A promised post delivered at last!…
The Monday before Christmas we were treated to lunch at Saltaire’s Chez Shamwari – a secret tearoom cum bistro based in West Yorkshire’s World Heritage site. This was very welcome for me as I had spent the weekend cooking for family and so I was looking forward to being waited on myself!
Chez Shamwari is run by Zimbabwean Shirley, who we have at met at various foodie events, including our own supperclub. I don’t always fancy afternoon tea as I am never hungry at the time it is served (if that makes sense). I guess I am a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner kind of person! Anyway, I was excited at the opportunity to experience a lunchtime secret supperclub instead!
An added bonus of the lunch date was that we got to see behind the scenes of one of Saltaire’s beautiful workers cottages – something I’ve wanted to do for ages. Shirley’s place didn’t disappoint. It has been tastefully and stylishly renovated. Its size means that Shirley has had to be very cunning with space, something she has achieved very well in her bathroom and kitchen. Guests sit in the small kitchen with Shirley as she prepares. I was worried that this might feel like we were intruding. But actually it was a great way to chat to Shirley as well as to everyone else. It does mean that the chef has to be on their best behaviour and keep the work surfaces tidy (something I can never see us being able to do at the Manor, even with 4 of us working!), but Shirley managed this admirably.
The menu kicked off with some warming mulled wine and then a creamy chestnut soup with homemade bread rolls. I’ve never had chestnut soup before so it was great to try it. It was lovely, thick and comforting. After my hectic weekend I just wanted to lie down in it!! Our main course was an intriguing fish pie that had the additional flavours of tarragon, horseradish and parsnip! This was all very subtle and made for an enjoyable take on an old classic. This was served with buttered green veg which cut through the creaminess of the pie.
Our dessert was a Zimbabwean take on Christmas pudding. This was much lighter than a British version and from my perspective seemed to have more fruit and nuts in it, rather than stodge. Everyone agreed that they didn’t really like Christmas pudding but that this version was very agreeable. Shirley attempted to flame the pudding but then ran out of brandy so it was very brief! Luckily I didn’t blink at the wrong time so I managed to witness it! She spoilt us by serving it with Bailey’s cream AND Bailey’s ice cream, yummy! By this point I was properly full and barely managed any of the petit fours of chocolate truffles and mini mince pies. They looked tasty though.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the other guests. We talked a lot about the history of Leeds and Saltaire and how much West Yorkshire has changed from its industrial roots. It can be a bit intimidating coming along to such an event, especially when you know that there will be only 6 guests in total. If you don’t get on with the others who are present then there’s no way out!! Luckily everybody around the table were a joy to chat to and I hope to see them at other supperclubs around the region soon.
I think Shirley has a good set up here. She’s based in a beautiful, urban location that is easily accessible by the local train network. Also, in a market that is perhaps getting saturated with secret supperclubs and tearooms she is offering something slightly different, a lunchtime bistro. And I heartily recommend it. Her hosting is attentive and genuine and she proved to us that she can cook good classics very well indeed. If you want some good food, in intimate surroundings then check Shirley out!
Also, whilst I’m on the topic now is a good opportunity to give our other local supperclubs a shout out! The scene is burgeoning in the North and this is fantastic!
My Secret Tearoom – was one of the first underground ventures in Leeds and is run by the lovely Lynn. We visited Lynn back in the summer and as our site was still relatively new we had not got round to developing our reviews section. However I can vouch that her pastry is one of the lightest I’ve ever tasted and her lemon curd to die for! We aim to go back very soon to do a proper review.
The Crab Apple Tree – is a Chapel Allerton based supperclub who are sadly about to leave us for Australia! They will have events throughout Feb so book on before they go! You can read our review of them here.
The Bootleg Belly – is a fellow West Leeds supperclub and I am thrilled that it is West Leeds leading the way for Loiner supperclubs, go us! We’re due to visit at the start of Feb and we can’t wait as we’ve heard brilliant things.
Cafe Nouvea at home – is run by the lovely Marie-Claire in Huddersfield. We’re due to visit in March for wine and cake pairings.
Cooking Fairy – is based between Leeds and Harrogate in a beautiful rural local. We’re due to visit in April!
Lavendar Attic – is a tea room based on the outskirts of Leeds. It’s run by Sally who is a fan of all things vintage. She brought us some lovely homemade gifts when she came to visit the Manor. We must book a visit in asap!