Let’s Do Lunch at Lost and Found

Stan reflects on our language, with the accent on ‘our’, and discovers what’s in a name.

When it comes to the English language Americans can be so annoying. From the inability to spell words like ‘colour’, the mispronunciation of others such as ‘research’, the invention of terms as in ‘winningest’ to the totally erroneous use of vocabulary, witness ‘momentarily’. That is before we even come to the regional accents.

I was once visiting friends in Kentucky when I was referred to by one of their acquaintances as being ‘retard’ when what she meant was ‘retired’. On the plus side, however, are the terms they use for institutions which are far more positive than our equivalent. Whereas we have the Prison Service, they have Departments of Correction which implies that the inmates will come out of confinement as better people than when they went in. There is the Department of Homeland Security which gives the citizens a feeling of safety, whereas we have the Home Office which sounds like the spare room between the second bedroom and the bathroom. They may sound more positive but probably are not. The thing which had me thinking along these lines is the name of this week’s eating house, The Lost and Found. The UK has the Lost Property Office which gives no hint that what has been lost will ever be recovered. I asked the manager of the establishment in Greek Street where the name comes from and he said that he thought that it referred to the Birmingham branch, which was a bolt hole with hidden rooms in the 19th century. I must admit I didn’t fully get the connection, but nothing new there. I had looked on the website before visiting and there are drawings of ladies with rather flamboyant headgear representing the three outlets, which made me think that whoever had drawn them had Lost the sugar lump which they were going to put into their coffee, and Found another one with a liberal dose of LSD applied.

The building is like the Tardis: there is a small street presence but the bar and restaurant are enormous and lavishly furnished. I seem to have been eating in quite basic diners lately so this was a welcome change. I was shown to my table by a very pleasant waitress who offered me a carafe of water whilst I studied the menu. She endeared herself to me even more by telling me that there was a lunchtime promotion and all of the sandwiches, baguettes and pizzas were priced at £6.00. Result.

As the pizzas were advertised as being on a crisp, sourdough base I opted for one of those topped with chorizo, salami pepperoni, beef ragu and prosciutto ham. There was the option to have half a pizza and a house salad for the same price so I thought that I would go for that. I chose a Primitivo red wine to go with the meal at £8.05 for 250ml which was excellent and a great compliment to the dish. The pizza was done to perfection, the base was crisp but would take a fork without shattering like a poppadom and the sourdough gave a wonderful flavour. I imagine that it was cooked in two parts, as the ragu and chorizo were properly cooked through but the prosciutto must have been added just before the end of the process as it was hot but still had its texture rather than being burned to a crisp. The ensemble was delicious, as was the salad which comprised contrasting green leaves of cos and rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, croutons, pumpkin seeds and shavings of parmesan cheese all drizzled with a balsamic dressing. As I had foregone half of a pizza I thought I deserved a dessert so had the sticky toffee pudding, £6.25, a dark concoction served with fudge butterscotch sauce and vanilla pod ice cream a wonderful contrast of hot and cold and surprisingly light.

My spending spree was completed with a long black coffee at £2.00 which is excellent value for central Leeds, or anywhere for that matter. Being able to eat such good food in opulent surroundings for what you could easily pay for a takeaway sandwich is amazing and I cannot recommend this place highly enough. There is also a popular cocktail bar if you like that kind of thing.

I was hoping that after an hour and a half in The Lost and Found I might have been claimed by some careless lady who thought that she may have left me on a bus, but no such luck, so I was returned to the person who brought me in.

Mange toutes,

Stan Graham

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