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New to Leeds: Water Lane Boathouse

· Ali Turner · Food and Drink

The city's newest canal-side bar, Water Lane Boathouse, finally opens its doors.

Water Lane Boathouse

A new waterfront bar from the folk behind Belgrave & Headrow House? Count us in.

Ever since The Pour House closed, we’ve been waiting in anticipation for it to reopen in a new guise – and now it has.  Water Lane Boathouse is the brainchild of Ash Kollakowski and Simon Stevens, the folk behind Leeds favourites Belgrave and Headrow House, and they’ve turned it into something very different, both to what it was before and to their two other venues.

Water Lane Boathouse

Credit: Ben Bentley

The building has been home to a series of bars and restaurants over the last couple of decades, including Rascasse, Simply Heathcotes and The Olive Press, but its history goes back much further. Originally built in the 1800s, it was used as a shipping warehouse before becoming a canal-side granary – and there’s loads of character left over from those early days. It’s one of the things that drew the duo to the space in the first place and it’s played a huge role in their refurbishments.

“I fell in love with the boathouse building when I first came to Leeds in the late eighties, it’s an absolute dream to be able to do something with this historic spot,” Ash confessed. “I really hope people will like what we have done, we’ve managed to expose every piece of original brickwork and it looks great.”

Water Lane Boathouse

Credit: Ben Bentley

The exposed brickwork is complimented by a minimalist decor inspired by their trips to Copenhagen and Oslo over the last six months – think handmade tables, stripped flooring and statement tiles spread over two floors. And of course, their huge garden will come into play on hot summer days, with a winning combination of canal views and craft beer.

The beer is going to be one of the highlights here, just ask Ash, “We’re launching the new Five Points Citrus Pale on opening night and there’ll also be lots of Northern Monk, Magic Rock, Cloudwater, North Brew Co. and all that jazz. The Northern Monk x Cloudwater Hop City collaboration is insane. Think Headrow House but with more gin!” That’s the other big pull. Alongside the beer, they’ve got a gin list as long as their arm, with the likes of Bathtub, Monkey 47 and Sipsmith alongside Bobby’s, Jinzu and Martin Miller. They also have a slew of natural wines, in case you want to share a bottle.

Small Victories

Credit: Ben Bentley

So, what are you going to be eating at Water Lane Boathouse? Well, they’ve got another little treat in store for you, in the form of a hand-crafted pizza oven by Stefano Ferrara in Napoli. It’ll be run by Small Victories, who will be taking over the kitchen to produce a menu of proper Neapolitan pizzas, as well as a creative menu of salads and sandwiches, which you can takeaway if you need to get back to the office.

Their dough is the bee’s knees. It’s made with just three ingredients and proved slowly over 24 hours using wild yeast to create a deliciously light base for their pizzas. They’re then topped with the likes of San Marzano tomato, garlic and basil (Ash’s personal favourite) or ‘Nduja mascarpone, spianata calabrese sausage, caramelised onion, San Marzano tomato and mozzarella (our personal favourite). Head over between 12pm and 9pm on a Sunday to buy one and get a second for £1.

Small Victories

Credit: Ben Bentley

If you don’t fancy pizza, you’ll still have plenty of options at Water Lane Boathouse. The salads are particularly exciting, and they’re all veggie, unless you decide to add chicken or smoked salmon. You could delve into a loaded bowl of watermelon and feta, with tomato, black olive, baby leaves, mint and chilli. Or why not try the roast cauliflower and green lentils with baby leaves, golden raisins, smoked almonds, yoghurt and turmeric?

It’s another winning combination from Ash and Simon, one that we’ll surely be revisiting in the weeks to come. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think.

Water Lane Boathouse, Canal Wharf, Water Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PS.