Almost Famous

It is the normal way of things that when stuff doesn’t work out the way you planned, it is a disappointment but my experience at Almost Famous in Great George Street was quite the reverse.

During the various lockdowns I had managed to shed about a stone in weight and now that we are moving towards a new normal I am not exactly anxious to pile it back on again. Looking down the various eateries on line I had covered most of the foods listed – how many more noodle houses can Leeds take – but I realised that I hadn’t been out for chicken or a burger for ages so that was my short list. Whilst on my weight loss regime I had more than my fair share of chicken at home so I thought burger it!

Obviously lots of burger places are chains and the one I looked at has four branches, two in Manchester, one in Liverpool and this Yorkshire outpost, but it seemed to be an independent so that was fine by me. The only problem was that the photograph on their website made it look as though their concoctions were constructed especially for an edition of Man v Food. With the price of the cheapest version on offer at £9.50 that did nothing to allay my fears. My need was something a little more conventional but I thought that I would take a chance anyway.

The premises are a large, sparsely furnished room stripped back to brick with another huge room at the back. As it was about 2.30 when I called and there were very few other customers, the chasm seemed even greater.

There is a bar to your left with the dining area to the right of the entrance. I was told to sit anywhere so I picked a seat near the window. The choice was more for the light than the view as they are too high to see out of from a seated position.

Having perused the menu before leaving home I had decided on the Phoenix at £10.50, but first a pint of Corona, £5.50. As I was expecting a burger of gigantic proportions, and there was no-one eating in the vicinity from whom I could get an idea, I didn’t augment the order with fries although there were several types to choose from.

The constituent parts of the Phoenix were listed as double cheeseburger, bacon, shoestring onions, frazzles, red chillies, redneck BBQ, bacon bacon mayo (sic) and bacon ketchup. That seemed to cover all the bases.

My Corona was swiftly delivered with the food following shortly after. As you can see from the photograph, there was a long enough interval for me to have taken a couple of gulps before I remembered I need to take a photograph. As you can also see from the photograph, the size of the burger was nothing like as large as I was expecting and my first thought was that it didn’t seem like something I would normally pay north of a tenner for.

The empty side of the tray seemed to be pleading for some fries but it was a bit late by then. Anyway, the proof etc etc… As it turned out, the eating was a revelation with a mass of flavours vying for my attention. The beef was extremely succulent and the bacon smoky. It wasn’t until I got nearer the centre that the chillies kicked in which added another dimension. They were not overly hot, just piquant enough to let you know they were there and wanting to be acknowledged. I am not usually a lover of BBQ sauce but this was as good as I have had.

If I have one criticism of the meal it is that instead of there being two thinnish patties I would have preferred one thick one so that it could have been a bit rarer in the middle. Otherwise it was fine. Although not the tower of food I had anticipated, it still needed eating with a knife and fork as not even a gob like mine was big enough to get round it. The less than picture perfect image below will illustrate the ingredients better than the above shot.

As delicious as the dish was, I still think that £16 for a pint and a burger – pushing a score with basic fries – is a bit steep but that is the way of things at the moment. I fear that because any rent, business rate and tax holidays granted during lockdown have now to be repaid this kind of price point will be part of the aforementioned new normality.

There are no desserts on the menu but that might not be a bad thing because I did find that my appetite had been sated and so it would have just meant extra unneeded calories. Unneeded calories? That is like leftover wine, a fantasy.

All photographs by Stan Graham


Manahatta Greek Street

Just after national lockdown in March I saw a posting on social media which said that when the restrictions are lifted we will be a hunk, a chunk or a drunk. I have made it my mission to prove them wrong.

Sadly, no matter how much I exercise there is very little chance of my emerging as a hunk so I could discount that straight away.

As for a drunk, it is ironic that my alcohol intake has declined over the past six months as, until recently, there have been no bars or restaurants to review and, those which did manage to reopen, are naturally concentrating on attracting paying punters rather than giving freebies to people like myself. (I stress that none of the establishments reviewed on this site gives me anything at all, and they have no idea I am calling, I even book my table under a different name just in case.) Similarly with the theatres. They are, understandably, unable to offer any hospitality as the catering parts of the buildings are still closed. This might be an advantage as I can at least remember the performance once I get home to write about it!

