Nation of Shopkeepers has long since been a Leeds favourite of mine. A convenient spot for a study snack, then a good excuse to escape the office at lunch. After a little time away for a revamp, a new look Nations opened last week, and I couldn’t wait to step though the doors and check it out for myself!
Having been closed for nigh on a month, and with me lamenting almost every minute of that time, I was expecting big things, and in it’s own unique way it delivered! The painted grey interior interior was decked out with red and black booths, with a long bench running down the middle of the seating area. The features had changed too with new, creative murals adorning the walls – my favourite of which would have to be the diving man.
To start, and to share over a good natter, my dining partner and I ate nachos (£5.00). These were topped with cheese, salsa and guacamole as well as chopped chilli. These were perfect and just the right way to start catch up with someone you haven’t seen in six weeks!
The food came served in small kraft boxes, much like you would see from a street food vendor. I quite like this, there were a couple of times where it was a little difficult, but then when you’re ham-fisted and clumsy like I am it’s not hard! I imagine it makes things much easier for the kitchen staff too!
In some bizarre mood I didn’t fancy a burger on this day (what was wrong with me!), so I opted for the Fried Chicken (£6.00). From a choice of seasonings and dips I chose salt and pepper and then barbecue sauce, keeping it simple. It was pretty darn good, with a crisp coating of batter and succulent meat, from the chicken having been soaked in buttermilk. To go with this I had fries with katsu sauce (£3.50) – my rationing behind this being if I wasn’t going to have the Katsu burger I could at least get the taste in some way. It was a fair sized portion, with a good amount of sauce, which kept me very happy. My dining partner had a Shroomaloomi burger (£6.50), which she quite enjoyed, though I do wonder sometimes if vegetarians ever get sick of mushrooms. We were a little sad to see that Mac and Cheese had disappeared from the menu – we love carbohydrates salvered in melted cheese, but then again who doesn’t?!
To go with the food I drank an Oreo Milkshake (£4.00) and then later a Counter Tonic cocktail (£6.50), in somewhat of a stark contrast. Both were very pleasant for differing reasons – the milkshake thick and sweet, then the cocktail light and refreshing. My companion ordered a cold press juice, which I was really glad to see was actually a Coldpress drink as I love that brand!
My only, slight, gripe is that, as you may have noticed, it was a little dark. I struggled to take the pictures for this post, having to adjust my settings to let in the maximum light and it still didn’t seem enough. Whilst this is very much a first world problem, my companion did also comment on how she thought it could have been a bit brighter too.
The outside courtyard space has also been given a new look with minimalistic coloured seating and some stylish uplighting. There are small tables, high tables and some very snug looking benches. I love the entrance to the courtyard from the road too as it now features this neon sign, which is very Instagram-worthy. It had been raining on the day we visited, so we stayed inside, but come the warmer months this will be a perfect spot – I can almost taste summer and the fruit cider now!
All the staff were super friendly, and there was a bit of a buzz to the place, with it only having been the opening party the night before our visit. I’m really glad that whilst it aesthetics have changed the atmosphere hasn’t as this is one of the things that I know I and many others choose Nations for.
If you haven’t been to Nations since the revamp I suggest you do, even more so on a Tuesday when it’s 2-4-1 on food – check out the Nations Lunch and Supper Counter menu before you go!