Banyan is the latest city centre bar from the people who brought us The Pit and Manahatta, as well as a dozen or so other places around the north, including three other Banyan bars. It’s taken over half of the iconic Old Post Office, which it shares with The Restaurant Bar & Grill.
The general feel of Banyan is very similar to their other bars, with a very polished and slightly chainy feel. The emphasis here is on wine, cocktails and casual dining (there’s a large menu of burgers, salads and the like, a weekend brunch menu, and we were impressed to see a dedicated gluten-free menu) and it’s clearly going up in competition against its next-door neighbour for the business crowd.
Beer-wise they have Camden Pale, Sharp’s Wolf Rock, Chieftain IPA, Blue Moon and Kozel and in bottles there’s also Brooklyn, Asahi and a couple of Thornbridges. That’s not a bad variety for a place that doesn’t specialise in beer but nothing you couldn’t find in many other bars.
It’s a huge space, with bars on two floors (the upstairs serves as a pair of function rooms when it’s not open to the public) and – perhaps its biggest draw – a giant beer garden spilling out onto City Square. I was impressed by the music choices – it was rather like being in a bar with my favourite Vintage TV on in the background.
Overall, Banyan is not really for us: it’s quite corporate-feeling and a bit bland. But it’s also fun and casual, and we can imagine, especially coupled with its location, it’s going to be a huge success. We could already see it enjoying a much larger crowd than its over-pretentious neighbour on the day we visited, and that can only be a good thing.