Sela Bar review: a cool joint for music lovers at the heart of New Briggate

There’s not a jacket-tied-round-the-waist in sight on a near-tropical Saturday night when I go for some drinks at Sela Bar in Leeds city centre.

By The YEP Reviewer
Saturday, 23rd July 2022, 11:45 am

Amid crowds of revellers with burnt backs and tan lines, shorts and summer dresses, you could almost believe you were relaxing on a Mediterranean boulevard, were it not for the illuminated Homesense sign overseeing the festivities on New Briggate.

There’s a lively vibe with chairs-on-the-street, bouncers having a laugh together and drinkers drifting in and out of bars.

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It’s cosier downstairs in Sela, where 'it won’t pick up until 11pm', I’m told by the friendly barman who happily gives recommendations before splitting my order of two different cocktails between him and his idle colleague who muddle with vigour and precision.

The latter restarts his short-of-perfect Amaretto Sour, and his second attempt is tasty but lacks the creaminess I was hoping for. These are no-frills cocktails, with lemon garnish and plenty of ice - but good value between £7.50 or £8, or 2-for-£12 between 4 and 8pm (except on Saturdays).

In the fridge behind the bar is a commendable range of beers and ciders - from Kirkstall and Cornish Orchards to Delirium and Schöfferhofer.

With exposed brickwork and wooden tables and benches, Sela bar's simple low-lit space has its own quirks - on display are frames showcasing assorted images including a Chinese takeaway menu, Bart Simpson’s distorted face and a poster for Studio 20, the legendary jazz club which the building once housed.

Sela Bar.

Indeed, music remains the focal point of the bar, and the walls are plastered with posters advertising the venue’s regular nights - Sela offers live music every Thursday, an open mic on Sundays and stays true to the space’s roots with jazz each Tuesday from 9pm.

As one gent in a flat cap observes, it's 'tune after tune' at Sela on my visit, but his appreciation for the selection doesn't end with his praise of the DJ as he sits alone tapping his knee for some time before thanking her again on his way out. Not long after, one of the bar staff approaches the decks eagerly seeking a track ID.

By the time I take my leave of the venue just after 11pm, the tunes have almost-but-not-quite moved patrons to their feet.

While other Saturday night spots are bursting with boogie, Sela bar remains a cool joint for music-lovers to take in some tunes with a drink.

Sela Bar.

Address: 20 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU

Telephone: 0113 242 9442

Opening hours: Mon, closed; Tues, 7pm-midnight; Weds and Sun, 4pm- midnight; Thurs-Fri, 4pm-2am; Sat, 2pm-2am.


Drinks: 6/10

Value: 8/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Service: 8/10