Food.

Bucket List

Taking it back to September 2016.

I’ve just graduated. Got myself my first full time job. Passed my driving and finally on the roads with my little car. Beaming with excitement I began noting down a list of all the places I wanted to try out.

Trip Advisor became my daily go-to; from cute little cafes to award winning restaurants, rooftop terrace bars to dessert parlours, Indian street food to British afternoon tea. I wanted to try it all!

Nearly two years later and my list is nowhere near complete. Every time I tick one place off I end up adding another few on.

Whilst I’m trying to post reviews as regularly as possible there’s no way I’m going to be able to catch up on the places from my pre-blogging days. I’m always getting asked where I’d recommend so I thought it’d be easier to post my list.

One day when I’m feeling extra OCD I’ll put them in some kind of order…

✓ Marco & carl Leicester

✓ Las iguanas Leeds

◦ Salt & pepper Manchester

✓ Scene Manchester

✓ Vermillion Manchester

◦ Iceberg Preston

✓ Manjaros Leeds

✓ Angelicas Leeds

✓ Tattu Manchester/Leeds

✓ Frangos Halifax

✓ Tipu sultan Birmingham

◦ Al feena Leicester

✓ Pizza in a Cone Bradford

◦ Heavenly desserts Birmingham/Leicester

✓ Gourmet Oldham

✓ Sizzling Palette Bolton

◦ Dessert republic Manchester

◦ Vapiano Manchester

◦ Managerie Manchester

◦ Neighbourhood Leeds

◦ Ziya Manchester

✓ Bison Leeds

✓ Cona Bradford

✓ Dejavooo Liverpool

◦ Kaspas Manchester/Liverpool/Leeds

◦ Rebus domes Leicester

✓ Mughals on the rocks Keighley

✓ 50s diner Keighley

✓ Chaiiwala Bolton/Leicester/Birmingham

✓ East z East Liverpool st Manchester

◦ Sa-ha Steak Rotherham

◦ Al cazar lounge London

◦ Terrace lounge London

◦ Tiger Bay Lounge London

✓ Yayas Steakhouse Manchester

◦ Evelyn’s cafe Manchester

✓ Molasses Manchester

✓ Rakkaposhi Bradford

◦ Sher akbar Manchester

✓ Zouk Manchester

✓ Sky lounge Leeds

✓ Cloud 23 Manchester

◦ Syon lounge London

✓ Cardamom Black Harrogate

✓ East z East Riverside Manchester

◦ Sky Gardens London

◦ STK London

◦ Hakkasan London

✓ Sweet Diner Manchester

✓ Akaash Cleckheaton

✓ Dhanak Deira Bolton

◦ Shajan Blackburn

✓ Argeela lounge Birmingham

◦ Manchester house Manchester

✓ Emperors lounge Birmingham

✓ Creams Leeds

◦ Kobe sizzlers Leicester

◦ Nivikov London

✓ The next desserts Birmingham

✓ The Alchemist

✓ Godfathers Batley

◦ Sky lounge Manchester

✓ Bibis italiannisimo Leeds

◦ Zoya Leeds

✓ The Indian Tiffin room Manchester/Leeds

◦ Fazenda Manchester

◦ Rosso Manchester

✓ Grand daddy’s Manchester

✓ Sweet diner Manchester

✓ Estabulo Leeds

◦ Huqqa lounge London

✓ Moose Coffee cafe Manchester

◦ Restaurant ours London

◦ Dessert republic Manchester

◦ Zaraks grill Oldham

✓ Azeems Keighley

✓ Handmade Burger Leeds

◦ Ibrahim’s steak house Birmingham

◦ Tru burger Birmingham

◦ Basrah lounge London

✓ Carluccios Leeds/Manchester/Liverpool

◦ Grillz steak house Birmingham

◦ Amigos Mexican Kitchen Sheffield

✓ Akbars Sheffield

◦ New Yorker American Manchester

◦ Mughli charcoal pit Manchester

◦ Brew and brownie York

✓ Temples Coffee Leeds

◦ Slattery Manchester

◦ Gingers comfort Manchester

✓ Dakota Deluxe Leeds

◦ Mowgli Birmingham

✓ Kabanas Huddersfield

✓ Eat Meat Manchester

