Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hyde Park Book Club has been a cornerstone for the community, offering coffees to those needing a pick me up, delivering laptops to those without, and sharing books across the City.
They also continued their usual café service, mostly as a takeaway, but this week, like so many other Leeds establishments, HPBC were able to open their doors for people to sit inside to eat and drink and enjoy music.
Making the most of the unusual sunshine, my sister and I walked down to HPBC from Headingly, meeting a friend at the Book Club. Although we were happy to sit outside, we were also keen to experience the new opportunity to enjoy a meal under a roof, so we opted to go in. We were shown to a table on the stage and whilst we made ourselves comfortable, we were asked for our drink order.
The ambiance in HPBC is cool. It’s open plan with a mix of seating styles. I usually go for a sofa spot, but also appreciate the option of benches and traditional dining tables for when working or having a meal. There is always some music being played at HPBC, and our visit this week was no different. On arrival, there was a mix tape playing, offering a relaxed feel. However, after about 30 minutes, the mix tape was replaced by a real life DJ – who played an unusual combination of tunes.
The afternoon/ evening menu at HPBC isn’t huge or extravagant, but it offers a good selection of sandwiches and wraps – all of which are vegan or vegetarian. The items are also affordable, which is good considering that most of those who visit are students. For our meal, we wanted to try out a couple of dishes on offer, and so decided to order two options and shared them between us.
We went for the ‘faux ruben’, which was a take on the classic Ruben sandwich – with pickles, cheese, facon, sauerkraut and honey mustard. It was served on Leeds bread co-op ciabatta. I really enjoyed the sandwich – the bread was particularly delicious. I also enjoyed trying out facon for the first time and would recommend others who are looking to eat more plant based meals to give it a go.
We had added the paneer wrap to our order, which was packed full of paneer cheese, spicy curry sauce, pickled red onions and Bombay mix. The wrap was tasty, and I thought the addition of Bombay mix was creative and added a nice crunch. We agreed that the paneer was well cooked and we liked the curried flavours. However, we all thought that the wrap would have benefited from a side, perhaps some salad or fries, to help complete the dish.
Overall, we had a lovely evening at HPBC. It was so nice to have more freedom, and be able to enjoy a meal together inside. The staff were all friendly and didn’t leave us waiting too long. We appreciated the music, the meal and especially how relaxed it felt. If you’re looking for a casual brunch, lunch or dinner spot, then why not give HPBC a go?
Interior and exterior shots courtesy of Hyde Park Book Club. Food photography by Gemma Bridge.