Bird and Beast, Leeds

While not much of a fan of fast food, I do like food that is fast and functional.

It helps if it is also hearty and delicious, which makes Leeds’ new-ish restaurant, Bird and Beast, a winner for me.

Bird and Beast serves free range chicken grown at Sykes Farm in the Yorkshire Wolds. This gives the birds a good start flavour-wise and they are then double marinated, traditionally cooked to keep their moisture and finished on the rotisserie over cherry wood chips and charcoal to give the meat a distinctive, smoky flavour.

Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire

When we arrived at around 5pm on a Wednesday the restaurant was pretty quiet, but it had filled up a fair bit by the time we left an hour later. For me this would be a perfect post-work haunt. The vibe is relaxed and the food is good value (to get even more bird for your buck there are quite a few special offers flying around a the moment – 50% off voucher here, for example).

I loved the industrial-style décor, the fact you could see the birds rotating behind the counter and if you wanted an even closer look you can sit on the tall stools and eat at the bar.

Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire

The menu is really straight forward: you either order a whole, half or quarter chicken then choose as many sides as you have an appetite for. We went for a half between us and added sweet potato wedges, corn on the cob and a salad with mozzarella, peach, pine nuts, red onion and rocket. For drinks, I can recommend the house’s own craft lager.

Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire

This is fairly simple food but it is done with finesse. The salad was a bit of a revelation: I would have never thought to put those flavours together but they worked so well. The wedges were thick, a little al dente and not as greasy as their standard potato cousins can be. And the chicken? As good as it looks. It is served cut into chunks, skin still on and thick, crunchy and full of flavour.

I think you’re either a chicken skin eater or hater, having never come across anyone in the middle ground. My husband’s a hater, I think he’s crazy. I love it, even if it may shorten my life a little, and this may have been the best skin I’ve tasted.

When the food first came, we thought we could have ordered more but it turned out that two sides and a salad was just right – and left us room for a delicious dessert.

Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire Bird and Beast rotisserie chicken restaurant, Leeds, Yorkshire

Does this look like your kind of restaurant?

*our meal was complimentary for review purposes but all content my own and opinions honest 

Cielo Blanco, Leeds

I’ve read a lot of good reviews about Cielo Blanco, so although I’d tired a little of eating and drinking in Trinity Leeds, I suggested to the girls we go back.

It was one of our as-regular-as-we-can-manage Saturday afternoon-into-evening sessions involving cocktails, dinner and more cocktails.

We started by soaking up one of the last sunny afternoons at Livin’ Italy at Granary Wharf, accompanied by pretty pitchers of colourful mediterranean mojitos: raspberries and peach purée, lemon shrub, mint, rum and cedrata topped with limoncello foam.

Pitcher cocktail at Livin Italy, Leeds

The riot of colour and flavours continued at Cielo Blanco. You can eat inside the conservatory-style restaurant or outside looking onto the shopping mall, with Trinity’s glass-domed roof overhead. Trees wrapped in festoon lights emerge from tables covered in bright floral cloths.

Cielo Blanco Mexican restaurant, Trinity Leeds Cielo Blanco Mexican restaurant, Trinity Leeds

We arrived at about 5.30, and most of the other guests were shoppers and families. We were overdressed and probably over-loud, but no one seemed to mind too much.

I felt a bit overwhelmed by the menu; it took us ages to choose. Maybe it was the wide selection, maybe the previous cocktails, maybe the hard-to-ignore conversation.

In the end I went for a sharing board, and we also (greedily) made it a ‘feast’ by adding a selection of street food style starters for £5 per person. Our main was rustically presented on a wooden plank resting on two colourful overturned cans. We opted for the free range barbacoa chicken (£11.95 each), which also came with achiote pollo pot stew, corn on the cob, poblano chicken tamale and spring onions.

Cielo Blanco Mexican restaurant, Trinity Leeds

I’m not sure what all of those things are either, but I do know everything was damn tasty. It all tasted fresh and home-made: the salsa and guacamole contained hunks of vegetables, the tortilla chips were thick, crunchy and only lightly salted and the chicken was full of flavour. You could throw a little bit of everything on your plate or put it all in a wrap. It was pretty good value: for £17 there was plenty of food, especially with the added-on starter too. That said, we did manage to eat nearly all of it.

All in all, it was a really good part of an afternoon/evening out which can’t fail to be fun with this lot. We followed it up with a few more drinks in the Alchemist, then got slightly the wrong train home and met this bloke off the telly.

Have you been to Cielo Blanco?

Kitchen additions

Last weekend was a tiring one, full of working on the house and punctuated by a couple of hours in Ikea spent planning out our new kitchen.

It was my first virtual planning experience and I highly recommend it. We ended up changing the layout slightly enabling us to fit in our dream sink (I know, losers). But the finished plan looked great and as we used the mouse to spin around from view to view we wished we could just lift it from the computer screen and drop it into our semi.

We are tired, but definitely in the final stretch. We have the plasterer coming in early September, then it will just mean a bit of painting before cupboards go in and tiles go on. I’m getting a bit fed up of messiness and disruption now, though I daren’t complain, he’s working so hard. Seeing the room brought to life on screen made me yet more impatient to have it up and running and in front of my eyes for real.

There’s been something of a debate in our house over the last few weeks (reflected to some extent in this post) over whether to go with (husband’s preference) a very safe option – white or cream cupboards – or (my choice) something a little more 2014.

Needless to say, I won [*air punch*] so although our kitchen won’t be particularly wild or daring (that’s called compromise, readers, you have to do it in marriage so you can get your way over other things) it will be grey – yay!

