The Deer Park, Roundhay Review

A couple of weeks ago we decided to venture through the snow to try out The Deer Park’s new menu. We’re regular visitors as it’s our local, and the food has always been really nice, I especially recommend their Sunday roasts! They recently added a handful of new dishes to expand their menu and we couldn’t resist going to try.

I started with the kiln-smoked salmon tacos. The portion was just right with two tacos served in those handy taco holders. They looked great, with sour cream, pickled beetroot and peppers, but they were unfortunately fridge-cold. This really affected the taste as you couldn’t really get any of the flavours, except the beetroot which was sweet and delicious. I think these could have been really nice if they were served room temperature or even slightly warm.

Gary had the lobster and king prawn pot which was really good! Served as a mousse, it a lovely texture accompanied with gorgeous crunchy ciabatta toast. Yum. I definitely had food envy!

For mains, they didn’t have the chicken pie I’d ordered (though they explained the snow had affected their deliveries) which I was really sad about because who doesn’t want pie when it’s snowing outside?? I opted instead for the chargrilled lamb and balsamic kebabs, with chips instead of the couscous salad. The lamb kebabs were really well seasoned with a slight hint of spice, though they were a little bit on the oily side.

Gary went for the roasted pork belly which came with scallops and dauphinoise potatoes, and a rich jus . I’m not a fan of pork belly, but did try a little bit in the interests of the review. It was really tender and the jus was full of flavour.

Pudding was the real star of the show, we chose to share the the Dulce de Leche lava fondant served with peanut butter brittle and praline ice cream. The fondant oozed beautiful Dulce de Leche, we found ourselves spoon battling for the last bite. It was one of the best puddings I’ve ever had!

Overall the new Deer Park menu is good and service was excellent as always. There’s a lot more to choose from now and some really nice sounding dishes that we didn’t try such as the buttermilk chicken and a pan fried seabass, and of course the pie that my heart was set on! I’m sure we’ll be back again to sample some more dishes soon.

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Fanoosh The Indian, Street Lane, Leeds Review

This place used to be an only ok Turkish restaurant called Istanbul Mezze, which shut down in the summer and has now reopened as Fanoosh. I’m pretty excited about it as Street Lane has a severe lacking in Indian restaurants, and it’s great to be able to go out for one rather than order in.

We visited one busy Saturday night and were glad that we’d called ahead to book, at one point all the tables were full! The decor is pretty nice, a bit extravagant but matches the name as we learnt ‘fanoosh’ means chandelier or lantern in Urdu.

We went for poppadoms first with dips, which were pretty standard and tasty. Then we had the Chicken Tikki Kebab which was minced, spiced chicken shaped into little patties. They were REALLY nice, sort of crispy with soft juicy centre, though two between us felt a bit mean portion wise and we wished we’d ordered more.


For mains we shared the Lamb Karahi and the Chicken Haandi, plus rice and garlic naan. The chicken was described as the ultimate ‘comfort dish’ and it really was the star of the show. It was served on the bone and covered in a gorgeous thick ‘spicy shorba’ sauce. The lamb was falling apart into a blend of tomato, curry, garlic and coriander. Both dishes were really good but again the portions weren’t huge, and we were glad we’d gone for double carb. I could also have maybe done with some raita or yoghurt as they were pretty spicy, so be warned if you prefer it mild!

All in all it was a really good meal and the restaurant itself seems warm and friendly and welcoming. Service was a bit slow but the food was so good we forgave them, it was a very busy night and you can expect teething problems with any new restaurant.

If you’re on the fence definitely give Fanoosh a visit, I really hope they stick around!

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The Olive Branch, Roundhay review

One of the things I love about living in North Leeds is the amount of bars and restaurants right on our doorstep. It’s so easy to step out for food if we can’t be bothered to cook (yes that does happen sometimes!) and a lot of the choices are quite healthy too.

We usually go to Banyan but felt like going further afield this weekend, so decided to go to The Olive Branch. Having been there once maybe 18 months or so ago for lunch, we wanted to see what their dinner offering was like and we weren’t disappointed! 

The Olive Branch is on Street Lane and is relatively small, seating maybe 8 tables or so, so do book if you want to go! It serves Turkish food with a great range of vegetarian options as well as ‘pides’ or Turkish pizzas.

