Pubs and Bars / arnolfini

Pub of the Week: Arnolfini Cafe Bar

By martin booth, Thursday Oct 12, 2017

A shelf stretching the length of the bar at the Arnolfini made up entirely of bottles from Bristol Beer Factory is a clear indication of the new custodians here.

There was a time not too long ago when both this art gallery and this brewery appeared to be on the wane; but the pair have turned a corner together.

Thanks to the current Grayson Perry exhibition, the Arnolfini has been at its busiest for years. And now you can go to the bar after-hours, drink some of Bristol Beer Factory’s finest and go to the loo while passing underneath a charming pink and yellow bicycle designed by one of the UK’s most recognisable living artists.

In one corner of the bar on a recent evening, as plants in metal pots appeared to magically float in mid-air, talk was of the preparations needed to put on a large-scale fashion show, while another punter was eyeing up the glass partition between bar and seating area for his tailoring studio.

Food is not currently served – other than a couple of cakes on the bar

It may now carry Bristol Beer Factory branding, but patrons were not solely here for the beer, with the coffee machine serving Wogan-roasted beans still hissing soon before 8pm and wine bottles unscrewed as often as pints and half-pints pulled.

Among the beers, Southville Hop was a popular choice, with Nova and Fortitude the other Bristol Beer Factory options on cask, and Independence and Milk Stout on keg.

“Oh, hello!” one new arrival in a white and black checked coat shouted excitedly as she surprised her friend with a big bunch of flowers. Balearic beats played on the stereo while she eyed up the bar.

As a barmaid squeezed some lime into the glass, she recognised somebody the moment he walked in through the door with his maroon rucksack.

“Sorry, we can’t serve you,” she joked, before he ordered a pint of Independence, a fitting choice in this bar’s new incarnation.

Arnolfini Cafe-Bar, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA


Read more: Interview: Grayson Perry

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