At one time, you were metaphorically well and truly in the Doghouse if you were down Kirkgate, well now you can be on Kirkgate and really be in the Doghouse, because that’s the name of one of the city’s newest bars, soon to become a bar cum record store.
I predicted a while ago that Kirkgate was starting to go all up market, something that wouldn’t be too difficult for Leeds long neglected oldest street. After the excellent Wapentake opened things seemed to stall a bit, local politics, national politics and european politics each taking a part of the blame, but it’s started to get going again with this new opening.
The Doghouse had only been open for three weeks when I popped in. I’d already heard some good things too, even from serious CAMRA die hards. Surprisingly, for a new venture, it’s next door to Wapentake with whom they share the pleasant back yard drinking area. Personally I don’t think it’s a bad thing, success attracts success and mutual custom attracts mutual customers.
At the minute the third floor record shop is only 95% finished and the launch party is going to be on the 8th September. It’s called Paula’s because the previous incumbent of the property was Paula’s, a ladies hairdressers. They’ve even called the house ale Paula’s, it’s brewed by Stod Fold of Halifax. When I called in they just had two of the three hand pulls in action. The second one was Hop Studio Solstice, a Lager Pale Ale. Both were in good nick and cost me £4 for two halves, I rated them both as Good+. They had a decent range of quality Lager style beers on as well.
The question in my mind was; will it rival the mighty Record Café in Bradford? To my mind the answer was; I don’t think that’s what it’s setting out to do. Yeah, there’s going to be a Record Shop specialising in Dance Music and from what I hear, it will be pretty cool with guest vinyl sellers and regular DJ slots including stuff like guest DJ’s, providing entertainment for the entire venue which has a sort of relaxed lounge area on the floor between the bar and the record shop. In this way I think The Doghouse is going to occupy it’s own niche, which is not going to be a beer bar, more a bar where you can get beer, decent beer, but a whole host of other things beside: coffee, cocktails, spirits, snacky bits of food and cakes and croissants, records and some good vibes.
It’s a bit hard to categorise inside. The bar is fashioned from breeze blocks with an odd lego frieze inset here and there and it’s hard to tell whether the scaffolding poles are part of it, or actually holding the ceiling up. Although much of the decor is bare and minimal, the back half of the ground floor, and the second floor, has a carpet to rival any Wetherspoons, and the furniture is a random collection of all sorts. It’s definitely wacky, I couldn’t fathom out whether the fixtures and fittings have been salvaged from somewhere else or they need salvation themselves. Looking at it from another way, it’s hard to tell if it’s in the process of being renovated (just over half way through) or everything has just been neglected for a very long time. Mind you, they must’ve saved a fortune by neglecting to paint anything?
Verdict: Not a place for any serious beer geekery, but nevertheless a quality, quirky little bar that will occupy it’s own niche and nicely supplement the existing bars on the up and coming Kirkgate without stepping on the toes of any existing establishments. I predict it will fashion it’s own following and things will be all the better for it.