Now that we have emerged from the period of perpetual darkness and entered the land of eternal sunshine (notwithstanding my penchant for absolutism, you get the general drift), it’s places like Vesper Gate, Kirkstall, which really come into their own.
There can’t be many boozers in Kirkstall where you can sit with pint while your children play to their heart’s content but this is one.
The building itself, hewn from stone and in keeping with the ancient feel of its situation (but probably dating from 1827, when the turnpike road was built - my thanks to Mike Harwood for that), has an interesting shape and is bigger than it looks from the road. For those arriving by car, there’s ample space to dump the motor and if you live locally and you feel in the mood (as you might on a sunny day), then you can always walk back for it later.
Inside, you’ll find a fairly open plan layout, with roaring fire (when we visited last week) and a more intimate bar space opposite the main area.
But of course, it’s the beer garden which will likely be first choice during the coming months. It’s sizeable and overlooks the main road which splits the abbey estate.
There’s a small gateway which opens out on the fields which lead up toward the playground next to Abbey House Museum and just around the corner stands the Vesper Gate itself, a stone column remnant from the outer boundary of the old abbey estate.
While there’s nothing that unusual on tap, it’s what’s in the fridge that really temps me, because they have Brewdog Dead Pony (a lovely session ale at 3.8 per cent, which feels much stronger than it is) and Camden Hell’s Lager (4.6 per cent). Both come in cans at £3.60 apiece and while the latter is robust with a crisp, clean finish, it’s the weaker of the two which packs more of punch.
On first sip, you might consider this over-hopped but stick with it because by the time you’ve had your third gulp, you’ll be hooked on the fruity aromas this drink packs in.
We also sampled an Innis & Gunn original (£3.60, 33cl) but after the first two craft ales, this just taste very sweet.
Add to this the fact they do a full range of bar food (it’s a Sizzling pub, so think pub classics) and you can’t go far wrong. While we were there we ordered an Old Faithful burger (burger, bacon, cheese, for £7.19 - delicious and filling) and a steak, cheddar and Doombar Ale pie (£7.49, nice but the gravy might not be to everyone’s liking as it was more like barbecue sauce, or was it cheese?).
Vesper Gate comes highly recommended. The inside is spotless and well kept, service is quick and polite, the atmosphere calm and the views spectacular.
Abbey Road, Kirkstall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3NG
0113 220 0961