Bar review: Dry Dock - A psychedelic fever dream opposite the multi-storey car park

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As reluctant as I am to fall into the “old man yells at cloud” trap so often hiding in the undergrowth of one’s nostalgia, I chose to visit an establishment I hadn’t been to for around 15 years to see how it had changed.

Living in Leeds kind of anesthetizes you to Dry Dock’s novelty. It’s a big boat. On a hill. Above the ring road. And it sells beer and burgers. To anyone from outside Leeds, it’s almost the stuff of a strange, half-remembered dream.

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To those of us who enjoyed £1 pints during its mid-2000s heyday, however, it’s probably more associated with embarrassing personal anecdotes.

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The Dry Dock in Woodhouse Lane.The Dry Dock in Woodhouse Lane.
The Dry Dock in Woodhouse Lane.

On entering, it’s clear that the place has had a lick of paint since those days, as well as an array of new TVs. Rotate your head 10 degrees in any direction and you’ll be greeted by a flat screen depicting Mark Noble panting for breath on Sky Sports.

So what can I have to drink here? Back in 2006, your choices were pretty much Tenants, or Sol if you were trying to impress someone. I’m glad to report the place has since moved along with the real ale revolution of the past decade.

I went for one of the special beers on offer - a Camden Pale (£5.10), a bold, round, zesty number at a respectable four per cent. My drinking companion, obviously feeling reckless, went for the Highwire Grapefruit (£6.10) - a fruit-flavored west coast pale ale (5.5 per cent).

We decided to enjoy our drinks on the Dock’s ample and attractive roof terrace. Here was where the fun started - for Otley Run participation appears not to have been dampened by the pandemic.

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Joe Exotic appeared to be the fancy dress outfit du-jour, though there were many more on show. At one point, Doctor Evil from Austin Powers was attempting to get the attention of Elsa from Frozen, but was too drunk to remain standing without using concentration levels that should probably have been spent on chat-up lines.

Austin Powers himself made an appearance, though thankfully not with the flirtatious aggression one would normally expect, while Leeds’s most gigantic baby was casually chatting with a nun.

But as I sat there in the balmy bank holiday evening, surrounded by Power Rangers and Care Bears, on an old boat wedged on a bit of grass opposite Woodhouse Lane Car Park, I felt I had made my peace with the place. It’s still for the young people, and that’s great. The torch has been passed.

Address: Dry Dock, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS2 3AX

Opening times:

Thursday 11am–12am

Friday 11am–1am

Saturday 11am–2am

Sunday 11am–11pm

Monday 11am–11pm

Tuesday 11am–2am

Wednesday 11am–12am

Drinks: 5

Atmosphere: 7

Value: 8

Service: 8

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