Fazenda, Leeds


date of visit: Wednesday 22 October 2014

Warning – no food pictures at all! One piece of meat on your plate at a time doesn’t lend itself to photography!

Last time I was in Leeds (back in 2012) my mate, Jenny, and I had the idea that we would head to Fazenda. I’d heard some good things about it and as Jenny loves meat (veggies not so much) it seemed like a really good option for us. Unfortunately, on that occasion we left booking until 2pm on the Saturday that we wanted to go … You can imagine how THAT ended!

This time round we were a lot more organised. Jenny booked well in advance for our 5:30pm sitting (the idea was to take the small eating machine with us), we were assured we had a lovely table … and then a dose of reality kicked in and I realised that there was no way the jet lagged small child was going to stay awake (and peaceable) for even the earliest of dinners. This meant that Jenny and I were dining solo and insanely early.

However, because Fazenda is in Granary Wharf it means that there is a reasonable post work trade so even early sitters like me won’t feel like they are rattling around an empty restaurant.


Fazenda is a rodizio, which is a Brazilian all you can eat steakhouse. This means you sit at your table and flip a coloured card (red or green) to indicate whether or not you want more food. The waiters bring around giant skewers with different meats on them and if you fancy some, they slice off a couple of pieces and you eat this, before waiting for the next offering. At our mid-week dinner, it was #27.30 a head (before drinks, coffees, desserts) so you do have to head along prepared to splash some cash. A Friday or Saturday night will set you back the best part of £30 but lunch times (with a cut down selection of meats, but the same all you can eat idea) come in at under £20.

Prior to the meat coming around you can tuck into the very extensive salad bar. I can’t speak from first hand experience but it didn’t strike me as being particularly Brazilian – with everything from green salad through to smoked salmon and dolmades! Of course, it’s always important to make sure you leave space for the meats.

By and large I thought the meat selection was pretty good and well cooked. If you like your meat really well done then you might struggle because a lot of the cuts of beef were very pink. Of course, there are also some chicken and even fish options and there is a vegetarian menu too (though, to be honest, I’d limit myself to taking hungry meat eaters to Fazenda …). I was a bit disappointed by the morcela (black pudding). On the night we were there it didn’t seem to be brought around routinely and I had to ask for it. I found it a little mealy with not enough spice (again – I can’t claim to be an expert on Brazilian black pudding – I just like mine to have more texture).

The wine list features a lot of South American wines – a good thing although I did feel that when it came to the sparkling wine, regionality had trumped quality. Jenn and I both had a glass of the Miolo Brazilian bubbles and neither of us rated it particularly highly. By the bottle, however, the list is interesting and features wines across price points.

By the time we’d stuffed ourselves on all the meat there was no space left for desserts. Even so, the bill ended up topping the £75 mark which is quite expensive for a mid week low alcohol meal. Fazenda bills itself as a unique dining experience – and that it definitely is. A huge part of the meal is the theatre of choosing your cuts of meat and eating at a slow pace. You feel like you’re picking at snack size morsels but you get full quickly. I never feel as though I get value for money food wise at any kind of all-you-can-eat and Fazenda was no different – but big eating friends of mine have loved it!

Was it the best steak I’ve ever eaten? No. In Leeds that honour went to the now defunct River Plate. But for entertainment value, in an area of the city with plenty of good bars for pre/post meal drinks, Fazenda definitely has its place.

Waterman’s Place (Granary Wharf)
phone: 0113 247 1182

Fazenda Rodizio Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

The Reliance, Leeds

Black Pudding Salad at the Reliance
date of visit: Sunday 26 October 2014

In what feels like a lifetime ago, Andy and I lived in the beautiful city of Leeds. Since moving back to Australia we’ve managed to return to the UK on a semi-regular basis – helped in no small part by the excuse that is taking a small child to see its grandparents – and we have always made time to top in Leeds. This time around it felt like a flying visit, fewer than five days in a neat little flat in Burley. Of course, it wasn’t enough time to catch up with everyone and one old friend found his allocated slot wedged in between our checkout time and our drive across to Cumbria.

This meant brunch.

Brunch is meal we don’t enjoy often enough. The occasions when all three of us are up, awake and functioning in time for anything before lunch are few and far between – but on holiday things are always different and in this case we made it to the Reliance well ahead of 11am opening*. I’d called in advance to make a booking as the suggestion on the internet was that brunches can be a bit busy but on the morning we were there we would have snagged a table easily.

The Reliance is some kind of hybrid between bar, café and restaurant. Although it’s in a somewhat out of the way corner of town (parking on a Sunday is easy though!) this hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Leeds’ eaters and drinkers and The Reliance is fast becoming a stalwart on the scene. My old blog tells me that my own first forays there were back in 2006 – so an impressive effort for an independent bar.

