Issho – Leeds (UK)

Leeds’ booming food scene now includes Issho, a contemporary Japanese rooftop restaurant and bar located at Victoria Gate. This latest venture by luxury restaurant group D&D London is accessed via a lift to the third floor or up a spectacular spiral staircase.

The whole development is an architectural stunner but Issho’s presence is understated, giving it an air of exclusivity. Once we spotted the signs on the ground floor and again at the entrance, we felt as though we had found a hidden gem.

The interior design is simply breathtaking, punctuated with bamboo accents and muted colours that flow into the separate dining areas. Issho boasts a restaurant space, a terrace with views over the city centre, the Kori Bar and an open kitchen with counter top seating.

A curved wall of wine links the bar and restaurant areas and the abundance of windows ensures the whole space is bathed in natural light. I may be going on about the beautiful design and décor but Issho is definitely not a case of style over substance. The menu is a real winner with its selection of tantalising Japanese and pan-Asian dishes as well as extensive list of wines, sake and cocktails.

Issho’s Executive Chef is Ben Orpwood, an acclaimed chef with an impressive culinary resumé spanning more than a decade of experience. He has created his modern yet authentic Japanese dishes in cities like Istanbul, Dubai, Sydney and London and has travelled extensively throughout Japan. He came to our table to say hello and thank me for the Instagram pics I was posting live. And he’s from Cambridge. Two pleasant surprises!

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Doughnut Tasting at SmokeWorks – Cambridge (UK)

“Time to make the donuts!”… anyone know the 80’s TV commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts where Fred the Baker woke up at some ungodly hour in the morning to make fresh doughnuts? (If you don’t, you’ll find it on YouTube). Dunkin’ Donuts no longer make doughnuts on site, but SmokeWorks do. They’re fresh, tasty and definitely NOT factory processed!

Back in August 2014, I posted a review of SmokeWorks (which you can find here) so I was asked to sample Head Chef Vladimir Hromek’s latest culinary adventure… the humble doughnut, with a twist. Vladimir has ‘zhuzhed up’ his doughnuts with a variety of sweet and savoury fillings, which at first may sound like an odd combination but they really work. I sampled all four of them and I can safely say Vladimir is an intrepid adventurer in the world of doughnuts! He has perfected the batter and has put his skills to the test by creating some innovative fillings.

Collage Smokeworks

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