Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Potting Shed - Bingley

For those of you who know me, or have possibly been following this blog for a while (which I guess in a way makes you know me a little better than some of my family members), you will know that I used to live out Shipley way. I rented an apartment sandwiched between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal, it sat where an old mill used to be on the Shipley/Saltaire/Baildon border. I loved living here. The wildlife from the ducks in the car park to watching the house martins and swallows dashing over the Aire to the deer I happened to see on a walk down the river. Not so far from Leeds it sometimes feels like an entirely different part of the country, something that impacted me more when I travelled to Bingley last weekend having now lived in the city for just over 2 years.

Most people wouldn't see much joy in visiting Bingley, there are parts that seem a little run down and the presence of bargain basement shops and Wetherspoon's isn't entirely persuading. The drive from Leeds through Otley and Menston, up on top of the hills makes for pretty spectacular viewing, it feels like Yorkshire. There is moss, reservoirs galore and in the distance I could see snow spotting the tops of the hills.

I was brought back to this side of Yorkshire as I was invited to review a place called the Potting Shed which lies in Bingley's town centre. To make the most of the 40 minute drive from Leeds I decide to show D my old walking route (or part of at least) and the Five Rise Locks. The canal is only a 10 minute walk from the centre of Bingley, there's free parking on a Sunday in the car park near the Potting Shed it would be a shame if you didn't take a short hike up there.

To help 'sell' you on Bingley here are some pictures from our walk:

Spot the moody looking cat.

The tranquillity of the canal

The Five Rise Locks, an incredible feat of engineering.

Apparently the goose won't bite.

Views across the valley

Typical Yorkshire countryside

That small person is me, crapping myself as I stand above the incredibly high drop of the lock.

Be sure to pack your wellies in the winter (or spring, or autumn, heck even summer if it's been raining which it normally is)

One of the things which blind sighted me was how friendly people are outside of the city. The stark reality of how cold people can be in the city didn't hit me until I was back in Bingley with everyone saying "hello" as I passed and a couple stopping along the canal to talk to us about the local goose. The good news is we're looking to move out of the city and back in to the outskirts; the bad news is that it's taking its time for a house we want to buy to pop up on to the market. Watch this space...

Feeling thoroughly refreshed from the cold wind and particularly hungry too we were glad to seek refuge in the Potting Shed where a warm and bustling atmosphere greeted us. I have to admit that when we arrived at the Potting Shed I was a little concerned as there was a bouncer at the door, with it only being mid-afternoon I was starting to wonder what type of establishment I was about to go in to. There are a few reviews dotting around on the Internet which suggest it might be a less than quiet and humble establishment which also added to my fears. I needn't have worried; there was nothing intimidating about the place with plenty of families and a friendly ambiance surrounding the place. I guess in a small town (with surrounding small towns and villages) where the nearest city is too far away for a night out, bars and pubs in the larger small towns will invariably get a little rowdy as there is no big city to move on to once you get a little worse for wear. NB I saw no rowdiness in the Potting Shed or Bingley whilst I was there... in fact I've never seen it in Bingley even after the Bingley Festival, instead I enjoyed a packed train home with everyone singing songs from the artists we had just seen. I digress... 

The Potting Shed serves a range of craft and local ales on tap and in bottles, they also have an extensive cocktail selection plus a number of deals through the week, the one that caught my eye were a bottle of Prosecco is £15 or a bottle Champagne is £25 on a Friday night. 

D ordered a half of Northern Monk Brewery IPA, advised by both the barman and the manager as a good choice. I had a little sip and loved it, really nice complex beer (still searching for that masterclass in ale).

The menu at the Potting Shed is simple with pizzas, burgers or kebabs with a few sides and smalls. The kitchen is tiny and for all to see at the side of the bar so I wouldn't expect them to be able to make much more than this. In the tiny kitchen they have a great big clay pizza oven (it must get hot behind the bar) and a grill in front to cook the burgers and kebabs. Rest assured they are not dishing out Doner Kebabs to the inhabitants of Bingley but instead the most stylish and on trend skewered versions such as chicken and beef, mushrooms and peppers. 

The clay oven was one of the first things that caught my eye as I walked in, keen to test it out we ordered a sharing version of the Diavalo (pepperoni, red onion, fresh chili and mozzarella), and an additional £5 is added to the bill to make it share size.

Alongside the pizza we ordered a 'snack' of pulled pork nachos and a side of twice fried fries (which astoundingly didn't trip over my words as I ordered it). The walk beforehand had clearly made our eyes large from hunger... 

The pizza was absolutely spot on. We sat discussing when we last had a stone baked pizza, the answer was Croatia where we were consistently disappointed with the quality and ingredients. We were not disappointed by The Potting Shed's offering. My only criticism is not really a criticism but perhaps an advanced warning for some, that there was an awful lot of fresh chili on this pizza. Yes it came advertised as dotted with chili, but no I wasn't expecting that much... it left me with slight heartburn in the evening, which may just be a sign of getting old. 

Trust me when I say that a large sharer pizza between two is enough, you don't need sides.

Pulled pork nachos? But they're so two years ago I hear you cry! Yeah I get it there are food trends that come and go but you'll often find places outside of major cities lagging behind a little (as well as some in the city - I'm looking at you Red's). Not really wanting any more 'dough' this seemed like a viable option and a good way to test something else on the menu without over doing it (so I thought until I saw the size of the pizza). There was a good portion of dips with the nachos, so much so that they also sufficed for the twice fried fries. The pulled pork was good albeit a little cold by the time we got round to eating it after first stuffing our face with pizza.

The star of the show was definitely the pizza, there are 8 pizzas to choose from on the menu plus, if you're lucky, a special displayed on the blackboards. 

Everything arrived promptly and neatly presented, we were attended to well and made to feel extremely welcome (not just another blogger to put on a fake smile for).

Shortly after we arrived at The Potting Shed the live music started up provided by a young lady whose name eludes me now. She really helped liven up the atmosphere with people singing along (me included) and a few people dancing as they walked to the toilets or where ever. There were a number of large tables and you'll be glad to know they take reservations. Big groups seemed to be handled well and the staff were always present and greeting people with a warm smile. 

It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon after a cold and brisk walk; I even indulged in a half pint of Northern Monk IPA after my meal to add a perfect end to the day.

I know he's not looking, but look at his little happy content face!

The bliss that comes from a cold pint is second to none

The Potting Shed also has an outside area, but due to the damp and cold this wasn't open on the day I visited. From what I could see through the windows there appears to be small sheds which you can sit in and AstroTurf to make it a little more garden like. Upstairs is another bar and a pool room which eventually (when completed) will have a retractable roof, one of the biggest in Europe to let in the sunshine (hopefully we will get some this year).

The Potting Shed have been doing a roaring trade in Bingley and with this are looking to open 4 more places with the next being situated in Beverley. I wish them well with their future ventures and if we find a house near Bingley I'll be sure to pop in again (if not I might just pop in before Bingley Festival for a decent pint).

Their website is a bit pants (I can't get it to work) but you can find their menu by visiting their Facebook page here.

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