Monday, 28 May 2012

Tampopo: Leeds

 The name ‘Tampopo’ is apparently taken from the title of a cult Japanese film: a film where the heroine (named Tampopo – meaning ‘dandelion’) finds herself on a quest for the perfect bowl of noodles. And this is the aim of the restaurant: to focus on the food of East Asia and to create ‘faithful reproductions of classics free from gimmickry and interpretation’.
The Leeds restaurant is one of six branches of this mini-chain, with three restaurants in Manchester, one in Bristol and one in Reading - with one opening soon in London Rathbone Place. The sad news is that it is closing in Leeds - I don't know why? Perhaps it is too close to its rival Wagamamas or maybe the location isn't that central. I am disappointed as it's got a great selection of veggie dishes and I am mainly veggie so...
On first impression, it’s very Wagamama-like in its style: long benches at which you sit with other parties of diners, a similar style of food, individual orders scribbled on the paper place mats placed in front of each diner, which show a map of where in East Asia each of the menu’s dishes originated.

 My favourite dish here is the pad thai as it reminds me of 20p dishes from food trucks on the Ko San Road. They give you your own lime wedges and plenty of peanuts on top. This visit I opted for the Thai green curry (a fav of mine) I love that you get wedges of the mini Thai aubergines, the other veggies were really crunchy and fresh too but I found the coconut milk overpowering this time and it could have had more spice for my palette - I added some hot sauce to it. One of my fellow diners had the chicken katsu curry, which looked like a generous portion and came with a ginger and sesame salad and sticky rice which is a good deal for under a tenner. Another had the chicken abodo which came with an unusual tasting sticky sauce and some yummy deep fried sweet potatoe. 
For starter we went for a variety of skewers: the prawn skewers were the fav by far. I always have the sweetcorn fritters which are a nice combo of sweet and savory and come with a mild plum dipping sauce with mini wedges of cucumber and peanuts floating in it which I like to fish out with my chop sticks! The platter to share seems like a good value starter for a group of 4 too.
I didn't go for dessert this time but have tried and loved (in the past) the coconut icecream which is refreshing and light and the deep fried bananas with toffee with a peanut coating. I would highly recommend both - but the ice-cream if you are feeling quite full.

  • great variety of veggie dishes 
  • informal and casual setting
  • interesting starters
  • great pad thai
  • good value
  • not the greatest service - bit haphazard
JUST A QUICK NOTE: Tampopo in Leeds has sadly closed down, but it is still open in Manchester at the Trafford Centre

Friday, 25 May 2012

Gourmet Burger Kitchen: London

This restaurant always seems to be doing special deals and vouchers - always a bonus. The first time I came I ordered a veggie burger (as I am *largely* veggie - or flexitarian!) and was not that impressed, although my husband really enjoyed his actual burger. On this second visit though I seemed to have made a better choice. You order at the counter and the service was quite speedy and friendly. This time I had The Billy with aubergine, panko crumbed goats cheese, oven roasted tomatoes, rocket, mayo & relish. It was a really nice combo and nice change to a usual boring veggie burger. My mom and sister both really enjoyed their choices - the kiwiburger and the taxidriver. The chips are chunky and quite a good portion and they have tasty milkshakes. We had a lime shake on the house because the rugby was on that day.

In summary:
  • good deals and reasonable prices
  • family friendly
  • tasty milkshakes
  • good variety of burgers
What do you think of GBK?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Jiving at Jonny Fontane's: Leeds City Centre

DISCLAIMER: This restaurant has now closed down!

So my sisters and I are all pretty crazy about American diners and so I was very excited when I saw that one was opening up in Leeds City Centre. Last night my husband and I decided to go and try out Jonny Fontane's as he had a craving for burgers. I understood from their twitter that they were experiencing some teething problems like running out of buns one day and that they were open to feedback and had already made some changes like bigger portion sizes and more meat in the burgers. The decor was quite cool and they had the checked red and white plastic tablecloths, bar stools and the sugar and napkin dispensers just like a traditional fifties diner. They had a good soundtrack and I love the huge windows as it's very light and airy. It is order at the counter 'like Nandos' as the waiter told me!
Now having patronised many true American diners in my travels I felt that the food was quite average. I had cajun fries which were a bit over spiced - like the lid had come off the shaker and loads of spice had been dumped on top and they were a bit too greasy for my liking. The hot dog was quite small and not very American hot doggy style - more like a sausage. However my chocolate shake was very tasty and my husband had an impressive looking rootbeer float - we love a good root beer. And it was A&Ws the best for floats as its the sweetest of the lot. My husband had the burger and he said it was greasy and the bun was soggy. I am sure they still need to iron out these problems - but it was a shame that the decor promised so much, but the food let it down.

  • Ideal for big groups for a casual bite
  • Great decor and atmosphere
  • Yummy drinks like milkshakes and floats
  • Overly greasy and soggy food
Have you been? What did you think? Some people on twitter are raving about it....

Friday, 18 May 2012

Victory at Victus: Harrogate

Sadly this place has now closed down due to recession and finance issues - what a shame!
I always felt that West Yorkshire was in need of more American food places and so was pleased to see this casual dining place, Victus, open in Harrogate. It is part owned by the racer Jenson Button and has a really relaxed vibe with a mish mash of tables, sofas, books and board games. I have been twice and first time I had a delicious chilly, cheese dog and fries and the second time a spicy flafal wrap. The wrap was very spicy but full of yummy salad and lots of goodies. The fries are huge and really tasty - we got one each but I would recommend one between two as the portions are huge! My dining buddy had the Victus burger and would fully recommend it.I had the marshmallow shake - which was their shake of the week, they also do root beer which gets a thumbs up from me.

I forgot to take pics on the day, but this is the outside from a google pic by JM:

Overall summary:
  • Perfect for a lazy lunch (or brunch they do tasty looking pancake stacks)
  • Great portions
  • Quite slow service - you have to order at the counter
  • Exciting drinks menu
  • Reasonable prices
  • Share the fries!
Let me know if you have been and what you thought of it.
Over and eat!