Monday 4 March 2013

A Hungry Girl's Guide to Eating in Leeds

Like many students, I can safely say that eating is one of my main priorities.  Having a nice meal is often, for me, better than a night out to Call Lane or Stone Roses where my money, and sometimes dignity, is often lost on a night I struggle to recall the next day.  Don’t get me wrong I do love to go out but sometimes I just want to have a nice meal and revel in the enjoyment of knowing I will remember it the next day. 

There are countless places in Leeds to eat to suit every budget, occasion and situation providing busy and stressed out students some comfort and solace.  For those of you who have read my blog or any articles I have written you will be aware that I like to eat out a lot and regularly review restaurants in my local area.  Unsurprisingly I am writing my dissertation on restaurant review food blogs in the vain hope that if I write about something I already have an interest in it will motivate me and encourage me to this space, it hasn’t been massively successful so far!

I have compiled a list of 12 of my favourite places to eat in Leeds for every occasion.

Where to Go If You Are Strapped For Cash:

1.      Miro - This may be an obvious choice, particularly for students at Leeds University due to its location, but I think this is one of the best cafes around Leeds Met and Leeds Uni.  There is an amazing selection of fresh sandwiches, paninis, salads and pastas along with Italian sweet treats like Torta Limone and Pistacchio Aragostine. 

My Choice:  Sundried Tomato, Pesto and Cheese Panini – at £2.70 it would be rude not to.

2.      Roast and Toast – Located on the Kirkstall Road this is my favourite sandwich shop in Leeds.  The choice of sandwiches, koftas and wraps seems to be almost infinite, and the service is always excellent.  Shamefully I must admit the lady who works there now knows my order and says it along with me.  This isn’t really something to be proud of but I think I might just be their biggest fan!

My Choice: Basil Chicken, Salad and Lemon Mayo or Roasted Pepper, Pesto and Mozzarella in a big soft roll.

3.      Kirkstall Morrisons Salad Bar – I know this is a pretty odd choice, but it really needs to be tried to be appreciated.  With so much to choose from, including pastas, salads and fruit, and a large salad box priced at £2.70 I have to admit a lot of squishing goes on when I’m trying to close the lid of the box.

My Choice:  Almost everything, excluding the Tuna Potato Salad (something’s not right about that).

Where to Go For Great Food at Reasonable Prices:

4.      Bangkok Cafe – Situated right in the centre of buzzing Hyde Park, this little treasure is a real find.  The cafe itself sits only a few people at a time, but I feel this even adds to its charm and considering a delivery service is available there is really no reason not to give it a go!  The food is seriously delicious and well priced for a student budget.

My Choice:  Garlic and Pepper Chicken with Noodles, honestly the best Thai food I have had in years.

5.      Love Rouge Bakery – My friends and I are massive fans of the bakery in Headingley, serving cupcakes, cream teas and more to the masses.  As my mother says these are cupcakes which actually taste of something not just of cardboard and I must say that is high praise indeed. 

             My Choice:  White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcake and Earl Grey teammmmm.


6.      The Clock Cafe/LS6 – Almost across the road from Bangkok Cafe is the quirky and fabulous Clock Cafe, aptly named if you have already been in due to the huge collection of clocks on the walls!  The student vibe almost makes this cafe feel homely and they have a great selection of teas – perfect for taking a break from uni stress and catching up with your friends.

My Choice:  Caesar Salad, swapping the bacon for sundried tomatoes.

Where to Go For the Best Deals:

Before I go on I must inform you of my long standing favourite app, Vouchercloud.  Vouchercloud offers deals on restaurants, clothes stores and more. Not surprisingly I use it the most to go out to dinner.  The app is available from any smart phone app store and is free – you can’t be bad to that.  Vouchercloud works as a mobile voucher so there is no hassle printing off the voucher and it displays the deals which are nearest to you by a tenth of a mile. 

7.      La Tasca - Tapas can be quite an expensive dining experience, but fear not with Vouchercloud you can often get 2 for 1 on tapas at La Tasca on Greek Street.  This usually will halve your bills and ensures you are stuffed with Spanish satisfaction for the rest of the evening.

My Choice:  Anything fishy or meaty or carby – there isn’t much at La Tasca I don’t like!

8.      Loch Fyne - Admittedly this is a pretty up-market place for a student to eat, but with a Vouchercloud discount voucher of 25% it may become a lot more appealing.  This is the perfect restaurant for any fish lover, although there are some chicken and beef dishes on the menu, it really is wonderful food and definitely worth a visit.

My Choice:  Monkfish and Prawn Thai Curry with rice – honestly, it is heaven.

9.      The Box – This is likely to be a very familiar haunt to most students and as well as well priced drinks and a lively atmosphere they also serve great food.  The best days to go are on a Monday or a Wednesday when it is 50% off your food bill.  You might have to wait a little for a table and for your food but surely for a deal like that you will be patient! 

My Choice:  Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap with Chips – with Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeƱos and mango chutney there is nothing they could do to make it better.

Where to Take Your Parents When They Come to Visit:

10.    The New Conservatory – This lively jazz bar in the city centre has seating outside for those sparse warmer days and a large restaurant area inside where delicious food and friendly service can be found.  Downstairs where the restaurant and bar are situated is cosy without feeling cramped and with books all along the walls it has its own sense of individuality.  From past experience, parents love this place.

My Choice:  The Sampler platter is uh-ma-zing.  There are 5 or 6 little delights to try ranging from tempura prawns, brushetta with goat’s cheese and mini burgers – perfect for sharing or equally for going solo and being greedy.

11.    The Living Room –This has long been a favourite in my family and for good reason.  Their food is of an outstanding quality and it is always bustling with hungry customers.  The Living Room is known for its great atmosphere and there is regular live music on the piano, which is soothing background music rather than a blasting for your ears – perfect for parents.

My Choice:  Spiced Duck Breast with Pak Choi and a Sweet Potato Fondant, definitely worth the price but not quite for a student budget!

12.   Piccolino – Italian food in my opinion does not get much better than this.  Piccolino is situated on Park Row in a beautiful light restaurant where the waiters know the menu back to front.  The food is almost beyond fresh and the flavours are simple.

My Choice:  Beef Carpaccio with a Rocket and Parmesan Salad or the Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad – both light meals, but two of the best Italian Starters around.

There are some really delicious places to eat in Leeds to suit every budget, many are little gems tucked away which normally you wouldn’t look twice at but I suggest you go out and try them!  I often think that those restaurants which look the least impressive are the tastiest and the best value for money.  So branch out from the typical student eateries like the Scream pubs and Wetherspoons and see what Leeds has to offer.

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