We weren’t expecting much when we visited Aire Bar. We’d seen the riverside garden from the other side of the Aire but other than that the entrance didn’t tempt us. In fact, the signage seemed more appropriate for a gym than for a bar.
So climbing down the stairs imagine our surprise to find a huge vaulted brick cavern at river level, with four massive rooms (pool room, regular bar, sofa lounge and dining room)! There is a huge amount of seating inside and a very decent amount outside too. The walls are adorned with local art, mostly depicting the River Aire. The view of the river is unrivalled here — the bar deserves its name! — and this lends the bar a feeling of being far away from the busy city centre.
There are 3 local cask ales (Saltaire Pride, Black Sheep and Ossett Yorkshire Blonde when we visited) and a handful of interesting kegs (Blue Moon, Fruli and Veltins). In the fridge we also spied Leffe, Vedett and Tiger. Not the greatest beer selection we’ve seen, but much better than we expected. At £3.40 a pint for local ales, though, it’s not cheap.
Aire Bar has a ridiculous number of amenities. As well as the sofas and beer garden, there’s pool, an arcade machine, a cash machine and the fastest free wifi we’ve seen so far. Food is served until 8pm and the menu includes an all-day full English breakfast as well as reasonably priced pub classics. The bar also shows live sports, which are never a draw for us but with the amount of space here we’d probably be fine even when they’re showing.
It’s funny that this place is so unassuming and almost unwelcoming from the outside, because it has a lot to offer people, but maybe its reputation precedes it and it doesn’t need the publicity!