Chicken and Chorizo Pot

Who says that healthy food can’t be hearty, comforting and downright tasty? With an impressive menu filled with delicious treat to get you through the entire day, as well as a licensed bar for when you’re feeling a little naughty, Hive are doing things their own way.

We sent our burger and steak man, Jordan Fletcher, along to their Whitehall Riverside location to see what he made of this healthy food malarkey…

As someone who firmly believes that terms like ‘good for you’ and ‘nutritious’ usually equals ‘tasteless’ and ‘boring’ when it comes to food, I must say I was a little sceptical about a new healthy eating café in Leeds. However, after perusing Hive’s online menu, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a range of dishes which both looked and sounded more than tempting.

The project is the brainchild of friends Andrea and Roddy, who spotted a gap in the market for a more nutritious and tastier alternative to sandwiches on the go for busy people. Drawing inspiration from their roles as mothers, where they always try to feed their kids healthy, low-fat dishes that they will actually enjoy, they set about crafting the Hive concept and subsequent menu.

Well, the idea looked to have paid off when I arrived with a friend on a Wednesday afternoon, as the place was packed, and had already created a buzz amongst my friends who work close by. The first thing that surprised me about Hive itself was that they have a fully-licensed bar.

And, while naysayers would argue that this goes against the brands health food mission, they should take note that their tagline is ‘Food, life, balance’, which of course means it’s all good (in moderation of course).

The café itself feels bright and open with its clear glass front, which allows visitors to take in the riverside views. The open-plan interior is more small-sized restaurant than cafe, and features an ultra-modern Scandinavian design, all hanging light fixtures and coppery tones.

As for the mains menu, this is broken up into soups, salads and the Hive pots, all of which contain far less calories than the tempting list of ingredients suggests. With options such as Salmon and Mango Salad, Tarragon Chicken, Tuscan Bean and Cajun Spiced Beef, there really is something to suit all pallets.

The Chicken and Chorizo Pot had my name written all over it, and comes with aubergines, courgette and cannellini beans. This turned out to be an excellent choice, and was full of rich flavours, despite packing just 347 calories. Across the table, my fussy companion was enjoying the Vietnamese Pulled Chicken with Green Goodness, which includes Chinese leaf, kale, broccoli, mange tout and Teriyaki marinade.

Again, the generous portion size made it hard to believe that something so flavoursome could only contain 144 calories, which accounts for about a quarter of my morning coffee and milk intake. However, as neither of us were dieting, we left some room for dessert.

The home-baked Vegan Banana Cake was an absolute dream, and again, didn’t taste like anything close to a clean-eating dish. We washed this down with a bottle of Sharp’s Wolf Rock Red IPA, which was a hoppy treat that worked well with the rich flavours of the cake. Who’d have thought that cake and IPA could go so well together.

Final verdict

Hive has quickly become the go-to café for the many residents and workers in the Whitehall Waterfront area, but has a strong enough offering to tempt visitors from other parts of the city. Whether you drop in for a healthy breakfast burrito after your morning jog, or drop in for a guilt-free lunch, Hive will challenge your taste-buds as well as your opinion on healthy eating.

 Hive, 1 Whitehall, Riverside, Leeds, LS1 4BN. Open Mon – Wed 7:30am-8pm, Thur-Fri 7:30am-late.