Belgrave Street Feast 4 Round-Up

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If both of the people who read my blog were paying special attention last month, they would have noticed that I neglected to review Belgrave’s March Street Feast.  This wasn’t because I forgot about it, or due to a lack of dedication to the cause – rather I had become a victim of its success.

When I got there at 4pm, it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the venue; a 20-foot blockade of people queueing up for the last morsels from Papa Ganoush gave the game away as soon as I arrived, so after penetrating their forcefield and realising that all of the visitors had sold out of everything, I got a few tinnies from the bar; a burger from Patty Smiths (which in the month since first trying them had come on leaps and bounds, and is now probably the best burger you can get in town), and watched Matilda with some kids.
As enjoyable as it was, I can’t run a moderately successful food blog by drinking lager and trying to contact OFSTED to perform an emergency inspection on Miss Trunchbull, so this time I made sure I’d have something to write about.
Initial research had suggested that Arepa!Arepa!Arepa! were my priority – Jules and Bailey run one of my favourite food blogs Good Gobble as well as this Arepa stall, and I respect that they get their hands dirty and create something as well – it adds a kind of legitimacy and credibility to their criticism that you just don’t get at other blogs such as this one.
I went for a Sobrebarriga (£4), which is a Steak and Beer Arepa, which is actually what I chickened out and asked for.  And I’m pretty sure I even pronounced that wrong.  I was given a big handful of beery, spicy, tender, stringy beef and vegetables inside a fresh grilled maize Arepa – essentially a portable stew inside a dumpling – and it was awesome.  
I stood around for a few minutes waiting for a friend before I started eating it, and by the time I’d finished extracting all the beef with my fork (I wasn’t going to risk gravy-beard by eating it with my hands and face) the arepa underneath was saturated with beery gravy, so I was able to relive the former glory again.  The parts of the dough which hadn’t been imbued with juice were surprisingly light and had a satisfying crust where it had just been fried.
Also from A!A!A! was the Plantano Y Queso (£3) which was a dish of fried plantain with cheese, and a choice of Guava jam or a savoury option – which escapes my memory at the minute – on top.  I went for the Guava jam, which was almost unbearably sweet, but balanced against the sharpness of the cheddar worked perfectly.  I have to commend the choice of cheddar – it would have been easy to try and truss the dish up with some kind of posh cheese, but keeping it simple really benefits the dish.  I remember by Mum telling me that my uncle used to eat cheese and jam sandwiches when he was a kid and I would grimace – in the days before chicken and waffles and donut burgers, I thought this mixture of sweet and savoury was an abomination – but having eaten pretty much that, slathered on plantain, I now see that I was a narrow-minded idiot, and he was somewhat of a visionary.  So well done Uncle Clive.
Top marks to Arepa!Arepa!Arepa! as well, can’t wait to try them again.
Regulars Fish& were upstairs in the snug with their ever-adapting menu this time offering Beach Burgers (£5) – pan-seared cod, caper and parsley patties, then cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.  This had a lot of flavour for something with such a simple list of ingredients.  I usually find cod kind of bland, but in this case it complimented the rest of the flavours, as well as contributing its own distinct – almost smoked – fishy hint (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen “Fishy Hint” on a gig listing).
I’m a self-confessed seafood novice – when I look at a menu in a restaurant, I pay such little notice to the fish options that they might as well have been blacked out by the Ministry of Truth – but I find myself going back to Fish& again and again whenever I see them at an event, excited to see what they’ve managed to come up with each time.
Next door to Fish& was Taco Wall, the first installment of Belgrave’s Street Food Lab, pressing fresh corn tortillas, and serving them up as Fish Tacos (£3.5).  I thought it could do with a little tweaking – I thought there was a too much batter on the fish, considering the size of the taco – but everything else about it; the presentation; the pineapple salsa; the scotch bonnet and grapefruit sauce, proves that they know what they’re doing.  This was only the first time serving to the public, I’m confident they’ll have nailed it by the time I try it again.
The Street Food Lab itself seems like a brilliant idea, I’m a little unclear on the specifics of how it’ll work, but if it means more in-house vendors are going to join Dough Boys, Patty Smiths, Fu-Schnickens and now Taco Wall, then I’m massively in favour of it.
A few weeks ago I went to the Briggate World Food Fair and intended to eat loads and write a round-up of the day.  I didn’t manage to get an article out of it though, as after I tried Street Fodder‘s Thai Food, it started raining so I just grabbed a bag full of cakes from Madeleine Express and went home.  Both traders were at the Street Feast on Saturday (Madeleine Express going by the alias Noisette Bakehouse), and while I didn’t get anything from them then, I’ll quickly mention that Street Fodder’s Summer Rolls and Chicken Satay are some of the best I’ve had in Leeds, and the fact anything as wildly imaginative as Noisette’s creations taste as amazing as Noisette’s creations is a miracle – and there’s not a lame cupcake or lazy buttercream in sight.
BONUS PARAGRAPHS!
The day after Street Feast 4, Belgrave hosted a Game of Thrones quiz, which I took part in – not because I wanted to win, because I didn’t even want to win, I’m glad I didn’t win and I’m not even bitter so shut up – so I had a reason to try the Game of Thrones-themed food tie-ins.  Dough Boys Slice and Fire (£1.4 before 7pm, THAT OFFER IS STILL CRAZY TO ME) featured black pudding and pork belly with chilli apple jam and fresh sage leaves, and tasted like a £22.95 Gastropub meal wrapped inside dough.
Patty Smiths avenged Bobby Baratheon by topping their Valar Morghulis burger with Wild Boar sausage, then dialling-up the exuberance by piling on braised oxtail, bearnaise sauce, and a big pile of crispy shredded leeks.  I hope you’re sitting down for this, because it’s a big statement:  It was the best speciality burger I’ve ever had.  Ok joint-best with Patty & Bun‘s pork-belly and teriyaki smothered Mr Miyagi, but that’s still super-high praise, especially as they’ve only been in the game for two months.

