No. 26 Aire Street is the bar at the front of the White Cloth Gallery, Leeds’s new photography & film gallery, but it stands alone as a drinking establishment in its own right.
The atmosphere is very relaxed — somewhere between a café and a bar — and there are several comfortable chairs and sofas as well as the usual tables and chairs. The exhibition space and the bar merge together in the middle and it’s perfectly fine to carry your beer as you look round the exhibition (which is open all the same hours as the bar). Even the music is pleasant: a good mix and not too loud. It’s hard for us to imagine a nicer atmosphere for a small indoor bar!
Currently the space is not the most popular bar in town, but they have a second bar set up for events or busy times. The staff are very friendly and excited about the beers on offer.
Speaking of which, for a small bar the selection is pretty good: 3 cask ales, all guests (Saltaire seems to be a favourite) and a good selection of both microbrews and mass-produced stuff. We were given a choice of two US microbrews and a BrewDog from the fridge. The prices are not the cheapest in town but not extortionate either. There’s coffee on offer too, which is always a bonus for daytime visits.
The food menu is mostly pizzas, salads and nibbles, with a little twist that the herbs, tomatoes and chillies are grown behind the bar!
There’s a free gallery membership advertised which gives you discounts at the bar and access to the free wifi.
We really liked this place: definitely one to check out if you’ve not found it yet!