Frankly, I was concerned about my personal bias heading to the Kirkstall Bridge Inn as a reviewer.
As a local I’ve been many times and think it’s an absolute gem of a pub – one of the best in the city – with a setting that’s hard to beat. It is run by the Kirkstall Brewery and was recently named in the top ten riverside pubs by the Canal and River Trust.
The atmosphere is lovely, a peaceful idyll of beardy music types, friend groups and families chatting amiably.
But sadly on this occasion it doesn’t do itself justice, only in terms of the food.
For context, this was a Monday night which by common opinion seemed to be the hottest day of the year. So the expansive beer garden was packed full of people, guzzling and eating, who ordinarily would have likely gone home to lick their wounds after the first day back in the office. It seemed like staff were a little over-stretched.
When we arrive (tea time), the garden is very busy so the only seats available – outside, at least – were on a mercifully shaded bench right at the back.
The spring/summer menu is good – not too much on it, not too little – with jazzed-up takes on the usual pub fare such as burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, pie, etc and a few more select dishes.
I opt for the heart-stopping Bridge Pizza (£8.50), which includes chorizo and black pudding, and my friend goes for the spring veg rissotto with watercress and confit lemon (£7.45).
We have two pints of Diet Coke (£4 for both) and a portion of hand-cut chunky chips to share (£2.50).
As we’re sat chatting one of the brilliant staff members, rushed off her feet, comes a few times to ask if the plates she’s holding are ours.
Eventually the food comes a bit later than the 35 minutes I’m told to expect, which is fine considering the demand. Portions can’t be sniffed at and the rissotto looked impressive.
While the pizza tasted good, with really nice crumbly black pudding, it lacks the expected kick. I should mention that this is something I’ve ordered before, but this time the chorizo is the thinner sliced kind in lieu of the chunky and more flavoursome sort I’ve had on previous occasions. The rissotto is also nice enough but my friend finds it curiously lacking in lemon, and a bit dry.
The chips, however, are perfectly done.
A pint Kirkstall Brewery’s Dissolution IPA (five per cent) and a vodka, lime and soda water (£6.60 in total) go down nicely.
If the sun keeps shining in the way it has been the Kirkstall Bridge will do a roaring trade this summer, and so it should. But it might want to keep on top of its own popularity.