Bar review: Zed Bar, Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton

Zed Bar in Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme

Zed Bar in Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme

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The leafy suburb of Chapel Allerton is as vibrant as ever, and its cosy collection of bars is no different.

A handful of varied watering holes are scattered around the north Leeds hub’s centre, with everything from the mature Seven arts bar in Harrogate Road to the vast sports-mad Manor in Stainbeck Lane.

The area’s night scene was given a tangible boost by the revamp of The Hub, a booth-filled sports bar that became operator Arc Inspirations’ second incarnation of The Pit last year – the first being in Leeds’ Northern Quarter in Merrion Street.

The timely injection of a fresh new look has resulted in a spike in popularity, but its neighbour and sister venue Zed Bar has remained a steady safe bet for punters.

Having celebrated 10 years in business in 2013, this stylish, modern offering covers the bar bases with a rounded menu, substantial covered beer garden and attractive interior.

As you walk in, at groundfloor Zed you’ll find a warm wood-filled space featuring a handful of spotlit raised leather booths to the left, with the glowing backlit purple bar highlighted with hanging orange lights at the rear.

A central dividing wall separates the booths and raised tables from an area more suited to diners filled with brown and scarlet leather chairs, simple wooden tables and light diner-style booths.

Wood panels dominate in here, lining the walls, floor and ceiling like some sort of mood-lit sauna.

A low key, slightly retro playlist bubbles under a chatty, sociable vibe here – it’s a nice place to be. On Barfly’s visit we heard the likes of the Eurythmics and a modern cover of Prince play among a varied playlist.

In many ways this place fits the Arc Inspirations mould, catering to everyone’s needs quite broadly but in a modern, comfortable bar space without ever really focusing on young or old.

You’ll see Zed’s airy beer garden as busy in the day with diners and those after a cool summer drink as it is at night with punters, who range in age from mid 20s to mid 50s.

The menu at Zed is as well-rounded as its appeal – it has a bit of everything.

Nearly a dozen beers and ciders on draught compliment a broad selection bottled in the fridges. You can choose anything from Brother Rabbit real ale or Coors to Symonds cider or Guinness.

Cocktails are the primary focus at Zed however, with around 25 mixes separated into long, short, homegrown, pre 1940s and ‘from the vaults’ categories. Around a third of the cocktails are available at two-for-£8 all day Sunday to Friday and Saturday until 9pm.

Wine drinkers can choose from a total of 12 whites, reds and roses, while five sparkling wines and champagnes are also available.

We went for a refreshing vodka triple sec, pear cognac and lychee liqueur Chapel A Iced Tea and a deliciously flavoursome rum, mint and lime Mojito.

With the addition of a pint of Coors lager and a bottle of Freddie’s mango lager, the bill came to a pretty reasonable £14.80 especially considering the good quality of the cocktails.

Situated a short walk from bars including The Pit, Seven, Further North and The Manor which arguably have slight niches, Zed is an ideal retreat for a sociable drink.

It’s a well-styled jack of all trades. You can’t really go wrong at Zed Bar.