Hessian cafe bar review - Roundhay Road, Leeds

Coffee, a pint of lager, breakfast or a three-course meal.

Sunday, 29th December 2019, 11:45 am
Hessian, Roundhay Road, Oakwood.

Hessian is a bit of a Swiss army knife when it comes to food and drink.

Billed on its own website as a "cafe, bar & restaurant", it has been a regular feature on Roundhay Road for some time.

A quick flick through the menus (there are separate ones for 'Day', 'Evening', 'Drinks' and 'Junior') and you'll soon see that there really is something for everyone here.

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First Impressions

As you come through the door, there's a small arrangement of tables. Hessian has a big offering but its premises are small and space is at a premium.

The front and back-end of the place is essentially separated by the long bar/till station, and it makes more sense if you're there for drinks to sit at the front and food at the back.

The rear of the cafe has a scattering of more tables, overlooked by the kitchen.

If you're sitting here, you can literally see the chefs preparing your meal which is quite refreshing.

The walls are laden with artwork and there's a wood-panel sort of effect going on, to a backdrop of vibrant paint.

The drinks

It's a good menu, boasting cocktails, a range of gins, wine.

For beer-drinkers, there's two taps - one lager and one 'guest ale', which is Ilkley Brewery's IPA when we're visiting.

The bar has a couple of bottles on offer, too.

Hessian is quaint and it does also serve food but the lack of beer options is somewhat disappointing. It's understandable why they haven't gone big on beer though, given its proximity to craft ale pub Preston Bar (literally next door).

On the 'Day' menu, you can also opt for some specials - including Aperol spritz and prosecco mimosa.

We try both of the draught beers, which are refreshing and smooth and a tasty mimosa.

The food

We're sitting in on an early winter afternoon, so for the purpose of this review, we scanned through the 'Day' menu.

"We're here to bring you fresh and exciting food and drink from first thing in the morning through to late in the evening," Hessian proclaims on its website.

There's a really good breadth of choice on food.

Lunch plates include chickpea & lentil dhal, a North African grilled chicken, Turkish eggs and a vegan 'Buddha bow'.

There are meat options aplenty but vegetarians and vegans won't be left out in the cold here.

Hessian also offers breakfast, brunch and small plates (fries, wedges, extra vegetables).

There is an impressive offering across the menu but it feels somewhat scattergun.

Service

Probably the feature that pushes Hessian out of the crowd: service is excellent.

As soon as you peer through the door (as a first-timer or frequent visitor), you'll be greeted with a smile and asked where you'd like to sit.

There's no pressure, no cramming into the corner or hurrying along. It's all very relaxed and that is refreshing in 2019.

Service is also fast - there's no dithering, waiting around for menus or the bill, staff are observant and attentive.

The verdict

There's no doubt that there is a stronger emphasis on food here than drinks.

It's warm, relaxing and friendly and whatever you're in the mood for, Hessian probably has it covered.

8/10