From getting off the bus on Vicar Lane, I lasted about fifteen minutes wandering round town. I just couldn’t face it; sunny, boiling hot, everywhere was rammed, you couldn’t get in a lot of the shops and I lost count of the number of people walking round, eyes down, glued to maps of Leeds city centre. There was only one thing for it, a nice quiet drink and a sit down. Only thing was, you couldn’t get anywhere near places with anything even resembling outdoor seating. It’s sad to say, but I hate town on Saturday these days, it’s just too busy with weakenders (sic) .
But where do you go, for a decent pint, in decent, yet uncrowded surroundings on a lovely Saturday afternoon? No slight intended at Old Mudgie, but there’s no way I’m sitting in an ‘old man pub’ when it’s hovering around the 25°C mark; that’s 77° Fahrenheit in old men’s money.
I know, lets head off up North Street, it’s only ten minutes walk from the Headrow, it is in my shoes anyway, fifteen minutes if you’re a snail. There’s a few nice places to eat and drink up there, and the ‘out of towners’ don’t know where it is. Apparently it’s now called the Northern Quarter, according to the tourist maps of the city!
Now I’ve been popping in The Brunswick on and off since it opened in autumn 2015, and I don’t normally blog about places that I frequent. Thing is, it’s just been voted Pub Of The Month (POTM) for July by LeedsCAMRA, and I think that’s worthy of a mention. Come to think of it, I might start blogging abut all the LeedsCAMRA POTM winners. I might not like all of them, but different isn’t wrong, and I’m grown up enough to take a balanced view, and in any case, no one else is doing it.
So, what exactly is The Brunswick? The very simple website proclaims it as a three storey pub. The words by the front door say, ‘Eat, Drink, Arts.’ Some might say it’s a bit of a café bar that serves food, I’d disagree. For a start there’s six hand pumps on top of the bar and eight keg lines, but only one Lager; Brunswick Lager (aka McEwans currently).
Having given it some thought; it’s a pub, a modern pub, and a very good one. It’s got a TV (not always on), quiz nights, monthly Jazz sessions, DJ’s, art exhibitions, meetings; we’ve even had LeedsCAMRA meetings in the third floor space, but it’s no place for old men with all them stairs.
The interior is all pleasant modernity; think bare floorboards, emulsioned walls and stout wooden bespoke fittings still waiting for the joiner to come back and varnish them. It’s not massive, but you can wander upstairs where there’s more seating. You have to go up there at some stage, because that’s where the bogs are, and they are spotless and well maintained. A nice feature is the open larder at the kitchen door, with all the fresh produce on view.
I’ve never eaten anything beyond snacks, but everything coming out of the kitchen looks very nice. Modern British cuisine sums it up nicely, and there are plenty of GF, V and VE options. The small pots of olives are nicely smoky and of the highest quality, the residual herby oil would make an excellent base for a salad dressing; if I could just work out how to get it home without spilling it everywhere? I guess the number of people I see eating here suggests the food is of consistently good quality.
Beers vary, they don’t often have all six pumps going, but are always from quality brewers and I’ve never seen the selection of ‘below £60 cask’ beers OTB that some places seem to specialise in. On this visit I had Wylam 008 Mosaic (3.5%) which was divine, followed by Five Points Extra Pale which was quite carbonated for a cask ale, nicely so, both were in excellent form and £3.80 a pint. The remainder of our table drank a 2015 Kriek Boon, which at £6.80 for a 37.5cl bottle was decent value. A Lervig Passion Tang (7.0%) was a bit dearer at a hefty £8/pint equivalent, but again a very nice beer which hit the spot on a warm afternoon. The other two cask ales on at this visit were Acorn Barnsley Bitter and Kirkstall Pale, plus a real cider drawn from the cellar, the last hand pull was a blank.
If you want to sit outside, there’s some kooky tables along Melbourne Street. Personally, I prefer the inside, watching the never busy, but frequent coming and going of clientele.
Verdict; A modern Pub and a nice little place, just far enough out of Leeds city centre to make it a calm oasis of beery delights (and well worthy of it’s CAMRA POTM award).