It’s still early evening on a Saturday but Nala the dog is already a few snacks down and doing the rounds of tables in The Phoenix.
“You’d better take it easy,” one kindly customer says to her, stroking her head as she looks adoringly up at him, her eyes pleading for just one small chip.
Nala is not only the most popular with locals, but she is also in the enviable position of living in this historic city centre boozer, tucked away in Champion Square, right by Cabot Circus.
Bristol’s flagship retail and leisure complex was many a decade off being built when this historic pub first opened its doors in 1850, and while the area may have seen some dramatic changes, The Phoenix is sticking to its more traditional roots, albeit with a few modernising tweaks along the way.
There’s a contended crowd easing their way into the evening on this particular Saturday. At one end of the pub, a couple sit quietly working their way through hearty burgers and chips and looking vaguely irritated each time someone comes through the door and lets a draft of cold air in with them.
Further down, larger groups are talking and laughing over their pints and beyond a curious mirrored wall, a lone man with a beard sits engrossed on his phone.
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The bar is well-stocked with a vast selection of ales, ciders, wines, cocktails and snacks and the bar tender has limited patience with people dithering over their order.
A large jar of dog biscuits sits front and centre, but this doesn’t stop Nala eyeing up the far more exciting-looking human food being delivered to tables.
Servings in this cosy pub are generous and the clientele a friendly mixed bag of regulars, families and post-shop drinkers.
Writing on a beam in the compact bar area directs punters to a sunny beer garden out the back. The sign is a bit of a misnomer on this brisk autumn evening, with not a trace of sun, but there’s still plenty of hardy punters making the most of the expansive sheltered beer garden.
Meanwhile, back inside, Nala is exhausted from her socialising efforts and is taking a nap before resuming her Saturday night in the pub she calls home.
The Phoenix, 1 Wellington Buildings, Champion Square, Bristol, BS2 9DB
0117 329 0076
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