Calls Landing, Leeds
Calls Landing is a pub with one great strength: it’s one of probably only two bars in Leeds City Centre with a South-facing beer garden on the river (along with Aire Bar next door, which has a smaller one).
It’s a very nice, if sometimes slightly crowded, beer garden and it certainly beats sitting outside Restaurant Bar & Grill on City Square in summer, surrounded by roaring traffic as the long shadows fall in mid-afternoon whilst you drink a very expensive pint of Tetley’s Smoothflow.
But a riverside pub like this is going to struggle for 9 months of the year in West Yorkshire when the beer garden lies wet and empty, as seagulls pick away at soggy discarded Greggs wrappers. So it needs to have something else going for it.
Fortunately, one of Calls Landing’s strengths is a small but decent range of beers. Whilst it’s not going to compete for variety with The Palace around the corner for selection on cask, there are three handpumps, one of which is always Theakstons (which is a good enough default option and one I haven’t seen much of in Leeds).
The guest beers have included some unusual and interesting options, including Golden Angel from Doncaster’s Toad Brewery – a solid beer with a terrible pumpclip – and this week, Ossett Brewery’s Treacle Stout. It’s probably pipped at the post by Summer Wine’s Treason Treacle Stout for me; but it’s a SIBA award-winner and deservedly so. There’s also a pretty good fridge selection, with a few dumpy Belgian bottles as well as Brooklyn Lager and the like.
It’s one of those bars that, instead of having a busy kitchen and a large menu, has chosen to have a small, low-maintenance selection of food that it does well. Whereas North Bar has pie & peas or cheese & bread, Calls Landing has recently rebranded itself as a “stew & oyster bar”.
There’s a selection of three changing stews with an emphasis on beans, chorizo, chilli, prawns etc, which come in big bowls with nice bread, and I’ve always enjoyed. It’s also served quickly, which doesn’t hurt.
I’m a bit wary about oysters generally, so I’ve always shied away from that option. They also have good olives and a selection of nuts. They could do with giving you a spare glass to put your pistachio shells in, though.
The bar itself is pleasantly decked out with a modern cafe feel, with light wood, exposed bricks, a rack of newspapers and fairly interesting modern art posters. The piped music tends towards the safe and middle-aged, with a lot of Cream, Fleetwood Mac, T-Rex and the like. The windows look out on the river and the floorspace has expanded considerably into a further room in the last year or so.
Calls Landing has always been a great place to be on a summer afternoon. However it’s also a very pleasant place for a simple, warming meal and a decent pint on a dark, rainy winter evening.
Calls Landing, 36-38 The Calls, LS2 7EW; http://www.callslanding.com/