Sam Smiths Spread Eagle (Nostell/Wragby Wakefield) This is no euphemism 

It was a hot summer bank holiday (yes you read correctly) and a restless couple recovering from a busy family weekend felt indecisive. Then in a moment of clarity and a desire to enjoy this sun we headed to Nostell  Priory on foot to walk in their beautiful grounds.  We set off then after about 15 minutes and despite all good intentions and previous refusals, I was convinced we should try the Spread Eagle for lunch.  My hesitation was maybe unjust but I had they worst glass of red wine in a Sam Smiths pub in Durham; and I have drunk Retsina.  We headed into the pub and out into the beer garden to find a bench with a wonderful views.

We ordered two pints, one being a beer shandy for myself as there was really no other choice as I find the Sam Smiths range of soft drinks dreadful.   We had already agreed we would play it safe with a cold lunch, despite the pull of a venison burger, we ordered two sandwiches – resisting a bag of crisps (my achilles heel, if you thought Brad Pitt played a weak man, well trust me, he ain’t got nothing on me when it comes to those bags of saturated fat).

Our sandwiches, tuna fish and a ham salad, were delivered to our table about 15 minutes later by a smiley and helpful young lady.  Both sandwiches were presented pleasantly, had an unexpected garnish of crisps and salad (bang goes my syn limit for the weekend – put it in front of me and I will eat it).

The granary bread has a great crunchy crust and held its own against my hungry grip, and tasted as good.  Both we filled well and topped with fresh and crisp salad – a real winner and a pleasant surprise.

 We had two pints for under a fiver – a true bargain; the Yorkshireness is taking over in this Cheshire imigrant.

Lovely view.

Summer time pints at the Spread Eagle

 

The proof in the pudding will be when we visit to try their Sunday lunch – to me this is the true test of a good pub as if you cannot offer a good sandwich, pie and roast dinner you should not be offering food.

We enjoyed our visit to the Spread Eagle as the pub is clean, has good staff (whom clearly take pride in their work) and it offers good pub food at a reasonable price and would recommend if you are visiting the local area and are in need of a refreshment you consider this pub.

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Duck n Roll @TrinityLeeds

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Duck n Roll sought us out as the sweet aromas of their duck reaches outside to Albion Street. We followed our noses and ordered lunch at the latest addition to Trinity Kitchen.

We ordered and got food within 8 minutes! Now that’s fast.

The Classic was a duck pate burger served in a plump brioche bun with spring onion and lashings of sweet chilli sauce topped with cheese.

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Then for my L’Asiatique. It did not disappoint; it was crammed with duck, spring onions; cucumber and Bean spouts with  a rich hoisin sauce. This juicy parcel was a tasty and filling lunch time snack.

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Cost £10.90 for two lunches.

Duck n Roll is a great addition to Trinity Kitchen. Really recommend their tasty bites in fact  you’d be quackers not to.

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Return to Ego (@Beverley Arms Ackworth)

We returned to Ego on Thursday as we  needed a pick-me-up and I really fancied a good steak.

Thankfully, Ego were able to accommodate us at short notice which was a surprise as they are incredibly popular mid-week which I attribute to their specialist offers.  Tonight was Kebab night, and before you ask I do not mean Donner, I could have been tempted to falter from my desire for steak.

We were  greeted cheerily by one of the hosts and were offered a choice of table by the window (I much prefer this area, as I am not a fan of some of other areas of the restaurant which have a little too much atmosphere).

We do rate Ego and the main reason is for the great staff, they are warm and friendly and when it counts bold and not afraid to deal with issues where so many hide or mismanage. The customer service skills of this team are a credit to the restaurant and their infrequent weakness in the kitchen are forgiven for deftness of the front of house team.

The food ordered was the chicken Liver and rosemary pate and deep fried brie for starters. Then for our mains I ordered the fillet steak with skin on chips and David ordered the lamb rump with risotto and green and spring onion pesto.

The starters we served, the pate was very chilled as before I wish the kitchen would hold this back and let it reach somewhere near room temperature.  Maybe if they made this in a terrine and served a slices this could achieved.  If you like me believe certain foods taste best at certain temperatures you might like this article .  The pate as it warmed tasted great, although the rosemary as not detectable –  I am assuming this rosemary was only present in the butter used to seal the pate.   The marmalade of chilli tomato as a side was left by me but it was very much enjoyed by David – he preferred this with his creamy brie over the orange and apricot marmalade he was served.

Our mains were served and the steak looked good. It was cooked to order medium-rare with a lovely rocket garnish a garlic dressed plum tomato and a dish of skin on chips.  The fillet had good crunch on the outside with a pink and rare centre. I get so fed up of being served overcooked steaks #Cowshed

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The only extra not welcome on this plate was the huge chip – which is not on my shoulder!  Shame  the chef let a meal leave his kitchen like this.

