Some art on the wall and an interesting menu are the distinctive features of Arts Cafe Bar. During the afternoon it's the ideal place for a meditative tea and slice of cake.
Arts Cafe Bar keeps things simple. There are basic wooden tables and chairs and the room is bright and airy void of decorations besides the art on the walls. Everything is neutral to focus the attention on the painting which is exhibited regularly and this cafe doubles as an art gallery.
The windows have blinds to separate the venue from the busy street and most of the diners tend to retreat to the back of the room on the split level.
Arts Cafe Bar aims to attract not only the arty types but also provide a relaxed, quiet alternative to the loud music and cocktails you can get virtually anywhere else on Call Lane. However, what they didn't take into consideration that as they're on Call Lane anybody is going to walk in for food and drinks. It is not a bad thing actually and those who prefer Arts Cafe Bar over the other places are usually a more mature crowd not interested in getting drunk on beer or Champagne but rather wanting to taste the night in full.
The atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant throughout the whole day.
The menu is one of the good points of Arts Cafe Bar. They serve lunch until 6pm and an a la carte menu until 10pm. For a bite at lunchtime you can choose between a lunch plate (£5.50 to £6.50) with a choice of fish, vegetarian, Mediterranean and Yorkshire. Or you can get a sandwich (£4.50 to £5) with either focaccia or granary bread and fillings like crayfish or pan fried halloumi, salads and a few dishes (£5.50 to £7).
For dinner you can order a three course meal but don't expect a long menu since they only have a handful of options for each course. The starters (£4 to £6) include confit of duck, satay spring rolls with vegetable, cashew nut and coriander salad with mango and spring onion dressing, tuna nicoise, salad of Yorkshire asparagus and feta cheese and a few others. Within the mains (£10.50 to £14) you can pick from sustainable sourced beer battered haddock, pan fried fillet of sea bass, pot au-feu summer vegetables served with yellow pepper dressing and a couple of others. A few desserts (£4.50) complete the list.
Arts Cafe Bar is definitely putting some efforts in sourcing locally and from ethical sources and the food made with these ingredients is tasty and nicely presented but quite pricey.
They serve spirits and beers including Vedette, Liefmans, Duvel, Erdinger and Moretti (£2.90 to £3.20) but Arts Cafe Bar is much stronger on wines. They serve ten whites, twelve reds and two rose all grouped by fruitiness and body. Many wines are single grape varieties but there are a few blends. They also import from classic new and old world countries typically producing wine.
The bottles are cheap with most of them in the £12.50 to £15 range with peaks at £20. Not many glasses are available and they are priced at £3 to £3.50 and £4 to £4.60. The more interesting part is still to come though. Arts Cafe Bar sticks to its principles offering seven bottles which are both organic and fair trade. These are Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Chardonnay-Sauvignon, Shiraz-Carignane and others. Prices are surprisingly the same as the regular whites and reds and the cheapest bottle is only £13. They are all priced below £15 except for one which is £20. A good selection of sparkling wines and Champagne (£15 to £45 with one bottle at £95) complete the list.
The Last Word
Arts Cafe Bar is a nice place to go for food, a drink or just to sip a latte looking at some contemporary art. It is not exciting or unforgettable but it provides the ideal alternative to other Call Lane venues when you feel like being alone for a while.