Bar review: Aire Bar, The Calls, Leeds

Aire Bar, The Calls, Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson
Aire Bar, The Calls, Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson
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High brow meets cosmopolitan in the increasingly-popular Calls.

A range of independent bars and restaurants have made a name for themselves in this burgeoning area of Leeds, just a few hundred yards away from the bounce and vigour of the youthful bar/ clubs in Call Lane.

The Calls has become a chic date night district bursting with boutique independents that have risen from former industrial buildings in Leeds city centre south.

The likes of Shears Yard, Calls Landing, Ambiente and Brasserie Forty 4 have proved picturesque spots to enjoy an intimate drink or meal with a partner or small group away from the booming bass of Call Lane.

Aire Bar is a slightly different offer in the heart of The Calls. Accessed from street level, you’re lured down a winding staircase lined with white wood panels and centred with red fairylights.

From the street it looks like an earthy pub local, but inside it is a comfortable and stylish space spread between adjoined arched red brick coves that look out on to the River Aire.

The location draws you out on to a riverside deck of a beer garden, which sits across from the luxury flats at Brewery Wharf. To the left is Calls Landing bar and restaurant along with the bridge over to bars such as Oracle and Azucar, and to the right is a view of Leeds Bridge and a slightly less visually pleasing gravel space.

Nevertheless Aire Bar is a cosy, welcoming pub/ bar escape that sits as a middleground between the bouncing bars of Call Lane and the quiet date night venues it neighbours.

Its cavernous interior is bordered by bare brick walls with cream wood panelling in some areas, while canvas prints of Leeds scenes and lightly tinted windows look out on to the water. It’s a pleasant mix between the old and new, fusing the impressive brickwork with slick stone-tiled flooring and modern yet comfortable furniture throughout a dim-lit bar space.

Sectioned into differently furnished arched coves, there is a pool table-centred area, a wood-furnished space suited to diners and a more relaxed red, cream and black leather banquette, sofa and stool-laden area.

A lengthy handpump-filled bar facing out towards the windows boasts a range of real ales, lagers and ciders and is backed by a mirrored spirit rack topped with carefully stacked wine boxes.

Indie pop and low tempo music forms a comfortable musical backdrop to this social and informal venue, which proved popular with everyone from mid 20s mixed groups to couples into their 50s on our visit.

The menu at Aire Bar is very much centred on ciders, lagers and ales, with around a dozen on tap including Guinness, real ales, Strongbow and Fruhli fruit beer. There are several more to choose from bottled in the fridges.

You can also order from a small selection of wines and a broad array of spirits and mixers – you wont find any cocktails here, however.

We went for pints of Strongbow and Peroni, and with a pair of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey and coke, which brought the bill to £14.25.

Aire Bar has all the ingredients of a stylish local. Unpretentious and welcoming, this place is a riverside retreat far removed from both the Call Lane bustle and restaurant etiquette.

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