Primo’s Gourmet Hot Dogs – White Rose

Right, let’s write a review about hot dogs, without any innuendo…wish me luck. After the recent £7 million ploughed into the new food court at White Rose Shopping Centre, it’s the unassuming ‘Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs’ that stood out amongst some well-known chains.

The day hadn’t started well. Feeling utterly grown up, we’d been to the garden centre and debated, with my better half, over which shade of Fuchsia would look best whilst slowly dying unloved in the back garden. Then we headed to the phone shop for a heated exchange over whether an extra three and a half minutes talk time or 0.5 mega-pixels made any difference to our existence. The nail in this middle class day out’s coffin was Ikea. It’s like a cross between the David Bowie film Labyrinth and water boarding. Since when did choosing between two coffee tables become Sophie’s choice? After we joylessly paid, wondering how  tea-lights and multi-coloured scissors had wondered into our baskets, I was famished. “Just get a hot dog?” my wife suggested. “A hot dog? A hot dog? No thanks, Ikea can keep their Lingonberry Jam and Dime cake thanks.”

30 minutes later I stood staring at some of the new additions to the food court at the White Rose shopping centre. The options available included Prezzo, Wok& Go, Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs, Bagel Nash and handmade burger Co. This felt a far cry from hanging round the Galleries shopping centre as a teenager. I remembered once being scolded in front of my mates as my gran caught me eating a meat and potato pie from Greenhalghe’s straight out the bag. I think the concept of street food would have her turning in her grave. “What do you fancy?” my wife asked, breaking into my narrative flashback…”D’ya know what, I think I just fancy a hot dog”.

Primos were only established in 2010 but already feel a bit of a Leeds institution. My first visit was whilst watching the eclectic mix of presentations at Bettakultcha at the Corn exchange. It made a great first impression. Despite the humble hot dog’s associations with brine and disappointment, Primos are aiding this foods re-brand with use of proper ingredients and interesting flavour combinations.

It’s fairly unassuming, just a small stand, but we had a warm welcome from the staff who were keen to tell us their favourites. I plumped for The Lynchburg, one the larger options or ‘Suprimos’ as they call it. This beef hot dog is marinated with Jack Daniel’s and honey. Unlike most hot dogs you’re used to, rather than containing the ground teeth and gastrointestinal tract of range of household pets, it was moist, meaty and moreish. The sweet marinade, bacon and chopped onions helped balance the saltiness of the meat and sharpness of French’s mustard. The onions had been gently cooked to unlock their sweetness whilst keep a decent crunch. Spot on. The bun was light and fluffy but managed to hold the substantial filling. The Utah, a bratwurst sausage, was an even tastier hot dog. It was served simply with caramelised onions, Monterey Jack cheese and crispy bacon. Whilst I wouldn’t call this gourmet, it was certainly a step beyond the humble hot dog.

The fries were the only minor gripe, unlike the hot dogs they lacked the same depth of flavour. This could have been the seasoning or the fat used for cooking. We also ordered the nachos, served simply and piping hot, there was plenty of flavour here. The crunchy nachos were generously topped with a fairly mild but refreshing salsa, smooth guacamole and light sour cream. Together with the melted cheese, we quickly worked our way through. For about a fiver you can get a hot dog, fries a drink, for an extra couple of quid you can get the larger version. Decent value when compared with similarly priced offering nearby.

Speaking to Jonny, the manager, it was nice to see someone genuinely proud and pleased with how well things were going. Primos are currently based at White Rose, at the Corn Exchange and at Xscape in Castleford. I’m also reliably informed they supply the hot dogs at the Fist Direct Arena too. He mentioned there’s also plans to extend the menu options to include breakfast too. For those who’ve read this blog before, you’ll know I’m a fan of anyone who sticks to doing one thing right. Here the focus is on the unpretentious hot dog which is made all the better by simple, quality ingredients, cooked with thought. At least that day me and my better half finally found something we could agree on. All that and they sell a decent cup of coffee too.

Disclaimer, this was a free meal for trying out the new food court but I chose Primos based on positive past experiences.

