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Restaurant review: East of Arcadia, Meanwood, Leeds

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Just along from what has to be one of the best restaurants in Leeds, let alone the suburbs, there’s East of Arcadia, which seems to have been there for an age in restaurant terms.

It stands on the corner of Monk Bridge Road and Stonegate Road, a mainspring if you will, for what has become a veritable thrashing plungepool of bars and restaurants - The Hungry Bear is also just around the corner.

You can’t miss East of Arcadia, it’s permanently lit up with Christmas-style fairy lights and when you drive past, there’s normally plenty of people inside - it looks warm and inviting. And it is. We called in for some food just after 6pm on a Friday. It’s nicely done out inside, with a rustic square bar, a man with a huge beard and an even bigger chalkboard listing that day’s beer selection, which when we arrived included five cask ales (Tim Taylor’s Boltmaker, OKell’s Manx Pale Ale, Kirkstall’s Black Band Porter among them) and at least eight keg beers, among them Ilkley Brewery’s Fruition, Turning Point’s Liquid Dream (a cookie cream stout - there’s also a ‘milkshake IPA) and at least two from Kirkstall Brewery. So, drink is big here, ergo E of A is bang on trend for the niche market in homegrown beer that’s gone mainstream. A quick glance around reveals a mix of clientele, some tucking into food but most holding goldfish-bowl sized glasses of gin cocktails. So is this a restaurant or a bar? Well, looks like a bit of both. The menu isn’t that extensive and there’s little on here you won’t find in most pubs (it’s part of the Market Town Taverns family). There’s BLTs, burgers done half a dozen ways, pie of the day but also baked Camembert with rosemary and garlic and Sri Lankan curry, which broadens the choice.

We go for warm bread (£3.50), thick slices of which you receive to dip in chunky homemade hummus, lemon & cumin oil (nice) and treacle balsamic vinegar, which is has an almost barbecue sauce tang to it. The other dish was deviled whitebait (£4.95), which comes with mayo, although not enough.

Mains were ale battered fish n’ chips (£8.50), the chips homemade but too greasy, while the fish was a tad overdone but the batter, well, I’d have eaten a plate of that on its own, it was crunchy out, moist in, thin and yet packing a punch in terms of flavour.

My dining partner went for classic burger (£9.95), which comes in a brioche bun, with and was decent for the money. On reflection, the homage to craft ales which greets you as you walk in doesn’t seem to fit with the sweep of tables beyond, all of which you might find in any generic hotel lobby, plus there’s a big open space between the two just begging for some stool seats and a decent hardwood table to enjoy those craft ales.

Factfile

Address: East of Arcadia, 607 Meanwood Rd, Leeds LS6 4HQ

Score: 3/5