It's not going to blow your socks off, but you could certainly do a lot worse, says Jenessa Williams
If you’re a frequent Instagram user, you may already be familiar with The Potting Shed. Keen users of blogger affiliation, they’ve made a local name for themselves through stealthy marketing, build-your-own-gin stations and branding that is both modern and conversant.
Coming soon to Trinity Leeds, they already have branches in various outposts of Yorkshire, with several more listed in the ‘coming soon’ section of their website. Clearly a business model that works then, but is there really room for another bar food-esque restaurant in the city centre? We headed to the Guiseley branch to find out.
Pizzas, burgers and steaks make up the bulk, but there are some pleasing little curveballs...
A mere eleven minute train away from Leeds, Guiseley itself is surprisingly familiar in its Chapel Allerton-like structure, with a local community feel that lends itself well to a nicely branded but ultimately family-friendly pub chain.
Stepping indoors, we’re greeted by something akin to a particularly hip Wetherspoons, or perhaps a luxe Vodka Revolution. Neither of these comparisons is intended as a negative – far from it. The instant coziness of footy on the telly and traditional pub bubble writing on signs puts you right at home, with the photogenic gin garden roof terrace and high stools adding just the right amount of style.
The place is packed, and straight away you get the impression that this has become quite the community hub. There’s live entertainment every night. Our Thursday night offering is a young woman who trades in sweet, sassy acoustic versions of Drake, Beyoncé and various other audition-ready hits, taking breaks to chat with the staff in an amiable manner.
Staff are highly attentive – perhaps a little too attentive, as it takes three visits from our eager waitress before we finally feel we’ve digested the menu enough to decide. Pizzas, burgers and steaks make up it’s bulk, but there are some pleasing little curveballs on there too – gamba pill prawns, crispy duck salad, grilled salmon tacos.
We’re feeling hungry, so we opt to keep things simple: a veggie-topped pizza (£9.50) for me, and a minute-steak (£10.95) for my carnivorous dining partner, upon the sad realisation that they are not only out of their iconic Yorkshire burger, but also the sirloin steak (Thursday is Steak Night after all). We also choose a side of garlic nduja dough balls (£6.50), obviously in the interests of a fair review and not at all because of our eyes-bigger-than-belly complex.
For an establishment that doesn’t trade solely in Italian goods, the pizza is pretty good – topped with plump olives, sundried tomatoes, broccoli and mushrooms, the vegetables have the right amount of bite and bright colour, revealing themselves as undeniably fresh. The base is very thin but not crunchy, a satisfying doughiness that feels indulgent but not greasy. The only drawback is the pure excess of cheese – despite being hugely hungry I only make it through half without having to bust my lactose tablets out.
The steak, while ever so slightly overcooked (more 90 seconds than a minute) is also declared tasty, and the skin on fries suitable inoffensive, the sort you could easily pick at indefinitely. Much to my cheese-hating partner's chagrin, the dough balls arrive laden with the yellow stuff (unmentioned on the menu), but a swift apology later and we have a fresh batch chock full of njuda instead, roughly folded and glutinous but definitely moreish. I’ll definitely be learning how to make these at home.
Ever the sugar fiends, we find just enough room to share a slice of zingy lemon tart (£5.25) that is quickly extinguished with smooth vanilla ice cream.
Blending a friendly, local feel with very streamlined, chain-line service, it’s easy to see why The Potting Shed has managed to maintain such a string of successful restaurants. Well-priced and satisfying, it’s telling that their menu for Trinity Leeds has not yet been confirmed – one suspects they may need to add a few more well-tailored dishes to stand out amongst the cities many pizza and burger joints.
But if you fancy a decent cocktail, a bit of food and a low-maintenance evening vibe, you could certainly do a lot worse.
The Potting Shed Bar and Gardens, Former HSBC, Oxford Road, Guiseley, LS20 8AA
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
veggie pizza 6, ‘minute’ steak 6, nduja dough balls 7, lemon tart 7
Bit too attentive
Busy and comforting