Europe. It’s all you hear about at the minute, we’re obsessed.
What’s ironic is that half the country turns out to the voting booths and says no to our friends in the EU, yet more and more of our centres seem packed with coffee shops called delicatessens, bakeries claiming themselves as pâtisseries and underground pubs as bierkellers. A trend which is great, as far as I’m concerned.
Leeds is no stranger to this, with its own respective versions of Continentally-themed bars, pop-ups and restaurants. And so it is that the former Atlas pub on King Street re-opened in October as the Atlas Brauhaus, a German ‘beer hall’ (and restaurant) wearing its love of big brews and bratwurst on its lederhosen strap.
It’s not gone full-on German, actually. It’s more Bavaria with an urbane touch, which might do well with the business lot who work nearby. Every time I go to this place it’s filled with groups of men in suits leaning on things and cackling. Finance bants, I reckon.
But don’t let that put you off. It has many charming features and one thing you can bank on (even if it does bust it a bit) is a lovely tipple - one you’re not likely to find in every bar across the city – a nice atmosphere and genuine service.
I have a sacrilege pint of Belgian wheat beer Hoegaarden (£5) and my friend half a Kirkstall Brewery Framboise (£3). The cheerful barman helpfully asks whether we know it’s a fruit beer as some people ask for it only to recoil at what looks like Ribena. (We admit that this is the very reason for her choice.)
The ground floor has plenty of large, dark wooden tables ready-made for big groups. Cool period touches include old fashioned candle holders and a huge back wall filled with vintage European tourism posters and adverts, which make for amusing reading.
Despite the downstairs being spacious, well-lit and open, it still manages to feel pretty intimate. An open kitchen like the one here is always a comforting addition (and after seeing the food departing it, I think another visit beckons). A metal spiral staircase leads to a smaller section which also has enough room for groups or one-to-one drinks.
From the line of famous German beers I ask about the Paulaner Munich (the decorative pump being a tad more decorative than the rest). Cheerful Barman offers me a try, which I take. And it tastes like brilliant lager, so I’m so sold (for £5).
Humorous features such as pictures of characters from famous film scenes holding up steins (sold here, naturally), even if a bit out of context, show the place doesn’t take itself too seriously. Anyone with time to kill at the nearby Leeds railway station could do worse than to pop in.