Finally we get to the ‘chunk’ part. Once again because of my drastically reduced social life I have managed to lose well over a stone since March.

The above is apropos of nothing at all, I just want to brag, but it does explain my choice of dish from the menu at Manahatta in Greek Street.

I had booked a table for 2.00pm and so arrived at 1.45 to the now familiar sight of an almost empty bar. To be fair it was a Tuesday and so not exactly Party Prime Time. As they had my details from my on-line booking, it was just the hand sanitising and temperature checking ritual before I was allowed in.

The waiter, Josh, showed me to my table, which, to my dismay was a very tall affair, a bit like a long poseur, and the seating a banquette equally elevated. I am a smidgeon short of six feet tall so it was not a problem except that my past experiences of this type of furnishing instilled a fear of my inability to get comfortable, the footrests invariably proving inadequate for proper balance. This, however, was great, as under the table there was a long rail at a perfect height and sturdy enough to rest my feet without fear of slipping off. After a minute or so it felt as though I were seated at a conventional level.

I was asked if I wanted anything to drink and ordered tap water which appeared in a flash. Actually I lie, it appeared in a large carafe with lots of ice. I had read the menu on-line before booking and thought that the £6 lunch deal looked like a bargain but I was informed that it was not available on Mondays or Tuesdays in October as they were offering 50% off all food prices on those days. That threw me into something of a quandary as there were some larger priced items on the main menu which looked very tempting. I resisted, however, as the offer is only valid for two days per week and would be over at the end of the month so not really in keeping with the ethos of this website.

As it happens my original option of the Sunshine Powerbowl was on the main menu priced at £9.25 so the discount made it cheaper than it would have been on the normal lunch deal. I decided to splurge and added the chicken option for an extra £2.50 which made it cheaper still. Revelling in my new found bargain I celebrated by ordering a 250ml glass of Cramele Recas Pinot Noir which was brilliant value at £7.50. I don’t recall having had a Romanian version of my favourite grape variety before but this was right up there with the better versions.

I mentioned my weight loss regime at the beginning and the Sunshine Powerbowl was in keeping with my efforts. It comprised avocado, golden and red beetroot, spinach, turmeric quinoa, roast sweet potatoes, pickled onion and red cabbage, with an agave and wholegrain mustard dressing. Had I wanted an extra other than chicken there was halloumi or felafel to choose from.

As well as being healthy and nutritious, this was absolutely delicious. Living alone, a salad is normally a fairly basic affair as to add too many elements ties you to having to make so much that it lasts all week and come Friday the novelty has begun to wear off. The variety in this bowl was tremendous with the flavours and textures contrasting amazingly well. The quinoa, which was lurking beneath the other elements, was a good filling staple enhanced by its absorption of the dressing, whilst the lighter parts such as the leaves and vegetables gave a freshness. When I saw the pickled cabbage and pickled onion on the list of partygoers I could not help but visualise the contents of a couple of Garner’s jars thrown in. In fact the onions were thinly sliced and subtly home pickled the cabbage being equally light. A couple of radishes had crashed the event but were more than welcome. The stars of the show though were the perfectly ripe pieces of avocado and the roasted sweet potatoes. I am not usually a fan of this vegetable as I find sweet potatoes, well – sweet. These cubes, however, were seasoned, which reduced the effect, and cooked to perfection. I would love to be able to put it another way but I will have to fall back on the old cliche of their being wonderfully crispy on the outside whilst soft and fluffy on the inside. A hackneyed description which does not do them justice. The chicken was also succulent and in a more abundant quantity than it appears to be on the photograph.

My total bill, including a post meal black Americano at £2.40, was £16.23, excellent value for money and would have been even at the full lunch menu price. It should have been more but the main course was so filling as to leave me no room for a dessert. In truth I could probably have squeezed one down but the three on offer were in keeping with the New York vibe of the Manhatta and a tad heavy or over-embellished for my taste.

