Acting as the ultimate tonic to the minimalist establishments with militantly monochrome colour schemes, garish cocktails and abrasive charts music, the Stag & Hounds is a pub to its very core.
Recently re-opened under new management, the popular drinking den and live music venue that closed its doors in March is back in business and, by the looks of things, is staying pretty true to its roots.
It’s unsurprising really to find it free from the fluorescent migraine of many modern drinking venues. The grade II listed property has been a public house since the 18th century, with first records of constructing the building dating back to 1483.
The outside is a ‘what you see is what you get’ type set up; a handful of wooden picnic benches scattered in front of the ground floor. The trademark black beams feature throughout both the exterior and interior.
A single gin and tonic is £4, which could be cheaper, but the house gin is Tanqueray. A pint of lemon infused beer is £3.90. The bartender is friendly and offers a sample before buying.
One thing to bear in mind with a pub to the core is that this is a place designed for drinking, not dining. This is no ‘gastropub’. If you want something to soak up the booze, you can nibble on the basic selection of nuts and crisps. But that is all.
The inside is decidedly shabby chic. Faux antique electric candles border burgundy walls, the paint slapped on extra-thick. It’s large and sprawling, sort of like being in a dishevelled, cosy living room.
The seats are dotted around with no particular consistency. Loungey jazz music preserves the downbeat vibe for the ears as well as the eyes. The corner holds a small stage area for live music.
Further exploration reveals a rooftop terrace for the smokers who don’t want to face the streets. The enclosed, wooden decked space is studded with barrel tables, and pleasantly overlooked by a large tree.
Every section is endowed with a time-worn charm. If you want a breather from the modern world, it’s well worth a visit.
The Stag & Hounds, 74 Old Market Street, Bristol
Read more: Pub of the week: The Hare