Primo’s, White Rose Shopping Centre

Dewsbury Rd

Leeds Image




Review Flying Pizza – Roundhay

We all looked nervously at each other, my palms became sweaty, an awkward silence descended and I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. All because somebody at the table asked “so what are you having?” The menu intimidated us all, I’d even mistaken the specials menu for the main menu for the first 5 minutes. Along with the number of menu options, Flying Pizza isn’t lacking in atmosphere either. The large restaurant was full of the good people of Leeds, talking, gesticulating and having a good time…bar the teenage girl who I was told was sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom. You’ll be glad to hear ‘they didn’t mean what they said to her’, a phrase her friends echoed under the stall. Our table was located next to the theatre kitchen were the hard working chefs could be seen having as good a time as the diners. Whilst we munched on packets of bread sticks we admired walls strewn with photos of such luminaries as Ant & Dec (conspicuously not on the same photo), someone who was or is in the Sugababes and JLS (Gone but not forgotten). None of which I think have ever been to this branch of the San Carlo empire, at least I don’t think Rihanna has ever been to Street Lane in Roundhay.

It was from the specials I ordered my starter, ‘Funghi Campagnola’. These open cup mushrooms filled with creamy leeks, olive oil, parmesan and breadcrumbs were bullied by a spicy side sauce. It was pricey for £7.25 for a small portion that lacked something special and I’m sure lacked a billed filling of tomatoes. The traditional looking starters wouldn’t have looked out of place served to Gordon Gekko wearing a sweater vest, listening to Roxy music. My better halfs melon with parma ham a case in point but demonstrated some of the quality ingredients on offer. The mussels Provencale was the stand out starter, showing what’s great about Italian cooking – tasty, quality ingredients prepared very well. A third of the mussels were closed, this was rectified by the manager swiftly. The staff throughout the meal were a friendly bunch even on a busy Saturday service.

In Leeds we’re lucky that amongst the glut of takeaways and chain pizza restaurants, some places really get it right, With Ecco pizzeria and Box pizza springing to mind…mouth-watering as I type. I took a chance on the pizza and after a glass or two of wine, I mistakenly ordered a San Marco pizza rather than a San Carlo. Thankfully instead of a frozen, deep pan pizza that leaves your mouth and expectations in tatters, it impressed. The base has the right mix of crisp and soft, starting to blacken for extra flavour. The tangy tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella were generously topped with peppery rocket, rich shavings of parmesan and salty parma ham. These deliciously subtle flavours contrast with the powerful, spicy, salty meaty flavour of Pizza Diavola. The menu states this pizza was popular with the Italian immigrants in Brooklyn and boasts the famous ‘nduja sausage imported from Calabria. The pizza manages that fine balance between packing a spicy punch but also allowing the sausage, onions and chilli. Both extremes welcome parts of the heavily creaking menu. The Carbonara was a bit too creamy for my tastes but went down well with my better half and the salmon tortellini showcased the fish in a superb, velvety sauce. As you may be able to tell, we were beaten before we got to dessert.

We had a great night at Flying Pizza with a loud, bustling atmosphere and flowing alcohol adding the occasion. What is lacking is value, fewer dishes on the menu done well would be ideal for me and justify the reasonably high price tag. Starters were around £8, pizza and pasta around £12 and meat dishes from £17 upwards. If you like choice, a great spot for a night out and don’t mind spending your pennies then this will be right up your street, I’ll be back for the Pizza Diavola.

Open Monday to Sunday, 12pm to 11pm

Located 60 Street Lane, Roundhay, LS8 2DQ


Street food – Amazing Graze Review

I imagine when some people hear the term ‘street food’, they groan, roll their eyes and return to reading an article in The Telegraph about how Katie Hopkins thinks she’s too good to eat cupcakes and they should be called fairy cakes. But what has led to ‘street food’ popping up across the country like an untreated rash or well…Nandos. Is it the recession? Is it an excuse to exploit free spending foodies with fake horn rimmed specs, willing to part with £10 on a glorified burger van with no overheads? Or is it the only way new food business can get started these days? In Leeds some worry about the commercialisation of street food, with Trinity Kitchen potentially capitalising on the recent trend. I for one signed the petition to keep Leeds hallowed pizza van from being moved by the city council. The council hoping to to move in trendier vans which also sold pizza. However, I’m a big fan of Trinity, anything that moves us away from the Mcdonald’s, KFC, Nandos screen saver of traditional food courts is okay in my book. Especially if some traders can make in a month what they might make in a year.Image

