We’ve been following the progress of The Volunteer Tavern on Twitter for a while. In September 2011, it was taken over by the team behind the Hope & Anchor on Jacob’s Wells Road, and former Hope & Anchor manager Peter Gibbs is firmly installed at the helm. The building was first recorded as a pub in the 17th century, and is just as worth a visit today.
We visited on Easter Monday, meaning that we were able to take advantage of the beer festival still running in the pub’s garden – a great selection from as close as Southville’s Bristol Beer Factory and as far as West Yorkshire’s Revolution Beer Co.
It’s always good to find centrally located pubs with outside space, and with a fire pit blazing to keep outdoor drinkers warm, it was certainly welcoming.
The warm and welcoming environment continues into the pub itself, with a cosy, relaxed and traditional feel, punctuated by Pete chatting with regular customers, a great selection of music from Tracey Chapman to Etta James, and the option to borrow books and board games to make you feel right at home.
If you’re a draught cider fan, you’re sadly limited to Magners and Stowford Press on draught, while lager drinkers have a choice of Grolsch or Carling Black Label. Real ale fans fare significantly better, however, with one Wild Beer Company option always on (Scarlet Fever on our visit) along with choices over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend of Kingstone Brewery’s Tewdric’s Tipple, Arbor Ales Hoptical Delusion VI, Wickwar’s Station Porter and Blue Moon.
Food is served seven days a week, with a range of sandwiches and burgers sitting alongside mains such as salmon fish cakes, sirloin steak, Moroccan style lamb shoulder and fish and chips. Prices start at £3.95 for a sandwich (including chips or salad), and range from £7.50 to £15 for a main course.
Despite it being a Monday, we were there to sample the Sunday lunch – well, it WAS a Bank Holiday! On the day of our visit, it was a choice between pork belly, beef, chicken or a nut roast – or the “Trinity” including all three meat options which – slightly hungover from the previous night – we thought sounded like a great idea.
And what a Sunday lunch it was. The only real negative was the undercooked broccoli, but everything else on the plate was fantastic, from the juiciness of the chicken to the citrus tang of the carrots. The pork belly fell apart under the fork and came with perfect crackling, while the beef – although not as pink as expected – was succulent and full of flavour.
Big praise from us for the potatoes, which can often make or break a roast, and the Yorkies, which were light, fluffy and not at all greasy. You’d also be silly not to try the homemade horseradish sauce, the horseradish itself nice and thickly grated and full of flavour.
Understandably, we were too full to try anything from the dessert menu, but we’ll certainly be back. One of the best Sunday lunches we’ve had for a while, served in a great setting. We like.
Please note: one of our lunches was received free of charge (we paid for the other and our drinks), but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
Find The Volunteer Tavern on the Bristol Bites Directory…