Sundays are lazy days. They’re meant to be. You’re not supposed to work, you’re supposed to appreciate the world around you and take the time to think about that for a minute.
I don’t sleep in on a weekend very often. I have to be up and about and doing stuff because time is finite and all that. It was with this in mind that I thought a stroll to the Leeds Farmer’s Market via the brand spanking new Northern Monk brewery tap room would be a good thing… partially because they open doors at 10am on a weekend. Breakfast in a brewery, what could possibly go wrong?
Because I walked from the wrong direction I had a little trouble finding it, that’s what could go wrong. Coming into Holbeck from Water Lane is fine; I came from the other direction and had a very enjoyable time poking around the other listed buildings that are around there before coming across a big NMBC sign next to Marshall’s Mill.
The food at the tap room is provided by those very nice chaps at the Grub & Grog Shop, who have done popups all over Leeds and have a lot of respect and goodwill in Leeds. Their food is not patronising, is great for veggies (and vegans are also catered for, often by default) and above all else is exciting. I’ve eaten their food before and loved it in a big way.
You know when you see a few things on a menu that you like the look of and wonder which you’ll order because you couldn’t possibly eat them all? And then order them and see whether you can fit them in? Yeah, I sort of did that. I had to get the crumpets and the breakfast buns looked very exciting indeed, so I ordered one of them too. And some coffee. Let’s deal with the coffee first.Should I have ordered beer? Probably, given that it’s a brewery tap room. But 11am on a Sunday is a bit early for me, so I went with my usual, a black americano. It was OK; not tremendously woofy, not weak, looked a little bit thin but that’s sometimes ok; it tasted of coffee and was a pretty decent one. What I wasn’t sure about was the whole “being served in a glass” thing. Coffee is hot. Glass conducts heat. If it’s not very thick glass then the glass very quickly becomes too hot to hold comfortably while the coffee is still hot.
It’s a minor nitpick. In the big scheme of things it really doesn’t matter very much. And really you should be drinking beer anyway.And so to the food.
This was, not to put too fine a point on it, amazing food. It was so good I took notes while I was there so I didn’t forget anything other than “it was amazing”. Let’s start with the crumpets: they were fantastic. Dripping in butter, soft and fluffy, with good aeration inside and a lovely skin outside, they were a properly good crumpet. If you’re used to supermarket ones which are chewy then you might be a bit disappointed but just go with it. These are crumpets to enjoy and savour and then lick your fingers after eating. They can come with eggs (and trout or bacon if you wish) or just by themselves, or with jam. I had them with just the butter and that was just fine.Now let’s take a look at the breakfast bun.
Remember I said they did veggie without making a fuss? Here you go. From bottom to the top: brioche bun, roast tomato sauce, celeriac fritter, hash brown, fried egg, more sauce, the lid of the bun. It’s all you need. The celeriac fritter is very tasty by itself but gets lost a little bit with the sauce, which is stupendous. Rich in tomato and sweet and savoury and thick – texturally it’s perfect – the only thing wrong with it is that there could have been more. In fact I could cheerfully have had a little bowl of it on the side. Or maybe a big bowl. The hash brown was redolent with thyme and was a great foil to the sauce, with good use of the right variety of spud. The fried egg was perfect, with a still-runny-but-set-on-the-edges yolk. The bun might have been a bit dry but brioche is like that; again, it’s a tiny nitpick. A word of advice: don’t try & pick it up and eat like a burger unless you have a dislocatable jaw. This thing is huge. Delicious.
It was quite a lot of food but I was on foot for the morning and so, so worth it. The food was exceptionally good and very reasonably priced, the tap room was a nice space, light, airy and I feel that with the right crowd would have a great buzz to it. I should have had beer. And a quick look at the dinner menu… well. That one deserves another visit, with friends. That way we can taste what everybody else is having and play the “who wins at ordering” game. I expect though that here that game will end in a tie. And that’s a very good thing indeed.
(caveats: I was not asked to do this review. I paid for all my food & drink. These are my opinions, nobody elses. YMMV.)