Cafe Moor is named after the Muslim people of North Africa and Southern Europe but is now applied to inhabitants of the Middle East as well. I suppose that the people who run this stall in Kirkgate Market can now justifiably call themselves Yorkshire Moors.
Over the years I have been to a fair few lunch venues but this is the first one where it has been standing room only. That was not because the place was full; in fact, I timed my visit for the quiet period just after the traditional lunchtime, but because there is no seating at all. Food is served either to be taken away or eaten whilst standing at the counter.
Cafe Moor sells street food and this makes standing to eat it an integral part of the experience. And what an experience. If you can show me a better lunch for £6.50 I would be most surprised. They even gave me a mint tea on the house. I must stress that I do these articles incognito, so he was not trying to make an extra effort. I had helped him with change as he seemed to be running low so this gesture may have been a thank you gift. Even so, it is only £1 according to the website, and delicious it was too.
The menu is divided into shawarma sandwiches in Arabic (sic) flat bread; starters, meals and specials. There is a separate menu concentrating on Boureks, which are filo pastry parcels filled with various delicacies. As a starter, I chose Batata Harra which are fried potato cubes mixed with harissa, roasted peppers and onions. I then went to the specials and ordered the Bastilla, which is a Moroccan Chicken Pie and sounded intriguing but they had sold out so I went to Plan B and ordered Kibbeh, which is a combination of bulgar wheat, minced lamb and beef with Middle Eastern spices, onions and pine nuts. I must say that the chicken pie would have had to go some to beat it.
Rather than come in two parts they were both served together on the one plate. I am so glad that this was the case as I have now discovered the ultimate combination. I always associated comfort food with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding or treacle sponge and custard but the combination of the fried potato cubes and hummus had them all beaten hands down. It was sublime. The kibbeh resembled smaller versions of suppli which I had eaten in an Italian restaurant recently but when I cut into one, instead of being filled with rice and cheese it was packed with minced lamb and beef. The spices within gave them a sublime taste and one which I will remember for quite some time. One thing which I didn’t need to remember was the garlic sauce which kept reminding me of its presence for the rest of the day, although fortunately did not seem to bother anyone I met later. I was also pleased to note that the disposable fork with which I was supplied was made of wood and not plastic so was much more environmentally amicable.
As I have already stated, this is a strong contender for being the best value lunch in Leeds, with the Batata Harra at £2.50 and the Kibbeh £4.00. Even though the portions are of a good size my inner glutton could have handled seconds as it was so tasty. Perhaps they should rename themselves Cafe More!
Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living. He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds. He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.