The best beer garden in Leeds just got better

Leeds has a distinct lack of nice beer gardens in the City Centre. Headingley has The Oak, which is huge and has a friendly, frivolous atmosphere and a few standard ales on, but Leeds centre is a bit lacking. There's always Millenium Square, but on a sunny day Wetherspoons is always rammed full of idiots and All Bar One is fine if you want to please a mixed group, with some people wanting cocktails and things like that, but not really a 'beer garden'.

So what are your options? Well
The Adelphi gets the sun for a good proportion of the day on it's ad-hoc beer terrace out front, but with cars whizzing past a few metres away it's hardly idyllic, even if the beer selection is usually very good. There's always The Cross Keys and The Midnight Bell but they are a bit enclosed, which is great for sun bathing but not so good for leisurely drinking, and the view certainly leaves something to be desired.

So, where then?

The place you should be heading when the sun is shining in Leeds City Centre and you want a decent beer is The Stew & Oyster, aka The Calls Landing. The small yet perfectly formed outdoor area overlooks the river and on a sunny day like Saturday is simply stunning, with a light wind blowing through the terraced seating area and couples and groups sharing food and drinks merrily it feels like being on the River in France or Spain, certainly not West Yorkshire.

One niggle that I mentioned about the
Stew & Oyster previously was that their cask beer selection can be a touch samey, and was often served a touch too cold. Well I'm pleased to say my visit on Saturday has well and truly put these worries to bed.

The house ale has changed from the slightly dull Theakstons bitter to a new 3.9% 'Stew & Oyster' pale ale brewed by Ossett Brewery, which will be permanently available alongside one or two other beers from local breweries. On this occasion the other cask beer on offer was a 4.5%
'White Rose Wheat', also from Ossett. I went for the house ale and found it to be a solid, citrus hopped session pale with a really refreshing dry finish, and served at a perfect cool-but-not-cold temperature. An ideal beer garden beer!

The bottled beer selection has also gone up a notch. In addition to the staples such as Duvel and Brooklyn Lager that they've always had, some new beers were now in stock such as Anchor Summer Ale, Goose Island IPA and loads more American craft brews.

The food menu has also been extended with bruschetta and anti-pasti plates added for some summer freshness, alongside the excellent oysters and consistently delicious stews (I had the beef chilli with roast peppers and chunky smoked bacon on Saturday and it was as good as ever). They don't do a great deal, but what they do, they do extremely well. Simple, tasty, reasonably priced food that goes perfetcly with the excellent drinks menu.

The service at The Stew & Oyster has always been good, but what I thought was particularly refreshing on this occasion was that as soon as we sat down outside a barman came over and asked if we'd like to order some drinks - we aksed what cask beer was on and ordered appropriately with no money changing hands, and as our glasses emptied we were politely asked if we would like anything else. An hour or so later, and after a few drinks and a bite to eat, we asked for the bill which arrived promptly, paid and was on our way in a matter of minutes without the need to even step inside the building. Continental style relaxed-yet-efficient table service, in a UK beer garden. How many places have you been to recently with service like that?

As I looked around at the group of girls carefully pouring Anchor beers and chatting over a plate of shared anti-pasti, the young lads laughing over pints of pale ale and the old couple smiling to each other whilst carefully sipping their glasses of Bacchus Cherry Kriek, I thought how there's no place I'd rather be on a sunny day.

Good beer, good food, friends, conversation and sunshine. A perfect combination in a perfect setting.



  1. Yeah, 'tis a good beer garden for sure! Seems like good service, too. They didn't have such attentive barmen when I was there last!

  2. Yeh it's always been reasonably service but on that occasion it was particularly good, hopefully will be like that from now on! The beer selection really is much improved as well