With established city centre favourites Sandinista and Smokestack already under their belts, Shane Quigley and Si Ord, the men behind the Black Swan pub, clearly know how to succeed in Leeds.
And this latest addition to Call Lane, where competition for punters is more intense than nearly anywhere else in the city, is likely to continue their run of hits.
Setting out to be a genuine dining venue, with two ‘food concepts’ on different floors, as well as a craft ale hotspot, late night attraction and Sunday afternoon chill-out, it seems well placed to tick every box.
On a site that has seen a few incarnations over the years, most recently Bar Room Bar, there are large eating and drinking areas, most with on-trend decor of mismatched wooden chairs and exposed brickwork. Stylish artwork of swans and foxes cover some of the walls.
There are some great bar snacks, and as well as the pub standard beers there are many craft alternatives from brewers including Meantime and Sierra Nevada. Oliver opts for a zesty, hoppy, Beavertown IPA. Upstairs is what the owners describe as a more ‘avant-garde take on authentic pub food’, including a range of Sunday roasts, though out of the price bracket for a Little Oliver review. But our mission on a Monday night is pizza.
Not surprisingly for a venue where Anthony Flinn was brought in as food consultant, the topping combinations are more sophisticated than ham and pineapple or meat feast.
A blue cheese and basil offering catches the eye, while elsewhere on the menu the lunchtime piaddina, or Florence-style folded pizza, is a lunch option.
My partner’s pizza of roasted wild mushrooms, pecorino and white truffle oil, has enough garlic to leave our mouths ringing. The mushrooms come in varying shapes and sizes for a bit of extra texture, combining to flavoursome effect with the truffle oil.
Oliver’s pizza, topped with anchovies, olives and capers and a sprinkling of oregano, is equally successful, keeping the saltiness at appropriate levels and not skimping on topping so there’s something to enjoy in every forkful.
“The pizzas are soooo good,” remarks our server in typically effusive fashion as she takes them away afterwards. And it turns out that this is not just hyperbole. On the thin and crispy side, they’re made freshly made using sourdough every day on site.
Two pizzas and drinks come in at £21.30, not bad value at all, served with enthusiasm in a setting that has clearly had a lot of care and attention given to it. All in all, the experience is hard to fault, a venue just as likely to succeed during the day as at night.