We started with the garlic sausage, or ‘Sacuk’ and the babaganus dip. 

The garlic sausage was a really savoury, slightly spicy beef sausage served with mushrooms in a tomatoey ‘juice’. This was absolutely delicious and a really nice change from the usual chorizo I feel like I order and eat all the time in Mediterranean restaurants. The babaganus dip had a beautiful smokiness from the aubergine and tasted really fresh.

Next up for the mains, we both went for lamb kebabs. I ordered the Adana and Gary went for the Shish. Mine was minced seasoned lamb, formed around the skewer, whereas Gary’s was cubes of meat that had been marinated.

Both dishes were fantastic and served with rice, salad, wonderful cacik (a tzatsiki-like sauce) and salsa. The Adana was the perfect texture, not dried out at all, and expertly seasoned. The Shish was cooked to perfection, still slightly pink in the middle and a lovely cut of lamb, not chewy at all. 

My only complaint would be that the salsa could have been a lot hotter as this would have really brought some more life so the plate, but that’s just me I like a bit of spice! 

For around £40 we enjoyed a reasonably healthy, authentic Turkish meal with a glass of wine and a sparkling water. If you’re looking for something different in Roundhay that’s set away from the usual hustle and bustle this is a great place to try!”

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Sukothai, Chapel Allerton Review

I have a confession to make. Here goes: I’m not like, really into Thai food. *gasps*

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fully dislike it, it’s just if we’re talking Asian cuisines I’d rather go for Vietnamese, Chinese or Japanese. I just think I’ve just had quite bad experiences with Thai restaurants. It’s so touch and go out there. Bad Thai curries, only-ok pad thais… I’ve been burned before, and would usually just choose to go somewhere else. 

Until now *dramatic music*. 

I recently went to Sukothai in Chapel Allerton and it has to be the best Thai meal I’ve had in my life. I’m a convert. Now I can be that person that suggests going out for Thai and have a failsafe restaurant to back it up. Sukothai to the rescue.

I was so curious to try here as it’s reputation really does precede it. It’s won countless awards and I often hear great word of mouth reviews. It’s a fairly big restaurant, but it gets REALLY busy. We booked a table on a Friday night and good job we did. People were queuing out of the door (you know it’s going to be good if people are queuing out of a door). 

The service on drinks was a little bit slow but it was very busy – all the tables were full so they were clearly at capacity. We ordered a mixed satay platter to start with which arrived fairly quickly. 

Sadly though we ordered it for three people and there was only two kebabs of each meat. We pointed it out and at the end they only charged us for two people, but hey we would have liked more meat. Anyway after awkwardly cutting the kebabs into thirds, they were absolutely delicious.

There was chicken, beef and pork and a choice of dipping sauces – spicy peanut or sticky soy. The chicken and peanut went together beautifully and the soy was excellent with the other two. The star of the show was the pork – it had a soft melting texture and was so juicy and full of flavour. 

Next up I ordered the Chicken Pad Khing – chicken stir fried with ginger, spring onion and mushrooms. The chicken was soft and tender, in a sweet and salty sauce that just tasted beautifully oriental. The veg was perfectly cooked, not overly done, with a nice crisp to it still. It all had a very clean taste to it too, not greasy at all. My only niggle was the ginger was in huge chunks which wasn’t that pleasant to eat, but that’s more just personal taste. 

My friends ordered the Phed Mamuang Himmaparn (duck with cashew nuts) and the Khao Pad (fried rice) with beef. Both were generous portions and the duck was incredibly tender.

The food was really reasonably priced too, including wine it was less than £30 each. The menu is incredibly big, I feel like I definitely need to go back to try all the different things! All in all I’d really recommend Sukothai, I’m sad I didn’t discover it when I actually lived in Chapel Allerton. If you’re looking for something a bit different, it’s really worth a try.

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The Lamplighter Dining Rooms, Windermere Review

What a couple of weeks it’s been! I’ve had such a busy run, with changing jobs, having a horrible cold. I start my new role tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! Anyway, this trip we had to The Lakes this weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Gary had booked us the trip for my Christmas present, and I bloody love a surprise so I was really excited to see what he had in store. We stayed at the Howbeck in Windermere, just a 20 minute walk from the lake itself and from Bowness-in-Windermere. This had acccess to a little spa up the road which we were unsure about at first as it looked well, a lot more like a gym in a sports centre circa 1982, but actually on the inside it turned out to be really pleasant. 

