Bar review: Roxy Lanes, Upper Basinghall Street, Leeds

Roxy Lanes, 40 Upper Basinghall Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe
Roxy Lanes, 40 Upper Basinghall Street, Leeds. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Bowling, beer and cocktails aren’t exactly a proven mixture as far as nights on the tiles are concerned.

But the activity-fond brains behind Roxy Ball Room, in Boar Lane, have created a cool, stripped-back sister bar to its beer pong, ping pong and pool palace.

Upon hearing of the plans for Roxy Lanes, I have to say I was more intrigued than anything else. After all the incredibly popular original Roxy was always going to be a hard act to follow.

The intrigue might well lead you to go in search of the venue, but this place is by no means on the beaten bar track. Roxy Lanes is tucked away above Tesco, in Upper Basinghall Street.

Its nearest bar neighbours are around the corner along Park Row and Greek Street, but these business quarter venues aren’t the types of places you’d imagine the youthful hipsters of Roxys frequenting all too often.

Though having been open only a couple of weeks, Roxy Lanes has been sought out by punters hungry for a taste of something different – and they certainly get it here.

It gleefully embraces the trademark stripped-back chipboard, metal panelling and varnished wood surfaces that have proven so popular at its sister bar, so you instantly feel at ease but the quirky bowling niche sets it aside.

As you enter the industrial bar space, there are four raised lanes in front of you playfully spelling out ‘Roxy’ in illuminated light bulbs and ‘that’s how we roll’ below.

The bowling balls are designed to look like plus-size billiard balls, while the white ball flashes when you throw it. The whole experience has a youthful, cool feel to it, and with games from £6 per person it’s not too expensive. The only sticking point bowling-wise is that you have to clump around in Velcro bowling shoes – it’s not quite as care free and relaxed as beer pong drinking games and table tennis.

An L-shaped area to the left is littered with dark wood booths, original graffiti, metal chairs, hanging lantern lights and gleaming black and white tiles retaining the Roxy look.

The bar itself is a wood-topped metal creation backed by bare brick walls and a bulging spirits rack also punctuated by bowling balls and pins. Its placement, lowered from the lanes themselves, sets the bar aside so you can enjoy the food menu and cocktails without feeling you’re speaking over bowling fare but rather to an indie music soundtrack featuring the likes of Vampire Weekend.

An extensive 30-cocktail menu includes sharer tea pots, classics and a range of original by-the-spirit categorised mixes often priced at two for £12 or around £7 each. Six draught beers compliment ales, ciders, lagers and wines in the fridges.

We went for a sweet rum and citrus Daiquiri and a refreshing vodka, gin, tequila and rum Long Island Iced Tea at two for £12, and pints of Roxy Lager and Sam Adams beer which brought the bill to a reasonable £20.

Overall the Roxy Lanes experience is a positive one but you can’t help but feel this isn’t quite as straight forward as its Roxy sister. The fact that bowling and cool cocktails aren’t quite as in sync as the ball games on Boar Lane, and its off-the-beaten track location away from the hipster bar thoroughfare, might make this a bit of a slow burner.

The diner-style food menu, niche attraction, top range of drinks and brilliant bar space will surely shine through, but whether it becomes a punters’ regular or a once-in-a-while treat remains to be seen.

EASTERN PROMISE: The rooftop terrace at the Kori bar, Victoria Gate.

Bar review; Kori, Victoria Gate, Leeds