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Dough Bistro

I’ve been waiting to go to Dough for a long time, ever since I discovered their Groupon offer in November.  The offer was a five course taster menu for two at a total cost of £27 which was a saving of £41.  The offer explained that it was valid between 6pm and 11pm Tuesday to Saturday but we really struggled to get a table.  Maybe we were leaving it too late in the day and under-estimated Dough’s popularity but each time we tried to make a booking, the only times available were around 6pm which is too early for dinner for us.  I think they had a set number of tables each evening for the Groupon offer and clearly the later times were much more popular.  Anyway, we eventually managed to make a reservation and it was definitely worth the wait!

You can see the menu that we had below.

The Groupon offer was limited to five courses, missing out the pre-main of a confit of lamb breast and the pre-dessert of lemon and Amaretto syllabub.  However, for £6 each we could upgrade to the full seven courses which was a no-brainer!

The amuse was a crab quenelle, atop a slice of cucumber with a prawn on top of it all.  On it’s own, the crab was incredibly flavoursome but when eaten with the other two layers it was even better.  The three elements really complimented each other well, helped by the fresh flavours of the cucumber.

Next up was the starter of chicken with poached asparagus and an asparagus nage.  I don’t think I’d had a dish with a nage before (I’d certainly not heard of the word before this visit anyway) but it pretty much made the dish for me.  Being a northerner, I like to have something moist with my food and the nage definitely delivered the requisite moistness but it was also very flavourful.  As with all of the other dishes, the presentation was beautiful.

I have to admit that I was a bit confused by the next course.  It was a rhubarb and apple sorbet which, even though it was delicious, I couldn’t quite get over the fact that it was a sorbet that wasn’t being served as a dessert.  I wondered if it was being used as a palette cleanser but usually that’s the job of the amuse or something else even before that.

Rhubarb and apple sorbet

The pre-main course was next up.  It was a filo pastry basket and within the basket there was lamb breast, crispy onions, leaks and apple sauce.  This dish was the reason I wanted to go for the seven course menu because I absolutely love lamb.  Philippa didn’t used to like lamb very much (I’m slowly convincing her that it’s delicious) so I jump at any opportunity to eat it!  The crunchy pastry and onions contrasted really nicely with the leaks, apple and lamb.  The lamb was absolutely perfectly cooked – nice and pink in the middle.

For the next course, which was the main course, we had a choice of two dishes: gammon with mustard mash, black pudding and a pineapple salsa or a smoked haddock chowder with potatoes, peas and prawns.  We both decided to go for the chowder which turned out to be an excellent decision.  The haddock was the hero of the dish for me; the skin was crispy and the flesh was soft and flakey.  The chowder was suitably creamy with hidden pieces of potato, prawns and peas for extra interest.

Our next course was a lemon and Amaretto syllabub with a ginger and oat crumble.  When it came to the table, Philippa was a bit confused about one element of the dish.  This is what it looked like:

Philippa was confused about the lemon and asked the waitress if you could eat it which I found hilarious!  In fairness, this is quite a testament to the quality of the food that we’d been served and I could definitely imagine a dish from Dough looking like this and having an edible lemon.

Normally a syllabub contains wine or sherry with whipped cream but this version used Amaretto instead which I was a big fan of. Amaretto is one of my favourite alcoholic drinks and because it is very sweet it works very well in dessert dishes.  The crumble of oats added some texture to the dish to give it a nice, balanced feel.

The final course was a spiced bread and butter pudding with an orange marmalade ice cream.  The marmalade taste in the ice cream was subtle and not over-powering and was the perfect foil to the spice from the bread and butter pudding.  It was a lovely dish to finish with.

I’m very pleased that we managed to finally eat at Dough and that it exceeded both of our expectations by quite some way.  We will definitely be returning in the future for the tasting menu and matched wines.

