Bower’s Tap seems to have it all. A decent selection of drinks, enticing menu and big screen TVs (I’m told there are nine) for sport. Tick, tick, tick.
Leeds United (bless ‘em) played a Saturday match during our visit, so it was even busier than usual.
Myself and a small group of friends called in for a teatime tipple and found this to be a friendly, amiable stop-off. Mother’s ruin is big here but then again, where isn’t it? It seems you can’t wave a stick at the moment without knocking over some newly minted gin operation, whether it’s a pop-up bar stuffing freshly culled leaves into your fishbowl of liquor or somewhere with deeper roots which just wants a slice of the lemon, so to speak. We counted 19 different kinds of gin on offer and even a guide to the best garnishes and tonics.
Rum, which is apparently being lined up for the next PR onslaught by the drinks industry, is already sticking its elbows out here, as is tequila, whisky, not to mention bourbon, vodka, cocktails and, interestingly, Latino cocktails, a slight tweak of the cliched 80s after work sou’wester which is guaranteed to turn heads. But they also lump champagne and prosecco together - the French would have a fit.
We settled for rather more mundane options. A pint of Birra Moretti (£4.60) and a Bailey’s Irish Cream (50ml for £4.45). We also tried a Malibu and coke (£4.45).
Given more time we would have explored the world beers and craft ales. The Shindigger Mango Unchained sounded interesting, as did the Dead Pony Club ale. There were plenty of more mainstream offerings such as John Smith’s, Heineken, Amstel and a range of session IPAs. You could easily lose a few happy hours here.
The food sounds good, too. Fish finger sandwiches for a snip over a fiver and a chicken club for about the same.
They also do a nice line in ‘small plates’ which cost £13 for five, £8 for three or £3.50 each.
One which caught my eye was Margherita Arancini, which is crispy coated rice balls filled with tomato and melted cheese and served with peri peri mayonnaise.
There are some burger dishes – including wagyu – and plenty of pizzas and traditional pub grub such as beef and ale pies.
It claims to be a traditional pub but what exactly does ‘tradition’ mean these days? Certainly, it’s in keeping with the well-worn practice of people meeting to eat and drink while they oggle the footie and hide away from the world for a few precious minutes.
But city centre pubs have to work hard to appeal not to all comers and in that sense, at least, Bower’s is keeping a long-standing tradition alive.
Bowers Tap, 157-158 Lower Briggate, Leeds