David’s dish of Lamb Rump was tender and cooked medium and sat on a rich and creamy risotto finished with zesty pesto (and no chips in sight).

Our bill came to £50 which included 3 drinks and after our Ego discount was applied.

The quality remains to be good at Ego one day I look forward to them having local produce on the menu.  We will continue to support our local restaurant and hope that the kitchen team can raise their game to mirror the A team working front of house.

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures your can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise

 

 

Pieminister (Duncan Street, Leeds) It gets my vote

We jumped in here on the first chilly night of Autumn as who would recommend a good hot pie to warm you through?

We were quickly seated with a drinks order taken. Yorkshire Gold Ale (Leeds Brewery plus a few other local ales) with a  water for me.

There was a good choice of pies and sides and we ordered the Kate and Sydney with Minted Mushy Peas and Moo Pie with Mash and chose some Onion Rings for a nibble.

It was a busy night and there was a nice buzz about the place shame the temperate was so cool!  We asked the staff to turn off the air con which was pumping out chilled air (not what you’d expect in October) as between this and the slow shutting entrance door it was blooming freezing (the air-con remained on which was disappointing).

The drinks arrived soon followed by the onion rings which were huge (sorry there are no photographs), hot and crispy and a very naughty and welcome nibble before the main event.

Thankfully the hot pies arrived not long after and on first impressions it was looking good. Both pies were encased in a golden pastry, so many places offer pies in dishes with lids – in my opinion that is not real pie –  it’s a casserole with a lid.

My Moo Pie (Steak and Ale) was tasty; with crispy pastry, rich gravy, tender meat but wait for it, there was an interloper!  Lots of diced carrots which were not welcome! Why, oh why, do restaurants add in ingredients that is not listed on a menu!   If I wanted Meat and Vegetable Pie I would have ordered that. A meat pie is allowed onions to give it flavour. Don’t get me wrong I am not anti-carrots but come on don’t put fillers in to keep your costs down and not list it! We liked that the gravy was served in a jug i don’t like to add mine all at once; as I like my pastry to stay as crisp as possible before being devoured.

The Kate and Sydney Pie was similar but the balance between the steak and kidney was 90% steak (something I would not complain about, not being a lover of kidney) but David was disappointed, however this was without carrots – he was the winner in my option.

Atmosphere at the venue was good but a cool temperature and with the urban décor (cheapskates) and it made it colder on this Winter night.   This diner-esque pie emporium is in a great location, close to Brew Dog (who sell their Pies to order).

The staff seemed happy in the jobs and were bright and breezy although slightly dippy with it – I could not imagine them handling a large party or customer rebellion.

Overall a 3 out of 5; it gets my vote based on the price (£22.60) versus quality we would return for a quick tea but ensure we are not sat by the door. I don’t think the Pieminister is pretending to anything it isn’t which I recommend it for.

Thyme Bistro (Cannon Hall Barnsley); a refreshing change

Our first trip to the lovely Thyme Bistro at Cannon Hall was a refreshing change as so many times this type of venue with captive audiences fail; read more to find out why I rate Thyme Bistro.

We arrived about 1245 and were advised there was about a ten minute wait for a table and were shown to the patio area; where we enjoyed the views and perused the menu .

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We were seated close to the counter displaying their wonderful choice of sweet treats; which already had caught the Ord brothers eyes. The bistro has a lovely buzz and considering it is very child friendly you are not deafed by the excitement of little ones.  The bistro is clean, light and bright. The offer free WiFi throughout and a seperate dining area for those with dogs (clever idea).

Our waitress took the table’s order of five meals; two of which were specials and one kids meal and all choices were available.  Not long after two of the specials were removed from the blackboard (good to see this being updated for incoming diners).

Two of the five specials ran out by 1pm – this must be a good sign?

Our meals were served within 20 minutes and the first to arrive was David’s Battered Haddock which was setting the bar on  looks.  Served with hand cut chips and mushy peas (as sponsored by illy) and good portion of tartare sauce looked good value at £9.95.  The batter was golden and the fish was moist and flakey as were the chips which were superb; as good as you should expect in a gastro-pub. The only irritation was the peas in an espresso cup (nearly as annoying as slates instead of plates).

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My order of the Cajun Chicken Burger was topped with bacon, cheese served with and hand cut chips and corriander soured cream – an  impressive stack.  I would have removed the bacon to reduce the calories  but  it was encrusted in the cheddar which was in turn melted to the chicken so I enjoyed it in all its glory.  The chicken was moist, the only issue was it lacked spice this maybe due to the flavour being overpowered by the cheddar and bacon.  Yet again the chips were spot on just a shame the chose to serve a soggy and slightly rotting salad garnish.  If it was my choice I would have served the Cajun burger with less cheese and let the spices do the talking.

