Bar review: The Woods, Stainbeck Corner, Chapel Allerton

The Woods, in Chapel Allerton, Leeds.
The Woods, in Chapel Allerton, Leeds.
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The whole ‘jack of all trades but master of none’ tag is a tiresome cliché.

Although it can be a pretty adept description of a few Leeds bars which fail to push the boat out, the idea of mastering multiple disciplines is not an impossible task if done in the right way.

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The Woods, at Stainbeck Corner in thriving Chapel Allerton, has been trying attract an extremely broad audience, from families with children to real ale connoisseurs, since it opened its doors in July.

In a stand-out minimalist three-floor unit formerly known as The Hummingbird, this place hosts a cosy sun-harbouring beer garden, towering two-storey high windows and a top floor canopy like no other in the area.

Its redesign has made the interior space more accessible and organised, with sectioned off wood-backed seating around a cosy log fire and a cushioned corner to the rear replacing The Hummingbird’s bare floors and random sofas.

There is more of an atmosphere come the evening in here now. Sitting alongside the youthful Pit, sports-centred Manor, comfortable Zed and the popular Mustard Pot pub, The Woods has become a bustling modern bar at night.

Offering a broad drinks menu on the ground floor, food predominantly on the first floor and family-friendly activities like a film club, live music, children’s parties and comedy gigs on the second seems to be working as a formula.

It does give some competition to the nearby Seven Arts’ events schedule but does offer more activities for families that are usually free, which can’t be a bad thing.

Inside at night its corded hanging light bulbs, yellow tiled metal-topped bar, neutral colours and wood floors downstairs – all warmed by the glowing silver fireplace and flue – combine to create a welcoming bar space.

A classic soundtrack featuring everything from Donna Summer to Marvin Gaye and low key instrumental dance music added to our visit.

The menu here is a broad one drinks-wise, offering over a dozen original £7.50 cocktails, almost as many real ales, beers and ciders on tap, loads more in the fridges and around 20 wines and champagnes in total.

We trialled a couple of cocktails, with a strong but sweet-tinged vodka and hazelnut liqueur Ginger Bison, and a gorgeously sippable Black Cherry Old Fashioned, comprising of cherry bourbon and whisky. With the addition of a pint of Symonds cider and a small glass of Fairfield Sauvignon Blanc, the bill came to a good value £16.70 thanks to the Wednesday two-for-one cocktails offer.

The Woods is a proactive bar offering a good range of events, a contemporary, comfortable space and great music. It offers a lot and delivers as much.

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