The Food Academy, Leeds

The Food Academy at Leeds City College’s Printworks Campus is a training restaurant providing commercial experience for students enrolled in the Catering and Hospitality courses at the college.

I’d never heard of it before, and was intrigued to see what it was like after being invited down for a bloggers event for the students to showcase their talent. The venue is lovely. There’s a proper restaurant, bar, cafe and deli on site, and the standards are high. We were served a four course meal, with students working both in the kitchen and front of house.

Veal & Goats Cheese Nugget

Veal & Goats Cheese Nugget

First up was a Veal and Goats Cheese Nugget served with pickled beetroot, cucumber, spring onion, and radish. The ingredient that made this course sing was the pickled beetroot. It took on the richness of the goats cheese perfectly.

Scallop

Scallop

Next up was a Saffron infused Scallop served with herb soup, salmon roe and wasabi pea. The scallop was amazingly well cooked (and I’m a harsh judge as scallops are one my all time favourite foods), and the salmon roe added a fresh, strong fish flavour to the dish.

Plate of Pork

Plate of Pork

The main course was named a Plate of Pork, and what a plate it was; Black pudding & chilli crusted pork fillet, slow braised belly and pomme puree. All of this was bursting with flavour and the gravy brought it all together perfectly. It was brilliant. The pork loin was tender and the braised belly had a tasty crust. Also, the fat had been cooked out well, so it wasn’t too rich but remained moist.

Chocolate & Coconut Torte

Chocolate & Coconut Torte

We finished with a Chocolate & Coconut Torte, with coconut shavings, blackberry sorbet and torched meringues. The coconut lightened the dish so it wasn’t heavy at all, and the sorbet was strong with blackberries, though it could have potentially had a bit more acidity in it.

The meal was served up in such a professional manner and it all ran like clockwork. One of my favourite parts of the evening was seeing the chefs come out at the end so that we could meet them and thank them for the meal. They all looked so happy, and rightly so; they did an incredible job.

On leaving we were given a goody bag, with these delights in it:

It’s great to see the new talent emerging from The Food Academy, and the set up is really impressive. You can book into the restaurant, or for something less formal, pop in to the on-site Deli. On Fridays there is a full Butchers shop service there too.

Cafe area

Cafe area

The Food Academy is a great venue, doing some brilliant work with new talent in Leeds. Get down there and support them when you can, please.

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Bill’s, Leeds

Last week Bill’s had a party to launch it’s new summer menu. Bill’s is in a handy central location (Albion Place) and the building is gorgeous; old, big, decadent… The decor within is quite confused though. It’s kind of industrial (metal vents rigged all over the ceiling), shabby chic with it’s wooden flooring and furniture, and then kind of glitzy too, with chandelier style lights beside the tables…?

Glitzu glamour

Glitzy glamour

 

Anyhow, the food itself was great. We tried out the bruschetta, which is a simple dish but one of my all time favourites, and they use different colours / kinds of tomato making it really well flavoured.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

The crab falafels were delicious (though I couldn’t taste much crab, if I’m honest) but my favourite was the chargrilled paprika and lemon chicken. I could have eaten a whole bucket of this without getting bored. It’s spicy, but the lemon makes it fresh too. A big hit.

Crab Falafel

Crab Falafel

The cocktails were good too. The English Country Garden cocktail (elderflower gin, wild elderflower cordial, lime juice, apple juice, cucumber) is beautifully presented, and the flavours are great. I think someone added an extra splash of cordial to mine, which made it a bit sweet, but I think it was accidental.

English Country Garden

English Country Garden

My favourite thing of the whole evening was The Bee’s Knees; Bill’s London Dry Gin, honey and lemon juice, topped with Bill’s pink lemonade. It’s completely delicious and just like drinking a lemon sherbet. It’s sweet, but sharp and zingy too – perfect for the summer months. Another great thing about this drink is that Bill’s have teamed up with Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, to highlight the role of bees in feeding the planet. With every Bee’s Knees cocktail sold, 25p goes to Kew Science to help them research the plight of the honey bee.

