Bar review: Smokestack, Leeds

Smokestack, Lower Briggate, Leeds. Pics: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Smokestack, Lower Briggate, Leeds. Pics: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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OVER the years, Smokestack has earned a reputation as being one of the best places to spend a night out in Leeds.

If you visit at the weekend, you can expect plenty of dancing, cocktails and a big crowd.

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But what about if you visit on a weekday?

We were intrigued to see how the venue fares midweek, and decide to visit on a Wednesday evening.

Walking up the stairs from the entrance on Lower Briggate, the bar has a much more subdued feel than usual, as you would expect.

Some funk music is playing softly in the background and there are a few couples dotted around the bar area on the first floor.

The friendly barman is busy taking complicated cocktail orders, but quickly comes over to apologise for any delay.

To make things a bit easier for him, we just order two soft drinks, which he makes speedily before saying, ‘they’re on the house’.

Presumably it’s because he’s relieved we’ve not ordered one of the more time-consuming cocktail creations that some others are ordering.

After offering our thanks, we find a spot to sit down opposite the bar.

Smokestack is a cool little hideaway with music at the forefront of its offering.

Music posters and album covers adorn the walls and there are quirky little additions such as little yellow rubber ducks behind the bar.

After some time, we start to notice more people arriving and going up to the second floor, which was previously roped off.

We follow them upstairs to see what the fuss is about and see that a band is about to perform.

We grab a table and as the band sets up, order a mojito for £6.50 and a bottle of Goose Island.

The cocktail menu is small but varied, with a mix of classics and quirky concoctions.

All cocktails range from £6.50 to £7.50 and there’s around a dozen beers and half a dozen wines to choose from too.

As the band starts performing, the bar fills up quickly.

It gets so packed, in fact, that there are so many people in front of our table that we can no longer see the band.

However the atmosphere is great and the crowd starts getting into the swing of things and dancing along to some of the songs.

It’s a lively and friendly atmosphere and attracted a mixed audience of couples, students, friends and young professionals.

The free gig was a pleasant surprise and was a nice way to spend a Wednesday evening.

It’s another side to Smokestack that some punters may not have seen before.

Rating: ****

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