Cocktails, wine and grazing boards in the former Plaza Cinema
“It was the only sex education we got,” my new friend Stan tells me as we look at a black and white picture of The Plaza, the old school cinema in Leeds which showed, amongst other things, “mucky films”. Stan, who is well known around Leeds for writing about the arts, used to attend the grammar school over the road and would sneak in with his friends for an eye-opening experience, he tells me, eyes twinkling.
The colour palette is all earthy naturals, sage greens and terracotta with tactile crockery and comfortable chairs.
Sadly sex education comes in a different form these days as the iconic Plaza is long gone. The building that housed it has stood derelict for years until recently. Stan and I, as well as a collection of other media bods and influencers, are here for the unveiling of its new manifestation as Kino, a modern bar and cafe bar from Leeds’ Opera North on New Briggate.
Its new owners also allude to its salacious previous incarnation - the name Kino is a nod to its “kinematograph-ic” past. But today it’s an altogether classier and more inclusive affair.
A stunning events space
Upstairs, Opera North curates a very fine programme of theatre, music and more in the Howard Assembly Room. The auditorium, which has been in business for over a decade, takes advantage of stunning original features while balancing them with sleek modern finishes. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit for the room alone, gawk up at its ornate, arched ceiling and enjoy the large, original windows that flood the room with light during the day.
The building which is Grade II* listed, dates back to the 1870s and the team urges us to take a moment to admire the lovingly restored details of the exterior. The build was not just a long process but a challenging one. Four shops have been knocked together and a steel structural frame constructed that holds the whole thing together while preserving the historic building.
On the ground floor, Kino is a bright and modern dining space, with steps leading up to an even more expansive bar area. There’s also a private dining or bijou events space in the basement meaning that Kino can house up to 100 guests at any one time. There will also be outdoor seating for around 25 people when the weather behaves itself.
The colour palette is all earthy naturals, sage greens and terracotta with tactile crockery and comfortable chairs. The team tell us they’re keen not just to get the pre and post-show crowd but for people to just pop in for a drink and a bit of good old Yorkshire aperitivo.
What’s the food and drink like at Kino?
The project began work in 2018, with a hefty setback due to (nobody’s friend) the pandemic, and in today’s uncertain climate, they want to walk before they can run. For now, the offering is simple, carefully curated charcuterie, cheese and plant-based grazing boards with cheese from local heroes George and Joseph, Yorkshire cured charcuterie and wines to go alongside from Latitude. We enjoyed a lovely smoky Monastrell and a pinot noir with our stilton and sharp cheddar.
But with a larger than average kitchen downstairs, there’s room for collaboration and ambition, all of which are on the cards. For now, it’s all about pop-ups from local food traders - get in touch if you fancy a stint. The first to take up temporary residency for a supper club on 23 July is Mor Mor, a Levantine-inspired brand doing zingy kebabs and falafels.
These pop-up kitchens will rotate regularly until a permanent menu is established in-house. The focus is on sustainability and championing that good ole Yorkshire larder. Other local producers represented are North Star Coffee Roasters, Northern Monk, Darlington’s Acorn Dairy, Lishman’s of Ilkley and Bluebird Bakery as well as Slingsby and Mason’s Gin both Yorkshire brands.
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North comments:
“We can’t wait to open the doors to Kino this week and at long last welcome people to our own restaurant and bar. Following a complex and detailed redevelopment project, we believe Kino creates a vibrant destination in this beautiful historic building on a previously underused part of New Briggate. With Kino, we continue to do what we do best – entertaining through memorable experiences – adding seriously delicious food and drink to our repertoire. We are truly thrilled to partner with so many of the best local producers, and to welcome MorMor for Kino’s first pop-up supper club on 23 July.”
Hugo Moneypenny, MorMor says:
“It’s great to be getting back into a kitchen following such a busy summer full of events, pop up residencies and being in festival fields. We can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best and doing it in the super exciting pop-up at Kino.”
Kino is open on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and all day on Fridays and Saturdays. Bookings for the supper club are now open - book by calling on 0113 223 3700 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Kino, 34 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU
Read again: Things to do in and around Leeds: July 2022
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