Bar review: D.O.C., Leeds

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Wellington Street in the city centre has changed quite a bit since the completion of Central Square and the ongoing developments at Wellington Place and it’s fair to say there have been winners and losers.

While the majority of cafe/bars directly opposite the impressive seven-storey tall glass atrium that makes for the building’s most arresting profile - I’m thinking Toast Bar and Lazy Lounge - managed to survive seemingly endless months all but enclosed by building boards, other nearby businesses have moved on. One such was the old ‘corner’ shop, or mini supermarkets as they are these days, which always seemed a little bit out of place to me but was a useful pit stop on the sometimes bleak and increasingly windswept walk into City Square.

Still, it’s gone. Vanished. In its place, almost as though the shop had never been there at all, is a brand new (and yet somehow slightly rustic looking) bar, called D.O.C.

The acronym means ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’, which is apparently a quality assurance label for Italian wines in that, like Champagne, it relates to specific geographical regions.

It is, in fact, a remarkable transformation, because once not a single trace of the original shop remains. Bare stone walls are graced with diminutive curved dark wood corner shelves filled with glasses. There’s a wooden barrel behind the bar, tiny easels proffering menus, jars of peanuts and other barsnacks, a coffee machine in the corner beyond the gleaming bar pulls and nice, simple, effective downlights.

It could be a taverna in some backwater European village, which I am guessing is what the owners were aiming for. In fact, the owners of this (hopefully successful) venture are Buca di Pizza, who run the restaurant just next door (and beneath) D.O.C.

Service is also slick, helpful, laid back in the sense that nothing seems to be a problem. For example, when I asked what bar snacks they did, the barman calmly talked me through the various options and when I couldn’t decide, offered to just bring me a selection over on a dish. That, together with a (miserly, on my part) half of Motueka Lager, a dry hopped number from New Zealand which is crisp, slightly lemony but with a fine finish. One imagines one could spend an afternoon in there quite easily. Remarkably, D.O.C. reminds one of the kind of bar - like Tapped - which you would expect to find in a more central location and while it is technically in the city centre, its still some way off the main drag.

It doesn’t have the largest range of beers or food but given time it may extend its range. It opened in August and personally I hope it remains and beds in, if only because it’s a wonderful haven to enjoy a moment of calm.

D.O.C., Wellington St, Leeds LS1 4EA

Score: 4/5

D.O.C., Wellington St, Leeds LS1 4EA

Score: 4/5

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