One look at Hessian’s menu and you’ll be as eager to try it as we were…
Oakwood corner is becoming an independent hub, with a host of new openings over the last few months – and Hessian is one of the most exciting. This cool, quirky cafe has a big personality, and they’ve made quality an absolute priority, whether it’s the food, the decor or the service. It has all the cornerstones of a new favourite, and it’s no wonder, because Hessian is the brainchild of Will Pugh, one of the co-founders of successful Yorkshire chain, Filmore & Union.
“I’ve mostly worked in Leeds, training under Simon Gueller many years ago and then among other ventures, eventually setting up and running Filmore & Union,” Will told us. “What we learned at Filmore was that standards are everything. You can achieve great things if you stick to the basics in catering, but you need to have worked in the industry for some time to be able to execute these. Anyone can come up with an idea, the real skill is being able to execute it, each and everyday.”
And that’s what he plans to do at Hessian. Contemporary British food, done well, in a venue that not only looks the part, but also offers exceptional service. He’s not reinventing the wheel, he is making a really ruddy good one. And Oakwood was the perfect place to do it. It’s not that the area is lacking in quality eateries. On the contrary, it’s got some of the finest in the city, with the likes of Stories, Jameson’s and Tasty – in fact, that’s what drew him in, because Oakwood has the potential to become a real hub, like his home suburb Chapel Allerton already has.
“We all offer something different yet also the same. I’m a huge believer in creating hubs that become destinations, so the more the merrier. It’s not about spreading the current customer base around, it’s about bringing more and more people to the area,” He explained. “The idea is we all get busier – if next door is full, they come to us and vice-versa. It’s happened in Chapel Allerton, and having lived there for over 12 years now, I have seen the area thrive and improve. There are over 25 places to eat and drink in Chapel Allerton and it continues to grow and be one of the top destinations in Leeds. Oakwood has the potential for this too.”
So what’s he doing that will make you wish you lived in Oakwood? Well, the menu, or rather menus, are absolutely tantalising. In the morning, you’ll be able to start your day with a host of simple, yet delicious, dishes. We’re talking Chorizo Hash, loaded with patatas bravas, spinach, tomato, chermoula mayo and a fried egg, and Hessian Waffles, smothered in Greek yogurt, fresh berries and maple syrup. They also do a Full Hessian, with pork sausage, smoked bacon, black pudding, flat mushroom, tomato relish, beans, toast and eggs however you want them. Want it veggie? No problem, you can swap the meat for halloumi and avocado.
Come lunchtime, they have even more treats lined up for you. Select dishes roll over from the breakfast menu for an all day brunch, but they also have sandwich melts, filled with the likes of jamon, picante cheese, roasted red peppers and basil, and salads loaded with tasty toppings like grilled halloumi and super grains. You can wash them down with fresh fruit juice combos and their unique blend of Colombian, Congolese and Ethiopian coffee beans, locally sourced from nearby Casa Espresso in Shipley.
Although Hessian has the feel of a cafe, their offering continues into the evening. Coffee gives way to a handpicked selection of beers, wines and cocktails. They’ve got their own Hessian Belgian import lager alongside Goose Island IPA, both on draught, with even more in the fridge. But while the beer and wine may be tempting, it’s the cocktails that make Hessian stand out. You’ll recognise them all, they’re classics through and through, from the Espresso Martini to the Old Fashioned and Aperol Spritz.
Couple your drinks with something from the dinner menu. You can keep it light with polenta chips, roasted Spanish almonds and mini chorizo or go all out with their sharing platters – choose from meat (baked chorizo, patatas bravas, serrano ham, smoked pancetta and slow cooked ham hock), cheese (baked goats cheese, fried halloumi, mozzarella, mac & cheese, shaved picante and blue vein cheese) or vegetarian (fried halloumi, pesto, hummus, kimchee, green baked tortilla, grilled mushrooms, roasted red peppers and crispy polenta). Don’t worry if it’s just you, they have a range of smaller plates too.
But what would Will recommend? “Our Hessian waffles & breakfast plates are amazing, plus our small dishes on the evening, such as steak with polenta and salsa verde or chorizo hash topped with a fried egg. At lunch it’s all about the super grain Halloumi salad with avocado & foccacia bread!”
Hessian is another great addition to Leeds, and with it being in such close proximity to Roundhay Park, you’ve got the perfect excuse to check it out this summer.
Hessian, 466 Roundhay Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2HU.