THE ‘village’ of Chapel Allerton prides itself on the support it gives to its many independent traders, so it will be interesting to see whether recent addition Alley Cats can find its own place among the substantial offering of bars and restaurants already established in this popular suburb.
A cafe-bar with a classic rock theme, it started out as a pop-up when Boss Burgers gave up its unit in Harrogate Road earlier this year.
The experiment was clearly a successful one as business partners Daniel Ayton and Kehan Cooper made the decision last month to make it a permanent venture.
Tucked between a pharmacy and a takeaway on a little parade of units a short walk from the centre of Chapel Allerton, the bar may have to work harder than some to draw trade its way.
But with its offering of Americana-inspired food, craft beers, cocktails and retro games consoles, it brings something a little different to the local food and drink scene.
It was a slow Sunday evening when we called in and we had the bar to ourselves for much of our visit, but it’s easy to see Alley Cats could be a really lively and sociable spot on busier nights thanks to its long communal tables, the aforementioned games consoles and the chance for customers to choose the bar’s soundtrack from a selection of classic vinyl.
Inside is dimly lit with records, rock posters and 90s memorabilia covering the walls, making it feel a bit like hanging out in your friend’s very cool student digs.
This laidback vibe was very much what the bar’s creators had in mind, hoping it would be somewhere that families could enjoy cream soda floats, grilled cheese sandwiches and waffles by day and music lovers would be drawn to by night.
We had a friendly welcome from the barman who provided attentive service, making up our drinks as well as the wings, chips and waffles we ordered.
Although the bar itself is small, it still carries a decent range of craft beer, wines and spirits that are listed on chalk boards hanging on the walls.
My friend decided to kick things off with one of the thick and creamy chocolate milkshakes (£4.50), while I went for a Portobello Road gin and tonic served up with plenty of ice and fresh lime.
And here’s where Alley Cats really excels – its keen pricing of drinks. My gin and tonic came in at just £3.75, a price that’s hard to beat in many of the city’s bars these days.
At those prices it would be rude not to have a second or third, so a round of two gin and tonics – one Portobello Road and one Bombay Sapphire – naturally followed.
Drinks enjoyed over a few games on the Nintendo 64, we headed off hoping that Alley Cats will stick around.