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Beverley Reinemann

Beverley Reinemann

Chapter 81
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Mandela Gardens

Nelson Mandela Gardens, Calverley Street, Leeds, UK

You probably wouldn’t describe a spot at the south end of Calverley Street, opposite Leeds Town Hall and next to Millenium Square, as tranquill or relaxing but for me that’s exactly what Mandela Gardens is. Somehow, the cascading water seems to distract from the hum of nearby traffic and I think it’s a great place to sit and think (or people-watch, that’s a favourite pastime too). Leeds has some gorgeous green spaces in its suburbs - Roundhay Park and Meanwood Valley Trail are well-worth a visit - but I’d love to see a few more city centre spots like Mandela Gardens where you can sit and read or watch the world go by.

Leeds Corn Exchange

Leeds Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, UK

Every time one of my friends visits Leeds for the first time I always take them to the Corn Exchange. Not only is it full of excellent independent shops (The Plant Room is a particular favourite and I always get my Dad a new jar of Cartwright & Butler lemon curd from The Great Yorkshire shop before visiting my parents) but the huge domed roof is, I think, one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city.

The Brunswick

The Brunswick, North Street, Leeds, UK

Ask any vegetarian in Leeds (Hi!) where to get a good Sunday roast and they’ll more than likely recommend The Brunswick. Their nut roast is the best I’ve ever had (and being veggie, I’ve had a few) and the service is always friendly. I love the relaxed atmosphere and you absolutely cannot have a roast there without also ordering the amazing cheesy leeks. They’re as good as they sound.

Laynes Espresso

Laynes Espresso, New Station Street, Leeds, UK

When I first moved back to Leeds in 2016, Laynes Espresso was a small spot on Station Road doing amazing coffees and cakes and it quickly became one of my favourite Leeds independents. They’ve since expanded, increasing their square footage and their food offering with an informal, welcoming dining space and a varied, veggie-friendly food menu. It’s still one of my favourite independent places to eat in Leeds and I’ve had more breakfasts there (sweetcorn fritters for me, please) than I can remember. Definitely worth a visit, whether it’s for a big breakie, a quick lunch, or coffee and one of Porterhouse Cake’s delicious sweet treats.

Eat North at North Brewing Co.

North Brewing Company, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds, UK

I couldn’t write about my favourite places in Leeds without mentioning Eat North at North Brewing Co! Running every Saturday from April until September, I love that it brings so many people together and that everyone’s welcome. It also combines some of my favourite things; food, coffee, beer, and music and I’ve spent many sunny Saturdays (and some very not-so-sunny Saturdays!) eating and drinking here with friends before going onto The Reliance or The Brunswick just down the road on North Street.

Belgrave Music Hall

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, UK

Another spot I always take visitors to Leeds is Belgrave Music Hall, especially on a summer’s afternoon or warm evening when you can’t think of anything nicer than sipping a gin cocktail on a sunny rooftop. I love it as a music venue and I’ve seen many bands in the event space upstairs. It was also where I watched one of my best friends debut a music video as part of Leeds International Film Festival a couple of years ago and in April 2019 we used the space to launch the fifth year of Leeds Indie Food. It’s a multi-storey, multi-use venue catering for daytime relaxing as much as late-night drinking and, of course, you can’t visit Belgrave without having a slice of Dough Boys pizza or a burger from Patty Smiths.

I didn’t grow up in Leeds, but I studied Media and Marketing at Leeds Uni and stayed on in Leeds for a while after graduating in 2007. Leeds felt like home very quickly and after a few years living in Australia, New Zealand, and London, it felt natural to move back. Unsurprisingly, by the time I moved back a lot of my old haunts had gone (RIP The Cockpit) and the city had changed. I’d changed too, though, and while 23 year old me was happy to brave the sticky floors and pound-a-pint places I’d loved as a student and graduate (yep, looking at you, Dry Dock), 30 year old me wanted good food, quality drinks, and a strong sense of community. And that’s exactly what I got. For me, it’s the city’s independent food and drinks scene that really makes it special. It’s a huge part of the work I do and I’m super proud to call Leeds my adopted home.

Mandela Gardens Wikimedia Commons

You probably wouldn’t describe a spot at the south end of Calverley Street, opposite Leeds Town Hall and next to Millenium Square, as tranquill or relaxing but for me that’s exactly what Mandela Gardens is. Somehow, the cascading water seems to distract from the hum of nearby traffic and I think it’s a great place to sit and think (or people-watch, that’s a favourite pastime too). Leeds has some gorgeous green spaces in its suburbs - Roundhay Park and Meanwood Valley Trail are well-worth a visit - but I’d love to see a few more city centre spots like Mandela Gardens where you can sit and read or watch the world go by.

Address: 5 Calverley St, Leeds
Leeds Corn Exchange

Every time one of my friends visits Leeds for the first time I always take them to the Corn Exchange. Not only is it full of excellent independent shops (The Plant Room is a particular favourite and I always get my Dad a new jar of Cartwright & Butler lemon curd from The Great Yorkshire shop before visiting my parents) but the huge domed roof is, I think, one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city.

Address: Call Ln, Leeds LS1 7BR
The Brunswick The Brunswick

Ask any vegetarian in Leeds (Hi!) where to get a good Sunday roast and they’ll more than likely recommend The Brunswick. Their nut roast is the best I’ve ever had (and being veggie, I’ve had a few) and the service is always friendly. I love the relaxed atmosphere and you absolutely cannot have a roast there without also ordering the amazing cheesy leeks. They’re as good as they sound.

Address: 82 North St, Leeds LS2 7PN
Laynes Espresso

When I first moved back to Leeds in 2016, Laynes Espresso was a small spot on Station Road doing amazing coffees and cakes and it quickly became one of my favourite Leeds independents. They’ve since expanded, increasing their square footage and their food offering with an informal, welcoming dining space and a varied, veggie-friendly food menu. It’s still one of my favourite independent places to eat in Leeds and I’ve had more breakfasts there (sweetcorn fritters for me, please) than I can remember. Definitely worth a visit, whether it’s for a big breakie, a quick lunch, or coffee and one of Porterhouse Cake’s delicious sweet treats.

Address: 16 New Station St, Leeds LS1 5DL
Eat North at North Brewing Co.

I couldn’t write about my favourite places in Leeds without mentioning Eat North at North Brewing Co! Running every Saturday from April until September, I love that it brings so many people together and that everyone’s welcome. It also combines some of my favourite things; food, coffee, beer, and music and I’ve spent many sunny Saturdays (and some very not-so-sunny Saturdays!) eating and drinking here with friends before going onto The Reliance or The Brunswick just down the road on North Street.

Address: Unit 6, Taverners Walk Industrial Estate, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds LS7 1AH
Belgrave Music Hall

Another spot I always take visitors to Leeds is Belgrave Music Hall, especially on a summer’s afternoon or warm evening when you can’t think of anything nicer than sipping a gin cocktail on a sunny rooftop. I love it as a music venue and I’ve seen many bands in the event space upstairs. It was also where I watched one of my best friends debut a music video as part of Leeds International Film Festival a couple of years ago and in April 2019 we used the space to launch the fifth year of Leeds Indie Food. It’s a multi-storey, multi-use venue catering for daytime relaxing as much as late-night drinking and, of course, you can’t visit Belgrave without having a slice of Dough Boys pizza or a burger from Patty Smiths.

Address: Cross Belgrave St, Leeds LS2 8JP
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