It’s been 14 months since they first closed their doors and 6 months since they were last open. For hospitality and entertainment venues everywhere, it’s been a tough journey of waiting and adapting and surviving. And for their punters, it’s been long time coming…
Now we’re back! The anticipated dates on the roadmap out of lockdown have arrived, and following a month of weather-watching outdoor openings, your favourite Leeds places are welcoming us in, and we’re going out…
It’s all very well popping by your local cafe and taking out your favourite drink, but sipping it on the streets of Leeds hasn’t quite been the same. And brewing your own at home sure doesn’t match up. Because a big part of the coffee shop experience is to cosy up and wind down in the welcoming atmospheres of Leeds’ many marvellous interiors.
Now back open, you can immerse once more in the stylish surroundings of city legends like Laynes Espresso, Mrs Atha’s, North Star, La Bottega Milanese, If and Kapow. And the relaxed buzz returns to the suburbs too, where Fika in Headingley, Opposite in Chapel Allerton, Haus of Coffee in Horsforth, and Coffee on the Crescent in Woodhouse are amongst the dozens of cool cafes all over the city inviting us back in.
Since beer gardens reopened in April, drinkers have been enjoying them in their raincoats and sunglasses. So it is with some relief and much excitement that the pubs and bars of Leeds are now fully open and we can whet out whistles without wetting our heads. Whether you’ve missed a pint in a traditional pub or a cocktail in a modern bar, Leeds has a vast and eclectic array of quality places to suit all tastes.
From the city’s oldest Whitelock’s to new opening Springwell, from classy cocktails at The Maven to cool craft beers at Boot & Rally, from popular city central Belgrave Music Hall to favourite local The Bridge Inn, from day time drinks at The Reliance to all night shots at Oporto… the list goes on and we’re keen to get back crawling them all.
It’s been equally tricky for Leeds’ food scene to adapt to the changing restrictions. Some restaurants became takeaways and where possible set up outdoor seating, but planning a meal out is a whole lot easier indoors. At least the time away has accentuated what a pleasure it is to dine out, and what a vast and delicious selection of eateries we can go to in Leeds.
Rush back to the sophisticated British fare at Ox Club, Shear’s Yard and The Foundry; treat yourself to taster menus at Home, The Swine That Dines and The Man Behind The Curtain; reacquaint with small plate stunners at Stuzzi, Bundobust and Iberica; go vegetarian at Manjit’s Kitchen, vegan at Mog’s, and organic at Eat Your Greens; travel to Italy at Salvo’s, Mexico at Pinche Pinche, Thailand at Zaap, even Jamaica at the new Jam Rock; indeed, your favourite local and global cuisines are here for you again in all shapes and sizes – let’s feast!
Although perusing exhibits at art galleries and museums can be naturally suited to social distance, the indoor settings of such venues have had to wait until now before unleashing their cultural delights back into Leeds.
Now you can reconnect with your artistic side at Leeds Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute and The Tetley. And you can reawaken your educational interest at City Museum and Royal Armouries. A welcome reminder of the incredible selection of spaces we have in this city.
After months of entertaining ourselves on your streaming station of choice, we’ve surely either completed Netflix or grown bored of scanning Amazon Prime. And whilst a night in now and then is nice, entertainment amongst others is a nourishment that’s been sorely missed. Now the theatres, cinemas, stages and stadiums of the city are putting on a show once again and we’re ready for them all.
The centre’s quartet of Leeds Playhouse, City Varieties, Grand Theatre and Carriageworks are immediately offering amazing live performances of musicals, plays, dance, comedy and more. Hyde Park Picture House is open to curate quality film screenings and provide a cinematic experience more expertly than we were able to at home. Fake crowd noise on TV is replaced by fans returning to live sport at Headingley Stadium and Elland Road. And even smaller unseated venues like Brudenell Social Club and The Domino Club can begin to bring music gigs back to the people of Leeds.
Of course, all of the above are working within current guidelines to make even the most hesitant feel safe. And whilst the limited capacity, social distance, checking in and table service may be a step away from full normality, the venues of Leeds are creating experiences that make us delighted to have all of these pleasures back in our lives.
Images: Bundobust, Eat Your Greens, Hyde Park Picture House