Norwich: Trowel & Hammer
Simon ParkinWHERE IS IT? On the part of St Stephen's that runs into Newmarket Road, about 300m from St Stephen's roundabout. On the left as you drive into the city.Simon Parkin
WHERE IS IT?
On the part of St Stephen's that runs into Newmarket Road, about 300m from St Stephen's roundabout. On the left as you drive into the city.
WHAT'S IT LIKE?
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A decade ago this pub fell victim to the then all-the-rage Irish theme re-branding, including a name change to Finnegan's Wake, despite having had no previous Irish connection at all, beyond the fact that they sell Guinness. It was a lively place to enjoy 'the craic' - perhaps a little too lively towards the end, given that it developed an unfortunate dodgy reputation, well founded or not. In 2002, the Irish obsession ended though and the pub reverted back to its original name. Nowadays it's aiming for a far more sedate, less wide boy clientele. They've developed a restaurant extension at the back and the interior has undergone a welcome make-over, giving it a clean, if slightly staid, and equally incongruous country pub look, with exposed brickwork, faux wood beams and old fashioned style seats, stool and shaker benches. The bar area is spacious with plenty of tables at the front and a couple of more intimate alcoves near the side door. This leads out to a small patio style garden. Well, we say garden - it's basically a small grassed corner of the car park.
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Nothing particularly special but the bar is well kept, with all the usual selection of lagers, plus the added bonus of Hoegaarden on draught. Two or three real ales usually available.
It's run by the same folk behind Norwich eateries Italia Nostra and Paolos Restaurant. Perhaps unsurprising then that the menu features some Italian classics, but its otherwise good solid fare. A bar menu too. All the food is prepared on the premises. They do a decent Sunday roast for �6.95 (a tenner for two).
Like most pubs they are having to work hard to attract in the punters. They have the big screen for live sport. They have regular live bands and music every Friday and Saturday nights. There is also a free games room.
The hospital that used to provide much of the clientele has, of course, long gone. They now host passing trade and some regulars. They're not doing anything particularly wrong, mind you.
t Trowel & Hammer, St Stephens Road, Norwich, 01603 620034, www.trowelandhammer.co.uk