Imagine a place where families with young kids, pet owners, students, and pretty much any type of person (except – thankfully! – rowdy groups out doing the Otley run) can come together to enjoy fine food, a decent range of hot and cold drinks, and a relaxed ambiance. Head to Whites in Headingley and you’ll realise you’ve found just that.
We were invited down to visit Whites and in all honesty were a little unsure as to what to expect from this deli/cafe/bar in Headingley. After arriving, though, we were quickly put at ease by a thoroughly warm welcome and a really laidback, calm atmosphere. Some Leeds cafes (we’re looking at you Mrs Atha’s) can try to be a bit too cool for their own good. Whites, on the other hand, seems to strike exactly the right balance between being trendy and welcoming.
We had a brief chat with super-friendly owner Alison about the history of Whites. She talked us through the transformation from the deli as it was when it opened last year to today’s fantastic reincarnation as more of a versatile cafe and bar. She also listed the events they put on through the week, including a pub quiz on a Wednesday and live music on Friday evenings, and reassured us (given the fact that our little one is due imminently!) that the space is a perfect one for new parents to indulge in a cup of coffee or a glass (or three) of prosecco! Alison is the kind of person you meet and instantly want them to succeed in their business venture. From the evidence of our experience at Whites, we have little doubt that she will make a real success of this Headingley gem.
Moving away from the atmosphere and the friendly welcome, the real draw here is the quality of the food and the drink. I ordered a flat white coffee and was left impressed by how smooth it was (it also came really well presented). Charlotte opted for a coffee/caramel frappe which was divine and a perfect drink to help cool her down on a hot summer’s day.
If you are anything like me, when you’re out eating, you take a close interest in watching other people’s food go by after you’ve ordered. I had already gone for the ‘small’ sandwich option after seeing a few huge sandwich plates go by as we were having a meal with Charlotte’s Dad that evening. By the time my sandwich had come and I had eaten it, I was rather upset that I hadn’t ordered a large sandwich, simply because it was so amazing! The thickly cut pastrami was meaty and moreish, the amount of mustard generous, and the accompanying crisp salad allowed the freshness of the ingredients to shine through. This was a sandwich for real sandwich fans.
Charlotte had decided to go for one of our favourite breakfast dishes: American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, on offer that day as a special. As we left later, we mentioned that we hoped to see it become a permanent fixture on the menu as it was just that good! Nice crispy streaks of bacon topped with a good amount of maple syrup, all laid on top of thin pancakes that didn’t taste too doughy or heavy. A wonderful dish that is so easy to mess up if you don’t get the balance and proportions right, Charlotte was very smug with her choice it seems fair to say!
Whilst we were feeling very full after this, we were offered the chance to go for a slice of cake. Being a chocolate fan, Charlotte indulged in a wonderful chocolate cake that ticked all the right boxes: excellent icing, moist sponge and not too rich.
I went for a lemon and blueberry cake that had a real depth of flavour to it. Not only was the icing nice with a slightly tart aftertaste, but the sponge itself carried a beautiful taste of lemon without the overpowering flavour of blueberry. Basically, if you have room, get yourself some cake at Whites as you won’t regret it!
Not only is the food of a very high standard at Whites, but the portions are more than generous too, especially when you consider the reasonable cost of the dishes. You can eat fantastically well here without ruining your bank balance. There is also no pressure to be out of your seat after your plates have been cleared, nor to dress up or try to act in any way trendy (which is good as this isn’t our forte!).
This is a place in which to relax and have a good time, not to be pretentious or rush in and out before getting on with your day. All in all, it’s fair to say that we are big fans of Whites and, given that we don’t live far away, we hope to be pushing our little one down with us in her pram for a nice slice of coffee and cake very soon, and perhaps even a sarnie if we feel indulgent!
Categories: Restaurant reviews