There’s a real buzz around Leeds city centre these days with new openings galore, but sometimes it’s nice to escape the madness of Briggate and the Saturday shopping crowds.
A short walk from the busiest streets is the Grand Arcade, which has undergone something of a revitalisation itself in the past year or so.
The historic arcade, which at one time had a worrying number of empty units, is now festooned with pretty bunting and is home to a varied selection of independent shops, cafes and bars.
Among them is vegetarian cafe Roots and Fruits, a mainstay of the arcade for some 20 years or more which has a got to be a good sign of quality.
We were lucky to grab one of the dozen or so tables inside on the day we visited, with staff telling us that the arcade’s resurgence was keeping the cafe busy most days.
I’ll confess that, as a meat eater, I feel positively saintly whenever I opt for a vegetarian option, but there was still something about the atmosphere in the cafe that felt wholesome and warm.
The team prides itself on its seasonal menu and use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, and has a number of dishes suitable for those following vegan or gluten-free diets.
There is also a selection of specials each day, which are all suitable for vegans too.
My friend chose the mushroom, spinach and feta lasagne (£8.25) and a side of the garlic bread (£1.95), which he kindly agreed to share.
After much dithering, I settled on the The Whole Bowl (£7.45) which was billed as “a nutritionally balanced bowl of wholesome chipotle black beans, brown rice, mango salsa, topped with guacamole, coconut sour cream, coriander and vegan cheesy sauce.”
A generous and colourful bowl arrived, which proved to be delicious and so filling that my plans for dessert took something of a knock.
The crisply toasted ciabatta was smothered in garlicky butter as promised and made an excellent accompaniment.
While my friend confessed that he missed having meat in his lasagne, the plate was scrapped clean by the end – never a bad sign.
Deciding to share a dessert, we opted for the sticky toffee pudding with ice cream (£5.45). The sponge was feather light and the sauce a sugary treat.
When it comes to drinks, the restaurant operates a bring your own bottle policy for alcohol. Since it was lunchtime, we opted for a pot of tea (£1.65) and two of the freshly made smoothies (£3.25).
The service throughout was friendly and efficient, and our table was snapped up as soon as we went to pay our bill – just over £30 – and waddled off with full bellies and a feeling of contentment.
ROOTS AND FRUITS
Address: Grand Arcade. Leeds. LS1 6PG