Stan gives us the verdict on his cultured spot of lunch at The White Cloth: art gallery, bar, restaurant and events space.
Is it an art gallery? Is it a cinema? Is it a cocktail lounge? Is it a traditional ale pub? Is it a pizzeria? The answer is ‘Yes!’ The White Cloth Gallery must be one of the most innovative establishments in Leeds.
There are two galleries dedicated to showing the work of emerging artists as well as being available to be hired for everything from corporate events through wedding receptions to film screenings. There are two bars, only one of which was open when I called at lunchtime, although the comfortable armchairs in the other were available for use. The main bar has a selection of three rotating cask ales as well as several craft beers on tap. These can be served in schooners which are glasses holding two-thirds of a pint, handy if you want to try a selection of beers or simply want to keep a clear head. Whether you choose a beer, a wine or a cocktail they can be enjoyed whilst perusing the exhibits in the gallery at the rear of the building. Another plus is that this is one of the few places in Leeds where the toilets are next to the bar. I realise that floor space in the City Centre is expensive and needs to be fully utilised to maximise profits, but it is annoying having to set off for the facilities at least five minutes before you think that you may want to use them because they are up or down several flights of stairs and along endless corridors. This also means that there is an easily accessible disabled toilet.
The website for the White Cloth Gallery says that sandwiches are on the menu as well as pizza but when I enquired as to what food was available I was told that there was just the latter on offer. There was a choice of nine interesting topping combinations which all had a Mediterranean theme; no Hawaiian or pepperoni variants in sight. Each is available as a full pizza for £8.00 or half pizza with a rocket salad for £5.00. I chose the half Salami Milano, oregano and buffalo mozzarella with salad, along with a glass of house red, a merlot at £4.50 for 175ml. A footnote on the menu said that it is available all day. Not only were the toppings of European origin but so was the base which was nice and thin rather than being of the thick and heavy American variety. By that, of course, I mean that the pizza bases are thick and heavy, not the Americans. Then again… The dish arrived, beautifully presented on a breadboard and with its own pizza wheel to make cutting it that bit easier. The base was thin but not crisp, so the flavour of the dough came through just enough to compliment the meat and cheese, whilst the oregano added an authentic Italian touch. The rocket salad was enhanced with several other types of leaves and a piquant dressing.
Insofar as quality and value are concerned this is a venue which is hard to beat. Add to that the almost infinite variety of uses to which the spaces can be put and you have one of the most interesting places in Leeds.
Photography by Stan Graham