Four splendid Leeds bars to savour ahead of Christmas

Sylva Cafe and Bar. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Sylva Cafe and Bar. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Here are four stylish, contemporary bars to try out in the run up to Christmas, all of which offer sumptuous surroundings and good food and drink.

Calverley Arms, Calverley

What do you want from the perfect pub? For starters, you want a decent range of beer, cider, wine, bar snacks and whatnot. After that, I think you want to consider location: somewhere nice, with a bit of space but not too far off the beaten track.

The perfect pub would need to have a cavernous interior with all sorts of little areas to discover, just in case you were feeling in the mood for a quiet drink. They would also do food (mainly for people over 40 and parents with young ones).

I can think of pubs which have some of these attributes but only one springs to mind which has the lot: The Calverley Arms, Calverley.

The Griffin, Boar Lane, Leeds

What a joy, what a sight: it is the very epitome of understated sophistication. Vertiginous ceilings supported by various tiled columns, with a subtle moonshadow blue wash on the walls, interspersed by bursts of delicately patterned wallpaper. Burnished wood draws you toward the bar and as you move, you cross the chequered tile floor, only to be greeted by a mesmerising array of beers: East Coast IPA, Yardbird Pale Ale, Punk IPA, Vedetti, Blue Moon Belgian White, London Pride, Voodoo Lily, Raiders on the Storm, Old Speckled Hen and I could go on. Service is as polished and spotless as the wooden bartop.

Stew & Oyster, Oakwood

When it comes to food, Stew and Oyster does exactly what it says on the tin.

Part of a five-strong chain, with four Leeds branches and one in Sheffield, it prides itself on doing simple things well.

The pub is based in a former bank building, and its exterior has a good deal of olde worlde charm. The location near Roundhay Park is also great. We parked ourselves at a window table with comfy seats and a lovely view of the legendary Oakwood Clock right across the road.

Sylva Cafe and Bar, Oakwood

Away from the chaos of the city centre, this little gem is in a striking building that combines modern design with a nod to its green surroundings. You’ll find it at the edge of Roundhay Park, so those of you who like to work up an appetite with a Sunday morning walk – or work off the meal afterwards.

If you’re looking for quality ingredients, great cooking, friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere then you really can’t go wrong with a Sunday morning visit to Sylva.