It's been a busy couple of months, you can be forgiven for missing these ace new openings
Generally speaking, the back end of the year isn’t the best time to launch a new bar or restaurant. Despite the fact everybody’s splashing the cash like there’s no such thing as January credit card statements, the majority of us have our December social schedules set in stone since the office over-planner sent the Christmas night out RSVPs out back in August. Roughly 97% of December clientele is made up of the One-Night-Out-A-Year brigade who loudly demand a pint of Fosters and a tequila lime and salt regardless of whether they’re in a Yates’, a craft beer bar, a chicken shop, or a pissy phonebox, so trying to communicate a bar's ethos or mission statement is a losing battle.
Still, that hasn’t put off this determined lot, who have all opened their doors in the past couple of months while you’ve been dutifully eating three course Christmas menus with Brenda from Accounts, and we thought you might like to be brought up to speed…
The long-awaited new cocktail bar from the people behind Buxton’s much-celebrated Monk, with its hidden in plain sight location helping it keep its relaxed, bespoke environment in the face of the most hectic month for bars.
As the name suggests, the bar exists as a cavern of dimly lit, cosy nooks and more communal bar seating down a narrow staircase off South Parade. Owner Manachain Monoghan greets and seats you, and talks you through the high-concept list of “Cocktail stories” - drinks which tell a full-sensory story through the semiotics of their ingredients and presentation, as well as signature elements.
We don’t want to give anything away, but expect edible pebbles setting the scene in a coastline-themed cocktail, “peanut coals” and hickory smoke evoking the aroma of a cook-out on a peach grove in the southern states, and a Picasso bullfight on top of a Spanish concoction of Pedro Ximenez and chorizo-washed gin.
Below Stairs, 12 South Parade, LS1 5QE
Hailing all the way from virtuous Brighton late November, SIX managed to pinpoint the time of year when people are least-arsed about conscious eating to launch their health café. January, however, is the perfect time for a place like this to shine.
Rather than detoxing and purging to try and repent for Christmas indulgence, SIX is the place to go to fill up on good, satisfying, nutritious stuff to help you not just through this awful, awful month, but as a long-term sustainable diet (the noun, not the verb). Dishes aren’t stingy on flavour, with options like confit duck, chicken milanese, and crayfish taglietelle, but everything’s made with nutrition in mind and using organic produce where available, with a focus on prevenance.
The breakfast menu si the stuff of #FitFam dreams as well - if you’re into that kind of thing - with dozens of brunch bowls, smoothies, pancakes and waffles, acai, and of course, avocado options.
SIX, 66-68 Wellington Street, LS1 2EE
Epicurus & Death and Taxes
A truly unique new cocktail bar and full-on multisensory experience where you browse the cocktail list by listening through a pair of headphones. You’re not given any information ont he drinks besides the price, and 20-second snippets of songs - ranging from Edith Piaf to Bowie and Michael Kiwanuka - which correspond to drinks on the cocktail list, capturing individual elements through their mood, tempo, and structure. The food menu goes way beyond bar snacks, too, with plates of varying sizes from garden, sea, and land, such as roasted romanesco, crab ravioli, and jamon iberico.
Epicurus / Death and Taxes, 3 Cross Belgrave Street, LS2 8JP
The Reliance’s wayward (see?) suburban sibling is small but perfectly formed; hundreds of bottles of natural wine line the walls, produced organically, often bio-dynamically, and with minimum intervention, sourced from independent growers at a scale that lets them focus on the quality rather than quantity of the output. Steve - one of the countries foremost advocates of natural wine - greets you and talks you through everything they have available on the shelves and pouring that day. If you’re lucky, one of the six-or-so stools will be free so you can sit and enjoy a glass or your chosen bottle with some of The Reliance’s home-cured charcuterie or cheese from George & Josephs cheesemonger around the corner.
Wayward Wines, 1C Regent Street, LS7 4PE
A tiny cafe, bakery, and late-night espresso bar bringing a much-needed burst of the Mediterranean to Kirkstall Road. The Italian chefs work around the clock and serve an ever-changing menu of traditional tray-baked pizzas, stuffed arancini balls, pastas, and deli sandwiches on fresh-baked ciabatta. Their rotisserie oven is always full of fresh roast chickens, or you can call for a coffee and in-house baked cannelloni for breakfast from 8am (11am on weekends), or as a late-night treat until 11pm. Everything's available to take away, or to eat at the bar.
POCO Sicilian Street Food, 360 Kirkstall Road, LS4 2HQ
L'Art du Fromage
When asked in an interview what his favourite type of cheese is, Ex-Liverpool and England legend Steven Gerrard answered simply: "melted cheese". I'm not implying that the man is a genius, but judging by that answer, he's not not a genius.
If you think he might be onto something, you'll be well into L'Art du Fromage - a new Friday & Saturday evening cheese restaurant which specialises in French and Alpine cheeses. Order a fondue for the table and take turns dipping bread, charcuterie, and pickles in, or go for a tabletop raceltte grill and pour the liquid cheese over everything in sight.
L'Art du Fromage, 31-32 Park Row, LS1 5JD