✓ Bills Restaurant Leeds

✓ Pearls tearoom Bradford

◦ Patisserie Lidere Manchester

◦ Brunch and Grill Bolton

◦ LaGlacier Blackburn

◦ Ambience Blackburn

◦ Junction 51 Blackburn

◦ The Clove Blackburn

◦ Black Milk Manchester

◦ Fig and Olive Blackburn

◦ Grindsmith Coffee Manchester

✓ Frankies Batley

✓ Just vintage! Grand Tearoom Leeds

✓ Tawa House Dewsbury

◦ Fargos food factory Birmingham

◦ Gelato Amorino Leeds

◦ IfCoffee Bar Leeds

✓ Hepworths Deli Kitchen Leeds

◦ House of Koko Leeds

✓Laynes Espresso Leeds

✓ Chaophraya Leeds

✓ Tipu Sultan Birmingham

✓ Tinseltown Birmingham

◦ Sukhothai Leeds

◦ Santorini Bar and Grill Leeds

◦ Out of the Woods UK Leeds

◦ Heaney and Mill Leeds

◦ La Chalet French Tea Room Leeds

◦ East 59th Rooftop Bar & Grill Leeds

◦ Le Bab London

✓ Ezra and Gil Manchester

◦ Sweet and Salted Dewsbury

◦ Jamie Oliver’s kitchen Leeds

◦ Gusto Leeds

◦ Gino Di Campo Leeds

◦ Alberts Shed Manchester/Castlefield

✓ The Refinery Manchester

◦ Salvis Manchester

◦ Dukes 92 Manchester

◦ Chino Latino Leeds

◦ Victors Hale Manchester

◦ Thaikun Manchester

◦ Stories in Leeds

◦ Soft Serve Society Desserts London

◦ Bukhara Manchester

◦ La Vina Manchester

◦ The Locals Cafe London

◦ Mrs Athas Leeds

◦ XO – Sakana Manchester

◦ Maitre Choux London

◦ Fargos Food Factory Birmingham

◦ Fress Restaurant Manchester

✓ East Z East Liverpool

✓ The Refinery Spinningfields Manchester

◦ Sugar Junction Manchester

◦ Indique Fine Dining Manchester

◦ Kings Full Veg Birmingham

◦ Luna Rossa London

◦ Bubblewrap Waffle London

◦ Baker st Cakes Leicester

◦ Konak Leicester

◦ Bundobust Street food Leeds/Manchester

◦ Royal Piri Piri Oldham

◦ Dum Biryani London

◦ German Donner Kebab London

◦ Australasia Manchester

◦ Tamarind of Mayfair London

◦ Fillmore and Union Leeds/Harrogate

◦ Dhosa Xpress Manchester

◦ Chappati Cafe Manchester

◦ Nurooz Grill House Sheffield

◦ Sirkars Buffet Middlesbrough

◦ La Creme Desserts Sheffield

◦ Syhiba Halifax

◦ 3 Five 1 Coventry

◦ Bun and Steak Birmingham

◦ Heritage Deli and Kitchen Huddersfield

◦ The Wild Plum Breakfast Harrogate

◦ The York’s Birmingham

◦ Med One Lebanese Huddersfield

◦ Fargos Food Factory Birmingham

◦ Upshot Esresso Sheffield

◦ The Botanist Leeds/Manchester

◦ Try Thai Manchester

◦ Alabama’s All American Manchester

◦ The Sipping Room London

◦ The Edgbaston Boutique Birmingham

◦ Lemon Pepper steak hut Leicester

◦ Steak Out Leicester

◦ Wolf of Green Park Leeds

◦ The Cats Pjs Leeds

◦ Limeyard Leeds

◦ Four Seasons Tea Room Blackburn

◦ 20 Stories Manchester

◦ Lokkum bar and grill London

◦ Embassy Lounge Leicester

◦ The Food Box Manchester

◦ Haute Dolci Cheshire Oaks Outlet

◦ Tampopo Manchester

◦ Saints of Mokha Leicester

◦ L’eto Cafe London

◦ Bun and Steak Birmingham

✓ Snowcold Batley

✓ Comptoir Lebanai Leeds

◦ Malmaison Afternoon Tea Birmingham

◦ Taste Buds Leicester

◦ Barnis Desserts Huddersfield

Please note some of these places are sheesha lounges and do not do food but they’ve managed to find their way on to my list.

Comment below or message me on any of my social media platforms if there’s anywhere that you recommend I add to my list.

Kind regards, Hafsah x

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Food.