The Manahatta is essentially a cocktail lounge and bar and is decorated as an homage to what is perceived as a New York joint. In my trips to the Big Apple I have not come across anywhere quite like this but it works well in the same way as an English Bar in New York would convey the mood of a Leeds boozer rather than faithfully replicate an original. There is also a fairly large outdoor seating area where, unless we have been moved to Tier 3, a couple of households can mix.

I really feel for those in the hospitality sector at the moment with all that they are going through so I hope that their efforts and initiatives such as this are justly rewarded, they certainly deserve to be.

As a footnote, I am very disappointed that my spellchecker has not prompted me to replace Manahatta with Mad Hatter, it really should have as, with a menu and service this good, it is Wonderland.

All photographs by Stan Graham

My original lunch menu choice was also on the main menu priced at £9.25, meaning that with the 50% discount it would only be £4.62

Fat Annie’s

When it comes to writing food reviews my hero is the late, and much missed, AA Gill who wrote for the Sunday Times. He had a wonderful style which influenced the way in which I bang out my rubbish, and a knowledge on the subject to which I could not even begin to aspire. Having nicked his modus operandi I thought that I would plagiarise an observation he made after reviewing a hot dog restaurant in London he found to be pretentiously upmarket and expensive.

The venerable Mr Gill pointed out that hot dogs are working class cheap and cheerful food which should be confined to football games, street vendors and the seaside. On this last point, he mentioned Nathan’s by the Boardwalk on Coney Island, Brooklyn which is also the home of the World Hot Dog Eating Competition. This is held on 4th July each year and the object is to down as many hot dogs, including buns, as possible in the space of 10 minutes. The men’s record was set in 2020 by a chap called Joey Chestnut who managed 75 – yes – 75. I am sure that his table manners were impeccable. The women’s champion also set a new record this year at the rather more sedate pace of 48.5 hot dogs in the allotted 10 minutes.

I have had the experience of sampling a hot dog at Nathan’s on Coney Island and I must say that it was truly awful. No, that is not correct. Strictly speaking something with absolutely no taste at all cannot be described as awful. It is no wonder that they eat them as quickly as possible; they are not to be savoured. Fortunately, Fat Annie’s leaves Nathan’s miles back in its dust. 

Let’s face it, the main ingredient of a hot dog is the sausage, it doesn’t matter what you top it with or slather on as a dressing, if the sausage is no good then the whole thing is a waste of time. Fat Annie’s use specially made sausages which are unique to them and contain only prime cuts of pork and beef and are 95% meat, the rest being made up with spices and a little water. There are also vegan versions so don’t feel left out if you are a non-meat eater. Even the casings are natural. When taking so much care with the star of the show, the supporting act, literally, in the bread is also made by their local artisan baker.

Once again I was fortunate enough to have company for lunch and we each had a different item from the menu. She chose The Classic, a straight hot dog with either grilled or crispy onions, whilst I opted for The Annie Mac which is topped with house pickle, American cheese, secret sauce and crispy onions. We shared a portion of fries and I had a Blood Orange San Pellegrino to drink. 

The Classic

The prices are pretty good normally but there is a lunch deal whereby you get a Classic and Fries for £5. My loaded Annie Mac was £6 and worth every penny. 

By the way, my regular reader will know how much I like a good pun, or even a bad one, well there is a version with toppings which include sea salt crisps called Seabrooks In Seattle, and another Asian inspired one for Breaking Bad fans with the moniker Seoul Good Man. 

Annie Mac

The sausages were absolutely amazing and surprisingly easy to eat without dripping the secret sauce down my shirt but we had been brought a plentiful supply of napkins just in case. Although there was a kick of spice in the hot dog it wasn’t overwhelming as that would have been an insult to the meat which wasn’t minced to a paste as with shop bought Frankfurters, but still had some body to it and was chewy without being tough. It was also remarkably juicy which gave a great textural contrast to the crispy onions, the creamy sauce and the soft bread.

