Restaurant review: Northern Monk Refectory, Leeds

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04b
1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04b
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Despite its Grade II listed status, the converted flax mill where Northern Monk Brew Co has set up home does little to set the pulse racing when viewed from outside.

Next to the other post-industrial behemoths such as neighbouring Marshalls Mill and Temple Works, themselves both now adapted for modern use, it looks a tad boxy and unimpressive.

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04c

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04c

What lurks inside however, more than justifies the 15 minute walk from the city centre to the fast-improving Holbeck Urban Village.

Though fundamentally a base for its brewery, which covers the ground floor and will churn out thousands of litres of craft ale a year, it also has a refectory and kitchen on the first floor which prove to be an excellent lunch spot for Little Oliver on his way to the football at Elland Road.

Unsurprisingly, the beer is superb. There are ten of Northern Monk’s own on draught and an equal number of superior offerings from around the region, available in pints, halves or thirds.We try three third-of-a-pint glasses for £5. Two own-brews are full of flavour, while a rhubarb sour from Macclesfield is tangy though perhaps more of an acquired taste.

More surprising, but just as good, is the food. Served by local caterers The Grub & Grog Shop, the fare is a radical departure from the pub standards you might expect in such close proximity to beer.

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04a

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04a

Examples on the dinner menu include imaginative creations such as ox tongue hash with cauliflower mash, pickles, kale and stout gravy, or wild mushrooms and chestnuts in coffee with squash and buckwheat-otto.

As it is lunchtime, and with the inherent conservatism of a football fan, I opt for a more sedate beef brisket sandwich on ciabatta, with herb sauce and horseradish. There’s not too much stout-soaked meat and the ciabatta encasing it is the right side of crunchy, served with a mixed salad.

As a side, ‘Yorkshire fries’, a selection of roasted beetroot slices and other vegetables served with homemade mayonnaise, aren’t crunchy like fries, but great value for £2. Slightly less good value, though still a nice surprise, is side-dish two of sauteed kale with garlic butter.

Vegetarian options are in good supply, to such an extent that dishes that do contain meat or fish are marked out on the menu rather than the other way round. One veggie option, a celeriac fritter bun with hash brown, egg and roast tomato sauce, is filling and tasty in equal measure.

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04d

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04d

All in all, three main plates of food and two sides come to £16.50, excellent value and leaving a few pounds spare for another half of beer each.

Decor-wise, there’s the bang-on-trend exposed brickwork and metal pipes on the wall and ceilings, as well as a slightly incongruous glitterball. Toilets are spotless and the artwork on the walls, including a less-than-flattering depiction of David Cameron and Boris Johnson, is on the edgier, more modern side.

By the time we leave, the place is filled with families, football fans and a few beard-clad hipsters. Word of this hidden gem in post-industrial Leeds is clearly spreading fast.

Rating: 4/5

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04e

1 Dec 2014.....Little Oliver review Northern Monk Brew Co & Refectory, Holbeck. Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/04e

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