Newest Review: ... want to be seen in an establishment such as a pub, and wanted a drink in quiet and could then sneak out again. In these booths are bells ... more
Fancy visiting somewhere which is great for drinking Guinness and a National Trust building?
Crown Liquor Saloon (Belfast)
Member Name: julwhite
Crown Liquor Saloon (Belfast)
Advantages: Beautiful old building, good service
Disadvantages: Different priced rounds, can get too busy
This review is of the Crown Liquor Saloon, a public house in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The pub is a Victorian bar, which has fine decoration and is situated at 46 Great Victoria Street.
The first visual impressions of this bar are that it is simply amazing, beautiful decorations wherever you look, whether it's the bar, the back bar, the floor or the ceiling. It is a very traditional pub, built in Victorian times, and with Victorian decoration all around. The history of the building can't really be under-stated, and it is a Grade A listed building which is owned by the National Trust.
The pub layout isn't what you would usually expect, although it's a traditional Victorian set-up. There are ten snugs, or booths, which you can go in and shut yourselves off from the rest of the pub. Originally the booths were often used by those who didn't want to be seen in an establishment such as a pub, and wanted a drink in quiet and could then sneak out again.
In these booths are bells where you can summon bar staff, although they only respond at lunch-times, and original striking plates for matches. My favourite is situated near the main door, tucked away in the corner, and is a great meeting place for groups and wonderfully secluded.
The pub is both a locals pub and a tourist pub, but it can be just too busy. The booths often fill up quickly and although you can sit at the bar for a drink, if you're in a group, it's often difficult to either find seats or enough a place to stand which isn't in the way. A busy pub isn't necessarily a problem, but remember to get there early, or go at a quiet time if you want to really investigate the decoration in the pub.
I didn't have food in the pub, but the prices seemed quite reasonable and the portions on the plates going by seemed very reasonable. Meals include traditional favourites such as fish and chips, burgers, sausage and mash and so on. Expect to pay around eight to ten pounds for each main course. The bar doesn't have bar snacks other than hot nuts from a machine, which seemed a little strange as numerous customers asked for snacks when I've been sitting at the bar.
In terms of cleanliness, the pub was fine, it was clean throughout, and the toilets were in a reasonable state of repair, although not quite as decorative as I had expected given other parts of the pub. Bar service was quick and prompt, and it was nice to see that the Guinness was both perfectly poured and had a shamrock poured into the top. The range of drinks was good, and the quality of the Guinness superb.
There was one complaint I could raise, the prices were a little above average for Belfast pubs (expect to pay around 3.80 pounds for a Guinness), which I fully understand in a venue such as this, but the price of the two rounds for the same product, served by the same barman, was over one pound different, so something has gone wrong with the way they charge. Many other pubs in Belfast give a receipt with the drinks so you can check the barman hasn't made a mistake, and this would have be helpful here.
If you want more information about the pub, you can visit the web-site at http://www.crownbar.com/.
In summary, this was a great pub to visit, and if you're visiting Belfast it's a wonderful place to come if you like both history and pubs, as I do! The pub can get busy, so arrive early if you want to look closely at the building, but even when busy, it has a great personality with a mix of locals and visitors. The National Trust have spent hundreds of thousands on this building, and it appears to have been well worth it, a definite place to visit at least once.
Summary: Definitely worth a visit if you're in Belfast