This cavernous building is the Unicorn pub and was the second venue that we visited on our little day trip out to Aylsham. Thanks to the excellent Norfolk Pubs web-site, I know that the venue first opened in the late seventeenth century and in the nineteenth century was operated by the Coltishall Brewery and then the Weybourne Brewery. I’m not sure about the origins of the pub name, but I do have an idea which relates to how in Norfolk the three horses pulling a coach were often referred to as a unicorn. Given that this is a former coaching inn, maybe that’s how it obtained its name.
I had to take a photo of the three beer options over the heads of customers seated at the bar to know what options there were. Each to their own, but it’s really not ideal when customers entering a pub have to almost guess what drinks there are available and struggle to know where to stand to order them. The three options were Ghost Ship from Adnams, Encore from Lacon’s and the old reliable of Landlord from Timothy Taylor’s, so I felt that the selection was decent.
Anyway, back to more important matters, the service was friendly and helpful, so all was well there, with the prices charged being reasonable.
The interior was clean and cosy, with the carpet adding to the warmth of the pub.
There were lots of curios around the pale, it all added positively to the general atmosphere.
The half pint of Landlord from Timothy Taylor tasted as expected, was well kept and at the appropriate temperature. Served in the correctly branded glass as well, very professional of them. There was also some shrubbery on the tables to add a little something to the arrangement.
If I’m being honest, I left not really entirely understanding this pub other than they have live music on a regular basis. We were interested in ordering food, but there were no menus visible and the food menu on the pub’s web-site is a broken link so I’m assuming they no longer do food at all. A customer posted negative feedback a few months ago saying:
“Lots of empty tables outside we thought we would stop and have lunch as the big a frame board outside stated home made lunches. My partner went in to get a menu only to be told we do not do food. Might explain all the empty tables. I would suggest removing the a frame advertisement as well to save wasting other peoples time.”
I like clarity on what is available, so I can understand this review and it seems one the pub could have easily avoided. I’m never quite sure why pubs don’t just offer cheese rolls or something in the afternoon if no other food is available, or something other than crisps to keep customers suitably well fed. I’d better add that I’m quite happy with crisps, but even I recognise the need for a slightly wider dietary balance.
I’m not entirely sure what market they’re aiming for (and I accept I don’t need to, it just makes it harder to write these posts) given just how large a venue they’ve got here, but I think live music is a big driver for them so perhaps that’s their main focus. As another aside, I am slightly disappointed they have such an historic venue, but make no mention of its history on their web-site as I’m sure there must be plenty of stories for them to tell. But, back to basics and all that, the welcome was friendly, the pub was clean and there were a few real ales available so we weren’t disappointed at all with those elements.