It’s been two months since the grand reveal of Leeds’ latest foodie hub, Trinity Kitchen. Possibly the most hyped launch of the year since Trinity Leeds itself, the whir of the PR machine paid off and it opened to a virtual fanfare of glowing reviews, which I was very happy to add my voice to. We all swooned over the décor, were impressed with the range of permanent restaurants, but most importantly, we loved the fact that Trinity Kitchen would give a temporary home to five exciting, independent street food traders that would change each month.
And two months on, it’s these traders that have made Trinity Kitchen worth visiting again, and again, and again. People love to get ancy about the term ‘street food’, but I’m more interested in what it represents and for me, it’s the chance to enjoy a diverse mix of exquisitely-crafted food served up by passionate people. No more, no less. And this is where Trinity Kitchen has excelled, especially during the advance of winter when street food would normally mean frozen fingers and soggy sarnies. Seeking shelter from the cold, I’ve been wowed by the changing traders during the first two months, with highlights including the glorious chilli paneer delights of Manjit’s Kitchen, The Marvellous Tea Dance Company’s sparkly brownies (aka the best brownies EVER) and the pakora goodness of Fresh Rootz, a purveyor of vegan and vegetarian world street food.
This Monday was changeover day again, so who’s up next? Thanks to the lovely Wendy (aka the Leeds Guru), I was invited to sample the spoils of the new traders on their first night. It’s a hard life…
Mondays are tough, especially after a weekend of Christmas shopping doom. Ravenous and in the mood for something big and comforting, it was inevitable that Dogtown would pique my attention – a gourmet-style hot dog stand with all of the trimmings. Perfect. Even better, the meat-free options weren’t lazy meat-substitutes, but enticing creations that catered for both veggies and vegans. I was drawn to the ‘Meat is Moyder’; a vegetarian ‘dog’ made with spinach, cheddar cheese and seeds. The ‘dog’ itself is presented simply on a fresh bun with with silky onions, leaving you to go wild with the choice of homemade sauces and toppings. Dangerous. Left to my own devices I went a tad overboard, overloading mine with their homemade chipotle, green sauce and yellow sauce. Take that, Monday. I especially loved the yellow sauce – a mixture of picallili, mustard, pickle and chilli which added heat without overpowering the hot dog itself.
Dogtown got the meat eater’s thumbs up from Rob too, who chose the ‘Chicago Dog’ – an all-beef frankfurter with dill pickle and tomatoes. It’s along the same lines of Primos Gormet Hotdogs, that equally magical hotdog emporium in the corn exchange, so if you love them (and who doesn’t?), then you’ll love Dogtown.
Another new pop-up to Trinity Kitchen, and to Leeds, was Donostia Social Club, which describes itself as ‘a street food van; pop up restaurant; and tapas/pintxos bar, all in one.’
Donostia is dedicated to Basque food, which they describe as a fusion of Northern Spanish and French cuisine. This excited me a lot. Although I’ve only visited Andalucía and the canary islands, I’ve loved Spanish cuisine for as long as I can remember, regularly fuelling my lusts at tapas restaurants across the country. But this was my first dalliance with Basque cuisine, and what an introduction. I chose Truffled Wild mushrooms with Quail egg, which were every bit as wonderful as they sound. One of those flavour combinations that you’re still daydreaming about for days afterwards, the mushrooms were sautéed and generously piled onto a crusty slice of fresh bread, drizzled with punchy, earthy truffle oil and finished with a fried quail egg, the yolk of which streamed like liquid gold. The generosity of the portion size made it quite tricky to eat, especially with the very bendy plastic forks provided, but if you’re not trying to impress, just use your fingers and make a mess like I did. SO worth it.
Rob was just as impressed with his choice – Seared Scallops with Pisto and a Green Chilli sauce – which he described between mouthfuls as ‘perfectly cooked, excellent sauce and MASSIVE’. So there you go.
And there’s more. There was only so much food I could gorge on in one sitting, but I managed to squeeze in a sample from Crêpe Lucette, an elegant, vintage-inspired black van claiming to offer ‘the purest and tastiest crêpes around’. If their mince-pie style pancake was anything to go by; all of which they proudly declared was homemade, from the brandy butter to the mincemeat, they might just be onto something.
There’s also Original Fry Up Material, ‘an emergency service’ dishing up fry ups and burgers out of an old ambulance. When a hangover strikes, I’ve always got a massive burger on my mind, so Original Fry Up’s portobello mushroom and kale veggie burger is definitely on my hit-list this festive season.
And finally, the star of this round of traders has to be the amazing Fish&. Fish& is a Leeds legend, with an army of fans that regularly declare their fish and chips as THE BEST fish and chips EVER. Taste them for yourself and you’ll be powerless to disagree. I’m very happy to count myself as part of that army, but what’s exciting about Fish&’s stint at Trinity Kitchen is that everything’s new – new van, new design and a new beach-inspired menu. Bring. It. On.
Although they’ve got very big shoes to fill, I daresay this month’s lot could be one of the most exciting groups so far. See you down there?
Heads up – I was invited to Trinity Kitchen to sample the new traders free of charge, but all opinions are my own.