A quick 15-minute walk away from the mainstream City Centre hubbub will land you in what appears, at first glance, to be somewhat of a twilight zone. Unless you’re part of the TV industry, or at least in the know, you’d be the first to assume this part of town has little going for it.
I soon realised that actually, the slightly equivocal impression I had of the area was unfair. The quiet, unassuming Kirkstall Road is, in fact, TV production central. When I first received the brief about the City’s latest coffee-come-eatery spot opening, I did question its location for a tiny sec. Little did I know that this place is adjoined to Prime Studio; the very heart of the Leeds media industry. Fancy quaffing your homemade porridge right next door to a Nicki Minaj music shoot? How’s about a slice of cake and a cuppa whilst Kiera Knightley gets all lights, camera, action in the vicinity? Okay – probably not going to happen on your visit to this new addition, but it’s something worth thinking about as you sip at your morning coffee whilst watching the City pick up momentum.
Archive looks set to draw in the film-tv-music-media world and its neighbouring passers-by with its striking interiors alone. Think 2019 sleek industrial meets 1970 Stranger Things and you have Archive’s charismatic decor in a nutshell. Yes, in true trendy Coffee House fashion, they offer the warmth of the steampunk lighting, the retro vibes of the (very comfy) seating, the scattering of hanging greenery and potted plants, the abundance of wood-panelling and just the right splash of yellow-brick-road-esque tiling to make you want to stay for a while.
More impressive than that tiny throwback feel upon entry, is Archives eats, some of which I sampled indulgently whilst making myself quite at home there.
Moreish peanut butter brownies, lemon and coconut polenta cake, spiced date and ginger mini loaves to name but a few, I coupled my sample(s) with my interpretation of the quirkiest hot drink on the menu – a beetroot latte. You read that right. Beetroot. It was so very good, too. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but it just works and I highly recommend it. Not only did it taste delish – strangely not at all root vegetable and very much fluffy belly-warming pink milk with a kick – it was the dreamiest coffee shop offering I’ve seen in Leeds to date. Perfect for those insta-worthy snapshots.
If picture-perfect lattes and fresh patisserie aren’t your thing, then Archive also offer up a sophisticated, eclectic menu that will see you through from 7.30am opening ’til 6pm closing (10am – 4pm, weekends). I was quick to try out their Pepperoni, Chorizo and Salami pizza, which they serve by the slice – entirely yummy and great for those Grab ‘n’ Go hectic workday lunches, or to satiate those Saturday afternoon munchies.
Archive had me at pretty pink lattes with hearts in them, but if you’re less of a romanticist than me and are wondering what truly sets this place apart from your Café Nero and your Pret a Manger, that would be a combination of their licence to serve up beers (North Brew Sputnik after work, anyone?) and the envious stretch of event space to the back of the coffee house, just waiting to be put to good use.
I could envision many a new-fangled Art exhibition making waves here by weekday and intimate indie-rock gigs taking place come the weekend. Truth is, the scope at Archive is endless, just as the choice its paying customers have is varied – which is important offerings in a City that has almost everything. I’m still daydreaming about my fluffy pink latte today and I’m very much looking forward to heading back there to give another one a whirl – you know, just to be sure.
Feature photograph provided by Chapter 81.