Dough Boys @ Belgrave Music Hall

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I imagine you’ve been sat at your laptop since my last post, pressing refresh (or at least sitting back in a Muumuu and fat guy-hat while a pecking bird toy presses refresh for you, like when Homer becomes obese and starts working from home) and waiting for me to drop some more knowledge.  Well sorry for the wait guys, I’ve just been busy.  Get off my back, jeez!

I wasn’t too busy for a couple of lazy Sunday pints and pizzas though, so I lobbed my camera in my pocket and went to Belgrave – I reviewed their Street Feast last week and spoke fondly of everything but neglected to take photos of Dough Boys.  
The only way to correct this rookie error was by cramming food into myself so I could take photos of it, rather than forcing people to rely on eloquent descriptions of pizza.  Spoiler alert: It looks like pizza!


Really good pizza, mind you.  This is the Silvio, or their take on the Margarita – jazzed up with fresh basil and smoked sea salt after coming out of the oven.

And the exotic devil underneath is the Screaming Goat, which has Goats Cheese, Beetroot, Chervil and Walnuts on top.
They’re not stingy with toppings, but at the same time they don’t weigh down the slice and leave you with a lap full of wet cheese.  As before the dough is great – crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle with frequent air pockets and the occasional, welcome charred bit.
As well as the two varieties we tried, you can also get Sausage Fest (a meat feast with I think 3 types of sausage), Woodsy (Pepperoni and Mushroom), Baa No More (A Middle Eastern-inspired one with spiced Lamb) and another vegetarian offering aptly named Paul & Linda (Another vegetarian option with Artichoke hearts) which they can make vegan-friendly on request.  
As the pizza names suggest, they’ve got no problem being tongue-in-cheek about what they do.  Every month they host Dough vs Dude – a speed-eating contest which I haven’t taken part in yet because I’m giving everyone else a chance first – and they often come up with themed pizzas based on bands playing at Belgrave.  Hopefully they’ll do something similar for the Box Set Quiz nights which start next month – whole, unsliced pizzas with dipping sticks for the Breaking Bad quiz would be a good start.  And if you don’t understand why, THEN DON’T BOTHER COMING TO THE QUIZ, SON!
I mentioned it in passing before but I feel I should reiterate how good value they are as well, we got 4 slices – which equates to an entire 14″-ish pizza – for under a fiver thanks the ridiculously generous half price slice offer which runs every day before 7.  It’s so good that you wouldn’t hesitate to buy it at full price, but don’t tell them that.

Street Feast at Belgrave Music Hall Round-Up

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Since opening last October, Belgrave Music Hall has earned a reputation for its food; a couple of hole-in-the-wall kitchens bookend the bar, dispensing relaxed, social media-friendly street food with the added benefit of having a roof over your head.  Bearing in mind these credentials it was only a matter of time until they hosted a food event, and of course chubs over here was in there like a whippet.