I don’t have the answer by the way to the popularity of street food, but I know why I think it works. Think about the number of menus featuring every conceivable cuisine, trying to be something for everyone but ending up being a distant fart of a memory. Street food vendors don’t have this ‘luxury’, every dish needs to count. They do a few things incredibly well as if their livelihoods depended on it, and quite often it does. Whilst we get to try cuisines from around the world, last weekend’s now annual Amazing Graze proved to be just this. Here’s a quick low down of what was on offer and who to keep an eye out for…

Original Fry Up Material 

Following their stint in Trinity, the boys were back to Leeds. I’ve claimed previously that this is the best burger I’ve ever had and the first bite had to be a let-down right? It was not. This is the kind of food to make grown men cry. A burger you want to take a little private moment with. Take it out for a drink, to the movies, let it meet your parents, take a trip away with it, get down and one knee and propose to, get a kitten with, having a few kids with…then eat the crap out of it and your burger offspring.


This time I went for ‘cheesy’, a free range burger, cheese, lettuce and yellow, green and red sauces on a brioche bun. The burger, deep in flavour, perfectly pink and oozing tasty juices joined by layers of flavours from the sauces. Seeing these chaps cook, you can see the care attention and fun they have. The burger stayed intact just to the end as the juices steadily soaked into the tasty brioche bun. It was a bit messy to hold but it meant I didn’t wash my hands for a good week afterwards to hold on to the memory. Their ‘brekkie’ is a home-made sausage patty with bacon, cheese and egg…it’s just like the McDonald’s classic only it tastes of something other than bitter disappointment, the cheese doesn’t resemble a warped condom and it’s just bloody delicious. Usually based on London, all I can say is come back chaps, you’re always welcome on Leeds.

The Greedy Pig

I’ve reviewed the Greedy Pig before and I had a few nice things to say about their down to earth, high quality, affordable food. Friendly Jo and Stu tried something different at Amazing Graze and chef Stu has put his passion for offal on a plate with their nose to tail tapas. They mentioned the struggle to get some of the cuts for these dishes which included heart kebabs, meat balls, terrine, and quail scotch eggs. The revelation of all the dishes, and possibly the day, were the tongue tacos. Stu explained that tongue is like brisket in that it needs cooking with the same time and patience. He wasn’t wrong – the rich, tender, flavourful meat topped with sour cream and crunchy seeds really impressed. The wantons were simple, the iron rich tasty black pudding cut through with bold, sweet and sour onions. The biscuit for the terrine was a little too thick, the sweetness competing against the flavoursome pork, liver, kidney and cognac. The meatballs with barley were like the best school dinner you can imagine and the scotch eggs surprisingly light and moreish with their own brown sauce. This was the bravest of menu’s on the day and it’s also the one I’ll still remember by next year’s Amazing Graze for all the right reasons – can’t wait to see what they come up with next.


Gingers Comfort Emporium

When I was 15 I spent many an hour wondering the hallowed halls of Afflex Palace in Manchester, a sort of alternative indoor market. These were the days of having my hair gelled like Peter Andre, wearing Bob Marley T-shirts without a hint of irony and believing Natalie Imbruglia was edgy music Thankfully those days are gone and it’s now permanent residence to Ginger’s comfort.

The ice cream flavours are bold, unique and they rightly describe themselves as ‘an ice cream van for grownups’. First up the Plum and gin didn’t hold back flavour with mouth-watering plum and strong smack of gin. A dazzling and refreshing taste after such a heavy day of eating. Their Chorlton crack- salted caramel & peanut butter, bordered on too salty for me but the rest of the group couldn’t get enough. The spiced pear crumble immediately conjured up Christmas with plucky, warming spices mixed with crunchy buttery, crumble. My only issue is their toasted brioche sandwiches weren’t on offer which were a real highlight from last year. Looks like I’ll be heading back over the Pennines for those!


