Introducing Mill Kitchen, Farsley

 cafe-review

This post originally featured on The Culture Vulture

Like most people in Leeds, I’ve got a lot of love for our indie food businesses. So. Much. Love. Breaking up the homogeny of the chains that often make UK cities indistinguishable from one another, our indies give Leeds an identity as a city that loves to eat, that cares about what it eats, and that wants to share this love and care with as many likeminded people as possible.

But whilst the lure of Leeds’ independent food scene is undeniable, how many of us regularly venture outside of the city centre to get our foodie fix? I admit it – I’m as guilty as anyone, unable to resist the lure of old faithfuls like La Bottega Milanese (for the best coffee and pasticcini in Leeds), Belgrave Music Hall‘s Dough Boys (for that pizza) and the glorious Lazy Lounge (for ALL the gin, obviously), to name but a few.

But take a look beyond the city centre, and you’ll find a plethora of community-driven, local heroes that challenge some of the city’s finest establishments in terms of quality and value for money. They’re often those ‘on your doorstep’ gaffs that you’ve overlooked for whatever reason, but give them a try and the rewards can be sweet. This was true of my beloved local restaurant Ephesus, which I’ve shared with the good readers of The Culture Vulture before, and now there’s another corker opened just a few minutes up the road. Mill Kitchen.

My first introduction to Mill Kitchen was a strange one, one of those ‘what a small world’ stories that come in handy when there’s a conversation lull. I was in London for an evening of food writing inspiration from The Guardian’s Felicity Cloake, when I got chatting to a lady called Ailsa over a glass of the free wine. After a few minutes of chatting, we discovered that not only had we both travelled down from Leeds, but that we lived just minutes apart – Ailsa in Farsley, me in Rodley. Then Ailsa told me why she was in Farsley – she’d just moved there from Oxford to open a new café in Sunny Bank Mills.

What Ailsa revealed about the café that evening got me excited. Whilst I love living in Rodley, it’s definitely rocking a ‘bijoux’ vibe when it comes to quality food establishments. Mill Kitchen sounded just what the area needed – a café deli serving fresh, healthy and locally-sourced food, cooked with passion and imagination.

That first conversation was seven months ago. Mill Kitchen opened just over a month later, and it had me at hello. Seriously. The food is everything Ailsa described it would be, and more: exciting, inventive food that demonstrates the benefits of using, and understanding, quality ingredients and seasonal fruit and vegetables. The tarts are amazing, the cakes are sublime, the coffee is perfect, and the salads are out of this world. And then there’s the leek rarebit. Seriously, the leek rarebit.  Think soft sautéed leeks, bobbing in a bubbling béchamel sauce and perched atop a piece of Leeds Bread Coop’s sourdough. Yeah, I know. Throw in the character and charm of Sunny Bank Mills, a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and a deli full of quality local food and drink products, and you’ve got a serious contender for Leeds’ best café on your hands. Trust me, it’s that good.

Mill Kitchen, Farsley

Mill Kitchen, Farsley

Mill Kitchen is the sort of place that’s far too good to keep a secret, so to share the love, I’ll hand you over to the lady herself – Ailsa Youngson. Over a pot of fresh mint tea and a slice (or two) of some of her incredible cakes, I caught up with Ailsa to find out more about the inspiration for Mill Kitchen, her future plans (which include a Supper Club on 19 December – oh YES), and how she caught the cooking bug. Over to Ailsa…

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A change of scenery at Drewton’s, East Yorkshire

dest-easty Shop review
This post originally appeared on The Culture Vulture blog.

There's nowhere quite like Yorkshire...

There’s nowhere quite like Yorkshire…

There’s nowhere quite like Yorkshire. A far cry from the ‘desolate north’ that certain folk may deem anywhere north of London to be, Yorkshire invokes a fierce passion and pride from natives and nomads alike, and rightly so. But I’m not here to get into that debate. I don’t need to convince you about how great Yorkshire is – you know all of this. The virtues of Leeds are extolled regularly on this here blog, as are the delights to be found within neighbouring West Yorkshire cities such as Bradford and Wakefield. North Yorkshire is regularly praised for its wild, untamed beauty, and South Yorkshire’s cultural merits, especially Sheffield’s, are also highly acclaimed. We can definitely all agree on one thing – we love Yorkshire.

What I am here to tell you about is my love of an often forgotten corner of our beloved county – East Yorkshire. It rarely gets a mention at all outside of its proverbial walls, and if it does, it’s not usually positive. Dubious accolades such as ‘Britain’s worst city to live’ have been bestowed on its capital, Hull, in past years, blighting the region with an unfavourable reputation that’s not easily shifted. But a wholly unfair reputation this is indeed, which could put you at risk of missing out on what East Yorkshire has to offer. And you definitely don’t want to do that.

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The Teacup experience

cafe-review

What’s the first thing you need to wake you up in the morning? Coffee? Shower? Repeated slams of the snooze button? Mornings are tough, and there’s only one thing that can transform me from a bedraggled zombie into a functioning human being ready to face the day. Breakfast. (Well, breakfast and LOTS of concealer).

I’ve never been able to understand the phenomenon of skipping breakfast. I wake up so famished every morning that I can’t fathom the notion of doing anything except immediately refuelling. Breakfast is my most essential meal, but herein lies the paradox – it’s also the meal that I pay the least heed to. I’ll lovingly prepare lunch and dinner every day, but breakfast? It’s a case of chow down and run for the bus. No frills, no fuss.

It’s about time I put this right. After all, not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day (so the elusive ‘they’ say), but 12 hours of overnight fasting deserves a reward. And breakfast can deliver some seriously sweet rewards, especially when served in fine breakfast emporiums like Teacup, one of the many jewels to be found in the café crown that is Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

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