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.
The bar is a nice idea but needs more of a range of seating. I’m not sure the market it’s targeting want to sit on bare stark bench seating. It’s lacking clutter but also lacking decoration, and there is quite a lot of space, which makes it feel empty- not a feeling you want when there isn’t many people in there. It’s designed as though they’re expecting the area to be thronged- I haven’t been on a theatre night so perhaps it is very occasionally, but the sense of emptiness is overwhelming, made even worse by Coldplay on a loop.
The beers are very interesting- Italian beer is improving by the month and these are some pretty good examples. The wine selection is excellent but predictably expensive.
The main problem is it has no base, few advertised events, nothing to really ‘get behind’. If they don’t do something soon I predict this will be another soon-to-close business venture.
Needs energy, needs people, needs a hook.
-Oh, and what an utterly awful name.
Hi Jack im only stepping in to clarify a couple of points, the name or Coldplay is matter of opinion…,ipsum is not about the seating even though they are bespoke but about the wines and our offering from beers to food and the reason behind our layout is not because we expect to be thronged but want people to feel relaxed and chilled out. ..we want people to be able to talk and hear each other, no n shouting to be heard. Ipsum wants to be amongst the best place for what it offers independently of the seating which I personally find comfortable. Some of the best bars in the world have similar approach and philosophy. Thanks for your positive comments about the quality of our offering. We are a work in progress and hopefully will be able to get you back in…
Good luck with Ipsum, honestly. It’s a brave venture. Because of it’s location it needs a few tweaks and proactive ideas to attract a regular crowd.
I don’t criticise it because I want it to fail- I want it to succeed!