Review: Casa Colombiana

Until fairly recently The Grand Arcade wasn’t much more than empty lots and curiosities; a shortcut between Vicar Lane and North Street if it was a bit drizzly; a place where you could smoke cigarettes indoors, having spent about £12 at Santiago’s Whiskey Wednesdays and feeling like the fourth Beastie Boy, circa 1988.  It had its attractions; beloved vegan restaurant Roots and Fruits, a vintage clothes shop that sold actual vintage clothes – rather than dirty Kappa sweatshirts and ill-fitting Wrangler jeans – but it was for the most part a very big, very beautiful, very under-utilised area of town.

Last year it received a bit of a spruce-up and a good portion of empty space began to fulfil its potential as Handpicked Hall – an indoor market where local independents traded on a monthly rotation.  Among the usual shabby chic wall-hangings reminding you to “Live, Laugh, Love” and soap that looks like macaroons there was some great food, and while Handpicked Hall ultimately came to an end, its legacy continues through the food which a lot of people first encountered there – Indie Ices, That Old Chestnut vegan bakery, and Casa Colombiana.
Just across the arcade from Handpicked Hall’s hollow remains, Colombiana has expanded from a humble coffee cart to a restaurant which they’ve decked out to look like the “South America” leg of Disney’s Small World After All ride.  The collage of terracotta paint, burlap coffee sacks and Papyrus typeface is a step up from cantina-style decor, but still casual enough that people at other tables are comfortable sharing notes on their meal if they notice you staring at their plates (Speaking from experience, there).  This atmosphere’s a product of not just the decor, but the owner who works the room like a restauranteur in a Scorcese film, indulging each table in enthusiastic, charming conversation.  The trade-off for getting this level of attention is that service isn’t lightning-fast – it took about fifteen minutes from getting in the door to having a (reassuringly strong) mojito in my hand, but the wait never feels like a chore.

For starters we had chorizo – plump little oval sausages, like bullies’ fingers in a Roald Dahl story – which are made in-house.  They’re warmly spiced, with a texture more similar black pudding than the overgrown pepperami version from supermarkets, present in around 90% of my home-cooking.  The plantain fritters would have worked for me as a dessert; thick ribbons of the stuff wrapped around chunks of Queso Fresco, skewered, and deep-fried; salty-sweet little mouthfuls tasting equally of halloumi, sweet potato and slightly underripe mango.

The Albondigas were great – well seasoned balls of coarse-ground beef, roughly the size of an angry toddler’s clenched fist, covered (not swimming) in a thick, picante tomato sauce.  They’re served with white rice and potato wedges – just in case starch is going out of fashion – but neither of them add anything to the dish, the rice just sits there, being rice, and the big daft potato wedges would benefit from a couple more minutes in the deep frier, to avoid comparison with oven chips.

That’s not to say they can’t get carbs right.  I ate the Llapingacho special – the eponymous focus of the dish was potato cakes, stuffed with cheese that was just the right side of stringy without turning into cartoon bubblegum.  The meal as a whole resembled a Food Pyramid poster hung upside down; flank steak cooked enough to make it tender, one of those fat little chorizos (I was thrilled to have one all to myself), fried egg, avocado, a moreish Aji salsa and a token salad – a hearty combination which captures Casa Colombiana’s ethos perfectly – casual, home-style comfort cooking done really well.

Two starters, two mains, a cocktails, Desperados and service came to around £50.  I wish I’d had longer so I could try the Ceviche and Arroz con Pollo, but I humbly admitted defeat – those strong mojitos put us in the mood to go a few doors down to Santiagos, and the food had given us plenty of reason to come back again.

Review: The Hungry Bear, Meanwood

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Meanwood has enjoyed something of a renaissance recently, the allure of being able to call Waitrose their local supermarket has seen young professionals flocking to the catchment area, and established bars have responded by opening Meanwood spin-offs such as Alfred and East of Arcadia.  Joining them is new indepedent restaurant The Hungry Bear – which coincidentally would also be my username on Grindr.

On arrival my initial reaction was that it didn’t feel like a restaurant – the layout; resourceful with its limited space, and the well-considered mismatch of decor gave the feeling of a supper club, and for some reason the prominence of slate made me think of a family run bistro in the Lake District.  I should point out that this is pretty unfounded though, I’ve only been to the Lake District once, and I was 6, so I was hardly taking notes on the use of the masonry in bistros at that age.