On a final note, we went to Kirkstall Deli market a couple of days after this meal and Dough had a stall there.  Luke, the self-described “chief, cook and bottle washer” of Dough, was manning the stall and he’s a really nice bloke.  We had a bit of a chat because he recognised us from our meal (probably because we made a complete mess of providing them with our Groupon voucher!) and he said that only signed up for the Groupon deal to help one of his friends out!  Normally he doesn’t do too much advertising and relies on word-of-mouth which he said keeps him plenty busy.

If you don’t get chance to go to the restaurant then first of all, make time!  It will definitely be worth it.  If you really, really can’t get to the restaurant then visit Kirkstall Deli and try some of the food from Dough’s stall.  I had a sausage roll of ostrich meat instead of the usual pork.  There were other creations as well that give you a small insight into the type of food you get at the restaurant.

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Posted by on 29 Jul 2012 in Restaurant reviews

 

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Pancakes, Fish& and Pinche Pinche

Tuesday was a wonderful day for food!  It started off with pancakes ala Nigella for breakfast.  The “ala Nigella” part means that we had blueberry syrup all over the pancakes.  The recipe is here but essentially you mix some maple syrup and blueberries together in a pan over a low heat and voila, blueberry sauce!  Bacon is obviously mandatory as well.

Fish&
Lunch came in the form of fish and chips from Fish& which is based out of a hut on Commercial Street in Leeds City centre.  Their tagline is “Fish& chips with a twist” with the signature twist being a lemon, lime and chilli batter for your fish.

As I was having a fairly late lunch, I decided to go for the tapas portion of fish and chips which, at £3.50 is a really good price, especially when you consider that a sandwich from Tesco will cost about the same.  The batter really is delicious and I’d highly recommend you try it.  Don’t be scared by the chilli, there’s only a hint of heat there and it works really well with the lemon and lime.  I’m also a massive fan of the chips from Fish& because they’re chunky and always perfectly cooked.  It’s worth mentioning that neither the fish or the chips are ever greasy which is quite a change from the norm.

Fish& chips with a twist

Street food used to be a greasy burger with some onions and a slice of plastic cheese, but as was highlighted recently on The Apprentice, this idea seems to be changing.  We can now buy really good quality food on the streets and for me, Fish& is the best street food vendor in Leeds.  I was planning to go in to town on Monday but I realised that they open Tuesday to Saturday so I delayed my trip just so I could get my fish and chips!

Pinche Pinche
I had been very excited about dinner for quite a while because it was at one of my favourite restaurants – Pinche Pinche in Chapel Allerton.  There’s a real lack of Mexican restaurants in Leeds but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter because both Philippa and I would still go to Pinche Pinche anyway because the food is amazing.

On Tuesday night, they were hosting a street food and tequila night which was a complete steal at £15 per person.  Simon, the owner of the restaurant, spent some time in Mexico and really wanted to show people what food Mexicans actually eat.  Most people would instantly say fajitas or chilli con carne when asked to name a Mexican dish but Simon told us that you wouldn’t find Mexicans eating those dishes at all – he said that they just don’t exist.

There were three courses for food.  The first was nachos with guacamole and given that neither of us like guacamole, it’s saying something that our plate went back completely clean!  The guacamole was absolutely lovely and has changed both of our opinions on it.  Looking at their website, it seems like the guacamole they use for the nachos is different to the guacamole that is used for the tacos.  Maybe it’s because there were other ingredients that detracted from the avocado that made it much tastier than your usual guacamole.

The next round was a plate of tostadas which are crispy tortilla shells.  We had both chicken and lamb as the fillings with a really nice salsa.  The chicken tinga was shredded and marinated in herbs and spices and the lamb was marinated in a pasilla chile marinade.

The final plate of food was tacos – soft tortilla wraps with a choice of three different toppings: chicken tinga, steak and lamb in a pasilla chile marinade.  We also had a salsa verdi and a salsa ranchera which we could slather on the tacos as we pleased.  For me, the salsa verdi went really well with the chicken tinga and the ranchera salsa was better matched to the steak and lamb.  Of the three meats, my favourite was the steak whereas Philippa preferred the chicken tinga.

