Words and pictures by Susie Krieble
The café arm of Leeds Street Bakery is housed inside Red Rabbit Coffee Co. Brought together by a shared ethos and connected by a shared space, this partnership works well as it means both party can concentrate on what they do best - coffee for the latter and all things bready for the bakery.
On the weekend I was there, they were closing early so Red Rabbit’s roasting equipment could be moved up to Auckland - the new homebase for the brand. This is good news for Wellingtonians and Aucklanders alike as it means more room in the café-bakery for us, and more readily available Red Rabbit coffee for Aucklanders.
Regardless, business was running as usual for the bakery to serve their Saturday customers with the full menu of toast pre-11h30, and sandwiches post. The most glorious thing about eating in is the smell. There is nothing better than the smell of bread being born and, as Leeds Street Bakery also supply fresh loaves across town, this is an activity that runs for most of the day. Sitting in the cafe, you get a pretty epic vantage point over the street, the workings of the bakery, and a glimpse into the daily musings of Wellington folk. Leeds St plays host to a whole consortium of producers to satisfy all five tastes. In addition to bread and coffee, there’s beer, chocolate, pizza, soda, cocktails and even peanut butter. You could spend a day on this one street alone (well, some people literally do as they live in the apartment block there) and be quite content.
The menu changes to suit what’s in season but is consistently delicious. The sandwich bread is usually rye, wholegrain, or occasionally baguette, and the fillings aren’t elaborate but are always super fresh and of very high quality. I ate them all...
Pastrami, swiss, cos and pickle on rye
Keeping with New York tradition, Leeds Street Bakery’s pastrami offering is served on rye. All the fillings were cut to the same thickness which amalgamated all their contributing flavours to sing in one harmonious choir. The mellowness of the Swiss was a good counterbalance to the pickles; and the pickles provided a sharp bite to complement the cured meat. Closing your eyes therefore, you could be mistaken for thinking you were eating in a New York deli (though why would you want that when you could be in Wellington?!), although the fresh cos and thankfully more manageable amount of meat bring you back down to an oh-so-wonderful earth.
Aged Cheddar, rocket, mustard, pickled onion on rye
Yum. This is the way a cheese sandwich should be made. A properly sharp aged cheddar chillin' with a small, carefully selected group of friends, all of the same ilk. Not much more is needed alongside cheese in bread than peppery rocket, acidic pickled onions and mustard, spicy in a way that only the yellow sauce can offer. The clincher, the deal sealer for me, is the mayo. Mayo acts as a best friend to everybody, the kid-next-door who gets along with everyone and makes all in their proximity a better person.
Goat’s cheese, figs, toasted hazelnuts, honey on wholegrain
Creamy, sharp, sweet, crunchy, fresh and slightly salty. This was a winning combo to finish off with. Like paper scissors rock, each ingredient had a winning and losing match (in a good way). The creamy crunch of the hazelnuts was vital to counter the sweetness of the honey, which in turn was a wonderful complement for the sharp goat’s cheese. The fresh figs stood up to the hearty bread and boasted the goat’s cheese softer side which is usually hidden beneath the sharper note. There was just enough honey to make the whole dish come together, and not make Pooh Bear envious.
On the topic of Pooh Bear, I’ll leave you with this. As if you weren’t already convinced that sandwiches were a practical solution for all occasions:
Rabbit: Oh no. A fork in the road.
Tigger: Nah, I don't need it. I brought a sandwich
*When Susie's not out slaying sandwiches, you'll find her snacking her way through Wellington's CBD with her camera and writing about it, you can check it out over here