Ahhhhh and just like that, the holiday season is upon us again! A time for gluttony, merriment and arguments about where the best place in Leeds to buy a tree stand is. (Turns out Homebase and you should definitely not chuck yours away in the house move thinking you’ll invest in a new one). To set us up for a day of tree stand rat racing across Leeds we decided we needed a proper lunch. Not a sling together a few slices of bread lunch but a proper lunch. P was still a bit delicate from his work party the night before so we decided somewhere in Meanwood was our best bet. The Hungry Bear was somewhere we’d never been and P was sold on anywhere with hand cut chips on the menu…
The Hungry Bear has been open for a while now (since 2014 I believe) and it lives in the fairly unassuming spot between Kirbys Fish n Chips and Alfred’s. I have said so so so many times “We really should try The Hungry Bear, it’s just round the corner” but it’s never quite happened because Zucco is also just round the corner…and so is Hana Matsuri…and even East of Arcadia. But this day, P needed hand cut chips. From the outside The Hungry Bear looks small (like the kind of place everyone turns round and stares when you walk in) but it’s surprisingly spacious when you step inside, downstairs is more of a bar set up whereas I believe the upstairs is a bit more restaurant. We visited around lunchtime and got a table straight away, nestled in the corner.
The menu is eclectic; bar snacks, grills, burgers, sashimi, pasta, tasting platters… it feels a bit like a list of all the food the chef likes rather than a style of cooking. A menu as mixed as this would usually send warning alarms but it’s just about limited enough you feel like the dishes were chosen with care vs trying to please everyone.
We started off with some of the bar snacks; Rosemary & Garlic Baked Brie (£4.50) served with pitta. Molten, garlic spiked brie, what’s not too like? – a great beginning. We also had the Buffalo Chicken Wings (£4.50) which came with a blue cheese sauce. I’d maybe say these were the best wings I’ve ever had. Juicy, moist meat marinated, heavy with spice & a tang of vinegar. I’ll happily spend an evening there eating plates of these with the home brewed beer they sell.
For mains I opted for the Chicken Burger (£11.95) whilst P had the Salami, Gouda & Pickle Sandwich (£6.80) and a portion of those Hand Cut Chips (£3). My burger was delicious; 2 crispy as anything boneless chicken thighs in a brioche bun topped with mayo, fresh tomato salsa and pickles – filling but a lighter option than a traditional beef burger. The chips are something else though – homemade, fluffy, crispy wedges of joy. Again, I’ll happily prop up the bar with a portion of these too. P was less excited about his sandwich; good bread and decent meat & cheese – he just found it a bit unexciting but happily dove into the chips. We were absolutely stuffed after all of that – they really are very generous with the portions.
The service throughout was great and the food came quickly so if you’re after a fast lunchtime feed then a good option.
The Hungry Bear is definitely a quirky offering in Meanwood, I’m keen to try it in the evening to see what the vibe is like but now I know it’s not just a sit down restaurant I’ll most definitely be popping in for a pint and a plate of buffalo wings with chips.