We arrived there just after midday and the place was already busy – trendy Dads with three-wheeled pushchairs lingering after brunch, eager food bloggers, and regular daytime drunks; myself being a combination of the last two.  I recovered from the devastating realisation that Ilkley Mary Jane wasn’t on draught any more, settled for a pint of Saltaire Blonde (Not a bad substitute), squeezed onto a bench and started strategizing how to eat as much as possible.
I’m not nosey or anything, but when you’re sharing a bench with strangers you can’t help but eavesdrop, which in this case helped me decide to start at Fu Schnickens (A brief tangent about the name: I’m as down with obscure-ish early-90s rap as the next guy, but I can’t work out the connection to Taiwanese street food.  I bet I’ll kick myself when I realise).  Fu Schnickens is in the business of serving up Guo Bao (£3.5 or 2 for £5)- steamed buns containing a choice of pork belly, panko chicken or glazed portabello mushroom.  I went for the pork belly and chicken options, I’m sure as far as mushrooms go the portabello was wonderful, but I ain’t about that life.  After the buns were steamed and the meat was fried to order, they were meticulously assembled along with pickled cabbage, sesame, cashew nuts and sriracha sauce.  Ben (I think his name was Ben) told me that they’ve had to cease manufacture at one of the main sriracha factories because local residents were complaining about the chilli smell, talk about ungrateful.  Having given up my seat to go and collect my order, I relocated to the roof terrace and spread my buns out on a picnic bench, just like your Mum does.

The chicken Guo Bao was great – the chicken was juicy, the chilli panko packed a real crispiness which contrasted well with the stickiness of the steamed dough, and Ben’s delicate touch with the sriracha and Japanese mayo (which I should have asked for more information about) proved to be just the right amount.

As good as the chicken bun was, nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow: probably the best pork belly I’ve ever eaten, and plenty of it.  The buns weren’t small, and the slab of pork belly was sticking out either end of it.  A lot of the fat had been rendered down and formed a chewy, caramelised crust on the edge, complimented beautifully by the hoisin sauce, and pickled cabbage and coriander was on hand to stop things becoming too rich, and I could happily have eaten a dozen of these.  Luckily Fu Schnickens is a new resident at Belgrave, and will be serving Guo Bao from Patty Smiths burger kitchen on the regs.

After I finished gushing we went to the bar again, I got a Five Points Pale Ale and my friend went to Bundobust to order the Pav Bhaji (£6) I didn’t have chance to get a photo of his meal because he shoved his mitts straight into the box as soon as it was handed to him, and he’d finished half of it by the time we got a seat again.  I managed to nick a bit though and I don’t blame him, the depth of flavour was something else, very warm and rich and spicy, with a really well-considered combination of spices.  I also tried a bit of his Bundo Chaat (£4) which was a nice, almost sweet accompaniment to the rich and spicy main, with fragrant cumin and tamarind, cool yoghurt and crisp layers of samosa pastry interspersing the chick peas.  Having treaded the boards of food pop-ups, Bundobust will soon have a home to call their own on Mill Hill, just behind Friends of Ham.

Shortly after this point I grabbed a slice of Silvio (£2, or £1 before 7pm) from Dough Boys and took a quick jaunt to town – having realised Valentines Day is approaching and I hadn’t made any of the necessary preparations.  I returned from Poundland to find Belgrave even busier than before, pitched up next to some more strangers, and ordered a Dirty Burger (£4.5 or £6 with chips) from Patty Smith’s.

Apologies for the crap photo – it was getting dark in there by this point – but you can see the type of burger you’re getting here: Shiny, dripping and compact with no gimmicks.  The patty is a generous size and the tangy chipotle mayo cuts through really nicely, if I had to offer any criticism, it would be that the lettuce (Little gem I think, which added an unneeded bitterness to the flavour of the burger) wasn’t shredded, so the juices from the burger and the tomato (also not needed, but that’s a matter of preference, not a dealbreaker) slid right off and got absorbed into the brioche bun, making it soggy and structurally unsound.  For £4.50 though it’s miles ahead of anything else in its price range, and for another £1.50 you get a big portion of hand-cut, skin-on, twice (thrice?)-cooked chips, which were extremely good.  Patty Smith’s has taken up residence in the far kitchen at Belgrave now, so go check them out.

While I was shoving all that into my gob, my friend had the Chilli Corn Chowder (£5) from Fish&, which was a huge portion, amusingly served in a hollowed out bread bowl.  This was also the case for the Brooklyn Lager Steamed Mussels (£4), which looked and smelt amazing, but I didn’t get chance to try.  In fact, I planned to come back on the Sunday and try offerings from the rest of the vendors, but being a genius I neglected to realise that the Street Feast was a one-day event, meaning I missed out on the amazing-looking Noisette Bakery too.  Hopefully they’ll be back at the next one on March 8th though, I will be.

What did you think to the Street Feast? Favourite pop-ups?  Who would you like to see there next time?  What’s the explanation behind Fu Schnickens name?! 

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