Saturday, 19 November 2011

Saturday Night at Darvish 9/10

So Joe and I have to admit something - we're jumping on the Jamie Oliver band wagon this week with our restaurant choice.  We have driven past Darvish on Roundhay Road every day for a few years now, and not given it too much thought, until we saw Jamie Oliver's program a few weeks ago.  It is shameful, but we've been now and I want everyone else to give it a try too!

Darvish is a traditional Persian tea house and has been open since 2005 and is a proper family run restaurant. The menu is not massive, but there are some interesting dishes on there.  They also don't serve any booze, but do let you bring your own for £3 corkage which  is pretty reasonable.

For starters, we wanted to try something a bit different and asked our waiter for recommendations.  He said that the mirza ghasemi was very popular, and we also opted for the houmous (on a twitter recommendation).  Mirza ghasemi is a dip made of grilled aubergines, tomatoes, egg, spices and garlic, and is one of the best things I have eaten recently - really full of flavour and perfectly balanced.  The houmous was also really good and fresh, and both come with naan, which are enormous!  I am a huge fan of the naans - fresh, crisp and light, cooked in a tandoor in full view of the restaurant, they are a true revelation!

Mirza ghasemi - aubergine dip
The first of our three naan (three!!!)
For mains, we decided to try a stew and a grilled dish, to make sure we had tried a proper representation of the menu.  We went for the joojeh kebab, which is a grilled chicken marinaded in lemon and saffron served with salad and rice or a naan (I had another naan - glutton!), and the ghaymeh bademjan which is diced lamb with split peas, aubergine and dried lime.  The picture below does not look great, but this was my favourite part of the meal - it was intensely flavoured with dried lime and saffron, which is quite unusual but delicious.
ghaymeh bademjan - lamb with split peas and dried lime
Grilled marinaded chicken
Saffron rice, which accompanied the lamb stew
And because we hadn't already eaten a huge amount, Joe convinced me to try the desserts (alright, it didn't take very much persuading at all).  We had been told the ice cream was really good, so that was an obvious choice, and then Joe made a spur of the moment decision to get baklava as well.  The baklava was lovely but I could not rave more about the ice cream.  It is either made by Murteza's wife or another local woman and is flavoured with green cardamon, rose and saffron, with pistachio sprinkles.  It is perfumed, sweet, and really tasty.
The saffron ice cream
Darvish was pretty busy tonight, but I would really recommend anyone who hasn't already been to give it a chance.  The service is good but laid back - we were able to spend a good 30 minutes over our starters, chatting and checking out the other customers.  It is a perfect venue for a relaxed evening with friends and good food.  Our meal cost £30, including a tip, which is a true bargain for such a lovely night.
The restaurant - complete with Rufus Hound lookalike at the next table!

Oh - and I was meant to put up some pictures of my dinner at the junior lawyers' ball last night at the Queens Hotel, but a) they are horrific, and b) the food was not the best so I'm not going to waste your time with it!  Suffice to say, the pea risotto was vile but the wine was drinkable and I had a great time with my friends so I'm over it!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friday Night and I am Home Alone! (Joe)

I can't pin-point exactly when it happened, but after work I found myself saying no to a end of the week beer or two with the guys in work even though Jo is out at a work ball thing. Instead I ran home, listened to talk sport whist tidying the flat, and I am currently drinking red wine after eating a chicken hot pot of sorts - how lame am I!!! Haha....but to be honest, the idea of not waking up tomorrow with a really sore head is brilliant and I am looking forward to enjoying the weekend.....we are getting out of our comfort zone for dinner tomorrow and heading to Darvish, which is a Persian restaurant just down the road in Harehills - see review tomorrow.

Anyway, here is dinner; chicken stew from last week with a potato lid that was very tasty and I was quite pleased with really!

Ps. Don't tell Jo that I have cracked into the Christmas wine!!!...........

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Thursday Night - Thai Erawan

Tonight we made an impromptu, Groupon fuelled trip to Thai Erawan.  Joe and I have been to Thai Erawan quite a lot, and usually it's a very satisfying night.  Tonight was no different - it was a little quiet but the food was great, and to be honest, that was all I cared about today!

The Groupon deal was actually 2 mains, 2 rices and 2 glasses of wine for around £12.00.  We bumped it up with a dumpling starter and some thai crackers, and a couple of beers.

