Whitelocks Ale House, Leeds
Everyone knows it, everyone loves it, but if you are new to Leeds you will have to search for the city’s oldest pub – opened in 1715 – tucked away between the shiny Trinity Shopping Centre and the bustling Headrow.
Whitelock’s remains an essential destination for both old faithfuls and newcomers not so much for the food unless you are partial to traditional old school fayre, nor even for the beer, though that’s much improved under the new owners, but for its glorious interior of stained glass, old bevelled mirrors, barley sugar rails, Burmontoft tiles and a wonderful marble and copper topped bar.
When I was a student, Whitelock’s First City Luncheon Bar was the place to go for giant Yorkshire puddings with onion gravy, served as a first course by mumsy waitresses in black frocks and frilly aprons. Later I knew it as the Saturday haunt of some seasoned Yorkshire Post journalists and would sometimes join them for a roast dinner with all the trimmings followed by jam roly poly. Rather sadly they’ve dropped the distinctive Luncheon from the title along with the uniforms and the starched white tablecloths, but enough of the old Whitelock’s remains, the swirly carpets, the coal fire and the serving hatch in the corner.
The food won’t blow you away, but you can have a good do on a black pudding Scotch egg or Lishman’s of Ilkley sausage and mash with a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. You might even splash out on the modish chorizo, pea and mint on a toasted crumpet, but if all the nostalgia is too much, step into the 21st century in the swanky new Turks Head cocktail bar next door.