In this edition: Tapas, Tattu and Top 100s...
(12/07) Pokemon Go might be all the rage at the moment, but if you’re more interested in Chimay than Charmander, you might want to check out the Leeds Digital Ale Trail Challenge app. Launching earlier this month, the app lets you and your friends form a dream drinking-team, and then it generates a route for you to follow around some of the city’s best real ale bars, hand-picked by local experts.
Each trail is one of a kind, meaning users can discover some great boozers than have been under their noses all this time. When you check-in to each bar on the trail, you’ll be given a special offer that can be redeemed by showing your phone at the bar - answer questions about the pub to unlock the next destination on the route, and most importantly, score points to improve your position on the leaderboard and earn bragging rights over all of your friends.
Getting Silly with Zilli
(12/07) San Carlo’s friendly neighbourhood Italian bistro Flying Pizza has launched a new Summer menu, showcasing some of Italy and Yorkshire’s best seasonal produce. There’s Yorkshire-grown beetroot, locally-reared meat, locally-caught seafood, and lots, and lots, and lots of truffle.
We tasted a preview of some of the dishes the other week, cooked by Aldo Zilli (and we’ve just managed to get the smell of truffle off our breath) which you can read about in detail here
Last Orders at Leeds Brewery Pubs
(08/07) It’s been announced this morning that all Leeds Brewery pubs - including much-loved real ale haunts like The Brewery Tap, Midnight Bell and Crowd of Favours - have left the brewery’s control in a mass sell-off of assets.
Don’t worry though, this isn’t another doom and gloom story about the bigs boys shafting the small guys. Leeds Brewery want to focus more on brewing, so cutting back pubs is a necessary sacrifice. "We will be working hard to increase the distribution of our fantastic beers following the recent investment in our new brew house which has allowed us to more than double our capacity," said Leeds Brewery owner Sam Moss, clearly optimistic about the brewery’s future.
As for the pubs, they’ve been taken over by Camerons Brewery, a North East-based brewery who also run both the Headingley and City Centre branches of The Head of Steam. Their business model for the new acquisitions seems to be ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. "We have worked closely with Sam and Michael (owners of Leeds Brewery) on this deal, and we have no intention of changing the style or offering of these pubs in any major way,” says Chris Soley, Camerons Chief Executive. And with Leeds Brewery’s new found double-capacity, the pubs won’t be short of beers to stock any time soon. Cheers to that.
Hammy Birthday To You
(06/07) Much loved charcuterie and craft beer bar Friends of Ham turns four years old this weekend, and it’s throwing a party to celebrate. There’ll be live music, free fizz and nibbles from their jamon & cheese selection, and a special celebratory beer brewed in collaboration with Kirkstall Brewery. This is one four year-old’s birthday party you won’t have to make up excuses to avoid at all costs. Not that we condone lying to your friends to avoid their kids’ party of course, but nobody wants to spend their weekend not-drinking, and being told they’re too big to go on a bouncy castle…
Part Time Lover
(05/07) When you commit an entire business to the pursuit of perfecting something as simple as burgers - no matter how close to perfection you manage to come - things can start to get a little samey when you’ve been doing it for almost seven years. Meatliquor has adopted a rotating menu of part-timers to keep chefs busy, and to stop customers getting bored of burgers - hey, stranger things have happened.
As it’s July, they’re paying homage to the home of the brave, land of the Trumps, with a classic Chicago Dog with all the ball-park toppings, as well as chargrilled Mexican street-corn slathered in sour cream, feta, hot sauce, and dry-rubbed and chargrilled South African Braai wings. A limited Last Call cocktail menu ranges from the classy Perah Sour - pisco, cocoa leaf liqueur, fresh lemon and peruvian bitters - to the lurid Sex Show Sour - tequila, lemongrass & ginger, and fresh lime, garnished with a ping pong ball. AKA the really dirty martini.
Basque-ing in it
(04/07) Leeds is welcoming a few exciting new openings in the coming weeks - including a tapas restaurant, an upmarket cocktail bar, as well as a tapas restaurant & upmarket cocktail bar combo...
