I may have mentioned (several times) how good the Hop & Vine pub is in Hull nd nowhere has yet exceeded that for me, although Goose Island in London comes very close. This pub in central Leicester was though really quite marvellous and certainly one of the best that I’ve been in.
It’s a micropub in size, although they don’t refer to it as such. There’s a very on-trend feel to the whole arrangement, but it doesn’t seem to be formulaic and nothing is forced. That’s a screen with the live menu on at the end of the bar, they’re using UnTappd to power that (which also meant that I got to see my photo at the bottom of the screen when I rated a beer using UnTappd, a reminder that I need to get out more….).
They have cask and keg options, the first photo is the Gatekeeper beer from Buxton Brewery and the second photo is of Julie beer from the GlassHouse Beer Company. I thought that the latter was particularly refreshing, a fruit beer with raspberry running through it which gave it an equal mix of sourness and fruitiness.
They’ve got a room to the rear of the bar which is all quite airy and there’s an upstairs which I didn’t visit. Everything was clean, tidy and organised, with the beer selection covering most styles and there were some interesting options. However, it was the service which lifted the pub even further, with the barman being friendly, engaging and personable. I asked for recommendations for other pubs and he was keen to help, giving some excellent suggestions and helpful information. I will be trying out the recommendations that he offered, even though a few of the pubs are a little bit of a walk.
It’s not exactly difficult to do, but I also liked how he acknowledged customers when entering, even if he was serving others and some pubs fail to do that. I was also interested to hear about what happened to the Head of Steam in Leicester, something that had intrigued me, but ultimately it seems they were too ambitious with their plans and lasted months rather than years.
As for why I though this pub tipped towards exceptional, it’s just the element of friendliness which many locations can’t get right. They’ll be polite, but my measure is to imagine someone new to the area who tentatively goes in a pub to hope to find a local and meet friends. I feel that anyone in such a position would feel genuinely welcome here, very much the Hop & Vine approach. Maybe a little intangible, but there’s something all very competent and fun about this place.
There were no negatives here for me, it was a well-run, comfortable pub which had excellent customer service at its heart. Quite rightly listed in the Good Beer Guide, it’ll be hard for any other pub in Leicester to beat this for me.