Of course, no trip to a Mexican restaurant would be complete without a round of churros – a doughnut coated in cinnamon sugar with a gooey chocolate dipping sauce.  These weren’t included in the cost of the evening but we couldn’t resist them.

The tequila part of the evening was delivered by Robert ‘Skippy’ Jupp (of Skippy’s bar fame at Trio in Headingley).  He was really passionate about tequila and was quite eager to dispel the myth that tequila is only good with salt and lemon.  He gave a talk that was supposed to last 15 minutes but I have a feeling he was talking for much longer which was perfectly fine because he kept everyone interested all the way through.  He explained what makes a quality tequila (the percentage of agave – the higher the better) and then the differences between the quality tequilas.  Like wine, it’s all about ageing – what type of barrel it’s stored in, how long it’s stored in the barrel, how large the barrel is and so on.  Skippy said that the talk we got was a cut down version of his usual 3 hour talk.  When we were leaving, it sounded like him and Simon were hatching a plan to put on the whole talk at a future event so keep your eyes peeled for this.

During his talk, Skippy made sure we were well stocked with tasting glasses of tequila.  We tasted three different types, ranging from one which had been rested for about a month up to one which had been rested for over a year.  We also had a Tommy’s Margarita which is simply tequila, lime juice and agave syrup served over crushed ice.  These were so nice that we ordered seconds (and maybe thirds, my memory’s a bit hazy at that point!).

My only complaint was that it would have been better if there was more food, especially given the amount of tequila we were drinking!  We were actually offered a second plate of tacos but I’m not sure everyone did and I still could have eaten more.  We would have happily paid extra to have more food.

As always, I really enjoyed Pinche Pinche and it was particularly nice to meet the owner.  All of the waiters are extremely friendly and I think some of them recognised us from previous trips (does this mean we’ve been too often?).

 
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Posted by on 29 Apr 2012 in Restaurant reviews

 

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Introduction

Hello!  I’m Stu aged 24, originally from Manchester and now living in Leeds with my girlfriend Philippa.  For our day jobs, I’m a software engineer and Philippa is a business analyst.  Our shared love though (besides each other, obviously!) is food.  It’s completely normal for us to be eating dinner with a cooking show on in the background – in fact, most of the shows on our Sky+ box are food related.

One of the things we like to do at the weekend is to plan our meals for the week ahead.  We find that this is a great way to make sure you have food in for the week and if you know that you’ll need a quick meal one night then you can plan accordingly.  It also means you don’t have to go shopping multiple times a week because you don’t know what you’re going to eat from one night to the next!  And (are you allowed to start a sentence with a conjunction these days?) it gives us a good excuse to go through the ever increasing number of cookery books we’ve got!

We’re really lucky that Leeds has so many quality restaurants because we do like to treat ourselves and go out for the occasional treat.  Most of the blog posts will be about the restaurants we go to in Leeds but whenever we venture further afield, we’ll write about any restaurants we come across there as well.

We’ve just had a week off from work and given that the weather has been terrible, we entertained ourselves by going out for food three nights of the week.  I’ll have a post up shortly about each of the three places we went to: Pinche Pinche, Dough Bistro and Jamie’s Italian.  We also braved the rain and went to Kirkstall Deli on Saturday so I’ll write about that as well.

There’s one other post that I’ll tease you with.  For Philippa’s birthday in March, we went to Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Restaurant – one of only four restaurants in the UK to have three Michelin stars.  The tasting menu has a pretty epic 14 courses (and you can bet we took photos of every single one of them!) which we had with matched wine.  It was an unbelievable experience which I hope I can do justice to in a blog post.

This is the first time I’ve blogged so if you’ve got any comments, advice or suggestions please get in touch either via Twitter (@A_Hungry_Hippo) or leave a comment below.

 
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Posted by on 28 Apr 2012 in Introduction

 

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