In retrospect, last Wednesday evening wasn’t the best night for our first visit to the Midnight Bell.
The presence of Arsenal football club at nearby Elland Road for an FA Cup replay against the mighty Leeds United meant that the Bell was packed to the rafters with Leeds fans out for a pre-match drink before walking up the road to the stadium and certain victory.
By half past seven, the place was empty and, it seemed, back to a normal Wednesday night. The slightly harassed staff looked relieved that it was all over.
The Midnight Bell is on of Leeds Brewery’s growing chain of eclectic bars and pubs, and sits alongside the brilliant PIN, the Brewery Tap and the newly acquired Garden Gate.
As you’d expect in any pub owned by a brewery as good as Leeds Brewery, the beer is great. At least three of the brewery’s own beers are on tap, with Midnight Bell the best of the bunch, a very good dark mild with a bit of chocolate in it. Very civilised.
I’m going to be fair about this, but there’s no easy way of saying it.
The food could have been better.
Some of it was pretty good – some lovely gravadlax and a nice prawn cocktail (actually, the prawn cocktail, a retro-Seventies throwback concoction, was bloody fantastic), but some of the other dishes had suffered from a little over cooking.
I had a game pie, with a suet crust that had spent a few minutes too long in the oven, leaving the crust far darker than it should have been. There wasn’t any game in it, either, as far as I could tell, unless you count beef as game, that is. The filling was really very, very good, but not game, and the whole pie was let down by the burnt crust. The chips on the side were a bit overcooked, too, as was a medium-rare steak, which was more medium-well done.
I think these were just a couple of mistakes, for which I’m going to blame Arsenal, and because of that, I’d definitely go back.
And the match?
Leeds lost 3-1 to a superior and clinical Arsenal side, although Wenger did have to bring on Van Persie and Fabregas to finish them off following an absolutely screaming first half goal from Leeds’ Bradley Johnson.
Exciting, but inevitable.