Restaurant review: The Well, Meanwood, Leeds

The Well cafe on Stonegate Road, Meanwood.
The Well cafe on Stonegate Road, Meanwood.
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Upcycling enthusiasts will appreciate the way The Well has been designed.

Blanket boxes have been repurposed as banquette seating, crates act as rudimentary book shelves, cushions have been smartly upholstered to add a splash of colour to the vintage tables and chairs (of which is a grand total of three).

But the pieces de resistance are the colanders and preserve jars suspended from the ceilings as alternative light fittings.

The imaginative touches are an illustration of the thoughtfulness behind this fledgling venture, situated in the hitherto no-man’s land between Meanwood and Chapel Allerton.

Its location, on a parade of shops on Stonegate Road, could work in the cafe’s favour – it’s far enough from the centres of both suburbs to persuade nearby residents they don’t need to venture to either for a bite to eat.

Certainly there was enough traffic during our lunchtime visit to suggest it’s already winning the hearts and minds of the locals.

The owners already have one other outlet – Sebby’s on Otley Road in Headingley.

Their new venture, which has converted what was once a butcher’s shop, has the large kitchen they wanted to run an outside catering business.

The cafe/deli area out front is small but attractive, as long as you don’t mind occasionally knocking elbows with the strangers sitting on the next table.

As well as lunches, it does a simple breakfast menu, from a full English to porridge and crumpets.

There’s a bit more to set the pulse racing among the lunchtime fare, which includes a number of vegan and gluten-free options.

I had a toasted piegata – a kind of folded (the English translation of the Italian word) flatbread not dissimilar to pitta – topped with salt and parmesan cheese.

The soft bread itself was tasty enough that I’d have been quite happy had it been served to me without accompaniment, but the chicken and bacon filling, doused in a chive mayonnaise, made it a grandstanding sarnie.

My dining partner’s salad had a bit of everything – leaves, homemade coleslaw and salsa, hummus, potato salad, sundried tomatoes, peppers stuffed with feta cheese.

Drizzled with her choice of French dressing, it was unspectacular, but all the ingredients were fresh and easy on the eye.

The homemade cakes we indulged in for afters were worth the trip alone. The chocolate and orange cake, topped with slivers of fruit peel, was a delight, but the sticky stem ginger cake might have been the work of Mary Berry herself.

Our bill came to £16, which included a couple of soft drinks.

If there was once criticism, it was that the cafe had the slightly chaotic atmosphere of a place that is understandably still finding its feet.

However, the service was helpful and friendly and the early signs offer enough promise to suggest that all will be well in the end.

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