Restaurant review: Cafe Wah, 219 Roundhay Road, Leeds

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With an ever expanding mix of Mediterranean, South Asian, Middle Eastern and ‘fusion food’ offerings, Roundhay Road is developing into a great city centre alternative for Leeds diners.

The midweek lunchtime hunger pangs led us on this occasion to Café Wah, with its bright pink bubblegum interiors and welcoming feel.

This is a tiny inner-city diner with a big, warm, foodie heart.

The range of American, Italian and Mexican gourmet beefburger options, as well as some unusual daily specials and an array of paninis, pasta, pizzas and home-made desserts, were all tempting.

On recommendation of the chef, I chose one of the ‘specials’, a Philly cheese steak sandwich,(£4.50), thinly sliced rib eye steak with caramelised onions, lashings of cheese and served in a giant ciabatta bun, with onion rings and coleslaw.

The beef was moist and flavoursome, although the cheese was a little nondescript. I relied on some bottled barbecue to bring some real zing to lift the whole sandwich. I understand Philly sandwiches can also include fried mushrooms and sweet peppers, something that this meal could have benefitted from.

Despite the small niggle, it was very tasty and very well-cooked. My companion also grabbed a bite and loved the tender beef strips which he said were perfectly cooked.

The bread was beautifully fresh and light, and the crispy onion rings and fresh-made coleslaw were both delightful. I’d also greedily ordered some thick-cut crispy chips which were delicious alongside my sandwich.

My companion opted for the chicken steak burger (£4.50, or £5.50 for double option).

This was grilled chicken breast marinated in a choice of homemade sauces which include hickory BBQ and ‘blazing’ piri piri.

My friend chose a tandoori marinade. The sandwich was served in a ciabatta roll with a side of fries.

The chicken was beautifully tender, and the intense spice came through perfectly. My companion liked the crispy ciabatta but said he would have preferred a sesame bun with this filling, as he found the bread a little dry for his liking. I stole a little taste and I loved the aromatic tandoori flavoured chicken.

Café Wah is run by a brother and sister team who are obviously trying to bring a slightly better quality offer to this part of town.

There is plenty on the menu to savour, and the quality of ingredients and care of preparation definitely shines through.

The service too was very good, and the staff clearly dedicated.

There are a few minor glitches that need fixing, including the very annoying broken door, which was especially noticeable on a cold day.

Our bill came to a very reasonable £13, which included a soft drink each.

I’ll certainly be going back to Café Wah to try some of the other dishes, and I have to say it’s one of a handful of eateries in this part of downtown Leeds that bears repeated visits.

Toby Carvery

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