Having been disarmed by the appearance and atmosphere, the greeting was suitably relaxed and friendly; we’d only made our booking 30 minutes before turning up, so the waitress was anticipating our arrival and showed us to our table, and told us about the beers that they brew on site.If it hadn’t fallen victim to its own popularity and ended up stricken from the menu, I’d have loved to try their IPA, but due to the circumstances we shared a couple of bottles of their Fruit Ale (£7.50) between the table.

Rather than a Lambic – which can taste like a moderately alcoholic equivalent of getting Tango’d – there was just a hint of Blueberry and Morello Cherry, making it a much more suitable accompaniment to a meal.

Settling with a my drink, my attention was drawn to the music they were playing.  Off the top of my head we got to enjoy some unobtrusive-but recognisable-if-you-know-it songs by SBTRKT, Radiohead and Santigold.  Not a dealbreaker, but a pleasant bonus.  Along with the microbrewery and bear imagery, they’re well on their way to a full house in hipster bingo.

For all of the contemporary touches offered by The Bear’s other aspects, the menu relies on old classics, verging on the gastro-pub territory.  If you had to summarise the menu quickly – as I had to when I suggested going there to my girlfriend – you’d probably say it was British grub, done proper.  You’d also sound like a bit of a berk for straying so far into somebody else’s vernacular, as I did.

For my starter I had the Peruvian Fishcakes (£6.5) which was served with Cajun Lotus Root and an Avocado Salsa.  These were small and light and fried in what I imagine was polenta.  They were not overcooked, and each ingredient was distinguishable, I couldn’t tell what type of fish it was as I’m a fish novice, but it was flavourful enough to be distinguishable, but not in the sense that it was suspiciously fishy and a few days past best.  The cajun lotus root gave a nice contrast of texture, in the form of deep red shards scattered across the dish, like big bits of those posh Kettle chips made of beetroot.

My fellow diners didn’t really get the hang of the “order as much different stuff as possible and let me try it” policy I encourage when eating out with guests, and both ended up going for the Fig and Sun-dried Tomato Filo Tart (£6).  It arrived resembling more of a quiche than a tart – the fig and sun-dried tomatoes lay on a thick layer of airy-but-rich savoury custard flavoured with blue brie, and the eponymous filo pastry underneath – it wasn’t what any of us were expecting, but something as ambiguously named as a tart is open to interpretation, so we learned our lesson to ask questions about the menu in future.

The tart was perfectly pleasant, however one portion is two substantial slices, and would have been more than enough for two people.  Having been given a deliciously creamy pea & mint amuse bouche before the starter, it was clear that The Hungry Bear’s aim is to make sure they leave no man or woman so much as peckish after their meal.

I realised there was no danger of that as soon as my Confit and Fired Pork Belly (£11.9) arrived in front of me, served with kale, citrus and carrot puree and a red win jus – stacked onto the plate so that it towered over the table like one of the twig-sculptures from True Detective (topical!).

As you can imagine from a fatty cut of meat which has been boiled in more fat, it was very, very tender; falling apart under the most delicate of my knife’s incisions.  The meat to fat ratio was impressive, and it tasted as rich as you’d expect.  Then I tackled the crackling.

Until this point I’d only eaten the meat, leaving the spring vegetable fricasse to perform its job of springing the meat back up towards me, and so I chose kale as accompaniment to the first mouthful of crackling, to provide a fresh counterpoint to the crispy, chewy fat.  I was so naive.

After a couple of chews and the flavours started to harmonise, my girlfriend looked over and asked how it was.  All I could muster was a nod, and she told me that it looked like I was moving in slow motion.  I can only imagine I was trying to savour that perfect moment for as long as possible.  Apparently Darren Aronofsky is going to make a film about me chasing that unattainable high again, he’ll be able to use recycle the pupil-dilation close-up from Requiem for a Dream probably.

The crackling is very good.  Imagine a warm but brittle Wham bar made of pork fat, all sweet and caramel, able to withstand a little torsion before giving way and breaking, and then sticking to your teeth like slowly-dissolving barnacles.  The kale was steamed and buttered and enormously indulgent, a world away from what sensible people put in their juice detoxes.  Subsequent mouthfuls were good, but not up to the standard of that first one.