The Bee's Knees

The Bee’s Knees

We finished off our evening with a large slab of cake and the tiniest scones I’ve ever seen. The polarity of scale here was hilarious!

CAKE and teeny scones

CAKE and teeny scones

I had a great evening at Bill’s. There was good food and drink and the new elements to the menu certainly had a fun summer vibe to them.

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Afternoon Tea Aboard The Countess of York

The Countess of York is found within The National Railway Museum (in York). The elegantly restored railway carriages are available for people to dine in splendour, and my friend Lorna and I boarded the train for Champagne Afternoon Tea.

The Countess of York

The Countess of York

First, we were given an extensive menu of teas to choose from. However, I’m a simple girl when it comes to tea and without hesitation, I’ll always choose Breakfast Tea. The tea sets are completely gorgeous. Silver tea pots, and hot water pots, along with dainty china tea cups and sugar bowls are laid out with precision. All the tea paraphernalia is there, ready and waiting for you to go through the intricate ceremonies of creating your perfect cup of tea.

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The Food

Shortly after the tea, our tower of food arrived (and not before time, we had both arrived super hungry). The portions were generous; a selection of sandwiches, quiche, scones, as well as numerous sweet treats to top it all off.

Sandwiches and quiche

Sandwiches and quiche

The finger sandwiches were delicious. My favourite was the chicken, as it was full of flavour and delicately created. I think there was a hint of lemon in the mayonnaise, which lightened the whole thing.

Scones and questionable cream

Scones and questionable cream

The scones were nice, and the jam was vibrant and fruity. However, we were told that they came with clotted cream and Lorna (being a clotted cream connoisseur) quickly spotted that it wasn’t. (The cream was ok, but it had been over whipped and I couldn’t taste the vanilla that it was meant to be flavoured with.)

Completely delicious

Completely delicious

We then moved up to the plate of delights waiting on the top of the stand, and how completely spoilt we were with this. There were strawberry and crème patissière tarts, white chocolate and raspberry eclairs, slices of lemon and blueberry drizzle cake, passion fruit possets AND macarons. Good grief.

My favourite sweet treat was the chocolate macaron. It was chewy, delicate, and really well flavoured with chocolate. The lemon and blueberry cake was stunning too, and the strawberry tarts were as tasty as they were beautiful.

Champagne!

Champagne!

We took our time working our way through all of this, and had a break to enjoy the cold and refreshing Champagne. We sat, nattered and supped our bubbles out of elegant, pretty glasses.

The Countess of York is a beautiful and unique place to enjoy afternoon tea, and we had a fantastic time. There’s so much attention to detail within the carriages, and everything is made of really high quality.

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Excellent HAT

I love the old pictures on the walls, including people dining on trains, and train station tea stalls etc. The management clearly cares about the setting, and have created a gorgeous place space to spend the afternoon.

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The Spring Menu at Iberica, Leeds

I went to Iberica’s launch event recently, which was completely amazing, and so when I was invited back I was delighted. This time it was for a special bloggers’ event to sample the new dishes that have been introduced to the menu for spring. Every few months, head chef Cesar Garcia goes out to Spain to research food and get inspired by new dishes. On his return, he creates new plates of food, which are all tested by a panel. The panel then choose their favourite dishes, and these favourites then make it on to Iberica’s menu.

Our tasting menu

Our tasting menu

We were hosted upstairs in Iberica’s beautiful private dining room. The space is glowing with glamour, decadence and character (and gorgeous wooden tables). I love that the large portraits on the walls reveal that this venue doesn’t take itself too seriously though, and that it’s focus always remains on food.

A candlelit portrait. With celery.

A candlelit portrait. With celery.