Special mentions are needed for…

  • First for El Kantina, I loved their pulled pork last year and was simply too full this time round to give them a go. I heard some good things from those who tucked in.
  • Noisette Bakehouse (and the Madeleine Express) I won’t mention yet as I’m crafting a blog on the best cakes in Leeds as we speak (spoiler alert).
  • Fish& as always made their twist on fish and chips without compromising on quality ingredients, perfectly crisp batter and melt in your mouth fish.
  • Last but certainly not least was Grub and Grog shop, quite new to the scene but if their garlic sausage sandwich is to go boy, these chaps are one’s to keep an eye on. You can try their stuff at Outlaw’s Yacht Club every Friday.

Laynes Espresso brunch @Belgrave_leeds

Living in Leeds we’re lucky to have a wealth of independents. In recent months @Belgrave_Leeds has been a great showcase for these with its street feast and in-house foodie treats, the perfect accompaniment to one too many local ales. These include @NofishyBusiness, @DoughboysLeeds, @PattySmithsUK and more recently @Laynesespresso. I headed along to Laynes latest Belgrave take over, a brunch service between 11am and 3pm on 2nd March, to see if their brunch was half as good as their coffees.

Laynes have previously acknowledged the waiting time issue at their last service and were keen to improve, introducing an at-table service. Ideal for a lazy Sunday sat with good tunes and a crossword.  The team are still ironing out a few kinks with some really long waiting times for orders, drinks and food. An hour and a half from sitting down to being served food. Luckily the team themselves were just as genuine, welcoming and friendly as they are at their coffee shop even during such a busy service and numerous large tables.

Those who’ve been to Laynes coffee shop on New Station Street will already be familiar with their fantastic coffees. Fellow Leeds blogger @Dimingwong wrote this great blog about the store as part of her North Leeds coffee community series which helps explain their passion for what they do. Their coffees boast an impressive depth of flavour and their cakes and sandwiches are too tempting to ignore.

Their brunch menu was perfectly formed and had something for everyone. From a sin-free smashed avocado with pistachio pesto through to hearty braised beans with smoked pancetta and sourdough. We greedily ordered 3 dishes between us despite the impending roast dinner later than day at my mother in laws. First up was the ham hock sandwich. The simple, crisp presentation promised much and on the whole the dish delivered. The sweet brioche bun and caramelised onions contrasted well with the ham lightly flecked with mustard. The fried egg, perfectly cooked added little and almost drowned out the tasty ham hock, but what’s a breakfast butty without the egg!?

Next up was French toast, an original dish of caramelised banana, espresso mascarpone and nut brittle. The flavours surprised with the almost bitter espresso a great match to the achingly sweet and delicious brittle, adding much needed crunch. I’d have preferred pieces of banana rather than puree but on the whole an indulgent and original take on French toast. Lastly we went off menu with poached eggs on a brioche bun for my better half. These perfectly cooked eggs and sweet crisp bun showed that even a simple dish can be elevated to something special by these guys.

This wasn’t fast food but with their passion, care and attention to detail, already synonymous with their coffees, transferred to their brunch dishes, I was ready to forgive the wait. Once the service issues are ironed out, I think the Laynes brunch will be drawing in the crowds and showing yet again show why great food is worth waiting for.

Laynes at Belgrave Music Hall

1-1A Cross Belgrave Street



Margherita Pizza

ImageFlorence is one of my favourite places. We spent some great days wondering the streets in the sunshine, frequently stopping at Grom for pistachio or hazlenut gelato. At night, stumbling home with full bellies after a few glasses of red listening to the sounds of street musicians. Sounds good right? Well let’s gloss over the heated argument I had with an Italian shop owner about a travel adapter.

Our travel guide had given us some poor recommendations. One occasion saw a pizzeria owner show us so much contempt – I can only assume I insulted both his wife and kids whilst ordering bread sticks in Italian. One balmy night in Florence, we headed South of the river to Gusta pizza. The pizzeria was small, packed with locals and tourists huddled round barrels with pizza on paper plates and delicious wine in plastic cups. The incredible pizzas were cooked right in front of you in big wood fired oven in the corner. We loved them so much we ordered two more and scoffed them down next to the imposing Pitti Palace. Whilst I’ll never replicate those pizzas, with the help of a pizza making class whilst in Italy, I’ve managed to make something quick and pretty tasty indeed.


