The Edith Cavell is back open again, so Julian and I thought that it would be only polite to go and have a little visit. In normal Two Julians style, this post will also be appearing at our web-site at http://www.norfolksuffolk.org.uk/. It’s a Victorian corner pub which was known as the Army & Navy Stores until 1981 when it changed to its current name. There have been a few periods when it has been called other things, including rather oddly Coles, with some slight variations to the name along with some troubled times for some operators of this venue.
Edith Cavell is something of a local hero, she was a nurse from Norfolk who was working in Brussels at the outbreak of the First World War. When the Germans took over the city of Brussels, Cavell started to assist British and French soldiers there to leave the occupied territories so that they could fight against the Germans. So, the Germans shot her in October 1915 with the defence that:
“It was a pity that Miss Cavell had to be executed, but it was necessary. She was judged justly … It is undoubtedly a terrible thing that the woman has been executed; but consider what would happen to a State, particularly in war, if it left crimes aimed at the safety of its armies to go unpunished because they were committed by women.”
Cavell was buried at Norwich Cathedral and there’s a memorial to her located opposite to the Edith Cavell pub.
Back to the pub, the interior of the venue has been redecorated and it has a cosy and warm feel to it. I’m not sure how functional some of the seating is as I prefer tables, but it’s all inoffensive. It was also clean and warm, with the reduced lighting adding somewhat to the atmosphere. It seemed inviting and it’s in a beautiful location in Tombland and overlooked by Norwich Cathedral.
Apologies that the lighting made it difficult to take a clean photo, but there’s Camden Pale, Camden Hells, Lagunitas IPA, Brixton Pale Ale and Tiny Rebel Easy Livin’.
And apologies again for the photo, but Birra Morretti, Amstel, Beavertown Neck Oil, Guinness and Cruzcampo flavoured water. My first impressions were that I found the set-up a little depressing as it’s nearly identical to some of the Ibis hotels that I’ve stayed at recently, but no point being too judgemental too early.
Julian had arrived before me and asked about their range of real ale, but they don’t sell that. It transpired, as we have similarly highly developed ordering strategies, that Julian and I both tried to order the Tiny Rebel Easy Livin’, but they had run out of that. The service was polite though and it’s cashless, something which I have a lot of sympathy for, but it’s going to be a challenge for them in terms of reviews as there are some militant cash is king customers around who will make their views known when they realise.
I went for the Cruzcampo flavoured water, which Heineken are throwing huge marketing spend at in a bid to position it as a reasonably priced premium beer. It’s not a great surprise to see it so badly reviewed on Untappd, it tasted bland, generic and pointless to me, it perhaps needs to be served in a hot environment so it’s a refreshing option at least.
The pub is owned by Stonegate, who had to force their way in earlier in the year to “make it safe”, so it’s had some very recent challenges. This presents some problems for the new tenants as they’ve now I assume hit the Stonegate tie, which is forcing them to go for some rather generic keg options. Julian is a real ale man, whereas I’m more excited by decadent keg options such as offered by the Artichoke, Leopard, Plasterers and Malt & Mardle, all a relatively short walk away. There are no beers here which surprised and delighted me, with the problem that some of these drinks such as Beavertown are a chunk over £6 a pint, which is a brave position to be in given the current economic climate.
The venue is planning to open a separate gin bar on the first floor in a few weeks, in the space that was formerly used by Prime to serve their steaks. They’ll be able to get some decent mark ups on that sort of drink and I can imagine it’ll be popular on Friday and Saturday evenings, although there’s the limitation that the venue is relatively small. I imagine there will be a rush to sell cocktails as well, another gross profit winner. I’m sure that they’ll make a decent job of the interior of the first floor to ensure that it remains comfortable.
For me, this isn’t a venue that I’d return to on a regular basis, although I can understand the attraction and don’t want to be negative. Writing just for me, I don’t mind whether a pub does real ale well or craft beer well, there are some smaller breweries offering both types of beer which continue to surprise and delight me. But, just as I don’t run to the bar with excitement when seeing Greene King IPA, I’m not going to rush for premium priced keg beers that I can get in any number of other places.
But, positivity is the key, the owners are trying something new, they’ve ensured that the pub is open for the local community and I’m sure it’ll be the offering that many customers want. And variety is the spice of life, it would be a nightmare if every pub was the same with the same choices at the bar. The pub was clean, the staff were friendly, the atmosphere was inviting, it felt safe and so that’s all to the good.
PS, apologies again for the poor quality photos!