Bar review: The White Rabbit, York Place, Leeds

The White Rabbit, in York Place, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.
The White Rabbit, in York Place, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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Quirky underground retreats are the unusual escapes brought to life in fairytales.

In reality, the closest you’ll get to a departure from the daily grind is a basement getaway offering up something different.

The White Rabbit is the embodiment of that, while taking inspiration from the fantastical tale of Alice in Wonderland and psychedelic pioneering 1960s rock band Jefferson Airplane.

The basement bar, situated in York Place, has taken over the space vacated by the funky, textured Leeds favourite Baby Jupiter, which closed in November.

Its business quarter location has been seen as off-the-beaten-track appeal by the new owners who have revamped what was a bit of a diamond in the rough.

The 1970-inspired purple suede sofas and orange chairs are no more, and the 6ft Spiderman sculpture has unfortunately departed but The White Rabbit has been given a refreshing new look. A retro gaming table is one of the few reminders of this place’s timewarped past.

Now the stepped entrance ‘down the rabbit hole’ takes you into a clay and cream lengthy bar space featuring colourful odes to musicians through framed album covers of the likes of Talking Heads and Sonic Youth.

The initial space, bordered by a black leather banquette, guides you to the silver mosaic tiled bar lined with beer pumps, which then leads on into a cosy open space filled with mismatched wooden furniture, a black banquette and a buttoned leather sofa which is overseen by feature white rabbit wallpaper.

A couple of stuffed animals, including a fox and a wall mounted deer head, add to the collection of curiosities in here alongside psychedelic glass patterns and illustrations of anatomy.

All softly lit by glowing candles and spotlights from the cream ceiling above, The White Rabbit exudes a relaxed vibe with a soundtrack comprising of classic rock from America and Jimi Hendrix as well as smooth favourites from Marvin Gaye and Dusty Springfield.

Having only been open a month, this fresh and unusual basement bar also has some serious substance with a drinks offering worthy of note.

The compact bar is lined with beer taps dispensing everything from Becks and Brooklyn to Krusovice lagers, while dozens more bottled wine, beer and cider options feature in the fridges.

The friendly barman, whose long hair and moustache looked straight from a Pirates of the Caribbean film, talked us through the options and asked for any preferences cocktails-wise, as a menu is still in the pipeline.

Asking for rum-based and amaretto-based mixes, we were presented with a Queen of Hearts Sours and a Coconut Daiquiri – both were delicious. The former was a cherry bakewell-inspired sweet triumph, while the latter was a smooth citrus and coconut blend that never got anywhere near sickly.

With the addition of a bottle of Modelo beer with lime, the bill came to a competitive but not overly cheap £17.80.

Barfly was really sad to see Baby Jupiter go, it was an off-the-wall throwback with some unique touches, but The White Rabbit is a fresh and exciting alternative.

It’s a much-loved bar space with a new look, a new feel and a revived sense of adventure. Give it a go while its profile is low.

PIC: James Hardisty

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