The bun was obviously baked specially to be used in making hot dogs as it had a wide, flat base which enabled it to be put down without rolling over as happens with both bridge rolls and baguettes. This meant that the toppings were not unceremoniously dumped onto the paper on which it was served every time you wanted to wipe your mouth or take a drink. I would have added ‘or talk’ but the hot dogs were so delicious we just went ahead and enjoyed them without much conversation. The fries still had their skin on and were, as you would expect, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle with a hit of seasoning for good measure. 

Take A Guess!

Fat Annie’s is in the food hall at the bottom end of Leeds Kirkgate Market but the seating was arranged to cater for social distancing and situated at the back of the stall. You place your order at the front and it is delivered when ready. The chap who brought us our food was called Rick, an extremely efficient and pleasant chap with banter which added to the experience. Should you not be able to make it to the market they do have a presence at various street food events so keep your eyes open for the mobile version. That should please Mr Gill.

Sadly we didn’t get to meet Fat Annie, so we had to make do with Skinny Rick. My theory is that she is practising for next year’s World Hot Dog Competition, and if she is, might I make so bold as to give her a word of advice. Forget it – sorry, that’s two words. You would be far better taking your time savouring the wonderful version which you produce rather than trying to force 49 of Nathan’s tasteless concoctions down your gob in 10 minutes. There are some records that are not worth breaking.

All photographs by Stan Graham


It wasn’t so long ago that you seemed never to be more than a tostada’s throw from a Mexican eatery, but recently they seem to be a threatened species.

Mexico is not in the EU so it can’t be Brexit and I doubt whether President Trump’s wall is likely to have had an effect yet, so I can only put it down to a change in food fashion and the trend for ethnic food to be sold from street food stalls rather than permanent restaurant premises.

One place which seems to be bucking the trend is Tortilla in Trinity Kitchen. I don’t normally review chain restaurants and until I got home and looked at the website I didn’t realise that this establishment fell into that category. In my defence I don’t get around much anymore and, even if I did, there are only two others in the North of England, one in Newcastle and the other in Liverpool. The reason I don’t do chains is that you all know what to expect from a Burger King and the portions seem to be regulated by accountants rather than chefs. On top of that, I like to promote local independent businesses.

After all that, it would appear that Tortilla is not a Mexican Restaurant anyway but ‘Real California Burritos and Tacos’ which means that it doesn’t sell tortillas. I am so confused. Not to worry, because the one thing about those good folks from the US of A is that they exaggerate their ancestors’ country of origin to such an extent that the longer they live there the more entrenched in their ethnic roots they become. You only need to look at the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York to see how it outstrips by miles anything Dublin has to offer, even though the nearest any of the participants has been to the Emerald Isle is a theme pub in Brooklyn.

Fortunately, the same goes for ex-pat Mexicans in the Golden State, a fact which I discovered when I found myself in San Diego on 5th May 1989.  San Diego is probably one of my favourite places in the world, with the mixture of ultra modern and old world Spanish as it’s just north of the border.  I didn’t realise then that that particular date, Cinco de Mayo, is a Mexican national holiday, meaning I couldn’t sit and have a quiet beer and a read of the newspaper without being assaulted by a Mariachi Band every five minutes.  I also discovered that the only tune that these players know is ‘Roll Out The Barrel’, which is very surreal.  I was back two years later so decided to nip across the border to celebrate the National Day in Tijuana to get the ‘authentic’ experience, and what do I find? Nothing – nada. They just let it pass them by.  Before I draw the curtains and get the slide projector out to bore you rigid with my holiday snaps, I had better get on with my review.

Tortilla is one of those build-it-yourself places. You are first presented with the choice of base dish – Burrito, Naked Burrito or Tres (that’s three to you and me) Soft Shell Tacos.  As I intended eating on the premises and not walking around town with a cylinder of silver foil in front of my mouth, looking like a seventies glam rock singer, I went for the Naked Burrito.  This is where the Californian authenticity was destroyed in that there is a choice of Medium at £5.80 or Large for £6.80 and, as everyone who has visited the other side of the pond knows, there is no such thing as Medium on any menu, it is either Large or Regular.   It was advertised as including rice and beans.

