The Cardigan Arms Review: here’s what I love about the historic Kirkstall Road pub

The Cardigan Arms is a truly beautiful pub.

By The YEP Reviewer
Saturday, 5th March 2022, 11:45 am

Renovated five years ago by Kirkstall Brewery, the Cardigan Arms is a Grade-II listed building dating back to the 19th century. And you can’t forget it. Like a film set, all corners of the pub bear its history, with stained glass windows, etched glass, stunning chandeliers, and so, so many mirrors.

While the face of the pub has remained true to its historic origins, 'the Cardi' - as it is affectionately known - offers variety to its present-day patrons.

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The Cardigan Arms. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

It’s a unique space, a pub-in-the-round. The bar at its heart is surrounded by a series of intimate vaults - with several seating spots to choose from, regulars get both range and regularity, enjoying different spaces on each visit in the safe knowledge that you can depend upon the same friendly service and familiar range of drinks.

The staff are warm, friendly and - crucially - always there. You can depend on the same faces greeting you as you walk in, which is a rare and special thing.

Across five casks and eight kegs, the Cardi offer something for every taste - pale ales, fruit beers, ciders, porters, stouts and pilsners, alongside wines and spirits. As impressive is their appealing array of bar snacks. Between crisps, nuts, scampi fries, pretzel pieces flavoured with honey and mustard or sour cream and chive - all snack-prone drinkers are catered for.

The chefs’ aprons are long-slung over the kitchen door by the time I arrive but on previous visits I have been delighted in equal measure by their roast dinners - booking advisable - and their burgers, the perfect fix for when that one quick drink extends later into the afternoon than you first expected.

The Cardigan Arms. Pic: Mark Bickerdike.

Warmly lit and dressed in rich colours of wood and brass, the Cardi strikes a fine balance between clean and relaxed, elegant and cosy, formal and informal - as suitable a venue for spontaneous swifties on a Monday night as celebrations and family get-togethers. At the heart of the Burley community, you’re as likely to encounter neck tattoos as flat caps. They have recently introduced a new open mic night, host regular pub quizzes and have even branched out to live music and comedy in their spacious upstairs function room.

One of the nicest pubs I’ve set foot in. But don’t take my word for it - it has been voted CAMRA's Best Pub in Leeds several times.

Factfile

Address: 364 Kirkstall Rd, Burley, Leeds LS4 2HQ

The Cardigan Arms.

Telephone: 0113 226 3154

Opening hours: Sun - Thurs, noon-11pm; Fri-Sat, noon-midnight.

Website: https://www.cardiganarms.co.uk/

Scores

The Cardigan Arms. Pic: Bruce Rollinson.

Drinks: 8/10

Value: 8/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Service: 9/10

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