Brook’s – with Michelle Pfeiffer

Brooks - Pork Loin sm

I booked my table under the name Pfeiffer.

Whenever I book a table at a restaurant I always book under a different name than my own.

Purely to amuse myself I use names of film stars or people I admire. As long as I remember who I’m supposed to be …


Brook’s has crayons on each table and invites guests to draw and doodle on the paper tablecloths; allowing for grand romantic gestures and … er … doodling.

The food is divine; presentation and flavours are excellent.

But, being a fine dining experience usually – I felt unusually self conscious as I drew and ate. Other diners were here on special occasions with family, friends and loved ones, whilst I sat on my own.

At least the owner came over and admired my work – and brought me a glass of wine over whilst we chatted.



Hussain’s – the curry bistro and curry buffet

We often come to this local restaurant, which offers a fine range of Indian and Asian fusion dishes on it’s grand buffet downstairs.


Hussains - buffet smTricky to illustrate, though, due to the similar colour palette throughout. This necessitates concentrating on shading to create form. Trying to use variations in the paint depth to create form.

It’s certainly an interesting exercise in shape and tonal work.

And rice.

Don’t get me even started on rice!

Trying to illustrate each individual grain would be crazy (Now there’s a challenge!)

Here, I’ve drawn in some of the more prominent individual grains. Shaded in the main darker areas within the rice structure. I used paint to illustrate some more of the grains. Finally I use paint spatter over that area to add a small random element of paint to the rice structure.

I’m fairly happy with this result, but should have perhaps added further individual grains (I think I can see where I’m going with this!  I really don’t want to head down the path of feeling it necessary to draw each and every flippin’ grain!)


Filenas – Panini

Filenas - panini smA lovely summer’s day.

The sun in the sky.

Clouds drifting past.


I headed into Filenas.

Now, Filenas café caters to a particular crowd of people. Let’s say it’s clientele is quite elderly.

Because it is.

I wasn’t expecting to find anything particularly exciting when I went to order, but it was a beautiful sunny day and I think that affected my optimism.

I spotted, at the bottom of the menu, this Bacon, Pesto and Feta Panini in amongst the bacon and cheese rolls and ham salads.

And I thought to myself ‘Hmm, that sounds rather exotic, I think I’ll try one of those.”

And so I did.

As I noted on the illustration, I really do love Pesto. It has to be one of my all time favourite things to with Garlic, Basil and Pine Nuts. It adds a cool, mediterranean twist to salads and sandwiches. Mmmm, Oh for a slice of Bruschetta with a little chopped tomato and pesto. Delicious!

For me, though, this sandwich combination (Bacon, Feta and Pesto) didn’t quite work out.

Still, I had the sunshine and a pretty drawing out of it; and a reminder about Pesto.


Ye Merrie England – Breakfast

Merrie England - breakfast smWhen you’re growing up you get used to certain things. And assume, understandably, that everyone is familiar with those things.

For instance, at the moment I’m drawing a a spread about popular biscuits. This would probably be pretty unfamiliar to anyone not from the United Kingdom, although American imports, such as Oreo Cookies are invading our shelves, I’ve tried to keep the illustration to traditional British biccies.


Merrie England -is a set of local teashops. Now when I say local, I really do mean local. There are about eight or so of these cafes and they’re all localised around Huddersfield. It wasn’t until I travelled further afield, as I grew older, that I realised that Ye Merrie England was only a Huddersfield delight.

Picture, if you will, a café decorated in a mock Tudor style. The outer walls clad in beams with diamond-leaded windows. Inside the interior continues with wood panelling and more beams in dark wood. Fleur-de-Lis banners and rampant lion pennants hang from the ceiling, perhaps a suit of armour in the corner and

Now, I hasten to add that they have a bit of a make-over in recent years and are looking a little more modern, but have still pretty much retained the quasi-Tudor look.

The atmosphere is nice and friendly and there are clearly lots of regulars strolling in for breakfast.

I woke up to a breakfast roll and a nice cup of tea.

Bacon, sausage and a runny fried egg.

It must be a runny fired egg in a sandwich – ready to pop once I bite into it and then run round the bacon and sausage. Hopefully dripping onto my plate, so I can mop up the egg yolk with my sandwich.


Domenico’s – Pizza

Dominico - pizza smBefore I started drawing again I would have thought that I would dare go into an empty restaurant, on my own and sit down and eat a meal, again on my own.

Of course, this is precisely what happened with my illustration of my meal Domenico’s Pizza.

Except, or course, I intensified the experience by drawing and painting my meal as I ate!

The Antipasti Caldi starter was massive; a plate piled high with deep fried whitebait, calamari and prawns big enough to hitch a saddle onto.

I think I may have ordered a two-person sharing platter by accident!

I choose a particularly attractive quarter of the pizza to draw and paint and tucked into the other three-quarters whilst I completed my drawing.

I took a long leisurely time. Partly because I was drawing and painting at the same time and partly because the pizza was delicious.

Domenico’s isn’t an Italian restaurant that we have been to in Huddersfield; but I will certainly be returning. There was an authenticity about the food that I really enjoyed.

Sitting and drawing and painting an illustration of my meal, somehow overshadows the embarrassment of eating alone in an empty restaurant. Of course, I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself!

It is an interesting point, though. To what lengths will we go to produce our art? Or rather, what social boundaries are we willing to overstep to produce our art? I have friends who are artists who took some time to overcome their fears of drawing en plein air. But, if you want to feel connected to your subject matter I think that it is truly necessary. It takes away the detachment of working from a photograph. This is why I prefer to work with traditional materials, such as pen and paint and paper. Rather than more modern, and perhaps more fashionable materials like apps on tablets and photoshop and other adobe illustration tools.


Blakeleys – Chicken and Bacon Salad

Blackleys - salad smI find salad leaves and tomato particularly tricky illustrate; I think it’s because they have a translucent quality that doesn’t lend itself to having an ink outline – I will continue to persevere. Perhaps a layering of colour washes would suit better. Additionally tomatoes have a peculiar red/orange colouration, as well as solid and translucent colouring. Tricky blighters!

Blakeley’s is one of those popular, local cafes which never seem empty. As we queued there’s a tension as to whether we will actually bag a table, or not. We can only dream of finding a space at one of the two window tables! Next on the list for favourite, and therefore highly sought after, spaces are the two tables with settees, rather than regular chairs.

The table we managed to get was right beside the door in and out of the kitchen serving area. Now I do actually like sitting in this spot in cafes – sitting amongst the hurly burly of the waiters and waitresses as they sweep past carrying trays of freshly prepared dishes and returning with the detritus of completed customers.

I choose a light, warm salad today – which seemed to fit with the early summer sunshine well.



Kings – Chinese buffet

There’s something very satisfying about buffet.
Kings is still our favourite Chinese buffet restaurant, but there’s something we don’t understand.
Kings is a Chinese buffet, an all-you-can-eat feast of flavours and textures.
An empty station? Don’t worry, it will have been filled with freshly cooked delights before that happens…
So, why then do people insist on collecting a mountainous pile of food on their plates?
If they can return to the buffet, whenever they want, to collect fresh cooked, hot food. Why collect as much food as can be piled on the plate, to go cold as you plough through it?


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