We started our evening with a glass of bubbles, from the beautifully colourful bottle of Vilarnau Cava. It was refreshing, flavoursome and very drinkable. Out came a trio of meats alongside boards of cured Iberian acorn-fed “Presa” (Lomito de Bellota). These were high quality, well-flavoured and textured meats. The the pork loin (“Presa”) was dark in colour and looked as if it might be tough, but it was the complete opposite. It was amazingly tender, whilst being strong in flavour. I loved it.

Meats and tomato toast

Meats and tomato toast

Alongside the meats was one of my most favourite Spanish dishes; toasted bread with tomatoes. It’s so simple and basic, but when done right, it’s utterly delicious. Iberica, of course, knows exactly what it’s doing and uses only the best ingredients, so this dish was perfect.

Next up was a real treat: Red berries gazpacho from Mercatbar, by world-renowned and Michelin starred chef, Quique Dacosta. This dish is insanely good. There’s a collection of delicately plated berries, vegetables, flowers, herbs and oils that is served up to you, and then the dazzlingly red gazpacho is poured in.

Red berries gazpacho

Red berries gazpacho

Each and every mouthful of this dish tastes different, and they are all packed with intense and fresh flavours. It’s so impressive. Iberica Leeds has this dish on its menu in honour of Quique Dacosta (who was part of their Nacho & Friends event), but it’s only available until the end of June, so I urge you to go down there and try it. Quick – go!

Cauliflower tempura

Cauliflower tempura

Other dishes that we sampled included Asparagus toast, which, like the tomato toast, appears simple, but is packed with flavour. Cauliflower tempura was a first for me, but I’ll certainly go back for it. There was also hake, with hollandaise sauce and lettuce water. The fish was very delicately cooked, in fact, it was just cooked, which made it immensely soft. A beautiful dish.

Octopus a la Gallega

Octopus a la Gallega

One of my other favourites of the night was the Iberica octopus a la gallega: Galician style octopus with potatoes and pimento de la Vera (paprika). The octopus is boiled before being flash grilled. It’s soft, dense and the flash cooking gives it a wonderful hint of smoke.

Fideua with garlic and prawns

Fideua with garlic and prawns

I also loved the Fideua with garlic and prawns, which is a classic seafood dish originating from Valencia. It’s like a paella, but made with pasta instead of rice. There was a very pleasing amount of garlic in there, and they squeeze the juices from prawn heads in to the sauce too, making it rich with flavour.

At this point of the evening, I had to leave for another event – COMPLETELY GUTTED – but I left my tasting partner to try out the desserts for me. The Caramelised Spanish rice pudding was a big hit with everyone there, as was the Gloria cheesecake, which is served with parmesan and dried strawberries. (That sounds so strange that I might have to go back to sample it.)

Gloria Cheesecake

Gloria Cheesecake

I had such a great evening at Iberica. The staff were brilliant – friendly, knowledgeable and so welcoming – and the company was fantastic too. If you haven’t tried Iberica in Leeds, I recommend that you do. It’s a beautiful venue, serving amazing food, and I love that there’s somewhere in Leeds that has so much fresh seafood and fish on the menu. Iberica is a place that makes me feel like I’m on holiday, and you can’t really get better than that I don’t think.

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Pirate Cove Adventure Golf, Doncaster

I’ve always loved playing adventure golf. The grown up game is far too long and serious for the likes of me, and adventure golf has the perfect amount of silliness to it. When visiting Pirate Cove Adventure Golf, I discovered that the game is just as much fun as an adult, especially at a centre that has been set up with so much thought and detail as this one has.

Ship deck

Ship deck

You enter through a large pirate ship deck, and after you complete the first hole, you cross the water on a raft.

A RAFT. Need I say more?

They're off

They’re off

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HEAVE!

It’s just so much fun. Emilia and her friend Stuee loved hauling themselves across the water to the other side.

Stuee got in trouble

Stuee got in trouble

So much effort has gone into the creation of this place that it’s genuinely exciting to work your way around and discover everything that’s there. (Like a pirate passed out in a hammock, for example.) The course has easy ways to tackle each hole as well as trickier options for older children and adults.

