“ Address: Hounds Gate Nottingham NG1 7AA, United Kingdom „
When Ciao announced the bonus on travel reviews, I had a good look round the places listed in Nottingham, to see if any of my regular haunts were listed. Up popped Ye Olde Salutation Inn .
'Oooh, I've not been there in ages' I thought to myself. Then, as luck would have it, I recently joined an online socialising group that meets there every Wednesday for a 'mini munch' - a sort of lunch and drinks social gathering. Yesterday, I decided to join them for lunch, and get to meet my new friends in person.
'The Sal' as most people in Nottingham call it, is a lovely old pub. In fact, it claims to be the oldest pub in Nottingham, but that depends on how you define the oldest. Certainly, the brewing on the site pre-dates the Olde Trip To Jerusalem, as records show that in 1240 the building was built on top of a cave tavern named ' The Archangel Gabriel Salutes the Virgin Mary'. However, the building was constructed as a tannery for making leather, and records from the 1400's show the building being a private residence at the time. So, whilst it might be the oldest brewing site in Nottingham, it's not the pub with the longest, unbroken history.
I don't mean to bore you with all this information - it's just I'm a huge history nerd. And this inn has significant historical importance in Nottingham - during the English Civil War, both the roundheads and the cavaliers had recruiting rooms within the inn - the rooms now being names the King Charles Snug, and the Cromwell Snug.
Aside from the snug there is a large open pub area near the bar, and an upstairs bar that is open in the evenings.
As I mentioned in the beginning, it had been some time since my last visit, some two or three years ago. At that time, I visited in the evening on a Friday night, and drank in the upstairs room, where there was a heavy metal karaoke. I don't remember much of the night (it happened to be my birthday) so it must have been a good one.
In the daytime, the Inn is a calm, quiet place . Old fashioned, with part of the exterior being tudor beamed, it's rather dated in terms of decor inside . Whitewashed walls, dark wooden tables, and some slightly shabby, yet comfortable, tables and chairs. I was pleased to note that the toilets had been upgraded since last time I visited - they used to be too small to swing a tadpole, never mind a cat, but have now been made larger, and are clean and modern in design.
I was pleased to note that the excellent selection of beers had not changed. There were 7 guest ales and one guest cider on sale, as well as the usual range of draught beers, bottled beers , and at least 15 bottled ciders. On the barmaids recommendation, I tried a delicious pale ale called Heavenly Blonde to start off with, which was very reasonable at (if I remember correctly) at £2.80 a pint, and wonderfully drinkable. So drinkable in fact that within 15 minutes or so I was back for another!
Our group elected to sit in the Cromwell Snug - we chose this area because it was quite a small room, where the 13 of us could sit undisturbed and chat to our hearts content without worrying about being overheard of eavesdropped on. Because of the nature of our group (without elaborating too much, it's an alternative lifestyle group) this was quite important to us, as we could be free to talk openly without having to keep our voices down, or without shocking other patrons.
We had a birthday in the group, and the bar staff were quite happy to provide us with a knife and napkins to divide up the cake and sweets we had with us.
Most of us ordered food, which I have to say the Salutation is excellent for. It does a real mixture of traditional English stodge ( Lamb and Mint suet pudding, for example), slightly lighter and frillier dishes (prawn and salmon Florentine with pasta) and a range of lighter bites, such as garlic mushrooms, curly fries, baguettes and baked potatoes.
I personally opted for a very simple, but nonetheless very tasty, cheese and bacon melt baguette, with a side order of garlic mushrooms . I have to say that the garlic mushrooms, at £2.95, were generous enough to be quite a filling portion in themselves. For £3.80, my baguette was lovely, really mature and flavoursome cheese, perfectly cooked bacon, and in all a generous size. I did have to rope in a couple of people to help me finish everything.
However, if I thought I'd bitten off more than I can chew, that was nothing in comparison to the people that ordered the 'Cromwell Burger' described on the menu as 'big enough to overthrow any king'. When it arrived, it was a monster to behold - a full pound of seasoned burger, topped with onion rings, 2 hash browns, a fried egg, bacon, and cheese. This burger was so monumentally huge that in order to be held together, it needed to be pinned through the middle with a long cocktail stick with sparkly silver strips on the end. And if that wasn't enough, the burger came with a large side order of fries and salad. I did pinch a small bite of the burger meat, and it was juicy and well seasoned, so I may choose a burger next time, but I think I would opt for something of more modest proportions. As it was, I watched two people try, and fail, to finish one of these beefy behemoths between them. Still, at 8.65, I think it would be a good meal to share!
In terms of vegetarian food, the main meal selection didn't seem to impressive. There was a 'specials' option of mushrooms in black bean sauce, but in terms of the day to day menu, there is really only veg chilli, veg burger, or veg bangers and mash (though these are the tasty Glamorgan sausages rather than those yucky quorn ones).
The staff were very helpful, and the service was excellent, with all the food arriving within 15 minutes or so of being ordered, and being obviously home-made . The bar staff in particular were happy to spend a few minutes chatting with you about the beer range, and to give you a small sample to taste.
The pub also offers customers a chance to look at the caves underneath, which were used as a brewhouse and dwelling in Saxon times . I didn't look round them on this occasion, but certainly will in future.
Overall, I really enjoyed my visit, and our group plans to make this our regular haunt on wednesday lunchtimes from now on, simply because the beer and food is excellent.