Bar review: Seven Artspace, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton

Seven Arts in Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton.
Seven Arts in Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton.

If you’re looking to escape the city centre for the evening, there’s no shortage of bars, pubs and restaurants in the popular north Leeds suburb of Chapel Allerton.

In fact, there are so many that local councillors are objecting to plans which would see a former bank in the centre of the ‘village’ turned into a restaurant.

The outdoor seating area at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton.

The outdoor seating area at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton.

Among the best on the current roster, in this Barfly’s opinion, is a venue offering an interesting alternative to the local boozer or happy hour cocktail bar.

Seven Arts has established itself as a cultural hub since opening in 2007, thanks to a packed programme of events and activities, from comedy nights, live music and plays to film screenings, debates and dance workshops.

Its not-for-profit cafe and bar, the proceeds of which are put back into the arts, opens at 10.30am daily and I’ve certainly never seen it empty.

We called in early on a Wednesday evening to find a healthy number of the simple wooden tables already claimed, so grabbed ourselves a spot for two near the bar.

There’s a decent range of beers and a few ciders for those so inclined, with a pale ale, wheat beer and a stout on the three hand-pulled pumps at present. Two lagers, an IPA and cider on tap, plus a selection of bottles in the fridge, round things off in that department.

But it was the wine and range of half a dozen or so gins that most interested us.

I started with a Hendricks gin (£3.95) and was offered the option of tonic from the mixer gun (70p) or a bottle of the Franklin and Sons, with the former the cheaper option.

There was also the offer of cucumber – the typical garnish with Hendricks – which was sought from the kitchen. The two little quarter slices seemed a bit stingy but the thought was certainly appreciated.

My friend went for a medium glass of the Luis Alegre Rosado Flores (£5.20), a rosé Rioja Tempranillo that I’m told was pleasant but could have done with being a little more chilled.

The appropriately-sized wine glass, rather than one of those enormous ‘fish bowl’ style glasses, was welcomed as was the swift and friendly service throughout.

My friend still had some wine left so I snuck in a second gin and tonic, this time the Warner Edwards elderflower gin of which the chatty barman was a big fan (£4.60 with tonic).

The open layout of the bar won a thumbs up from my friend who noted that there was enough space for it not to feel too crowded, even when it’s busier, and the outdoor area is a great addition for sunny days.

But it’s the relaxed and warm atmosphere of the bar with its mixed clientele, constant chatter over the unobtrusive music and community feel that really makes this bar worth a visit at any time of the week.

Rating: 4/5