Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pin Bar

Thurs 6 Nov 2008

I've been toying with writing a review of my new favourite bar and place to eat for quite a while. At first, my friends encouraged me to do so, to increase patronage and ensure its survival. Now, they've started asking me not to, in case other people discover it.

A really rubbish lunch at another bar has finally forced my hand.

Pin, on Dock Street, is the Leeds Brewery's newest bar. It's only been open a couple of months and business appears to be getting brisker.

On our first visit (quite a while ago now, very soon after it opened) we were a bit perplexed. Was it a restaurant rather than a bar? Why was there a cocktail menu? What was going on with our beers? Then Nigel's pie arrived and everyone (especially him) shut up. After he demolished it, he announced that it was very good and that the mash was real potatoes and that the vegetables had not been over cooked. On that day, I had the steak and blue cheese sandwich and was also happy.

We decided that it was worth another visit. This time, I wasn't eating, which I regretted as soon as Andy S's chicken kiev appeared. Not only was it huge, but it had clearly been made on the premises. Think what a chicken kiev looks like out of a packet. And now think of a big chicken breast, stuffed with garlic butter, crumbed and fried. Two completely different beasts. There was a lot of lip smacking - perhaps there could have been a little more butter but the chicken was lovely and moist and the chips were fantastic. On this occasion, Nigel had the fish and chips, and again ... no complaints.

And you know what - we haven't had a duff pint, or a duff meal, yet. Amongst us we've tried risottos, burgers, soups, pies, sandwiches ... and it's all really good. And the chips remain fantastic. The lager drinkers are happy because the bar stocks some 'premium' types of draught. The bitter drinkers are happy: FOUR Leeds Brewery beers to choose from (I've been enjoying the Gathering Storm). I guess cocktail drinkers would be happy too ... we've not ventured into that territory yet!

While the food isn't cheap (£5.50 for the sandwiches, which do come with crisps and salad, around £8.50 for the rest of the menu) it's not a lot more expensive than the substandard out of the van/freezer type fare you'll find in most pubs. In fact, I think Pin is doing an excellent job of treading the middle ground: it's not gastropub food, it's pub food that happens to be very well done.

Today, I went to the other extreme: a cheap (except that a mistake was made in the bill, which I didn't notice until we'd left, so not actually so cheap at all) lunch in the Aire Bar. My burger arrived in a soulless white bun, a piece of iceberg lettuce and a wedge of hard tomato served as garnish. The burger itself was barely cooked (to be honest, if we hadn't waited 40 minutes in a near empty bar I might have been tempted to send it back). I'd almost finished eating by the time my chips arrived. A colleague's chips arrived and were undercooked.

I've spent the rest of the day feeling quite ill. I feel like I've just finished eating the burger and the stomach is not happy.

I, for one, am more than happy to pay the Pin premium. We reckon that Pin's food prices are about £1 up on those of nearby pubs selling equivalent, but not as good, food. And that is a very small price to pay.

Other people rate pin too: Katie at Leeds Grub also raves about the chips!

1. Pin, 24 Dock Street Leeds, LS11 9RU, map (the postcode doesn't give the right location on googlemaps!)
2. The Aire Bar, 32, The Calls, Leeds, LS2 7EW, phone: 0113 245 5500, map.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being someone who enjoys all types of bars within leeds I must say try the cocktails at pin. After asking for a list it was explained that at present the menu's were still being printed alas whatever I wanted the bar tender could make. So in a confident manner I asked for thier best. The bar tender asked what spirit I enjoyed most inwhich I replied 'rum'. Not even a minute later I was gifted with a delightful 'Pin Punch', which I was told was designed by their manager and I must say he has talent. A long fruity rum concoction which lasted as little time on the glass as the time taken to make it. After a not many of those I was very happy with my visit.

3:33 pm  
Blogger Mark Fox said...

I have to say thanks for the recommendation of Pin. I paid a quick visit on Friday and then returned to eat on Saturday. The food was delicious.

8:15 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Hm, OK anonymous ... maybe one day I'll give a cocktail a try (will my friends let me live it down?!).

And I'm glad you enjoyed your visits to Pin, Mark!

8:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete and I popped down this weekend after seeing its review in city light on friday, I must say we were very impressed. greated by a warm smile and a chat, helped in our drinks decesion, ( went for a great glass of their shiraz) and Pete had a Leeds Best. after much pondering of the menu we decided on the fishcakes to start, thai red curry and rabbit stew for our mains. Fantastic! my only gripe was that the rabbit stew wasnt going to be on for longer so i could have it again! we mentioned that to our server when we were paying up and he reasured us that they would have it on again and he could email us when we do! excelent service or what!
I too am a little unsure of the atmosphere but this was not a problem given the quality of everything else, so would definatly go back soon.

1:43 am  
Blogger Alex said...

Pete - rabbit stew! How exciting! I love how the menu and specials at Pin change so frequently - it's a sure sign of things being freshly made in house!

I'm heading there for lunch tomorrow - can't wait!

9:46 pm  

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