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Cafe 164, Reviewed

Paul Clarke gets arty and likes some bread

Written by . Published on October 18th 2011.

Cafe 164, Reviewed

Café 164 is always tweeting me with reminders that it's open late on Thursdays.

The social media buzz around this newish café is strong, and it seems to have become the adhoc staff canteen for an ever-growing artistic community in Munro House.

"Café 164 fills a much needed gap for a relaxed place for the city’s ever expanding art scene to congregate and share ideas."

The layout is simple with red leather sofas, simple wooden tables and a functional serving area, but there is a genuinely relaxed air, capturing some of that New York vibe places like this strive for, but often fail to emulate.

The owners make much of their soup offering, and I was concerned they may have sold out. My luck was in though, as the daytime artisos had clearly gone for sandwiches as they prepared their latest Arts Council grant.

I got stuck into the chickpea, leek and parmesan (£2) served with a generous slice of fresh herb ciabatta. Parmesan is not always an obvious choice for a soup, but the strong flavour didn’t overpower the pulses and it all worked well.

Best of all, I was offered a very welcome free refill from the switched on and friendly staff.

After perusing the decent range of sandwiches, my partner plumped for an unusual combo of peppered mackerel with a sweet chilli sauce and rocket (£2.90).

The mackerel was lush; offset by a well-judged sauce and encased in a tomato ciabatta, which was still wonderfully fresh even after a day in the fridge.

It’s not surprising the bread is sublime as this gaff is the city centre outlet for breadmeisters Bakery 164, who have been knocking out great loaves to a secret recipe for over a decade.

My direct trade latte (£1.90) was nice and strong with a lovely bite, as was the Americano (£1.70).

The cin-ful Nanaimo bar (£1) was a dessert my dining partner and I never heard of, but it was small and sweet with a creamy custard middle and a strong cinnamon kick.

Given its artistic USP it’s really not surprising they also have regular exhibitions from up and coming artists. The latest show by Kasia Breska, inspired by journeys through the French Pyrenees, was a tad underwhelming and didn’t really grab our attention, but we were distracted by the better than expected grub.

Café 164 fills a much needed gap for a relaxed place for the city’s ever expanding art scene to congregate and share ideas. Luckily, they’ve also remembered it's a business in a very competitive sector.

Other indies, take note.

Cafe 164, Unit 2 Munro House, Duke St, Leeds LS9 8AG

Rating: 14.5/20

Food: 7/10

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 3.5/5


Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

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