WHEN Seven Arts opened a few years ago, it brought to the north Leeds suburb the kind of eclectic, alternative programme of events which make Chapel Allerton Festival such a compelling part of the calendar.
BY SIMON JENKINS
Its event space to the rear offered all year round the same fun and vibrant programme which the Festival distils into its one-week, end-of-the-summer blast.
The bright, airy drinking space to the front illustrated what a modern sociable ale bar might be like, until Further North came along and showed them exactly how it could be done.
It continues to do each of these things, thriving in an area soaked with bars and restaurants, perhaps trading on the impression, at least, that it retains a genuinely local provenance. The Seven derives from the postcode rather than from incomers’ irritating tendency to only ever pronounce the first seven letters of the suburb’s name.
Stepping inside, you enter a square box of mustard yellow and battleship grey, the walls punctuated by interesting artworks for sale at eye-watering prices. Thankfully the beer is more within my compass. I’m not sure if it’s a permanent fixture, but Timothy Taylor always seem to have one beer on the bar.
On this occasion it was the refreshing Golden Best, and a second pump was given over to Golden Plover from Allendale Brewery in Hexham. But I went instead for the one in-between, the reliable American-hopped pale ale Yankee from Rooster’s Brewery, who have lately moved from their long-time home in Knaresborough to the bright lights of HG2. Blackboards above the bar show off impressive lists of wines, teas and coffees, while food is available until early evening, most days.
The regular menu features homemade samosas, cakes, pastries and sharing plates, while kitchen takeovers allow local restaurants to “pop up” and show off their skills on a Friday and Saturday. This week features a Caribbean Café, next weekend it’s the amazing Afsaneh’s Persian Kitchen, a winner at the recent YEP Oliver Awards.
But the most fascinating blackboard here is the one beside the vast picture windows, which is chalked up with the relentless programme of entertainment in the arts space to the rear. Tomorrow evening there are comedy sketches; Saturday will see ‘book-in-hand’ performances by professional actors of new comic scripts; Sunday is Jazz; Monday is theatre. The list goes on – and when there are no public events, the versatile room is annexed for parties and private functions, giving Seven Arts a competitive edge in a crowded space.
Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, LS7 3PD
Host: Petra Baricevic
Type: Café-bar & events space
Opening hours: 10.30am-late daily
Beers: Changing choice of at least three real ales plus keg and bottled selections. Pravha and Staropramen lagers.
Wine: Excellent selection
Food: Breakfast and weekday menu served until 3pm Mon-Fri with evening menus, sharing plates and weekend “pop-up” kitchen takeovers
Entertainment: Full programme of arts events plus Sunday evening quiz with space available for hire
Disabled: Straightforward access
Beer Garden: Patio area to front
Parking: On-street nearby
Telephone: 0113 2626 777