Sarah Cotterill enjoys sunshine and houmous in this leafy Jewish suburb
The Bank really is situated in the sunniest spot in Moortown. Parasols, metal tables and chairs sit out on the paving stones, with light streaming through the curved windows on the corner of Shadwell Lane and Harrogate Road.
Inside it’s like sitting in a domed greenhouse. It’s autumn and we’re sweating. A high stooled bar looks out on to the junction of traffic lights, with stickers of dangling legs stuck to the glass; a clown, check pyjamas, a tutu. You can see what they’re trying to do. It’s fun, it says family (bar the fishnets), but it’s at odds with the mahogany wall of spirits on mirrored shelves and the retro American signage.
The Bank offers all day dining, but we are here for brunch. We’ve seen the Insta-worthy eggs, and it’s time to measure the hype.
I sometimes think Leeds could take note from its suburban eateries...
You’re greeted by a counter top of cakes and pastries under mesh umbrella hats; brick sized sugar dusted bostock and raisin Danishes as big as your face. The open kitchen fills the round restaurant with aromas of cumin, onions and harissa. The menu is Middle Eastern inspired, peppered with some Jewish specialities to cater to Moortown’s neighbourhood.
Luckily the prices aren’t too North Leeds. The three-grain porridge with date syrup and toasted seeds is £3.75, the eggs Benedict £7.95. A chalk board of smoothie’s features ‘the detox’, and ‘citrus kick’ (£4.00); a refreshing blend of carrot, orange and ginger, fluorescent and icy in a goblet with a straw. It’s more mocktail than smoothie, which makes sense when you flip to the back of the clipboard, where someone has gone to town with word art on a pink laminate detailing Happy Hour.
I’m pleased to see the teas are loose leaf, from Oxfordshire-based Jeeves & Jericho. I’m not sure where the coffee is from, but it’s good, even though my grandparents’ garden centre has the same crockery.
The food comes quickly. It’s midday and I haven’t eaten since last night’s dinner, so a hand sized almond croissant (£2.95) dipped cautiously into coffee, fills the gap. Dense and flattened, the sweet marzipan filling is reminiscent of stolen.
Grilled halloumi (£7.95) is great, a salad of balsamic beetroot, broad beans and spring onion, sharp against sourdough slathered in garlicky houmous. My only qualm is the bitterness of the Lollo Rosso leaves, which lasts longer than it should.
Shakshuka fans will love this place. It’s very photogenic, served steaming in skillets, scattered with feta and parsley (£6.95).
We decide to go for the Middle Eastern breakfast (£9.50); a rectangular platter of labneh, chopped salad, piped hummus, cubes of feta, pickled herring and smoked salmon. You also get a ramekin of jam, and two eggs any way you like. It’s sweet, salty Middle-East meets Sweden and slightly confused, but the main issue is that it’s a plate of toppings, with no bread. The eggs are poached perfectly, the yolks are golden and runny.
Luckily we ordered a side of challah toast (£3.00); cloud shaped slices that come with more jam. But it’s quite dry, not as porous as brioche, but sweet and eggy, destined for fresh toast, which The Bank does, with fruit compote and orange zest (£4.95). Next time perhaps.
I’m also keen to try the hazelnut falafel with tahini whipped creme fraiche (£6.50) on the evening menu, or the Persian meatballs, or the roasted cauliflower.
The flavours here are trendy, but there’s a sense that The Bank has been at the heart of the community for some time. The staff know the regular folk on a first name basis, and vice versa. I sometimes think Leeds could take note from its suburban eateries, which feel more welcoming and down to earth than their city centre rivals. Moortown’s got sunshine and houmous, and that’s worth the drive in my book.
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Almond Croissant 6, Challah Toast 5, Middle Eastern Breakfast 6.5, Grilled Halloumi 8
Staff are chatty without being OTT
Wear a T-shirt, it’s boiling