How To Restore A ‘Proper Pub’ #1
We all know the gig…pub struggles, it’s revamped and returns minus beermats, bench seating but the lure of wood fired pizzas, six quid a pint cask and table bookings seem to signal a potential revival.
But what of the traditional pub I hear Mudgie, Paul Bailey and Martin cry? Birmingham, which has seen its fair share of historic gems bite the dust (The Woodman and Eagle & Tun to name but two) appears to have revamped a couple of city centre boozers for the better.
The 783 – Queen’s Head B4 6BJ is a classic example of the genre and fair play to legendary Brummie (wait for Paul WME to correct me on where they are based) brewers Davenports as they have pulled out all the stops.
The flogged their Bulls Head pub at the top of Broad Street and have instead turned back the clock – with some style – at the most recently named Jekyll and Hyde on Steelhouse Lane.
It’s a little bit out of the way but appeared to be doing a roaring trade for a Tuesday afternoon…it brought back great memories for me as I worked at The Post & Mail back in the noughties and this was the watering hole of choice for many Friday afternoons and post work, well any day really!
It was a spit and sawdust affair back then and with the Post & Mail no longer based in Steelhouse Lane then I did wonder if this place would survive.
However, with the seemingly never ending amount of office space mushrooming in the city centre along with nearby Children’s Hospital staff it would seem they have a solid customer base.
A cracking pint of IPA (Davenports) in a dimple glass with beermats but this is no ‘1980’s blokes only’ bar as it felt modern and welcoming and everything that a ‘proper pub’ should be.
A swift stroll from Steelhouse Lane takes you to the bottom end of the Jewellery Quarter and a timeless classic that doesn’t need any revamping at all.
784 – Hen And Chickens B19 3LE is now a desi bar and – as the sign says – it is cask and curry.
Bench seating, stained glass windows and high ceilings mean it is a quality boozer and I had a cracking pint of Horizon (Wadworth).
However, apart from another couple who were having a very good looking curry, I was the only punter in and I worry for city centre pubs more than ever if there are few customers….use it or lose it as it is a great pub and a real gem that won’t be replaced by similar if it goes…
A walk back in towards Snow Hill Station found a pub that has been returned to ‘proper pub’ status.
Back in December 2017 I visited Utopia The Country Bar as it was then known and noted “it was known for one or two journalists to have a post-work/lunchtime beverage and this was within walking distance of the offices.”
Sounds like we used to have the odd pint or two at The Birmingham Post & Mail!
Anyway, it is now a Fuller’s pub and known by the moniker 785 – The Roebuck B3 2NP and whilst there haven’t been massive changes inside it certainly looks more like a pub from the exterior.
It will sell food like most city centre pubs, but also served up a decent pint of HopHead (Dark Star) and there were a crew of office workers in there who clearly had come in for lunch and decided against returning to the office! The old adage of hanging baskets = good beer continued on this occasion.
It is great to see two pubs returning back to their roots and the Hen & Chickens finding a way to survive.