I must say that ordering lunch here is not as straightforward as it sounds, because the choice of base dishes is only the start of a number of multiple choice questions with which you are bombarded.  I thought that the sentence ‘Includes rice and beans.’ would take care of the first bit but no, I had to say whether I wanted tomato based rice or the coriander option.  After going for the latter, there was then the matter of the pulses, and from an exhaustive list offered to me at a speed quicker than the terms and conditions of a finance deal at the end of one of those commercial radio adverts, I opted for black beans.

I believe that I passed that test as I was then given a choice of one of four fillings, the Marinated Grilled Chicken being the object of my affection but, wait, did I want any extras?  I was getting the hang of this now so with my new found cockiness I told them to add chorizo for a quid and flashed a smug glance in the direction of the young woman who was loading my carton (not a euphemism).  She added sour cream and cheese, but then we were back to the exam:  I needed to choose two salsas from a selection of containers displayed on the counter .  I didn’t want to have her go through the full description of each, so I pointed at one and asked for a hot chilli sauce to complete the quota. I declined the offer of guacamole as another extra because the carton was beginning to look like a Man v Food challenge.  Serves me right for ordering the large.  A bottle of cold Corona beer at £3.10 accompanied me and my meal to one of the communal tables in the street food hall of Trinity Kitchen and the three of us began to get to know one another.

There were two things I had noticed whilst being served: first was that the portions had most certainly evaded the company’s bean counters – literally – as the components were liberally added, and secondly, when they were added they had not been piled one on top of the other so that I ended up with every forkful tasting exactly like the last, but had been distributed in different parts of the carton, meaning I could mix the various tastes in myriad combinations. The chicken had been diced into fairly small pieces but was still tender and juicy of texture, with the marinade adding to the joy.  All of the other parts were equally fresh, something which is not always the case when ingredients are displayed for any length of time.

I am sure that the queue of people meant that the turnover was such that nothing had a chance to deteriorate too badly.  The salsa was hot but not excessively so and the beans still had a bit of a bite rather than being a mush like the refried variety.  I have to say that I was very impressed with not only the food, but also the chirpy service. I was also pleased to see that both the chicken and pulled pork were sourced from suppliers with Red Tractor credentials. My only regret about the meal was that I ordered the large portion and it did start to get a bit monotonous by the end.   A medium would have been more than adequate at lunchtime.  Mea culpa.

Whilst chomping away and people watching, the thought crossed my mind that should I visit the USA again I will make sure I am there on 1st August – Yorkshire Day – and see what extravaganza they put on with Whippet Racing and Flat Cap Parades. We can then all go to the pub and stand looking at our feet until someone else offers to buy the first round.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 19th August, 2019

Absurd Bird

I was a little later eating than normal so had Googled a place where I could have a late lunch and set off for my first choice. When I arrived the place was locked up.

I don’t know whether this is permanent or if they had checked out their on-line hits, seen my name and locked the door until I had gone away, telling the customers inside to keep quiet for a few minutes. Whichever was the case I set off in search of a Plan B.  I decided to check out Trinity Kitchen, thinking that if I couldn’t find anywhere that did a late lunch then I could get something from one of the street traders.

The first place I came to was the newly opened Absurd, which serves American food with a twist. They do a lunch deal available all the time: result. The deal is called Louisiana Sub Lunch and is a choice of four Po’ Boys, which for some reason are referred to as P.O Boys on the menu. They all include fries, which makes it very good value as they alone are normally £2.25. The weather was stiflingly hot so a pint of chilled Goose Midway beer at £4.95 was very welcome. You need a will of iron as a food reviewer as the drinks are normally served, as was the case here, before the food arrives, thus necessitating one’s staring longingly at it until an ensemble photograph of food and booze can be taken. The food is cooked to order and my will evaporated in the heat, meaning that I just had to take a sip. Paradise. It is a draft American IPA style and at 4.1% abv is not too strong for a lunch accompaniment. The citrus aftertaste was especially refreshing on such a hot day.

