Tag Archives: Leeds

good food in Leeds

With the closing of Merkato the excellent Ethiopian restaurant in the back of the Merrion Centre and Ephes Mangal changing hands, pulling out their restaurant dominating charcoal grill, and scaling back their meat portions, I’m starting to worry about the security of my other favourite secret eateries in Leeds. So I think I’d better document the rest so more people can go and keep them in custom. I’m going to leave out Indian and Chinese restaurants for another time.


LS2 9DZ 01132263099

Best kabab in Leeds that I’ve found. Real layers of lamb and chicken on the two skewers cooking at the back. Nice freshly made falafel too. You can also tell the quality of the place by the range of pickles, sauces and salad that go in to each wrap and meal box. I’d recommend the lamb shawarma or falafel meal which comes with a couple of flat breads to mop up the grease and sauces, and a couple of chips thrown in to balance everything out. Try Shani from the drink fridge for something sweet, or Ayran yoghurt cup drink if they have them for something cooling.

Bonus goes to those who ask to eat in, and take their food upstairs. An art wonder awaits , with one room modelled with fake rock around the edges, and painted up to look like a sea scape and temple.

Charcoal Chicken

LS8 5PL 01132496070

Good charcoal flavour on the roasted chicken keep me coming back. The half chicken meal deal has a nice mix of chicken, salad, chips and naan. The two pots of sauce (one garlic, the other red spicy) are great for dipping it all in to. There’s plenty of space to sit at the back, and always people eating in, and dropping past to collect.

Shirin Sweets

Harehills Rd LS8

Mostly a biscuit, cake and sweets shop, this place also does an excellent Samosa Chaat. There’s a choice of meat or veg, and the samosa comes chopped up in a bowl slathered in yoghurt sauce, with a touch of spice, onions and chickpeas. I always make the mistake of ordering the large and then feeling too full to finish.

While you’re there, you might as well ask for a small box of sweets and biscuits. The staff can pick you a selection, or you can point out what you want. Nearly all of them are delicious, a couple are surprisingly savoury and I had one that was strangely the consistency of MDF sawdust.

Zm Zm Bakery

Harehills Rd LS8 01133186795

No nonsense bakery that churns out flat breads and naan. Always friendly and busy. They have trays of baklava which is what really keeps me coming back. Also do a side line in roast chicken, but it’s the fresh baking that makes it stand out.

World Football


This restaurant might have another name, but the sign over the door is what you spot first. It sits on the corner of Mushroom St and Cherry Row which are both great names. That corner is always a place for lots of men chilling out and chatting. The restaurant has tables, a section at the back for games and plenty of tvs showing east african and maybe arabic pop. The take away is insanely cheap. Generally when I’ve been there’s one special on offer, and most meals come with soup, a cooked vegetable or beans, rice and flat bread included. If you’re on your own, you can feel a little out of place, but they’ve always been really friendly when I’ve been there. It has a feeling of a working man’s club in some ways. I’ve never seen a woman sat at any of the tables, so you might stand out even more eating in if you’re female.

Check out the floor. It’s made from a large selection of non-matching carpet tiles – I like the look.

Thai A Roy Dee

LS2 7NL 01132452174

There are lots of Thai restaurants in Leeds, but this newcomer is my favourite. They do a good version of my favourite dish, Som Tam – a green papaya (or sometimes cabbage) salad with chillies, beans and peanuts. Theirs comes with grilled chicken. Order a sticky rice to complete the package. The stews feature ‘honest’ cuts of meat (so more bits of bone to pick clean on some meats), great street food style. If you’re after something comforting, I’d recommend the Massaman curry which is creamy, with potatoes – good with chicken or duck.

There’s a range of ace drinks, including sweet and complex flavours in the Thai iced coffee. It’s also byob, so pick up some cold beer on the way.

Jino’s in Headingley deserves on honourable mention for my second favourite Som Tam salad in Leeds. But I’ve had a couple of slightly off take aways in amongst the many good ones, and so it didn’t quite make the list.

