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Lunch at the Pret a Manger on Bond Street in Leeds
Pret a Manger, 32 Bond Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5BQ.
Pret a Manger are a chain of cafes that specialise in natural, organic, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade food. The food is predominantly made fresh every day, and on each shop's premises. They sell a variety of hot and cold foods, including soups, sandwiches, baguettes, wraps, salads, sushi, cakes and breakfast foods as well as hot and cold drinks and crisps.
This branch is on Bond Street in Leeds city centre in West Yorkshire and was visited on a Bank Holiday Monday lunchtime and was surprisingly quiet, with only a few tables partly occupied. There are several tables outside the cafe which are under an overhand from the building which provides shelter for them. Inside the shop are many more tables.
Food that is bought to take out is cheaper than that purchased to eat in, as the latter has VAT charged on it. Cutlery and condiments are available from stands inside the shop. Food and drinks are selected from the various hot and cold cabinets, and paid for at the counter, where the soups and hot drinks can be ordered and where there is also the croissantiere cabinet containing the cakes and breakfast goods.
The drinks ordered were a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola, which was in a refrigerator and, when asked, was served with a small plastic glass, and a Strong Latte, which was stronger than a normal latte and presumably was made with two shots of espresso, not one. The coffee is made from Organic Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance coffee beans and was served in a cardboard cup. The Coca-Cola was fine and the latte was very nice; the extra shot apparently made a substantial difference to the taste, meaning the flavour of the coffee was not drowned out by the milk.
The first item ordered was a Ham, Cheese & Mustard Toastie. This comes in a sealed packet which is taken to the counter where it is heated up. The toastie is made from two slices of 7 grain bloomer bread, Wiltshire-cured ham, Coxton Manor matured Cheddar cheese and English mustard mayo. After it was cooked, the toastie was sliced in half and served on a piece of cardboard on top of a square of Pret-branded paper.
The toastie contained a decent amount of both the ham and the cheese, and didn't just have a bit at the centre as is sometimes the case with sandwiches and similar dishes. The English mustard mayo was not very strong tasting.
The second item was the Chef's Chipotle Chicken Salad, which is a new dish that comes in a sealed cardboard box. It consisted of a couple of slices of chargrilled chicken and two pieces of prosciutto ham, mixed salad leaves, chipotle ketchup, which filled the space where the stone had been removed in half a peeled avocado, three baby plum tomatoes, a wedge of lime and Dijon French dressing which comes in a small sealed plastic container, so it can be added to taste
There were a lot of salad leaves in the salad, which were all fresh. The chipotle mustard was not too spicy, with that being noted more on the aftertaste. The avocado was fresh and soft.
The price for the food and drinks came to £13.84 for eating in. This is comparatively expensive for a light meal, but the quality of the food was superior. The use of disposable drinking containers for both the latte and the Coke was poorer than many comparable coffee shops, which tend to provide proper glasses for drinks consumed on the premises. It also seems a bit counter to the chain's philosophy to use disposable containers rather than reusable ones.
The service was adequate; there was nothing terribly wrong with it, but nothing terribly right either. The staff were doing their job, nothing more, nothing less, and not going that extra bit further that they could have been. Other than that, this Pret a Manger was a nice alternative to other cafes and light eating places.
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