LEEDS has changed tremendously in recent years with new buildings springing up all over the place.
Good news? Well, of course it is. Splendid glass-and-chrome tower blocks have their place and show that a city is serious about progress. But isn’t it good to see a little bit of old Leeds now and again? The Grove Inn in the wonderfully-named Back Row in Holbeck is one of the most stubborn old buildings in the city.
It dates back to 1832 and it simply refuses to budge. Surrounded by huge modern edifices including the Dalek – otherwise known as Bridgewater Place, the tallest building in Yorkshire.
The Grove Inn stands as a tribute to different age and is one of only a very few proper old-fashioned pubs in the city centre. A few generations ago it would have been nothing special. Now it’s possibly unique.
So, how does the Grove shape up? It is, thankfully, laid out traditionally with several small rooms rather than the big open-plan style of today.
The bar is obviously the focal point with an emphasis on good service and real ales. The bar staff seem to be of a kind – tattooed, alternative and obliging.
The beer? A fine range of ever-changing guest brews. I tried Mary Jane (£3.40), a multi-award winning pale ale from Ilkley Brewery, and a pint of Guzzler (£3.40) from York Brewery. Both are good. I’d have either again but Mary Jane is my first choice.
My wife went for a large glass of house Pinot Grigio (£5.50) which was acceptable.
Other ales on offer on our visit last Saturday included Saltaire’s New World Red, Salopian Brewery’s Shropshire Gold and Settle’s Pan American Pale Ale.
If you fancy a gin, there is a decent choice including Sipsmith, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hendrick’s and Slingsby.
We settled ourselves in one of the rooms, which has become a reading room with an interesting selection of books and newspapers but sadly, no Yorkshire Evening Post. It did have fine wall decorations – what Hilda Ogden might have called ‘muriels’ presumably taken from an old photograph of the area. Shabby chic? Or genuinely untouched? We’ll let you decide. It has a genuine old-pub aroma and fantastic lamp-shades.
The Grove is an arty pub with a music room which plays host to a range of music, especially folk. On our visit last Saturday we were treated to everything from the Rolling Stones to Otis Redding. This Saturday there is a tribute night to Jake Thackray, the man described as the North’s Noel Coward. His work ranged from satirical to bawdy to sentimental to pastoral, with a strong emphasis on storytelling. It should be some night.
The Grove Inn
Back Row, LS11 5PL