Pub review: Town Hall Tavern, Leeds

TIMOTHY TAYLOR'S: All six pumps are from the Keighley brewery.
TIMOTHY TAYLOR'S: All six pumps are from the Keighley brewery.
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The Town Hall Tavern bills itself as a “village pub” right in the heart of the city centre.

It is opposite Leeds’s Cuthbert Brodrick-designed Victorian beacon of civic progress - the town hall itself - so it boasts a great location, even if it’s just a little further out than convenient from the centre’s other great bars.

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Dating back to 1926 and “re-launched” in May 2011, it was traditionally frequented by solicitors and police officers who would apparently sit on one side of the pub preparing for their cases in the nearby courts, while the accused would savour their final moments of freedom on the other side.

But its contemporary “village”, gastropub theme is very welcoming during this unseasonably gloomy weather.

The decor straddles a line between the pub’s heritage - old pictures of the town hall and The Headrow, art deco lamps, stumpy little stools - with modern features such as fairy lights, large teal tiles and a respectably varied food menu.

A clash of old and new often doesn’t work, but I think they have the tone right here.

It has been a Timothy Taylor’s pub since 2007, and as such all six of its hand-pulled ales are from the Keighley brewery - which is really no chore, but actually quite a bold move considering the recent vogue for small, lesser-known providers.

A range of other beers are of course on offer, alongside the requisite spirits.

Having found the championship Boltmaker in marvellous nick on my previous visit, and with Landlord being an old favourite, I went for a pint of Ram Tam(dark, 4.3 per cent, £3.60) and my friend opted for half a Dark Mild (a dark ruby, 3.5 per cent, £1.75).

The Ram Tam was good, clean and much more quaffable than its stouty colour suggested, and my friend also said her mild was “so smooth”.

We wanted to try the food, since the menu looked so nice, and one of the (really good, continually attentive) staff members asked if we wanted to set up a tab. Go on, then.

I had a homemade beef burger and added smoked cheese, which came with chips and two large onion rings (£12.70 with the cheese). And my friend chose from the vegetarian selection to have the homemade herb gnocchi with spring vegetables (£12.50).

The latter looks impressively colourful and I’m told the vegetables were the best part of the dish, while my burger was made with what seemed like good quality meat, even if the flavour was a bit bland. The chips were great, though.

Portions were generous, so unfortunately it brought my Timothy Taylor’s patronage to a close for the night and we went on to spirits. A double Jim Beam bourbon (£7.40, oooph!) and a Gordon’s gin (£3.35) with Fever Tree tonic (£2.50).

Address: 17 Westgate, Leeds.

Rating: ****

THROUGH THE LENS: The Trinnacle by Charles Pollit.

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