Thursday, May 11, 2006

Not Sheffield

Wed 10 May 2006

It was supposed to be a night out in Sheffield - try out a Sheffield restaurant and then go to the theatre ... but we only got as far as platform 12A of Leeds station ... a Virgin train had been cancelled and the Northern train we'd planned to catch was full to overflowing (literally - they wouldn't let us on). I lost my temper and had to be rushed to the nearest bar.

Which happened to be Bar Work, on Wellington Street. Quite possibly the most exciting thing about Bar Work is that some of its beers are very cheap. And it has a terrace area, so when the sun is shining, you can sit outside. Obviously, at half past 5 on a sunny day, the terrace is full, so you end up sitting inside. And inside is just a standard, non descript pub interior. Our pints (Tetley's Cask and Kronenbourg), a packet of chilli nuts, and a packet of ready salted crisps came to £5.84 - which is reasonable value. Or rather, would have been if the beer was good. The Tetley's wasn't really in good nick and the condition of the Kronenbourg didn't provoke any excitement. Bar Work seemed to be full of a lot of suits and as a bar ... well, it didn't really work ...

We moved on to Baby Jupiter, on York Place, which I've been going on about wanting to go to for ages. Let me say - this is a bar with PURPLE VELOUR seats. So I was sold instantly. We enjoyed very nice Kronenbourg and Kronenbourg Blanc (£2.80 and £3.20 respectively). They were playing some very funky music (the psychedelic decor gives away the music's theme), and it was very quiet and civilised after the suit-driven mania of Bar Work. The bar is very small, so we do wonder how it holds up on a busy evening ... but all that this means is that we have to go back to find out ... Baby Jupiter has a well defined list of events for the Fridays and Saturdays of the month, and I defy anyone to find something they won't be able to go out and enjoy. I don't know why I'm saying this, when I'd much rather that really, you all stay at home or go somewhere else!

By now it was surprisingly late and all the beer drinking and bar analysis was making us hungry. Back to Wellington Street to 56 Oriental. This is a little bit deceptive, because downstairs (street level) is a small bar, while the restaurant is upstairs. The restaurant was very quiet, which is quite a shame, because we enjoyed a reasonably tidy meal. We dispensed with starters and just shared a huge bowl of (multi-coloured) prawn crackers with sweet chilli sauce, along with a couple of Kirin Ichibans (I know, I shouldn't have ordered it!). For mains, we shared the mee goreng and the Mongolian lamb. The mee goreng was served with chicken satays which, while I quite enjoyed the sauce, I thought were a little on the dry side. The noodles were quite tasty, with that fantastic smokey overtone, but I felt the sauce was a little too much on the sweet side for me. Andy comprehensively disagreed - maybe I need to do a survey of mee goreng available in Leeds ...

The Mongolian lamb (and I haven't seen that on a menu before) was served in a decorative banana leaf, with boiled rice on the side. It was lovely. It was topped with sesame seeds and served with just the right amount of sauce that you could mop up with your rice but not drown in. I do think that it did use the vegetables as a bit of a padding, but the fact that the vegetables included okra made it just that bit different.

I'm normally very lukewarm about oriental restaurants, but 56 Oriental provides an interesting menu, with dishes like Mongolian lamb complementing those that will be more recognised. In addition, the level of service was very good - friendly, competent but not overly attentive (which would have been too easy, as we ended up being the only people there).

We ended up spending about £30 - we were happy with that. The restaurant does offer early bird deals and set menus. And they also add a 10% service charge onto the bill - which I LOATHE. It also backfired - last night they probably would have received a far more generous tip.

Coming up ... this weekend we are going to try a bit of food and wine matching ... should be entertaining to say the least!

1. Bar Work, 38 Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 2DJ, phone 0113 245 3660
2. Baby Jupiter, The Basement, 11 York Place, Leeds, LS1 2DS, phone 0113 242 1202
3. 56 Oriental, 56 Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 2EE, phone 0113 245 0380

How to get there: from the train station, turn left onto Wellington Street. York Place is the next block back.
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Blogger Richard Atkinson said...

Just checking the obvious... but did you account for the taste of the chilli nuts in tasting the Tetley's?

1:56 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

I wasn't eating the chilli nuts ... just the ready salted crisps for me ... though I do appreciate your fair mindedness!

2:22 pm  

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