Holly Bell: My Favourite Places
Great British Bake Off Fans will remember lovely Holly Bell, the young mum from Leicester and finalist in series 2 of the popular baking show. Fast forward a few years and Holly still lives here and also writes her own blog full of tasty recipes. It’s no surprise then that she has her finger (and taste buds) on the pulse when it comes to fun places to eat around the city.
Craft Burger serves the best burgers I have ever eaten, anywhere. I know, that’s quite a claim. It’s good value for money (under £10 for a burger and fries), creative (fancy a Crispy Klucker? A chicken fillet breaded in spiced rice crispies and deep fried), cheery and oh so delicious. Portion sizes are huge, so do plan ahead. I have been known to starve myself all day before a Crafty session. Booking is advised as Crafty is busy, busy, busy and only open Thursday – Sat eves.
Crafty Burger, 2 Saint Martins Walk, Leicester LE1 5DG
One of those curry houses you’d miss if you weren’t local or obsessed with sniffing out the perfect, succulent tandoori chicken leg. We have 3 kids so mostly we sweet talk the owners into delivering slightly outside their zone, but we have also eaten in and my, was it worth it. Ignore the dodgy Bargain Booze across the road, hell, sit with your back to the window if you must, and just order pretty much anything. I love their breads, rice, veggie sides, especially their tandoori chicken and perhaps controversially, their pineapple ice cream served in scooped out baby pineapples. Attentive service. Good food served by nice people.
Vishal, 347 Catherine St, Leicester LE4 6GG
For an altogether less typical curry experience try Kayal on Granby Street. This is a lighter curry option that the usual fayre found in Leicester. Keralan food with a heavy emphasis on fish, though my favourite dish is their kozhi kurumulagu – a black peppery mild chicken curry. Definitely share a masala dosa to start and ask the lovely staff to show you how to divide it equally without one person just getting the pancake. There’s an art to dosa sharing! Booking advisable as very popular in the evenings.
Kayal,153 Granby St, Leicester LE1 6FE
As a girl who spent most of her twenties on the Atkins diet (well, apart from the copious vats of carby wine) you could say I like a meat platter or two. Saray Mangal is a Turkish barbecue restaurant that’s back to basics. No table cloths, brisk service, no card payments and a simple menu. But go! Do go. And don’t make the rookie error of over ordering. Oh actually, do. The Family Mixed Meze to start followed by the Saray Family Mix. Wear an elasticated waistband and ask for leftovers to go. (FYI: This is a no booze restaurant.)
Saray Mangal, 3-5 Highfield St, Leicester LE2 1AB
Delilah Fine Foods
Delilah Fine Foods is a new kid on the Leicester foodie scene and a welcome one at that. A huge, beautifully fitted out deli with high ceilings and fine produce. Hours could be lost browsing, buying and tasting. Luckily you can rest your weary legs at the bar or a table, and order their salt beef and blue cheese bagel with a glass of restorative fino. Delilah’s is foodie heaven.
Delilah Fine Foods, 4 St Martins, Leicester LE1 5DB
Casa Romana is a rather wonderful, slightly chaotic and noisy Italian, often with live music. Everyone but everyone knows that you simply have to order fish here. For starter and main. It’s the law. And you must drunkenly finish the iceberg lettuce based side salad and salty chips. If you’re a regular then Francesco will ply you with Limoncello before you leave. Part theatre, part restaurant, I love it. Oh and it has no signage. So make sure you study the map before you set off.
Casa Romana, 5 Albion St, Leicester LE1 6GD
Pronounced Odge-eeeee is a restaurant you’d be forgiven for having overlooked. It’s at the Victoria Park end of London Road, small, not in any way ostentatious and frankly not somewhere I’d considered until we had our third son. It’s where we took him for his first meal out at 10 days old. There’s old school service, lots of cutlery and wine glasses, plus copious amounts of butter. Their specials are always spot on.
Oggi, 161D London Rd, Leicester LE2 1EG
The World Peace Café
This place is run by Buddhist volunteers, meaning the service is eclectic but smiley. Everything served is vegetarian but lovingly, thoughtfully and simply prepared. I like their vegan ciabatta of roasted mushroom, avocado, vine tomatoes and olive tapenade. Very child and baby-friendly but unfortunately closed on a Monday. I could really do with a side order of meditation with my lunch after the weekend…
World Peace Cafe, Nagarjuna Buddhist Centre, 17 Guildhall Lane, Leicester LE1 5FQ
This cafe is on Loseby Lane, part of the imaginatively named ‘Lanes’ of Leicester. It’s a basic café that houses a wonderful secret. Of course it does the usual fry up, but you’d be mad not to order their Marakesh breakfast complete with eggs in spicy sauce, cheese casadiya, mudamas and minty Marakesh tea. All for just £4.90. Open early at the weekends so perfect for foodies with babies who do not respect the sanctity of the weekend lie in.
Piero’s Cafe, 8 Loseby Lane, City Centre, Leicester LE1 5DR
Possibly the smallest restaurant in the whole of Leicester. A no-bookings sushi bar at the town end of Welford road. The owner makes your order right in front of you. It’s always busy, with the few seats in high demand. Students queue for take away and they even deliver. Their soft shell crab hand rolls are worth sitting shoulder to shoulder for.
Kuru Kuru, 11 Welford Rd, Leicester LE2 7AD
You can read more about Holly and see her delicious blog, Recipes From A Normal Mum here.