Pub of the week The Hobgoblin
What a difference a few months make. This time last year, The Hobgoblin was open for business and preparing for a prosperous Christmas like any other busy pub.
A few months later, however, the pub was closed and boarded up, only to be occupied a few weeks later by a group of squatters.
They were eventually turfed out by the police who, amusingly, had a bit of help from some of the squatters' parents, who arrived on the scene to deliver a few home truths of their own.
For a time, this Gloucester Road pub's future looked uncertain but owners Enterprise have finally refurbished the place and a new management team has taken on the lease.
This week's delicious £5 5 O'CLOCKTAIL is a refreshing Tequila Sunrise. Available everyday from our Bar for only £5 between 5pm & 7pm.
Terms: £5 cocktail applies to the cocktail of the week.
Contact: 0117 2448281
Valid until: Monday, May 27 2013
Rather confusingly, the old "let this pub" sign was still above the door when I visited last week, but it's very much open for business, although there was only one other drinker in there when I popped in on a weekday lunchtime.
The pub has been completely refurbished and, I dare say, fumigated, since the last uninvited tenants and it looks smarter than it has for years.
Fifteen years ago, this used to be a very busy pub but it has since had a choppy ride with a succession of managers.
With so many bars and restaurants nearby on this bustling strip of the Gloucester Road, the pub has plenty of competition and has had to raise its game.
This means three real ales – Black Sheep, Spitfire and Hobgoblin were on draught when I visited – and the Thatcher's Gold has proved so popular in the first week that the first delivery sold out in a matter of days.
The refurbishment has seen a smart new look with a number of flatscreen TVs on the tongue and groove-panelled walls and a gentle Farrow and Ball paint job to give it a more upmarket feel.
Although it's not trying to be a gastropub, it is offering simple, well-priced food including chicken wings, three types of homemade burger and a range of sandwiches served with fries and coleslaw – these include BBQ brisket, pulled pork and a veggie-friendly halloumi and salsa.
Prices are sensible, with nothing costing over £6.
For those who want to toast the welcome return of this veteran Gloucester Road boozer, there's even hot mulled wine being served in the run up to Christmas.