Norwich: Coach & Horses
Simon ParkinWHERE IS IT? This city centre pub just down Bethel Street from the Fire Station, is one of those pubs that don't look much from the outside - you've probably walked past a thousand times - but once you've ventured in its a revelation.Simon Parkin
WHERE IS IT?
This city centre pub just down Bethel Street from the Fire Station, is one of those pubs that don't look much from the outside - you've probably walked past a thousand times - but once you've ventured in its a revelation. As a pub it's got a long history going back to the 1860s. It was for a long time part of the Watney empire, until 1987 when it was swapped by Greene King for a Cambridge pub.
WHAT'S IT LIKE?
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Inside the bungling plaster and beam walls, bottle bottom windows and skew-whiff pan-tiled roof lurks a proper English pub with all that entails. A warm friendly atmosphere, a pleasantly lived in, slightly seen better days feel, with none of the contemporary blandness or over themed makeover hell that has ruined many others. The interior is all dark wood panelled walls, beams, exposed brickwork and deep red carpet. Two areas at the front have window seating, while a room at the back is dominated by an original fireplace, overlooked by an oil painting and flanked by shelving with local earthen ware brewing jugs. An original treat are leather saloon-style booths, and the yellow lacquer walls and ceiling - not needed these days to hide the nicotine stains. There's also an interesting display of nostalgic local photos. A more recent addition is a room, used mainly for dining during the times that they serving food, in what was once a separate garage, which has an illuminated stone wall.
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It remains a Greene King house, a fact reflected at the bar, where the chief real ale on tap are the Suffolk breweries IPA, Abbot Ale and Old Speckled Hen, though they do have the occasional seasonal guest beer.
Eating is a big thing here, as it is with most city centre pubs, and the pub's proximity to the Theatre Royal has given it something of a thespian reputation as the place to eat for a show. They offer pre-theatre meals and it's also a popular blot hole for post-show drinks.
Nothing fancy, but regular events ranging from quiz nights to poetry readings.
This is one of a handful of traditional boozers that remain in the city centre, and it's probably the best. A hardcore of regulars, arty types and parties discussing the theatre, including quite regularly members of the Theatre Royal cast.
t Coach & Horses, 51 Bethel Street, Norwich, 01603 631337