My girlfriend went for the 7oz Burger (£8.9) which was a really nice antidote to the slew of dirty burgers I’ve been eating for the past few months.  Served on a warm ciabatta and draped in maple glazed bacon, it tasted somewhat more savoury than anything I’ve eaten recently – there was an unfamiliar mix of herbs in the patty, along with diced white onion for texture.  Not what I’d personally go for when designing my ideal burger, but perfectly in fitting with its surroundings.

The stack of chips it came with resembled short and stocky Jenga set.  They were very evenly cooked considering their girth but I’d have liked them crispier – they did a great job of absorbing my leftover jus though.

After the mains we were too full to consider desert of the cheese board, so I never did get to try a caramel-roasted bourbon fig.  Luckily though I’ll be visiting The Hungry Bear again – not only on the merits of the food, but also the atmosphere and service; we were the last people in the restaurant and not once did we feel rushed.  The waitresses didn’t even do the trick of walking past every 30 seconds to make sure we knew they were there if we needed the bill.

Speaking of which, the bill came to £75 for three people, including starters, mains, a side, drinks and service.  Amazing value for money for this much food of this high quality.

Review: Bone Daddies, London

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You’d be forgiven for missing Bone Daddies as you turn off Brewer Street, as I almost did even with Google Maps in my hand; casting light on my perturbed expression which effectively doubled as a projection of “TOURIST” right across my forehead.
Its incongruous presence entirely at odds with Soho’s ultra-sensory barrage – the all black exterior and hairdressers’ typeface offer no clues to what awaits inside, and if you tried to be clever and use your powers of observation to look through the window at what was going on inside, you’d still not get the whole picture.  Serves you right for trying to be clever.
You’d deduce that it’s a ramen bar from the telltale signs – big mismatched bowls, communal seating, trendy young beautiful people, and those big spoons which evoke memories of your wacky mate at sixth form, drinking out of unconventional apparatus at house parties (“A pyrex jug! I’m mad, me“) – but the moment you step inside and get punched in the ear by Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, you realise you’re a long way from Little Tokyo.
Bone Daddies is a Rock & Roll Ramen bar, and with all of the adrenaline and OTT stylisation I’d be tempted to describe it as a Tarantino-esque restaurant; except it’s so cartoonish it makes Kill Bill look like Rashomon.  It’s a lot of fun, and serves almost as a caveat to the dining experience; if you’re not into this, then you won’t enjoy what’s about to happen in your mouth.

The one modest thing we ate was Tenderstem Broccoli (£4.5) steamed and served naked, with a Yuzu Kosho Mayo on the side for dipping.  The waiter informed us that Yuzu is a Japanese citrus, and along with some other unidentifiable flavours gave the dipping sauce a unique flavour.  Making light work of the broccoli, I dipped the stalks in floret-first to try and collect as much sauce as possible – daubing our table in the process, like Bob Ross painting a masterpiece in mayonnaise.
Seeing the mess I made of the broccoli, I decided to take up Bone Daddies on their generous offer of a plastic bib, provided on each table.  My reason for doing this was two-fold: 
1. I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t care who sees me wearing a plastic bib in a restaurant, and 
2. I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t want to be walking around with Yuzu mayo all down my shirt.

Mrs. Cous Cous Bang Bang helped herself to one of the hair-ties that are thoughtfully provided to prevent hair falling in your soup/flick at your dining partner.

The other starter was at the other end of the spectrum; Pork and Corn Croquettes (£5) – the impossibly moist filling tumbling out of a satisfyingly thick, seasoned panko casing.  Each one about twice the size of my thumb, which is only a useful way of gauging their scale if you’re familiar with the dimensions of my thumb.
The Sweet 3 Miso Ramen (£10) appeared in front of me resembling a delicious swamp, complete with a “clarence-court egg” (stained with tea and soy sauce, and boiled just past runny), great morsels of chicken, charred corn, and with additional Cock Scratchings (Because I’m a grown-ass man, remember, and ordering cock scratchings is hilarious B).  These scratchings were small, chewy/crispy shavings of cooked chicken skin which lent incredible richness and exciting texture to anything they came near.
There were noodles in there as well but unfortunately they were hardly noticeable in the mélange.  If Bone Daddies prided itself on the art of soba, then this would be a huge disappointment, but the real star of the show was always going to be the broth, and it far surpassed anything I’d tasted before.
My dining partner’s Soy Ramen (£9) almost looked like a diet meal in comparison.  A far more simple looking dish with its components instantly distinguishable from one another.  The broth in this meal seemed like a distant cousin to what formed the base of mine; very light and clear, not having been given the butter and cock scratching-treatment.
Occupying the first position on the mains menu, you imagine it might have been put there as an entry-level dish to wean people onto Bone Daddies way of cooking, and it serves the purpose well, while being a delicious bowl of ramen in its own right.  In the surroundings though, and when compared to the exuberance of my Sweet 3 Miso dish, it did fall a bit flat.
It’s testament to London’s embarrassment of riches that they have to further sub-categorise restaurants which would elsewhere be considered niche or speciality, and I’m extremely jealous.  You wouldn’t get a Rock & Roll Ramen bar anywhere other than the capital, and you won’t get ramen like this anywhere other than Bone Daddies.

