Leeds’ Best New Independents of 2014
Leeds as a city is rife with options for those who wish to avoid the mainstream and the bland, with dozens of local businesses filled with novelty and friendly staff to make you feel welcome. Some have quickly become institutions like Laynes Espresso or Colours May Vary, frequented by the smugly knowing and the innocently unknowing in equal measure. New independent businesses are always popping up, and 2014 was a particularly good year for them. Whether off the beaten track or sat snugly alongside Leeds’ finest and most established, these are our favourites of the new crop, being oft smaller, more intimate and welcoming, doing things differently.
8 North Lane, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HG
A new cafe tucked just off the main road of Headingley, Stay Curious‘ immaculate small interior works perfectly with their equally well-presented food, with soups and pulled pork sandwiches (to name but two items) all on offer at a very good price. With minimal seating, it’s more catered to a takeaway crowd but a lovely space to while away your time in, with a couple of copies of the never short of beautiful Cereal Magazine tucked away for if you forget to bring a read yourself. Serving up quality drinks made with local roasters North Star‘s fine coffees (it was their stunningly strawberry-flavoured Czar Street when last I visited), Stay Curious is an all-round great little package.
Medium (Modes Of Expression)
Ground Floor, Leeds Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR
In Medium, Leeds now has a stripped back arts and supply shop in the Corn Exchange with materials as simple and effective as the whitewashed walls of its interior and as robust as the obviously much loved, used and abused ladders that decorate the space, you’ve a selection of all the papers, notebooks, paints and drawing utensils you could ever need, with a couple special extras thrown in for good measure. They’ve even a fine selection of prints from local artists to rifle through for new wall hangings, if you’re too lazy or talentless to decorate them yourself. A one woman operation, the owner is always quick with a smile and to chat as you browse the carefully curated shop. They’ve also regular workshops throughout the month, ranging from life drawing to poetry to zine creation, so it’s always worth popping in even if you’ve already got every pantone of paint one could ever desire.
Tall Boys Beer Market
17 Thornton’s Arcade, Leeds LS1 6LQ
Opening just in time for Christmas (good thinking, that), Tall Boys Beer Market is the latest addition to the increasingly trendy Thorntons Arcade just off Briggate. Their beer selection is, frankly, intimidating, but in the best way possible. It’s big, the way you always imagined God would be. The local is just as well represented as the national and international selection, with a beverage for every taste.
If you’re not the sort for drinking at home, for a small corkage fee any purchases can be drank on site, and they’ve always got a rotating selection of ales on draft too for anyone after “growlers to go” or have in. The upstairs beer cafe for said consumption is closed through January so they can bring it up to par with their lofty ambitions, which include having regular zine and art showcases, converting it into not just a drinking den but a gallery for perusing including talent from, again, local and afar. The first such event kicking it all off comes on February 5th with the launch of BROTH TARN, a photography zine, with plenty more in the runnings to follow. A space to very much watch.
9 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 3AA
Whites Deli is another independent addition to the often chain-dominated high street of Headingley. The long counter behind which all the food is prepared in their open kitchen certainly grabs the attention in this well crafted space, with tables placed sparingly for comfort rather than increased traffic, so you needn’t worry about elbowing your fellow patrons during their busy lunch period. And their lunch offering has a pretty decent range to it, with all your classic sandwiches and soups thrown in with some fuller dishes. Going large instead of regular on a sandwich is the only way to go to get that extra double-deckered layer of grub. Only opening in November, they’re still open about testing stuff out and revising and perfecting their ways with two menu tasting evenings ran thus far to find how best to sate the tastebuds of the grub-consuming public. Be an early adopter and go test their great produce before it gets regularly rammed with folks.
Northern Monk Refectory
The Old Flax Store, Marshalls Mill, Holbeck, LS11 9YJ
We’ve been fans of the lads of Grub & Grog‘s pop-up lunches at Outlaw’s Yacht Club for a long time, so we were as excited as anyone for them to get a permanent residency at the Northern Monk Brewing Co.‘s own homebase just outside the city centre and around the corner from Templeworks in Holbeck. The pairing of the two makes complete and utter sense, both serving up great novel beverages and munch that offer something different from the mainstream without being pretentious. The space itself is canteen-styled, all bare brick and metal supports, still managing to feel warm and homely despite this.
They’re some of the most welcoming guys you’ll ever meet and G&G make the best vegan food I’ve ever tried. Their vegan and vegetarian stews and sandwiches are some of the most filling, warming, meatiest dishes you can get, and all at an amazing price. Its always being suitably busy despite its off-piste location is testament to the quality of their product.
All photos taken on HTC One and edited with VSCOCam.