I have written about my love affair with Leeds before, a love that started years ago when my then boyfriend (now husband) moved there. It's nice to escape the hustle and bustle of London for a quiet weekend in Leeds: no traffic, no Underground, friendly people and good old friends.
My visits have been made even more exciting by the growth of a Leeds coffee scene in the last couple of years. One of the first specialty coffee shops to open in the city remains my favourite: Laynes Espresso.
This winter Laynes started a residency at the new Belgrave Music Hall serving cakes and coffee seven days a week. They also launched a monthly pop-up brunch event which runs on the first Sunday of every month. Now my luck stroke when I happened to visit Leeds exactly on the first Sunday of March... :)
Located in Leeds’ vibrant Northern Quarter, Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen first opened its doors in 1934 as Leeds Children’s Palace [...] After many years of neglect the building has been restored to its former glory and reopened under the name Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen with a hope that it will provide artists and performers with a unique new platform in one of the UK’s most creative cities.
Laynes' barista Carl Fleischer is in charge of the brunch menu, working with Jim and Dan from The Grub & Grog Shop, who manage the kitchen.
The first event in February had some hiccups as apparently all the customers turned out at the same time, causing long queues to place orders at the bar. For their next pop-up, Laynes tried to fix that by introducing table service. Unfortunately there were still a few issues to iron out: they were probably under-staffed in the kitchen and on the floor as we ended up waiting a long time for our food. There was also a mix-up with our coffee order, though this turned out in our favour as the waitress offered us a round of complimentary Flat Whites! :)
Belgrave Music Hall is a big venue and managing a crowd of hungry brunch revellers is surely not an easy job. I am sure Laynes will be able to improve the service in the future, whilst maintaining the high standards of food and coffee we had the pleasure to experience.
Among the five of us we tried nearly everything on the menu:
- Ham Hock Sandwich in a Brioche Bun with Fried Egg, Caramelised Onion;
- Baked Eggs with Tomato & Pepper Ragout, Feta, Yoghurt and Sourdough Toast;
- French Toast Brioche with Caramelised Banana, Espresso Mascarpone and Nuts;
- Smashed Avocado with Pistachio Pesto, Lime, Sumac on Rye Bread;
The ham hock bun looked amazing, I bet it was delicious!
The winner of the day for us was the shakshuka, a dish that I have had a few times in the past year and I am really starting to enjoy. My husband and his friend ordered it with an extra slice bread, because the joy is all in the dipping, right? :)
I had the smashed avocado on toast (with poached egg on the side). Since that was not going to satisfy my sweet tooth I also ordered one of the Lamingtons for dessert!
Overall we all enjoyed the brunch and, despite the long wait, we had a lovely time. The venue is really cool and perfect for a relaxed weekend morning. Most customers seemed to be young students and the atmosphere was very laid-back. The staff was friendly and evidently trying hard to create a great event.
Don't miss it if you live in Leeds or are planning a trip there!
The next Laynes brunch at Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds will be held this Sunday April 6th, from 11pm to 3pm. You can have a look at the new brunch menu online.