2 Oxford Place

This pearl of a restaurant, obscured by the shadow of the grand Leeds Town Hall opposite, can easily be lost if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This is a great shame, as it is easily one of the most charming eateries in the city, offering a wide range of delicious dishes for a variety of specialised diets.

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From the outside, it looks like somebody’s home. A large black door with a scuffed brass letter box and matching number make you feel as though you’re about to break into a private abode, but as soon as you step inside it’s like a cabinet of wonders, the Mary Poppins bag of the Leeds dinning world. It’s much larger that than it seems from the street and can easily accommodate for three larger parties as well as smaller ones. The decor is homely and plush, water is served in vintage decanters and all crockery and china are individual pieces hand picked by the staff from various charity shops across Leeds.

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The food is particularly rustic and moreish, with a fantastic array of menus including a whole veggie/vegan menu as well as a gluten free one. Rarely does one find good, homely dishes like broccoli and blue cheese pie with all the trimmings in a restaurant that doesn’t cater solely to vegetarians, but 2 Oxford Place go out of their way to ensure that everyone has a choice. There is also a mouth-watering dessert menu including a Madagascan Vanilla Cheesecake, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Warm Chocolate Brownie and more, all served with an option of cream, custard, or ice cream.

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As well as perfect evening menus, they offer a variety of afternoon teas, breakfast and brunch. 2 Oxford Place is literally perfect for any meal of the day and I dare you to find a better place to spend your 23rd birthday (Psst, there isn’t one. I had mine there and it was the bee’s knees).

2 Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3AX | Tel: 0113 234 1294 | open Tues-Sat 11:30am-10pm, closed Sun-Mon

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Pit & Pendulum

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If you’ve ever fancied consuming a mouth-watering bowl of nachos beneath a medieval chandelier, or sipping on a cocktail named after one of the seven deadly sins, Nottingham’s own dungeon-style pub Pit & Pendulum is the haunt for you. One of four UK establishments owned by the Eerie Pub Co., this gothic tavern is filled with macabre delights to tantalise your eyes as well as your taste-buds. Descend the dark wooden staircase to the underground floor and find yourself some privacy in one of the hollowed stone nooks. There, you can recline in ornately-carved wooden chairs around tables that wouldn’t look out of place in Camelot.

Decorated with antique medical equipment in glass cases and an array of spooky skeletons lurking in dark corners, you will be surprised at how warm and welcoming the atmosphere actually is once you go up to the bar to order. The staff are always waiting to crack a joke and a smile and the service is lightning-fast.

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Which brings us to the menu itself, offering a large selection of hearty pub classics like scampi & chips and steak & ale pie, as well as a vast array of paninis, wraps, jacket potatoes, burgers, hot dogs, and sides. There is ample choice for vegetarians including a spicy bean chilli, a veggie club sandwich, a spinach and falafel burger, and more. If you’re low on cash you can grab two main meals for £9, and there are also some larger sharing platters. Worth sampling is their unique Jaffa Ice Cream Cake– the tangy but sweet bite of the orange combines perfectly with the rich chocolate sauce and airy whipped cream to leave a delightful taste on your tongue.

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Later on the venue becomes a favourite for pre-Rock City drinking, and with cocktails named ‘Pride’, ‘Wrath’, and ‘Lust’ what better place to indulge in a few pitchers of liquid sin? Not to mention the toilets are hidden behind a moving bookcase and it is hilarious to watch drunken people pawing at the wall, desperately seeking the door.

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As well as all of this, Pit also hold regular music nights playing a range of goth, metal, rock, and alternative music. Check their website for regular updates, and if you’re ever in Nottingham be sure to check out this obsidian gem of a pub.

Suffolk Adventures

 

Over the weekend I went to Suffolk with my partner to visit his Mum and family. They live in a gorgeous little town called Needham Market. Not only is Needham pretty, tranquil, and the only place outside of Leeds that I have seen Green Party members walking around, but there are also some brilliant places to visit both in and around the area.

One place definitely worth paying a visit to is Alder Carr Farm, which has an amazing food shop, and also sells house plants and haberdashery for great prices. Also, you can see that the animals have freedom and are happy and well looked after, and especially the chickens, who are roaming around all over the fields. It is one of the few places outside of my own great aunts that I would totally trust buying eggs from. The last two times I have been to Alder Carr I have come back with a haul of goodies. See below.

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After pottering to and back from Alder Carr, on a lovely little scenic walk I might add, we went to Bury St Edmunds, a bustling but still beautiful place with a lot of character. We stopped in to Paddy & Scott’s, a lovely little coffee house on Abbeygate Street.

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Nestled in-between a Gregs and a Costa, it was great to find a coffee house with a warm personality and quirky decor. I especially enjoyed the coat hangers made from books and the words ‘Call of Nature’ painted on the wall in large letter with an arrow indicating the location of the loos. If you’re ever in Bury and are craving a luxury coffee and relaxing ambiance, I totally recommend Paddy & Scott’s.

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We also went to The Nutshell, reportedly the smallest pub in the UK. I can totally believe it; at six occupants the pub started to feel crowded. I glanced upwards to see currency from all over the world tacked to the ceiling, along with a collection of oddities including a human tibia bone and a mummified cat with mouse. If you’re craving something a bit more macabre than your typical Bury cafe, this is a must for you.

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The next day we went to Aldeburgh, a seaside town with a fantastic shingle beach and lots of stuff going on.

I found my personal highlight walking along the beach getting my feet poked with jagged stones.  The Benjamin Britten sculpture, a huge stainless steel scallop resting on the horizon, was given to Suffolk Coastal by artist Maggi Hambling in 2003. The phrase “I hear those voices that will not be drowned” (from opera Peter Grimes) is pierced through the steel, to be read against the sky. In the 50s, Britten often visited this beach for peace and inspiration.