Our pork and prawn dumplings were great, as always.  We've been avoiding dumplings for a while because they became such a mainstay in our thai ordering - but tonight nothing else would do.  Meaty, with a salty sauce and cabbage shreds, they were really yummy.  With crunchy thai crackers and a sweet chili sauce - what else could you want?

I love spicy food and it is my groundhog day moan about how no restaurants cook it the way I like.  This time round, we picked very well.  We went for a stir fried pork with chilli and black pepper dish and chicken breast with sizzling sauce.  Both were really good, and the black pepper has a very satisfying kick! The chicken came with a really special chili sauce with lots of fish sauce and tangy spice.

Overall, we had a great meal and would really like more people to give Thai Erawan a go.  I know some people have grumbled about the service, but I have never experienced any problems and I think people should really give it a chance.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Wednesday - Riverford Halloumi with Roasted Vegetables

Since the winter has kicked in my running has gone to sh*t! Luckily I have Jo to keep me motivated, and she dragged me out for a jog tonight kicking and screaming! (well almost).....we went for a quick half an hour and it was good to get out, pleasant almost!.....I have a 10m run in the diary in December so hopefully I will be able to keep up the running so I can drag myself around before Christmas feasting kicks in.

Before we left, Jo put the vegetables in the oven and was able knock together the below with lovely halloumi and a minimum of fuss.........

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Catching up - Monday & Tuesday

It has been hectic for us both recently; really for me getting baby holidays in Liverpool and Ilkley, and Jo working all day Sunday! a time saving exercise here is dinner from Monday and Tuesday this week.....

Monday - Chicken & Vegetable Stew with Crushed & Crispy Potatoes;

Tuesday - Soy & Lime marinaded River Cobbler with Stir Fry Veg & Noodles;

Monday, 14 November 2011

Sunday Review - The Crescent Inn & Bistro Pierre - Ilkley

A few months ago we became twitter buddies with the Crescent Inn in Ilkley, which has recently been through a significant makeover resulting in a b&b, pub and a Bistro Pierre from the small restaurant chain. Jo and I were offered a great deal to stay in the b&b with dinner and breakfast so we decided to take them up on the offer in return for this review on our blog. Unfortunately due to work commitments she was unable to make it so my future best man - Hunter Pig - stepped into her shoes.

So, we set out on our adventure on Sunday morning, heading to Bolton Abbey (see below) for a long stroll before heading back to the Crescent Inn for the Sunday papers, drinks and eats.

On arrival at the b&b, we were booked in and given our room key...these first impressions were ok, but I would have liked a bit of a warmer greeting. Our room was a twin which we both agreed had been fitted out to a really good standard. This reflected all aspects of the b&b, pub and restaurant - it was obvious that some real care and attention had gone into everything and we were very impressed. Hunter Pig, who is in the graphic design industry, even noted how high spec the menus/ offer leaflets were on the restaurant table!! really big thumbs up from both of us for the b&b....onto Bistro Pierre....

Overall our experience was fair to good - the booking was made on twitter and the deal put together for us. This lead to some significant confusion with pretty much all the staff which made us feel a little uncomfortable, and the service throughout the evening was a little humourless.  I like to chat with people in restaurants and I found them a bit unengaging. The booking issue was resolved and Bistro Pierre were generous hosts. Below is a selection of what we had.
Chorizo in honey
Salade de Crabe
Slow cooked lamb (the best dish - delicious!)
Pan Fried Pork in a mustard sauce & black pudding
A selection of desserts to share
The very good wine (Hunter Pig also had a cognac)
After a double espresso each, we headed to our room and after watching TV on the lovely white samsung flat screen we went to bed. Breakfast was a pleasant experience with a great range of choice on the menu, from muesli and pancakes through to a full english - which is what we both plumped for and it really was very good!

It was good to have a quick chat with Mark, the General Manager, before we left who was very enthusiastic about the venture and keen to know how our stay was, which was nice.

So to the overall verdict. The Crescent Inn is brilliant and we would definitely return on  a b&b basis as you can't help but be impressed with the quality of the place (including the pub). Incidents aside, I would have to say Bistro Pierre was good. The restaurant business is competive in Ilkley and I would consider the alternatives if back in the area.