Gin and tonic at Old Tom's Gin Kitchen, Leeds

Review: Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen at The Hedonist Project

This is just going to be a short appreciation post about my new favourite haunt – The Hedonist Project’s latest incarnation, Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen. I love their idea of a ‘permanent pop-up’; a bar that always exists in the same place but can look completely different from one visit to the next, but their winter venture, a Whisky Parlour, was unavailable to me due to me really, really hating whisky. Gin, on the other hand, is my drink of choice, and I’m already hooked on Old Tom’s. Continue reading

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52 Books Reading Challenge: 3-Month Review

At the start of the year I was determined to kick start my reading habits, and set myself a challenge to read 52 books in 2016. Rather than being a target that I’ll race to hit, I’m treating the challenge as a way of reminding myself to always have a book on the go, and to read more widely.

As we reach the 3-month mark, I’m looking back at how I’m doing and what my favourite books have been. I’m currently 2 books behind schedule due to one long and challenging read, but I’m catching up fast and am feeling much better about the amount of time I’m committing to reading instead of aimlessly scrolling Twitter or watching Netflix. These are the books I’ve most enjoyed in the first 3 months. Continue reading

A Lunch Break at The Weather Cafe

This week, I had one of the most relaxing and therapeutic lunch hours of my life, returning to work so chilled out my colleagues were actually unnerved and cautiously asked if I was ok. So what had I been doing? Getting a massage? Smoking a joint? No – I’d spent my lunch at the Weather Cafe, a pop-up cafe/art installation on the Headrow.

The Weather Cafe, Leeds

Information about the Weather Cafe has been infuriatingly sparse until now, with press releases and the website putting out intriguing soundbites like ‘immersive experience’ and ’emotional climate of the city’ without really giving away any details. The cloak and dagger approach completely worked on me – I couldn’t wait to go along and see what it was all about. Continue reading

Bangkok Street Food Vibes at Zaap Thai

Leeds is a pretty good place to be a Thai food addict – there are so many fantastic restaurants both in Leeds city centre and in the surrounding suburbs that you could go out for Thai every night for several weeks and never visit the same place twice (or have a bad meal!). But out of all of them, Zaap Thai might just be my new undisputed favourite. After a fairly average first visit I gave the place a second chance and am so glad I did, because now the food seems to get better every time I visit. I particularly love their starters – so much so that I am now more likely to order a tapas-style banquet of chicken satay, fish cakes and dumplings for my meal instead of a main.

Chicken satay at Zaap Thai Leeds

However the food isn’t the only reason I love Zaap. For me the thing that really sets it apart is the decor and the atmosphere – as soon as I step through the door I feel like I’ve been transported back to my time in Bangkok, perching at a kerbside table with a curry and a beer that cost me less than £1, simultaneously disorientated and intoxicated by the choreographed chaos going on around me. Unfortunately the prices at Zaap aren’t quite as low, but they’re as good as you’ll get in Leeds and the rest of the experience is fairly close. Continue reading

Review: Ox Club, Leeds

I’m calling this a review, but in reality it’s basically a love letter to what has instantly become one of my favourite brunch spots in Leeds city centre. Ox Club in Headrow House has only been open a few months, but it’s already made a huge impression on the city, and on me! The food is delicious, the decor beautiful, and to be quite frank any place that has a dedicated brunch sitting that runs until 3.30pm deserves all the medals.

The first time I visited was during Ox Club’s first proper weekend, when they were very kindly offering 50% off to draw in the customers. The consequence, of course, was that it was crazy busy, and we were lucky to get a table. However the waitresses were friendly and immediately dropped off a bottle of water at our table before taking our drink orders. This is one of the only places I am happy to order tea; usually I’m a neurotic tea fiend who truly believes that only I can make a tea exactly the way I like it…but Ox Club do a really good cuppa.

Avocado on toast at Ox Club, Leeds Continue reading

The Adventure Film Festival in Leeds

On Friday night I was at the Carriageworks for the Leeds leg of the Adventure Film Festival,  a programme of some of the best adventure documentaries and shorts from the past year. I’d been excited about this for a while; even though I have very little interest in adrenalin sports per se, I love the raw emotion of watching people pushing their minds and bodies to their limits. There’s something really moving about someone committing themselves completely to the pursuit of a goal, even when the whole world thinks they’re insane and they don’t quite understand it themselves. Continue reading

Review: Archie’s Bar & Kitchen, Leeds

The latest addition to ever-expanding Granary Wharf is Archie’s Bar & Kitchen, a bizarre mix of VW camper vans and industrial decor in primary colours with an ‘under the sea’-themed dancefloor thrown in for good measure. I’ve been twice now, for weekend brunch and weekday night dinner, and for the life of me I can’t work out exactly what their deal is. That’s not to say I don’t like it – in fact I’m sure I’ll be returning again – but I’m pretty sure I’ll never get to the bottom of exactly what the decorators were going for. What’s life without a little mystery anyway?

I must admit I found the dinner menu to be slightly underwhelming – I think they were going for British classics crossed with the seaside, but I can’t be quite sure. I went for the brisket burger and it was nice, served with coleslaw and a generous helping of light, crispy chips, but if you’re craving a burger there are plenty of better options in Leeds. Apart from this, the party was already getting underway in the bar, making the dining experience a little loud.

But enough, negative, onto the brunch. Oh, the brunch. For a start it’s served until 2pm; I do love those non-judgemental restaurants that serve breakfast foods way into the afternoon. The restaurant was a little quiet when we arrived around midday but I think we were in the lull between breakfast and lunch as it soon got busy during our meal. We chose to sit at one of the high tables in the bar area, where food gets prepared in an adorable orange VW camper van.

VW camper van at Archie's, Leeds

The brunch menu covers pretty much anything you could want – breakfast and lunch foods, sweet and savoury. I have a real sweet tooth so I was ton between the banana pancakes and brioche toast with berries and pear. I opted for the pancakes which came in a stack of three with banana slices layered in the middle, drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with mascarpone and fruit.

Pancakes at Archie's, Leeds

The plate looked small when it arrived but trust me, it’s more than enough. The pancakes are light and fluffy but filling, and sweet enough that you can just about finish them, but probably wouldn’t want any more. And only £4 – bargain much?! I broke the sweetness up with a delicious fresh orange juice (and bits of sausage stolen off the boyf’s plate of cooked breakfast).

Fresh orange juice at Archie's, Leeds

The prices are good too – after 2 filling plates of food, a fresh orange and a mint tea the bill came in at just £18, and I stayed full for the whole day. A price I’m definitely willing to pay. Pretty sure I’ll be returning here to try out a few more delicious brunchy treats…