You expect somewhere that’s only been open for a week to be popular and North Bar’s latest venture in Harrogate is really busy at 2000hrs Saturday 27th February. Quite a strange crowd, locals and young studenty types with halves of craft beer mixing with well heeled thirty to forty somethings sitting at tables, the chaps drinking beer and the ladies glasses of wine, absolutely; plus a few older ‘weekend break’ types who invade Harrogate at the weekend, obviously.
The bar counter sits to your right as you enter; watch the step. There’s a couple of tables and a sort of ledge affair around the windows facing the bar and at the same height, where you can sit on tall stools. At the far end of the room, there’s an area of tables and chairs on a slightly lower level.
Even if you miss the subtle signage, you can tell it’s a North Bar instantly because they have achieved that same steamed up windows effect that the original (in my all time top ten) North Bar on Upper Briggate has and similarly, as soon as I walked in (watch the step), it was glasses off, de-misting cloth out. I guess it’s just something about North Bar, maybe the sort of premises they take over, or the amount of punters they get in?
Despite being busy the very helpful staff quickly served everybody, dispensing advice and recommendations as well as offering try before you buy tasters. There are twelve quality draught keg beers on, plus three hand pulled cask ales. After wandering round Harrogate all afternoon drinking real ales, it’s time to go to the keg and a pint of the local Bad Co Wild Gravity (5.2%) and half of Magic Rock Ginspired (6.4%) cost me £7.75. Very nice though and Wild Gravity is one of my regulars, both in keg and cask, I’m not sure which I prefer, they are subtly different. Second visit to the bar was a pint and a half of far too quaffable, for the ABV, Victory Hop Devil (6.7%), before it was time to retreat to the bus station. Only criticism of the bar arrangements was because it was so busy, I couldn’t see all the taps and there was no tap list behind the bar, although there is a very sizeable bottle menu to peruse. Message to North Bar; get a big tap list up please, and have a look at that nasty little step at the front door.
As well as the beer, you can also get coffee, tea and stuff like that, as well as snacks to light meals, including breakfast which means they open at 0800hrs Monday to Friday, 0900hrs Sat and 1000hrs Sun. Closing time is 2300hrs apart from Friday and Saturday when you get an extra hour. Apparently there’s an upstairs function room and an outside terrace somewhere, but I couldn’t find them, even when I got lost going to the toilets which are up a couple of flights of, to me, quite confusing steps. They’re well appointed though, with that intentional? Trendy? Not quite finished sort of look, or is someone coming back to paint the doors? There are only two closets in the gents and no urinal, which might be a mistake because swampy has definitely visited Harrogate tonight. Whoever did this definitely tripped over that nasty little step on the way in, absolutely.
Verdict, definitely a winner, it will still be busy in two months, two years and hopefully two decades. Harrogate has a nice selection of different, but all excellent, pubs and bars serving first rate real ales and craft beers. North Bar Harrogate is a welcome addition to the scene and from my visit it was obvious they’ve captured the original North Bar ethos and feel here.
Sadly, because of the pricing on the otherwise very excellent Harrogate and District Bus Co. we do’t go drinking in Harrogate that often, owing to the fact that it’s £7.20 return on the 770/1 service when compared to the £4 return ticket to the equi-distant (appx. 13 miles) Leeds City centre. I know they will say it’s due to the West Yorkshire Metro subsidy on bus fares, or lack of in North Yorkshire, but Harrogate and District Bus Co. Why £4 return to Wetherby which is in W.Yorks and only three and a half miles away from Clifford? Anyway, if the bus prices ever come down I will be a regular at North Bar Harrogate, in the meantime I will continue in earnest on Upper Briggate, absolutely.
Oh, and did I tell you to watch the step as you come in?