were little sweet crisp treasures that just kick started the appetite before our mains.

I went for the Beef Fillet and the lady went for the Jumbo Scallops, our chef came out to the grill to begin the show. We were treated to Japanese fireworks, huge flaming pyrotechnics started by burning oil before the cooking can start.

What struck me was the amount of butter that goes into the cooking process, it's no wonder it was so amazingly rich.

The Beef fillet was cooked perfectly at medium rare and melted in the mouth like the butter it was cooked in. The Lady's Scallops came in a mammoth portion considering the price and were equally as delicious and rich as my steak.

We went for some plain rice to accompany the mains which also came with mountains of bean sprouts giving a welcome change in texture and at least mentally it seemed like we were giving a nod towards healthy.

We popped in for a quick meal as I was at the Hop opening next door, the service was great. Quick and efficient, the chef was friendly and clearly knew his stuff. I was really pleasantly surprised by how good everything was.

It wasn't cheap though, £42 for two mains and a starter which were all fantastic we had a couple of soft drinks as well.

I'd definitely recommend coming down to try this out, though I would say if you are having some booze with dinner bring a bit more cash with you and if you are feeling hungry you'll want to order a bit more than we did as I could have easily eaten a fair amount more given how gorgeous everything was.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Hop - Granary Wharf, Leeds

I’d been looking forward to this opening for a while now and so being given the chance to pop down for the official opening was all the excuse I needed to go out on a school night.

As I walked over the footbridge into Granary Wharf I was really impressed, the scaffolding is gone and the building works now complete.

It’s newly built but it looks like it’s always been there, the new blending seemlessly with the old. A good crowd were already at the bar by the time we arrived and you could already tell there was a good buzz in the air about the place.

Osset Brewery is definitely trying to be cool by the looks of the decor, the Yorkshire credentials being reinforced in the shape of a huge Cribs mural and a rather large portrait of Jarvis Cocker looking down over the bar area.

There is a lot of art work about the place which gives a definite young and fresh feel to the bar. We went upstairs to take it all in; it’s difficult to judge a bar when it’s an invite only event, the crowd is never going to be the same as normal and I suspect there were one or two more ‘suits‘ than we could normally expect.

It took me a fair while to warm to the place, the Lady said it looked like a Weatherspoons and to be fair some of the decor is quite gaudy in places.

As the night wore on though my opinions soon changed. This might have had something to do with the beer, which was spot on by the way, and as the suits started to vanish and the band started up and it all sort of fell together.

It’s a good times bar, good music, good atmosphere and great beer. This is definitely an excellent addition to Granary Wharf and I’m looking forwards to popping down again very soon.

You can check out this review at the Culture Vulture as well.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Speck Rendena, Salame di Capriolo - Madonna di Campiglio

The Lady has done me proud, after neglecting me for a week to go Skiing with her folks she has brought back a wealth of treats from the Italian Alps around Madonna di Campiglio.

Asides from the bizarre Bombardino Liquor, imagine Advocaat and the always wonderful Limoncello she brought back some fantastic meats. The Italians do a lot of things really well...

Surrendering, Political sleaze and corruption rating high in the list but they sure as shit know their meat and especially how to make it last.

She picked up some fantastic Speck from the Salumificio Val Rendena, this beautifully deep red ruby meat, with a rich creamy acorn tinged flavour to the fat was heaven.

Ever slightly salty it blew me away, made just down the road from where the Lady stayed it was amazing local produce and from my research quite successful as well, being made by the same family for 60 years.

The anthropomorphic packaging portrayed a happy smiley pig but in fact it was me who was the happy smiley pig going back for slice after slice.

My other treat was an amazing Salame di Capriolo. Capriolo is a town as well as the name for Roe Deer in Italian so the sausage is from the town and made with deer that shares it’s name.

Surprisingly mild tasting with sweetness coming through from the pork fat that peppers the length of the Salame. It looked like the buck shot that I imagine took down the beast it was made from.

I’m probably over romanticising this but when you compare what is available to us in our supermarkets to the beautiful product available overseas you can imagine why I get a bit misty eyed over the real thing. I’ve been told it has to last... We’ll see how long I can resist.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Quiet Weeks...

I've been very slack this week, I've not eaten out and been mostly abusing my body in one way or another.

You could have guessed it but the lady was on holiday so I've been eating a lot of Pork in it's many glorious forms and partaking in a few after work drinks.I've managed to get through 4 Pizza take aways from Pitza Cano in 7 days.

