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The extraordinary transformation of The Newbury gastropub

PUBLISHED: 12:34 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:34 11 September 2014

Spread out and enjoy the comfort of The Newbury. Photo: Tayo Lee Nelson

Spread out and enjoy the comfort of The Newbury. Photo: Tayo Lee Nelson

Copyright: TAYO LEE NELSON

The stunning transformation of The Newbury proves that with the right team and determination our local hostelries can enjoy a healthy future

There are plenty of cautionary tales about taking on a struggling pub with the high hopes of turning it into something very special indeed. But it can happen, and some of the best evidence is found at The Newbury, right in the heart of the town from which it takes its name.

It was once The Bricklayers Arms, but the Bartholomew Street premises taken over by licensees Peter Lumber and Clarke Oldfield not only bears no resemblance to the old hostelry but have thrived so well that Spirit Pub Company has now made two investments.

This month has seen a party to mark the opening of a stylish addition with private dining room, multimedia room, a cocktail and champagne bar, and even a roof terrace from the conversion of a former flat above The Newbury. It’s certainly an excellent choice for family gatherings and business functions, being available for private hire.

But much of the success so far has come from the enthusiasm downstairs in the pub where the emphasis on serving up superb seasonal food has paid dividends.

They don’t do things by half here, a small holding was even bought to supply pork and honey to go with the other local food, drink and vegetables used in much of the menu. You’ll find the best beer from Two Cocks Brewery alongside favourites, and an excellent wine and spirits choice. All the food is prepared on site, including irresistible bread and delicious ice creams.

One secret of their success in this racing town is sticking to ‘horses for courses’. As Pete readily admits: “Clarke and I work together so well because I’m front of house and recognise that the kitchen is his domain. Although at times I might be called into service. I’m sometimes allowed to peel potatoes and have my own special peeler ready in a drawer!”

The Newbury is well worth a visit. If you need further temptation take a look at the example menus at www.thenewburypub.co.uk. Be prepared for some unusual finds for “pub grub”, from venison sausage rolls in the bar snacks to starters featuring both pig’s head and lobster, or mains such as roast wood pigeon crown with a gooseberry sauce. Well, this is definitely no ordinary pub!

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