Trinity Kitchen March Round-Up

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And so – as sure as the changing of the seasons – Sunday saw the imposing arm of the Trinity’s crane reach in and pluck out the current crop of food vans from Trinity Kitchen; the burger one, the Japanese one, the ethnic one, and the sweet ones.

The crane is a merciful deity though, and what it takes with one hand, it gives back with another.  Our old familiar friends were replaced by fresh new faces; a burger one, Japanese ones, an ethnic one, and a sweet one.
I was invited to Trinity Kitchen on Tuesday evening for an introduction to our new pals.

Harajuku Kitchen
Bringing Tokyo streetfood to Leeds via Scotland, Harajuku Kitchen’s small menu offers a bit of the usual – Gyoza and Miso Soup – as well as something more exotic.

The Okonomiyaki (£3/£5) was billed on the extended menu as “Japanese savoury pancake pizza”, which is a very broad way of saying it’s a pancake with stuff on top of it.

The pancake itself was almost an inch thick, with an eggy batter similar to an omelette binding together shredded cabbage, spring onion and other vegetables.  I described it more as a Japanese take on Bubble & Squeak, which I stand by, but they seemed apprehensive to accept the comparison, which I did intend as a compliment.

The pancake was topped with okinomiyaki sauce, wasabi mayo, nori, tuna flakes and coriander, which all complimented the flavour of the pancake very well.  At several points while I was eating it, I was reminded of the sweet bread buns from McDonalds (Again, a compliment!), which I’ll attribute to the seasoning in the pancake and the okinomiyaki sauce.  
The dish is a bit of a polarising one as it’s not directly comparable to anything you’re likely to have eaten before, but I’d highly recommend giving it a go.
As well as the okinomiyaki (I’m getting really quick at typing that now), we shared 4 Vegetable Gyoza (£3.5) which were very nice.  They’re served lightly fried rather than steamed, and come with a sauce which tastes pickled and earthy at the same time.  (I didn’t get a picture of them I’m afraid)

Harajuku Kitchen is just one of the carts repping the JP this month; Dorshi sits on the very next plot selling similar Japanese influenced street food with twists characteristic of their Dorset roots – the Godzilla to Harajuku’s Gojira.  How’s that for a culturally-aware analogy?!  I spoil you guys
These South Coast idiosyncrasies come in the form of regional ingredients – their Pork Dumpling (£4) combines Black Pudding with the pork to give a really rich, satisfying meaty flavour – like the nicest posh sausage roll you’ve ever tasted.  Its form-factor elevates it above the sausage roll though – the dumpling was steamed perfectly throughout, cooked enough to eliminate any doughy-ness, but still with a satisfying bite.  No flakey pastry stuck in my beard here.
I’m intrigued to try their usual combination of Pork and Dorset Blue Vinney cheese, hopefully at some point in their Trinity residency they’ll decide Leeds can handle it and put it on the menu.
Seeing as the person who served me was really enthusiastic about them, I should quickly mention the condiments they offer.  The sriracha didn’t have the same deep red hue that you see in bottled variations which leads me to believe they might make their own.  I also tried the Kewpie Mayo on the recommendation that “It’s like crack” (I haven’t really got a point of reference for that, but it was very good mayonnaise).  It’s encouraging to see so much enthusiasm about even the small things.
Also on the menu was Kara-Age (£4), which takes the Japanese dish and adds the Western indulgence of a buttermilk-soaking before cooking and Fried “Rice” (£4/2 for £6.5/all 3 for £8.5) which was in fact pearl barley cooked in mushroom stock and served with 5 vegetables.  
I didn’t try either of these dishes in an attempt to try as many different places as possible, but based on how good the dumplings were, I’m going to go back and eat everything they make, and will ever make until the end of time.  These were really very good dumplings.


