It all started with a skinny little bar called North Bar. Leeds had no decent bars back in the day ( pubs yes, but not bars) North was one of the first to open (alongside arts, oporto and Normans). It sold interesting beer but also a great gin and tonic – this was the dark days when gin and tonics came in wine glasses with an ice cube and a slice of lemon from a jar. North was my first experience in Leeds, of lots of ice and a squeeze of fresh lime. We would all pile in – they would do table service (this was a shocking level of service, they even let you set up a tab!!). But as I got older North got busier and louder – I needed somewhere quieter to sip wine and maybe have some food with friends.
Ahh lovely North bar opened a sister bar down the road called the Reliance in 2001. Here my relationship developed from casual lover to committed relationship. Just four months after Reliance opened we got married there (me and my husband, not me and the bar). Joss (owner manager) had never done a wedding at Reliance (we had never got married) but between us we managed to get a band (thanks to the bargirls boyfriend – she said they were good I believed her and they were) get a cake (thanks to the frustrated chef who always wanted a chance to do some fancy spun sugar work) and order in crisp white linen and silver cutlery (thanks Joss)
The pub was closed to the public, the florist and the chief usher (Mark now creative director for World Events) worked all day decorating the bar with flowers (using vegetables as flower containers)help move furniture, lay tables. As it was October, the food needed to be hearty and welcoming. We chose sausages – five different types plus two vegetarian and three different types of mash all with gravy. How were we to know that come the wedding day the temperature was 25c instead of the expected 14c.
Thank God we had opted for Tapas and cava for the evening guests. The day was wonderful (might be biased) the staff were lovely and we all had a great day. As a wedding present the bar gave us the cctv footage of the evening – hmm bit like being in the big brother house.
The Reliance continued being a favourite bar – we always had birthdays and anniversaries there.
Then they opened another bar Cross keys, this is the sophisticated business sibling. All grown up gastropub with fabulous interior. This is the perfect work meeting spot, after work drinks, or Sunday lunch. It is in the Round Foundry a complex made up of architects, design agencies, new media agencies (and another brilliant bar Midnight Bell) . Have taken mum to Cross Keys on Mother’s Day where she got a free glass of Champagne ( how sweet).
It doesn’t stop there last year the latest family member, little sister Further North was opened- which is on my doorstep in Chapel Allerton, it is tiny has great olives and means I don’t have to pay for a taxi to get there or back! I love North bar and all the rest of the clan.
Now I want them to open somewhere with a lovely big beer garden. Will take some photos this weekend and post them up.