This Pirate might have been on the rum

This Pirate might have been on the rum

Our favourite hole was the snake one. You have to hit the ball hard into its mouth so that it can work its way through the snake and come out of the tail end. Emilia did this over and over again, because she found it so hilarious.

The Ssssnake

The Ssssnake

A happy adventurer

A happy adventurer

After our sea faring golf adventures, we were hungry. Lucky for us the cafe at the golf club provides well-priced, delicious food, which is all served up with a smile. It’s great value for money there. Sandwiches are about £3.50 and come with a big side salad and coleslaw. I opted for the bacon butty and the bacon was cooked just right for me – nice and crispy, but not dried out, and no flab in sight.

The puddings were a real treat too. Stuee’s Strawberry Sundae was bigger than his head.

Strawberry Sundae

Strawberry Sundae

We had a fantastic time at Pirate Cove Adventure Golf. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a trek from Leeds (about an hour’s drive) but with the cafe being available too it made a great day out for us, and was definitely worth the journey.

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Grill Like a Gaucho, in Leeds

When asked if I’d like to attend a cooking masterclass at Gaucho, my answer was “HELL YES”. I’d never been to Gaucho before, but I’d heard many things about the amazing steaks on offer there, and any cooking masterclass is right up my street.

Gaucho is an Argentine restaurant that has spread worldwide, and is famous for serving the most incredible steaks. It is a brand that cares deeply about where it’s meat comes from; all the beef served in the restaurants comes from Gaucho’s very own farms in Argentina. The Aberdeen Angus-bred cows are grass-fed, free to roam and are moved around by traditional Gauchos on horseback.

Fernando

Fernando

Once we arrived at Gaucho, we were led into their VIP room and greeted by Gaucho’s beef guru, Fernando Larroude. He trains all the chefs of the company about the background and history of Gaucho, and all about the preparation and cooking techniques for the beef. Fernando talked to us about the long history of Gaucho, it’s Argentine traditions, the rearing of the cattle, and the butchering of the meat. He then revealed a kind of steak carcass to us, before talking us through it (stop looking now if you’re squeamish about where your meat comes from. Try not to be though – know what you’re eating!).

Steak carcass!

Steak carcass!

All the cuts of steak were laid out in the order that you’d find them in the cow. This is really interesting as it explains why some of them are leaner, whilst others have more flavour, or are more tender etc. For example, the ever-popular (and expensive) fillet steak is lean and tender because it’s a muscle that’s rarely used. However, this also means that it lacks flavour, comparatively.

Steak prep

Steak prep

Fernando prepared each cut of steak in front of us, with deft flicks of his knife. Did you know there were two different types of rump steak? There’s rump, and also rump cap, which sits on top of it. We tried raw slithers of the rump steak (which is very tender and full of flavour) with a smattering of chimichurri on it – completely delicious.

Rump steak & chimichurri

Rump steak & chimichurri

Once the steaks were prepped for cooking, we were tasked with making our very own chimichurri. This is one of my favourite sauces, mainly because it’s made of many of my favourite ingredients.

Chimichurri prep

Chimichurri prep

Here’s the recipe:

  • Finely chopped parsley
  • Finely chopped garlic
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Finely chopped red pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Chilli flakes
  • Salt & pepper

Add some of each, then taste and adjust accordingly. It needs more oil than you’d imagine, so don’t hold back.

I'm cheffing

I’m busy ‘cheffing’

After our creations were tested (mine needed more sherry vinegar) we were led through to the grill. And this was a *GRILL*. Super big, and insanely hot.

THE grill

THE grill

Fernando got the steaks sizzling, seasoned with beef fat and plenty of salt. Each cut was cooked medium rare, which is perfect for me. Look at the beef!!!

BEEF

BEEF

We went back and sampled all of them, along with a rather delicious glass of red wine. I’d never tried a the skirt or flank cuts of beef before, but these were two of my favourites, as they were completely packed with flavour. (They’re relatively cheap to buy, as they’re not as fashionable as the others.) Whilst rib-eye remains my favourite cut of steak, my eyes have been opened up to the variety of cuts available, and I’ll definitely be mixing it up from here on in.

