Bar review: Banyan, Leeds

Banyan Leeds. Pics: James Hardisty.
Banyan Leeds. Pics: James Hardisty.
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IT’S a sunny afternoon in Leeds city centre and I’m on the hunt for a venue to meet my friend for a quick drink.

As I make my way into town, I wrack my brain trying to come up with the perfect lunchtime meeting spot.

Luckily, I stumble across Banyan.

The shiny new bar on City Square has undergone a £1.4m investment and recently opened at the former Loch Fyne and Post Office building – next to Restaurant, Bar and Grill.

Spotting a collection of tables outside, I make a beeline for the waiter who kindly shows me to a seat.

After texting my friend the address, I take the opportunity to soak up the sunshine and peruse the drinks menu.

It’s actually a good thing my friend isn’t here yet, as it takes me some time to make my way through the whole menu.

There is a vast range of cocktails to choose from, which are divided into ‘crisp, clean and classy,’ stylishly beautiful’ and ‘genuine inspiration’.

Many of the drinks put a modern twist on a traditional cocktail classic, such as the rum and raisin mai tai and the pistachio espresso martini.

All cocktails are priced around the £7 mark, ranging up to £10 for the pricier items.

The menu also includes a gin section with 10 different varieties – all served with accompanying botanicals.

The wine list is extensive and there is also a good selection of draught beer, bottled beer and ciders on offer.

I go for the pea and mint bellini – made with homemade sugar snap pea syrup, mint and elderflower liqueur, topped with prosecco, priced at £6.95.

When my friend eventually arrives, she chooses the passion fruit caipirinha at £7.

As the drinks are being made, we take the chance to soak up our surroundings.

There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the only noise is from other drinkers chatting away at their tables, and shoppers shuffling along the pavement.

The location is the perfect spot for people-watching and the terrace is a great little sun trap.

Shortly after we place our order, our drinks arrive.

My pea and mint bellini is stirred by the waitress before it’s put on the table, and the bubbly prosecco has a very slight pale green tinge from the sugarsnap pea syrup.

I’m slightly worried by the pea-based concoction, but I needn’t be.

The puree adds depth to the crisp and light prosecco whilst the elderflower liqeur adds a hint of sweetness.

My friend is also pleased with her selection, which is finished in minutes. Looking around us, almost every table is now full and we both agree that the quality cocktail and terrace combination only means Banyan will get busier as summer approaches.