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Seek and ye shall find

15 April 2015
Seek and ye shall find
Slightly hidden away but nevertheless a bustling spot, Northern Monk attracts those who wish to seek out the legend. The refectory lies on the slightly less frequented side of the River Aire which nonetheless fruitful as it is the site of some of Leeds’ most burgeoning creative businesses and eating and dining establishments now housed amongst this nouveau industrial setting.

The converted mill space on Marshall Street seems appropriate to Northern Monk’s manifest ode to the North, repurposing a space which once proved the lifeblood of Northern cities such as Leeds. The converted onsite brewery serves up a medley of its own craft ales on tap and also has a plentiful bottled selection, available to buy and takeaway at a reduced price. This particular selection of independents which includes the likes of Mikkeller and 8wired are selected for their innovation, quality and vision, sharing the kind of inventiveness that Northern Monk achieves with its own brewing. This curation sets the tone for a community of independently brewed beer which is not just centred around craft and quality but is also mindful of a more sensory drinking culture.

Also on offer is rustic gastronomy from the Grub and Grog kitchen in The Refectory. Their seasonal approach to food ensures fresh organic produce in line with ethical considerations, which revitalises lesser-used cuts of meat into very appetising fare. They offer breakfast, land dinner menus which all reinvigorate traditional dishes, such as a lunchtime mutton, which is accompanied by apricots and nutmeg. The food - which includes various vegetarian and vegan options- is hearty yet refined and offset by the rough and ready enamel dishes that beautifully serve up their handiwork.

The scrubbed benches and high stools create the refectory feel that sheds pretence and lets the original mill features speak for themselves (think exposed brick and chunky pillars) creating a kind of Yorkshire/Scandi minimalism without compromise on atmosphere. The open space also lends itself to exhibiting work. The most recent featured was curated by online design blog No Culture Icons who displayed Risograph prints by various artists. The Refectory offers space to those looking for a ‘home, not just to our beer, but also a destination to support and showcase like-minded brands and creatives’. Northern Monk and Grub and Grog will see in various events over the coming months with the view to expand their space further with an events venue upstairs for music and arts events. Their involvement in Leeds Indie Food Festival is various:

Northern Monk might locate themselves amongst ‘thousands of years of brewing heritage’ but their approach to the marrying of beer with creative practice is definitely a 21st century emergence, one that Leeds is showcasing superbly at Leeds Indie Food.

Emma is a Freelance Writer for Leeds Living. She has a degree in English literature from the University of Leeds and specialises in writing cultural editorials.