I’ve visited this historic venue before, but its interior is of note and so I thought I would surprise and delight the group by taking them here. It takes its name from the Philharmonic Hall which is diagonally opposite and it was constructed between 1898 and 1900 for the Cains Brewery. Robert Cains had done well, he had started his business in 1858 at a young age by buying a pub and brewing his own beer, with over 200 pubs in the empire by the end of the century. On that subject, we visited the former brewery site during this weekend, but more on that later. Incidentally, these metal Art Nouveau gates are apparently one of the best examples in the country.
It’s a Grade I listed building and designed to be part of the Gin Palace design of pubs which were constructed in the late Victorian period. Many original features remain, including the marble counters and the mahogany fireplaces.
It’s a Nicholson’s pub, so I wasn’t overly excited in advance at the beer options. They had four real ales, but all a little generic. In fairness to Nicholson’s, the pub is reasonably well reviewed and so clearly most customers are happy with the whole arrangement. Although they did upset one customer who commented:
“Unfortunately the staff knew little to nothing about beer and couldn’t pour a pint, I felt embarrassed for them! I’ve never seen a pint pulled in such a way..”
I was humoured by the pub’s answer:
“It seems as though you are referring to a new member of the team who had been learning how to work on a bar as they never had before. I don’t think embarrassment is the emotion in this situation, but patience and empathy as alternatives”.
I went for half a pint of the Tribute from St. Austell Brewery, a reliable beer and it was well-kept and at the appropriate temperature.
For those who don’t want to enter through the decadent gates, there’s also another entrance with a suitable amount of character with its mosaic floor.
There’s perhaps a need for some restoration to parts of the building, but it still hasn’t lost its grandeur.
The highlight for Bev, who wandered off to get permission from staff to have a little look in, was the male toilets with their imitation marble. I make no comment, but she doesn’t get out much. I think that the group were impressed at our surroundings and Steve was busy taking photographs for other groups in the pub, but he’s very social like that.
This is a delightful pub, although it is part of a national chain and there’s perhaps nothing particularly exceptional about the food or drink. However, the service was friendly, the beer was well kept and there was no shortage of history in the building. Probably more of a venue for visitors to the city, but recommended for those who haven’t been and want to see a fine Victorian pub building.