Brunch at The Alchemist

The Alchemist – Trinity Leeds

The Alchemist is more than just a bar. With outdoor seating on rooftop terraces to full length windows and little heated lamps it’s not just the drinks that are a visionary dream to the eye. From bubbles to smoke to colour changing drinks; the Alchemist is one of the only few bars that still carry a magical selection for non alcohol drinkers. Plus all of their branches have a consistent beautiful aesthetic.

I’ve been to The Alchemist on so many occasions; birthdays, catch ups with old friends or sometimes just a quick drink to recuperate after a long shopping spree however I had never tried anything off their food menu. In January The Alchemist promoted a 50% discount on all food! I like trying new things, but I love trying new things with a discount.

We perused the menu online and immediately booked our brunch for the next available morning. Obviously with the promotion they were quite booked up but we managed to get a booking on the following Monday.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Mac n Cheese Bites. My fav! Not many restaurants do them and I don’t understand why. I absolutely love them and thankfully The Alchemist did not disappoint. In fact I can honestly say these were the best Mac n Cheese bites I’ve ever had.

They were bigger than I expected them to be. Crispy on the outside cheesy on the inside. The batter was lightly seasoned carrying a slight zing. It’s not something I would usually order for a brunch as it’s fried. However they were so tasty so no matter the time or day if I’m at The Alchemist I will definitely be ordering them again. Without a doubt. They were a good size with a tasty chipotle mayo dip, they were ultimately beyond perfect!

£5.00

Along with the delicious Mac n Cheese Bites we also ordered Popquorn. I’m not the biggest fan of Quorn. I’m a die hard meat eater and just can’t find it in me to substitute. I can’t fault The Alchemist, Quorn just isn’t to my palette. Even with a crispy batter and a creamy sriracha mayo sauce it still lacks flavour. It also carries a slight rubbery overly chewy texture which I hate.

£5.00

As the Popquorn and the Mac n cheese bites were on the nibbles and sharing section of the menu we really didn’t expect the portion size to be as big as it was. We had also ordered two mains off the breakfast and brunch section of the menu. I got the Eggs Benedict without the ham, and my foodbae got the Smashed Avocado & Pouched Eggs.

My Eggs Benedict were delicious! The Eggs were yolky and runny just the way I like them. The thick muffins were very lightly toasted, still keeping them soft and doughy with just a slight crunch along the surface. They were traditionally drizzled in a tangy hollandaise sauce, the zing to the sauce really complimented the soft flavours!

£7.75

My foodbae is the ultimate foodie – always teaching me new cuisines. With her avocado and pouched egg she also asked for a side of halloumi cheese. She loved her brunch just as much as I did! I would never have tried avocado or even halloumi cheese with a pouched egg but it all went so well together!

£8.25

As you can imagine after our two very hearty courses we were beyond stuffed! We decided to move over to the roof top terrace to enjoy the crisp cold midday air of Leeds over some mocktails. As I’ve already tried most of the mocktails on the menu I asked the bartender if he could just mix me up something different. I’ve done this before and have never been disappointed! I simply explain what kind of flavours I like and let them create the magic. As usual I wasn’t disappointed!

With or without a 50% discount I would definitely visit The Alchemist again for a hearty brunch. I can’t think of one plausible fault and if I did the Mac n Cheese bites simply overrides it all!

Lots of love

Hafsah x

Food.

Marco and Carl

Marco and Carl Bradford

After a disappointing first visit to the Bradford Marco and Carl I vowed I would never go again. However, a few family members and close friends kept telling me how great the food was. Maybe I just chose the wrong things on the menu? To top it off Marco and Carl announced a new and improved menu so alas I decided to give it another go. Bearing in mind I had also visited the Leicester branch in September 2016 and was left disappointed there too I must admit I wasn’t very hopeful.

We visited on a Wednesday evening and it was fairly busy. It’s quite large inside and the seating area varies from small tables for two to large booths, definitely ideal for birthdays and other celebrations. Its a nice friendly restaurant and carries a spaced out relaxed atmosphere.

Drinks

There was a large variety of options to choose from; Mocktails, milkshakes and smoothies. We decided to go for mocktails – I chose the Aloha Lychee and we also got the Movie Star Martini.

Aloha Lychee pictured on the left was a mix of Lychee, Watermelon and Lime. The mix between the flavours went really well together. It was quite refreshing and a had a subtle kick to it. I would’ve preferred a taller glass, I think presentation wise a lot more couldve been done.

