Dine on a Diet at North Bar and Kitchen

After a wonderful evening at the White Peacock a few months ago, I had high expectations of the latest Dine on a Diet event, which was once again put on by U Fit Studio and Niche Magazine to offer you a fine dining experience where all of the food is totally cohesive with a healthy lifestyle. 

This event was held at North Bar and Kitchen, a favourite haunt of mine for drinks, but not somewhere I had visited to eat yet although I have been hearing a lot of great feedback not just from people I know but also seeing that they are consistently rated amongst the top 5 restaurants in Leicester on TripAdvisor.

These events are also a great way to meet new people with exciting ideas and great stories. I attended with Heather from Talking Point Events – a wonderful woman with a wealth of events management experience and a relentless joie de vivre – who I had met just a few short weeks ago at The Best of Leicester wine tasting. She, of course, already knew practically everyone in the room and it was a joy to be introduced to Rachel from RDZ PR who is dynamic to say the least and inspirationally driven and forthright. It was an absolute pleasure to spend a wonderful evening in their company.

This is where I start hating my camera and really wanting a better one (again)!

The evening began well with an orange blossom gin fizz, which combined gin, a well chosen prosecco and just the right balance of orange blossom water and rose water to give a perfumed and deeply complex drink, without it edging over into tasting like taking a bite into granny’s pot pourri.

When we were seated we began with a cauliflower and leek soup, with a slice of crisp brown toast. I wasn’t expecting this to be any great shakes, but it was full of warming flavour. The chive garnish added a crisp onion note and the overall impact was a rich, well textured dish that was full of fresh vegetables and low on carbs. It is certainly a leek and potato soup alternative that I will be attempting myself at home as a lighter alternative that still has the thick autumnal comfort that you crave at this time of year.

Chive garnish had become something of a theme at this point.

Next up was the fish course, a seared tuna steak served with a unashamedly vivid salsa verde which popped with fresh herbs and that extra salty savouriness that only anchovies can bring. The tuna was an excellent quality and served slightly pink in the centre. For my taste, I prefer a slight amount of colour on the outside, but I suspect as this will have been cooked with the minimum of oil, the fish’s natural oils being enough for the dish, that this was not possible. It was very nicely balanced however, and deeply satisfying. Indeed, I was already starting to feel pretty full at this point and there were still two courses to go!

Yep, there’s the chive!

The main event was a sizeable chicken breast stuffed with pesto and wrapped in parma ham. This was served with a sweet potato tower which had a sprinkling of parmigiano, a rich tomato sauce and dressed seasonal vegetables. This was the course I was looking forward to the most, as chicken, pesto and parma ham is a stupendous combination in any language and it was totally up to standard. The chicken was moist and the dish held together well with the pesto shining through and being complemented by the sweetness of the potato and tomato.

Vibrant vegan salad was the alternative to the fish course.

Throughout, Rachel enjoyed the alternative vegan menu. North pride themselves on the flexibility of their menu and their ability to cater to all dietary requirements. Did you know that everything, bar one single item, on their menu can be made gluten free, for example? Rachel was highly complimentary of the menu throughout, but the real revelation for her came when dessert rolled around – vegan meringues. Yes, let me just say that again and let it sink in – vegan meringues. Served with a coconut cream and fresh fruit this looked like a heavenly dessert and I have only seen a happier vegan when being in the presence of one encountering Gelato Village’s dark chocolate sorbetto for the first time. They must get palmed off with all kinds of rubbish for pudding, or I suspect just fruit normally, so it was good to see a talented chef who had really kept all the menus up to the same high standard.

“I haven’t eaten a meringue in over 5 years!”

For those of us who have no qualms with the dairy things in life, we were treated to a citrus polenta cake with creme fresh. I don’t really understand why as a society we haven’t substituted cream for creme fresh on all dessert garnishes because it does the job just as well without the heavy guilt on the side.

Thankfully the chive garnish theme ended here.

The cake was light and moist, with that slight crunch that always comes from baking with polenta. Although admittedly not quite as much crunch as when you bake with it by accident. Although I was too full to completely finish my main course, somehow I managed to find the room to fit in all the pudding (which was roundly agreed by the table to be one of the females more unique superpowers.)

Many thanks to North and U Fit Studios for treating me to yet another healthy menu which did not compromise on flavour (or quantity!) Thanks to Anicca Digital for inviting me along to review the evening and thanks to everyone on my table who provided awesome company and giggles throughout. Sadly that was the last Dine on a Diet for 2015, but I have little doubt that such a well attended and popular event will make a comeback in 2016. Keep an eye on Eventbrite for more events like this in the future as well as Niche magazines other business opportunities, awards and networking. 


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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