Gaucho Anywhere

Gaucho Anywhere

We were given a sirloin steak to take home with our chimichurri. You’d think after all that beef, we’d have had enough, but no! We fried it up for tea, using the excellent cooking tips from Fernando, and it was delicious. Thank you, Gaucho!

Our sirloin steak

Our sirloin steak

Our littlest steak fan

Our littlest steak fan

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Geronimo Festival; a fun day out for none of the family

We’d been excited about Geronimo Festival. Giddy even. Geronimo promised to be a family festival full of Cbeebies stars, and jam-packed with fun things for children from 2-12 years old. Sadly, it was a complete farce and we were fully let down.

I got a sinking feeling as we were sent around the houses to even get in to the festival at Harewood House. After finally entering the estate, we then spent another whole hour queueing on a single track whilst the petrol tank emptied itself and the warning light flashed at me ominously. The kids moaned, the car groaned, and spluttered a bit, and on and on we sat… tick tock, tick tock. “When are we there, Mummy?”. “I have no flipping idea, Emilia…”

FINALLY, we approached the parking area. Two non-plussed individuals got entirely confused about what we were asking them (we had tickets waiting – I was lucky enough to get a press pass for the event). This seemed too much information so eventually they just told us to go through, but they had no idea where we should get our tickets from.

We parked up, and waded through the masses of families, who were (guess what?) queueing again. Finally, we found the ticket desk, got our wristbands and entered the festival feeling somewhat worn down, but still eager and excited. More fool us.

Geronimo Festival

Geronimo Festival

There were random tents all over the place, a central arena (with nothing happening in it), and it all looked a little bit lack lustre and small scale. We were trying to get to the main stage in time to see Cook and Line from Swashbuckle (a firm favourite in our house), but there were no maps, no directions, nothing. Just hoards of people bumping into each other, queueing randomly for who knows what, and all looking a bit cross. It was a family festival, and no one was having any fun.

The stage - taken standing on a bench, with a long lens

The stage – taken standing on a bench, with a long lens

Finally we found the stage and once again, we were disappointed. The scale was completely wrong for the size of the event and for the number of people that were there. The stage was tiny, it was low down and there were no screens, which meant that nobody could see anything at all. Kids were on parents shoulders craning to see, and parents grimaced whilst staring at the ground, counting the minutes until it was done.

Emilia

Emilia

Giving up on the stage, we headed to the rides area. The queue for the Helter Skelter was insane – I heard people had waited for over an hour there. We headed to the Merry-Go-Round, but there was very little merry making. As it slowed to a halt, parents fought to get their tots on horses, pushing others out the way. Emilia and I got stuck, without a horse, and on the high up, wet, steep and narrow steps, and needed a stranger’s help to get us down. It was unsafe, and there was no one there to take control.

Merry Go Round of doom

Merry Go Round of Doom

Feeling cold and miserable and seeing nothing but queues, we decided to save our Sunday and leave.

See that queue at the back, going round? That's half of the Helter Skelter queue

See that queue at the back, going round? That’s half of the Helter Skelter queue

I have never been to such a large scale event that has been so poorly organised. Lucky dip tents all over the place, no maps, no information, insane queues, safety issues, a stage you can’t see, events running late, and misery, everywhere. It’s as if the masses of people were a surprise to the organisers.

On top of all that, it’s such a ruddy expensive event to go to. Luckily I had a pass, but other families will have saved up for this only to have had a terrible experience that gave no value for money. Children came to see their heroes – the stars of CBeebies – and they just couldn’t see a thing. I saw so many disappointed faces, and it’s such a shame.

Geronimo Festival is a thoroughly disappointing experience; it’s poorly organised and shows a complete inability to deliver an event to the scale that was promised.

