Newest Review: ... once again, she thinks that she will meet men out here by asking them for a lighter! The lighting inside changes throughout the day wit... more
It will always be the Old Library to me!
Pitcher & Piano
Member Name: emmachilcott
Pitcher & Piano
Advantages: Good location, great food, lovely ambience
Disadvantages: Shabby toilets, poor disabled access
**Please note that this review is for the Taunton location of the Pitcher and Piano and not the chain in general **
Whilst I was taking my GCSE's many moons ago I spent a lot of time in the Taunton town library, but since then there have been a few changes to the old building. The library has been moved to a swanky new building and so occupying the premises nowadays is the Pitcher and Piano bar. I probably spend more time in there now than I did in the past and it is definitely a lot more fun!
~*~ The Ambience ~*~
There is a front and a rear entrance to the bar so if I am meeting someone "by the door" I always make sure we both know which one! The front entrance to the bar takes you straight off the busy main road near the centre of Taunton into a large foyer area, heavy glass doors lead you into the main bar area which has a really open and spacious feel, this is probably due to the atrium style vaulted ceiling which I believe offers something special to the building. This is a very large building, but I feel that it is laid out nicely to suit the needs of anyone. Although it feels fairly open plan, it is laid out in such a way that most of the tables have a degree of privacy. The main bar area is on several different levels (only by a few steps) so there is a wide choice of where to sit to suit every occasion. If you want intimacy or just a laid back drink, there are a couple of comfy sofas in the corners, there are tables to suit most party sizes and down the centre of the bar there are several large tables with stools - my ever-single friend likes to sit here because she thinks it is a good place to meet men!
Even though this is a very old building, and it is clear that there is history attached to it, the decor has been done sympathetically whilst still feeling contemporary and modern. It has not been refurbished for a while and could probably do with it now as the paintwork is starting to look a little on the shabby side. As well as the main bar area, there is a larger room towards the back of the building, which is still open plan, but it is far from the bar and quite private - this area can be hired separately for private parties, and it is quite often used for events within the bar like speed dating or salsa dancing (it has a small dance floor once the tables are moved).
Outside there is a large patio area which probably has about twenty solid heavy wooden tables with chairs, a sofa area and patio heaters. The rear is accessed via one of the older quaint streets in Taunton and so sitting here during the day in the summer and watching the world go by is really quite relaxing, and by night I quite often get dragged out there by my occasional smoking friend because once again, she thinks that she will meet men out here by asking them for a lighter!
The lighting inside changes throughout the day with the use of spots and chandeliers, and I feel that this is where this bar comes into its own. By day it is a good central place to pop in for a mid-shop drink and it is an excellent place for a working lunch, but by night it changes into a bustling bar where the music is turned up to a not unsociable feel, but it gets you in the mood to party. If there is a big sporting even on, the large screen is utilised so you don't have to miss a thing.
The main toilets are upstairs, and it really is quite a hike to get to them. There are plenty of toilets but it is always cold up there and whichever cubicle that I use always seems to have a broken lock! By day they are usually fairly clean, but by night they get a little "well used" and they never have any toilet roll. The taps on the sinks come off in your hands, but there is a nice full length mirror on the wall so you can always see how bad you look. As you walk past the mens', it only takes a sideways glance if the door is open to see activity at the urinals - not the best design in the world. For a long time I thought that these were the only toilets, but one day they flooded and a toilet miraculously appeared in a cupboard downstairs - this is specifically for disabled use, but gaining access into the pub in the first place could cause a few problems if you are in a wheelchair as there are steps at every entrance, and once you are inside, the seating choices are limited because of the split levels.
There are 21 Pitcher and Pianos across the UK, they all have a similar sort of look whilst being individual in their own right. The Taunton location occupies a beautiful building and I firmly believe that they have done it justice, however when it was first refurbished and changed into a drinking hole, a few eyebrows were raised as there is a covenant on the building put in place by the foundation that part funded the build, stating that alcohol must not be consumed on the premises - whoops!
~*~ The Food Menu ~*~
The menu at the Pitcher and Piano isn't massive but there is something on it to suit everyone, I quite like short and succinct menus because it takes the stress out of choosing. The menu changes quite regularly which keeps things interesting and there is something to suit every price range.
