I must admit: I felt a little intimidated going into The Duncan. Every time I’d walked by this city centre fixture, I’d seen numerous regulars standing outside smoking, talking boisterously, and seemingly intoxicated in the middle of a weekday. I got the impression that it wasn’t the type of the place that was particularly open to outsiders. Not that folks were rude, mind you; it just seemed like a closed club. But given our dedication to the Quest, we were determined to get into that club!
We visited on a Saturday night, after being discouraged by the heaving crowds at the two new Trinity bars. (But really, what did we expect?) When we entered, no hush fell over the place, no one stared intently at us, and we were pleasantly surprised to see how quiet it was. It made me want to go back on a Wednesday afternoon when the joint is really jumpin’ and get the full experience. One day, perhaps.
The few folks that were there certainly had been there a while, and most of them had flat caps and thick Yorkshire accents as we expected. We didn’t get a fantastically warm welcome but nobody made us feel like we didn’t belong. And while I expected to be the youngest patrons and the only non-regulars, in fact we were not. The fittings are not spectacularly well-maintained but certainly better than some we’ve seen and the atmosphere was pretty standard for a Sam Smith’s pub. (Lots of Leeds United paraphernalia, so beware on match day.)
We’re fans of the Sam Smith’s brand, but surprisingly you’ll find no casks here, which cost The Duncan in the beer rating department. Still, the variety of kegs is good, including Extra Stout, Old Brewery, Sovereign, and three types of lager. Not too many bottles to choose from — just organic lager and organic cider, so The Old Red Lion and the Angel beat them there. And the value is as good as at any Sam Smith’s establishment. They also have a large separate pool room with two tables, complete with offers like “Two pints of lager and a game of pool for under £4.” Beat that with a stick!
Basically we were pleasantly surprised with The Duncan, in that we didn’t feel completely ostracized and the surroundings were acceptable. That said, we’re not exactly starting up a fan club either. If we were, though, we would call ourselves The Duncan Donuts!
(I crack myself up.)