Friday, October 26, 2007

Napa ... and Felicini

Thurs 25 October 2007

I know I promised German sausage adventures but in the interests of being cutting edge I'm going to tell you about a new bar in Roundhay (Napa) and a newish Italian in the city centre (Felicini).

Napa, run by the Arc Inspirations group which brings us The Box, The Arc, Zed Bar etc, opens this evening. It's on Street Lane in Roundhay, near the Deer Park pub and sitting exactly where the restaurant Quantro used to be. The opening party, last night, was a very busy affair. We were greated with a delicious raspberry bellini and given corks for free drinks at the bar. The corks had the bar name and date printed on them: very cute!

As you might have guessed from its name, Napa is focussing on wine. There's a wide range displayed behind the bar (don't worry - there's also beer for the non-wine drinkers) and the booth like tables have ice buckets built in to them - with plenty of room for at least two bottles. I didn't get a chance to have a good look at the menu (yes, it was that busy), but they are offering Sunday roasts that feature local meats. Always a good thing.

Despite being incredibly busy the staff handled everything with ease, and we left wanting to go back. And that means we should be able to report on the food and the wine list with greater clarity.

Napa Opening Party

On our way home we decided to stop for some food at Felicini, the newly opened Italian on Albion Street (replacing the Hard Rock Café). This is part of a chain and in many ways I really wanted to hate it. There's something so wrong, so clinical about a restaurant where you can eat the same food in Wilmslow, Didsbury or Leeds. From that point of view, I was quite disappointed. The service was excellent. Everyone we dealt with was pleasant, efficient, friendly. Really, this is not the type of thing which should raise comment but how often do you leave a restaurant not having a gripe about some aspect of the service? As this was a quick meal, it was just one course each: 'paella' for Andy and spaghetti carbonara for me.

I know what you're thinking: paella in an Italian restaurant? This was a sort of Italian take on paella: risotto with chorizo and seafood. And it was very good. Andy was happy with his choice.

The spaghetti carbonara was pretty good too. Not a huge portion, but certainly enough to eat. I'm not sure where the trend for topping carbonara with a poached egg comes from (both Piccolino and Felicini do this), but the egg was soft and squidgy. Was this the best carbonara ever? Don't be daft (mine is!) - but it absolutely hit the spot and ticked all the boxes.

Two main courses, two drinks ... and the bill came to just £25. Not bad really. You won't be going to Felicini for a special, intimate occasion, but for a quick meal after work or before a night out, or as a group celebration it works really well.

Which just goes to show I should be a little more open minded about chains!

1. Napa, 62 Street Lane, Roundhay
2. Felicini, The Cube, Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 6HX, phone: 0113 200 1310

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Blogger David Hall said...

Hi Alex

Reading your Blog makes me miss Leeds! I was there for 13 years and love the place. But I'm back where I belong and love it back home. But I'll never forget Leeds.


3:24 pm  
Blogger Steve M said...


Thanks for the tip on Felicini - I too would have avoided this on the grounds its a chain but it got me out of a jam when I needed a lunch table at short notice today (in the week before xmas, thanks for the notice!). Not only that, the food was really good quality (the cold meat platter served with preserved figs was really good) and the service excellent.
Thanks for the postings - I'm now an avid reader of the reviews.
Steve M

4:22 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Hi Steve

I'm glad you enjoyed the meal at Felicini. I always worry I'll rave about somewhere that ends up disappointing someone!

1:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my and my friends must have eaten at a different Felicini on Saturday as we did not enjoy it at all. The starters arrived at different times, my friend had ordered the battered prawns and the tails were still on and she discovered them halfway down the batter so almost ended up eating them. Then the mains arrived at different times and we had to chase for the 2 side orders of roasted vegetables - one came with an apology and we had to chase for the other - and when the roasted vegetables did turn up they were inedible because they were too oily. Luckily we didn't have to pay for them. Throughout the meal, we were not asked if we wanted more drinks, nor were we offered parmesan or pepper as is usual in Italian restaurants I've previously eaten in. After the meal, my friend complained to the steward about her meal only to be constantly interrupted and then told that "they had been having a bad night". We will definitely not be going there again.

9:14 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Ouch!!! I hope this was a one off ... I'll be interested to hear if anyone else has had the same bad experience.

Let's hope that it genuinely was a one off and that things haven't gone down hill.

1:25 pm  

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