When my sister and her partner visted in December (did I mention we went to see Mogwai and it was amazing?) we made plans to meet up when I was next in Leeds and visit one of their favourite restaurants, Bundobust.
Bundabust’s deal is vegetarian* Indian street food and craft beer. They do great tapas-style small plates and everyone is encouraged to dig in and share. Now, I’m keen to try more vegetarian food, depsite being decidedly carnivorous a lot of the time, and I’m obviously a big fan of tasty beers, so I was very excited to try this place. My only concern was P – he’ll eat vegetarian food, of course, but he’s a fussy eater.
So I was looking at the menu and thinking, “oh, okra fries! They sound good… P won’t eat them. Maybe… maybe the tarka dahl? He once tried that somewhere else and called it slop (yeah, this is what I have to deal with). Egg Bhuji won’t work because he won’t eat egg… Oh. Oh look. The Vada Pav!”
The Vada Pav is a potato burger, specifically it’s a fried spicy mashed potatoe burger coated in gram flour and served on a brioch bun with spiced chutney. Basically, it’s a spicy roll and fritter – perfect for P. Oh, and by the way, it was and has been named the best burger in the world (yes, the world and yes, it was the only veggie option on the list) in an article published by Bloomberg titled Around The World in 27 Burgers. Never mind P, I wanted to try this.
My mother decided the join the four of us. Together, we showed up on 30 December, just before the Leeds branch temporarily closed their doors to do some refurbishments. The restaurant is appropriately hipster cool, the walls wood pannelled but with old doors, complete with their letter boxes. You go to the bar to order drinks and food.
Beer-wise I couldn’t resist a festive christmas mocha porter by Northern Monk, but also tried the Bombay Dazzler (is a beer with a punny name a better beer? I think so) which is a wheat beer with a distinct coriander flavour to it. A bit too strong flavoured to make it a good session beer for me, but great to compliment the food here.
With my sister’s guidance we chose the Combo for 4, which included the Kachumber Sambaro, Popcorn and Pops, Okra Fries, Onion Gobi Baji Baji, Bundo Chaat, Biryani Baji Balls, Vada Pav, Massala Dosa, Egg Bhurji and Chole Bhatura. We decided to also get a second Vada Pav and Chole Bhatura for P, thinking these would be the best items for him, plus a Brussels Sprout Baji, since it was one of the Christmas specials.
Honestly, the Combo for 4 is plenty of food even if you do have 5 people, but I’m glad we got the extras simply because everything was so delicious. It’s hard to pick a favourite, so I’m not even going to try, but stand out dishes include the Okra Fries, the Bundo Chaat, the Biryani Baji Balls (think Arancini, but Indian), the Egg Bhuji and, of course, the Vada Pav. I don’t know if it could replace my favourite non-veggie burgers, but it’s definitely better than many that I’ve tried.
Hilariously, after all the hype, P did not like the Vada Pav because of the spicy chutney on it, but he did love the Chole Bhatura, so that was a success. Not least because he can now no longer pretend to dislike chick peas and I can direct him to chana masala for future veggie Indian options.
This was one of those meals where I found myself going back for more no matter how many times I said, “ok, I’m done now, I’m full.” I’d see that there was a little of something left, and no one was going to eat it, and it was all just too good to go to waste. That one last bite would always lead to one more. If that isn’t a sign of a great meal, I don’t know what is.
*Not every item on their menu is vegan, but I think almost all of those which aren’t can be made vegan on request. In any case, it’s certainly a very vegan-friendly restaurant.