EVERY great theatre needs a decent boozer next door for a crafty pre-show tipple, and the revamped White Swan looks like it will do the business for the reopened City Varieties.
The White Swan certainly has had a chequered history. At one time, vice cops spent more time at the bar than the regulars, but the working girls wouldn’t feel at home in this elegant redesign.
"Not only can you get a pre-show drink you can also pop out at half time and still have time to sink a pint before the luvvies come back on."
There’s little point in spending £9m revamping a theatre if the pub next door is a dump so it was a shrewd move to get Leeds Brewery to take it on.
Leeds Brewery has already revamped a string of boozers across the city, but this might be the best yet. The redesign pays tribute to the theatre’s rich history without going over the top, although I think the grand piano is a waste of space.
Some of the walls are covered with old theatre posters and the dressing room lights behind the bar are a clever touch. They’ve spent a bit of money on classy seating, and I nearly disappeared into one of the soft leather sofas dotted around the large bar space.
That said, although the new operators are looking for a bar feel this is still resolutely a pub and that means the beer has to be good. There's a range of guest ales but I went for a Leeds Pale Ale to see if they were getting the basics right.
They are - this was a well-kept ale with a decent head and the citrusy flavours came through nicely. The Amstel across the table was bog standard but served nice and cool. The staff were also friendly and efficient offering useful advice.
)I had a quick peak at the bar menu, which had just finished, and it had all the usual suspects, but perhaps a little on the top end of bar meal prices. We’ll be back for a proper review in due course.
In a new development, the White Swan now has two connections to the theatre; not only can you get a pre-show drink you can also pop out at half time and still have time to sink a pint before the luvvies come back on.
We popped in before the Varieties had reopened and there was a decent crowd in so now the theatre is fully up and running this could be a little goldmine.
Rightly so, because this is a subtle and sympathetic relaunch that reflects well on the Varieties and the hippest brewery in the north.
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