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A good choice of hot and cold drinks are available and for the real ale lover they offer,albeit bottled, Black Sheep.  I enjoyed a fantastic illy cappuccino.

Overall I think pricing is fair for the quality.  Service is with a smile although we did note some misunderstandings within the team and it would be interesting to see if they can handle the pressure on a sunny day when there are more dinners.  

My recommendations to the Thyme Bistro would be to lose serving peas in coffee cups, ensure your garnish is not decaying and be bold with your spices.

Overal I recommend you dine at Thyme. We will be returning for seconds and hope that next time it deserves full points.

 

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures you can follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogGB  or Instagram with my reviews published on TripAdvisor as Louise Winder.

Louise x
http://www.LouiseWinderFoodAndTravel.com

#EatBakeBlogGB

 

Bill’s Breakfast Breakdown (Dale Street Manchester)

This has always been our go to place when travelling around the UK.  So far we have been to Bill’s at Brighton, Cheltenham, Durham, York, Leeds and now Manchester.

We went here for breakfast on Sunday morning instead of having the £20 full English at the Lowery Hotel; we just could not imagine how they could deliver such an outstanding breakfast when the hotel is lacking in its former glory, but that is another review.

We arrived at 10am and were promptly seated.  The restaurant was very quiet; we must have missed the Sunday rush!

We ordered a pot of Tea for one, an Americano,  two of Bill’s Breakfast £7.95 (one with a side/extra of Crispy Potato at £1.25 and one a side/extra of Black Pudding at £1.50) which we would  share.

Drinks arrived soon after with our breakfasts following about 5 minutes later.

When we first started going to Bill’s I am sure you got two of each of  your extras with regards the potato and black pudding (and David assures me it was the case and my memory is not failing me). I’m not sure that at £1.50, a slice even with overheads that is a fair deal for a slice fat!  Especially if it is killed through overcooking!

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The more I think, the more I do not see Bill’s as being good value.  If you took off the black pudding we are paying £8 for two eggs, effectively one sausage, 3 pieces of streaky bacon (the cheapest cut of bacon) the smallest tomato  half, and two pieces of small-ish toasted bread (the eggs are small; so use this as a guide if you require more evidence).

We regularly have breakfast at two beautiful farm shops in Yorkshire that have won awards for their quality and they charge £9.00 for their full english – with no extra’s to pay for (see picture 2).

Quality is hit and miss. Sometimes you get crispy bacon and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get soft eggs and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get a soft and juicy tomato and sometimes you get an unripe under-cooked version but most of the time you do get overcooked Black Pudding!

On a positive note the staff were friendly and the toilets are generally spotless.

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Picture 1 Bills Breakfast and Picture 2 Farm Shop Breakfast the latter is cheaper.

My final observation we always have to wait for a table at our local establishments (they both hold about 50 covers) unlike Bill’s which in the last year I have not seen busy at breakfast…now that may be coincidence but I doubt that considering how many branches we have been to.  What is consistent is Bill’s inconsistency which is quickly relegating this from being our  go-to place for breakfast.

 

Cost £22.70 (before service) as at March 2016

If you’d like to read more of my reviews then you could follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogUK

Ego at The Beverly Arms

It’s no Ego trip (Donaster Road, Ackworth)

This review focuses on our first impression of Ego at the Beverley Arms  and a few comments on our subsequent visits.

We booked in on day 3 of trading at the newly opened Ego at the Beverley Arms.   We arrived at 730pm and were quickly seated our drinks order was taken about 15 minutes later.  There is a lovely buzz about the place with a hint of chaos from a new team which added to the excitement and anticipation.  I am craving an excellent restaurant locally and hope this fits the bill.  However they clearly can seat over 100 covers so I hope they have the experienced team to handle this with their extensive menu.

Around 745pm we placed our order from the a la carte menu ordering the Chicken and Rosemary Pate and Moules Marinieres to start. Followed by Moroccan Lamb  Tanjine and Iberian Belly Pork, served on a bed of spinach with black pudding.

The starters arrived around 15 minutes, they were nicely presented (although no finger bowl for the Moules!). The Pate was very chilled so the flavour was lost and the toasted bread  was not really toasted.  The moules, a starter portion was served in a main course bowl #disappointment. The upside was they were juicy and the mariniere sauce was creamy with just enough garlic so they can be forgiven what I see as teething problems.  I do hope the Head Chef orders some small pots to avoid disappointing their diners.

