Bar review: Rolands, Call Lane, Leeds

Rolands, in Call Lane, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty
Rolands, in Call Lane, Leeds. Picture by James Hardisty
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Call Lane is the beating heart of Leeds’ vibrant and varied bar scene.

Attracting hundreds of people to its stylish selection of stripped-back, lively bars, the nightspot is a popular choice among young professionals, students and revellers out on the tiles.

Over the years a refined line-up of venues has emerged, all with a high tempo, youthful edge. Call Lane isn’t somewhere you’d often go for a quiet drink or two on an evening.

The much-loved lane’s latest addition is trying to change all that.

Rolands, situated in an old guitar shop down from Bar Room Bar, is a subtly-styled, low key venue that doesn’t shout from the rooftops.

It’s actually pretty easy to miss. On our visit, the bar had been open less than a fortnight and the signage was not up.

Its floor-to-ceiling windows peer into a cosy main bar area fronted by a couple of red double-sided booths. Weathered beech wood flooring, sections of bare brick and semi-stripped plaster encase a charming rough-around-the-edges bar space.

A thick-set dark wooden bar lined with old fashioned beer pumps, a section of chequerboard floor tiling, a quirky exposed trap door in the ceiling and glowing, hanging bulbs and a rustic metal chandelier really bring the place to life.

Simple plastic stools and a cosy seated space complete with red banquette to the rear add to the cosy offering, but aside from Rolands stripped Call Lane interior there is little get-up-and-go here.

A mixed crowd of couples and older men are in sampling the craft beers on draught to a cool Motown soundtrack when we popped by, contrasting hugely with the swelling crowds of Saturday night revellers up the road.

It’s likely people aren’t quite familiar with Rolands yet, but upon a chat with the friendly family-owned pub business proprietor there is no rush to ramp up the bass here.

Big plans for the space include opening up the basement and first floor as well as a terrace space but the emphasis is less on the dance music and more down the line of nice drinks in a friendly stylish space.

Its immensely friendly staff even offered us a free shot before we ordered.

The menu at Rolands specialises in beers, ciders and over a dozen red, white and rose wines.

A changing chalkboard menu of around 10 draught beers, real ales and ciders is the main attraction, while the fridges are full with more than that again in bottles and cans.

There are no cocktails but you can get hold of any of number of spirits at Rolands.

Food-wise there are a selection of bar snacks in huge pickle jars as well.

After being given a generous free taster of South West Orchards Cider, I gave that a go, while my companion chose a smooth blonde beer from Naylor’s Brewery.

We followed those with a pair of rum and ginger beers, which brought the bill to a reasonable £16.

The potential for Rolands, particularly with its possible expansion, could make it a force to be reckoned with if it strikes a chord on this busy bar street.

It’s mix of beers, cider and wine, soulful music and simplistic, earthy styling offer something different to the Call Lane norm, but to fully pull in the crowds on a night it may need to embrace its youthful surroundings a little more.

There is certainly more to come. Keep an eye on this one.

Rating: 3/5


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