I went to Leeds yesterday with my dad. We have an occasional hobby of finding and trying out new pubs - as you can imagine, this has become more difficult to do as time went on, and we exhausted the pubs locally, plus I don't have that much time now to spend visiting drinking establishments (more's the pity). So we'd planned for a while this trip, and decided to try out Leeds.
Starting our adventures at The Hop at Granary Wharf (located somewhere underneath the train station), we enjoyed a pint and a steak pie, which is something of a speciality at the Hop. The pie came with mash, peas and gravy and was delicious. They serve the food in a card tray and provide wooden knives and forks presumably for its environmental benefits, which my dad was quite taken with, and his set of cutlery came home with us.
The second pub we won't name (I'll just be naming the good ones!) but after wandering along the towpath for a think we found it on Wellington Road, and wasn't the best - to be fair it was more for eating than just going in for a drink, but the beer wasn't great (you could easily see bits of something - sediment? - floating around in my dad's pint) and the staff were overly keen - hovering by you, glancing over every few seconds just in case we should contemplate ordering food. Not really the best for relaxing.
However, it did mean that it led us to the third pub, Baby Jupiter down York Place. I must admit that when we saw the sign outside, which is somewhat psychedelic, and the perfectly-normal-for-a-house-or-perhaps-a-garden-shed wooden front door, we hesitated, but trying new pubs is all about pushing your comfort zone (I know, wild eh?!?) so we ventured inside, and I'm so glad we did.
It's fantastic inside, the walls are covered in pictures and artwork, there's a huge metal dude at the end of the pub adjacent to the kitchens, one of the walls is covered in what I assume to be purple velvet, the music is eclectic (my dad described it as reggae, I'm not sure if I'd agree but he's not a million miles out) and the toilet signs are hilarious. Plus we could sit down with our pints and play Pacman 2-player. Definitely one to return to, it looks as though they have a lot of music nights on which I'm sure would be good. We both sampled the Kirkstall Pale Ale here (in proper beer mugs with a honest to god handle too!) and it was excellent, especially after the previous place we'd visited. Dad ended up shaking the hand of the very friendly chap at the bar in thanks for an excellent experience. It was shame that we were still full from lunch otherwise we'd have definitely tried the food too.
|Dad relaxing in Baby Jupiter - in the bottom right corner you can see the Pacman machine.|
After that we visited a pub that is mostly forgettable - although in the toilets there was an advert for a scooter man - basically the idea is that you drive to the pub, enjoy yourself, and when finished you ring for scooterman who rides a scooter to you, puts the scooter (it's a fold up one) in your boot and drives you home in your car. I thought that was quite a good idea - saves paying for a taxi (at least one way)
The next pub again was excellent, very different to Baby Jupiter but just as good - the White Swan.
We stumbled across the White Swan by glancing down an alley that we were walking past, on doing so I spotted a sign for a shop selling crystals and being vaguely intrigued decide to investigate. As we went down the alley we found that opposite the shop was the White Swan. The pub has a nice interior, lots of lightness making it feel quite airy and open, arty posters up on the walls, a bookcase full of books to meander through in one of the little alcoves (I'm going by my dads description right now - I wasn't wearing my glasses so couldn't see that far) plus we had the ability to try three real-ales for £3.30 (which we both did!)
|It is to my shame that I didn't try the Leodis so I don't know if it's good or not!|
We spent a while in the White Swan, having a coffee before trying the ales on offer in an effort to rebuild our constitutions - dad managed to get lost in the toilets but made his way back in the end. He spent a while writing up notes about the journey so far, and I'm sure he would be able to give much more detail about the pubs than I can remember!
|Dad writing notes about the pubs so far. It's amazingly how quickly we were able to forget details about the pubs!|
Being able to try various real ales without having to commit to tasting full pints is excellent and something more pubs should do - as you can see in the picture below we were able to try six different beers for under seven pounds, and had some pleasant surprises as a result. The dark beers were better than I expected (not being a fan of dark beers - Midnight Bell stands out to me as being ) and the Yorkshire Gold reminded me and my father strongly of Deuchars IPA (one of our favourite beers but one that pubs often don't look after properly, spoiling the taste) - a testament to both the brewers and the White Swan for keeping it well.
|Dad taking care of approximately 189 millilitres of dark mild.|
Special mention goes to the White Swan for their chips which we also ordered to help deal with the alcohol - very nice (although more vinegar and salt required - bear in mind though that when I have chips generally I put so much vinegar on that if you breathe in the air above them you cough!)
We finished the day off in the Packhorse - again a perfectly reasonable pub, a little livelier than we'd probably like but to be fair it was teatime on a Friday afternoon, and the bar staff again were very friendly. All in all an excellent day and one we hope to repeat! Apologies to all that offered recommendations on places to try in Leeds, the day ended up being us more or less walking aimlessly around the city centre stumbling across places. I did hope to get nearer to the universities but didn't make it this time - perhaps the next!