The so-called ‘Northern Quarter’ of Leeds city centre has undergone a real resurgence, with new bars popping up around Merrion Street, Cross Belgrave Street and the top end of Vicar Lane.
But just beyond the Inner Ring Road is a little strip of bars and restaurants on North Street that most certainly warrant a visit.
Longstanding favourites The Reliance and Hansa have been joined in recent years by ShuffleDog – a BrewDog outpost with shuffleboard tables to keep drinkers entertained – and foodie haven The Greedy Pig, which becomes The Swine That Dines at night.
Completing the set is The Brunswick, an interesting three-storey venue which combines food, drinks and a gallery all under one roof.
I’ve passed it on the bus many times since it opened around two years ago but with so many distractions in the heart of the centre, I’d never actually got round to seeing why it seems to draw a decent crowd most days of the week.
Calling in with friends for a nightcap after a meal one Monday night, we still found a handful of other drinkers dotted around the bar.
Simple in design, it’s got the familiar mix of exposed brick, wooden benches and metal stools that you’ll find in many bars – but the quirky shelving hanging above the bar offers a little twist on the standard.
Most impressive was the service from the barman, who was friendly and accommodating as we quizzed him about the drinks menu
He was quick to offer one of our group little tasters of each of three red wines under consideration, meaning she ventured from her usual default position of ‘whatever is French’ and discovered the enjoyable Pablo Y Walter Malbec from Argentina (£5, 175ml).
Disappointingly for me, there were no fruit beers on offer that night, so I settled for a half of the Aspall cider (£2).
There was disappointment for another of our party too when it turned out that the Magic Rock Brewing Company boxes in the aforementioned shelving above the bar were all empty – a testament, perhaps, to the popularity of the bar and the work of the Huddersfield based brewery.
There were plenty of other options on tap and in the fridges for the beer drinkers in our party though, so our round was completed with two pints of the Jaipur IPA (£5 each), bringing the total to a neat £17.
With the night drawing to a close, the bar provided a relaxing and informal space to enjoy our drinks but it lacked any real ‘wow’ factor.
It’s a shame we arrived so late and on a night when the gallery was between exhibition as I suspect we missed out on what really makes this bar stand out from others in the pack.
Still, it’s a good excuse to make a return visit.