Travelling the shortest distance to be here this month is Cafe Moor – a North African/Middle Eastern vendor usually operating from Kirkgate Market.  This used to be my usual lunch-break haunt when I worked in town a few years ago, so I’m really glad to see it get such great exposure.
I didn’t eat anything from there last night in the interest of reserving tummy-space for new things, but every time I’ve eaten there in the past it’s been brilliant and very good value for money.  They’re also not shy of putting their money where their mouth is; proudly displaying their food on vast, impressive platters to tempt customers and show others what they’re missing.

And it seemed to be working, in the few hours I was there, Cafe Moor looked like the most consistently stall in the place.  I’ll be back within the month to get a few treats and do a separate article to do the place justice.
Meatwagon

If you’ve read this blog before – or seen me in person, breathlessly tackling an escalator – you’ll know that I’m part of the burger-loving demographic (Which makes up roughly 100% of the population), so imagine my delight when I found out that the Meatwagon was coming to Trinity Kitchen.
For the uninitiated, Meatwagon is the mobile branch of the MEATliquor franchise; its cult, off-Oxford Street restaurant considered by many to serve the best burgers in London.  It’s recently emerged that MEATliquor is going to be branching out to Leeds, with the Meatwagon serving to test the water before a restaurant opens in the Summer.
I ordered the Dead Hippie (£8) which contained two mustard-fried patties, cheese, minced onion, and Hippie sauce.
Apparently they bake their own sour-dough buns in the restaurants, but I couldn’t tell if that’s what I received here – by the time it made its 20ft journey to my table, it resembled that McDonalds cheeseburger that you wake up to in your pocket after a night out – and it was indistinguishable from a family BBQ bread roll.  It was light though, and thin enough to suggest that its only purpose was to prevent the holders fingers getting too juicy.
That wasn’t to suggest I made it through the burger with clean hands though.  The succulent, tasty patties cooked just as I like them, with piquante contrast from the mustard-mayo Hippie Sauce and chunky pickles.  I was dripping juices with all the grace and dignity of Brucey Bogtrotter taking on Miss Trunchbull’s chocolate cake; passers-by were gasping, infants were bursting into tears, chaste young women were obstructing their gaze with a hand-fan (probably), and I didn’t give half a shit.  This burger was very good.
The jury’s still out on whether this is an £8 burger though.  It comes in at a couple of quid more expensive than the competition, but in its defence it does come with 2 patties as standard.  Perhaps it would be better to give the option of a single patty version for £6-£6.5, god knows there’s space on their menu…
That’s the menu: Two choices.  Meat or no meat.  No sides, no fries, no customisation options.  And after talking to the manager to get some more information for this review, I found out they’re also got no manners; I was met with hostility when I asked what cuts of meat they used, and the only answer I could get from them was “Mince”.
Naturally I took to My despondency to Twitter, and In fairness MEATliquor did contact me and ask for more information on my exchange with the manager, so maybe they’ll be able to respond with an explanation.  Nonetheless, it was really disappointing to encounter this kind of attitude, and really sticks out when compared to other business-owners who are deeply passionate about their food.
UPDATE 28/02: Since my visit I was contacted by MEATliquor and invited to go and meet an area manager for a chat in person. They assured me that it was a one-off and put it down to teething issues, which I’m willing to give them a pass for.  The person I met with was happy to talk about the food and the business, showing the kind of genuine passion and enthusiasm that I expected in the first place. All is well again.
Love Rouge Bakery


Another case of a local business getting much-deserved exposure, Love Rouge has upped sticks from their Headingley bakery-slash-cafe to become this month’s dedicated Trinity cake-dealer.
I don’t usually have a sweet tooth and usually avoid desserts all together, but I’ve got a special place in my heart (and in the walls of my arteries) for Carrot Cake (£2.5), likewise my other half with anything salted caramel, so she went for the Chocolate & Salted Caramel Slice (£2.5)
Both were well baked and moist, with a nice bit of crunch on the edges for variety.  The slices are pretty huge for £2.50 so you get great value for money.  If there was any criticism though, the salted caramel was a bit under-represented in the topping-to-cake ratio.
And there you have it.  I hope you think of me and this round-up when you find yourself circling Trinity Kitchen, trying to make your mind up at any point in the next month.  Just make sure you don’t trip over my guide-ropes when I’m camped up outside Dorshi.
Full disclosure: The burger from Meatwagon was complimentary of Trinity Kitchen, but this didn’t influence my opinion of any of the food.

