Heads up on a couple of interesting openings coming up in Leicester. Top of my list is Herb, the new vegetarian restaurant by Kayal on Granby Street.  Kayal has four branches and there weren’t plans for another, but Kayal Leicester had a long-term chef who had been pushing for his chance to focus on vegetarian cuisine. Given the recent big shift towards vegetarian and vegan lifestyles the time seemed right to give him his head.

The new restaurant is a little further down Granby St  on the opposite side from Kayal in in what was Cascade Amusements. The venue, set to open in the next couple of weeks, has massively improved this unlovely building, not least with a stunning piece of artwork that will be the talk of all who see it. Made by Keralan craftspeople is a huge bas-relief artwork in clay tiles recreating the da Vinci painting The Last Supper. The tiles were imported and lovingly reassembled over a couple of weeks and it makes an extraordinary impact – sorry I’ve not yet got a picture of it for you.  The rest of the venue is done out pretty much in similar style and shape to Kayal.

I’ve not seen a full menu but expect an extensive choice of Keralan food reflecting ayurvedic principles and reflecting contemporary dietary choices and requirements. You may remember Kayal was originally launched as a Karnatakan vegetarian restaurant Halli – if it recreates the quality that Halli showed it will be bound to do well not just with vegans  but with food lovers of every stripe.

I’m also intrigued to see that the old Shakespeare’s Head on Southgates is close to re-opening as a restaurant and bar Shakespeare’s House.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the old pub but did like that it hadn’t been “improved” over the years, preserving its unique 50s stylings. I was pleased  that it was on a CAMRA list of pubs they wanted to see protected.

The Leicester Mercury has given some details of how the new venue is shaping up. In parts it’s still recognisably the Shakies, – the two-bar structure retained, one being the restaurant side. But the classic décor has changed considerably with a strong forest theme. There appears to be some Polish influence to it all with carvings from trees in the Polish mountains and restaurant dishes such as beef cheeks with horseradish puree and  roast duck with baked apple, amandine potatoes and cranberry jam. There’s to be  day- long service, including breakfasts and – inevitably – Bard-themed cocktails.

 

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Inside Shakespeare’s House – from the Leicester Mercury

 

 

 

 

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I’m not going to say too much just now but if you are vegetarian and you love Leicester’s Kayal – and who doesn’t? –  then I have some very exciting news for you.

A new venue from Kayal is set to open on Granby Street in the Autumn that will feature Keralan and other South Indian vegetarian food in a smart, full-service environment.  Kayal itself started off life as the vegetarian Halli and some of the staff team have been keen for some years to start another pure veggie venue with a focus on healthy food. Crucially, Kayal is unaffected.

With a con-fusion food barn opening this week in the form of Rickshaw Ricks (from the people who brought you Red Hot World Buffet), and another apparently buffet planned nearby, it’s great to hear there’s still space for food with quality, roots and integrity.

Liking the look of two openings in Leicester city centre later this month. Veeno is an Italian “wine café” adding to the burgeoning St Martin’s scene. This is a small independent chain which has branches in the usual places that such ambitious concepts expand into –  Nottingham, York, Manchester, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leeds, Bristol and Liverpool.

The business was founded by two young UK-based Italians and their idea was to promote the “aperitivo” culture of nibbling appetisers over a glass of wine. The menu, then, is full of salamis and cured meats, cheeses and breads along with a wine list that is based on wines from their own Sicilian vineyard. These are labelled along the lines of “our driest” “our smoothest” and rather curiously , “for experts only”. The menu has plenty of food and wining matching.

 

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I’ve not been to one of their cafes so can’t really comment on quality  but from their online presence the vibe would appear to a slightly mass market Delilah – not such a bad thing .

Also set to open in a couple of weeks is Boneyard. Here the obvious at first glance comparison would appear to be Grillstock, with a focus on barbecue food, cocktails and a “woo! let’s all have mad time!” culture.  They will be at 13 Granby St, in what was for many years one of those identikit Italian chains, next to the Nat West Bank.

Don’t know too much about them – all I could really find out was they seem to  hold the not inconsiderable distinction of holding the first ever pop-up restaurant night in Nuneaton with an Indian restaurant.  Their twitter account describes them as “a multi-cultural meat society with added liquor and DJs – unashamedly fun, brash and exciting”. I can’t say I’ve been impressed with Grillstock so let’s hope this crew have something good to offer.

Fine wines on Granby St

April 14, 2016

I’ve written before about how the St Martin’s area in Leicester is booming with high quality independent food and drink outlets.  I’ve never been tempted to say the same about Granby Street. Maybe, just maybe though, there’s something stirring.

Kayal is of course a fairly long-standing star, and there’s one or two other little food outlets of interest now.  What I didn’t expect to see there is a fine wine shop.WP_20160411_13_10_33_Pro

But here it is.  Handily placed opposite The Last Plantagenet.

Wine and Whiskey is not smartest outlet but nonetheless has a pretty good selection of fine wines – especially Burgundies and Clarets, and a very good selection of  beers from Leicestershire’s growing number of small breweries. The spirit selection is impressive too.  I’m not sure what explains the location  – maybe it’s as simple as rents dropping – but its an unexpected pleasure.  I didn’t have time to do much in the way of price comparisons but if you’re in the market for good stuff, it’s worth a look.

One more wine tip while I’m here – Lidl on Loughborough Road currently has Vidal Canadian Ice Wine by Pillitteri on offer.  This was described by the Guardian last Christmas as “intensely luscious” and as cheap at £14.99, and is now on sale at that store at just £7.99 (half-bottle).  Don’t know if the deal is also on at other stores or whether the manager is just having a clear out  – but desert wine lovers will want to make a trip there. No guarantee how long the offer will last though.

 

 

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