The Reliance: Here's what I thought of the city centre bar with continental elegance with Leeds-friendly surprises

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If your pockets are none-too-proud in these trying economic times, a couple of afternoon aperitivos in the sun could be the perfect substitute for an expensive city break this summer.

The Reliance has long been a staple of the more sophisticated end of Leeds's nightlife scene. Situated on North Street, and practically clinging on to the edge of the city centre, it always feels slightly out of the way from the bustling indie and soul clubs of nearby Merrion Street - particularly as you have to cross about 25 million busy roads to get to the place.

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But this, in my opinion, has always worked in the Reliance's favour, giving a visit there more of a sense of occasion. The suggestion is often met with an approving "oooh..." from acquaintances.

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The Reliance on North Street.The Reliance on North Street.
The Reliance on North Street.

Me and my companion (having finished "oooh"-ing) arrived here on a Saturday afternoon to be greeted with a continental ambiance and a satisfying 75 per cent table occupancy. There was a laid back feel to the place - one couple even had their dog with them, which was looked after by staff (water bowl et al!).

Indeed, it felt like being on holiday in a bygone era - vibes of Judith Chalmers visiting Monaco and asking for a long-defunct brand of vermouth.

Speaking of drinks, we weren't just there to take in the ambiance.

In keeping with my delusions of being Peter Sellers on the Cote d'Azur, I insisted on Aperitivos.

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The Aperol Spritz and Reliance Negroni, with a look of a 1970s cop drama duo.The Aperol Spritz and Reliance Negroni, with a look of a 1970s cop drama duo.
The Aperol Spritz and Reliance Negroni, with a look of a 1970s cop drama duo.

An Aperol Spritz is arguably the king of the Italian pre-meal drink, so it was naturally my first order (£8.75), while my companion plumped for the Reliance's signature Negroni (£8.75).

As delightfully bitter as they were, the drinks were overshadowed by... FREE FOOD. Damn, my facade of boujee sophistication had disintegrated - revealing my true identity as a crisp-guzzling Morley kid excited at the prospect of free food. You win this round, Reliance.

And what nibbles they were. Each drink came with a choice of fried aubergine with oil and ricotta, or radishes with aioli and garlic crumb. A perfect touch to carry on the continental theme.

Although we didn't order a main meal here, it also boasts a fine menu, with trout, lamb chops with tomato jus and duck leg with fennel sausage also on the menu.

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The nibbles were unexpected but welcome.The nibbles were unexpected but welcome.
The nibbles were unexpected but welcome.

So if you want to experience the joie de vivre of continental living - but still be in walking distance of Raja's - give the Reliance a try.

The Reliance

Address: 76-78 North Street, Leeds, LS2 7PN

Opening times:

Monday - Closed

Tuesday - Closed

Wednesday - 5pm-11pm (food until 10pm)

Thursday 5pm-11pm (food until 10pm)

Friday 12pm-12am (food until 10pm)

Saturday 12pm-12am (food until 10pm)

Sunday 12pm-10.30pm (food until 8pm)


Drinks: 7

Atmosphere: 9

Value: 8

Service: 8