Indie Food Leeds: Northern Monk Brew Co.

Owner Paul has a day off and decided to take a trip over to the newly opened refectory at Northern Monk Brew Co.  He hasn’t written a blog for a little while so here is what he thought………

I don’t get that many days off and now that we have Seth our trips out can be slightly curtailed.  When we do go out we try to visit some of the indie food places that are opening up throughout the area, and also visit places that we have been meaning to hit for ages.  Recently we went to Toft Barn Café outside Pateley Bridge; a bit of a drive but a stunning barn conversion and really friendly service.  We have also been to ‘The Granary Café’ at Caring for Life in Cookridge, a social enterprise that offers opportunities to homeless and vulnerable people.

It can be challenging getting across to Leeds without too much screaming in the car and being able to have a reasonably relaxed meal.  Anyhow, we managed it on Wednesday and our destination was ‘The Refectory’ at The Northern Monk Brew Co. in Holbeck.

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We drove and there is ample parking, but it’s only a short 5-10 min walk from the station if you wanted to have a more concerted session on the beers.

Northern Monk Brew Co launched their first beer in July 2013 and spent the following 6 months as nomadic brewers borrowing time on brewing kit where they could, collaborating with other breweries and establishing a style of beer that defined their brand.  In March 2014 they announced they had found the location for their new home in Holbeck and the process of refurbishing it began.  Beer has been flowing since the summer and the Taproom/Refectory opened last week.  You can read much more about the story and their plans in this very good article from Leeds List.

The building is a grade II listed former flax store.  The ground floor houses the brewing equipment ands you step through the doors you can peek into the brewery behind and see some of the equipment in use.

View through into the ground floor brewery at Northern Monk Brew Co.

The Refectory is located on the first floor of the building.  We’d tweeted ahead (aren’t we down with the kids!) to ask about access and the guys had replied to say there was no lift but they would give us a hand if we needed one with buggy etc etc.  On this occasion Seth was asleep in his car seat and we’d parked outside the door so we just took him up in that.

The interior suits the building, it's clean and functional and makes a great venue to enjoy the indie food on offer.

The Refectory is a collaboration with Jim and Dan from ‘Grub and Grog Shop’ and Dan was there to greet us.   Grub and Grog are staples of the Leeds indie food scene who have been making stews for independents like Laynes Espresso and others for a couple of years as well as appearing at festivals and pop-ups such as Noonshine Café on Fridays at Outlaws Yacht Club.  They even made it over to Harrogate recently and popped up in Major Tom’s Social for a beer and food pairing evening.

First we needed to choose a drink and since it was about 1 minute  past noon we thought  a beer was in order.  Kaite isn’t much of a beer drinker but likes a nice weissbeer when available.  Dan recommended a Blueberry Saison brewed downstairs, a swift taste and it was given the thumbs up.

Indie food and beer pairings from the extensive beer selection

Taps on wall at Northern Monk Brew Co. Refectory - home of Indie Food company Grub and Grog Shop I was less sure, I fancied the Imperial Stout but at 9% I had second thoughts about even a 1/3 pint (from a driving point of view).  I asked Dan for a recommendation and after tasting the  Bruno’s Cossack and Pognophobia I settled for a sneaky preview of the new collaboration beer to be launched with indie food legends Bundobust.

Katie selected a Blueberry Saison whilst I went for the new collaboration with indie food outlet Bundobust including Cardamom and other spices.There is a breakfast menu that runs until Noon, then a lunch menu (salads and sandwiches) from 12-5pm and a dinner menu that runs through 12-8pm.

You can see the menus on Grub and Grog’s Facebook page whilst their website is under development.

We chose to share a couple of sandwiches and a salad.  The bread is from Leeds Bread Co-op and is great.

Caramelised Beef Brisket, Roasted Pumpkin and and Rosemary from indie food company Grub and Grog Shop

Caramelised Beef Brisket, Roasted Pumpkin and and Rosemary.

Roasted pumpkin, Harrogate blue cheese, pumpkin seeds & pickle from indie food company Grub and Grog Shop

Roasted pumpkin, Harrogate blue cheese, pumpkin seeds & pickle

Beetroot, Tamarind, Mint and crushed chick peas on Leeds Bread Co-op ciabatta from indie food company Grub and Grog Shop

Beetroot, Tamarind, Mint and crushed chick peas

All three of the dishes were really delicious and great value at around £4 each – Jim (the Chef) was loitering behind the bar and all I could say was that we had no constructive criticism.  Katie felt they were some of the best sandwiches she’d ever eaten.

We’d already decided to head into Leeds by this point to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee, but if we’d stayed our caffeine requirements would have been met by coffee from our friends over at North Star Coffee Roasters in Meanwood (check out the new branding launched at Cup North over the weekend).

Indie food and beer aren't the only products on offer, they also brew coffee from Leeds roaster North Star coffee.

So, in summary get yourself over to Northern Monk Brew Co. asap.  It’s got something for everyone; great indie food, nice space, amazing beer and (probably) solid coffee.  We were talking about coming back with a group, this time on the train so we can give the beer a proper testing, and Dan said they may be able to reserve tables (depending on how things develop over the next few weeks/months).  I imagine that it’s particularly atmospheric in the evening.

We’ll be posting the odd piece on here about places the team from Baltzersen’s visit in Leeds and the surrounds but if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on in the Leeds indie food scene we would wholeheartedly recommend following Diane Amesbury (@dimingwong) and reading her blog ‘A Tale of Two Sittings’.

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4 Responses to Indie Food Leeds: Northern Monk Brew Co.

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