If you’ve ever taken a journey down the Otley Road through the student confines of Hyde Park, you probably will have noticed the curious, Middle-Eastern-looking Oranaise Café on the corner of Woodhouse Moor. Channelling the diverse flavours of Morocco, Algeria and Old Andalucía, this pretty eatery offers a sit-in and takeout menu filled with flavour and North African warmth.
The bohemian interior décor is as beautiful as the outside with lanterns, rugs, artwork and comfortable seating. The café is practically open around the clock, serving breakfast (served until 5pm), lunch and dinner to the passing masses. The waiters are noticeably friendly and attentive, and a reliable source of recommendations for those new to Middle Eastern cuisine.
A mezze platter makes for both an excellent sharing starter and an introduction into the world of Oranaise, with houmous, couscous, falafel, kofta meatballs, merguez sausages and spicy chicken. Pizzas play a big part on the menu and come with crispy bases and toppings such as slow-cooked lamb, harissa, fried aubergine and marinated chicken. A range of Moroccan tapas features several healthy nibbles, including tabbouleh salad, the aubergine dish baba ghanouj, artichokes, olives and tiger prawns. The pasta selection is basic but generously-portioned, but it’s the in-house tagines that are the stars of the show.
A few pounds more expensive than the other mains at roughly £11, the authentic, beautifully flavoured, coal-baked pots come filled with lamb, chicken, fish or vegetables and served with bread - though the fluffy, yellow saffron rice is an even better option. If there’s any space left for desserts, the French crêpes are a great end to a meal, but there’s a long list of decadent cakes, too.