Leeds’ business district is an ever-growing metropolis in need of more bar and restaurant options.
The Wellington Place business hub seemingly knows no bounds, there is a new Premier Inn on the way off Whitehall Road and the shiny new Central Square development on Wellington Street is now taking shape.
Of course new buildings mean more potential customers, prompting the Well Fed Pub Company to take the reins of stalwart Leeds pub The Central and revive it as “gastro bar” The Phoenix.
Originally named The Central due to its proximity to the city’s old Central Station, the venue has been back in business since late last year as The Phoenix offering real ale, wine, cocktails and a broad food menu featuring a takeaway deli bar as well as sit-in lunch deals and dinner options.
Its new owners took over the venue shortly after a fire gutted their famous Dales pub, The Fleece, in Addingham, and a few remnants are on display.
There are salvaged timbers and a display of melted and twisted chef’s knives mixed among the subtle design changes in this warming venue.
Light mustard and grey paint decorates the walls, there are classic wooden armchairs and a striking Leeds street map feature wall which makes this place stand out somewhat.
It has a traditional feel but its gastro bar tag suggests a pursuit of clientele from ale fans to office workers young and old. Its two lunch courses for £7.95 offer, cocktail menu and indie-meets-motown soundtrack clearly link to this.
Nipping in after work we were impressed by the broad food offer. There are varied starters, mains from £8 as well as a handful of paninis and butties. There are also plenty of sides and desserts available.
I went for a buxom £10 portion of sausage and mash, comprising of Lishman’s champion sausages, onion rings, caramelised onions and creamy mash in a pool of gravy. The sausages were flavoursome with a crispy skin, the mash melted in the mouth and the tart caramelised onions and gravy were top notch.
My dining partner went for an £8.50 fish butty on granary bread, which came on a wooden board with tartare sauce, a miniature pan filled with mushy peas and a bucket of fries. Again the portion was large, while the fish was flaky, moist and fried in light batter, and the well presented mix of sides went down a treat.
With the addition of a pair of two-for-£8 cocktails – a rum, grenadine and orange Rum Punch and a gin, elderflower liqueur and apple Gin Garden – the bill came to £26.50.
This place is a great blend of pub traditionalism, cleverly placed food and drink deals and good quality cooking.