Cafe review: Sheaf Street Cafe, Leeds

Two words sum this place up: absolutely brilliant.

If you want the long version, read on. I won’t kid you, I had qualms about going here. For one thing, it’s exactly one mile from the office and involved a 20 minute walk through one of the wastelands of the city: the South Bank. So, beyond the towering monstrosity which is Bridgewater Place with its raincloud grey clad exterior, beyond the equally dull and functional Asda house and in the meantime navigating a bewildering number of three-lane roads as we head down towards Crown Point and the still undeveloped former Tetley site.

Granted, there’s building activity in all these areas and the new colleges doubtless provide ample custom for those businesses which have chosen to anchor themselves on this barren side of the reef. But still, it’s hardly a ‘destination’, although Crown Point Road does head up towards The Adelphi and the start of the city centre proper.

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Sheaf Street Cafe is to be found amid this sprawling morass of urban renewal, on the corner of the two aforementioned streets and just over the road from what has to be one of the most colourful pedestrian crossings in Leeds.

The cafe is part of Duke Street Studios, a “collaborative work space” for creative types, with various rooms for rent and when I get there, one such is packed with over a hundred people waiting for a presentation on ‘Openness’.

The cafe part is a ‘pop-up’ which goes by the name of ‘Grub & Grog’, although it’s been there two-and-a-half years and the people behind it also run Eat Your Greens on New York Street.

Their mantra is ‘organic, local, responsible’ and it does almost feel like one of those places where every dish comes with a complimentary slice of political correctness, but don’t let that put you off.

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The food here is amazing, the ethos sincere and down to earth and the service spot on. The menu is relatively simple (tick), with all dishes vegan unless otherwise states but there is a burger on the menu, so meat-lovers don’t despair.

I went for the special, poached eggs on sourdough, with roasted veg, a lovely warming, tender dish which was sumptuous and surprisingly guilt-free and at £6.50, a snip. Smoked black tea (£2) accompanied it, an unusual (woody) brew but one I found grew on me the more I had. Afterwards, I sampled some almond frangipane (£2.80), an unctuous, sticky, marzipan melt-in-the-mouth morsel which probably cancelled out my earlier brownie points.

But let’s not forget, they’re called ‘Grub & Grog’, which mean they sell beer, from the likes of Beavertown, Brewdog, Magic Rock and Sam Smiths organic bottled beer. Super.


SCORE: 4/5