The Cheerful Chilli Revew
The Cheerful Chilli is somewhat of a hidden gem for Leeds vegetarians, tucked away in the fields and forest of the Otley Chevin and looking out over the valley they’ve been serving up home-cooked, wholesome vegetarian food for years. Beginning life as a Friday and Saturday night takeover of the tearooms, they now open every evening Tuesday to Saturday, and the tearoom is still in operation at weekends, offering tea, coffee and cake to any adventurers up on the Chevin.
Growing up as a vegetarian in Otley, I’ve had many a celebratory meal at the cheerful chilli, including our graduation dinner in 2014, and I have never been disappointed. On this occasion I visited with my Partner and my parents, and we were lucky enough to be able to get a table on a Saturday night. The venue has expanded in recent years, with the conversion of some nearby buildings across the cobbled, plant-filled courtyard into The Chilli Barn, which opened its doors in 2014 as an event space to seat 60 over a ground floor and mezzanine, or up to 140 with the addition of a marquee at the back. A wedding was being hosted whilst we were there and it looked absolutely beautiful*.
We were seated upstairs, in the original part of the building, amongst wooden beams strung with fairy lights. With fresh wildflowers in jars on the mismatched tables, the venue has a homely, quirky look, and bustling but still friendly atmosphere, with a great and approachable team of staff.
We shared the mezze platter to start, and it came piled high with fresh, homemade falafel, humous, olives, salad, grilled halloumi with tomatoes, and sweet potato crisps, as well as couscous and bread. I love a good mezze, and the Cheerful Chilli didn’t disappoint: everything was delicious, and there was plenty of food for the four of us to share in.
I followed this with the Aubergine Involtini: “grilled aubergine and courgette rolls, stuffed with feta, spinach, mint and pine nuts in a tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella”, which was also divine, and served with a huge crisp green salad, and a red cabbage and fennel slaw, which were so filling, I ended up taking most of the main dish home to eat for lunch the next day!
My parents ate Chimichanga and Enchilada, and my Partner had Spanakopita, all of which came in hugely generous portions too. We all really enjoyed the food: The Cheerful Chilli’s focus on fresh, local, home-grown or fairly-traded ingredients, translates into a short menu of delicious vegetarian dishes inspired by travels across the world. This, and the laid-back, family atmosphere and friendly staff, make a meal at The Cheerful Chilli the perfect way to spend an evening with friends and family.
*The venue is so beautiful that, since we’ve been having ~issues~ with our current wedding venue, we’re thinking of holding the big day here – if they’ll have us!
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— Zoe EatsLeeds (@ZoePickburn) July 4, 2016