(UPDATE: food review now online – click here)
At a time when so many local pubs are shutting, and with Wetherspoons having announced that they plan on doubling the number of pubs that they have in the UK, it’s always good to see new local ventures starting up. The latest of these in Clifton is the Black Boy Inn at 171 Whiteladies Road, which closed around Christmas time but which was bought in March and is now completely unrecognisable from what it was before. I popped in to have a chat to the new owners ahead of their opening on July 8th…
Czech Republic-born Ivona and Bristolian Sam originally met when working together in Bristol, before moving down to Hampshire where they ran a pub together for two years. They decided, however, that they wanted to come back to Bristol, and the Black Boy Inn is their first venture as pub owners.
‘We were looking for the right place for nearly a year’, says Ivona, ‘and this happened so suddenly. We were actually looking at the Jersey Lily…we didn’t know this place was for lease and 2 weeks on we were here with the keys after a year of looking!’ A sign, she says, that ‘it was meant to be’.
Despite being tied to Enterprise in terms of their beer selection, Ivona and Sam will have some South West beers and ciders available. Taunton Traditional is the draught cider choice, with Becks Vier and Staropramen available for lager drinkers and Guinness fans also catered for. There will only be one regular ale – Otter – but the other two draught ales will change on a regular basis: with every new barrel, in fact. ‘In the old place we were doing the same,’ explains Ivona, ‘and it kept people interested.’
It’s the wine and the food that Ivona’s hoping will be the biggest hits, though. The wine list is huge and personally selected by the new owners. A selection of 10 whites, 11 reds, plus rose options, champagnes, port and dessert wine should keep wine lovers happy. They’ve been careful to include a selection of countries, grape varieties and price brackets, with prices starting at £3.60 per glass and £15 per bottle.
Final food menus haven’t yet been determined, but there will be a focus on what’s local and seasonal. ‘We’ve got loads of local suppliers’, says Ivona. They’re using Sheepdrove (whose shop is next door to the pub) for their meat, and using the bones to make proper stock and gravy. Cheeses will be from Bath Fine Cheese, bread from Gloucester Road’s Breadstore, fish from SmithFish and tea and coffee from the Clifton Coffee Company.’We do want to keep it local’, says Ivona – ‘it’s what we like, and what people like.’
Ivona and Sam, who’s running the kitchen, are not aiming for Michelin-starred food, but ‘proper’ food: not just something pretty to look at, but something that tastes good. The lunch menu is likely to be priced at £10.95 for two courses or £13.95 for three, and the evening menu is also reasonably priced: starters around £5-£7, mains at around £10 to £17 and desserts around the £5 mark. The picture below is of one of the sample dinner menus they’ve been working on…
They’ll also be doing Sunday lunches (Ivona’s quick to point out that the gravy and Yorkshires will both be homemade), which will probably be priced at around £8.95-£9.95. Sadly there’s unlikely to be a veggie roast option, but the main menu will still be running alongside the roast dinners on Sundays.
Food will be available between 12pm and 2.30pm, then again between 6.30pm and 9.30pm. Actual opening hours of the pub are likely to be 11.30am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 10.30pm on Sundays. The kitchen will be closed on Mondays, and the bar will also be opening later on this day.
If you saw what the inside of the pub looked like under its previous ownership, you’ll be surprised at the difference. The new owners completed the refurbishment themselves, meaning that they’ve been able to make their own mark on the place…Ivona pointed out a lot of personal touches. ‘I’m originally from the Czech Republic, and we drove there to look at antiques…and drove back with a van full!’ The bases of all of the tables in the front room are antique, and Ivona’s uncle – a carpenter – made the table tops. The front bar is lovely and quirky, decorated with items such as old trumpets and coffee grinders brought back from the Czech Republic (which sit on top of a brand new Bath Stone fireplace), and a typewriter given to her by her mother, whose office it used to sit in.
The pub will be divided into two distinct areas: the front bar for drinkers, the back bar set out as a restaurant area with all tables laid for diners. It’s a beautiful, cosy room, which feels almost as though you’re sitting in someone’s living room to eat.
I came away from my chat with Ivona with a massive grin on my face…the new Black Boy Inn sounds like it’s going to be a real hit. I’ve already booked my table for dinner on the first night! They’ll be open from lunch time onwards on Friday, July 8th, and the new website (including contact details) should be up before then. If you happen to be passing the pub and Ivona’s in there, knock on the window and say hello – she’s more than happy to chat. I’ve got high hopes for this place…
For more information, including contact details for bookings, have a look at their website at http://www.blackboy-inn-bristol.co.uk