Monday, April 15, 2024

The Two Julians

We straddle the Waveney so you don't have to.

The Two Julians
Norwich

Norwich – Weavers Arms

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The Weavers Arms on Muspole Street has recently reopened, so Julian and I felt the need to pay it a quick visit (this post is also on my blog at www.julianwhite.uk). The venue has gone through a succession of owners, as well as new names, but the incoming tenants are also behind Brick Pizza and the Yard restaurant, so they have some considerable experience. There is another Woolpack in Norwich, operated by Greene King, which might be the reason that they haven’t returned to that name, although it’s always a shame when heritage is lost.

There’s some religious heritage to the site, as not only is it opposite St. George’s Church it also stands on the former site of the residential property used by the Prior of the Augustinian Priory of Our Lady Walsingham. It has been a hospitality venue called the Woolpack since the middle of the eighteenth century, hence why its recent change of name feels sub-optimal. The listed building record notes that there is an re-used sixteenth century wooden beam on the ground floor which is likely from 1510 and so it might have been in the Prior’s living room before the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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There were four real ales available and there were a couple of new beers here that I hadn’t had before. The combination of having a local brewery along with some ales from further afield that customers haven’t had seems eminently sensible.

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And there were some craft keg options as well, although other drinks such as coffees, cocktails and generic keg are also available as well. For the size of the venue, the choice of drinks seems entirely reasonable and met my expectations.

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The back bar arrangement. The service was attentive and polite, with the venue being relatively busy on the Saturday evening that we visited. Julian is excited and delighted about their extended hours on a Friday and Saturdays night, as we both share enthusiasm for longer hours in pubs so that we’re not forced into visiting cocktail bars. Which has been known.

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To ensure that our research was thorough, I had half a pint of all four of the real ales, with the prices for these being around £2.10 each which isn’t unreasonable. They were all well kept and at the appropriate temperature, so there’s clearly some cellar knowledge here. The lighting was a little dark when we visited, but that seemed to fit the inviting and cosy nature of the venue, this isn’t somewhere that needs fierce lights. We sat at the bar, carefully ensuring that we weren’t blocking the view of the beers, where the seating was comfortable and the interior redesign has been sensitively done.

I went for the Slap Bang Citra from North Riding Brew Pub, which has a decent flavour to it but really needed more citra with a beer name like that. Brother Rabbit is one of the few beers from Thornbridge that I hadn’t tried, it’s a suitably decadent golden ale. Then comes the old reliable of Encore from Lacons Brewery and the session bitter of the JHB from Oakham Ales.

Although we had arrived too late for dining, the pub is offering food, with some tempting delights including the chicken & tarragon pie and the beef shin & Guinness pie. For those who don’t go straight to the pies section of the menu, there are also salads, steaks and fish options. It feels like a compact and manageable menu, I suspect the food quality is very high given the provenance of the owners. There are three rooms in this venue, but as it was busy I couldn’t easily go around taking photos.

Onto the toilets, which are in a more recent extension to the building. My friend Gordon also visited the pub this weekend and sent me some photos of the venue’s rather more, er, revealing artwork in the facilities although I hadn’t noticed those. One thing they’ll need to resolve is actually putting male and female signs on the toilets, the whole arrangement at the moment is confusing and a customer was commenting about it to a staff member.

Julian has decided to make extra visits to the pub to ensure that his high standards are being met, and I’m pleased to note that his considerable research efforts have confirmed that all seems well. The pub is a little bit tucked away and unlikely to get much passing trade, which all means that it’s going to have to get a solid reputation to ensure that customers go out there. However, from what I’ve seen, it looks likely that they’ll make a success of this pub.