On a lovely summer Sunday, we had to decide which of Leeds’ many fine dining pubs would receive the favour of our family visit for lunch.
It was a tough choice because Leeds has so many places to offer, featuring recently as one of the top five cities, and the only city in the U.K., to visit in Europe (Lonely Planet).
Yorkshire also has more Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere outside London and there is a burgeoning dining scene, especially in and around Leeds.
The fine beers produced by Leeds Brewery, are a major draw for me and eschewing the price tag that comes with Michelin stars, we opted for the comfort of one of their own pubs, the Lamb and Flag on the outskirts of the city centre.
This pub is right next to Leeds Parish Church, and we didn’t think anything of the fact that there was no sign of Quasimodo climbing the impressive bell tower as we passed. Perhaps the sun was in our eyes.
Two university friends decided to create their own brewery in 2007 and quickly became the largest independent brewery in Leeds. They have succeeded the much lamented Tetley Brewery which was formed in 1822 and suffered a takeover by Carlsberg in 1998.
The brewery in Leeds was closed by the company in 2011 and hopped off to produce what many say are inferior ales in Wolverhampton, Tadcaster and Hartlepool under the Tetley name.
Some Leeds people boycott Tetley ales to this day, but we’re not bitter about it!
Leeds Brewery took up the cudgels and let the quality of their ales speak for themselves.
The company opened their first pub, the Midnight Bell, in 2008 and have since gone on to open a total of five pubs in Leeds and two in York.
The company produce a large range of wonderful, seasonally inspired ales and produce more than 70,000 pints a week.
I do my personal best to reduce this amount but it is a big job.
The Lamb and Flag was created in a 19th century building which had been derelict for twenty years or so and then becoming something of an embarrassing eyesore.
It was originally a pub, then a sign-writer’s store complete with a lay preacher from the Parish Church, in first floor lodgings.
It was later converted into offices before falling empty and into disrepair and dereliction.
The guys at Leeds brewery saw it’s potential and set about restoring the large, two storey premises into a modern pub-diner.
They retained original features where they could and sympathetically restored the remainder to provide what is now a very lovely place to visit. It was opened in 2015.
The name of the pub, perhaps a nod to the church next door, has always been a Christian symbol. A lamb holding a flag has been adopted by many organisations including the Knights Templar, who were originally a Catholic military wing and later a charitable and financial institution, the tin miners of Redruth in Cornwall and Preston North End football club, amongst many others.
On entering the main lounge, the amount of light coming through the large windows highlighted the matching floorboards and wooden tables and chairs.
A door to the rear led to the stone-flagged, outdoor and very sunny terrace, which is always popular.
The interior walls are exposed brickwork, much of it original.
Muted colours made this a very attractive looking room, enhanced by the wooden staircase off to one side which gave access to the first floor.
Upstairs, original wooden beams and the same matching floorboards and wooden furniture made the place look so classy. There is a smaller bar and an outdoor verandah here too.
There is also a downstairs snug with a private terrace.
There are a satisfying ten draught ales in the pumps, complimented by eight keg ales and lagers. The rich, dark, Midnight Bell ale was the first to catch my eye and is one of my favourites. I have never met one of their beers that I did not like.
The company have a policy of using local and seasonal produce and all meals are home made. The menu therefore changes with the seasons and has additional specials written up on chalkboards.
Starters are all around the £6 mark, whilst mains are £10 – £18 (for steak).
Thursdays are Steak Nights when two meals with wine come in at £30.
There is a small selection of desserts.
Our Sunday lunch however, on a boiling hot day, meant that appetites were somewhat muted and my party reneged on the starters and went straight for the main courses.
A healthy selection of three roasts and five other choices meant some slaving over a hot menu. I eventually decided on the roast beef, which came with two thick but pink-middle slices, vegetables and a home made Yorkshire pudding, mash and gravy.
Other members of my party went for rump of lamb and an intriguing allotment vegetable pie which was also said to be delicious.
The three dessert choices of chocolate brownie sundae, raspberry Eton Mess and cheese board could not be faced in the heat. I have had a personal recommendation for the cheeseboard from friends and it is said to be an enormous portion of delicious local cheeses.
The staff were busy but never too busy to serve well and with a friendly smile and a chat.
We were treated to a peal of bells throughout the meal from the Parish Church next door, an unusual accompaniment which was enjoyed by all.
Oh Esmerelda, the bells…the bells….perhaps Quasimodo made the climb after all.
For further details go to www.lambandflag.co.uk or to www.leedsbrewery.co.uk and to find this particular pub go to LS2 7HD.