Here’s my thin and crispy margherita. The trick, like all Italian cooking, is to keep it simple and use good quality ingredients. If you do have a pizza stone then brilliant, a slab from B&Q will do too. It helps to cook the pizza fast in a super hot oven to give a crispy, blackened base. If not a pizza pan with holes in will do. I use beer rather than just water which helps give a much needed, malty taste to the base, perfect for dipping your crust in some garlic mayo.



ONE First whisk the beer, yeast, water and oil in a bowl and add your flour and salt to the mix. TWO Get your hand in, making a claw shape with your hand and turning the dough like it’s a massive dial whilst rotating the bowl THREE Once roughly combined, oil a clean work surface and knead for 10 minutes FOUR I tend to divide the dough into 150g and make them into ball shape, Leave the balls to rise for 1 hour FIVE Whilst the dough is on its way empty the tin of tomatoes in a saucepan and roughly tear some basil in to it. Season with sea salt and black pepper and leave on a low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally SIX Preheat your oven to as high as it will go with your stone in the oven!


SEVEN To get a really thin base, roll out your dough so its almost see through. When confident, stretch out a bit using your hands EIGHT (The tricky bit) I remove the pizza stone from the oven carefully using oven gloves and quickly spread over the dough NINE Top the pizza with a ladle full of sauce, scatter 5 large leaves of basil and tear the mozzarella over the base, covering the basil with the cheese TEN Cook for 7 minutes but keep an eye out, it will cook fast. Enjoy.

ELECTRIC MIXERS You can of course combine and knead the dough using an electric mixer by mixing on the lowest setting as you add the water using the dough hook. Then turning up the speed to the next setting for 3 minutes. BUT where’s the fun in that?


Apple scones

Apple scones final

SCONES shouldn’t be too fancy, to me they’re a vehicle for something even more delicious on top. Good for a mid week treat and take the leftovers to work but be careful not to over mix or twist the cutter when shaping.

Apple scones facts




ONE Peel, core and dice your apples TWO Add the butter and flour to a blender and blitz to a crumb (Or rub with your fingers) THREE Empty to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except the milk and combine FOUR Ready with a fork, combine the ingredients quickly, be carefuful not to over mix FIVE On a floured surface, flatten the mix to 3cm depth but again avoid the temptation to knead SIX Using a 6cm floured round cutter, cut downwards and don’t rotate, remove the off cuts from around the discs and lightly knead until you cut out 9 scones SEVEN Line up on a floured baking tray and brush with an egg or milk


WHY NOT TRY flaked almonds on top of the egg wash, using toffee pieces (but lose the cinnamon) or different shapes such a triangles or squares

ENJOY…hold on jam first then cream or the other way round

Easy Aubergines with tomato and Basil

A real easy and tasty dish for mid week

ONE Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan) TWO Per person, simply slice an aubergine in two length ways and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil THREE Put into the oven, skin side down, for 25-30 minutes FOUR In the meantime get your self a brew and slice a tomato.FIVE Once you take out the aubergines, layer the sliced tomatoes on top along with some roughly torn up buffalo mozzarella SIX Bake for a further 5 minutes SEVEN When it comes out the oven scatter with torn basil leaves. 

You can make this go further by serving half an aubergine each but with either a rocket salad on the side or perhaps couscous. Is also nice with a simple dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

TIP! Quick word on aubergines, often you’re told to salt and leave them first, don’t worry! Most aubergines available in the shops aren’t bitter varieties so this is just not needed generally. There are times when its useful but this isn’t one of them.

Baked mushrooms with ham and goats cheese


Here we go, blogging on the bus!

Nice and simple baked mushrooms, plenty more variations on this I should imagine

YOU NEED: Large flat mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, ham, goats cheese (herbs would make a good addition)

METHOD: ONE Pre heat oven to 180 fan TWO In a dish place your mushrooms ‘gills’ up and toss on your finely chopped garlic and drizzle with olive oil THREE roughly add the ham then spot with goats cheese and season FOUR Bake for 12-15 mins

I served with a salad of rocket, spinach and watercress with a lemon and olive oil dressing and a thick piece of toast. Adding herbs a spot of butter or a drizzle of honey would also be a good addition.

Oops missed my stop!