A venue that many people probably don’t know about, The Roast Café seems to cater mostly to employees of the building where it’s located: No. 1 Whitehall Riverside. Directly on the River Aire and with plenty of outdoor seating, it’s a lovely spot to grab lunch or have a drink in nice weather.
The indoor atmosphere is also very relaxing, with plenty of tables and chairs, comfortable sofas, unintrusive music and only one TV screen. (The constant Sky News can be a little distraction, however, and during major football and rugby events, sometimes a large projector screen goes up.) Patrons who enjoy “witty” art and toilets that are decked out to look like they’re in the middle of a large park will not be disappointed.
The food quality and value is impressive, and The Roast typically tempts a large lunch crowd with their salads, sandwiches, burgers, and specials. The beer choice, however, leaves us a little wanting. Though they do offer one rotating cask ale and two local beers (MJ Fortis and Pale from Ilkley Brewery), we’ve observed that as their draught selection has evolved, their bottle selection has devolved. Currently the only two options in the fridge are Crabbie’s and San Miguel Fresca. Also on tap are the usual Vier, Bud and Peroni, along with a couple of Rekorderlig Ciders.
Its own website calls it the “Number 1 events venue in Leeds,” and as such they are often closed for a corporate function, wedding, or other private party. When open, they do a good business during after-work happy hours, especially on Thursdays when it’s 2-4-1 Mojitos night.
Because of their unpredictable opening times and less than remarkable beers, The Roast is not a place to go out of your way for. However, if you’re in the area and looking for some good food in a welcoming atmosphere, it’s definitely worth dropping in. And for us, the fact that it featured on our first date keeps us coming back again and again. We’re a little sentimental.