Revamp for The Black Horse
It’s always a pleasure to join the buzz when a tired, old – and frankly rough – pub gets revamped, attracts a new crowd and generally causes some local excitement.
Located in one of Norwich’s most popular areas, and sitting smugly in an oversized handsome redbrick Victorian (with a car park and a large beer garden to boot), the Black Horse Inn has a head start on many other pubs in the neighbourhood (of which there are over 30). So far, so good.
But years of neglect, poor food and surly staff meant it was time for a change. Enter new landlady Rose who, with the help of UK pub company Punch, pours a not-to-be-sniffed-at £350,000 into the building and gives it a new lease of life.
Hardly recognisable, my friend and I spend the first five minutes of our evening trying to figure out where the bar used to be and whether an extension had been built – the place looking altogether bigger and brighter.
No extension, Rose tells me bringing me a glass of red from the wine list – which she recommends as a perfect partner for the cheese board we have just ordered – just a better use of light and a fresh lick of paint.
More than just a lick of paint in my opinion – fires roar away in both the casual pub area and the more refined dining section; exposed brick sits next to duck egg blue cladding; and homely touches include fresh lilies, block candles, rows and rows of books and, to my joy, a very old typewriter.
The evening menu is now less ‘pubby’ than the ham, egg and chips of pre-vamp, with 27-day aged steak, braised British lamb shoulder and roast wood pigeon sitting next to ginger & thyme cheesecake and a cheeseboard consisting purely of local cheese (Norfolk Mardler a new one on me). There are options for vegans and gluten intolerant, local ales and a large wine list not often found in a pub. Sadly the menu has no options for children, but our lovely waitress tells us the chef will cook whatever my daughter might like. She instantly chooses cheesy chips and I slide down my seat in shame.
The garden area – always large but never quaint – now sports heavy wooden furniture and nice lighting, and, as more and more Thursday night drinkers arrive to warm themselves by the fire and drink real ale, I make a mental note to come back in the summer.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Couples, friends or groups after a quick pint in a casual setting or a gastro meal in a stylish dining area.
Not for: Families with young children after an evening meal – kids’ meals are only on the lunch menu.
£££ – mid range. Entrees £6-£9, main courses £12-£18.
The Black Horse, 50 Earlham Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 3DE. Tel: 01603 624682. theblackhorsenorwich.co.uk