Sunday, 4 September 2011

La Cafetiere - Hyde Park Corner. Leeds

 I discovered this cosy little place as a student when I lived just down the road in the ever lively Hyde Park. Situated on Hyde Park Corner (£1 on the bus from the city centre) you arrive slap bang in studentville. Don't let the skate park, the deep fried chicken shops, or cash-converter style-esq shops opposite put you off... here on this corner lies a few quaint eateries that are cheap (remember where we are), quirky and delightfully surprising.

There's no missing this place... it's bright purple. Just looking at it from the outside gives you an idea of what it's going to be like inside... slightly Mediterranean in appearance (with the bike parked up outside adding to European vibe) with mismatching tables and chairs under the veranda, it bellows unique and independent.

On a quiet day your greeted by the smell of incense oils and coffee, in busy periods (term time) your greeted with the aromas of the vast mixture of meals on offer. A little shady inside the place is lit up by the light streaming through the windows, fairy lights and on an evening candle light... adding a bit of romanticism.

I've eaten here a few times and have never been disappointed. It caters for the hungover student to the more adventurous diner. I have frequented as such hungover student and loved the all day breakfast, they also have one of the best vegetarian all day breakfasts going (as quoted by my vegetarian friend). A little different, and a lot larger than you average pub all-dayer... check it out here to see a further explanation and pictures... They also offer a variety of Mediterranean meals and alternative snacks.

This time I needed perking up a little after an afternoon of Saturday shopping so I ordered a cup of tea.

Sipping on our large cups of tea (they also do a scrumptious hot chocolate, and others have raved about their cappuccino's... not being a coffee drinker myself I can't comment) we sat and admired our surroundings. Some of the paintings housed here are incredible I would love to know where they acquired them. Founded in 1999 I wonder if the candles have been here that long.. they are melted and moulded in to huge piles... sounds messy but actually adds to the idiosyncrasy I think it's aiming for.

Small example of the melted candles. 

My friend and I have both visited before so we were expecting the dishes to be large and so skipped the starters. For my main I ordered Chillfry. 

Chillfry consists of lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with couscous and salad. The tomato sauce had a spicy kick to it and there was a spicy but not overdone dressing on the salad also. The couscous was cooked perfectly moist but with bite, not plastic like or too dry. There wasn't many meatballs but there was so much food I couldn't complain, feeling pretty full towards the end it looked like I had hardly touched my meal. 

My dining partner ordered Falafel. 

Balls of fried falafel with pita salad and hummus, admittedly not the best falafel I have ever tried but it comes up top. The hummus is smooth and tasteful reminding me how good hummus can be, too many tasteless and dry hummus have left me avoiding it some what. 

We ordered mozzarella fingers to share between us.

Slightly burst but not overflowing I really didn't mind as it left crispy cheese crusts... I love almost burnt cheese. Whenever I try to make these myself at home they end up almost deprived of cheese having burst all over my oven baking sheet. 

During my meal I ordered a glass of apple juice. They are definitely not skimpy on the fruit juice like many establishments serving you a small glass for a small fortune. Here you get a huge glass you can take gulps from for a decent price. 

There was one girl serving the whole time we were there and it wasn't that busy as the students are yet to return. She was dreamy but polite and fitted in with the atmosphere, and kept changing the music and lighting candles. 

I will definitely be returning some time soon. Especially as I'm on a budget at the moment, a meal here is so filling and delicious and this time less than twenty quid for two people.

A great place for lunch, dinner, a cup of tea/coffee after a heavy night, shopping trip or just a cheap evening out of the house.