Let’s Do Lunch at Absurd Photographs by Stan Graham

Absurd is one of the permanent fixtures in Trinity Kitchen so you can sit in the communal dining area with those eating from other establishments. On ordering at the hatch you are given a pager which goes off when the food is ready, at which time you collect from another hatch. It must have been Help The Aged Week as the really affable young man who took my order delivered not only the meal, but a handful of napkins as well. Above and beyond the call of duty. What I had ordered was the Honey P.O Boy which comprised coated fried chicken pieces in a sub roll with lettuce, pickles and honey and mustard dressing. As mentioned there was a side of fries which came with ketchup and mayonnaise dips.

There are several versions of the origin of the name Po’ Boy, short for Poor Boy, but the one constant is that they originated in New Orleans and were originally filled with fried shrimp and oysters caught locally, or ham. Over time, new fillings were added and nowadays anything goes. The version I had with the honey and mustard mayo, lettuce and pickles was originally known as a Dressed Po’ Boy, whereas regular ones just had the meat or fish. The chicken pieces were thick and succulent, the coating adding both crunch and flavour.

I approached the eating with some trepidation as I was wearing a pale brown linen suit which I didn’t wish to embellish with food, I needn’t have worried as someone at a later event did the job for me by spilling (fortunately white) wine over my trousers. The other ingredients worked perfectly and offered a riot of textures and flavours to the taste buds. The smooth creaminess of the dressing contrasted with the sharpness of the pickle and the freshness of the lettuce. The bread was also crusty, adding yet another dimension.

Absurd, or Absurd Bird as it is referred to on its web address, is a great addition to the Trinity Kitchen dining scene offering, along with the subs, waffles, burgers, combo trays, salads wings etc. Vegans and vegetarians are catered for with the Birdless Burger and several sides. What with the great food and exemplary service, especially if you are a po’ old boy, to give it a miss would be, well, absurd.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 27th July, 2018

East 59th

What with one thing and another I have not done a Let’s Do Lunch for quite some time. As those of you who have been reading my articles for will know, I am asked cover the openings of new restaurants which is very nice but it means that the experience I am privileged to enjoy is not the same as that of a casual customer. I have no problem with this as I make it plain that this is the case, but my Let’s Do Lunch articles are different in that I call at premises incognito so that I can review an establishment through the eyes of a normal customer. I am given free rein so I can choose my own venues which I normally do about two minutes before my visit.

Such was the case this time as I was looking to visit a part of the City Centre which I had not frequented before, not easy when I have been writing this column for two and a half years. It then struck me that I had not been to the new Victoria Centre since it opened other than to review the casino during National Afternoon Tea Week (don’t ask!). I figured that it would be a good time to go as the dust has settled on the new development and so it is now fair game. I didn’t want to do a Let’s Do Lunch article before now as it would not have been fair; not fair on the restaurants as they are bound to have teething troubles and not fair on you, dear reader, as new businesses try a lot harder in the first few weeks of existence before they settle into the way they will be trading for the years to come. Anyway that is where I went.

There are several interesting places to eat at lunchtime but the one which caught my eye was East 59th which is an American style restaurant on the third floor and not that easy to locate. The menu outside looked promising with the half rack of ribs being particularly inviting. When I walked out of the lift I was welcomed to the premises by a lady behind the reception desk who escorted me to a table for one. I was then greeted by a waiter who not only gave me a copy of the menu I had seen outside but also an Express Menu which is available from Noon to 7.00pm Monday to Friday. Much as the ribs appealed they were not on the Express Menu so I thought that I should change my mind and order from that. This must be one of the best value lunch deals in Leeds as for £9.95 you choose one of the main courses on the special menu, a snack from the main menu, a choice of a 125ml glass of house wine, half a pint of Perone or a soft drink, and a take away brownie for afters.

