House made brie,, cylindrical chips and crispy cauli feature in this month's best dishes
It's not quite summer yet and our heating bills are at the risk of being sky-high. We need to get warm somehow and we're using food to fuel the fire in our bellies, of course. This month's roundup is full-on comfort food, with everything deep-fried, cheesy and belly-filling.
Read on for the best things to eat in Leeds and beyond this May.
Brie with brioche and fermented honey, The Moorcock Inn, Norland
If I close my eyes, I can hear those irritating M&S adverts: “This is not just any brie…”. But on this occasion, it’s true, “…this is house-made brie from Alisdair’s own fair hand.” – Hopefully, the dairy products came from elsewhere though. The absolute best thing about the Moorcock is that the mental picture you get of a dish after reading the words on the menu is never quite what you get. Striking visuals, surprising combinations, a bit of mischief – it all adds to the experience. But this really was a massive lump of gooey cheese slap bang in the middle of a tear-and-share style brioche, glazed with honey. No more, no less. And it was beautiful. Simon Richardson @lunaticonthegrass
Crispy cauliflower, House Of Fu (£5.50)
I arrived at House of Fu slightly pissed after having spent all day over at The Reliance tasting wine with Laura Kent from Yorkshire Wine School. Anyone that’s ever attended a tasting with Laura will attest there is no chance you’re going home sober. I feel the need to briefly mention that the lunch provided with the tasting at The Reliance was outstanding, I had a gorgeous Panzanella with anchovies and a “spring has sprung” celebration of fresh peas with handmade gnocchi as a main. Neither of these dishes has made it to their new menu though unfortunately so I can’t recommend you try them.
Where was I? Oh yeah, House of Fu, pissed. It’s a good spot to roll up to if you are riding solo and need to sober up, as I was. I pulled up a high stool and inhaled a sensational bowl of spicy fu tantamen that made all the excess booze evacuate my body via my eyes and nose. Many words have been spoken about how good this ramen is and I’m happy to report that picky old me concurs. But it was some crispy cauliflower that won my heart. Maybe it’s because when drunk, it’s anything deep-fried and accompanied by mayonnaise that I want to trough but I suspect sober me would be all over it too. As I blew impatiently on the steaming hunk of hot cauli I had torn in half the second it landed in front of me, even my sozzled self took a moment to recognise that it was cooked to perfection. Deep-fried cauli can often either be a soggy mess or too crunchily reminiscent of a battered crudité. This cauli was absolutely bob on, craggy and crisp, glossily doused in sweet and spicy hot sauce and served with a good dollop of QP mayo for dunking. Perfect food whether you yourself are battered or not. Kelly Bishop @keliseating
Piadina cotto, La Bottega Milanese (£4.95)
When I don't know what to have for lunch in Leeds, I get a piadina. When I need a little something to see me through the afternoon, something comforting and simple - not street food, not sushi, not a full-on, sit-down knife and fork job, but not stood up at the markets or wandering Briggate with sauce down my T-shirt, I get a piadina. When I want lunch for under a fiver, I head to La Bottega Milanese. This Italian flatbread, a distant cousin of the Mexican quesadilla, reminds me of my days au pairing in the Aosta Valley, where "pranzo" with the bambinos consisted mainly of ham and cheese stuffed into these huge wraps in red packets from the Carrefour. Usually followed by a shot of espresso. At La Bottega, you can do the very same. The piadina is toasted on a griddle and folded into a cone, the edges of the prosciutto nicely crisp and golden. You can eat it the polite way, slicing mouthfuls, or scrunch up a napkin underneath it to catch the oily drips of melted mozzarella. Either way, it hits the button every time. Sarah Cotterill @scottnodot
Fish and Chips, The Shibden Mill Inn (£17)
You could, if you were so inclined, push the boat out and go toe-to-toe with a polished and inventive tasting menu down at the Shibden Mill Inn. After all, this is one of the top-rated food-focused boozers in the country for a reason.
Or, if you’ve had a heavy weekend and are in need of something old-school and reassuring to ward off yet another existential crisis, the fish and chips here will sort you right out.
A snow-white tranche of haddock, its batter crisp and crozzled, has spent just the right amount of time in the fryer. Acknowledging that nowhere does chippy chips like the chippy does, the spuds come as svelte cylinders, bronzed and handily sized to submerge through homely mushy peas and a twangy tartar. Life-affirming pub fodder. Richard Miller @eatingthenorth
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