I contacted the organisers for a comment, and this is their response:

We are aware there were issues with the traffic management getting into Harewood House and this is being addressed ahead of tomorrow’s event. All large scale events experience traffic and delays, and we did open the carpark at 9am to help ease congestion but we know how frustrating this is, especially when travelling with young children.  We delayed the live stage shows by 30 minutes to ensure more people had been able to get in and extended our opening times to 6.30pm.  Unfortunately, several food vendors let us down and decided to not turn up for the festival, which did have an impact on queues during the busy lunch time period.  The terrible weather also impacted on the smooth running of the event, the mobile screen for the live stage, for example could not be installed.

Were you at the festival? What are your thoughts, and is the above response by management enough? Please comment below.

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Leeds Chocolatier on Bake Off Creme de la Creme

I watched the first couple of episodes of BBC 2’s Bake Off Creme de la Creme, and I wasn’t particularly enamoured by it. It’s all very uneasy, jilted and definitely lacking the comfort and charm of the original format. (WHERE ARE MEL AND SUE?!) Also, it has the most unfathomable scoring system ever, and no one gets many points from the snooty, and joyless judges, whatever they do.

BUT, I just discovered that Leeds’ own Stephen Trigg of Lauden Chocolate is going to be heading up a team on the show tonight. You will have seen Stephen’s beautiful chocolate creations at the many food events and farmers markets around Leeds. The chocolates are like mini edible works of art; they’re completely stunning.

Stephen started Lauden Chocolate with his wife, Sun, in 2008. They made the chocolates in their apartment, whilst also working other jobs. The company has certainly come a long way – Lauden now supplies British Airway’s first class cabins, and has many other impressive contracts, which they fulfil from their factory in Kirkstall.

Stephen and Sun

Stephen and Sun

Lauden Chocolate is grown up chocolate; it’s like the fine dining world of confectionery. It will be interesting to see how the judges react to Stephen’s creations on Bake Off Creme de la Creme, and if he uses any of the popular flavours and techniques from Lauden Chocolate (their Passion Fruit chocolate make is sublime).

Stephen’s team mates are Crafthouse’s Stefan Rose, and Michelin Star Pastry Chef, Nelson Barros. Let’s hope those judges crack a smile for them…

Stephen and the team

Stephen and the team

Bake Off Creme de la Creme is aired on Tuesday 26th April, on BBC 2 at 8pm and the team are hoping the city will get behind them on social media to showcase Leeds as a centre of culinary excellence with #teamleeds #cremedelacreme and #GBBOCreme.

I’m going to tune in to support this great Leeds producer of chocolate delights. I hope you will too? #TeamLeeds

Supporters tagging @LaudenChocolate will also have the chance to win a 121 chocolate making workshop with Stephen at Lauden’s Leeds factory.

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The Real Junk Food Project Opens in Horsforth, Leeds

The Real Junk Food Project is a network of ‘pay as you feel’ cafes dedicated to feeding bellies, not bins. They divert food that would otherwise be destined for waste, and use it to create delicious and healthy meals. Its three main aims are:

  • to reduce food waste
  • to reduce food poverty
  • to build community

Horsforth launched its own Real Junk Food Cafe at St Margarets Parish Centre today, and Robin and I stopped by to see what it was all about. Emma Mawer, who’s managing the cafe, was busy in the kitchen preparing meals out of the random selection of food she received this morning; it’s like a large scale Ready Steady Cook challenge. This is what she had to work with today:

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DSC_0595 (1)

This is her resulting menu:

  • Chicken Fajita or Venison Pate Sandwiches
  • Tuna and pesto lasagne
  • Vegetable frittata
  • Fruit and meringue
  • Assorted cakes
  • Bread & butter pudding

We couldn’t stay for lunch, but had a lovely cuppa, and a good chat with other local people who had popped in.

