When you walk into the new look Yates’s on Boar Lane, Leeds you are walking into a piece of Northern heritage. For Yates’s, believed to be one of the oldest pub brands in England, had its rooted firmly planted ‘up North’ towards the end of the 1800’s.
Peter Yates opened his first wine lodge in Oldham in 1884. He wanted his wine lodge to give ordinary working people the chance to eat and drink well, at a price they could afford. Why shouldn’t they be able to drink wine? And Peter knew a thing or two about wine having spent several years in Portugal working in the wine industry. Along with the wine came free-range meats and wholemeal bread, made with grain from his own mill.
People loved it, and Yates’s Wine Lodges sprang up across the north, selling their Australian wine/port from the barrel on champagne on draught. Joints of beef from Bosley Farm were carved on the spot for giant sandwiches with homemade soup ladled from a tureen for a penny a bowl. I can remember as a very new, young reporter having to stand at the bar with my male colleagues eating one of their famous Bosley Beef Sandwiches.
Perhaps the most famous Yates’s of all was the one in Talbot Square, Blackpool, opened in the former Theatre Royal in 1896 – the largest and most opulent pub in the group. People queued outside in their hundreds for opening time. A special champagne stall with popping corks and cool champagne served on draught for 10 pence a glass was a great attraction. I well remember my granny telling me about having a morning glass of champers when she was visiting her sister who lived in the town.
Sadly it was destroyed by fire but over the years it was always a port of call when showing my friends from overseas and “down south” an important part of our Northern heritage.
But Yates has now moved on, however one of Peter Yates philosophies still lives on – the opportunity “to eat and drink well at reasonable prices”.
The newly opened Yates is living proof of that and has brought 15 new jobs to Leeds and cost £140,000 to refurbish and rebrand. When you walk into the venue its easy to understand the amount spent on refurbishment – even the ladies is ultra-plush!
My colleague and I arrived on a mid-week night and it was busy with customers who had discovered just what good value Yates’s is both for food and drink and were fed up of paying extortionate wine bar prices. But Yates is not all pub food. There are nibbles and sharers, a mammoth choice of sandwiches, curries, coffees, kids meals an extensive breakfast choice and low calorie meals under 500 calories to suit the most discerning diet!
As we wanted to catch up on girlie chatter we had booked a booth – not as it sounds – but a nice airy alcove with great views over the bar on the mezzanine floor and our own designated server.
It took us a while to decide what wine or drink to choose as the drinks menu and wine list is amazing and carries such a choice even champagne with Piper-Heidsieck Brut at £29.95 a bottle or if you prefer it Prosecco at £11.95p. We chose a bottle of Pinot Grigio at only £8.95 for a bottle – even at a budget pub it would have been at least £3 dearer. It was a good choice fresh and crisp it arrived beautifully chilled.
We opted for dishes from the Yates’s All Time Classics and we were not disappointed to say the least. My colleague decided to go for the hand-battered fish and chips. It came beautifully presented with chips, tartar sauce and mushy peas. The fillet of haddock was thick and tasty and the batter was crisp – “just as if it had come straight out of the fish shop pan”, for the amazing price of £5.95.
I chose the 8oz rump steak requesting it to be well done – always a test for any chef as its hard to cook a well done steak without turning it into a burnt offering. It arrived well cooked yet succulent and I didn’t need a chain saw to cut it. Top marks to the chef! It was served with chips, beer battered onions and a half grilled tomato, properly grilled and soft as so many times they are just warm and raw! This veritable feast was only £8.75.
Although we both knew we shouldn’t we couldn’t resist sweets. My colleague, a self-styled cheesecake expert ordered the honeycomb pieces and toasted popcorn cheesecake. Her verdict – well she voted with her folk leaving her plate clean. The cheesecake had a smooth texture and was flavoursome but not overly sweet whilst the honeycomb and popcorn gave it a very palatable twist.
I can’t resist ice-cream sundaes and when my Rocky Road Ice Cream Sundae arrived I was more than pleased it was my heaven on a plate. The ice cream was smothered with rocky road chunks – moist, chewy and tasty and not like oxo cubes whi