Inside Leeds Thorntons Arcade at number 17 you’ll find Tall Boys Beer Market where you can peruse endless shelves of bottled beer from all over the world. Tall Boys, therefore is just an off-license I hear you say, except that’s not really the case here. Not only do they sell beer, which you can drink on site if you’re too lazy to take it home, there’s also an upstairs space which has been adapted to provide gallery space for art and design exhibits. What’s more, for Leeds Indie Food Festival they’ve become the temporary residence of the Noonshine Cafe, bringing together some of my favourite Leeds businesses to provide, coffee, food, freshly baked bread, cakes and art, all under one roof.
Containing most of my favourite things it’s hard to know where to start, but turning up at 9am on opening day will turn your mind quickly to coffee. Coffee is not an afterthought here, it’s provided by North Star Coffee Roasters and comes in the form of their new exclusive micro lot of Tanzanian Iwezya, which I ordered as an americano.
Coffee ordered, my mind turned to breakfast with the food being provided by Grub & Grog Shop. The choice was easy, on the menu there was homemade crumpets with Yorkshire wild flower honey, which were sure to be fantastic. Heading upstairs to find a seat, it’s noticeable how airy and relaxing the upstairs space is, making it ideal as an exhibition space.
The fresh flowers are a nice touch too and even better in Tall Boy’s signature bottles. A short while later my coffee arrived, with the aromas of sour cherries, dark chocolate and cinnamon.
Waiting for my coffee to cool, it was easy to get lost people watching out the window as shoppers went back and forth along the arcade. Aware there was exhibition on the walls around me I decided to wait until I’d eaten before taking a proper look around.
Coffee now cooled, it contained lots of well rounded citrus acidity with flashes of sharp red fruit notes that over time became more chocolatey, sweet like raw cane sugar it was very drinkable. The crumpets were equally as pleasing, with crunchy outsides and squidgy centres that held the honey well. Lightly sweet and floral the honey was delicate and complex, not a bad way to start the day.
On the surrounding walls The Brewer’s Design Society had curated an exhibition dedicated to beer and the brewing process, showcasing the work of artists and designers working within the craft beer industry. ‘An Artist’s View Of Brewing’ features everything from Oscar Wilde quotes to arcane fermentation illustrated by names as exciting as Twatty Beer Doodles, each giving you their interpretations of the brewing process.
When I walked in it was easy to notice one thing standing out amongst all others in the window, something I had been anticipating with the opening of the Noonshine Café, Leeds Bread CO-OP’s doughnuts. With no desire to leave until I’d had one, I ordered up a second cup of coffee and selected their apple cinnamon doughnut to devour along with it.
Coffee and doughnuts are the food staples of American police officers, but they should be lining the dining tables of kings, because these went down a royal treat. The filling is delicious and there’s loads of it, if you can trust anyone to make doughnuts it’s likely to be a bread co-op.
I’d turned up too early for the cakes from Noisette Bakehouse to arrive, but that was probably a good thing considering the amount I’d already eaten. Still I’m a huge fan of Sarah’s cakes, with her salted caramel brownie a personal favourite of mine, so I popped back in the afternoon to pick one up, which I enjoyed when I got back home. I shouldn’t have to tell you how good this tasted.
The Noonshine café has always been great, but this might just be the greatest version I’ve seen yet. For all of you who’ve missed out already you’re in luck, they’re planning on staying opening an extra 2 weeks, so now you’ve no excuse not to head down and see what all the fuss is about.