Saturday, 7 December 2013

Trinity Kitchen, Leeds

On first impressions, Trinity Kitchen may appear like any other large shopping centre food court, complete with its mix of chain restaurants including Pho, Tortilla, PizzaLuxe, Chicago Rib Shack and Chip & Fish, all set around a communal seating area with the obligatory, uber trendy, neon lights and exposed brickwork.

Only this time there's a little twist; in their own words on the website,‘every month we will be lifting five of the UK's very best street food traders into the Trinity Leeds. Genuine street food vans, carts, sheds and trucks will take residency for just one month each before we lift them back out and bring in another five, ensuring that there's always something new and unique to tantalise your taste buds.'

While it may seem a bit too cool for school, riding on the coat tails of the latest trend for ‘street food’ that seems to be spreading far beyond the Big Smoke and into every suburb, they are working alongside food journalist and organiser of the annual British Street Food awards, Richard Johnson, and promise to have a good mix of traders from across the country offering a wide range of regularly changing snacks and meals. Which must surely beat my childhood visits to Spud U Like at the Harlequin Centre in Watford….

Our first visit was on a quiet Monday afternoon which gave us plenty of time to walk about and suss out the options. It was the opening mount for the street food collective and amongst the first traders were Gurmetti with their Italian Street snacks, London’s famous Big Apple Hot Dogs, Katie and Kim's Kitchen and Manjit's Kitchen

Despite having just eaten copious amounts of cheese and ham and drinking lots of beer we still had room to sample a little more, and John and I were swayed by the Ape Piaggio Classic van and (dashing moustache) of Gurmetti.

John’s pork burger with Gorgonzola was juicy and piquant, with a special mention to the bun that was both pillow-y and substantial all at once.  My torta fritta were a triumph; little greasless fried puffs of dough topped with freshly sliced Italian cold cuts including springy Mortadella and lardo di Colanatta.

My Aunt went for the veggie option from Manjit's, choosing a, deliciously fiery, chilli paneer wrap on wholemeal bread stuffed with salad and veggies. Despite its virtuous appearance this was dirty street food in the best possible way; bouncy, fresh cheese, plenty of veg and a lovely little kick at the end. There was also plenty of it, which was generously shared amongst us all.

The Ewing, with her sweet tooth, couldn't resist trying a couple of Portuguese custard tarts and a coffee from Katie and Kim’s. While it would be a big ask to stand up to the ones we ate warm from the oven in Belem this summer, but these hit the spot with their flaky pastry and just set egg custard filling.

The following day we returned a little earlier to see the place packed out with the lunchers of Leeds. Flagging slightly we both chose some restorative Vietnmese food from Pho, including a green papya salad, bun with pork and lemongrass meatballs and chicken and prawn stirfry with flat rice noodles.

The food was solid, without being spectacular, although I appreciated the huge range of condiments they offered and that my spicy noodles really were served with nuclear levels of heat, with the accompanying nuoc cham was packed full of freshly chopped bird’s eye chillies.

The Ewing also enjoyed the sweet sour flavours from the salad, topped liberally with fresh peanuts for crunch, and the bun came with fresh herb garnish that perked me up after a weekend of cured pork products.

Pho on Urbanspoon

Too full for pud, we ended our lunch with a cappuccino from Notes - the first Northern off-shoot of the London based coffee house - to fuel us on our long trip back down the M1. As well as all day coffee and cakes they also offer a breakfast menu, sandwiches and lunch specials  - including a local hot pot - with charcuterie, cheese, tapas and wine offered in the evening.

The Ewing claimed this was one of the best coffees she had drunk in a long while, and it was hard to disagree. The sweet caramelised notes from the frothed milk complementing the bright, fruity coffee underneath which come from beans processed in their own roastery, light roasted to their individual specification. A variety of their beans are also available to buy to grind at home.

While, overall, Trinity Kitchen has a little too much glitz and gloss for my usual dirty street food tastes, I appreciate the way they have tried to incorporate something different amongst the sea of bland chain restaurants and identikit high streets. And, despite thinking I wouldn't care much for an idea that sounded pretty contrived on paper and is located in the centre of a gaudy commercial vortex, I found myself strangely charmed by the place.

Since our visits, the original five traders have already been replaced by a new bunch - whose likes include BangWok and The Cauldron - making this a great and accessible way to try many different dishes and drinks from traders right across the country, and all without the queues and cold toes.



    1. I'm afraid it's all parish-pump lunches around these parts. Do look out for a gruel-themed special coming soon.

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