For my main course I chose the Hot ‘n’ Sour Glazed Chicken Burger with guacamole, lettuce, red onion and sriracha in a brioche bun. The chicken did not come minced in a patty but was a piece of breast in batter and was absolutely perfectly cooked, being moist and succulent. It could easily have been bland as the avocado and lettuce hardly put up much of a fight in the taste game but the onion did its job and the sriracha gave the whole thing a hot kick up the brioche. For the accompanying snack I ordered the Perreroncini peppers stuffed with feta but I was told that they were not available. As nothing else in this part of the menu seemed to go with a burger I asked if I could have fries in lieu and this presented no problem. They came in a small metal bucket and were nicely crisp. The house wine I chose was a Nero d’Avola which was very palatable. What I liked about the wine list was that along with a glass and a bottle it was possible to buy a 37.5cl carafe which is great for lone diners and especially so in that most of the options were exactly half the price of a full bottle. I decided to have a black Americano coffee with my brownie which came wrapped in paper. Well, it was listed as being take away. In addition to its moist and chewy texture, there was a layer of chocolate on the brownie which made it feel very sinful.

So far so good, but when the bill arrived it was for over £20. The coffee was good but not worth the cost of the rest of the lunch. I pointed out to the waiter that I had been charged for the components individually rather than for the Express Menu deal. He apologised and returned shortly thereafter with a correct bill but minus the Americano which he said was on the house for the mistake. There was 10% service charge added which I had no problem in paying as it was exemplary. I have said many times before that it is easy to be good when everything goes well but it is how matters are handled when things go wrong which separate the wheat from the chaff, and in this case they could not have done any better.

I must say that I enjoyed my lunch at East 59th and, had the weather been a bit warmer, I would have enjoyed it even more as there is a roof terrace complete with dedicated bar where it would have been good to dine alfresco. On second thoughts, the illusion of dining in Manhattan may have been ruined had I eaten outside as there would have been no constant screaming of police sirens and car horns to accompany the food.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 8th October, 2018

Patty Smith’s

I have written previously that I am a lover of wordplay, especially in the names of businesses. I don’t know whether I am reading too much into the moniker of this week’s establishment but I believe that, apart from a sting in the tail, this is the best name I have ever come across. If I am correct it is named after the punk singer of the 1970’s, and thankfully still with us, Patti Smith. I base this on the fact that the eatery is located in the Belgrave Music Hall, a venue for progressive music, and it sells burgers. As you will know the word ‘patty’ is American for the disc of minced meat which is the basis of a burger and the word ‘smith’ is defined in the dictionary on my computer as ‘a person skilled in creating something with a specified material e.g. goldsmith, wordsmith.’ That would make an ace burger flipper a pattysmith. Brilliant! On the other hand I may be getting a bit too smart by half and it could just be named after someone called Patty Smith. The sting in the tail, however, is that the seminal album by Ms Smith the singer was entitled ‘Horses’, a little unfortunate given the meat scandal of a couple of years ago. I am not implying anything here, just saying.


As previously noted the eatery is in the Belgrave Music Hall, a large space filled with tables and chairs replete with a long bar down one side. At the end of the wall where the bar is situated is a small serving hatch where customers order and collect their food. At the other end of the room is a pizza oven run by The Dough Boys so the Music Hall at lunchtime is a bit like the food hall in a shopping centre. Food comes in take-away style containers from whichever outlet you choose and then you find somewhere to eat it. As it happens I didn’t opt for a traditional beef based burger but ordered from the brunch menu which I thought was more appropriate. The El Patty is chorizo, black pudding, fried runny egg, spinach and tomato jam in a toasted brioche bun. It was £4.00 and comes with a free coffee. Amazing value for money. Ordering from the main menu on a Friday also gives you a free side of chips. Fries Day, geddit? Another good pun from the management.


When I ordered I was informed that they had run out of spinach so I decided to go for the healthy option and do without. I accompanied it with a pleasant enough merlot at £4.30 for 250ml and consoled myself in the fact that the grapes in the wine would replace the one of my five-a-day lost with the spinach. The brioche and its contents were absolutely delicious, the combination of flavours and the texture a revelation. The spiciness of the chorizo, the creaminess of the egg and the unctuousness of the black pudding were offset by the sharpness of the tomato jam. The brioche was not too sweet either. What could have easily been a fairly standard breakfast sandwich was elevated to something special. A great four quid’s worth. The portion was also just the right size for lunch being filling but not sleep inducing should you have to go back to work. I have made a mental note to return to the Belgrave Music Hall and sample the wares of the Dough Boys, just as soon as I have worked out the pun.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 29th April, 2016