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.

Takeaway Review: Mr. Nice Guy’s

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In my experience of reading food blogs – and I feel that I can speak with authority on the subject, having read as many as three – I’ve noticed an absence of reviews for takeaway places.  It makes sense really, reviewing something in your own home takes what little glamour there is in food blogging, strips it down to loungewear of ambiguous cleanliness, and plonks it on a sofa in front of Netflix.  There’s the ratings section of JustEat of course, but comments sections on websites tend to be the domain of angry loners and Illuminati-theorists; not the type of people you can take a reliable restaurant recommendation from.  Never one to shy away form suffering for my art, I’m going to step up to the plate* and offer my services.  First place up for review: Mr. Nice Guy’s

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Opening last year as a spin-off from the wildly successful Get Baked, Mr Nice Guy’s was one of the first places in Leeds to offer American-style burgers; dripping fresh patties, shiny buns etc etc.  Anybody who knows about Get Baked (Which is absolutely everybody, by the way.  Their social media game is on point) knows that they’re passionate about their product, it shows in their enthusiasm for the business as well as the reception from customers; these are the type of people you want to be making your food.
The combination of wild popularity and an admirable dedication to making everything fresh means that waiting times can be higher than you’d expect from a burger place – their website advises it can take up to an hour and a half for delivery.  Being starving and impatient, I sat poised at my laptop from 17:58, refreshing the order page until it came online at 6pm, placed our order of a Nice Burger (£6), Ohio Burger (£6.5) and Jalapeno-salted Fries (£2), and played the waiting game.
The waiting game sucked, but luckily we received a call a couple of minutes later telling us that our order was on the grill and would be sent out soon – which was a nice touch – and within half an hour a cheerful delivery man was at our door with bags of burgers.
I went for the modestly-named Nice Burger first, Nice Guy’s take on a bacon cheeseburger, with the addition of their signature Nice Sauce.  Unsheathed from its double-wrapping I noticed that in transit the juices from the patty and the melted cheese had made everything inside the bun kind of congeal in the best kind of way, meaning that each element of the burger was present and correct in every mouthful.  I’ve been spoilt rotten this week with burgers, this one being the third I’ve eaten, and it was probably the best.  While the patty was a little overcooked for my liking (When it comes to patties I’m with ODB: Baby I like it raaaaAAAaaaw), allowing it to sit and harmonise with the rest of the ingredients for ten minutes inside a wrapper gives it the edge.  I would never be able to sit and watch a burger for ten minutes if it was in front of me, regardless of how cohesive the ingredients would be by the end of it.  The Jalapeno-salted fries were alright, but could have done with more Jalapeno salt.  Decent sized portion though for the price, we had one between us and it was plenty.
Next up was the Ohio, which contained bacon, cheddar, and a smear of peanut butter to glue everything together.  I swapped the bacon for candied bacon, but also added lettuce because my body is a temple, son.  As much as I talk about the virtues of a simple, gimmick-free burger, I can be a sucker for feature-pieces like this and Red’s Donut-Burger.  Much like crystal meth and dance music, I feel they’re something I need to indulge in while I’m still relatively young and hip, before they can cause any irreparable damage or cause me to look like a fat wheezing slob in public, embarrassing myself by trying my hand at a young man’s game.  The Ohio was good, but not something I’d order again.  Without the sweet and sharp Nice sauce cutting through the flavour landscape (can I get away with saying that?  Ok, just this once) it became a bit difficult to eat, but this might have been accountable to the fact I’d already eaten one burger by this point.  I’d recommend you try it once, but the Nice Burger is your best bet for a classic burger.  
In the end I had to have a little walk around the room and stoke the fireplace (not a euphemism) before finally, heroically finishing the thing.  Perhaps I’m more suited to blogging from outside of the public eye after all…