It’s hard to fault The Midnight Bell (but this being a critique I shall try) because it seems to have pretty much everything you would want from a pub.
It’s friendly. Staff give off warm smiles as you step across the threshold onto stone floors worn smooth with long use and duck beneath oak beams which were probably cut from some tree which was in its prime during the Age of Empire.
It looks nice. In fact, it looks like a country pub, except it’s right in the middle of Leeds, which feels strange at first but after only a short while becomes quite pleasant.
It has very good beer. This being the flagship pub of Leeds Brewery pub, it serves all their usual ales - Leeds Pale, Yorkshire Gold, Leeds Best and Midnight Bell - plus a few others besides.
They also serve food, with sandwiches and wraps from noon-5pm and an a la carte menu with starters such as devilled crispy whitebate with aoli (£4.95), mains like Yorkshire Dales steak and Midnight Bell ale pie with buttered veg and Leeds Brewery skin on chips (£11.95) and desserts including Eton Mess with Leeds Breweries Gathering Storm ice cream (£4.95). All reasonable prices, all tweaked to give them that Leeds Brewery edge.
It’s an eminently sessionable place. The ethos behind Leeds Brewery has always been that when you finish one pint, it leaves you wanting another and you get the same feeling with The Midnight Bell. One visit just isn’t enough.
So, what did I do during my visit. Well, I paced promptly up to the bar and ordered myself a pint of Cliffhanger (just to be different) but also because it was only 3.8 per cent and this was meant to be a light lunch and I wanted to try to avoid that mid-pint feeling of ‘Oh, I could stay here all day, now’, rather than go back to work. I plumped for the 4oz rump steak sandwich with caramelised onion and horseradish mayonnaise (£7.45), plus a house salad with Midnight Bell glaze (£3.50).
The steak sarnie was good but lacked enough horseradish and onion and the steak was pretty chewy in places.
The salad was superb, the glaze delicious, with sweet honey tones breaking through the vinegary coating.
So, what are my criticisms? Well, they had no umbrellas outside when I went and it was a scorching hot day and at the risk of sounding like a spoilt child, I wanted to sit outside. I think they ought to have asked me how I like my steak cooking in my sandwich, just as a courtesy. Finally, I couldn’t find anywhere on the website which lists the beers they serve.
I may be scraping the barrel with that but they’re obviously not. This is not just a good pub, it’s a great pub.
The Midnight Bell
101 Water Ln, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS11 5QN
Phone: 0113 244 5044