I walk by this pub most days of the week, but I can’t recall the last time that I actually went into it. It’s a Craft Union pub, meaning that it’s sports led and has cheap drinks prices. There’s one particular Craft Union pub in Norwich, which is the Garden House, where the customer service is impeccable and the real ale selection one of the widest in the city. The excellent management at that pub has certainly improved my general image of the Craft Union brand.
In terms of its history, this is one of the few city centre pubs and it’s had an array of names over recent years, including Imagine, Chandlers, Wig & Pistle, Three Tuns, Mustard and Westlegate. As more people start to move into the new residential developments in the city centre I can imagine that trade will look up for venues such as this, it’s got a prime position. The pub was built in around 1937 and there’s an excellent photo of it on George Plunkett’s web-site which was taken in 1938. Then there’s a photo taken in 1936, which is of the previous building.
The only real ale available was Doom Bar, which doesn’t excite and delight me, so I went for John Smith’s instead. The service was polite and efficient, with the pricing being so low that I felt the need to get some crisps to go with it. The pub had something of a vibrant feel, but there was international football on the televisions and it all felt sufficiently safe and well managed (the pub, I have no idea about the football). I’m pleased to note that the drink and food pairing of John Smith’s and prawn cocktail crisps met my expectations.
Some of the pub’s decor and it does have a warm atmosphere, with everything feeling clean and well presented. There was only staff member, but she pro-actively and seem to spend her entire time serving, collecting glasses or cleaning.
The chain promotes their venues to be community pubs and I think that’s evident here. Some on-line reviews say that it’s an intimidating venue and there’s an inevitability that low drinks prices can engender that at times, but I thought matters seemed entirely in hand. I’d come here again, it might not offer the most exciting choice of real ales or craft beers, but it feels genuine and authentic.