Anyway on to the eating. We ate at the Lamplighter Dining rooms after Gary had spied it on both TripAdvisor and The Guardian. It’s been going for over 20 years, and is attached to a B&B (as are most things in Windermere). 

It was a Friday night and most of the tables were busy. We had a very friendly, local waiter who welcomed us and read out the specials. Gary immediately went for the lamb ballotine – a slow roasted shoulder of lamb, shredded and served with the richest red wine gravy. I wanted the sea bass but they had run out, so I went for the plaice instead.

For starters Gary ordered the scotch quail eggs with black pudding and chorizo, I just had some olives because I wasn’t super hungry for a full dish.

The scotch quail eggs were wonderful with a lovely soft yolk inside, surrounded by the crumbly black pudding and chorizo sausage mix.

 The mixed olives were really good quality, a satisfying combination of Nocellara and Kalamata. Very moreish and great with my house white wine.

Next up came the mains. Gary’s lamb was the real winner here, it tasted incredible with rich flavours of blackberry, red wine and rosemary. The meat was shredded, and very tender. It came with a wonderfully rich gravy and mash potato. 

My plaice was excellent too, really delicately fried with a little dusting of flour. The chills were spot on. Our one gripe was the roasted vegetables that came with both dishes, there was nothing green, just a trio of parsnip, swede and what appeared to be more potato. A little bit of cabbage or broccoli wouldn’t have gone amiss.

We finished up with the sticky toffee pudding to share, this was absolutely great. Really intense toffee flavour and served in a salty caramel sauce with ice cream. It was spot on, and felt reminiscent of something your gran would make (I’m just guessing here, neither of my grans ever produced a sticky toffee pudding). 

Overall the Lamplighter was a great choice, serving no-fuss, simple and well made food in a really friendly and welcoming environment. The staff really made the meal, the service was impeccable from start to finish and we felt at home the minute we walked in. Definitely give it a try if you want something hearty and home cooked in The Lakes! 

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Secret Garden, The Witchery Edinburgh Review

First off, this was the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, I’m not kidding. Gary booked us this as a surprise for our trip to Edinburgh, and surprise it was. Just LOOK AT IT.

Candles and roses and beautiful statue things everywhere. I was genuinely surprised I didn’t see a single proposal because well, it was definitely that kind of place.

We sat down at our table for two and quickly decided that the set menu was the best way to go at £36 for three courses. There was a good selection within this with fish, meat and vegetarian options. I opted for the Scottish smoked salmon (when in Rome) to begin with and Gary had the ham terrine.

Both dishes were delicious, though the ham terrine was a little bit too cold, as if it had just been taken out of the fridge. My salmon was beautifully lightly smoked without being overwhelming, and served with tiny shallots and drops of beetroot.

Next up for mains, I went for the monkfish with curried black lentil dhal and broccoli, where Gary had the rump steak.

Both dishes were lovely but I was a bit regretful of not ordering the steak as it was like butter, beautifully cooked a really delicious piece of meat. The monkfish was great although it was slightly rubbery which was a shame. The black lentil dhal however was wonderful, just the right amount of spice and a really intense nutty flavour from the lentils. It also came with mussels which I’m not usually big on but added an extra layer of intensity to the dish.

Finally was the cheeseboard. We asked them what the cheeses were but they told us too fast for me to write them down, which was a bit of a shame. I would have liked to seen what the cheeses were on the menu or been given some labels, as I always like to know what cheese I’m enjoying!

All of the cheeses were great, and what I think was a goats cheese (the round cheese) was the star of the show. The best bit about the cheese board though was the oatcakes. Lovely, biscuity, crumbly Scottish oatcakes. AND when the waiter noticed I’d almost finished mine, he brought us another extra basket. Which was just darn nice.

Overall this was an incredible dining experience, the service prompt and friendly, and the restaurant itself absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful. Pleasingly, the food lived up to its gorgeous environment and I’d definitely recommend trying to get a table if you’re visiting Edinburgh.

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