Leicester’s hidden gem

Back at the beginning of 2016, I wrote a review about James’ Cafe Bistro for the Leicester Mercury. I used the review as an excuse to visit a place that I’d heard a lot about but hadn’t quite got round to visiting and I was so glad I did!

mac n cheese, pasta, cheese, delicious

They’ve made it in to my regular rotation. Secluded behind the Highcross centre on East Bond Street, James’ is quiet, peaceful and feels like arriving home. A warm welcome always awaits along with a droolworthy specials board.  In fact, follow them on Instagram and you will not only get snaps of delicious food, but occasionally an update on the specials which will make a visit unavoidable!

I’ve been on a number of occasions for a quick lunch, or when hunger really strikes for their cooked breakfast which is an absolute mountain of delicious food, including the crispiest sauteed potatoes in town. The bacon and black pudding they use is also something very special. I was inspired to write about them again because I went with some friends on my birthday recently and I couldn’t believe that 50% of my guests had never even heard of them before!

full english, breakfast, bacon, mushrooms, tasty, Leicester

They are committed to fresh ingredients, well sourced and beautifully handled, and while the standard menu has an excellent (and unusual mixture) of cafe favourites and Italian dishes, it really is the creativity of the specials menu that makes it worth returning time and time again. From what I can tell, they take classic combinations and do something a little bit special. Recently we’ve seen garlic and smoked paprika chicken, for example, or a decadent avocado on toast, pimped with poached eggs, salmon, pumpkin seeds and spinach.

They also have regular events on a Saturday evening, from psychic dinners (I have no idea what that means) to reggae nights and everything in between.

brownie, dessert, Leicester, crepe, cheesecake, ice cream
Birthday cake!

Just like in my Mercury review, I again have occasion to recommend the dessert tasting platter. This is a regular feature on the menu giving you the opportunity to taste a good number of their regularly rotating desserts. However, this time they very kindly brought one out for my table because it was my birthday (told you it’s like being at home – nobody had said anything!). I adored the chocolate brownie, while the strawberry, basil and black pepper sorbet hit the spot with my friends, and the peanut and caramel cheesecake was a universal hit.

So again, I urge you to visit this hidden gem of the city and enjoy their laid back, but delectable food for yourself!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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