Sunday, 8 November 2009

Azucar Bar, Brewery Place.

C'est La Leeds, I have to admit my ignorance. Up until a few weeks ago I had never been to Brewery Wharf. I couldn't have even told you what was there, save for Tetleys. And even that doesn't have the allure of the shire horses anymore. Leeds city centre depsite its growth over the last decade, still ain't all that big. I like that about it, I hasten to add. So why had I never taken the hop, skip and jump over the river to Brewery Wharf? Perhaps it seemed too far away in the distorted satnav in my mind. Perhaps whoever was marketing its various businesses didn't create enough hype? Perhaps there was just nothing really to go to?

Since the city centre branch of Viva Cuba/Latina had apparently stopped doing a full menu to nosh on, I was on a quest to find another city centre tapas joint. Both
La Tasca and Sandinista are notbale mentions, but I wanted to see what else Leeds could muster, if anything. And then like a grubby form of fate, I came across a review for Azucar in a trampled, discarded newspaper on the bus. The review praised it highly: it offered exceptional tasting tapas at reasonable prices in a good atomsphere. I was instantly intrigued. But where was this myserious Azucar? Brewery Place? Brewery Whuh? It was suddenly a mission.

I armed myself with my friend Matt one cloudy Tuesday evening and we tentatively set off in search of our Holy tapas grail. Checking the website prior to this I had found that it does half price tapas on Tuesdays and half price cocktails on Thursdays. I didn't want to jinx it, but it sounded like it could possibly be my new favourite place. Excellent food for an excellent price in the credit crunch era? We had to find out.

Azucar feels slightly upmarket and homely all at once, if that's possible (I think it is, like a slightly glamorous aunt.) The drinks menu was designed by former
Mojo stalwart Robert Jupp and Howard Marks has a loosely linked hand in its buzz, although I'm not sure what role he plays aside from going in there every so often. But still, tapas, cocktails and Mr Nice - it works for me.

We were shown to a table and discovered it was in view of a big screen playing a film. Which is handy if you end up there on a bad date or you fall out with your friend mid-meal. Matt was sat with his back to it, so unfortunately for him he was just going to have to talk to me. Thems the breaks, buddy. All the waiting staff were friendly, helpful but not too eager - the general vibe (did I really just say vibe?) was chilled and relaxed (no, I will not use ch*llax, get lost.) We ordered six dishes between us and it was a fine amount of food. We could've probably ordered another dish or two if we were feeling a bit more indulgent, but the six was enough. To be fair, we could've ordered the whole menu if we had given in to our true desires, as it took us long enough to narrow it down to those six.

There is always a worry with half price promotions that the food will be rushed or not given its normal attention to detail or presentation - but this was wonderful. I especially liked the Brocheta De Cordero (lamb kebab with yoghurt dip) and my friend raved about the Gambas Rebozadas (tiger prawns with dip).

Most dishes range around the very reasonable £4.25 mark, so when you take into cosideration the fact that you are sharing and the half price offer, you are most definitely onto a winner.

We didn't spy Mr Marks but my friend managed to get a free beer due to a till slip-up. Balance restored!

C'est La Leeds, if there was ever a reason to take those brave steps over the river, Azucar is it. Go feast, drink and enjoy. And tell your friends.

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