@ Nash’s, Leeds

Famous name: Jon Pertwee

I’ve no way of knowing what sort of mood he was in when he scribbled on the very full wall of fame inside this popular city centre restaurant, but I most definitely had my proper fish and chip head on when I visited for lunch recently.

Found up a dark wood staircase, this place has been serving up to appreciative diners forever, but at some stage between my last visit many years ago with one of the city’s students, and this recent visit, Nash’s (catch phrase “nobody does it batter”) has had quite a refurb and now sports an interior decor which black chandeliers and comfortable seating.

On with the food. Here’s what I found:

A proper plateful

Batter: Light and crunchy just as it should be – and not waiting for the fish to grow into it either. No super dense end bit disguising the size of the fish because there’s no need, the portion was just enough.

Fish: I had their traditional haddock. They do offer plenty of other stuff (see menu here) but the trad meal is the haddock and it was a well-cooked plentiful portion although I did spy that an extra large version is also offered.

Chips: As you’d want them to be. Plentiful, a good crisp outside and fluffy inside and black pots on the spuds. Perfectly resistant to the clinging globules of vinegar a good shake showers tem with.

Peas: Served separately but included in the price of the traditional meal these were good and properly dullish in colour. Hot and puddingy.

Tartare: Again served separately and a good helping of the homemade variety.

And all main courses are served with a slice of bread & butter and a pot of tea or coffee included with the price and there’s a bar if something a little stronger’s required.

Verdict: It’s still a family-run business (as it has been for more than 80 years) and has managed to retain that feel about it with relaxed service and unpretentious  value for money. Just what The Doctor ordered! Quite possibly.

Nash’s is at 102 Harrogate Rd, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 4LZ Tel: 0113 262 2015 Email: enquiries@originalnashs.co.uk

Update: The city centre Nash’s (where the Pertwee signature is) is at the city centre branch. http://www.nashsfishandchips.com/ (HT Leeds Grub for pointing out the two places).

Think Leeds? Think gastronomy!

Could the Yorkshire city become synonymous with gourmet cuisine?

I caught up with two of Leeds’ top foodies at this week’s Leeds Loves Food launch and they clearly think so. You can read the interview with John Dammone (Salvo’s) and Richard Allen (Harvey Nics) at the newly launched Guardian Leeds blog here.

@ The Fig, Leeds

Being invited to try out a ‘special menu’ at a restaurant leaves food writers with a bit of a dilemma.

In terms of writing about an experience others might want to then enjoy, it’s about as useful as the reading the review of a one-night only gig.

And in terms of foodie occasions, sampling a Valentine’s menu can be a tricky thing to negotiate due to odd combinations, overly sweet offerings and tacky packaging.

Ok, it’s not as unlikely to be loveless as wedding fayre or as dodgy territory as some other annual events – think New Year’s Eve’s begrudged sober services – but still, the specially themed luuurve menus can leave diners feeling shortchanged in the passion stakes.

So when Leeds Loves Food invited me to sample the Valentine’s offering at The Fig, it left me wondering which way to jump – attempt to suss out the venue for its ‘special’ or ignore its attempts to mark an occasion?

In the end, Valentine’s night won out! Well, everyone needs a bit of romance.

The venue itself sets the scene for a slick night out. Just off from Clarence Dock and within a casino, it’s a restaurant that obviously sets out to attract the high rollers.

But the special menu at £25 a head for three courses remained simple enough and I hope these pictures give you a good indication of the style of the cooking at this venue.

Here’s the highlights pictured;

To start: The goats’ cheese with warm beetroot was both earthy and well-presented.

Mains: My fish fillet (hake) was beautifully cooked and the straightforward and robust presentation of this steak and chips typical of what’s to be found on both the special and day-to-day menus.

Deserts: The blue cheese course was generous on the biscuits, celery and grapes, if a little less so on the choice of cheese itself.

One thing worthy of note is that you don’t need to be a casino member to eat in the restaurant although wine drinkers might need some luck on the tables before indulging as the wine list has little on offer for under £20.

Overall The Fig provides good value in a stylish venue with warm service – something diners should look forward to enjoying whatever the occasion.

The Fig is based within The Alea, at Clarence Dock, Leeds.

Leeds Loves Food launch

Foodies gathered at this morning's launch event

Full post to come on this at a later point, but for now a very quick update from this morning’s food lovers’ festival launch. This year’s Leeds Loves Food event will be held between July 1-4 and for the first time will step outside of the city centre.

Headingley, Chapel Allerton and Leeds Urban Village will be included in the festivities which aim to showcase and celebrate the Leeds food scene.

I’ll update this blog with more. Soon………..

Want some instant pancakes? Do you?

A couple of related issues around food and its marketing have struck me this week.

First – instant pancake batter. Instant = pre-mixed. I spotted some in the fridges of M&S but they could well be elsewhere too. What is this all about? Are we all really so lazy that we can’t be bothered to crack our own eggs? Come on it’s not that difficult, (here’s a basic recipe) as tried and enjoyed over Shrove Tuesday’s through the ages. Don’t let the marketeers persuade us that such a basic delight requires processing.

Secondly the news that teenage girls eat more unhealthily than any other group in the population, ­The Guardian report quotes Dr Alison Tedstone, the FSA’s head of nutritional science, who said the issue was “an area of concern” and added: “Broadly, teenage girls particularly don’t eat enough.”

Is this a misdirected insecurity about body shape, or is it another example of the laziness about food which the “instant” industry relies on?

Those issues clearly fell outside the scope of this particular piece of research but are surely at the heart of this complex tangle of mixed messages about nutrition which bombard teenagers – and the rest of us.