Hessian is a café/bar in Oakwood, that may not be known to the masses even in the Leeds community.
I visited a few week’s back with a friend who lives in Oakwood, who suggested we try out its small plates evening menu. Being a café, it’s customary that it’s generally visited most for its breakfast, brunch and lunches, so it’s small plates evening menu was a pleasant surprise. Doing my usual Instagram stalk, there wasn’t much given away about the evening menu at Hessian, but I was lured in by the sound of the grilled aubergine, spiced cauliflower and beetroot hummus.
The name ‘Hessian’ might have connotations of a ‘twee’, cosy and quaint place. Cosy it is, but more minimalist and ‘Scandi’ themed than twee. I loved the pendant lights, and the (what I assumed to be) original tiled floor.
It was 50% off in January, so my friend and I went a little bit overboard with our ordering from the tapas plates menu. My friend is a veggie, or else the 12-hour belly pork would definitely have been one of my choices. Also sadly the cauliflower was off, but there was still plenty for us to go at.
We started with some complimentary fried butterbean crisps, which were a nice salty digestif. First came the polenta chips with garlic and herb aioli. The addition of the herbs in the crust was lovely and the aioli somehow tasted like a grown up thousand island dip (which was great and I nice spot of nostalgia from Saturday evenings as a 12 year-old with oven chips, mixing ketchup and mayo together).
Then the grilled aubergine with rosemary, chilli, balsamic and avocado yoghurt. Really flavoursome, if anything, it was just a little too small.
My favourite dish of the evening, unexpectedly was the green herb tzaziki with flatbreads. The dip was packed with fresh garlic and dill (I think), and had a delicious crunchy topping of pumpkin seeds. With warm flatbreads, it was so more-sh.
Then halloumi, with lime aioli and tomato salsa. I’m not sure it’s possible for me to eat halloumi served with anything and not enjoy it, but the salsa here was not too overpowering but still a nice way to counterbalance the salty cheese.
There were a couple of other dishes on our order; lovely juicy garlic prawns and mac & cheese. Plus we felt obliged to order dessert with the half price deal (apple crumble, a firm favourite).
For £25 in total for 4 dishes and a dessert, we were more than satisfied with Hessian’s evening menu, but I personally would hesitate to be as gutsy if it was full price.
For a casual, sociable evening in a chic setting, Hessian’s evening menu is definitely worth a try for a Friday night treat. I will be returning to sample the brunch menu soon – perhaps with a side order of tzaziki!