One of Leeds’s newest venues, The Pit is helping to breathe life back into the once-dying Grand Arcade. You’ll find the entrance on Merrion Street; come down the stairs and find a huge restaurant and bar ready to take in overflow from its small neighbours across the street (Mojo et al). The L-shaped bar sits near the entrance in front of a large open space that might serve as a dance floor (though it’s tough to tell if that’s its intended purpose), and beyond that are several dining areas on distinct levels with plenty of seating. As long as no one in your party has trouble with stairs, this place should be able to accommodate large groups.
There are fifteen kegs offering everything from boring lagers and ciders to the oh-so-not-boring Flying Dog Doggie Style, Brooklyn Lager, Sam Adams and a pilsner called Pit Canary brewed specially by Wharfebank for The Pit. There’s a nice range of bottles, too, including Thornbridge, Goose Island, Flying Dog (in cans), Meantime and Schneider Weisse. On Wednesdays you can try the “Crafty Ladies” special: three different thirds for the price of two. Despite its name, this offer is open to people of all genders — we checked!
An inviting aroma of steak was wafting through the place, so on our next visit we’ll have to try the food. It’s an extensive menu of southern American-style cooking featuring ribs, po’ boys, pulled pork and more. (Even though it’s all the way across town, I wondered if maybe they’re trying to cut into market of the impossibly popular Red’s True BBQ?) We did try the ping pong, which is on the lowest level (aka The Den) and costs £5 for half an hour.
The ambience here feels manufactured, perhaps a by-product of it being so new. But the fittings are well done and it’s spacious and comfortable. The staff (of whom there are about a million) were also very friendly and accommodating.
We’re getting to the point in our quest where even some of our favourite places end up being number 30 or 40 down the list, a testament to how many great bars and pubs there are in Leeds! With plenty of high-quality beers, a huge space and a totally different vibe from the other places on Merrion Street, The Pit is squarely in the top half and deserves to be there. (And while I’ve got your attention, let me give a non-beer related plug for Handpicked Hall which occupies the space above. It’s definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been yet!)