It’s this one in case you’re curious, but we’re going to give it a slightly industrial edge with white subway tiles, wooden worktops and some non-Ikea cupboard and drawer handles. Great post here about customising affordable kitchen cabinets so they look designer.

I’ve also bought these few extra accessories which I’m looking forward to seeing in place.

New kitchen accessories: Anthropologie letter mugs, Asda black and white scallop mugs, Ikea turquoise patterned plate, Matalan glass printed jar, H and M wooden chopping board and box Read More →

DIY gold spike & bead necklace

It’s been quite a while since I’ve shared a DIY jewellery project with you. Larger scale DIY – on the house – has been taking priority! But I have a stash of projects on the go or that I’m keen to try soon and this necklace was one I made in early summer.

It was inspired by this image I saw on Pinterest from a woodland wedding inspiration shoot.

DIY gold spike and turquoise bead long chain necklace

I was pretty pleased with how my version turned out!

DIY gold spike and turquoise bead long chain necklace Read More →

Friends at Everyman Cinema

When I was in my first year at uni, the girls in my self-catered hall and I would spend more hours than I care to remember huddled into one of our rooms watching episodes of Friends.

One of the girls had the full box set on VHS and another had one of those TVs with a built-in video player. (I am quite aware of how old all of this is making me sound).

I’ll be honest, there were times in the early days I wanted us to go out more, but after a while our Friends nights became a real bonding experience, and every time I watch an episode now that’s the gang it takes me back to. Several of them are still part of my life now.

With such fond memories, I jumped at the chance to attend a Friends movie night at the Everyman Cinema in Leeds. It’s 10 years since the series finale – can you believe that? – and we were taken right back to the beginning, shown the very first four episodes.

It was my first visit to the Everyman and I was really looking forward to it, having heard great reports of a very different cinema experience. (“There are sofas! And a bar!”)

We were directed to screen 5½ (very Harry Potter platform 9¾), a plush room with its own bar and balcony overlooking Trinity. After a couple of drinks, the screening began and an irrepressible grin spread across my face as the opening bars of The Rembrandts’ ‘I’ll be there for you’ played out.

Friends movie night at Everyman Cinema Leeds Read More →

Bathroom additions

While husband is busy banging, building and bricking up downstairs there’s not a great deal for me to do, except keep it all tidy-ish and dream about the kitchen I’d like to have in the end. (No, we’ve still not completely decided).

What do idle hands do? They shop.

Hence I’ve bought quite a lot of little extras for the kitchen that are several weeks away from being of any use, and are just taking up space in the small area that we can still live in. They’re pretty though. I’ll share them soon.

For now here are one or two bits I’ve added to one of the finished rooms, the bathroom.

House renovation tour: bathroom accessories additions Read More →

How can women help women?

The other day I went to a support group for this difficult patch I’m going through, and it got me thinking.

First, there were only about 10 people there. It was in Sheffield, and the nearest group of its type for probably half of Yorkshire, and I know there are a lot more than a couple of handfuls of women affected by this thing.

Now I know not everyone would want to go. I mean, I’ve been putting it off for about eight months – the meetings just didn’t fall at a convenient time, or when they did I didn’t feel it was something I needed or wanted. I’m not sure what propelled me to go to a pub in Sheffield that Tuesday evening.

But I’m glad I went. It was good to meet and talk to other women who know exactly what you’re going through and how it feels. On the one hand, it made me realise I’m coping and dealing with it well, on the other hand being there lowered my spirits, because a couple of the women there had so much sadness etched on their faces, their spirits largely broken.

The easy thing for most of us to do is just to stay within the boundaries of our own lives: the “we have enough on” response.

But perhaps we should make more effort to meet and share experiences and try to help each other through things? Or not necessarily meet, but just do more to support each other?

I think there are some simple ways we can do this, and do it straight away.

Here are my five ways women can support other women better – starting today. Read More →

Le Chalet tearoom, Leeds

When I go out in Leeds eating and drinking, I tend to spend a lot of time in the area around Greek Street, sort of the city’s financial quarter. But an invitation came through the other day for a blogger buffet at a place around there I’d never noticed before.

Apparently, Le Chalet (31-32 Park Row) has been open for seven months. I don’t think there is much in the way of French cuisine in Leeds, whereas virtually every other popular foodie taste is catered for several times over.

Being something of a Francophile (remember my time in Paris, week in the Dordogne and that I dream of owning a house in France?) I was hardly likely to resist an invitation to a French tearooms and bakery. Le Chalet wanted us to try out the new August menu.

Le Chalet French tearoom and bakery Park Row Leeds Read More →

Coveting indigo and white

I often see a theme to the things I’m drawn to and collect and currently it’s this fresh combination of white with indigo blue.

Blue and white staircase in Tangiers, from Domino DIY indigo shibori dyed kitchen towels, from Lovely Indeed Read More →

Tweet 4 a Table & Roxy Lanes

Now this was something a little different. The Cooperative Food brought its pop-up restaurant to Leeds and over two days offered Twitter users the chance to win a free meal for them and three friends – just by tweeting!

I was invited along to try it out, so found myself and two of my best eating buddies in something like a double-decker conservatory in the middle of Leeds’ busiest shopping street, Briggate.

The Cooperative Food Tweet 4 a Table Leeds The Cooperative Food Tweet 4 a Table Leeds

We started with nachos covered in cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa, then had a ‘holey moley’ (barbecue pulled pork in a soft bun served with barbecue sauce, gruyère cheese and American coleslaw) and a ‘dirty dawg’ (a British pork hot dog with more pulled pork, barbecue sauce, gruyère cheese, mustard, onion rings and American coleslaw). And – as if that wasn’t enough – we ordered fries and onion rings on the side. Read More →

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