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Roots and Fruits

Trudie Robinson samples a famous Leeds vegetarian restaurant

Published on January 14th 2010.

Roots and Fruits

It was with some trepidation that this reviewer returned to one of the city’s few vegetarian eateries, Roots and Fruits.

Once, when out in the city centre with a group of friends Root’s failed us. Though the main courses passed by without a hitch, a lemon cheesecake was so bland it was greeted by a shriek of disbelief and passed around the table for others to sample its general lack of character. This stuck in the memory, clouding the fact that the remainder of the food was actually rather good. It was also nearly a decade ago.

On the menu there’s so much to choose from it comes as shock. As a vegetarian you get used to a couple of half forgotten dishes stuffed at the bottom of the menu.

Time for a re-visit then. Roots is in one of the city’s classic Victorian arcades, but not the posh, elaborate ones where Vivienne Westwood and Ted Baker jostle elbows for attention, but in the surely mis-named Grand Arcade, tucked away behind the Grand Theatre a little away from the hustle of the main shopping area.

This is one of the dowdier and quieter arcades, especially during the day, when the other units, mainly bars, lie closed. But as you walk down with the sun shining through the glazed roof you start to hear the gentle hubbub of chatter spilling from Roots and it all changes. Suddenly the whole place feels far more welcoming than many of the other arcades.

Inside the cafe the comfortable mood continues, the table and chairs sitting on the red painted boards are an unassuming hotchpotch of second hand style. The pictures on the cheerily painted walls are a homely bunch mix too. The service fits the easy style. As I sit down at a spare table – it’s busy with lunchtime crowd even on a Tuesday – I’m immediately greeted by a friendly face and a hello.

On the menu there’s so much to choose from it comes as shock. As a vegetarian you get used to a couple of half forgotten dishes stuffed at the bottom of the menu.

The starters or light snacks include soups, samosas, deep fried goats cheese, salads and a range of sandwich combos, with a variety of cheeses accompanied by contrasting chutneys. There are also hummus and mushroom pates for the vegans. The mains are a showcase for a Roots and Fruits version of omelette, burger, lasagne and a very civilised, very filling all day breakfast. On to the specials board where on my visit there’s pasta in blue cheese sauce, feta and olive tart and potato gratin.

I went for the main menu and the spinach and ratatouille moussaka, which was joined by a pear juice from the vast Looza range of fruit juices on offer. My request for tap water, was met with acquiescence and not a single raised eyebrow (ok so United Utilities’ finest is eco-trendy these days but I’ve been drinking it for years).

The moussaka was perfectly pitched, all elements were cooked just right, the spinach and Mediterranean veg weren’t over done and were lightly seasoned, the layer of potato was perfect and there was no skimping on the cheese sauce topping. This was served with a pleasantly floury bread roll and a simple side salad that, thank the Lord, came unadorned. Instead of being dolloped straight on the leaves the dressing was offered separately, so I could control the quantity I put on the dish.

The dessert of dark chocolate tart wasn’t a disappointment. These babies often sit either end of the choc dessert scale, either cloyingly sweet or drab with insufficient sugar or chocolate but this tart was balanced just right. Not too heavy in texture, just rich enough in chocolate. The only minor quibble was that the pastry case was a little chewy possibly from a re-heating in the microwave? Still it was all washed down nicely with a full-bodied cup of coffee.

For subsequent snacking I took away two Chick Pea Fritters. Warmed up later they were delicious, delicately spiced and fragrant and served with a little Greek salad.

The Lemon Cheesecake fiasco seems behind Roots, either that or it was an aberration. So this is definitely a Confidential go. Roots and fruits is a fine little establishment and one that is good enough for any tastebuds, even those enamoured of meat.

Rating: 14.5/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
3.5/5 Ambience
4/5 Service
Address: Roots and Fruits
10 Grand Arcade
0113 242 8313
Mon to Sat 11am- 7pm

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