The Old Coffee Tavern, Warwick
An East End-style London boozer in the heart of historic Warwick? Yup, indeed! Muddy checks into this authentic Victorian pub with rooms managed by talented 27-year-old India Marsh!
I was joined by my 15-year-old for a mum-and-daughter for an overnighter at this impressive atmospheric Victorian pub with rooms in Warwick town centre.
Just off the Old Square, right in the centre of town, look in the opposite direction and beautiful historic landmark, St Mary’s Church (you can climb the 134ft tower), looms majestically at the end of the road. Warwick is a lively town with a raft of vibrant community events throughout the year from regular street markets, to cycle races, pancake flipping, a food festival, Victorian Evening, literary festival (Warwick Words) and folk festival. This summer Michelin chef and TV presenter Tom Kerridge held his first Pub in the Park event here too.
Ironically the Old Coffee Tavern started its life as a teetotal coffee tavern and hotel during the temperance movement. In fact, the words ‘coffee’ and ‘tavern adorn’ the front of the pub in Victorian terracotta Originally built in 1880 for a local manufacturer and philanthropist Thomas Bellamy Dale based on the designs of a Warwick architect, it’s now part of the Mosaic Pub & Dining group. The company owns several pubs in Birmingham including The Button Factory and Frederick Street Townhouse, both in the city’s hip Jewellery Quarter, The Distillery near Brindley Place and new underground darts bar, the 180 Club in posh St Paul’s Square, with its New York style food and sharer cocktails alongside The Rectory. All have a distinctly Peaky Blinders feel to them – if you watch the series, you’ll know what I mean – renovated atmospheric character period buildings. Further afield they manage pubs in Greenwich, Canterbury and Cheltenham.
It literally feels like you’re walking onto the set of EastEnders – a real community hub with old-fashioned charm! Now, my daughter is a big EastEnders fan, so this accrued some serious teenage brownie points. The elegant Victorian building with its stained glass sash windows, high ceilings, original tiled fireplaces and has been deftly transformed into a cosy haven that retains its original charm with antique lighting at the bar, turquoise tiling, red leather booths, dark green paintwork and vintage prints on the walls. I loved these original restored tiles (above) turned into an artwork.
There’s a separate dining area at the rear of bar opening out onto an attractive ‘secret’ walled terrace outdoors at back, avoiding that cramped disjointed feeling you can get in restaurants with loads of separate rooms. The regular pub quiz is very popular with locals as are live music nights, including a recent Elvis Presley impersonator. Upstairs there are 10 bedrooms.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It’s quite rare you come across a young female general manager; it was lovely to see talented 27-year-old India Marsh taking charge and adding her own personal touches.
Everything is homemade from scratch here and local ales come from award-winning nearby breweries, Warwickshire’s Purity, Church Farm in Warwick and Silhill Brewery nr Solihull. In a very well-stocked bar, the most local gin is from Shipston-on-Stour’s Cotswolds Distillery gins and the company’s own Round House gin distilled in Birmingham.
On India’s recommendation for dinner I had the homemade smoked haddock and salmon fishcake, with crushed peas, poached egg, parsley and chive sauce. It was much bigger than your average fishcake, tasted delicious and filling – I was glad we hadn’t ordered starters. I was impressed by the wine selection too, which includes the option of a carafe (I love a carafe!).
My 15-year-old daughter liked the sound of the pea and broad bean vegetarian risotto with rocket pesto and Parmesan – and said it was extremely yummy and flavoursome.
In the line of duty, we had an oozing hot chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream – for research purposes! Very nice! For something a little bit more unusual there’s a vanilla & gingerbread cheesecake with roasted strawberries, and a more traditional, sticky toffee pudding. A children’s menu is £5 with four dishes to choose from, plus ice cream for dessert.
After dinner we rolled upstairs into one of The Old Coffee Tavern’s ten attractively refurbished rooms with a boutique-y feel, decked out in vintage furniture to suit the style of the building. Some have a mix of baths and showers; and a couple have sofa beds to accommodate families.
Our cosy room overlooked the secret terrace with impressive views directly St Mary’s Church through two huge lovely sash windows. The bed was so comfy; we sat up watching TV in bed and had a spacious bathroom with rain shower and bath.
Breakfast was as good as dinner. I polished off smoked salmon eggs royal while my daughter chose one of her favourites, avo toast.
There was also an appetising array of juices, fresh berries, yogurt, breads, cereals and pastries, plus ethically sourced tea from Warwick-based The Golden Monkey Tea Company. We chatted to other guests who had travelled from Canada.
OUT & ABOUT
Warwick’s bustling historic streets have an eclectic mix of chains, vintage jewellery shops and the more enticing indie businesses including Thirteen Bakers, Tailors, Dough and Brew and Warwick Books. Interesting historical buildings and attractions good for a visit close by include Hill Close Gardens, Lord Leycester Hospital – 14th and 15th century timber buildings – and Warwick Castle. There are also lovely riverside walks, boat rides and St Nicholas’ Park. Check out more things to do here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Good gastropub grub in homely surroundings – there are no airs and graces here and overnight stays. The Old Coffee Tavern would work equally well for relaxed family gatherings, Sunday roasts or a low-key date night. Foodies will be impressed by the locally sourced ingredients and travellers will enjoy the very warm welcome and period boutique stay.
Not for: Formal dining.
The damage: Very reasonable especially considering portion sizes and how tasty it was. Starters are around the £6 mark, mains range from £10 for pea & broad bean risotto (V) to £15.50 for roasted breast of free-range chicken with spring greens and sauce, and a 480g Ribeye steak to share is £45. B&B from £115 per night.
The Old Coffee Tavern, 16 The Old Square, Warwick, CV34 4RA Check out their room offers – a Thursday and Sunday Stopover with a 2-course dinner starts at £99; weekend getaway with a 2-course dinner from £175 and a two-night mid-week escape with 2 course dinner from £199.