Warning: this is another gushing post about my love of Leeds’ collaborative spirit. I know, I know. It’s a topic that features regularly in my Leeds-based posts, but that’s because it’s so bloody fantastic. Leeds is a city characterised by the spirit of its independents; independents who work with, not against, each other to create a city-wide food and drink offer that’s earned Leeds the reputation of being one of the country’s tastiest cities. Think Belgrave Music Hall’s Street Feast. Gusto Italiano at Lazy Lounge. The almighty brethren of organisations that make up the Leeds Food and Drink Association. And, as of this July, Bundobust.

Bundobust is a very special collaboration, combining the might of two award-winning purveyors of fine food and drink. On the food side you’ve got Prashad, a Leeds-based Indian vegetarian restaurant that propelled to infamy when it was crowned runner-up in Ramsay’s best restaurant of 2010. All that spice needs a special kind of sup to complement and refresh, and that’s where The Sparrow comes in. A Bradford-based craft beer bar, The Sparrow has racked up an impressive mantelpiece of accolades including a spot in The Guardian’s top 10 UK craft beer bars, Shortlist magazine’s top 10 UK pubs and the title of Bradford’s CAMRA pub of the year in 2012. Beer and Indian food are a beautiful combination indeed, so The Sparrow and Prashad have united to create Bundobust – a craft beer bar with an Indian vegetarian street food kitchen. Lucky Leeds.

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The Lazy Gin Club



This post originally appeared on The Culture Vulture blog

There’s definitely something about gin. Undoubtedly one of the most fashionable drinks du jour, a night out just isn’t complete without someone uttering those well-healed words: “make mine a G&T”. Gin has undergone a huge resurgence over the last few years, a resurgence that’s been embraced, and fueled, by watering holes right across the country, and they seem to have changed our gin drinking habits beyond recognition. Remember those days when G&T was just a Gordon’s and tonic, and Bombay Sapphire was your ‘posh’ option? A hazy twinkle in yesteryear’s eye, today’s back bars are heaving under the weight of their ever-expanding gin collections, often without a Gordon’s or Bombay in sight. And it doesn’t stop there. For every individual variety, there’s a recommended mixer and garnish, and the mere prospect of ordering a G&T can become an overwhelming experience depending on which establishment you choose to lay your gin-drinking hat!

But not if you’re visiting Lazy Lounge. Well-documented for its status as one of the finest purveyors of liquid refreshments in Leeds, Lazy Lounge is definitely a bar that has unreservedly embraced this gin ‘revolution’. But rather than intimidate, its staff harness their unbridled gin-enthusiasm to guide awe-struck punters, like me, through the dizzying world of gin. Its owner Tom is an oracle of juniper-based refreshments, and each time I visit Lazy Lounge he introduces me to new and exciting gins, as well as recommending the best mixers and garnishes to pair them with. Phew! His gin collection seems to grow by the day, and his blackboard gin list has now been scrawled in writing so small that you have to squint to read it – which you inevitably shall anyway after several gins!

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A Veggie at Friends of Ham

This post was originally published on the very ace Culture Vulture blog.

As a vegetarian, you know that certain eating establishments just aren’t for you. You’re unlikely to find solace in a Brazilian steakhouse, a barbecue grill probably won’t do it for you, and if meat or beast is the prominent component of a bar’s name, you can make a safe assumption that it’s not going to be veggie friendly.

I used to feel this way about Friends of Ham. Close to celebrating its first birthday, Friends of Ham has earned itself a stellar reputation in Leeds. Favourable reviews and social buzz a-plenty, it’s clearly doing something right, but you wouldn’t necessarily think that ‘something’ appealed to vegetarians. After all, vegetarians are NOT friends of ham. Friends of pigs maybe, but certainly not friends of the meaty product of their demise. And when a bar so brazenly flaunts its love of meat, you’d be forgiven for assuming that veggies wouldn’t get much of a look in.

But maybe you’d be wrong…

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