Dutch Pot

160 Chapeltown Rd 01132627280

I wrote a review once for this great Chapeltown take away. Here it is:

Good, honest take away Caribbean food. Service is generally friendly and fast (there’s also a couple of sit-in tables in the window). Always seems busy since they moved across the street into a newly renovated and cosier space.

All the standards are there; ackee & saltfish, dumpling, goat curry, plantain, rice & peas, etc.. There’s also a couple of set chicken meals for the indecisive. My favourite, the ‘special xpress’ comes with jerked chicken, festivals, dumpling, salad and jerk sauce (although they’ve nearly always run out of festivals when I get it).

 Arabian House

LS8 5AJ 01132400349

I’ve only had take away from here twice so far, but the food was particularly delicious. Try the boneless chicken with lemon and garlic. The dishes come with a nice flavoured rice.

Fuji Hiro

LS2 8NJ 01132439184

A long established favourite, hidden round the back of the Merrion centre. This low key Japanese restaurant has a reliably comforting take on ramen and cha han. Both are great. I like the addition of lettuce to the fried mix in the cha han, and it always feels like a bonus to get soup and pickles. Remember to order green tea to sip in quantity along with your food. The Japanese largers are crisp and refreshing, or go for a plum wine for something that tastes of sweets.

Dowsing Invisible Cities, Leeds Psychogeography Group Talk, Feb 28th 2012

Man dowsing

Tues February 28th, 5.15pm, University of Leeds
Full Title: Dowsing Invisible Cities
Ben presents several projects he has worked on that attempt to reveal hidden aspects of city life. He will be talking about the ghosts of wasted heat, contrails of fashion choices, traces of acoustic detail, digital maps of playful crowds and music for forgotten buildings. The technologies he uses include CCTV computer vision, mechanical bubble machines, GPS apps, inflatables, hand soldered binaural microphones, openstreetmap data, building-sized displays, arduinos, laser-cut stencils, pocket-sized screens, digital projectors and hastily installed & poorly understood GIS software.

Venue: Baines Wing Miall Lecture Theatre 2.34, University of Leeds
Campus map of buildings: click on this link, then launch the interactive campus map, and choose Baines Wing from the list on the right.

From the main entrance, go straight on past the front desk, then through the doors on the left. Follow the corridor round to the right and then to the left. At the end of the corridor on your right take the lift to the second floor (West) or go up 5 short flights of stairs. The Miall Lecture Theatre (2.34) is straight opposite the lift.

Thanks to Tina Richardson for inviting me along to give a talk. The Leeds psychogeography talks are always a fun crowd.

Chapeltown Standard artist discussant, Leeds June 2011

Participated as an artist discussant at a series of meals and conversations organised by artist Benedict Philips.

Part of the Under The Paving Stones, The Beach festival in Chapeltown, Leeds (21-25 June 2011).

Under the Paving Stones, the Beach is a translation of the Situationist International slogan ‘sous les pavés, la plage’ used during the protests of May ’68 in Paris. The slogan refers to both the practice of lifting paving stones by rioters to use against police in demonstration but also the possibility of imagining the city beyond what is obvious in our current social and urban organisation. Both ideas are relevant in Chapeltown, a place known both for its incredible – but often overlooked – multicultural and archeological importance as well as its – very well documented – social problems and violent past.

Under The Paving Stones, The Beach is a festival of art in the public realm throughout Chapeltown. Featuring artists from across the UK – including artists resident in Chapeltown – the aim is to create social interaction and offer different opportunities to the public to engage with projects about what kind of art represents Chapeltown. Working outside white cube spaces and in partnership with local landlords and businesses the project offers exhibitions, public discussion, games and parties, internet-based and billboard projects on the street, in  other cultural venues, cafes as well as disused buildings reanimated for the occasion.

Here are my notes from our discussions.

Digital Artisans – some notes

Some quotes and context around technology and art teaching, and the history in Leeds.

An understanding of contemporary media and the means of production, informed by a sense of digital technology, aesthetics and ethics.

