Bar review: 212 Cafe and Bar, Brewery Place, Leeds

The 212 Cafe & Bar, Brewery Place, Leeds. Picture by Graham Lindley.
The 212 Cafe & Bar, Brewery Place, Leeds. Picture by Graham Lindley.
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This isn’t your typical Leeds bar, or, scratch that, maybe it is because it’s quirky.

More and more the unusual is something we’ve come to expect from new additions to the city’s nightlife scene as they try to carve out a niche offering of their own.

212 feels very much like a bar that could quickly turn into a small nightclub; as hinted by the black and red fittings and the open space in the middle of the room that could easily transform into a late night dancefloor well into the early hours; the venue opens until 2am.

There’s seating, along three walls, with the bar taking up the fourth, but it is deliberately minimal.

The flyers on the table confirm a whole host of DJs are set for appearances. On the last Friday of every month, for example, ‘Clandestino’ features an eclectic mix of disco, cosmic, afro, electronic and classic house music.

Inside, the bar boasts of being a hangout for music and art lovers. Music credentials checked – the friendly bar lady assures me a clutch of respected DJs are lined up for turns in the bar’s snug DJ booth – the injection of art is an edgy American style with tables patterned and stickered like skateboards and random props, like the upper half of a mannequin above the door.

My visit was early one midday evening and while there was only a handful of customers, the bar was very much alive with the beats of drum machine music on our visit.

The bar lady was playing DJ, seemingly from her laptop on the bar.

This is the kind of hangout where you wont find a drinks menu, at least this patron didn’t spy one.

It has two options on tap and shelves full of spirits behind the bar. I opted for a Whitstable Baypale ale and it was very tasty but light in flavour, if a little pricey at £3.90 a pint. But as is so often the case now, you pay a premium for a taste of something you won’t find everywhere else.

The bar lady was cheerful and all smiles, offering very welcoming service, unsure as to my second drink selection, I asked for a bourbon-based cocktail of her choice. She suggested an Old Fashioned and warned me it would take a while so why didn’t I take a seat and she’d bring it over?

Five minutes later and I had a small tumbler filled with my liquor-centred iced number. It was sharp, its component parts were well-balanced, and I parted with £6.50 for the privilege – an introductory price I was told.

At these prices it wont be a problem for the hip young professionals it is surely seeking to attract.

For those nipping in during the afternoon or early evening, 212 also considers itself a cafe so there are snacks available in the form of cakes. There were chocolate brownies under cover on the bar during my visit.

A more substantial food offering is likely to follow, I was informed, and discount vouchers for local residents were in the pipeline, but this is early days for the venue, having only opened a few months ago and the finishing touches are still being applied.

All in all, a welcoming and sociable place, perfect for those with eclectic musical tastes, 212 is well placed to prove a hit with residents in the neighbouring flats and those out and about slightly off the beaten track of Call Lane.

With neighbouring bars and clubs such as Azucar, Twisted Kitchen and Oracle, this place is a welcome injection of variety.

Rating: 4/5

The Commercial.

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