So It feels like i'd reverted into my old bachelor ways for a short while. Normal service will resume in a few hours though as the Lady is on her way back and I can't wait to see her.

Top pick from the week just gone is Arcadia in Headingley for it's fantastic selection of beers, the great atmosphere and the fact I can stumble home quite easily from there. Expect a proper review soon.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Luxe, Spitalfields Market - Shoreditch

Part of John Torodes ever expanding empire the Luxe is situated in Londons Spitalfields market and looks very at home amongst the trendies that haunt the area.

We'd gone early as we'd been walking around the markets and hadn't had breakfast yet. I was starving and not far off cranky so the Lady sensibly suggested I was fed before things turned ugly.

The ground floor is cool and the staff friendly, they'd obviously taken a bit of time to try and make the place looks the business. It's very much a relaxed affair and a welcoming place to chill out and have some brunch.

I'd gone for the Luxe Big Breakfast and the Lady chose the Eggs Benedict with an extra sausage temptingly priced at only an extra pound.

The breakfast was good; the sausage was spot on. The Bubble and Squeak was lush, I'll ask for more next time.

One negative was that the black pudding was sliced too thin so when it had been cooked it was too crunchy. The fried egg could also have been fresher.

All in all though it was good, obviously this is just breakfast fodder so I can't really comment on the rest of the menu but it was good enough to make me want to come back and try out the proper dining room upstairs.

Oh, almost forgot the music was way too loud, as in the speakers weren't up to the job and the music was distorting at times...

Luxe on Urbanspoon

The Ten Bells, Shoreditch - E1

Not many bars get on here and I go to a fair few, so this is one to check out. It's frankly a shit hole, it's too busy, it's too dark and too loud.

It's frequented by Shoreditch wankers, strange international students drinking Absinth and quite a few of the old east end faithfull that didn't leave when the twats moved in. But I love it, always fun despite all these things.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bradford Beer Festival 2010 - Victoria Hall, Saltaire

This past weekend marked the annual Bradford Beer festival in Saltaire’s Victoria Hall, it’s pretty much tradition now for us to descend upon the quaint village and make the most of the beery hospitality whilst it’s there.

“Must be a rugby game in Skipton...” I heard murmured on the train as it left the station, this year it seems most of Leeds invaded with us as well. Emptying the Skipton bound train onto the small Saltaire platform...

Your basic beer festival will have several standard components but Bradford definitely puts them all together into much more of a show than some of the other events on the calendar.

Alongside the Beers and Ciders you have a Brass Band and Morris Dancing. Games of skill, Tombola’s and old fashioned grub.

I have a hazy recollection of eating a Pork Pie and Mushy Peas at one point during the day. It’s just basically a good excuse to drink lot's of different beer and have a good chance to catch up with mates. Did I mention the beer?

This year there were over 20 of us but as with a lot of the events of the day, the details are mired in the fug of alcohol. Now it must be said I did go out with good intentions and I was under instructions not to come home drunk. I failed sadly...

One of my very good friends was over from Holland, he’s an ex-pat and had brought a couple of his Dutch mates over on a cultural exchange to gain a better understanding of Yorkshire life. So in all fairness we had to have a good drink to show them what it’s all about.

Also after a couple of hours the drinking games started; namely Scorpion! one of the guys had won a toy on the tombola and if dropped said toy into your pint glass without you noticing you had to drink your beer in one.

My top picks of the day included Rosie’s Triple D cider made in Llandegla near Wrexham, this was dangerously easy drinking and slipped down like juice but at 7.2% it was one to keep an eye on.

Salamanders Puppet Master was a great little brew. Salamander is based in Bradford so this was fresh as a daisy and really good drinking.

From a little further afield the Herren Pils German lager was fantastic and the Belgian Mc Chouffe definitely topped the rest as my favourite of the day.

It was a dark beer with Bitter notes that came in a Champagne bottle. This gnome beer was the Dutchies recommendation and at 8% it was strong enough to finish me off.

The festival kicked out at half 4 and we trotted down to canal for a pint before the train but by this time my eyes had just begun to glaze over and things were getting quite hazy.

We made it back into Leeds and popped to the sports bar to catch the rugby league and met up with a few more of the guys but I was done in.

I jumped into a cab and went home to be greeted in the hallway by the Lady heading out for the night at least I didn’t have to worry about feeling guilty for being in bed for 9 then!