When I first heard about the existence of the Garden Gate I was intrigued. A pub built in 1903 in lavish style, with ornate woodwork, glazed tiling, mosaic floors, etched glass windows and more, all spread over four separate rooms in a solid, brick building. All of this still in situ in 2011 in all its period splendour. And to think this has been hidden away in the middle of a housing estate behind Hunslet Morrison's and I never even knew it was there. Many times over the last decade or so I've bought lunch from that supermarket, and on occasion dined in one of the pubs in the locale (the Punch Clock anyone?), and all the while I had no inkling of the existence of the Garden Gate.
After several years of decline under the ownership of Punch Taverns (no great surprise there), Leeds Brewery bought the pub in July 2010 and set about restoring it to former glories. On the evidence of my first visit today, they are succeeding. The whole building really is a site to behold, I can't think of a pub that rivals it for interesting, historic pub features other than perhaps the Marble Arch in Manchester. Now Grade II listed, English Heritage remarked that ‘the level of intactness throughout is unusually high, and nationally very rare’. A truly fantastic place for a couple of pints, in fact I'd possibly suggest a four pint in-house crawl, downing one in each of the rooms.
Back on topic the original intention of this post was to review the food. My other blog about the architecture and design history of public houses will have to wait. There's a menu of basic pub staples, very cheap at around a fiver each or two for eight quid. My mate and I both opted for the cheeseburger, which unfortunately was rubbish. The burger was a solid, greying, low quality affair, not particularly nice at all. The salad, bun and cheese were ok but that hardly compensates for the crappy meat. Chips were of the bog standard frozen variety.
So in summary, the pub is splendid but probably best stick to the drinks. The food will soak up the booze for not much money, but offer little more. To be fair to Leeds Brewery this may be all the punters want. The pub is hardly in a great location for attracting diners or passing trade. I know they serve good food elsewhere too, having had a really good burger (admittedly at twice the cost) at Pin earlier in the year. Hopefully in time the food can be upgraded a notch or two as more people make the effort to visit this gem of a pub .
9/10 for the pub, 4/10 for the food.
3 Whitfield Place