It’s been an eventful few weeks for the Old Bridge Inn, Kirkstall which was among the Leeds sites flooded with six feet of dirty water during the deluges of late December. It’s beer garden was completely submerged.
While the pub is clearly vulnerable to extremes in weather,t as its recent CAMRA Pub of the Year award suggests it works superbly as a local boozer.
Spread over two floors, and filled with inviting nooks and crannies, it manages to be both spacious and cosy.
The walls are adorned with nostalgic nods to the big brewers of yesteryear.
There’s a varied clientele when we arrive, with a large group of 30-somethings, some older regulars and a couple of families with young children. But does it fare as well as a venue for a quick bite to eat?
We hadn’t intended staying for food but the sight of the pub classics being brought over from the nearby dumb-waiter soon had our stomachs rumbling and our resolve crumbled.
There’s a good selection, with all except the steak coming in at between £7.50 and £8.50, as well as small plates, pizzas and a morsels from the deli at reasonable prices.
Not bad when some gastros think it’s okay to charge in excess of £11 for standard pub grub.
My ‘Boeuf à la Black Band’ is an excellent stew with a range of other accompaniments offering extra texture and flavour.
There’s some rich and creamy dauphinoise potatoes (always a favourite with this reviewer), tangy baby onions, mushrooms and bacon.
The stew itself, made with Kirkstall Brewery’s own Black Band Porter, is dark and full of succulent meat.
Portion-wise, there’s enough to leave you full but not fit-to-bursting. My partner’s pulled pork sandwich comes inside a sourdough bread bun on a wooden board with thick, but crispy, hand-cut chips.
The BBQ sauce covering the well-cooked meat is sweet and goes over your hands when you try to tuck in, while the pickled coleslaw is a lurid shade of pink and the kind of thing you might find in a progressive US BBQ joint, though none the worse for that.
Needless to say, there’s a varied and high quality selection of beers to choose from. I opt for a pint of Kirkstall Brewery’s own hoppy, citrussy Dissolution IPA, followed by a half of Northern Monk Brewery’s unusual, orange-infused Rapscallion.
It’s the kind of comforting beer and food combination that could persuade a visitor to stay all afternoon (and then some), even if flood-water was lapping at their feet.