One of Horforth Cafe's first guests

One of Horforth Cafe’s first guests

Emma is running the Horsforth Cafe every second Monday until July (dates below), 10am – 2pm. If you would like to volunteer to help out at the cafe, please contact Emma directly: emma@cafe.allhallowsleeds.org.uk

Emma Mawer

Emma Mawer

Horsforth Cafe dates:
Monday 25th April
Monday 9th May
Monday 23rd May
Monday 6th June
Monday 20th June
Saturday 2nd July (walk of art)
Monday 4th July
Monday 18th July

Please go along and support this great project in Horsforth. If you could spread the word, that would be brilliant as well.

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Iberica, Leeds

Iberica is a new Spanish restaurant in Leeds, and it’s a truly special place to visit. Ascending the stone steps, you enter the foyer with it’s glittering chandeliers, before stepping into a truly beautiful dining hall. It’s like stepping into a decadent bygone era, almost like the 1920s. It’s glamorous, but there are details that make it also granny chic (and I mean that in the nicest of ways) such as the enormous lampshades above each of the booth tables. It’s truly stunning; the owners clearly care a lot about the venue they’ve created.

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Light and wall detailing in the main dining hall

I couldn’t quite capture the whole room as it was packed with people dining, and with waiting staff milling back and forth, so this following picture is from Iberica’s website:

This image is from http://www.ibericarestaurants.com/

This image is from http://www.ibericarestaurants.com/

The bar area is sublime too. It’s cosy, and warm, but stylish too, in a classic way. I’d like to sit in one of their armchairs on an evening to natter and drink whisky awhile…

The Bar

The Bar

The staff are attentive in that incredibly professional way; they know exactly what you need, when you need it, without being at all intrusive. Our waiter helped us choose from the menu, and we started with a platter of meats and cheeses that have come from Iberica’s very own deli, found below stairs.

Meats and cheeses

Meats and cheeses

Next up, my friends and I devoured plate after plate of delicious tapas dishes, and we also shared a couple of the mains dishes, for good measure. There was so much food that I can’t mention it all, but our highlights include the following:

We ordered the calamari as it’s a firm favourite of many of us, and it’s very hard for busy restaurants to get right, so it was a bit of a test. BUT, Iberica got it spot on – it was perfect.

Calamari

Fried fresh squid with alioli sauce

The asparagus toast was Lorna’s firm favourite, and deservedly so. It comes with manchego cheese, onion confit and truffle oil. A beautiful dish.

Asparagus toast

Asparagus toast

My friend Liz and I haven’t ever seen razor clams on a menu outside of Spain, so we made the most of these delicious beauties.

Sautéed razor clams

Sautéed razor clams

The hake dish looks simple, and the menu description doesn’t give much away, but it’s stunning. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the sauce matched it well, without taking over in flavour. If you’re thinking of ordering it, DO.

Hake with green sauce

Hake with green sauce

Liz finished her meal with the gently spiced Spanish rice pudding, and loved every mouthful of it.

Caramelised Spanish rice pudding

Caramelised Spanish rice pudding

Jen opted for the textures of chocolate. If you’re a chocolate lover, this one’s for you. Very rich, and very indulgent.

Textures of chocolate

Textures of chocolate

After our completely delicious dinner, we were invited downstairs to the deli and wine bar. This area has an entirely different feel to it. It’s much more rustic and homely, and it has a magnificent deli store within the old lift.

Deli shop, in a lift

Goods Lift Only – hah!

The Master Carver (there’s a Master Carver!) brought us a plate of meats, and also some cheese, to sample alongside glasses of sherry. If you’re in any doubt about what to order, ask the staff. They’re so knowledgable about the food and drink they serve, and they can match your preferences perfectly.

Downstairs Deli

Downstairs Deli

We had an amazing evening at Iberica. Fantastic company was equally matched with amazing food and wine from the generous and charming people at Iberica. The building and decor are completely stunning. It’s very sophisticated, but also has a happy charm about it; there are certainly no stiff upper lips.

I haven’t even mentioned the toilets, and they are a reason to visit all on their own. I shall leave that as a little surprise for you…

Iberica is a must for all the food and drink lovers of Leeds. Go! Go, and enjoy.

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