As I keep saying over and over again, Leeds must be the best place in the country to find wonderful places to eat. Admittedly it has its fair share of clunkers as well but the good far outnumber the bad.
I am not just talking about fine dining here but the full range of eateries. This was vividly illustrated by my visit to Arch Cafe, which is tucked away in a side street off a side street. It is situated in premises called Bradbury Building which is just off the top of Wade Lane which, in turn, is the street between the entrance to Sainsbury’s and the St John’s Centre. Bradbury Building was part of St John’s Church, which makes sense, but is now the offices of Age UK (Leeds) and Arch Cafe is run by that organisation, meaning that all of the profits go to the eponymous charity and all stay in Leeds.
Best intentions are all well and good, but it is the food that counts and here it was well nigh perfect. I ordered the special as displayed on a blackboard by the counter. Today it was Courgette, Onion and Cheddar Tart with Salad and Coleslaw, an absolute snip at £5.95. My accompanying black Americano coffee was £1.50. One of the lovely ladies who were serving told me to take a seat and she would deliver the meal when it was ready. A couple of minutes later she arrived bearing the goodies and, noticing that I had totally ignored the table where the cutlery was displayed, went back and brought me a knife, fork, spoon and serviette without so much as a ‘tut’; in fact I was instructed to enjoy the food rather than choke on it.
The tart would have been called a quiche anywhere else in Leeds and a couple of quid added to the bill as a consequence. It would also have looked like every other quiche I have ever had, being perfect in every detail. This one was beautifully presented along with the salad but had that homemade look, with the crust being not exactly perfect in shape and the brown top of the filling having a crack in it where it had obviously bent a bit during its liberation from the captivity of the dish in which it was baked. It could not have looked more appetising.
The salad was a good mixture of leaves, tomato, yellow pepper, onion and cucumber with a subtle dressing. The coleslaw was of a pink hue, I assume from the red cabbage and carrot which formed a large part of the melange. The tart was magnificent and served hot. The wobbly crust was light as a feather and the amount of butter in the pastry must have been of James Martin proportions; it really did melt in the mouth. The filling was the consistency of a soft egg custard, which was again spot on with the courgette, cheese and onion mingling together but each giving a good account of itself. The coffee was delicious as well.
Although the extension to the building in which Arch Cafe is housed is made of glass, there are still exposed stone walls inside and a view of the church through a large window at one end. What with this setting and the state of the lunch I felt as though I had been served the winning entry in the Savoury Tart section of the Church Summer Fayre. I had erased the fact that it was a cold January day. I could have carried the analogy further by having a piece of one of the range of amazing looking cakes displayed on the counter but I decided against it as my post-Christmas bulge is taking longer to get rid of this year, but I was sorely tempted.
I really cannot praise this place highly enough and it is also satisfying that by eating so well you are helping the more senior members of the Leeds community.
Article first published by Leeds Living on 27th January, 2019