Restaurant Review: East of Arcadia, Meanwood

THIS new bar opening has garnered an unprecedented amount of attention due to its somewhat unusual location.

Nestling in the bottom of a brand new block of apartments in the heart of Meanwood, it has a prime spot on the ground level of Meanwood Road and overlooking Monk Bridge Road.

Sure, it isn't exactly a beauty spot but then this suburb is undergoing something of a gradual transformation partly due to the construction of a Waitrose supermarket round the corner.

Prior to the construction of the block which houses East of Arcadia, the site used to be home to The Becketts, a rather lovely-looking art deco pub whose appearance belied the interior and many of the less savoury characters it attracted.

The concept delivered here by the Market Town Taverns group, which already owns well-known pubs like Arcadia in nearby Headingley, is different to either its predecessor or more fashionable counterparts in neighbouring suburbs.

Their aim, clearly, is to deliver something so middle of the road that it rests smack bang in the middle of every social group.

It isn't intended to be a student hang-out, nor an olde worlde real ale redoubt, nor is it particularly geared to your laptop carrying young professionals.

East of Arcadia is a chunk of dark wood, beige-walled neutrality which almost defies description.

But that's not intended as criticism. By alienating nobody, it potentially draws in everybody, something obvious by the broad mix of clientele patronising the place when Little Oliver dropped in.

It isn't in any way spectacular but then again it isn't intended to be. All the attention has been placed on a good quality of beer and wine and a decent standard of food.

I was pleased to see they did Leffe on draught, a good sign if ever there was one, so opted for a half while I perused the menu.

The focus is on burgers, light bites, melts and a handful of quite eye-catching classics such as fish and chips, meat pies and steaks, all of which are reasonably priced between 8 and 9. Even the steak comes in at under 15.

I went for the bangers and mash – a good yardstick if ever there was one. It was advertised as a trio of sausages, so I enquired with the waiter (a very pleasant, helpful lad) as to the variety.

It turns out that rather than getting three sausages, as you might expect, you get one sausage chosen from three options. "That has confused a few people," he admitted.

Slightly more bewildering was the fact that they only had two flavours - pork and chive or Cumberland. I went for the latter.

When it came, after a short wait, it was a whopper – and delicious too. The mash was beautifully smooth and creamy with just the right amount of onion gravy.

Everything was going quite well until I went up to the bar to pay and was greeted by a rather abrupt young woman who asked if I had a tab.

When I explained I didn't, but would happily relay what I'd consumed, she said, in a rather rude, abrupt manner: "You should have a tab!"

Feeling like I'd been told off by someone 15 years younger than me in front of a bar filled with people I, naturally, wasn't happy.

"I don't have a tab," I repeated wondering if we would continue this redundant game of verbal ping-pong all day.

Instead she just turned the other way leaving another member of staff to take my payment. She certainly didn't offer any kind of polite, apologetic or pacifying response which brought a rather pleasant experience to an unnecessarily unpleasant end.

rating 3/5