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Felicity Clarke thinks more bars should take their inspiration from Fraggle Rock

Published on January 14th 2010.


Milo is on Call Lane. This is news to me. In my head I'd partitioned Call Lane off where the junction meets Boar Lane and the Corn Exchange but if every listing of Milo's address is to be believed, Milo occupies 10-12 Call Lane. Well I never.

If you baulk at the thought of an Oasis album track playing as you sip a G&T, don't go to Milo.

Describing Milo as on Call Lane seems daft not only because geographically I can't get my head round it. It's far better described as opposite Blue Rinse (Leeds' premier vintage clothing outlet) and just up from the market, being more befitting of this locale than the try-hard veneer of round the corner. You don't even have to go inside to see this – it's evident from the sign declaring them a 'café bar and resta...' In a way it's a good job the end fell off because from what I can tell, Milo is not a restaurant. It is a bar and a pretty damn good one at that.

A friend and I established this when we went there for a leisurely mid-week bevvy. We approached the bar to be greeted by an awkward but endearing fellow who told us “We don't do cocktails”. We hadn't asked, and while we're both females who know our way around a Benefit beauty counter, we're far from Carrie Bradshaw types demanding an olive with our Martinis. We shifted a little and asked for a recommendation.

Our man introduced us to a Pacifico beer (£3). This is a refreshing, easy-drinking Mexican lager, akin to Corona but with a slightly hoppier taste and an attractive bright yellow label. It's one of a fair selection of international bottled beers that complements their draught options and includes Red Stripe, Budvar and Paulaner. Like he says, they don't do cocktails, but they do have a pretty good back bar. You can get a quality spirit and mixer for a standard £3.

The drinks aren't Milo's real niche though. Nah, the niche is the environment. Knowing that angles and straight lines can seem cold and hard, Milo's people went for the softening effect of curves. Everywhere. The walls, the ceiling, the booths, the bar. With the bright red cave-like walls, sheet metal ceiling, circular portal windows and sixties-style furniture, it feels like a psychedelic pocket of Fraggle Rock.

They don't play the happy, hand-clappy Fraggle Rock theme tune, but they could. Its lyrics do articulate a sentiment they share. I'm thinking specifically of, 'Worries for another day, let the music play [clap clap]'. Yeah, you remember. The musical sounds on our visit were based around a nineties and noughties indie vibe. If you baulk at the thought of an Oasis album track playing as you sip a G&T, don't go to Milo. We loved it though – a fun mix of not-the-standard tracks from people like Beck, Jeff Buckley and The Strokes with some reggae, ska and funk sprinkled in.

It was a weekday and although pretty quiet when we first arrived, the general demeanour of the joint means that it didn't feel uncomfortably empty. It's probably got something to do with the curves. It got busier during the evening and at the weekend gets very so. Besides the ground floor bar, they have a performance room upstairs that hosts live bands and DJs on a Saturday. There's also a live acoustic night on Wednesdays and a more plugged in one on Thursdays. Let the music play indeed.

Milo, then, is not a restaurant and it's not on Call Lane. It might suggest as much on the outside but go through the door and you're in a laid-back muso universe channelling the Fraggle Rock spirit of carefree fun with good beer and good tunes. Just don't ask for a cosmopolitan.

Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 4/5 Service
3/5 Drink
4/5 Decor
4/5 Ambience
Address: Milo
10-12 Call Lane
0113 245 7101

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