Pub visits this week: 4
This week I haven’t got to the pub a great many times, but the quality makes up for the lack of quantity. The Princess Royal and the Fighting Cock were both new pubs to me, and both were smashing. Read on below.
Meanwhile at Get to the pub.com, the search goes on for a new banner picture type thing to replace that rubbish one above, but it’s proving quite hard to find a nice pub photo that can yield an interesting flat horizontal crop. Do shout up if you can help!
The Princess Royal, Slinn Street, Crookes, Sheffield. Oh, now this is delightful. I’ve never been here before but I intend to make up for lost time. The beer is good and the staff warm and welcoming, but the best thing of all is the decor: wonderfully elegant in a defiantly unmodern way, with a distinctively mid-20th century feel of ration-book-defying opulence. There are glass partitions, ornamental mirrors, flock wallpaper and a vase of irises, and somehow it doesn’t feel too chintzy: it’s more like an old-fashioned hotel, clinging on to survival through a loyal band of long-standing customers. In reality, though, I suspect the Princess Royal is one pub that’s surviving these hard times quite comfortably. Some of the regulars don’t look short of a few bob, and how many public houses can claim an appreciation society on Facebook with nearly a hundred members? I’m tempted to get a Facebook account just so I can join.
In the corner of the room a group of half a dozen middle-aged men and one woman are restrained and softly spoken all night, until about half past ten, when one of the men is seized with a sudden fury. “I don’t want people using computers! I don’t want people talking on the phone! A train’s not for working! Or enjoying yourself! All it is is getting where you’re going and that’s it!” He declines to specify whether we should all spend journeys by rail staring silently into space, or whether it’s the particular combination of activity and electricity that pushes him over the edge, and that he’ll grudgingly tolerate books, newspapers and quiet face-to-face conversation, but either way let’s really hope the next train he gets on doesn’t break down and incur an unavoidable delay of several hours or anything terrible like that.
Rutland Arms, Brown Street, Sheffield (featured here). More quick after-work drinks in the Rutland: today I’m on Conquest from Barnsley’s excellent Acorn Brewery, a strong, amber bitter, assertive and entirely majestic. The food has changed, with two new and tasty-sounding veggie options on the menu. I can’t believe I still haven’t had a meal here since it reopened; still, it’d help if they could get their licence changed and allow kids in, and then a family visit for dinner would be a great excuse. [Edit: they do allow kids in! See comments section below.]
The Fighting Cock, Preston Street, Bradford. Speaking of family visits and great excuses, I’ve hung a trip to see Grimsby play away on the pretext of a weekend visiting our friends Si and Sonya and their lovely kids Emily and Nate. We get to theirs at lunchtime, and before we get our masochism fix at Valley Parade, Si spirits us away to the Fighting Cock: a terrific backstreet boozer with an earthy feel and a storming, diverse line-up of cask ales. By ‘an earthy feel’ I mean two things: first, it’s decidedly not one of your sedate middle-class pubs for ale hobbyists, despite the great beer; and second, it smells slightly of ham.
We meet up with Jon, who I was in the school orchestra with 25 years ago and lives round the corner from Si, and natter with Emma and Ed who we know from the supporters’ trust. I have a pint of Timothy Taylor’s Golden Best, which is slightly tangy and not quite right, followed by a superb Brunel IPA from the Butcombe Brewery and a very good wheat beer from Adnams, I think it was. Si goes to get us all some chips, but they won’t sell portions of chips without a meal, or even chip butties, so he and Jon end up with big bowls of mushy peas which apparently have meat pies in them somewhere, and I make do with cheese sandwiches. They’re good cheese sandwiches and they sit well with the ale. It’ll be 20 bloody quid to get in to the football; I wish I could spend it all here instead.
New Beehive Inn, Westgate, Bradford. After seeing the Mariners hold out for a 0-0 (goalless draws are the new wins!), we walk half a mile along freezing busy roads to the Beehive, where we convened after the same fixture last season. It’ll be the next licensed premises to be featured in a full-length article on Get to the pub.com, so all I’ll say about it for now is it’s another very good pub which really oozes character. If Grimsby stay up I’ll be back in a year’s time!