The Movie Star Martini was equally as nice with its perfect blend of fresh Lime and Passion Fruit. This came in a tall glass but noticeably did have a lot more ice than the Aloha Lychee. I did get the feeling that there was probably more ice than actual drink.

£4.50 each

Starters

Everyone I know has recommended I try out the Tear and Share bread which is a bread filled with chicken tikka, spring onions and cheese. It’s meant to be very flavoursome however as there was only the two of us and the bread is supposedly quite a large starter we instead opted for the Picante Bread and the Blazing Skewers.

The Picante Bread is simply a soft oven baked bread stuffed with cheese, spring onion and pomodora sauce. It was seasoned well and was a nice starter. No complaints but it isn’t something that I would rush back for.

£3.95

On the contrary the Blazing Skewers I would definitely come back for! It’s a new addition to their menu and is basically chicken skewers in a breadcrumb coating served with a thick garlic sauce. The seasoning on the chicken was spot on. The chicken was tender and cooked very well. It had just the right amount of breadcrumb coating ensuring it didn’t overpower the chicken. My only issue was that whilst there was the right amount of skewers, some skewers had a lot less chicken than others. As me and my date shared both the starters it got a little awkward when each skewer had a different consistency. Oh and dipping the skewer into the really nice garlic sauce was a mission in itself, only other option was to carefully pour a bit of the sauce across the skewer.

£3.95

Mains

After trying their burgers at the Leicester branch (pictured below) and Pulled Steak Chips previously at the Bradford branch I decided to try out their Pastas this time instead.

With over 10 choices of pasta we were a little undecided on what to go for but eventually chose the Penne Pollo Al’Arrabbiata and the Chicken Pesto Mac n Cheese which is in the newest section to their menu titled Funky Mac n Cheese.

Penne Pollo Al’Arrabbiata is as simple as its name entails. It’s penne pasta with chicken breast in an arrabbiata sauce. A basic Italian classic that holds a lot of flavour. Whilst the pasta wasn’t terrible it also wasn’t the best. It could’ve done with more seasoning, the rich tomato paste overpowered every other flavour. I also felt like it could’ve done with more chicken, the pasta to chicken ratio was slightly off track and all we could taste was tomato.

£8.90

P.s not the best pictures – sorry

The Chicken Pesto Mac n Cheese actually comes as a side dish but it’s quite large and was enough as a main. On my previous visit to Marco and Carl I got the Pulled Steak Chips as a main even though it was labelled as a side. That came in a similar sized dish as the Mac n Cheese so I do think their sides could pass off as a main.

Overall the Mac n Cheese was nice, again it didn’t have much flavour and could’ve easily been forgotten about. The actual macaroni shells were quite small but it did carry a lot of cheese, chicken and pesto.

£3.95

Dessert

I usually never have room for dessert but the only advantage of not being a 100% keen on my mains meant that I could definitely order a cake or two!

Again there was plenty to choose from – we decided to get my favourite Banoffee Pie and the Red Velvet.

The Red Velvet was light and fluffy and everything you would expect a nice fresh cake to taste like. The only downside was that it came with the tiniest little jug of custard. Aesthetically it looked good but realistically it barely covered half the slice. To make matters worse the service was very slow throughout! At the most we saw two waiters at a time on the floor, it was clear to see they were rushed and panicked. It took at least 15minutes to get the waiters attention to bring us more custard.

The Banoffee Pie however was one of the best I have ever had and trust me on this one I have eaten my fair share of Banoffee Pies. It was light but very flavoursome! It had just the right balance of banana, toffee, biscuit and cream. Portion size was spot on too – it was just the right amount to hit the spot. Very pleased with my dessert!

(I can’t remember the prices to the desserts)

Overall our experience at Marco and Carl was mediocre. I wouldn’t be the first in the queue to come here again but I wouldn’t completely rule it out altogether either. The drinks, the Blazing Skewers and the Banoffee Pie will eventually bring me back to this place (and the fact that I still need to try the tear and share bread!)

The service definitely needs improving – for them to be struggling on a mid week really does show there’s something lacking. The place itself is clean and well presented. The staff that were present were friendly and welcoming. The portion sizes are quite large and if you like the food the prices are very reasonable. I definitely had a better experience at the Bradford branch than the Leicester branch.

Till next time, lots of love

Hafsah x