Saturday, 31 May 2014

Restaurant Review: Leaf Bold Street

I know, I know, going out two nights on the run? Bit excessive. Well, let me have this one please, it was date night! Even since before we first started dating, Leaf (right up the top of Bold Street, towards the bombed out church and opposite Voodou) has always been mine and Bek's go to destination. There's something about the tea room come restaurant that can draw in such a diverse crowd and it almost makes it impossible not to love, I could spend my days wiling hours away nestled in between students (they have free wifi), professionals on business lunches and elderly women chowing down on soup in Leaf on Bold Street.

There's something oddly charming about Leaf from the moment you walk in. The lay out reminds me of a greasy spoon, with cutlery and sugars already on the table, but this is by no means a bad thing. It's simple in it's approach, but effective. Downstairs lies deep sofas, the main bar and bench tables as well as some individuals, upstairs is another lesser used bar and even more tables in a wide, open room accented by a large stage on one side (open mic night here is meant to be legendary, by the way.) Grab some menus off the bar and settle down in an empty seat, then pop up to the bar to order and pay whenever you're ready. Leaf is known for it's absolutely gorgeous loose leaf teas, and although I'm getting to the point where I can vouch for most of them I would say if you want a floral tea head towards "Fairy Wings" a green tea accented with berrys, amongst other things, and if you're more partial to fruit, the "Blood Orange" is delightful (and the most amazing colour.) Bek, I'm sure, will vouch for the champagne iced tea if you are veering more towards a cold drink.

Breakfast at Leaf is good, with a wide range of options, but for me it is all about the afternoon meals (served 12pm-9pm). On Thursday, I had the falafel and salad sandwich, whereas Bek opted for a chickpea and vegetable stew. Both were absolutely gorgeous, the sandwich on thick white bread with a really fresh tahini dressing and a lovely little cous cous salad, and the stew warm and filling - although the falafel on the top did seem a bit of an odd choice, and did appear somewhat of an afterthought. If you're looking for a decent side, the fried potatoes (a mix between crisps and chips in texture) have always been a favourite of mine, and this week we enjoyed what appeared to be an entire loaf of focaccia with oil and balsamic.

The food is reasonably priced (the sandwich coming in at under £4!) and the service is always warm and friendly, if sometimes a little on the slow side - particularly in the case of clearing tables. Having said that, the restaurant is pretty big and usually pretty packed, so I guess it can be forgiven. Downstairs can get a little crowded, but upstairs there is plenty of room without the place seeming bare, and it's very rare that there are more empty tables up there than full. The restaurant is also licensed and opens as a bar until midnight (2am Friday and Saturday!) and it's even busy right up until closing some nights, with a really lovely atmosphere. The cakes are all fresh on the bar too, and worth a look if you pop down to do the ordering for yourself!

All in all, although the waiting times can be quite long, the food is well worth the wait and the menu has a lot of choice, particularly with regards to vegetarian, vegan and gluten free foods. It has a lovely atmosphere, a diverse clientel and it's honestly an all round lovely place. It's the kind of tea shop you want to share with all your friends, but whilst still somehow keeping it a secret all for yourself. With a hearty meal and gorgeous drinks that came in not far from the £20 mark, Leaf is well worth a visit. Try not to fall in love with it, I dare you.

Have you ever been to Leaf? What was your experience?

S xo.
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