The main course arrived an hour after our initial order.  The Moroccan Lamb was well presented in the Tajine.

Ego at The Beverly Arms
Lamb Tajine

The was no shortage of olives in this dish, the cous-cous, as promised was lightly buttered (and very fluffy), the vegetables were tasty in the rich sauce, the lamb however as tougher than you’d expect for a slow cooked dish.  There was plenty of tzatziki and corriander to compliment.  Overall this dish was tasty – however – I think it is overpriced at £15.95 considering the lack of provenance and the average quality of the lamb.

David enjoyed his belly pork – the sauce was rich and pork was tender and had a wonderfully crisp top. Again though the pricing is high, you can find similar dishes and more plentiful plates for less (consider this is not served with any vegetables or carbohydrates).

The Dauphinoise Gratin was a fraud it was more like Lyonnaise Potatoes; in summary it was cheesy potatoes – not the wonderfully rich creamy garlic dish you’d expect.

Dauphinoise Potatoes
Dauphinoise Potatoes at £3,25 (that’s a desert spoon for reference)!

It was quite late by the time we finished our mains so we did not order a further course or coffee.

Overall we were not bowled over by Ego at the Beverley Arms, I think  the Ego brand may think they are stronger than they are. In my opinion they have some evolving to do.   We paid over £50 (inlcuding a small carafe of red wine) and in my experience I have paid less for more.  In future, we will dine on their special nights as their main course prices match that of a an established city restaurant with great service.

Our second experience was on the steak night this improved upon our first visit. The latest visit was for a family meal for 8 which was better than our first trip but still a long way off, stronger service is needed again the gap between starters and mains was noticible with no apologies and we were left alone far too long with regards to drinks orders as not all the party were wine drinkers.

I give Ego 3 out of 5 and hope that this soon will improve and would recommend you try but if you are too a keen cook you may wish to book in for a specials night first.

If you like my reviews you will find more on Trip Advisor or follow me on Twitter @LouiseWinder

Louise x

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Tapas with a black pudding twist (Ambiente Tapas 36-38 The Calls, Leeds)

This is a trip down memory lane, as I went here on a second date and that date is now my fiancé – here is the review (of the restaurant not my date)..
Went here on a date (my date booked Ambiente Tapas) and I was not disappointed on both counts!  The greeting was warm and the young man who showed us to our table was a breath of fresh air;  he was so enthusiastic about the menu and gave us some great recommendations.

We ordered 6 dishes and all were very good. We had the Lamb, Belly Pork, Lemon Sole, Calamari and the Morcilla with Potato Bravas and Judias Verdes.  My only feedback for improvement is that the potato bravas chunks were not large enough to absorb the flavours of the warm piquant sauce.  The Morcilla was really tasty, but I would have preferred a regular egg, softly poached to the quail egg, as it was overpowered by the black pudding.  The Judias Verdes were a lovely supplement to our protein fest.

The atmosphere was relaxed as the restaurant was not busy, which is understandable for a Sunday night – maybe some fabulous Spanish music would compliment .

The wine we drank was amazing. We had a Rioja reserve which was delicious with rich fruit and good spice and considering the bill came to around £60 (I think as my date insisted on paying)  I view this as good value.

I look forward to going back on a Friday night and sampling their Paella.

Best Itailian in Wakefield – Felice’s Bella Roma (63 Northgate)

We booked here on spec early on a Saturday night for a late dinner. We arrived and were warmly greeted and seating at the bar whilst our table was prepared.

We had a couple of Martin Rouge’s and perused the menu; which was a great delight to us as there is a really breadth of choice with authentic dishes.

We were seated and not long after our orders were taken; Caprese and Gameroni All Aglio (prawns with cannellini beans and fresh chilli) followed by Sea Bass and Veal with a side of Zucchini. The starters arrived and were well presented, my prawns however were overcooked and the chilli had been left out of the dish; the waiter was quick to resolve this and the new dish was tasty; I would say if I could improve this dish it needed a dash more sauce to make it richer.

Main course was again well presented, the Sea Bass was tasty but the sauce could have taken some more seasoning and a further reduction. The veal dish was tasty enough however the escallops were well done and the sage flavour was too subtle. The Zuchinni was cooked to perfection.

For desert there was only once choice the Tiramisu – which was a slice of heaven, hats off to the pastry chef for this beauty.

Atmosphere was great in the restaurant, a really lovely buzz, while the staff were really busy there was no drama or fuss. They checked on us regularly and corrected the issues to took feedback well.

Cost: three courses with aperitif, bottle of wine and coffees was £73Prawns

Winder winner…  3/5  service was excellent, a lot of restaurants could learn from this team although there is still room for improvement. We will be back and hope that we become regulars at Felice’s Bella Roma.