THE West Riding is one of many pubs across the country which have traded high on the performances of England in this fabulous World Cup.
It’s a pub which you could easily miss if you didn’t know it was there, despite it being just a minute’s walk from City Square and perhaps two from the station concourse, even with the current building works forcing pedestrians onto a narrow walkway past the beautiful Majestic building, now being re-invented as a business space.
For the duration of the tournament, the pub’s modest narrow frontage has been decorated with a colourful array of world flags, and the theme continues inside, where acres of large screen TVs ensure that drinkers always have a view of the action, however crowded it becomes.
From that narrow front the pub spreads back inside, in a long ribbon of a building which stretches from the bay windows on the street front through an attractive, well-kept drinking area before a few steps bring you to the heart of the building. The colour scheme is a relaxing blend of cream and petrol blue.
A series of comfortable booths offers vague echoes of a luxurious Pullman railway carriage, appropriately enough for a pub which was roughly equidistant between the city’s two main stations – Central to the west along Wellington Street, and City to the east. All that remains of Central Station is the huge stone goods hoist, which seems slightly at odds with the high-rise office developments which have swarmed across this little corner of the city in the 50 years since the station closed.
As at The Editor’s Draught, 100 yards or so along the street, the booths have been fitted with individual TV screens so that small groups can follow the action in their own personal space. Areas can be booked in advance, to secure drinkers a guaranteed view of the match.
Old sash windows look out onto an alleyway at the side, which offers a welcome out door drinking space.
Just where you might expect to find a buffet car offering over-priced coffee and microwaved bacon rolls, a panel-fronted bar is topped by four real ale handpumps, of which two are serving Leeds Pale, rather suggesting the ubiquitous local ale is a firm favourite here. Two other big-name northern ales – Black Sheep from Masham and Wainwright from Blackburn – are on sale during my visit, though I understand the range changes from time to time. And there is a host of lagers which have no doubt proved popular with the football fans during this unexpected heatwave.
The food covers all the major pub grub bases such as pizzas, burgers and steaks. There’s chilli (£8.75), lasagne (£7.75), steak pie (£9.25) and fish and chips (£8.95), while smaller portions of selected dishes are just £6 – and during World Cup matches the pub is offering a limited menu of burgers and hotdogs for a fiver. Serving food at lunchtimes and evenings on weekdays is doubtless designed to dovetail with the working day in the offices nearby.
This has long underpinned the success of the West Riding. If the pub were on Boar Lane or – like the Scarbrough or Brewery Tap – in one of the prime sites between the station and the Trinity Quarter, it would be guaranteed a steady passing trade. Here though, it is the offices which supply that reliable healthy throughput of trade.
Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 2DE
Opening Hours: 11.30am-11pm Mon-Thurs; 11.30am-midnight Fri-Sat; noon-7pm Sun
Beers: Leeds Pale plus changing selection of further real ales. Good choice of lagers plus Guinness and Strongbow
Wines: Decent choice
Food: Good selection of hearty pub meals noon-3pm, 5-8pm Mon-Fri and noon-6pm Sun
Children: Not especially suitable
Disabled: Ramp access from the alleyway to the side and disabled toilets
Entertainment: Quiz Tues, multi-screen TVs, games machine, plus “Man Creche” on Saturday afternoons. Occasional live entertainment
Beer garden: Some tables on terraced area to the side
Parking: On-street and pay and display areas nearby
Telephone: 0113 245 3351