Bar review: Unit One Bar & Grill, Burley Road, Leeds

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The scars of student excess are often all too visible when you enter a venue aimed at the university crowd.

A musty smell, unintentionally weathered walls and footprint filled furniture are reminiscent of my old student union bar but, alas, times have changed.

Unit One Bar & Grill, in Burley Road, is part of the next generation of student bars.

Its gleaming cream tiled floors, contemporary brown suede benches and rounded chairs, oak tables and sleek mirrored pillars have everything you’d expect from a swanky hotel bar.

Situated in the ground floor of the complex which houses Roomzzz Leeds City West Aparthotels, this modern glass encased venue strikes a fine balance between minimalism and comfort.

As you walk in, the airy venue is bordered by cosy suede furniture, floor-to-ceiling glass, hanging red lights and black painted walls with a feature section depicting a rock ’n’ roll drummer.

Unit One’s lengthy and impressive granite-topped wooden bar stands out through glowing red back-lighting, while the walls are bedecked with noticeably good value drinks offers.

Everything from cut price deals on the venue’s pub grub-style food menu, to pub quizzes and two-for-one cocktail offers make the venue attractive to nearby students.

While the bar’s location on the doorstep of Opal’s student accommodation, sandwiched between Kirkstall Road and Burley Road near Leeds city centre, makes it the ideal place for a post-study pint.

Nevertheless it is not exclusive to the excitable university crowd. Unit One’s impressive interior attracts visitors from nearby hotels and it’s even been known to attract soap stars from down the road at ITV Yorkshire.

A number of plasma TV screens, a large beer garden, bandit and a youthful but relaxed early evening acoustic soundtrack featuring covers of the likes of One Direction and Bon Jovi add to the well-rounded venue’s appeal.

The bar’s menu is cheap, cheerful and well put together, with a range of classic cocktail pitchers standing out.

You can also indulge in any one of four ‘bomb’ concoctions, while there are also several draught beers, with lagers such as Sagres, Amstel and Fosters available along with Strongbow cider.

There are plenty of bottled beers and ciders available along with a simple selection of white, red and rose wines.

We went for a couple of the cocktails, which were on a midweek two-for-one deal, with a refreshing coconut rum, vodka, lemonade and cranberry Life’s a Biatch and a fruity vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry and orange Sex on the Beach.

The drinks were by no means award winning but were well balanced and great value.

Open seven days a week, and to as late as 1.30am on Thursday to Saturday, Unit One is a lively pre-nightclub student venue as darkness falls with the nearest bars and clubs just a short taxi ride away.

But overall its clean cut design, simple but effective menu and prime student location makes it somewhere well worth a visit even for those outside of Opal, although it is out on its own a little.

Rating: 4/5

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