Meat is Dead is one of the newcomers on Kirkstall Road. The owners describe it as a junk-free, plant-based bar and food place.
The owners, Vic and Joe, founded Meat is Dead to share their love of plant based, nutritious food and to bring people together to enjoy each other. I’ve cycled past Meat is Dead on several occasions, rushing to or from the station or City Centre for meetings, so when my friend suggested that we go to Meat is Dead for some food after work earlier this week, I wasn’t going to miss the chance.
Long opening hours
When checking out Meat is Dead on their website, the first thing I noticed is that it has unexpectedly long opening hours, opening its doors from 9am until 11pm Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9am until 1am on Thursday and Friday, from 9am until 2am on Saturday, and from noon until 11pm on Sunday. In addition to offering a large lunch and dinner menu, there are bottomless brunch, hot drinks and cakes, a range of alcoholic beverages and a weekday deal which allows people to work all day in their space, with access to drinks, cake and Wi-Fi. I guess they really are aiming to be a space for everyone, and at almost anytime!
My boyfriend and I cycled down to meet my friend. Thankfully, there are racks (or at least something posing as bike racks) right outside, so it didn’t take us long to lock up our bikes and get inside for some warmth. The restaurant/ bar/ space felt pretty busy but relaxed and it had a nice feel about it. It was warm, the music was soft, the décor was cool without going overboard, and the staff weren’t rushing around – all good things in my book.
Large and varied plant-based menu
After a quick chat about our days, we had a look at the menu, which was large, with a wide variety of small plates and sharers on offer. The food isn’t from just one part of the world. Instead, there are dishes from the Mediterranean, China, India, Japan, Mexico and more. I liked the variety but was also a little overwhelmed by the choice. To help us make our selection, we asked our waitress how many dishes she’d recommend that we order. She suggested 3 each, and whilst we thought that was pretty out there, as each dish was approximately £7 (so £21 each), we wanted to get the full experience and so ordered 8 dishes amongst us.
Making our food selections
We each chose two dishes. My friend opted for sprout bhajis and tomato and cheese arancini, my boyfriend selected the Cajun wedges and gyozas, and I picked a sharing plate of focaccia which came with olives (we gifted the olives to the table of chatty girls behind us as none of us like them) and jackfruit pancakes. We also ordered the daily curry bowl and creamed leek parcels.
Our thoughts on the food
My first thought when the food arrived was that there was a lot, even for three hungry people. I think we would have been better off with a max of 6 dishes, but as we had 8, the only option was to dig in and try everything. I really enjoyed the Cajun sweet potato wedges which came with a sweet tomato jam and were drizzled with herby sour cream. I loved the smoky spices that they were coated in and loved the dip. If I was being picky, I would have liked them to have been a little crispier, but they tasted fab. I also thought the curry bowl, which was a chickpea and mushroom dhal, was tasty – it was also a great warmer for a chilly Thursday evening.
My boyfriend is a big meat eater and not a big fan of vegetables, so I was a little apprehensive about what he’d think of the plant-based food. However, he gave most things a go. He wasn’t a fan of the arancini – the texture and the cheese just weren’t for him. But to be honest, none of us really enjoyed them, and I won’t be ordering them again in a hurry. He also couldn’t face the leek parcels, but I don’t think he missed out on them, as they were pretty non-descript and lacked a bit of a kick. However, he raved about the crispy vegetable gyozas, which were delicious and came with a rich and aromatic dipping sauce. He also surprisingly enjoyed the sprout bhajis which my friend and I also loved, as they were super crispy and came with a delicious, sweet mango ketchup to dip into. I’d recommend giving the bhajis a go, even if you aren’t into sprouts!
We ate all the bread but didn’t think it was anything to write home about. It certainly wasn’t focaccia – it lacked the airy/ chewy texture and didn’t have the salty olive oil flavour that is so characteristic of the traditional Italian bread. The bread did work well as a side with the curry and gave us something to dip into all the sauces that we had accumulated. We all agreed that the jackfruit pancakes were good, and I particularly liked the sticky hoisin glaze that the jackfruit had been cooked in.
For drinks, we ordered a jug of water for the table, as usual, along with a pot of peppermint tea, to warm us up, and my boyfriend opted for a flat white. The coffee was certainly not coffee shop coffee, lacking finesse and with too much foam, despite having a good machine. There is a range of hot chocolates and flavoured coffees on offer, and if I go back in the daytime, I’d like to give one of them a go with a sweet treat.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Meat is Dead, and had a good experience. We liked trying out some different flavours and dishes. I would recommend that others give the bhajis, jackfruit and Cajun wedges a try. However, we thought that the plates were expensive and varied in size (not always reflective of price), which made it hard to know how much we needed to order. A menu restructure (e.g. nibbles, small plates, larger dishes) could help diners know what to go for in future.