Marcos, Hightown, Cleckheaton

Friday, December 12th, 2008

A posthumous restaurant review.  Is this a joke?

Grim oop North!  Marco's drab exterior.


Gourmet Dinner at Casa Mia Grande, Leeds

Friday, November 28th, 2008

In the classic comedy series, Fawlty Towers, Basil plans a gourmet night to attract a higher class of clientele to the infamous Torquay hotel.  Kurt, the excellent new chef who fancies Manuel the Spanish waiter played by Andrew Sachs, until recently one of Jonathan Ross’ closest acquaintances, manages to get totally pie-eyed and passes out just before the dinner is supposed to be cooked.  With guests already arriving, local restaurateur, André, comes to the rescue with a three choice menu of duck with orange, duck with cherry or duck surprise (duck with neither orange nor cherry), that never makes it to the table.  The culmination of this disaster scenario is Basil thrashing his Austin 1100 with a branch in one of the funniest, well known and most repeated scenes of the comedy solar system.

So when Alan and Heidi invited us to Casa Mia Grande, a well known Italian restaurant in Chapel Allerton, for a “gourmet evening”, I quivered, took the car for a service, wore my stain proof pants and a shirt that could tolerate red wine spills.


Leeds Restaurant Awards 2008

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

I was kindly invited by the Queen’s Hotel to the Let’s Eat Leeds Leeds Restaurant Awards on 10 November, where I feel the awards counted on public or members’ votes were more representative of my views than those awards chosen by judges and “experts”.  But then again, I am probably a little out of touch with the Leeds scene and really ought to go out more often in this fine city.


Mio Modo, Leeds – highly recommended for teetotallers

Monday, May 12th, 2008

As Frankie once said, I did it myyyyyyy waaaayyyyyy, but he made the mistake of singing the song in English, at least according to the owners of this Italian resto in Leeds.

It must be hard to compete against Bibi’s but Mio Modo does so with panache, at least as far as food is concerned.  The wine list, however, is a different matter.

Decent interior - nice view of the kitchen spoilt by me.


Lounge Bar & Grill, Leeds, Britten….

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

I’ve just returned from the opening night of the Opera North production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s play reconfigured as an opera by melody dodger, Benjamin Britten, whose proud boast seems to be never to have written an opera in a major key.

I normally love Opera North (full disclosure, I know one of the chorus quite well), but I am not a Britten fan.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream reminded me of all the negative aspects of the earlier, and otherwise superior, Peter Grimes.  Incessant horns and strings in deliberate discord, keeping the audience on its edge in the same way Hammer House of Horror films used organ fugues to build tension.  Britten never seems to let go, though.  It was like sitting on a train, delayed because of a fatality on the line.  One feels sorry for the victim (or cast in this case) but I just wanted to get home as quickly as possible.  Listening to a gauntlet scratching up and down a blackboard would have been more entertaining, and arguably, more musical.

The humour (what little existed) was 50 years old and could probably only have been written by a tortured homosexual of the repressed mid 20th century.  There were clearly a few from that era in the audience, occasionally chortling and even applauding.  I watched with the same cringingly embarrassed feeling of watching a Carry On film from the Beatles epoch.  Fortunately, to avoid total boredom, I was simply able to stare up at the awesome ceiling of Leeds Grand Theatre, the home of Opera North, and surely one of the best theatres in the world for architectural detail.

Lounge Lizard but 25% less....for some reason

Just round the corner from the Grand Theatre is Lounge Bar and Grill, and that is where we chose to eat before the performance.  With 25% off, the bill for two with a bottle of wine came to only £40 plus service.  Even for Leeds that is cheap.


Sam – put your Leeds Chop House out of its misery

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

In the restaurant world, turning a great local eaterie into a “concept” that can be rolled out across the world is a great danger.  New branches often lack the authenticity, the passion of the owners, the attention to detail and the personal service.  I have just discovered a text book example of failure at Sam’s Chop House in Leeds.

Sam’s Chop House in Manchester is one of my favourite places to eat in the whole world.  After 130 years of success, of which, before you ask, I have only contributed to 20 or so, why the owners felt the time was right to dilute their brand is a complete mystery.  Sams’ in Leeds is as far away an experience from the Manchester parent, as a wet weekend in Cleethorpes compares to a Caribbean cruise.

Er, this one was established 2007 actually…


Aakash, “largest Indian resto in the world”

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Does size matter?  The dreaded question that haunts 90% of men (but never seems to concern the fairer sex), obviously played on the mind of Mohammad Iqbal Tabassum in 2001 when he bought a former Providence Congregational Church to turn it into an Indian restaurant.

The Aakash, which claims to be, and almost certainly is, the largest Indian restaurant in the world, occupying, as it does, a large parcel of land in Cleckheaton, a small town in West Yorkshire.

Aakash…bless you!


Bibi’s – the Wolseley of the North?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

If the Wolseley is the best restaurant in London, then what about the provinces?  Leeds, for example, has a proud tradition of brewing beer, staffing call centres, building the world’s first Dalek shaped skyscraper, and breeding people who say “eeh bah gum!”.  So surely not a place for fine dining then?

Is it a bar?  Is it a Ristorante?  Is it a car park?


My Last Supper

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

“Put a Yorkshireman in charge of an Italian restaurant???” I said.  “Next, you will be telling me a Swede is being appointed as England Football coach!”

So it came to pass that my predictions for the year 2001 were (as ever) way off the mark, since Martin Pickles bought the Flying Pizza in Leeds and……….well let’s not discuss the other appointment.


Browns, Always The Scene in Town

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

There isn’t much of a theatre scene in Leeds but what there is, is top notch.  We are privileged to know one of the cast of Opera North (although he never gets us tickets any more).  Leeds Grand Theatre is surely the best theatre outside London for architecture and acoustics (especially since the recent improvements).  The West Yorkshire Playhouse is also pretty good for a modern theatre and puts on some interesting modern pieces.

So where to dine before the show then?