It might be a compact pub on an undistinguished corner of Blackboy Hill, but The Jersey Lily is no hidden secret: at 6pm on this weeknight, every single table is full. Older chaps ponder over the crossword and slowly sink a pint of bitter, while suited businessmen watch the football on a tv screen with the sound muted in the corner, and more people prop up the bar.
The reason for the rush is written up on a chalkboard on the wall: tonight is the bi-weekly ‘ale sale’, with a selection of Wickwar Brewing Company ales, served from ornate hand-pulls, slashed to just £2.70 per pint. The staff at this lively local joint must be busy, as the same board also advertises live music and 2-4-1 cocktails on a Thursday, plus their Sunday quiz night.
With wooden floors and a mixture of high tables and low bench seating, it’s got all the hallmarks of a traditional boozer, but brought up-to-date with a friendly atmosphere, chic vintage lighting and a good variety of drinks.
Aside from the afore-mentioned ale – for which Jersey Lily was recently crowned the south’s best cask pub by the Star Pub Awards – there’s also a bountiful selection of wines, spirits, lagers and ciders, both bottled and on tap, behind the big wooden bar. The coffee machine is also getting some use in this cold evening, with Bristol Twenty Coffee available.
I order a bowl of skin-on double-cooked chips (£2.95) from a short menu that includes pub classics like pork and apple sausages with mash (£8.95) and burgers (from £9.95), as well as choices like a vegetarian Thai green curry (£8.95) and a crispy halloumi starter (£4.95).
The chunky chips arrive piping hot, with crunchy skins and soft floury middles, and are excellent with a generous splodge of mayo and a sprinkling of vinegar. It’s a taste that’s unmistakably British, and it’s all the better for being eaten in a setting that encapsulates all that is loveable and familiar about the great British pub.
The Jersey Lily
193 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2SB