Is this new milkshake and ice cream bar solid or headed for a meltdown? Jenessa Williams finds out...
After a slow start, summer finally looks like it’s here for the long haul. And what does summertime really mean in Leeds? For us, it means cool cans in beer gardens, sweaty cocktails on roof terraces, and, for the sweet-toothed, the stickiest treat of all – the humble ice cream.
Slipping under our radar when it first opened at the beginning of the year, Treat promises an ice cream experience like no other. Boasting fro-yo, freakshakes and juices, there is no denying the aesthetic pleasure of their concept – a quick scroll through their Instagram reveals dairy products so sexily stylised that you’re half expecting them to announce their own multi-million swimwear deal and tell-all biography in the same breath.
A sister to their successful Barnsley branch, Treat makes sense within the Queens Arcade – a little bit indie, a little bit artisan, but ultimately, at the whim’s of the city’s casual foot traffic. It’s a risky one - are they in for a big meltdown?
Strolling in at 4.15pm on a particularly balmy afternoon, we appear to be Treat’s only customers. The quietness of the room echoes off the polished metro tiles and chic letterboard, giving the air of a high-end solicitors office or expensive hairdresser. At odds with the undeniably handsome interiors is the Ed Sheeran and Panic! At The Disco that whimper quietly from a radio, not overly offensive but certainly not in keeping with the super hip vibe indicated by the brand’s social media.
Still, we’re here for the refreshments, and the menu is reassuringly simple – frozen yoghurt, ice cream, smoothies and juices, all customisable and offered at reasonable price points.
While the excellent interiors and social media-branding scream matcha ice creams and charcoal lattes, the actual flavours on offer are more Mr Whippy
We’re served by a polite staff member who is happy to explain today’s vegan special, even nipping behind the till to show me a glimpse of what I can expect. I’m suitably placated and order the vegan freakshake – Oreo and caramel milkshake, topped with a thick wedge of vegan chocolate tart. Not to be outdone, my dining partner goes full ‘nutcase’ – a warm waffle topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce and shattered pieces of Ferrero Rocher and Reese’s.
Ten minutes after ordering, the sickly-sweet smell of warmed chocolate wafts towards us. A long enough wait to convince us of fresh preparation, the first bites are satisfying ones. Discarding the slightly grubby cutlery that accompanies my dish, we share one fork between us and dive into the waffle (£6) - freshly cooked and just eggy enough to counteract the delicious chocolate and peanut-butter goodies that fight for our attention. One waffle is more than enough for two people to share, but there's no denying it's naughty tastiness - just don’t eat anything else that day.
Washing down the chocolate with more, erm chocolate, the vegan freakshake (£6) turns out to be surprisingly subtle in it’s caramelly flavour, with a smooth consistency that provides a weirdly refreshing balance to the outrageously fudgy tart that perches upon the glass’s rim. We’re talking solid ganache, laced with caramel – it is very difficult to believe that this is really vegan and despite needing several glugs of water to wash it down, it certainly serves as proof that vegans know how to have fun, and all for a fairly reasonable price.
As a place to get a sugar rush while still manning an air of hipster cool, not afforded by the likes of Creams or Kaspa’s, Treat is a solid addition to the city centre, albeit one that maybe needs to decide exactly what it is.
While the excellent interiors and social media-branding scream matcha ice creams and charcoal lattes, the actual flavours on offer are more Mr Whippy and a cheeky midweek visit to the ‘Taste The Difference’ aisle.
Both are perfectly pleasant, indulgent experiences in their own way, but perhaps the former is where the Treat team’s heads should be at if they wish to get the hoards through the doors. With a bigger focus on signature flavours, truly stunning food presentation or perhaps fully-fledged veganism, they could be really special indeed.
Until then, they’re putting their business through something of an Insta filter – so close to perfection, but not quite the real deal under all those effects.
Treat, 7 Queens Arcade, Leeds, LS1 6LF
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: put the kettle on instead, 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: made by God him/herself.
Waffles 7, Milkshake 7
Pleasant but minimal
Slick interiors, lacking in atmosphere