Bar review: Slate, Merrion Street, Leeds

Slate, in Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Slate, in Merrion Street, Leeds. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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Ping pong, beer pong, table football, mini golf and even bowling have been introduced to Leeds’s diverse bar offering in recent years.

It’s becoming increasingly the case that revellers are no longer satisfied with just a fruity cocktail, cool surroundings and an urban soundtrack. Now they also want to work up a sweat.

As a result bar developers in Leeds are trying to give punters more sporting bang for their buck.

This active revolution has seen stripped back, sweat-inducing yet fun bars like Roxy Ballroom and The Pit become big hits in Leeds.

The latest incumbent to Leeds’s all-action bar scene is specialist pool bar Slate, which opened last week at the former Lounge site, in Merrion Street.

Masterminded by the expanding Jones Bar Group, which is behind Roxy Lanes, Roxy Ballroom, LAB and Brooklyn Bar to name but a few, it seems intent on filling the ball game-shaped void left by Elbow Rooms, in Call Lane.

The Victorian building has been given a slick makeover inside, with simplistic wooden furniture, plush leather booths, black flagged flooring and a central wood topped bar that is covered in retro patterned tiles.

It’s got bags of character. Subtle neon signs mark out its name as well as the pool room, while its rustic leaded windows contrast with the artistic tangled wires of its modern hanging lights. Outside, the upstairs beer garden has been tastefully revived and the roadside beer garden has also been refreshed, making it a prime summer suntrap.

To the right of the bar inside is a row of four glistening black pool tables, which – considering pool is the big sell here – isn’t many.

It’s not cheap though, for the minimum one-hour booking of pool, you could pay up to £12 during peak times or £9 per hour earlier in the week.

Drinks-wise there are around a dozen original cocktails that are priced from £7 and a good selection of as many draught beers and ciders including their own Roxy Lager, while there are four real ales on tap.

You can also choose from a great selection of wines, spirits, bottled beers and ciders.

We went for a fruity bourbon-based Forester’s Affair, which had a grapefruit kick, and a refreshing gin and Pimms-based Summer in Leodis along with a pint of Leeds Pale and a bottle of American Hornsby cider. The bill came to £22.50.

Barfly is delighted to see that the Lounge site has reopened, it’s a prime spot in what is quickly becoming Leeds’s new bar centre.

Slate is an inventive revamp of an established space and, while its emphasis on pool isn’t quite as standout as attractions like mini golf, this place will prove a great summer spot.