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The Essential Guide to Bristol
28 February 2009
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Hillgrove Porter Stores

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53 Hillgrove Street North,

0117 944 4780 

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byLucy Duggan28/10/2008
Hidden behind three towering multicoloured apartment blocks in Stokes Croft, lies the Hillgrove Porters Stores.

The Venue
Well-hidden and high on a hill in Kingsdown, it’s not easy to get to, but when you arrive at this gorgeous historical public house building with all its red brick and stained glass windows, you’ll find it is well worth the effort seeking it out. Plus, the uphill trek makes that first drink you reward yourself with taste like ambrosial nectar. They’ve played up the traditional and rather grand look of the place with antique adverts on the walls and a dark, old world interior. The black leather upholstered sofas and chairs help you get comfy in no time, particularly in the colder months when there’s always an open fire in the hearth to cosy up to. The heated courtyard beer garden looks great; it’s open all year round and brings much needed comfort to all the post-smoking ban exiles. On rainy days, the pub has also got an emergency stash of board games you can help yourself to and while away the hours with friends.

The People
It doesn’t take long to see why this free-house was awarded CAMRA Bristol & District Pub of The Year 2007: the customer service here is legendary. Visit more than once and you’re made to feel like a regular, the bar staff really make the effort to get to know you and are a credit to the venue.

If you don’t know what to drink, the staff are happy to suggest a tipple and will let you try before you buy. The clientele are equally friendly and relaxed, and help to make this a gorgeous hideaway to unwind, reflect or just chew the fat with friends and strangers alike. Also keep an eye out for Morris: the resident pub dog is a well known feature here.

If befriending pub-dogs doesn’t swing it for you, there’s other stuff going on here: Sunday night is quiz night; they hold an open mic on the first Monday of every month and Tuesdays and Wednesdays host indie rock.

The Food
Food is served here everyday, except Mondays. It is pretty average food, but it does come quickly and it’s reasonably priced. There are a handful of hot dishes such as chilli con carne and vegetable lasagna for £6.95, which change on a weekly basis. Also there’s soups, pates and a range of sandwiches and toasties for £2.95.

The Drink
They really do make the most of their free-house status here and their entry in the good Beer Guide is fully justified. They source almost all of their drinks locally from independent breweries and local firms situated in the South West. There is a massive range of ales at £2.80 a pint. Regulars include Goff's Tournament, Cheddar Ales, Best Bitter, Matthews Brassknocker and there are five guest casks. Lagers start at £3.10 for the likes of Amstel, San Miguel, Budweiser and Budvar. Ciders include Thatchers and Weston’s Scrumpy on draught. Also available is a good range of unusual spirits and organic brands of wine starting at £12.90 a bottle.

The Last Word
The Hillgrove combines British pub hospitality with an eclectic and carefully chosen selection of drinks to create one of the most memorable pub experiences available in Bristol.
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