“ PUB. Southover Street, Brighton. „
The Pub with No Name is a real success story. Perhaps surprisingly considering that it is right at the top of Southover Street. It’s a bit of a hill and there are stacks of pubs on the way up the hill to distract the drinker. But the PWNN is a good pub, and as I often say in my pub reviews, a good pub is a rare thing. But it wasn’t always like that. Way back when it used to be a pub called the Royal Exchange. I never went there but my dad tells me it was just a normal boozer for Hanover, the part of town it lies in. A normal, craggy working class pub. But Hanover had changed around it. No longer was it the honest working class district it once was, a pub on every corner and a few churches here and there. Short arcades of essential services like laundrettes, greengrocers, bakers and butchers had begun to wane in favour of small arty workshops or organic shops. Hanover was now the home of social workers, teachers, council employees, students and young families and the tastes of this largely middle class and lefty crowd was quite different and the old-fashioned pub of darts and bitter was gradually replaced by a need for something different. It was along these lines that the PWNN developed. I believe it was bought by some builders who had every intention of doing it up and selling it on. Out came the ghastly carpets and ancient velvet-covered benches and in came bare floorboards, rustic and unusual wooden furniture and vibrant walls. They did a good job them builders. Now, with an eye to making a sale they got the pub up and running and I recall a few boozy nights early on when it just opened. It was Brighton’s newest pub and we the drinkers would ask the barstaff what they were going to call it and they said that that was up to the new owners. So it became, quite informally, The Pub with No Name. What happened next should be no surprise. The builder-turned-landlord decided that he was going to keep the pub, he enjoyed it too much to let it go. It was also, no doubt, a nice little earner. He never got round to giving it a proper name, but then, why does a pub need a name? You can have a pub with no name, well you can have one in every town, otherwise it gets too confusing. In keeping the pub, they seem to have made the right decision because the place is often packed despite the fairly hefty extension that has been tacked onto the back. There are several things that mark the PWNN out from other, similar establishments nearby. The first is art. The pub acts as a local gallery and at any time there is an exhibition of some kind or another on the walls of the main bar. I suppose what makes this unusual is that usually the art is very good, very affordable and very accessible. This too is a pub with a sense of humour. The other pub nearby that the PWNN begs comparison with is the Constant Service. The CS is indeed a fine boozer but it has, in my mind, a slight chip on its shoulder. It thinks it is better than it actually is. The PWNN is Prince Harry to the CS’s William. It is a bit more jolly, playful and micheivous. For instance, behind the bar, atop the huge shelf unit is a Star Wars scene built from the now hugely collectable toys that accompanied the film trilogy. An At-At fights pursues Ewoks and the Millennium Falcon, strung from the ceiling a la an airfix model, is hot on the tails of a pair of X-Wing fighters. It’s a fun touch that speaks volumes. The PWNN is also a fine place to grab a bite to eat. It’s all very informal but it’s all very tasty, which is the main thing. It is all very modern, and continental but simple too….the menu is always changing so I shan’t recommend anything specific, except to say that the Sunday roast have been honourably mentioned in despatches. On the beer front it does very well too. There is the usual fizz-piss selection: Kroney, Stella and Carling but there is also a good selection of brown beer. My favourite tipple is Harvey’s Sussex best which, to be honest, is not always up to speed. The London Pride is usually excellent, but again, perhaps not perfect. There is usually some other guest beer on offer too, often local and always worth a try. It is always worth mentioning the wine selection on offer. My wine-drinking chum is never disappointed when we visit and will persevere up the hill rather than settle for inferior wine further down. I like the Pub with No Name for a number of reasons. It is an attractive space with a propensity to change. It is also a friendly pub, with a jolly locals atmosphere which is not exclusive. The beer and food is good. Check. It’s close to my house. Check. They play good music. Tick. What more does a man need? Not a lot, I would say.
Based at the top of Southover St, off Queens Park Rd, this pub has a good range of drinks, including draught Hoegarden and Harveys. It also does reasonable food, and is particularly nice for Sunday lunch. It has a welcoming, friendly feel to it, a lot of stripped wood, and a good mix of local people. It's also child friendly, which is a definite advantage if you have them, and is reasonably well laid out for children, although the patio at the rear is quite small. Well-situated for an afternoon or evening at the racecourse.