Sunday, 29 May 2011

Leeds - The Arts Cafe Bar & Restaurant

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Changing menu a mixed blessing because dessert was sooo good!

Arts Cafe Bar and Restaurant
42 Call Lane Leeds LS1 6DT

This is one of those places that many people rave about because it is unusual and unique. The Arts Cafe is a compact space furnished with old wooden floors and tables. You walk into the bar area and then up steps to further seating for diners. The menus are virtually fine dining, which contrasts a little with the surroundings.  What is impressive is that the walls are adorned with work by local Artists which changes regularly to provide a nice thematic touch.
When we arrived just after 12 noon on a Saturday the cafe was already quite busy, an indication of its popularity. I chose the Arts Café 6oz homemade burger with iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, gherkins, tomato and aoli, with fries on the side for a small extra charge. This was a little disappointing to be honest. The burger itself was juicy and full of flavour with succulent trimmings but the bun was dry and the fries were, well fries, a la standard burger bar. I’m not really sure why these would ever be considered part of a quality dining experience.
My friend had more success with her vegetarian option of spring rolls containing pea mint and feta cheese with a side salad of poached pear and watercress with lemon creme fraiche. The pastry was crisp and the filling a good combination of sweet pea, fresh mint and acidic cheese. This was considered to be an exciting and unusual dish and the salad was described as “Spring like”. Also the crème fraiche worked well with the dish as a whole. The only criticism was that as a main course it could have benefitted from a side, as it was a little unsubstantial. It must be said though that my companion was very impressed with the range of different and interesting vegetarian food on offer.
The desserts were so extraordinarily good I can barely find the words!: My Arts Millionaires Shortbread Sunday was four exquisite layers of deliciousness in a glass. Holding it all up was a thin sliver of the sweetest most buttery shortbread topped by a crispy crumble. Next was a substantial layer of thick toffee sauce that was gooey but not chewy, all crowned by a piping of deep, rich chocolate gouache. This dessert was so good it rendered me speechless for the duration of its consumption, which amused my companion no end. Her dessert was sticky toffee pudding: A substantial slab with a pleasing balance between light and dense textures in a sea of mouth-watering sauce and ice cream. This was also extremely scrumpcious.
I hadn’t realised until checking the menu online that it changes weekly so when I looked to plan my next visit the Arts Millionaires Shortbread Sundae was not being offered on the dessert menu which left me feeling slightly disappointed.  However there are certainly sufficient alternatives to choose from and if the quality is consistent then another sweet delight must surely be in store. Additionally , I have been reliably informed that the Arts cafe is a must visit for vegetarians.
T: 0113 243 8243
F: 0113 244 8228

Photos by Jennie Cole.


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I have always enjoyed problem solving for friends and family and as a teacher for the last 18 years this is part of what I do every day. During the last year I have been rediscovering a passion for writing and I have recently produced a short story and several reviews for my blog - Places to visit and eat/drink in Leeds, Yorkshire UK. I am also offering my services as a freelance writer.