Bar review: The White Rabbit Bar, York Place, Leeds

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For those of you who have not ventured along the length of York Place in a while, the street is a veritable rabbit warren of bars and cafes (see the Little Oliver review above for evidence).

The White Rabbit Bar has been open for almost two years (November being their anniversary) and what a delightful little place it is. I say little but, as befits its name, once you descend the stairs and step beyond the threshold, the interior seems to disappear into the distance.

Described as ‘a subterranean garden of unearthly delights featuring an eclectic mix of music, nostalgia and curiosities’, it’s the kind of place that could very easily grow on you. Or maybe you will grow on it? Either way, it’s one of those delightfully odd little boltholes you will want to remember the next time you’re in town with a group of friends and you fancy taking them somewhere off the beaten track with a bit of character .

A huge hand-drawn sign clearly inspired by the Alice in Wonderland books sits on the iron railings atop the stairs, which lead down to an ordinary looking door.

Once inside, there’s an open seating area, with plush black cushioned wall seats round the edge and tables of varying design dotted about and beyond that the mahogany brown wooden floor leads you on toward the slender (but well stocked and rather efficient looking) bar, after which the place opens out once more into an even bigger area. Retro album covers are framed on the wall opposite the bar and various other object d’art are waiting to be discovered within. It’s cosy and quirky, maybe even a little bit curious (or should that be curiouser?)

In one way, it reminds me of a narrowboat, in that it’s made fantastic use of the space available but in another way it feels like you’ve discovered some mysterious back room in old mansion. Consequently, it’s all rather exciting. Especially because when I visit (alone, unfortunately), it’s dinner time and I’m allowed a dwinky.

They have a good selection of ales, with Monsoon IPA (£4.40), Leeds Pale Ale (£2.90) and Symonds cider (£3.80) and a few more on tap but if it’s spirits you’re after, they seem to have about ten of everything here. I ordered a Whitley Neill G&T £3.90, which was served with a slice of orange and went down a treat, having a deeper, more rounded, fruity texture than your average dry gin.

There’s also cocktails to go at and food in the form of pizzas, pasta and sandwiches and the place is available for private hire, should you wish to impress your friends.

The place is also spotlessly clean and service was excellent: welcoming, warm, confident, etc. I love quirky little places like this, they make life worth living and dinner times seem positively exciting.


The White Rabbit Bar

York Place

Opening times: Mon-Thurs noon-11pm, Fri noon-2am, Sat 5pm-2am

Score 5/5