Ipsum Vinoteca is a new Italian concept wine shop / bar / café / restaurant in the neglected “Cultural Quarter” of Leeds, a part of town that really needs a few more good bars. Knowing that Italian enotecas are normally all about the wine, we went here with pretty low expectations, and we were very surprised indeed.
The space is incredibly light and open, with windows on all sides and tables very sparsely dotted around the shop part. The restaurant has its own separate room which leaves the shop/bar area with a very chilled-out vibe. There’s one sofa in the corner, if you’re lucky enough to get it.
Most of the wall space is devoted to the wine (divided into regioni) but there’s also a shelf devoted to grappa/spirits and several shelves of unusual Italian craft beer. You can guess where our attention was.
The beer comes from three breweries: 6 beers from Gjulia (including a gluten free one), 2 from Toz and 7 from San Michele. As is traditional for Italian beers, many of them are available in the 750ml wine bottle size which is perfect for sharing with a meal. The range goes all the way from a session pilsner right through to incredibly complex birra ambrata and birra nera styles. All the beers are available to take away or drink in, and there are many bar snacks to have with them (including our favourite Italian snack, taralli).
The staff here are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and this is reflected in the laid back service style: there’s table service but you can also order at the bar, and of course – as you’d expect from an enoteca – the staff are very knowledgeable about the drinks they sell.
We really loved our visit to Ipsum. Everything about the atmosphere, from the layout to the staff to the beer, reminded us of great times on holiday in Italy. Just be careful not to shatter the illusion by turning round and looking at the bus station.