The Domino Review: an intimate city centre bar which oozes class and captures the imagination

Splurge guns and stakeouts, zoot suits, charlstons, cigars galore.

By YEP Reviewer
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 11:45 am

These are the hallmarks of the speakeasy but, even without these fantasy features, the Domino delivers the atmosphere it aims at.

Passing through a door at the back of a barber shop you enter into an intimate underground bar, which oozes class and captures the imagination.

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I was drawn to the venue as an experience beyond simply sitting and sipping drinks, and it did not fall short of my expectations. It’s pucker surroundings - all brickwork and curtains, with its impressive selection of spirits flaunted proudly across the bar.

The décor, with great attention to detail, transports you somewhere, a compelling feature of the venue which is especially pronounced in the time-warp-esque bathrooms where, surrounded by old photos, I wash my hands to the sound of 1920s jazz, complete with vinyl crackle.

Moody pendant lamps and lit candles light the way to my seat, while the bar and stage are awash with reds and blues. Though ambient, I can’t quiet my Dad’s complaining voice in my head, wondering how he’ll ever read a thing off the menu.

Fortunately, staff are personable, attentive and, with a fine knowledge of the bar’s offerings, more than happy to offer recommendations to a pair of long-sighted cocktail rookies.

The Domino, Leeds. Pic: James Hardisty.

My favourite drink was the Isle de Caprea - which delivers on all three promises made by the menu - ‘‘long, tropical and alluring’ and packs a refreshing fruity smell, like a starburst.

Though the drinks are not short on spectacle, featuring long protrusions of leaf and legume which force my companion and I to revise our garnish etiquette, the music is the deliberate and deserving focus of the venue.

On the stage sits a moustachioed man who sips on a bottle of beer between familiar covers - the likes of Justin Timberlake and Amy Winehouse - each wrought by a fine voice and a truly remarkable feat of his keyboard-playing hands.

In the early stages, the hushed crowd are generally captive; early evening, the Domino is a destination for lovers, low-key conversations and music fans, less suited to catch-ups, hen-dos or other such raucous reunions.

The Domino's spirit collection. Pic: James Hardisty.

The mood, though, gets livelier as the night progresses. The chatter and vibe go up a notch with the arrival of a three-piece blues outfit, who are so captivating that I fail to notice the crowd of drinkers growing behind us.

Our seats are highly sought-after when we leave.

Address: 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds LS1 6PG

Telephone: 0113 513 2086

The Domino cocktails. Pic: YEP Reviewer.

Opening hours: Tues - Sat, 6pm-2am; Mon, closed.

Website: www.thedomino.co.uk

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