Green Room’s Winter Garden

It was fewer than twenty-four hours since I’d returned from a week in Belgium and Holland, where I’d enjoyed unseasonably balmy temperatures and lots of sunshine. The clocks had just gone back. It was drizzling and cold. I had to be back at work the next morning. Like the weather, my mood was overcast. So it was either the best time to try out my fellow Leeds Living writer’s suggestion of Green Room’s Winter Garden, or the worst. (Or, of course, the wurst.)

Green Room’s open air rooftop terrace has been kitted out with a large canopy. Three sides are walled in, with the fourth having panels that afford a mix of shelter and ventilation – the latter, along with the spacious headroom, feels reassuringly airy as we enter flu season, but the space still has a cosiness that hands-down beats sitting outdoors. The high space also means the heaters are able to provide more uniform warmth than in venues where they are lower and give you the winter drinker’s equivalent of a trucker’s tan.

The evening food runs from 3pm until 8pm. It’s a short menu, neatly split between meat and vegan options, leaning heavily into the sausage-shaped gap left by the decision not to run this year’s German Christmas market. There’s bratwurst in a bun, currywurst with chips, a chicken burger, and cheese-and-bacon-loaded fries; and plant-based wursts and a burger courtesy of Moving Mountains, along with truffle fries.

I can report that the vegan burger is good, with a couple of onion rings and a BBQ sauce that complemented rather than overpowered things. The vegan truffle mayo on the fries similarly hit the sweet spot between ‘why bother’ and ‘why do my chips taste like petrol?’, a balance more often missed than hit, to my tastebuds. The cashew ‘parmesan’ on the fries was subtler than its cheese namesake, with interesting savoury notes alongside the sweetness of the nuts.

Cath had the currywurst, and the kick of spice helped banish some of the post-holiday, pre-work blues. The sausage was lightly smokey, the pickled cabbage and curry sauce lively and zingy. It’s good food to accompany drinks – something restorative post-work or post-shopping. The day menu, from 10am to 3pm, is more varied in its Grön-partnered brunch offerings – and they have perhaps missed a trick by not making some of the sweet pancakes available later in the day, to further emulate the missing market experience, but other than that it seems a sensible split of what’s on offer.

Along with beers from local makers Kirkstall Brewery, Northern Monk and Magic Rock, and the usual wines and cocktails, there are seasonal offerings of mulled wine and boozy hot chocolate. The mulled wine was just heating up when we arrived so rather than wait I opted for a glass of Malbec that, despite being unmulled, still did a very good job of warming me up. The Winter Special pilsner is as good as you’d expect from Kirskstall Brewery, too – as crisp as the nice autumn day I wished we were having instead of drizzle. Like the Winter Garden, it provided a nice respite before we headed back out.

We arrived at 5pm and the Winter Garden was less than half full, with the downstairs bar almost empty. By 5.30, everywhere was three-quarters full – those who weren’t eking out a final day of holiday presumably having finished work and come straight along. There was a nice buzz about the place, which is not bad going for a wet Tuesday evening too far from Christmas for anyone to feel festive. (A special mention goes out to Taylor, who served us at the bar – partly because he was lovely, and partly because we had a conversation about being really bad at remembering names, and I want to show off that I thought to make a note of his.)

Photographs by Cath Kane.

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