Review: Cafe 71, Street Lane, Roundhay, Leeds

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Street Lane Cafe - Cafe 71 in Roundhay is located on that long strip of shops between Sunderland Avenue and Shaftesbury Avenue, off Street Lane, which, whenever I drive along it seems to go on and on and on... and on.

Along its length, like fruit hanging from a branch, are several clusters of shops, some with cafes, others not but these clusters are nowhere closer together than in the Lidgett Park area, which backs onto the tree-lined and rather affluent neighbourhoods beyond.

Cafes abound here. Quite a few of these units have changed hands and use over the years. There seems to be a slow churn of businesses as one disappears and another arrives. (In fact, the only shops which do not seem to be affected by this economic tide are the charity shops - they seem to endure, whatever the weather.)

Cafe 71 has been around for a good while, although the signage has changed. It is a ubiquitous-looking diner (not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with ubiquitous looking diners) with space for a slither of decking and a couple of tables outside, while inside it sports spongy swivel stools (yay) and high tables at the window, some comfy couch seating opposite the counter and, in the back, a collection of functional (rather worn) leatherette chairs and tables.

It’s nice. ‘Lived in’ is not the right phrase but it’s close. Again, this need not be a bad thing. The atmosphere is pleasant, staff friendly and efficient, there’s a decent choice of hot and cold sandwiches and other dishes and they have a ‘two-for-£10’ offer on any £5.99 meals. It’s ‘soup and a sandwich’ territory, with ‘big breakfasts’ not in short supply.

I was there with my son, who ordered a BLT (£4.45), which was perfectly acceptable. I went for a coronation chicken and fresh coriander (£4.45), again good: a decent portion if ever there was one. There were other options, such as toasties, jacket spuds and a sizzling steak sarnie for a very reasonable-sounding £6.25. We also ordered two cans of Sprite, an orange juice and two chocolate muffins but I cannot tell you how much they were because I lost the receipt but all told, it was in the region of £18.

Ok, so it’s not going to win any awards for cutting edge cuisine or avant garde decor but I like places like this: they are the lifeblood of such communities and this being an independent cafe, it lends the area a certain personality. In fact, thank god for places like this, which are not part of the gaudy chain restaurant chic which proliferates in so many areas: that anathema of choice and originality. They also do catering. Here, at least, there is space to breath and consider the world, to smile and be smiled at. I’ll be going back soon.

STREET LANE CAFE - CAFE 71, ROUNDHAY

Contact: 0113 2265768 or email manager@cafe71.com

Score: 4/5

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