We weren’t supposed to be in Leeds yesterday. We should have been running around Newry in Northern Ireland on our tour of cathedrals over there. But the FlyBe fiasco with our plane breaking down before take-off and then our car stranded in the snow at Leeds-Bradford Airport meant that we had no option but to go back to pick up our wheels. But it gave us an opportunity to revisit some of the espresso bars and cafes we know and love.
Our first coffee shop is right by the railway in New Station Street, Leeds. They’ve not been open long at Laynes Espresso, but wow this is a place I’d be coming back to over and over again if I lived in Leeds. Dave and his baristas really know how to make a good cup of coffee (and tea, by the way).
And we were lucky enough to be there just as Elly came along with her delivery of the ginger cake, which had wowed me on a previous visit (and I promised to give Elly a plug for her home-baked ThatOldChestnut company – if their other cakes are as good as the ginger they’re onto a good thing).
Leeds has some of the best shopping in the UK. It’s not just the usual High Street stores; they have a whole series of fantastic Victorian arcades, some tastefully modernised to blend in with the old, others just giving a wonderful olde worlde feel for your shopping experience. The only shame for FancyaCuppa is that the coffee shops and tea rooms in both the arcades and the beautiful Corn Exchange are all the big corporate venues we aren’t interested in…
So we made our way up to Leeds Cathedral, which sits modestly up the hill near the art gallery and Town Hall. Unlike most cathedrals we have known, St Anne’s in Leeds is dwarfed by the surrounding buildings and feels very much more like an active, working church than a tourist destination. It was time for Confessionals while we were there, and judging by the numbers present, the Bishop – or his priest – was having a busy morning.
I have to confess we went straight from the Cathedral to lunch at one of our favourite venues from our first FancyaCuppa? book: the Tiled Hall Cafe, situated in the Art Gallery just a few yards from the Cathedral.
Coffee and cake in the Tiled Hall is an experience in itself. You’ll have to buy our book – or go to the venue yourself – to get the full story of how the tiles were covered for decades and of what exactly happened to Mr Goethe’s bust…
But for us, tea and cake rounded off a successful morning, before we had to hotfoot it back up to the airport to retrieve our car before it got iced in again.
But one final tip – and a note to ourselves for next time we’re in Leeds: just a few weeks ago, a new espresso bar opened up right underneath the Tiled Hall, run by a young guy called Josh. We hear good things about Brewbar Espresso so we’ll certainly drop by in the future.
Maybe the answer is to have a cuppa coffee with Josh, go and see the wonderful art gallery and then stop over for lunch at the Tiled Hall. And maybe time management courses should include a coffee and culture strand in future too…