The Elephant At The Market in Newbury - review

PUBLISHED: 10:09 01 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:09 01 June 2015

Ready to serve you, photo: Louise Bellaers

Ready to serve you, photo: Louise Bellaers

Louise Bellaers Photography

Newbury town centre has a new-look watering spot, so Sue Bromley just had to visit to test it out for you (that’s her story)

Guests enjoying the ambience at The Elephant At The Market’s opening, photo: Louise BellaersGuests enjoying the ambience at The Elephant At The Market’s opening, photo: Louise Bellaers

There’s no doubt that converting the former Queens Hotel right in the centre of Newbury into what is now The Elephant At The Market has been a labour of love. An extensive refurbishment, all the planning regulations surrounding such a sensitive site, and local people wandering past what seemed for a while never-ending scaffolding, waiting to see if all the fuss would be worth it.

Fortunately, this is the sort of project brewing and pub business Marston’s seem to revel in, and now Revere, their division of premium independent pubs and bars, has another great venue to add to its portfolio. It’s a boutique-style hotel merged with a spacious pub that is bound to attract local business folk and those coming to town, particularly for the racing but perhaps as a base for exploring the countryside.

This Elephant is undoubtedly stylish and, just like that other Elephant some 20 miles away at Pangbourne (no relation), manages to incorporate lots of quirky touches without coming across as too chichi.

Having said that, the Newbury elephant appears to have become Cornelius this time round, rooms are named after other characters from the Babar The Elephant children’s stories, and there are elephant statuettes on the likes of bedside cabinets. As to that name, it seems there was an Elephant and Castle pub in the 19th century market place, so a nice touch there.

While we’re in the rooms, it’s worth mentioning that discerning guests will appreciate the bespoke furniture and textured fabrics. In-room treats such as flat-screen Smart TVs, spacious bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, luxury bed linen and premium toiletries comes as standard. There are 14 rooms, four super king, seven king size, two twin and one large family room complete with a super king and sofa bed. Rates start from £90 a night per room.

Downstairs we are talking big and spacious. The stripped-back style creates plenty of space, this is a place ready to cope with lots of cheerful diners. So there’s room to spread out and, with lots of twists and turns, there’s a good atmosphere even at the busiest times.

Our favourite spot though is outside, where a large alfresco terrace is perfect for a drink and bite to eat, but the piece de resistance is a converted shipping container, complete with Astroturf flooring, perfect for outdoor private dining got parties of perhaps 12 to 15 people. It’s ideal for little family or business ‘dos’ and will create a lovely surprise for guests.

So on to the food and drink. The bar, as you’d expect, is stocked with just about everything, whether you’re looking for a cocktail or to try a wine from a small vineyard. There are some serious beer drinkers in Newbury and they should be happy with the rotating cask ales and craft beers. When we called the choices included Good Old Boy from West Berkshire Brewery.

The food is mid to top end pub fare, and very hard to fault. So steak fans can drool over a fine selection of cuts from a traditional Yorkshire farm. They have a Josper Charcoal in use to get that melt in the mouth result. There are nice little light bites and sharers, and some surprises like Provençale fish stew with toasted ciabatta and garlic aioli. A three-course feast will come in at about £30 per person (£40 with perhaps a sirloin or fillet steak as main).

Hotel general Eima Mazeika with Cllr Jo Day, Mayor of Newbury, photo: Louise BellaersHotel general Eima Mazeika with Cllr Jo Day, Mayor of Newbury, photo: Louise Bellaers

An Italian wood-fired oven produces delicious pizzas from £7.95 up to £12.50 for our calorie-laden pick of smoked mackerel, king prawns, confit garlic butter base, marinated mozzarella, mascarpone, rocket, soft boiled egg. Sandwiches and ciabattas, served to 6pm, come with triple cooked chips, £7.50/£8.50.

The Elephant at The Market, 8 Market Place, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5BD; 01635 231053; theelephantatthemarket.com

***

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