When I was in university, I met an exchange student from University of Leeds. She described the City of Leeds, as an industrial and functional place, without much culture and style. I was pleasantly surprised at all it had to offer when I passed through this cosmopolitan city on a recent trip through England.
From the moment I got off the train, I was impressed. Right beside the train station was my hotel, The Queens Hotel. Now in my experience, quite often the hotel beside the train station is not always the best. Maybe their locations are great, but they can be the hotels that time has forgotten with little to offer than a questionable bed.
In the case of The Queens Hotel, as I spun through the revolving door I was taken back in time in the best way. The art deco decor was fabulous, warm and welcoming. That 1930s style continues right through the hotel, from the elevator, to the hallways and into the rooms (with a modern flair).
My room at the end of the hall offered a fantastic suite made up of spacious sitting room with a balcony off, giving a bird’s eye view of the City of Leeds. The bedroom with the deep red accents, continued the art deco feel. The fresh black and white tiled bathroom offered more than enough space and options for this single traveler.
Having the two separate rooms, created a much more homey feeling. Giving me a place to work and watch TV while having offering another space with a comfortable bed to sleep in.
Along with this great hotel, Leeds has fantastic shopping on pedestrian only streets, museums, sports and food. Oh the food. I enjoyed so much of it in my short time there.
My first stop was a craft beer bar with an Indian street food kitchen, called Bundobust. Now this has to be one of the most unique pairings of food and drink, craft beer and Indian Street food. Who would have thought? Well, Prashad (Gordan Ramsay’s Great British Restaurant finalists) and The Sparrow Bier cafe (The Guardian’s Top 10 UK Craft Beer Bars) thought it. And it works.
I was there just at the end of the lunch rush and it was still buzzing. When I visit a restaurant I haven’t been too before, I like to put my choices, or taste buds, in the hands of the experts. I let my server make the suggestions. That lead to me enjoying the:
OKRA FRIES – Fried lady’s fingers coated in chick pea batter. Seasoned with black salt and mango powder.
DHAL & RICE – Black lentil curry cooked low and slow with ginger, garam massala & chillies. Served with basmati rice.
BHEL PURI – Samosa pastry, puffed rice, turmeric noodles, red onion, tomato & tamarind chutney. Served cold.
The Bhel Puri had to be one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever tasted. The textures were such a wonderful taste adventure.
Another real treat was getting a reservation at the newly opened (in March) Pintura Kitchen & Bar. Now this was a real culinary treat. I was lucky enough to be placed at the ‘Chef’s Table’, which was exactly where I hoped, at the end of the bar right by all the chefs action.
I introduced myself to the two fantastic chefs working that night, Christopher and Edward, and then the adventure began. After looking over the incredible menu of picotear, cold meats and cheeses and tapas, I knew the best thing for me to do was put myself in their hands. For the rest of the night they decided what would eat and drink.
What a delicious journey they took me on. Instead of me telling you all about it, let me show you and let your mouth water:
As I was out for dinner on my own, sitting at the bar for the meal was just so enjoyable. Great conversation with the chefs that were feeding me their incredible creations and meeting others who, like me, were enjoying Pintura for the first time. I couldn’t have expected or even asked for a more fun evening of great food and fantastic company.
My final taste sensation while visiting Leeds, was a visit to Red’s True Barbecue. Now, I’ve had BBQ in the places you expect it in the USA, but I never thought that I would find such great slow-cooked meat in Leeds, England.
As they mention on their website, ‘Each year we jump in a RV and take a road trip Pilgrimage across the southern states of America. We explore and discover. Meet and learn from the world’s best. Eat ‘cue five times a day, and return to the UK with bellies full and a stack-load of new ideas and dishes.’
Now that’s how you find the true inspiration of BBQ. And they do it so well. With the slow-cookers working hard and just the right sauces, I must say that my Texas Taster was melt in your mouth delicious.
With my belt notch let out a few spaces, I had to say goodbye to Leeds and all that it had to offer. This is not the town that I thought it would be. With so many great restaurants and unique bars, this city is a must stop for anyone looking for an incredible culinary experience.
I can’t wait to go back to enjoy some great meals with the friends I made in my short time there.
© 2015 – 2017, Anne-Marie Marais. All rights reserved.