@ City Inn, Leeds

More often than not when dining in a hotel, I’m the one, with a table for one. That person you’ll spot in the corner, eating with a good book or more often in my case, a Blackberry and Twitter!

Travelling around a lot means the solo meal has lost all the awkwardness and fear I once felt in booking a table and eating alone.

But while the experience maybe commonplace, having company for a meal – that breaking of companionable bread – is definitely preferable, fulfilling a social need which improves any dish.

So I was delighted to take up the invitation to try out the Leeds City Inn’s spring menu with a guest on a recent stopover.

The City Inn has a couple of in-built assets which make it a good destination for a special meal out 1. the attractive waterside location and 2. the impressive Sky bar with its panoramic city views.

We took our seats at a table over looking the water and had a good look at the menu.

It’s been created by Group Executive Chef Scott Macdonald and is an interesting mix of traditional and adventurous – so that’s how we did it. I went for adventurous while Himself stayed traditional, kicking off with a prawn cocktail.

The retro dish, served as tradition demands in a glass, was well-received but I found my adventurous choice of marinated tuna just a little too challenging with a lot of mayo and an overly strong fish for my personal taste.

For the mains I plumped for the halibut and was frankly taken aback by the powerful salsa verde. On first taste it was the epitome of mint. I had to go back and try it again. And oh, again. I’m still not entirely sure what all the component parts might have been but it was a perfect foil for the beautifully cooked king of fish even if it did leave me feeling like a Masterchef judge umming and aahhing and pretentiously considering little tastes for far longer than was necessary.

Playing it trad again, Himself tucked into a selection lamb cuts – rump, belly and kidney. Quite an unusual mixture with the strength of flavour of the meat complemented by the sweet difference and texture of the kidney.

Puds was the rhubarb. Well it had to be really given the location’s proximity to the rhubarb triangle. The chef has given a lovely twist to the Yorkshire favourite with a trio of desserts which worked together – a punchy crumble with ginger, a light trifle and the best ice-cream I’ve had this year – rhubarb ripple parfait.

It was a lovely meal in a relaxing setting with unfussy service and certainly a good place to savour some food with big and powerful flavours.

The City Inn is at Granary Wharf, 2 Wharf Aproach, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 4BR 0113 241 1000.

(Disclosure: The meal was provided free of charge for purposes of sampling and review).

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Taste test: SnackaDoodle and ChippidyDooDaa

In my continued exploration of edible cardboard, I have this week braved SnackaDoodle and ChippidyDooDaa.

As previous taste tests have also shown, products claiming to be ‘crisps’ but which don’t contain that one vital ingredient – potato – haven’t fared that well in the past with me.

But I did recently meet a woman who claimed that those Snack-A-Jack things didn’t taste like packing boxes after all so I was spurred on to try again. (Then again, she was pregnant so I credit cravings for brown paper packages tied up with string for that one.)

Anyway, back to the product test in hand after being sent some samples from the very nice people at Warburtons. First up – what is it with these names? SnackaDoodle & ChippidyDooDaa?

How daft’s that? But still, they have nice graphics of chucks or cats on the packs. Not quite sure why though…..

And they don’t pretend to be crisps, going instead for the term wrongly favoured by our American cousins – chips.

Both products came out of the packets very bitty – apologies to makers Warburtons if that was because they hadn’t travelled well but, as all the bags were the same, I’m guessing this is how they were intended. Think a packet of Doritos placed under a demolition ball.

On the taste front, the ‘wholegrain snacks’ (SnackaDoodle) are very light and the flavours quite strong. When I say ‘light’, think rice biscuit or similar – a nice taste but nothing very filling although it is just 84 calories. Plus you could probably burn up a few hundred more tracking down all the bits and crumbs.

The ChippidyDoodaa originate from pitta bread so I expected something that might be a good dipper. Indeed they were supplied with a pot of salsa to try out. They were passable purveyors of dip but again, not so satisfying.

As another blogger Stephen Newton summed up; “Walker’s can rest easy”.

SnackaDoodle’s come in chedder cheese and onion or sweet chilli flavours, ChippidyDoodaa as cheese, chilli or salt and vinegar.

Have you tried these out? Let me know what you thought below.