Bar review: The Decanter, Park Row, Leeds

Barfly.. the Decanter, Park Row, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme
Barfly.. the Decanter, Park Row, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme
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A cluster of heavyweight national bar and pub chains have the main say as far as Leeds’ business quarter is concerned.

The likes of Greek Street, The Headrow and Park Row are lined with big hitters looking to cash in on post-work and shopping crowds filtering around the streets not far from Leeds City Station.

A mix of sprawling high-brow wine bars, restaurants and cocktail bars sit beside the likes of Wetherspoons and the Slug and Lettuce to appeal to all those who are wearily wandering from shops and offices into city watering holes.

But a new kid is on the block. One of the latest additions to the Leeds drinking scene, intimate, independent wine bar The Decanter, in Park Row, is after a slice of the action.

Though Leeds is no stranger to specialist wine establishments, this young pretender has gone in search of securing a classy yet open-to-all niche.

As you enter the narrow but deep single-storey venue, a lengthy, thick-set wooden bar to the left is highlighted by hanging cut glass lights and glistening silver beer pumps.

The bar leads you into an intimate space encased in bare brick walls, angular charcoal grey painted sections and wood-panel effect wallpaper, though the drawing room style paper stands out as a bit cheap.

Overall however, the luxurious black buttoned banquettes, classy leather seating and impressive mahogany and wrought iron tables decorated with glowing jam jar tea lights combine with their surroundings beautifully to create a warm, attractive bar space. There are stained glass lamps, dark wood shelves featuring throwback timepieces while vintage, at times Motown era, music adds to the classic theme and date night intimacy.

The Decanter’s wine focus is plain for all to see. Aside from the fact that its logo depicts a glass of wine, there is an eye-catching glass entrance to the venue’s extensive wine cellar to the rear.

Its specialist line of around 50 quirky and eclectic red, white and rose selections is aimed at bringing new varieties to Leeds. Its sparkling wine and champagne list also has some obscure choices aimed at the more adventurous including Winston Churchill’s favourite tipple.

For those less wine inclined, there are a number of craft beers and quality ciders to choose from including Brooklyn Brewery and Aspall cider on draught alongside standard choices. There are plenty of beers and ciders in the fridges as well as a short cocktail list, while The Decanter also prides itself on a high quality coffee machine. The bar also has a range mouth-watering cakes on display, which are far too tempting for their own good.

We went for a warming small glass of the premium Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon at £7.20 and a bottle of Modelo Especial. We then asked for a Cosmopolitan cocktail but were told the bar was short on spirits, so we instead had a sizeable and tasty citrus and tequila-based Margarita, which brought the bill to a pricey £17.10.

It must be said however that, with cocktails at around £6 and wines from £3.50, not everything is high priced.

The Decanter is refreshingly simple and inclusive, so whether you’re in jeans and trainers or wearing a suit you don’t feel out of place.

It’s a classy, intimate venue with a diverse menu. Although Leeds is not short of wine bars, this one has that rare mix of quality and quantity.