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We walked around town for a bit; the smell of fresh fish was pungent but comforting, and I was reminded of my childhood holidays on the Isle of Wight. There seemed to be some kind of vintage car festival going on and further along a lot of small children were sailing their nautical creations in a boating pool. This was actually the first time I had ever seen a boating pool in real life, I didn’t know that they were still a thing. It was pretty adorable and it made me happy that kids will always enjoy doing things like racing paper boats.

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We also got the best chips I had ever tasted (minus fish for veggie reasons), and I was consistently fighting the urge to go into every ice-cream parlour and cute looking cafe we went past.

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The rest of the weekend was filled with fantastic food, more family, Linkee, trivia, and a lot of Rick Stein DVDs. It was utterly fantastic. Here is a picture of some deserts that I modified. We had nine different kind of cream to go with them. Because what’s the point of overindulgence if you don’t go all the way.

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The small, picturesque places we visited were perfect for a family day out. If you’re looking for a wild time, look away, but if you’re looking for some piece of mind and good ice-cream, get yourself to Ipswich this summer.

 

Birthday Adventures in Leeds

In the preceding weeks I was really not looking forward to my birthday. I’m not saying that 22 is ancient, the rational voice in my head tells me that it isn’t . It’s just something about the jump from 21 to 22 in terms of being an adult and the adult things that people expect from you seem different…and terrifying.

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But these looming adult changes did not stop my Birthday from being wonderful. Mainly because I got to visit the beautiful Roundhay Park. Wandering around the lakes, weaving through the forest, encountering numerous lovable dogs and discovering the smallest castle in history made me happier than I have been in a good while. There is something about nature and being surrounded by green that makes me feel relaxed. I often find that living in a city puts me in a constant state of panic and anxiety that I should be rushing around doing a million things at a time, so as not to miss out on anything. Being in Roundhay Park made me forget about all that, and suddenly it all seemed a bit trivial.

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When we had adventured through the whole park, we went to find sustenance at the lakeside cafe. As usual, I wanted all of the cake. I also had a cointreau hot chocolate, which was divine. Then we headed straight for cocktails at The Alchemist in the Trinity Shopping Centre. One thing I have come to learn about myself is that I am not satisfied unless my cocktails look like a science experiment, exploding dry ice for miles. And The Alchemist delivers all of this and more. Try the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ for an extra special drink that is served in teacups!

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After consuming many fabulous drinks, we went home for a bit to prepare for the evening meal at Browns, again somewhere that I had never been before. I was not left disappointed, as their food was totally divine, the service was prompt….and they also had really good cocktails. I was going to go for champagne but at the end of it all I was so stuffed I couldn’t manage it. We shared a baked Camembert with sour dough soldiers to start, followed by white cream and truffle oil pasta, and finished with sticky toffee pudding with stem ginger ice-cream and profiteroles with chocolate lime sauce. See picture below for a better idea of the utter awesomeness of this meal.

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So after this fantastic day of nature, food, drink, laughter and love, we rolled home full and content. It was an absolutely amazing birthday, and I have been in a fantastic mood ever since, despite catching a cold.

Veggie Dining in Leeds

Over my birthday, I went out for a lot of meals. A lot of meals. I am going to chat about my two favourite places to eat as a vegetarian in the wonderful city of Leeds.

Hansas Gujarati

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Hansas is an amazing family-run gujarati restaurant just up  North Road, and it is entirely vegetarian. Seriously, I have never seen so much choice on one menu. Usually when I eat out there are two dishes at most that I can choose between, and they usually consist of a pesto pasta and a goats cheese salad. Hansas offers a wide variety of dishes using delicious, fresh ingredients, my favourites include their Bharela Marcha (deep-fried peppers with crunchy peanut filling) and the tinda-nu-shak (pumpkin slices  cooked in curry sauce).

In the photo above you can see me tucking into their delicious Paneer Special and the Pani Puri, as well as a fantastic view of Steph’s arm. The portion sizes are generous and hearty, the drinks are a good price, and the general ambiance is warm and familiar. I’ve only been a couple of times and I already feel like a regular. I recommend this restaurant to both the veggie connoisseur and those looking to try something new; it’s the perfect place to start as the staff and manager are so friendly and more than happy to talk to you about each individual dish. They also hold cookery classes and have their own cookbook stocked full of delicious recipes.

For more information see their website.

Little Tokyo

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I return to Little Tokyo over and over again, because not only is their food exquisite but it also very very reasonably priced. Perfect for a broke student who craves gourmet. Again, there is a large choice for both veggies and vegans. All tofu based dishes are exquisitely cooked, the tofu is succulent and golden…really I cannot stress how tasty this tofu is. There is vegetarian soba, spring rolls, sushi, bento boxes, tofu steak, ramen, gyoza and so much more. I feel like a shonen anime protagonist whenever I eat here because I literally sit there with a minimum of 5 plates of food all to myself and eat it all at the speed of light.

Another thing I love about Little Tokyo is the decor. Smack bang in the middle of the dinning area there is a little bridge going over a pond with large koi carp swimming around beneath. There are also fake leafless trees with fairy lights suspended over tables, so it sort of feels like you are eating in an enchanted forest. Also, they play music from Studio Ghibli films as well as cheese j-pop in the background whilst you enjoy you meal. I swear I have heard some Arashi once or twice. It is a fantastic place, the food is incredible, dare I say there is something even magical about eating here.

And that concludes my little ramble about dinning out. Thanks to Ana and Steph for being such lovely table companions.