We settled down and the small child immediately asked “where’s my food?” (clearly the early morning Weetabix had worn off by this point). For him, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on sourdough and a babycino. For me, the warm salad of black pudding, bacon, potatoes and spinach, topped with a poached egg and for Andy a full English. My friend was waylaid by car troubles, but when he did arrive, he opted for a bacon bap.

20141026_112021 Like father, like son …

While waiting we listened to the chorus of “where’s my food?” while enjoying coffees and reading the newspaper. Sitting in pubs and reading papers (ones that have actual content) is definitely one of the things we both miss about England. The variety of quality newspapers available far tops anything that Mr Murdoch offers the Australian reader. The food arrived and we tucked in.

My salad was pretty good indeed – although not flawless. There was definitely an argument for some of the potatoes being slightly underdone and the salad was dressed a little unevenly, meaning that some mouthfuls were too heavy on the Balsamic vinegar (in general, I find this an overused ingredient). However, the combination of ingredients was spot on with a great mix of textures and flavours: the bursts of saltiness from the bacon, the smoothness of the egg, the slight spiciness of the black pudding. While not perfect, definitely something I’d order again.

The full English got a big tick (the mushrooms which were donated to me were good!) and while I didn’t get to try the scrambled eggs (ahem) the sourdough toast was delicious. The bacon bap also looked good (I’m not sure how you can go wrong sticking bacon in a bap … but I guess it’s always possible, and to be difficult my friend did specify that he wanted the bacon well done!).

I’m pretty sure that the small child would comment that the babycino was perhaps not up to standard – it was predominantly milk rather than froth, which did cause a raised eyebrow.

But while England as a whole may have a long way to go in the babycino stakes … anywhere that can dish up a solid breakfast with the Sunday papers deserves its loyal and enduring clientele. The Reliance remains somewhere that exemplifies many of the best things about the Leeds bar scene.

* during winter it looks like the kitchen is opening at noon and they head straight into lunch, rather than brunch

The Reliance (the-reliance.co.uk)
76-78 North Street
phone: 0113 295 6060

Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs

Primo's Gourmet Hot Dogs

date of visit: Tues 30 October 2012

The idea of gourmet hot dogs may sound slightly anathema but if London can have a venue dedicated to hot dogs and Champagne there’s no reason why gourmet hot dog eateries should not exist. I suppose.

Lunch with old work mates saw us wander into the Corn Exchange – one of Leeds’ most distinctive buildings and one that has seen its fortunes wane and wax. Happily, things are now in the waxing phase and once again it is looking and feeling vibrant and full of both shops and people.

Primo’s Gourmet Hotdogs occupies a reasonable chunk of space on the ground floor level. The tables are reasonably tightly packed and on a Tuesday lunch we had no problems nabbing a seat.

My mates were veterans and knew what to order without glancing at the menu.

As it was a Cuban Tuesday Andy ordered a pulled pork Cubano with chips and a coffee for £4.95. I chose a Utah hot dog with an extra sausage (yes, the small, extra but very hungry mouth was in attendance). The Utah was offering me caramelised onions and crispy bacon and there are plenty of other variations on the hot dog theme.

While vegetarians aren’t catered for with the hot dogs there are bagels and salads that will suit.  The food came out quickly and we all tucked in.  My extra sausage had been cut in half length wise which meant I was able to eat my hot dog without depositing it all over myself.  Andy’s cubano looked delicious although one look at my hot dog and he decided that I’d won.

Primo’s point of difference is its sausages.  Rather than using homogenous, pasty, pale imitations of sausages Primo’s searches out the real deal and offers the diner a choice of bratwurst, a beef frankfurter, Lincolnshire, bockwurst or chorizo.  I found my Utah a little bit on the sweet side:  the caramelised onions and a kind of BBQ sauce were all just a touch too much for me.  But that’s down to personal preference – because if I lived closer (!) I’d definitely return and work my way through the rest of the menu.  Looking at it now, I really don’t know why I didn’t order the Picante, with chilli, cheese, bacon and jalapeños …

Also of note was the lovely service: very friendly staff who scored extra points with me for taking the time to chat to the toddler.

With most menu items coming in at under £4 and a different promotion for what seems like every day of the week (in addition to Cuban Tuesdays, Thursdays are Dog Pound day where an extra £1 will see you score an extra hot dog … you get the idea) this is a much more affordable way to eat lunch than, say, heading for a pub meal. If you’re out and about early enough, Primo’s will also offer you breakfast.

Something that is probably worth getting out of bed for …

Primo's Gourmet Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon