Fresh from the success of the opera in Verona we reprised the experience at the Grand in Leeds. It’s a bit of an odd venue. Certainly not highbrow, it features a wide selection of productions to suit all tastes. That means, on average, not many suit us and we’re more likely to be found down the road at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (snobs…Ed). However, the Grand is also the home of Opera North, a highly respected provincial company (and that’s not a put-down) that rightly enjoys great respect and admiration. We were there for the last night of a double bill of Puccini operas, I’ll Tabarro and Suor Angelica. The critics raved…and so did we. Above all, how did Puccini get away with such a portrayal of the Catholic Church without being hung, drawn and quartered…or whatever else they could dream up. Spellbinding production. And we don’t even really like opera.
There’s no branch of J Sheekey in Leeds for a post-theatre supper – nor anywhere else for that matter. So, we opted for the very next best thing. A no reservation trip to the Thai street food experience that is ZAAP Leeds. In a slightly edgy bit of Leeds city centre [not really…Ed], this limited edition venture really buzzed on a chilly Wednesday night. A short queue gets us to a prime table in a converted Tuc Tuc. A round of Singha and Beerlao beers sets us up to choose from the extensive menu. Meanwhile flames shoot up from the open kitchen, and all the stores (beer, noodles, washing powder) are stacked around the shop. It’s a riot of color and, well, stuff.
Four starters and four mains to share between four. Ideal. Fast, fresh and very tasty. J Sheekey watch out; they may only be in Leeds (the original), Newcastle and Nottingham, but it could be St Martins Court next.
Restaurant [no booking] Zaap
PS Incidentally we stayed overnight at 42 The Calls. One of the area’s original small luxury boutique hotels in the days before Malmaison hit Leeds, it’s not quite so chipper now. Great location, imaginative conversion of an old warehouse on the river, but a bit tired around the edges. Still, friendly, complementary glass of wine and good value (upgraded room at £110?) it’s worth a go for its quirkiness.
PPS We also visited the new Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds, complete with new John Lewis. Wow. A real quality shopping development for once. Look out Milan.