Multistories Leeds: Drinking and dining in the sky at the Merrion Centre's impressive new pop-up venue
As rain lashed down and thunder rumbled in the distance, I cursed the weather as I perched under an umbrella at a new rooftop venue in Leeds.
We had scooped a booking at Multistories weeks prior, the impressive new spot on a car park at the top of the Merrion Centre.
It's the perfect place to soak up the sun, but of course we haven't seen much of that over the last few weeks.
Despite my own moaning, I'm always blown away by the commitment of people in Leeds for a drink and the place was buzzing when I visited last weekend.
There was a stellar atmosphere as groups huddled around their food and bevs, chatting and watching Wimbledon on the venue's big screen.
Multistories is an eight-storey high pop-up venue boasting panoramic views across the city, launched by organiser Arron Fishwick.
There's capacity for 350 guests, with tapas on offer from Maserchef's Matt Healy, mouth-watering burgers from Solita and sweet treats from The Savvy Baker.
With skyscrapers towering around us and views of the sprawling skyline, it felt like we'd been transported to London rather than in the heart of our compact city centre.
The service was fantastic; we checked in at the Multistories hub downstairs, before a steward led us to the lift which shot us up to the venue.
Tables cater for two, four or six people, but there are booths for bigger groups when restrictions are eased later this month.
Ordering is easy on the app and I went for the Solita vegan burger, a delicious plant-based patty with vegan cheese and a tangy pickle.
There are plenty of drinks on offer to wash down the food, from Camden Town Brewery beers to spirits to a selection of cocktails.
A few margaritas went down a treat while we enjoyed disco tunes from the live DJ - mentally we were on a beach somewhere sunny, even if we did end up soaked.
The venue is set to stay for the summer and it's already attracting a heap of attention on social media. It's easy to see why; there's no rooftop venue like it in Leeds and there's even more street food vendors and music acts to be announced on the line-up.
While the pandemic has had a big knock on hospitality in Leeds, the innovation of the sector to evolve and adapt around restrictions is inspiring.
The demand for bookings at Multistories, and venues like outdoor food festival Chow Down, show the city is bouncing back and even exceeding its offering as lockdown is eased.
Multistories has made the promise of a 'summer of freedom' in Leeds even more exciting - let's just hope the sun comes out to celebrate.
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