Is it a bar or is it a restaurant? That’s the question I had to ask the barmaid in Candlebar one of the latest additions to the Leeds city centre scene. I’m not convinced she was entirely sure actually and I definitely wasn’t when I first stepped into Ossett breweries latest venture. After a while it started to become clearer and although it’s not a pub it’s a decent place with some interesting features. In reality Candlebar is a modern bar that serves light meals, craft beer and wine. It’s never going to get into the CAMRA good beer guide because there’s no real ale. What they do have is a selection of fourteen modern craft style keg lines, twenty enomatically preserved wines and a half decent selection of cans and bottles. For the fridge selection think Founder’s, Brewdog, Flying Dog, Left Hand, Camden and Beavertown. There’s not much in the way of continental European beers. If you want real ale and traditional boozer then you’re definitely in the wrong place and you need to be in Ossett breweries nearby premises The Hop, just the other side of the canal basin. Granary Wharf and the dark arches are one of my favourite parts of Leeds and this bar is a genuine addition to this cool part of ‘old’ Leeds, just so long as our friends from Wakey aren’t planning a sly takeover down there?
Inside there has been no expense spared on the quality fit out. Bleached wooden tables and lots of grey things. If there is a theme then I missed it (not unusual). There were a few antlers and a pelt from some sort of deer but I couldn’t fathom any connection. The candle bit is because it’s in Candle house – the cool round building you can see just south of City station. What I will say is that it is very nice and comfortable. I’m a big believer that the key to a really top pub are the toilets. Candlebar’s blogs definitely have the wow factor, design and cleanliness, please keep them like this.
I’m not going to go into the wines but there was a good choice available, by the glass using their eno what-do-you-ma-call-it thingy, you could also get a 50ml tasting measure to help the faint hearted make their minds up and I was offered tasting samples of beer. The keg beers were just slightly overpriced, to give you some idea of the price per pint; Founders all day IPA (4.7%) £3.75, Flying Dog Black honey (7%) £5.60, Ilkley/Yeastie Green tea (6.2%) £5.70, Jaipur £5.00 (it’s £4.20 in a well known victuallers on Boar lane but there’s somewhere else in town currently charging £6.00 for it!!!). Also OTB were Meantime, Brooklyn, Grimbergen and others.
The food is simple, pizzas done in a massive wood fired oven, salads and sharing platters. Almost a fusion between FOH and some of the other bars in town that are doing pizzas. Nothing that would break the bank though, the dearest sharing platter was only fifteen and a half quid.
The only fault I picked up was a (misguided?) insistence on charging 50p surcharge for a contactless card payment. Mr wallet sorted that one out, but I just didn’t get it, sort of defeats the point? If you’re reading Mr/Mrs Ossett brewery it’s one that might be worth clarifying this?
The verdict. Not a boozer. not a bar, not a restaurant but a really good place that sits somewhere in between. Somewhere a little bit upmarket than the norm which is reflected in the pricing, that has a good range of craft style beer and wine. It’s not a rip off though. My take on this is, if you were trying to impress someone on a first date you wouldn’t take them to North bar would you? Okay, you might, but I wouldn’t, I’d take them to Candlebar (prior to going for a meal at a nice restaurant). Guaranteed they would be really impressed.