The ever-evolving Chapel Allerton drinking scene has seen two significant changes of late.
The Woods (which was formerly Angel’s Share, and more recently Hummingbird) reopened a few months ago after a significant refit. Perhaps in its latest guise it will finally overcome the fundamental structural issue of being a bar of limited footprint which is repeated over three levels. It seems that these geometric constraints have hindered its progress in the past, but I’ll be along soon, to see how it’s going.
The second has been the re-branding of the much-loved Zed as Kith and Kin. As Zed, this bar had thrived for more than 10 years, offering quality food and drink to a clientele which included families during the day, couples in the evening, and the party crowd later on in the night.
Those of us with longer memories recall its days as the Tex-Mex restaurant Head for the Border and – long before that – the fabulous and still-much-missed Damn Yankee. These end-of-terrace premises have been serving the good folk of Chapel Allerton for generations.
Now Arc Inspirations – the growing Leeds chain which numbers Napa, Pit, Box and Arc among its growing portfolio, has chosen to rebrand it as the Kith and Kin bar and kitchen, whose pale yellow branding and agricultural motifs suggest a softer, more downhome, organic approach to life.
You enter through the bar’s broad conservatory, which is warmed by some powerful overhead heaters and lit by long strings of festoon lighting. The mixture of patio furniture and the simple cool atmosphere engendered by outdoor drinking creates a sociable, interesting place to drink.
The time was when there was a broad pavement between the shopfronts and Stainbeck Lane. I’m not sure which of the bars was the first to realise its potential and annexe the space for their own ends, but now most of the bars have done so now. Kith and Kin merely picks this up where Zed left off.
The greater changes are evident once you step through the front door into a room which is essentially still the same shape, the split-level space divided by a chunky – and presumably load-bearing – wall.
In its new look, Arc’s designers have cleverly fostered the feel of a comfortable, countryside conservatory, styled in pale greens, grey and white and chunky wooden tables. Some of the chairs have a wicker effect, albeit in plastic. Earthenware pots show off extravagant displays of greenery and flowers.
This close-to-nature ambience continues at the bar, whose beautiful polished top curves with the natural shape and grain of the wood. Yet one of the great products of nature and tradition and of the English countryside is sadly neglected here. Unlike at stablemate Pit, which offers a decent choice of real ales, here a smattering of craft ales and interesting lagers makes up the selection.
Mind you, Camden Pale made for a decent alternative during a family night out at Kith and Kin this week. And it proved a zesty, refreshing counterpoint to my chicken club sandwich – a plenty of grilled white breast meat served with an oversized slab of beef tomato, slices of bacon and lashings of guacamole all served in a pretzel bun (£8.95) which was already fabulous even before I almost knocked myself out with a palate-sizzling blast of the chipotle mayonnaise.
And just to stay with the theme, meals are served on the kind of floral-patterned plates Annie Sugden would have used at Emmerdale Farm – and apart from my chicken it was big burgers all round on our table.
My kith and kin liked theirs too.
Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton, LS7 3QY
Telephone: 0113 2688 494
Type: Country-themed bar and restaurant
Opening Hours: 10am-midnight Sun-Thurs, 10am-12.30am Fri-Sat
Beers: No real ale. Good choice of craft ales and lagers from around £2.90 a pint.
Wine: Decent choice from £3.85-glass and £15.50-bottle
Food: Small but wide-ranging menu served until 10pm daily
Disabled: Straightforward access, but some split-level areas inside
Entertainment: Wednesday evening quiz
Events: Areas available for private hire
Beer Garden: Large heated patio area to the front
Parking: On-street parking nearby plus pay-and-display at the Mustard Pot next door