Lunch at No 5 Café in Leek

Squeezed in with forgetful service and tasty balls.


On Saturday I decided I'd take Anneka out for lunch to No 5. We've been here before, but it must have been over six months since our last visit. Quite often when we revisit places, they're never as good as our first visit, so we were a little apprehensive about going back! We didn't really need to be though because, although there were a couple of little things that lost them half a star, it was lovely.

Last time we came here, I had the Pea & Feta sandwich - which was delicious. However, they had a couple of items on the menu labelled VP. I asked what this meant, as I've never seen it before. I was told "Oh, that means vegetarian, with parmesan." As anyone who knows me will tell you, calling something vegetarian when it has parmesan on it really pisses me off. It's totally misleading, as parmesan is never suitable for vegetarians. I explained this, and she said she'd let the owner know. A few moments later she came back, explaining that it would be taken off the menu. Fortunately, there was no such nonsense on this occasion!

Anneka had booked a table as we knew we'd not be able to get a seat otherwise. On the phone she had enquired about the vegan choices - we're not vegan but Anneka had heard something about a vegan flapjack, so she asked. She was told that the flapjack may or may not be available, depending on what they bake on the morning. That we found a little odd, because you'd expect a business to prepare what it needed in advance rather than make it up on the day. As such we, correctly, assumed there wouldn't be any. We were told that they now had a vegan menu, so we thought we'd try that. We're trying to reduce the amount of dairy we consume, but we aren't becoming vegans - yet anyway!

When we arrived, we were sat at the smallest table they have. In fact, all the other tables sit four people - although realistically it would be a squeeze. The problem with the building is that, whilst it's convenient for the owners (they own the bakery next door), it's a little too small. It is after all only a Victorian terrace. The table we were sat at was by the door to the kitchen, and the people on the table next to and behind ours had their chairs all the way out. That meant that my only option was to sit in the space the staff would need to walk through. As a result of this, I spent the entire time we were there hunched over and watching out for people who may have bumped into me with hot soup. The café was full, so there was nowhere else to sit either. It is a popular place, so hopefully in the near future they will move into larger premises. There are enough empty buildings in the town centre for them to do this - but, of course, it's not that straightforward.

The waitress came over to us and asked us what we'd like to order. Unfortunately she'd neglected to furnish us with the menu... After a swift and genuine apology, she gave us a copy of the menu, which is a few A4 sheets of paper on a clipboard - perfectly suited to the café. As we'd enquired about the vegan menu earlier in the week, we expected that would be on the clipboard too. It was not, and she had to go into the kitchen to get it. At first we thought this was probably an oversight, but it turns out that they only have one copy. We found this odd for three reasons: Firstly - why would anywhere only have one copy of a certain menu, unless you only serve one customer at any given time? Secondly - if you get people in the café who want to try something different (especially given that it's Veganuary!) a vegan menu on display might just inspire them. Thirdly - we later discovered that the owners have become vegan! Why would vegans not have their vegan menu available on all tables?! It's just bizarre!

The menu itself had plenty of choices, although most of them were simply the vegetarian options modified slightly. The owners are new to this though, so I hope as they learn about vegan cooking, the choices will change to be completely different from the other offerings. One thing that we found very curious was that the wraps, which are also on the standard menu, are a full £2 cheaper on the vegan menu. We couldn't see any reason for this, as they appear to be exactly the same. Still, I'm not complaining, it's just odd!

I had a Feel Good juice drink. I've had this before and it's lovely. (The sugar packets were on the table already, I didn't ask for them!)

Anneka had a cappuccino, with soya milk.

I had the Hummus & Pesto wrap. The hummus, carrot and rocket were nice, and the tomatoes were very sweet and juicy. The pesto was nice too, although it was a little overpowering for this dish. I think perhaps a little more carrot and a little less pesto would have worked slightly better. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Anneka had the Hummus, Pesto & Avo sandwich, with Green Goddess soup. I joked about the name of the soup, complaining that it was sexist, and if I wanted some did that mean I'd have to grow boobs! Anneka enjoyed the sandwich, as it is made with the bakery's own bread, and she said the avocado in particular was very nice. That's quite an achievement, given how much of a pain avocado can be to use at just the right time! The soup was made of spinach, broccoli, kale and coconut milk. I tried some and it was very nice.

The highlight of our lunch was a little ball. They only had one vegan dessert on this occasion, which was a shame. It's a date, orange and pecan ball. I'm not a fan of dates, so I was expecting to not like it. It was delicious! When a member of staff asked me what I though, I exclaimed "It's just like a satsuma!" It really was!

As we paid, we asked for a couple of brownies to take with us. The waitress explained that they weren't vegan, so we explained that neither were we, we just fancied a vegan lunch. We paid, and the she went into the kitchen - forgetting to give us the brownies we'd just paid for... Another member of staff apologised on her behalf and pointed out her mistake when she returned. We ate the brownies later at home. They were nice and chocolatey, but a tiny bit burnt around the edges. Below is a photo of the cakes on offer when we were there.

On the whole we enjoyed our lunch, and the few little issues didn't spoil it. We'll definitely go here again - when they put the pea and feta sandwich back on the menu perhaps!

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