Bar review: Seven, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton

Little Oliver Seven, independent art space with cafe/bar 'Chapel Allerton, Leeds
Little Oliver Seven, independent art space with cafe/bar 'Chapel Allerton, Leeds
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With the seasonal hangover already in swing, the thirst for a casual drink and a fresh offering of arts events is evergreen in Chapel Allerton.

Festive icicle-inspired fairylights still border the floor-to-ceiling windows, there’s a Christmas tree in the cosy sofa corner and a glow emitting from the punters as many are still free from the confines of the daily nine-to-five.

Seven, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds. Picture by Steve Riding.

Seven, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds. Picture by Steve Riding.

The words ‘casual’ and ‘relaxed’ come to mind in this north Leeds suburb’s vibrant independent arts cafe, bar and performance space, Seven, in Harrogate Road – and, having visited in the past, I don’t think that’s a seasonal thing.

Despite the frosty sheen of this increasingly cold winter, Seven Arts is an all-year-round attraction with a creative offering of entertainment most days of the week.

A mature crowd of over 30s generally frequents this place, some enjoying the atmosphere while reading a newspaper or using the free wifi on their laptops, while many more enjoy a catchup or meal with friends.

Seven’s modern, open-plan layout is drenched in light from the floor-to-ceiling windows and is as vibrant as ever – daubed with primary coloured walls reminiscent of an artist’s palette.

Spotlights, from the angular and textured white ceiling, add to the warm glow of the fairylights on my midweek stop off.

Illustrations and paintings by local artists hang on the walls tagged with their prices, while a packed calendar of comedy nights, poetry, acoustic music, jazz and movie showings are hosted in the adjoined arts space.

The venue is littered with beechwood tables, a light wooden floor and mismatched dark wood chairs, while comfy black leather sofas occupy the corners. A smattering of plant pots and tabletop flowers add an extra slice of homeliness in here too.

Low key, saxophone-laden jazz instrumental music formed the backdrop to the buzz of conversation when I popped by and perused the menu chalked on blackboards by the bar.

The red and blue-backed, wood-topped bar is added to by an array of homemade cakes and cookies and lined with three real ale handpumps offering Timothy Taylor’s Landlord ale as one of the choices, as well as a handful of beer taps offering Oranjeboom and Staropramen among five varieties of lager and cider.

There are around a dozen varieties of white, red, rose and sparkling wines scrawled on the blackboards along with a broad selection of coffees and teas which prove more popular during the day time.

Bottle-filled beer fridges and a small gathering of spirits add to the offering here but there is no dedicated cocktail menu at Seven.

I plumped for a pint of South West Orchards cider and a bottle of Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, which set me back a reasonable £7.

Situated just around the corner from Chapel Allerton’s main bar centre, which hosts the likes of The Pit, The Woods, The Manor and Zed, Seven is still regarded as a strong pillar of the area’s healthy cafe and bar scene.

With an artistic offering, homely feel and mature appeal, it does offer something more comfortable and creative than its at times booming neighbours.

A pretty rounded drinks menu, a popular food offering and an unrivalled entertainment programme have established Seven as a cosy, chatty and welcoming space for punters.