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Bursting with flavour and friendly vibes

Posted by: Simon Fogal
Bursting with flavour and friendly vibes supporting image

Chapel Allerton welcomes De Baga.

Chapel Allerton. Home to a vibrant community of independent venues offering everything from natural wine and speciality coffee to spicy delights, artisan cheeses and more. 

 

This leafy suburb’s newest foodie resident is De Baga, a Goan restaurant promising a modern take on traditional cuisine served in an elegant, nostalgic setting. Its first branch opened in Headingley back in 2019, and I head down one warm Thursday evening to find out how it fits into the buzzing Chapel A scene.

We pass the quiet outdoor seating areas of the Mustard Pot, Dapur Malaysia and Black Market as we make our way to De Baga, which has taken on the former home of The Pit and BOX on Stainbeck Lane. As a sucker for foliage and festoon lighting, I’m immediately charmed by the restaurant’s exterior, where around ten tables welcome guests to dine a la carte. Friendly staff greet us warmly, and we look on to see other guests receiving the same welcoming treatment.

Inside, the restaurant is both cosy and quirky, with a range of neon signage and a spacious dining area transporting us into a fun yet relaxed atmosphere.



We peruse the menu and order two of the recommended beers – a Bombay IPA (£5.75) and a Delhi 6 Lager (£4.95), both made by local brewery, Pivo 44. Coming in at just 3.8%, the lager makes an excellent session brew, and I can tell straight away that the IPA will be a great accompaniment to food. 

Other drinks choices include several local beers from the likes of North Brew Co and Kirkstall Brewery, as well as cider on tap (£4.95) and a range of spirits and mocktails all at around £5.50. Wine drinkers are looking at anything from £19 to £75 for a bottle, with a solid selection including plenty of organic and vegan choices. We saw several rounds of shots going out too – not my first choice to accompany the cuisine on offer, but maybe I’m missing something by not opting for Patron with my curry. Who knows.

We turn our attention to food, studying the menu’s multiple sections at length to make our choices. There are nibbles, chaats and veg, meat or seafood starters, as well as biryani dishes and a vast range of mains, sides and desserts. An appealing Sunday roast option also offers up lamb shank and masala fries, so I make a quick mental note to return at the weekend, and ask for our server’s advice on how to curate the meal at hand. We opt for Sev Puri – crispy puff pastry filled with sweet potato bhaji and chutney, which we eat as directed (in one mouthful) to experience an incredible burst of flavour. A great choice to munch on as you look through the menu.

Chilli Fry Mankios (£5.95) – calamari with bell peppers, mango, basil and chilli – catches our eye from the ‘nibbles’ section, and arrives as a hearty salad alongside the Baar Baar Cornetto (£3.95), a playful dish consisting of smoked aubergine and soft cheese. This one didn’t quite cut it in the flavour department, but made for good entertainment at the table! Not one to go halves, I top off our starter selection with Murgh Chakori (£7.50), which comprises chicken infused with charcoal mist and served with green mint sauce.

When it comes to mains, we’re keen to try everything – from the lamb shank curry we’ve spied on Instagram to the sea bass dish calling our name from the middle of the menu. We sample the Apora Bazaar mocktail (£5.50) as we ponder, and enjoy the refreshing hit of fresh pineapple and coconut.



Finally – struggling to pick – we turn once again to the waiter, who recommends the Tamso Nâlachi Kadi (£18.95), a red snapper curry with a deliciously rich, tomato-coconut sauce. We also choose Galinha Cafreal à (£14.95) – a chicken dish with influences from Mozambique and Portugal. This one doesn’t have quite the knock-out flavour as the snapper, but still made for an incredible addition to our meal. Accompaniments come in the form of Spiced Rice and a Smoked Cheese Chilli Naan (both £3.50) – perfect for mopping up the sauces.

Fullness forces us to pass on dessert, but the selection boasts something for everyone – from Mango Delice, Matka Kulfi and Coffee Ras Malai (all £5.95) to Pineapple Flambe (£6.95).

Overall, De Baga is brilliant – a surprisingly large restaurant with a great crowd, friendly staff and reasonable prices. After seeing it buzzing on a Thursday night, I’m confident that history will repeat itself and diners will continue to flock here for a taste of delicious Goan cuisine in a welcoming atmosphere. Its own claim of ‘fine-casual’ dining might be a paradox, but we’ll certainly be back – bringing all our friends and family with us.

 

De Baga

8b Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3QY

Tel: 0113 805 6229

www.debaga.co.uk

 

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