Review: Outskirts Leeds city centre bar that needs to play to its strengths

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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Shuffledog has been open for more than two years now but its awkward position on the outskirts of the city centre and my other half’s fairly intense dislike of the Brewdog empire mean I’ve never ventured in.

After grabbing food with a friend in the city’s ‘northern quarter’, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided it was worth negotiating the Inner Ring Road for a bar whose unique selling point is the chance to play shuffleboard while you drink.

The doors open into a distressed warehouse style space, all bare brick and wooden booths with a large bar at its centre.

Huge boards list a wide range of beers and the odd cider, with a clipboard listing further options from the extensive collection in the fridges.

Feeling a little overwhelmed, I ask the friendly barman whether they had any fruit beers and there was not even a hint of condescension when I explained I didn’t want anything ‘too beery’, my preference being for something heavy on the fruit.

He poured a small sample of a pomegranate sour, which seemed pleasant enough, but suggested I might like the fruitier One Ton of Blackcurrant sour beer providing I didn’t mind the steep £6.95 price tag.

Based on his enthusiasm for the beer, I decided to give it a whirl and got a pint of the suitably festive Santa Paws (£4.70) for my friend.

The deep purple beer which flowed into the glass from my can had an intense fruit flavour and it was most definitely sour – probably a little too much for my own taste. It’s certainly not a session beer but it was good to try something totally different.

Beers in hand, we asked about the prospect of playing shuffleboard but found the tables fully booked.

The three shuffleboard tables downstairs are hired on a first come, first served basis at weekends but it is possible – and perhaps advisable – to book ahead on weekdays.

Heading downstairs to take a look anyway, we were delighted to discovered more than half a dozen arcade games and immediately began rooting around for change.

After a false start with a shoot ‘em up which ate our money, we had a great time battling it out on Track and Field before the lure of Pacman became too much to resist.

Wallets considerably lighter, we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from the games after half an hour or so and took one of the booths in the quieter upstairs area.

Weighing up the merits of the bar, we agreed there were plus points for the friendly atmosphere, the games, the wide selection of beers and the service provided by the staff.

But with its position on the fringe of the city centre and above average prices, it needs to keep playing to those strengths.

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