The bustling triangle at the centre of Chapel Allerton is a hive of activity of an evening.
A quaint mix of trend-setter bars, arty venues and homely pubs, the north Leeds suburb has become well established as a drinking destination in itself among a healthy mix of young professionals and long-standing locals.
But the ever-evolving nature of the fashion-conscious bar scene means no venue is ever really safe from change, and compact sports bar The Hub, in Stainbeck Lane, was no different.
Having reviewed the notably inoffensive, modern bar last year, we found the whole venue lacked a sprinkle of character.
Arc Inspirations, the bar’s ever-expanding owners, tried to rectify that through an ambitious £450,000 overhaul last year and dubbed it ‘The Pit’ – a second incarnation of its impressive basement Leeds Grand Arcade venue.
And on first impressions, it’s hard to pick fault with the new look. The Pit’s signature mineshaft-chic styling, with hanging coiled lanterns, earthy brown leather booths, iron-mounted thick wooden tables and exposed wood floors instantly mark this place out from its neighbours.
The renovation has tripled the size of what was a quite limited, intimate space into a cavernous, dim-lit L-shaped bar that hosts not only an expansive bar but more seating and standing space than you can shake a stick at.
It’s a well-finished, high quality bar space dotted with cool features such as box shelving behind the bar, a protruding wooden feature wall and areas of exposed and painted brickwork that just bring the space to life.
And you can tell that the new look is going down well with punters, as we were joined by a decent crowd of couples and small groups aged under 30 on a Monday evening.
The menu at The Pit is fittingly extensive as well, taking heed from its city centre sister bar with a broad selection of craft beers and ales by the bottle or can, and around half a dozen lagers and ciders on draught including the venue’s house Pit Canary beer as well as sweet Rekorderlig cider.
You can also choose from an inventive selection of around 20 cocktails, which features classics, fresh takes on established mixes and some quirky one-offs, all priced from £6.25 to £7. Cocktails are available at two-for-one on Thursdays too. Otherwise there are over a dozen white, red and white wines, and half a dozen sparkling wines and champagnes to try.
We went for a couple of cocktails with a fresh and fiery ginger beer, gingerbread syrup and dark rum Beneath the Storm, and a smooth vodka-based, fruit-infused Respect Your Elderflower. We followed those with a pint of Gaymers cider, which brought the bill to a by-no-means-cheap £16.45.
The fact that The Pit is just minutes from Leeds city centre while neighbouring the likes of Zed Bar and Seven, is well-styled and hosts a playlist featuring everything from The Cribs to Warren G adds to the bar’s all-rounder appeal.
But you can’t help but compare it to its city centre sister. The fact that it is named The Pit in the first place is a bit of a bugbear because unlike its namesake, the Chapel Allerton bar is not a basement venue.
Aside from that the ping pong city centre party piece has been replaced with a meagre table football table, but this place is hardly second rate. The Pit is undoubtedly a huge improvement on its predecessor and certainly raises the stakes.