Pub review: The Griffin, Leeds city centre

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Let’s talk about The Griffin, on the corner of Boar Lane and Mill Hill, which I’ve often walked past with longing looks but have never actually been in, until now.

And up until now I’ve always looked at it and, in spite of its polished exteriror, had it pegged as one of the city’s numerous utilitarian boozers.

How wrong could I be?

The contrast was set up, of course, because I had just visited another establishment just a few doors away (on the same block and without mentioning it by name, it faces onto City Square and takes its name from our most famous statue). That pub will be reviewed in two week’s time but for now, back to The Griffin, which on the outside is all gold and green and very Irish looking (not wanting to be stereotypical but it is).

Like I said, when I pulled open the door, I expected to see worn carpets, a dowdy interior and staff wearing jeans and an unironed shirt. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Slap my wrists!

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 and so, after some thought, I settled on the East Coast IPA (£2.15 a half). It was bitter, hoppy with a slightly acidic finish but nothing which would put you off having another (or ever another after that).

They do a very elegant line in cocktails, with the likes of Monkey Godfather, which marries Monkey Shoulder whisky with the sweet nuttyness of Disaronno, there’s also Elderflower Collins, a clean, crisp London dry gin which comes with a sprig of mint and a wedge of lemon. There’s also the usual suspects such a mojito and cosmopolitan. But then there’s also the food menu, which, like the rest of the place, is a touch upper class (although the prices seemed middle class to me), with cod and chips for £9.99, burgers from £8.99, there’s a lamb shank shepherd’s pie, a selection of open sandwiches, burritos and baked potatoes. They even do a wagyu burger for £12.79.

The interior sports a mix of seating, with some Germanic looking long benches in one area, leather Chesterfields in another and even mismatched furniture in yet another but it all somehow comes together to create one of the most beguiling pubs in the Leeds.

The Griffin, Boar Lane, Leeds

Score: 5/5

A road traffic sign is in front of the Union Jack and the European Union flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London.  Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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