This month we've got rhubarb, rabbit and rainbow chard
It looks like getting the shades and shorts out this month might have been a touch premature. This false Spring has put our taste buds all over the place. Do we want stews and comfort food or sushi and salads? Who are we kidding? We want it all, whatever time of year it is.
Here are the dishes our team highly recommend you try in and around Leeds this month...
Bhaji three ways, Prashad @ The Tetley (part of £40 tasting menu)
What’s better than a freshly cooked, perfectly spiced bhaji? Three of them, cooked in three ways, each complementing the other in flavour, heat, texture and stodge level. From the imagination of the Prashad kitchen emerged this masterpiece: a traditional ‘pattra’ style bhaji (rolled up with rainbow chard into a floury flavour bomb), a light, spongy bhaji ball laced with dill, and a deconstructed version consisting of chunky spinach. It was perfect. Kate Ryrie. (This was a one-off event.) Prashad, 137 Whitehall Road, Drighlington BD11 1AT / The Tetley, Hunslet Rd, Leeds LS10 1JQ
Caramel French toast, Vanguard (£6)
Ever a fan of a new Instagrammable brunch location, my first 11am-ish visit to Vanguard was quite the revelation, not least in part to my choice of French Toast. As picture-perfect as the café’s 70s-luxe interiors, my fork made fast work of this plump brioche, gummed together with caramel and topped with Yorkshire rhubarb and a peanut ginger crumble. Surprisingly light considering its core ingredients, the combination of sharp and sweet was expertly balanced and well portioned, a lovely combination against bitter coffee. A very affordable price-point too – treat yourself on a weekday morning without feeling too guilty, or split with weekend friends alongside their also excellent scrambled egg. Jenessa Williams. Duncan Street, Leeds, LS1 6DQ
Aberdeen Angus burger with chicken tikka, Ruby's Street Kitchen (£6.50)
Ruby’s Street Kitchen are a multi award winning street food vendor. Owner Ifty loves to experiment and is always coming up with fun and indulgent dishes, and takes his inspiration from the street carts of Mumbai. The Aberdeen Angus Burger has succulent beef and warming spiced chicken sat atop a bed of lettuce and fermented cabbage. Served in a brioche bun with mint and chilli sauces, this is one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while. Keep your eye on their twitter page to find out where else they’ll be popping up in coming months. Anja Madhvani. Currently at Leeds Dock on Wednesday and Thursday lunchtime 12-13.30
Khargosh ka mokal (rabbit curry), 4 Kitchens (£13.95)
I could identify any of your typical curry house dishes if you blindfolded me, locked me in a box laden with bricks, threw me into the sea then served it up on your wittily-named speedboat while I plunged to my watery grave. Hell, eating a fish masala is a feat of sheer muscle memory – I can absorb it into my digestive system simply by giving it a knowing look. So, it’s great to be surprised by something different once in a while. Rabbit lends itself brilliantly to curry – a strong meaty flavour and only worth eating after it’s been cooked for the length of a test match. The one at 4 Kitchens is superb; the meat falls to pieces in your mouth and it’s served in more of a thick gravy than a sauce, which ticks a lot of “Yorkshire” boxes. Simon Richardson. The Old Police Station, Harrogate Rd, Leeds LS7 4LZ
Pear and walnut Florentine pizza, Ecco Pizzeria (£16.90)
I average a pizza a week, but not one with quite such billboard like proportions. Ecco sells it by the half metre, which essentially two, but cheaper and more grammable. We merged a pear & walnut with a Florentine (£16.90): rocket was all over the place.It’s so overwhelming my friend forgets she’s vegetarian and tucks into the Parmesan shavings. Ecco is evidently where the students of Headingley do date night. We’re surrounded by dough-eyed couples sharing slices in a land of no compromise. Blackened by the 800 degree wood burning stove, Ecco delivers quality AND quantity . Booking advised. Sarah Cotterill. 93 Otley Road, Leeds, LS6 3PS
Squid, fermented rhubarb and togarashi, Host (£6.50)
Ordering squid is usually a bit of a coin-toss. If you’re lucky it’s crisp, cross-hatched curls or puckered tentacles all lightly seasoned and tender. Often it’s a plate of vulcanised hoops resembling those sex aids they sell in vending machines in public toilets in service stations in Tibshelf, covered in batter. The squid, I mean. At Host though, I got lacey-edged noodles of the stuff in a slick of fermented rhubarb broth booming umami. No need for any visits to the vending machine with that fresh in my memory. Thom Archer. 60 The Grove, Ilkley LS29 9PA