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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.

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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.

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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.

fireplace 2 (640x478)

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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.

cheese board (640x478)

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 3DETel: 01603 624682. theblackhorsenorwich.co.uk

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