Some of the best indie bars and restaurants in Leeds are not found in the city centre but are instead dotted around suburbs such as Chapel Allerton, Headingley and Horsforth. The Assembly Bar and Bottle Shop in Crossgates is one such venue.
Founders Matthew and Stephanie Cliffe decided to take a gamble on the as yet unexplored area, and it has so far proven to be a risk worth taking. The bar has been packed on weekends and sees a steady flow of regulars dropping in throughout the week too. Their suspicions that many of the locals living in Crossgates want an alternative to Wetherspoons were spot on.
We dropped into Assembly recently to sample some of their craft ales as preparations for their first birthday were well underway. It’s been quite a year for the couple, who have juggled growing their brand with the arrival of baby Cassius last November.
Within minutes of arriving in the bar, it’s clear why the project has worked. Assembly is laidback, cool and understated. It’s everything all the local pubs are not. The interior features an eclectic mix of second-hand and vintage furniture, some of which has been repurposed to fit the ambience, whilst the tables outside have been a hit during the recent heatwave. It works.
Of course, all of this would be nothing without a carefully curated selection of draught ales and ciders from the likes of Tiny Rebel, Goose Island and Timmermans. We opted for a pint of the juicy Tiny Rebel Clwb Tropicana, which is even fruitier than the 80’s anthem it pays homage to.
The bottle shop too is packed with promise, allowing customers to take away their favourites from brands such as Magic Rock, North Brewing Co, and my personal favourite, Schneider Weisse. The food menu is all high-grade stuff too, and includes charcuterie from Lishman’s of Ilkley, cheese from George & Joseph and pork pies from local legends Wilson’s Butchers.
A selection of unashamedly calorific cakes and treats from Hannah’s Kitchen are also on offer. Their recent summer social saw them collaborate with Hull’s Shoot the Bull, who have a reputation for serving up some of Yorkshire’s finest burgers and BBQ. The event proved to be a success, attracting customers both new and old from across the city.
Saturday 10th August marks the bars first birthday bash, where guests can expect craft, cocktails and authentic Caribbean cuisine from the ever-popular Jenny’s Jerk Chicken. The free event will also feature DJ sets and live music from Thomas Lillywhite and Cleve Freckleton. A series of supper clubs are also in the pipeline.
Located just around the corner from Cross Gates train station, the six-minute trip from central Leeds is a journey well worth taking. Assembly Leeds is one to watch, and we can’t wait to see what this industry-disruptor does next.
The Assembly, Terminus Parade, Station Road, Crossgates, Leeds, LS15 7JZ. Tel: 0113 318 8486.