Eat Your Greens

https://www.eatyourgreensleeds.co.uk/

In the words of another grumpy old man, ‘I don’t believe it!’  I have battled my way through countless vegan and vegetarian meals and one of the best I have had so far is here at Eat Your Greens, which is not a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.

I will repeat that:  Eat Your Greens is NOT a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.  They cater for everyone.  I promised Oliver, the chap who was running the place when I called, that I would make that perfectly clear. It has to be said that the menu is heavily skewed towards plant-based food, but there was chicken, fish, and even wood pigeon on the menu.

The reason I called was that I wanted to balance my reviews and so needed to go meat-free for a change.  I now know how vegetarians must have felt in days of yore when dining out with omnivores, but the choices I was given far outshone some of the reverse offerings.  I remember in the sixties, if you were a veggie you were given the roast beef and two veg but without the beef, or gravy!  The first ever vegetarian eatery I remember was called Cranks, the irony of which speaks for itself.  As I was here and the menu looked interesting, I thought that I would give Vejuneuary a try.

The next thing which needs to be said is that the meals on the menu are not imitation meat dishes but have been assembled to make use of the great flavours which vegetables have to offer.  When I go for a beer I want a properly brewed one and not an alcohol free version. I don’t want a glass of Ribena with vodka when I order red wine, so why do very competent chefs spend hours doing experiments with jack fruit and whip up the juice from cans of chickpeas to make pretend junk food?  Not only do they not taste remotely of the real thing but I am also sure that they put people off becoming vegan if that is all there is on offer.  Would anyone swap a proper veggie diet to live on Big Macs or chicken nuggets?  I wouldn’t.

When I arrived I noticed that there were quite a lot of people still there; it was the fag end of lunchtime, but the layout of the place with the bar being an island in the middle, breaks up the space, so it seemed quite empty.  I took my seat and was brought a set of menus.  I normally buy from the lunch specials, but as there was only a choice of three sandwiches I ordered from the Big Plates section of the main bill of fare which looked a lot more interesting. The menu obviously changes with availability as Jersey Royals were included on one dish and they have a very limited season.  Eventually, I decided on Black Pepper Swede, described as Fried black pepper, swede and pea flour bake, wholegrain quinoa pilaf with chilli, mixed seasonal greens and house kimchi, £10.

A very pleasant waitress brought me a carafe of water and a glass without having to be asked, and took my order for the food and a glass of red house wine, a Tempranillo at £4.50 for 125ml.  A short time later the goodies appeared. The cubes of swede were golden brown, crisp on the outside but fluffy in the middle, just like the best roasties you have ever had.  They were also very hot, so I worked my way around the rest of the components to let them cool down a bit.  The mixed seasonal greens were kale and small onions.  The texture of the kale was so much different from the swede, having cooked but still crunchy stalks and soft wilted leaves.  The quinoa grain was still whole grain, which again gave it some resistance to the tooth – did I just write that?  Finally, the kimchi was taking no prisoners whatsoever, having a kick like a mule but a very refreshing one, cutting through the warm comfort of the rest.  The whole balance was brilliant.  The wine was very smooth – I am a fan of the tempranillo grape but it’s not often you get an Austrian example like this Wagram Zweigelt and, even rarer, an organic version coming in a bag.

For dessert I chose one scoop of rhubarb sorbet for £2 (3 scoops are £5) which was not totally smooth but had some larger ice crystals to give it texture and interest.  The rhubarb certainly came bursting through. A black Americano for £2.20 arrived in a large mug, which gave me a chance to sit and reflect on the wonderful things which can be created from vegetables when you have the flair and imagination to use them as they were meant to be.  A further side-effect of this was that my appetite was satisfied but I didn’t feel as though I had eaten a ton of stodge.

If you should pay a visit to this place, and why wouldn’t you, then try something a bit different, but if you do decide on the meat or fish, don’t forget to eat your greens.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 9th June, 2019

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Bundobust

What a difference a day makes. I have been meaning to eat here for some time as I have heard lots of good things about it. Normally I dine out on Fridays and every time I have tried to call the place has looked rammed so I have found somewhere else to sample.

I always feel guilty about eating lunch in establishments which are full to bursting as I think that I am depriving some hardworking Leodian of their midday feed. This week I was in Leeds on Thursday so I decided to take advantage of the change and try my luck again. Bingo! I arrived shortly after noon and found plenty of spare seats. To be fair, the layout of the room is such that there may have been vacant tables on my previous calls and it just might have looked as though it was full. There are a few tables in the entrance area and then a couple of steps at the top of which is a long room with ample tables and chairs. When I arrived there was a party of about a dozen chaps enjoying a very congenial lunch break. As well as being purveyors of Indian street food, Bundobust also sells a large selection of beers. There was one hand pump on the bar and several keg dispensers. Under normal circumstances I would have been beside myself with grief at this discovery as I had just picked up a prescription for some pills to combat an ear infection and the directions for use warned that when it came to alcohol I would suffer almost certain death should I get so much as even a whiff of the bar maid’s pinnie. As this is an Indian eatery I was happy to partake of the mango lassi at £2.70 instead. The drink itself was wonderful but there was a twist in that, sprinkled on top, was a mixture of seeds and those tiny candy coated liquorice sweets which you normally pig out on from a dish at the till when you are waiting for your credit card to be declined in the posh Asian restaurants. As you can see from the photograph I had taken a sly slurp before the glass and I had arrived at the table. Luckily the straw provided is of wide enough a bore to handle the flotsam which enhances the flavour to an amazing degree.

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The idea here is that you order your food and drink at the bar and you are served the latter immediately along with a numbered card and the former is delivered to your table when ready. Pretty sophisticated for street food. I was once again faced with a delicious looking menu but, as there was a special lunch section, I felt beholden to order from that. It is a bargain at £7.00 for two dishes. There is a limited choice in that you can have one item from a selection of three and a further dish from a second list of three. When I review places which are a bit out of the ordinary I am faced with a decision as to whether I go for something I know so that I can draw a comparison or something I have never had before to see what it is like. Today I took a leap in the dark and ordered Bhel Puri and Egg Bhurji. There is no description of the dishes on the lunch section of the menu but they are on the main menu where there is. The Bhel Puri is ‘Samosa pastry, puffed rice, turmeric noodles, red onion, tomato and tamarind chutney, served cold’. The whole melange arrived in a tub with the majority of the ingredients being crispy which made it into a kind of up-market Bombay mix. It was very pleasant but did get a bit boring towards the end.

I am assuming that the chutney was either incorporated into the tub or not part of the lunch deal. The Egg Bhurji is ‘Indian scrambled eggs cooked with peppers, chilli, cumin and ground coriander. Served with a soft Indian flatbread’. I must say that I really enjoyed this tub. The eggs were scrambled to the ‘well done’ stage rather than a soft scramble and the added spices gave the dish a pleasant kick. The flatbread was wonderful and soft being perfectly cooked and of a melt in the mouth consistency.

I would be happy to recommend Bundobust to anyone wanting a reasonably priced meal at lunchtime. Two courses and a drink for under a tenner is pretty good for Leeds, but the lunch deal option is so limited that I would suggest they push the boat out and order from the main body. Hopefully they would not be on medication so could have a couple of beers before they chose, after which who cares as to how much you are spending anyway.

Article first published by Leeds Living on 25th August, 2016