Process & materials. Mechanisms of communication.

“In a field that moves so quickly – where today’s innovations may be obsolete tomorrow – students need more than just technical skills. They need an understanding of the underlying structures that fuel the dynamism between technology and creativity.”

Sara Diamond, Artistic Director Media and Visual Arts, Director of Research, The Banff New Media Institute

“… if technology and the ability to be connected disappear further into the background, what will occupy our foreground? A bit of the humanity we’ve always valued in the “real world.” Legislators who are currently fixated on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education as the key to innovation will realize that STEM needs some STEAM–some art in the equation. We’ll witness a return to the integrity of craft, the humanity of authorship, and the rebalancing of our virtual and physical spaces. We’ll see a 21st-century renaissance in arts- and design-centered approaches to making things, where you–the individual–will take center stage in culture and commerce.”

Your Life in 2020, John Maeda (2010)


“Innovation is born when art meets science.”

John Maeda, President, RISD

Leeds Mechanics' Institute
Leeds City Mechanics’ Institute

  • 1824 – Leeds Mechanics Institute founded.
  • 1845 – Leeds College of Commerce founded.
  • 1846 – Leeds College of Art founded.
  • 1868 – Leeds Mechanics Institute became the Leeds Institute of Science, Art and Literature, later renamed Leeds College of Technology
  • 1874 – Yorkshire College of Education and Home Economics founded.
  • 1907 – City of Leeds College of Education founded (part of City of Leeds Training College)
  • 1933 – Carnegie Physical Training College founded
  • 1970 – Leeds Polytechnic was formed from the amalgamation of Leeds College of Technology, Leeds College of Commerce, part of Leeds College of Art and Yorkshire College of Education and Home Economics

George Birkbeck (1776-1841), held a degree in medicine. When he started his lectures in 1799 he found it necessary to have a good deal of apparatus, and while this was being made under his instructions he became acquainted with a number of Glasgow artisans. He found them so intelligent and so eager to learn that he resolved to start a course of lectures and experiments in mechanics ‘solely for persons engaged in the practical exercise of the mechanical arts, men whose situation in early life has precluded the possibility of acquiring even the smallest portion of scientific knowledge.’ The lectures proved a great success. After Birkbeck removed to London in 1804, the lectures were continued by the next occupant of the chair; and finally, in 1823, the members of the class organised it into a ‘Mechanics’ Institute’. Its purpose was defined as ‘instructing artisans in the scientific principles of arts and manufactures’.


Artisan: “A skilled manual worker who uses tools and machinery in a particular craft. A person who displays great dexterity.”

  • open, free, course of lectures on the ‘mechanical arts’
  • mix of classes, library, reading-room, and apparatus for experiments
  • lectures on mathematics and its applications, and on natural and experimental science and drawing
  • “threw into relief the connection between material advancement and the necessity of education to take part in its advantages”
  • funded by benevolent groups and individuals, businesses and small rental fee
  • provided free light on two evenings a week from the local Gas Light Company


[in] 1955 [Harry Thubron] became Head of Fine Art at Leeds College of Art. During his ten year tenure in Leeds he helped to revolutionise art education in England by establishing the Basic Design Course, a programme inspired by the German Bauhaus college and the theoretical writings of Herbert Read. In this programme, art and design students were not taught specific skills for any of the disciplines of art and design, but visual literacy in the use of colour, establishment of form and construction of space. Out of this, and similar experiments undertaken by Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton at Kings College Newcastle, a new introductory course for art, design and architecture students emerged, called the Foundation Course, which went on to became the standard degree course-entry qualification for art, design and architecture students … He also helped to create a prototype for Britain’s Polytechnics by sending his students to work on collaborative projects with engineering students from Leeds College of Technology, out of which Leeds Polytechnic was formed.


Students recreated the Locked Room
Out-take from Christopher Burstall’s BBC documentary A Question of Feeling 1970. Day one with students on the reconstructed The Locked Room project. © Garth Evans