Ricci’s Tapas & Ciccetti and cocktail bar 53 Degrees North will be sharing a home in East Parade’s Goodbard House (previewed here) - keep an eye out for updates and first impressions following its launch. Around the corner on Greek Street, Birmingham-bred cocktail bar The Lost & Found have found themselves in the plot that La Tasca previously called home. Expect Victorian apothecary vibes and cocktail alchemy with a botanical twist - a must-try for fans of, well, The Alchemist and The Botanist.
Outside of the city centre, Ilkley’s La Casita has taken over a 50-cover plot on Horsforth’s Town Street where it’ll be serving a menu of tried and tested tapas classics, as well as more unique offerings like chorizo popcorn with garlic aioli, and heartier plates of braised oxtail, and duck breast with roast figs.
If that’s not enough Spanish-inspired food for you, Friends of Ham’s Ham & Friends is due to open soon in the Grand Arcade - as the name suggests, there’ll be more focus on the food than its liquid pals - and Pintura are launching a new summer menu on the week commencing July 4th.
Ooh, is that a new Tattu?
(02/07) It’s not all tapas and cocktails over in the financial district - Manchester’s slick, contemporary Chinese and Dim Sum restaurant Tattu has announced plans to move into the area, fulfilling the city's void of quality Chinese food.
The Spinningfields restaurant boasts dishes like Saffron Miso Black Cod with Razor Clams and Lap Cheong, Red Pepper Lamb Chops with Hot & Sour Pumpkin, and Beef & Foie Gras Gyoza - turn up expecting sweet & sour chicken balls, and you’ll be disappointed.
Start of a new Story
(02/07) Tuesday 12 July sees the opening of Stories, a new independent Oakwood cafe that wears its Scandinavian influences on its sleeve; both with its stylish, functional, Ikea-lookbook decor as well as its menu.
Expect trendy brunches, aesthetically-pleasing salads, homemade pickles and cures, and Smorgas - open-faced sandwiches on rye - as well as cakes and bakes from an award-winning artisanal bakehouse, all washed down with expertly-brewed coffees and in-house cold-pressed juices.
Great North Rum
(02/07) Remember when the weather changed a bit each season? We kind of do, but seeing as we can’t take that for granted any more we’ve come to rely on The Hedonist Project to guide us through our never-ending winter of discontent. Having spent three months as a sprightly gin palace, it’s now undergone a full Spongebob Squarepants makeover and emerged as Trader Dan’s Surf Shack, which means it must be Summer. Hooray!
Expect Mai Tais, Hurricanes, Zombies and Punches - all given Hedonist Project’s cheeky twist - as well as grass skirts, Jamaican Independence Day parties, and a Rum Safari - taking you on a tour of Leeds’ finest rum joints.
Hair Metal Chef Joins the 27 Club
(01/07) The dying embers of awards season received one final stoke last week, with Restaurant Magazine bestowing honours to (among others) their top Chef, Service, Wine List and Cocktail List - as well as a run-down of the 100 Best Restaurants in the UK.
Michelin man Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind The Curtain (reviewed by our Gordo here) was Leeds’ only showing in the unapologetically London-centric list, coming in at a respectable #27 (or #10 outside of London). We’d contact O’Hare for an official statement, but he doesn’t strike us as somebody that’d give a toss about finishing lower than first place…
(01/07) While we’re on the subject of restaurants in department stores, it’s worth mentioning that Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Cafe has got a decent offer on over the summer - presumably to put bums on seats while their usual clientele are spending their summer on the yacht in Monte Carlo.
From July 5 until the end of August, you can treat yourself to their Summer Dining Menu, with three courses and a welcome cocktail for £22 - including seasonal dishes like Dales Lamb with Nicoise salad, Summer Bean Cassoulet, and Strawberry Panna Cotta.
Seafood and Eat It
(01/07) Seafood restaurants in Leeds have always had a bit of a stormy journey, as if local punters suffer from culinary thalassophobia (Google that one at your own peril)... then again, none of the seafood restaurants have been Ox Club. On July 17 they’re hosting a seafood special, abandoning the hangar steaks and ox cheeks, and throwing crabs, crayfish and lobsters on the grill, like the most civilised New Orleans cookout you ever saw.