The last time I went in here to eat was at lunchtime. There are generally some special offers on, and I usually take advantage of them. On the most recent occasion we took up the "munch for less" offer which is a choice of eight dishes, plus a soft drink or coffee (£1.50 extra for a pint of lager or glass of wine). I chose a baguette which came with a portion of chips and my husband had scampi and chips. For the money, I was expecting a meagre portion, but I was wrong. The portion sizes were generous and more than enough for a mid-day snack and everything was beautifully cooked. The kitchen is situated within a corner of the bar so you can see exactly what is going on, and it is clear to see that all food is prepared and cooked freshly to order which is a rare delight in a chain in my experience. A choice of soups salads and sandwiches is available which are all slightly more than the run of the mill choices that are usually available - Cajun chicken baguette, halloumi salad, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato ciabatta to name but a few, prices vary from £4.45 - £9.25.
They have a large selection of grazing dishes on the menu, which is great if you are in a small group and cannot decide what to have, or if you just want a very light meal or a starter. These dishes include potato wedges with a choice of dips (£4.15), breaded mushrooms (£3.95), chicken wings (£4.25), calamari (£4.25) and many more. Prices range from £3.95 to £5.25 (tempura prawns) but you can get them at a reduced price if you order two or more. Again these portions are not meagre and they all seem to come with a sauce, dip or chutney of some description that just pushes them up a notch for me on taste and puts them one step ahead of much of the competition in the area.
If you are looking for something a little more substantial there is a range of "posh" burgers, fish and chips, ratatouille baked aubergine ...all under £10, and in fact the most expensive thing on the menu is a 10oz steak which comes in at £12.95. I am deeply impressed with the food prices, I think that they are very competitive and represent extremely good value for money given the quality of the food. Puddings are available for under a fiver, but I have never sampled one enough to be able to review them - I don't do sweets!
All of the dishes are presented immaculately with real attention to detail and everything is spotlessly clean. I have never had a bad meal in here and I have always left feeling satisfied and full. The staff are attentive without being overbearing and over all it is an extremely pleasant place to eat, whether it be in the day or in the evening, as a couple or with a large group of friends or colleagues - this place lends itself to any occasion.
~*~ The Drinks Menu ~*~
Ahhh, my favourite bit. I probably drink five times more in the Pitcher and Piano than I do eat, which is wrong I know but I just can't help it! The Pitcher and Piano in Taunton is a great place to start a night out in my opinion and I get drawn back here time and time again on a Saturday night. Invariably I generally have a voucher in hand for a free drink as they are generous with promotions if you sign up to the website, but even with no voucher I am happy to be here. The drinks menu is extensive, in fact it's a twelve pager which is very impressive.
They have a wide choice of wines - medium, dry, full, mellow, fruity, red, white, rose, sparkling - who new there was so much to choose from? Prices start at £3.35 for a small glass of white (£12.50 for the bottle) which I do not think is so bad but if you want to push the boat out, you can be the proud owner of a bottle of fizz for £160. There is a massive choice of beers and lagers both bottled and draught, I am not a beer drinker personally and so they all taste the same to me, but if you like a certain variety, chances are they will have it here. They must have every type of spirit imaginable here, all lined up along the back of the bar, they really do look attractive with the rainbow of colours. Mixers, soft drinks and coffee and all available in abundance at the sort of prices that you would expect to pay in this sort of establishment.
Cocktails and dreams! The cocktail menu is nothing short of divine. There do not seem to be very many places now where you can get a proper made-in-front-of-you cocktail, but this place does it to perfection. All of the staff are very knowledgeable about the cocktail menu and will point you in the direction of something delicious if you tell them your likes and dislikes. They are on the pricey side at a smidge under £7 for most of them, but they are an experience in itself. I still wake up in the night thinking about the White Russian I had once, mmmmm, and some of my favourite memories have involved the rear patio, sun and a mojito! As well as the classics, they have developed their own individual recipes which are definitely worth trying.
~*~ Other bits of info ~*~
As you have probably guessed I love the Pitcher and Piano. It takes on a different identity from day to night and suits practically most needs in my opinion. The food is delicious, the drinks are amazing, the staff are courteous and the clientele is varied - what more could a girl want? Decent toilets would make a big difference but that aside, I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.
There is no separate car park, but parking can be sought at the Cresent car park which is two minutes walk away.
For more information visit the p&p website: www.pitcherandpiano.com where you can see detailed menus.
Pitcher and Piano, Corporation Street, Taunton, TA1 4AJ. 01823 350 104
Also posted on Ciao under my username chilcott1
Summary: A comfortable place to eat, drink and be merry