Brunch is a concept over a century old which has bobbed in and out of fashion ever since. It has had a rather unexpected renaissance in the last decade with the popularity of the bottomless brunch. Whether viewed as an excuse to get drunk in the morning or a reason to see friends and family, the bottomless brunch is actually similar to the origins of the word.
‘Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.’
That text, dated 1895, is considered the world’s introduction to brunch, also citing light foods and lie-ins to help Saturday fun ease into Sunday brunch. In many ways, the 19th century is exactly like the 21st.
So, with that loose and happy definition, we went on a mission to find the best and quirkiest brunches in Leeds. Besides the bottomless kind to more civilised eats, here are eight eclectic ways to combine breakfast and lunch into double the fun of brunch.
Pooky’s is a superb deli in Horsforth where you’ll find high quality food and drink. Their adjoining cafe feels just right for brunch, and that’s exactly what they serve on a Sunday, when early risers can start from 9 but those of us taking the leisurely lie-in seriously can order up until 2. The menu ventures into breakfasts for brunch, with full meat and full veggies at under a tenner, whilst more brunch-like fare like smoked salmon & scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes come in even cheaper. Walk ins only, which fulfils the relaxed brunch brief.
Not far off its first decade in Morley, Caffe Moments is a welcoming local hub which feeds the community handsomely. Bargain breakfasts start from £4 whilst a good selection of avocado dishes are perfect for that modern brunch in a traditional setting. The homely home-cooked pleasure of Moments is sure to ‘sweep away the worries and cobwebs of the week.’
The name itself supports the original ethos that ‘brunch is sociable’ and indeed the vibe of this place follows up on its promise. Great coffee and good music creates a relaxed buzz, in which for brunch you can choose your level of healthiness: from a ‘pot of goodness’ such as granola topped with fruit compote, through a toasted bagel topped with cream cheese, to a belly busting breakfast burger.
We’ve all had pizza for breakfast haven’t we? Well now it needn’t be the depressing pleasure of last night’s leftovers, and instead be elevated to the fresh authentic flavours of Rome for brunch. Yes, at Simpatico in Leeds’ Queens Arcade there are fabulous pizza slices available all day every day, using Roman techniques and Yorkshire ingredients. This is expertly displayed with perfect brunch choices ‘The Full English’ and ‘The Spring Egg’, alongside an ever-changing array of toppings. Get them before they’re gone, because it’s never too early for pizza.
Wapentake really lean into Sundays, and they sure know how to do them well. Their roasts have a well earned reputation, but as they self proclaim, ‘brunch is our big thing’. The ethos is local and quality, with produce sourced from across the road at Kirkgate Market, and caters for vegan, veggie and meat equally. There’s poached eggs, avocados, butties, sweet treats and more, all washed down with a brew or a booze made in Yorkshire.
For a fully vegetarian brunch, Sift in Otley have got the feeling and the food. Oozing effortless style and relaxed charm, this cafe and bakery will serve you brunch club all day, which means the likes of avocado, hummus, peanut butter and jam on toast, seasonal and local ingredients, at prices rarely above a fiver. ‘It makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings.’
Thirty Nine Cafe and Bakehouse
The mission statement of 39 to focus on sustainability and ‘happy food’ gives us every reason to visit this lovely Ilkley setting. Arrive morning or afternoon and brunch is bring served in traditional dishes like eggs benedict or more unusual brunch delights like spiced harissa haloumi salad. ‘It is talk-compelling.’
Laynes feels like a place made for brunch. It’s location on the approach to Leeds train station has made it an irresistible stop off for some urban calm and exceptional coffee. And their food menu of muffins, pancakes, hashes and fritters is the right way to start the day, even if it’s moving into the afternoon. For the sweeter of tooth, perhaps a slice of carrot cake or some French toast is the brunch to put you in a good temper. After all, remember, ‘brunch is cheerful’.
Images: Sift, Sociable Folk, Simpatico, Wapentake