“ Type: Algerian / Address: 1 the Crescent / Hyde Park / Leeds / LS6 2NW / Tel: 0113 274 44 22 „
This is my favourite restaurant in Leeds. I try to call in whenever I am working locally. It is situated on the corner of a parade of unassuming shops on Hyde Park, a ten minute walk from the university.
Inside it is a haven of Algerian styled warmth and comfort. Comfortable window seats occupy two sides and I like to sit here and watch the world go by. The young staff are always prompt, attentive and friendly.
The background music is not too loud, (and if it is they turn it down for me!) it seems to be a mixture of world music and old classics. I will often hear something in here that is unfamiliar to me. I think the choice of music is dependant upon who is in charge of the music centre that day. It is never boring anyway!
Internet access is available throughout the cafe for no charge.
L'Oranaise carry a fairly extensive menu but they are happy to modify it if neccesary. For example they do a wonderful goat cheese and sweet peppers bruscheta, unfortunately the peppers don't like me so they will substitute mushrooms at no extra cost. As all the food is cooked fresh there is occasionally a short wait, it's really worth waiting for!
All of the food I have eaten there over the years has been delicious. The prices are reasonable. A large coffee costs around £1.50 and it is the best coffee available in the area. Served in a large colourful mug or a nice china Cafe cup if you want a smaller one. They also serve a large selection of teas and of course the delicious Mint Tea. (Good for digestion!) On a fine day you can take your drinks outside onto the pavement tables and watch the traffic go by. (and sometimes get deafened by it!)
Up the fairly narrow windy stairs are the toilets and an Algerian/Moroccan style living and dining area. Low tables and divan seating is an ideal place to just loll about or play chess or any other of the many board games thoughtfully provided. There is also a range of Algerian goods up here if you are looking for gift ideas or want to recreate some of L'Oranaise's decor in your own house. Upstairs can be hired for film showings or private parties. It's a beautifully decorated, comfortable and informal space to relax in.
With notice and negotiation, L'Oranaise will do outside catering for dinner parties, I have no experience of hiring them to do this but I imagine the food would be excellent.
Vegetarians are well catered for, it is even possible to order a vegetarian breakfast. Full Breakfast sets you back £4.45 and consists of grilled turkey ham, beef sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, egg, hash browns & toast.
A Veggie breakfast costs the same and you get veggie sausage, egg, mushrooms, baked beans, 2 hash browns & toast. Brekkie is huge and will keep you going for the day. It is served until 3pm for those of us who don't like getting up early! It's a real treat and they cook the eggs perfectly. (I like mine runny so that I can dip my toast in!) For breakfast they also serve different pastries or lovely light pancakes with fruit.
Lunch menu is a choice of about twenty tapas, burgers, sandwiches on your choice of bread. Try the Oran Kefta, it's meatballs and humous on crusty bread served with salad and couscous. Absolutely delicious but don't try eating it in your best clothes! The merguez sausage and harissa sauce sandwich is very good too. They cost £4.25 and are very filling.
The evening menu adds fish dishes, tajines (vegetarian when required) Soups of the day, selections from the charcoal grill etc, actually there is too much choice to include everything. A typical evening meal will be around £8.00. The lamb dishes are delicately spiced and fall off the bone.
The desserts are very tempting and include ice creams, pancakes and cakes that are freshly made each day. This is not a good place for the weak willed! The fresh fruit pancakes are gorgeous!
One of the things I like most about L'Oranaise is the friendliness of the staff. As I have said, they are very helpful and will do whatever they can to make sure you are happy, they will also stop by your table for a chat if the place is not too busy. I have always been made to feel that they are interested in me as a person, not just another customer to be fed and shown out as quickly as possible. Everyone is relaxed and amiable whilst still remaining efficient and that is no mean feat!
I have been called out of the cafe mid meal to work and the staff have kept my meal for me for later or replaced my undrunk coffee. That kind of attention to my comfort and needs goes a long way to convincing me that this is a place I want to keep visiting.
The cafe is always clean and the Algerian decor is a delight without being over the top.
Unfortunately because it is a small place, disabled access is limited. There is no access to a toilet for wheelchairs but the staff are quick to make space available on the ground floor. There is a low step in which shouldn't cause too much difficulty.
Overall this is a pleasant not expensive venue for good food, good company, perhaps a game of chess. It feels to me like I'm dropping into a friend's house. Long may it continue!
Full menus and more extensive information about L'Oranaise can be found on their website.