Last night I went to a preview night at Bradford’s newest bar, The Record Café, on North Parade. Officially it opens tonight, and it will be a great new addition to Bradford’s new independent quarter.
The Record Café is three things. First and foremost it’s a bar, with four hand-pulled cask beers and six keg beers, along with a fridge full of bottled beer. Most of the beers are either British (Saltaire, Great Heck, Brewdog and Camden Town were present when I visited) or American, including the Anchor Steam Brewery’s Porter available in a keg – this is the first time I’ve seen their beers in anything other than a bottle in this country. There were also a small number of bottled continental beers, and an eclectic selection of gin that eschews the more common brands. No mass-produced mainstream lager here.
It’s also a delicatessen, offering platters of ham and cured meats – there were plenty of samples available at the preview, and it was good quality stuff. In this sense, by offering beer and charcuterie it’s a bit like Friends of Ham in Leeds, but less hipster-y.
Where it differs is the third thing, and the clue is in the name – as well as being a bar, it’s also a record shop. There’s an upstairs mezzanine where you can browse and buy records on vinyl. This wasn’t quite ready with limited stock and some decorating to do, but the emphasis will be on new music, rather than it being an exchange for old records.
It’s located just opposite The Sparrow, which was Bradford’s first ‘bier café’ – that opened in 2011, just as craft beer started becoming popular in the UK. That’s still going strong, and joins Al’s Dime Bar further along North Parade, in an area becoming known for bars serving good beer. Next year, the Bradford Brewery opens around the corner, along with another new bar called The Beerhouse and an independent cinema which will have a bar as well.
For once, it’s becoming an exciting time to be in Bradford, and I hope these bars will do something to improve Bradford’s nightlife. In recent years people have travelled from Bradford to Leeds, Halifax and Huddersfield for nights out and I hope some of those will choose to stay in the city in future.
I took a number of photos last night and these are available to view on Flickr.
With thanks to Keith Wildman and his colleagues at The Record Café for inviting myself and the Bradford University Real Ale & Cider Society along.