Moving away from luxury and decadence is proving big business on the Leeds bar scene.
As much as the extravagance of new additions such as the upmarket Angelica and clean-cut Alchemist have pushed the boat out even further in recent months, taking bars back to basics is proving more popular.
The blossoming Belgrave Music Hall and the chipboard-clad Roxy Ballroom and Roxy Lanes have brought about a mixture of thrift shop style and DIY decor that seems to attract Leeds’ fashionable hipsters in their droves.
The latest bar to add to this quirky collection is Bundobust, in Mill Hill, which is advertised as being a blend of Indian street food and craft ale.
This slightly unusual mix did have me wondering what I’d be walking into – was it a restaurant that served a lot of ale or a pub that had some spiced nibbles?
In all honesty it’s neither. A chalk and cheese collaboration between veggie Indian experts Prashad and renowned Bradford ale house The Sparrow, this place embodies cool, care free and earthy.
Situated in Mill Hill, which has The Cockpit music venue and Trinity Leeds either side of it, Bundobust’s wood-cladded facade doesn’t give much away.
You walk into a kind of foyer at the bottom of half a dozen stairs into a deceivingly broad bar space that has queues of metal and chipboard tables lined up in canteen formation, which feeds out into a bright, part-covered beer garden.
Inside there are characterful brick walls, a cream ceiling punctuated by a single wooden beam and basic sociable seating lit by industrial green hanging shades. A mosaic wooden bar lined with a dozen handpumps at the rear, emitting the spiced aromas of Indian food from the backroom kitchen, is the star of the show.
Bassy low key indie music combines with the buzz of bar talk to form the soundtrack for this venue, which was teeming with cool young things on our midweek visit.
The menu is a simple A4 sheet of Indian bar ‘munch’, 10 cocktails including a couple of Asian inspired mixes from £6, around a dozen red, white, rose and sparkling wines from £3.50 a glass as well as soft drinks and chai tea.
The signature Bundobust coriander pilsner among the choices on tap on its craft ale-heavy bar.
We went for a couple of cocktails, with a rum, mint and lime Mojito and a bourbon, bitters and orange Old Fashioned, which were both flavoursome and well delivered. The Old Fashioned was particularly good value, with the ice cold whiskey concoction proving a simple but refreshing mix.
With the addition of a £3.50 pint of hearty Saltaire Blonde pale ale, our bill came to a good value £17.50.
Like dozens of others, we enjoyed our Bundobust debut in the venue’s top notch beer garden that is illuminated with yellow highlights, and part-covered so that whether it’s raining or not you still get that fresh outdoor feeling.
It’s an interesting concept, and all-in-all one that works. Bundobust is befitting of a growing audience of fashionable young professionals that is consuming sections of the Leeds bar scene.
A multifaceted combination of aromatic food, a broad range of drinks, indie music and comfortable social surroundings make it a win-win for punters despite the fact it is a little off the beaten bar track.