You know it's a good spot for a new veg-led venture when a lady walks past holding a courgette, says Sarah Cotterill
OUR parents told us to eat our greens, or there’ll be no pudding. Empty threats preceded their inevitable caving in, as a crumble appeared from the oven, bubbling at the edges. One vivid moment at the dinner table has stayed with me; my dad holding my nose while force-feeding me grisly corners of mum’s roast, as I gagged between gasps of air.
That was meat, mind. I ate my carrots but still can’t see in the dark. However, that trauma has endured, and now I’d much rather have a cauliflower steak than a sirloin. This was why I was excited to hear about the new veg lovin’ venture from Outlaws and Grub & Grog Shop.
The bright space recently opened on the corner of New York Street, and it proved a tranquil haven on one of the hottest days of the year so far when the entire population of Leeds seemed to be out seeking a beer garden. I watched a man waiting outside holding two yellow long-stemmed flowers. His date never arrived.
As we wait for someone to acknowledge us, or bring over a menu, we wondered if we’d have to wait as long as he did. The service is as laid back and chilled as the eggs sitting alongside pints of organic milk in a fridge by the doors. EYG isn’t just a place to eat your greens, you can buy them too. It’s also a deli come grocery, with wooden shelves packed with muddy artichokes, ginger and sacks of potatoes. They also do a line in Kilner jars filled with pulses and grains next to Meridian molasses and herbs in boxes.
The chilled service extends to the temperature. I ask if it’s possible to turn down the blasting air-con and the other solo customer nodded in thanks as he hugged his hoodie around himself.
The waiter flags up that they’re out of wood pigeon and points to a typo on the menu. We stick to veg, going for roasted swede and sunflower seed tahini (£10), and purple sprouting broccoli cheese (£10), but they’re also out of hummus for the bread and pea hummus side. A little disheartened, we choose roasted roots and tahini (£3.30), and the small brassica bowl (£3.30) - fibre is my friend.
The bar operates from a central island, serving Sheffield-based Birdhouse teas and Girls Who Grind coffee from the West Country. Liqueurs and syrups for cocktails are house made, and environmentally friendly breweries and organic wines have been handpicked by Chapel Allerton’s Wayward. By the glass prices start at a very reasonable £3, and it’s nice to see some orange/pink natural wines from Ciello. As weird and tempting as a vegan white Russian with oat milk sounds, I go for a gin and cucumber cocktail (£8.40) sprinkled with fennel seeds and served with a metal straw. EYG is so current it almost hurts.
Back to the veg. Across our four dishes, the texture remains the same; cabbage, carrot, squash, more al dente than your Nan’s, but still earthy and soft. Miso-braised sunflower seeds are the saving crunch on the plate. Cheddar and oat polenta under the broccoli was creamy and satisfying - a real plate licker, but sadly lacking a flavour punch. This hearty food is all very wintery, and despite the artificial subzero temperatures, it’s gorgeous outside - so much for seasonality.
The design is also minimal - at odds with an area cluttered with vintage pubs, car parks and bingo. The tables, by local Dashiel Rowan, are brushed wood with a shiny green and white tiled section, offset by red chairs and greenery from Short Press.
I ate all my greens, but was nearly refused pudding. Three choices were written on tiles above the open kitchen; a pressed apple, cucumber granita and oat number, a delicious sounding chocolate espresso tart with charred orange (which we were denied because it hadn’t set yet) and a rhubarb posset (£4.50).
“Why isn’t the tart set yet?” I want to yell. Instead, saying, “we’ll have that then thank you.” It turns out to be no bad thing, as the layers of set cream with flowery pink sweet sharp compote and buttery shortbread is the best dish of the night.
A lady walks past holding a courgette, so perhaps this isn’t such a bad place for an organic deli. But EYG’s location is right across from the market; who’s going to pop in for eggs when there’s a whole egg stall on Kirkgate’s Row G?
However, the bar and kitchen is open until 10pm, even on a Sunday, so if EYG can rival Co-op on price, they’ll might be on to something. Now there’s somewhere serving a late bite that’s healthier than your average kebab or fried chicken shop, but I wonder whether it’ll be busier in the daytime. I’m keen to return to try their day menu (11am - 5pm) including a lamb BLT and kimchi pancakes with fried eggs, chilli sauce and greens.
I applaud their sustainable focus, and their boldness to serve stand-alone veg. You don’t need to offer processed tofu and seitan to be a vegan destination. With the independent scene shaken by the loss of a few dependable favourites, it’s important to support places like this. It’s also important to listen to your parents - even if they don’t always stick to their guns.
Eat Your Greens, 2 New York St, Leeds LS2 7DY
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Roasted swede 6, broccoli cheese 6, roasted roots 6, brassica bowl 6, rhubarb posset 7
Good-looking, but dead on a Thursday night
The sole waiter seemed a little lost