Anja Madhvani escapes to Leeds' newest and greenest restaurant
I felt genuinely excited as I approached Green Room for the first time. A huge rusted girder holds an impressive red brick building above an inviting outdoor seating area, verdant grasses spilling out onto the pavement. I’m instantly put in mind of the vibrant cafe culture you so often experience on holiday. The venue only becomes more impressive as we step inside.
Tart blueberry compote marbles with yoghurt, and the dish is topped with a colourful sprinkle of fresh mint and edible flowers, it’s pretty as a picture
Crittall-style doors lead to the inside bar area, where chunky rustic tables sit against a backdrop of glazed green tiles and vibrant botanical prints. The bar is expansive and to the left is a concrete staircase, uplit with bright purple lights.
Visually, there’s a lot going on, but it works. A friendly member of staff shows us to the table we’ve booked on the roof terrace, sincerely extolling the joys of working in such a beautiful, light-filled setting.
The terrace is set up canteen-style with trestle tables, a staple with brewery taprooms. Festoon lighting zigzags overhead, and living plant walls adorn a multitude of textured brick buildings. It is a truly lovely place to be, only made better by some glorious weather.
The terrace is separated in to two areas, a larger space which also hosts a bar (bonus points for the mini beer bar where customers can get rapid pints without waiting behind those ordering cocktails) and a smaller mezzanine at the end, with a stunning backdrop of rooftops and curved brick buildings.
There are a couple of loft-style apartments for rent, too. We didn’t see these in person, but they look pretty luxurious on the Green Room website.
We head to the bar to order coffees, a Grön Brekky, blueberry pancakes, and some Gröntox - a green juice that sounds like my veggie quota for the week. To our horror, the Gröntox is served in tiny shot glasses, eye-watering considering it is £4 a pop.
We sit in stunned silence until my partner plucks up the courage to ask a passing waitress if there has been a mistake. She seems to think this is what we ordered but goes to ask her manager. Minutes later she returns with full-sized drinks and a bashful apology.
The venue has only been open a few days at the time of our visit, so we anticipated some teething problems. It’s the handling of mistakes that matters, and she deals with this flawlessly, even managing to inject a little humour.
Coffee from local roaster North Star is excellent, and the food is enjoyable too. The Grön Brekky (£12) consists of two veggie sausages, which are some of the best we’ve had, largely thanks to a ‘meaty’ texture. The homemade beans are a little underwhelming with a very basic tomato sauce, but they’re fine enough. Toast is a good quality sourdough, and mushrooms are well seasoned. There’s a herby yoghurt dip too which is a pleasant addition. An extra poached egg is well cooked but costs £1.50 which seems a little steep.
The blueberry pancakes (£10.50) are light and fluffy, encrusted with cinnamon sugar, and stacked high. Tart blueberry compote marbles with yoghurt, and the dish is topped with a colourful sprinkle of fresh mint and edible flowers, it’s pretty as a picture.
Despite great serving, a dreamy setting, and some decent grub, the highlight of the visit is actually hearing the woman behind us exclaim "the menu's all veggie vegan! I hate places that force their ethics on you!".
Few things delight me more than the outrage of people who can’t comprehend a menu that’s 90 percent plant-based (there’s some salmon, tuna, and prawn on the menu). Who knew vegetables were so anger-inducing?
One thing I’d love to see Green Room do is to implement a better tipping system. I only tip after dining because I think a tip is earned with great food and service, but here you pay upfront when you order. It’s so rare that I carry cash these days so I was unable to tip because there wasn’t the option to do a separate gratuity payment as we left.
A QR code to a tipping app or similar would work and be much appreciated, the staff were very deserving of a tip and I felt quite guilty. It’s worth noting that there have been a couple of alterations to the menu and some pricing tweaks since our visit, so perhaps the tipping situation has changed too.
We really enjoyed our visit. The food (we should mention the kitchen is from the team at Grön Kafé), while nothing groundbreaking, was nice enough but the setting is what elevated the whole experience. To take a historic building, reveal raw materials, layer it with modern touches, and adorn it with plants is a skill worthy of TV’s best renovation shows.
Green Room has done an incredible job of creating a space that feels organic, it’s eclectic but effortlessly so. It feels very cosmopolitan without being exclusive, and I completely forgot that I was in Leeds. That moment of escapism is something I’m very grateful for.
Green Room, 36 Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 2DE
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidentials and completely independent of any commercial relationship. They are a first-person account of one visit by one, knowledgeable restaurant reviewer and don't represent the company as a whole.
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.
Grön Brekky 6, blueberry pancakes 8
Order at the bar, couple of mistakes but well recovered
Great setting, a real buzz about the place