GAVIN AITCHISON welcomes the dawn of a new era at a popular York pub.
POP in today and you’ll find yourself in the midst of the York Ukulele Festival.
Either side of the stage you’ll find a bar billiards table, and opposite those a classic Atari games console.
Head across the room and you’ll find a vinyl store tucked in a corner beside the bar. And if you treat yourself to some lunch, you may find yourself enjoying some of the finest pub pizzas you could wish for, thanks to Italian chef Claudio.
It’s safe to say this is no run-of-the mill suburban pub.
The Fulford Arms has experienced an eventful few years, but a new era has dawned this week. A new chapter has opened. Or rather, to keep with one of the dominant themes of the pub, the record has been changed.
Former landlord Steve Bradley did much to revitalise and revolutionise The Fulford Arms when he moved in three years ago, introducing a far better beer range, regular live music and more innovative grub. Now, his successors Chris Sherrington, Ellie Cox and Chris Tuke are building on that work.
They’ve worked with owners Punch Taverns on a three-week, £160,000 refurbishment that has turned things around – quite literally. The first thing you notice on entering is that the bar has been removed from its age-old spot in front of the windows and moved to the end of the pub, backing on to the wall to your left as you enter from the street.
A new raised area has been constructed at the opposite end, to act as a larger and more defined stage, while the removal of the bar means there is more natural light coming in.
Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Saltaire Blonde are the two permanent ales and there are four rotating guests alongside those, starting this week with Ossett Yorkshire Blonde, Hobgoblin, Golden Sheep and Robinsons Trooper, which was inspired by – and created with – Iron Maiden.
Other options on the bar include Tuborg, Guinness, Carling and Grolsch, while the decent range of bottles includes Erdinger, Goose Island IPA, Brooklyn Lager, BrewDog Punk IPA and various international lagers.
The beer is good, but this place will appeal to far more than just ale aficionados and craft beer connoisseurs. The bar billiards draws a crowd of its own, with the Fulford Arms forming part of York’s burgeoning local league, competing against The Knavesmire, The Phoenix, The Golden Ball and a University of York team that also plays its home games here. Unlike most tables, the two here are free to use, and when the snooker’s UK Championship returns to the Barbican in November, staff here plan to invite some of the stars to try their hand at snooker’s quirky little cousin.
The pub will also continue to host the annual Great British Greyhound Walk and any other fun, viable events that locals and regulars want to suggest. And on top of that, the music will remain hugely important, with Chris, Chris and Ellie keen to promote some of the best talent from York and around the country, particularly in light of the imminent and very sad closure of The Woolpack in Fawcett Street.
Chris Sherrington, who has previously worked at The Duchess, Stereo and pubs including The Gillygate and the Derwent Arms, says they are eager to appeal to all tastes, not with fixed weekly music nights but with frequent individual gigs and events, including world music days.
Certainly the pub feels well aimed at music fans – not only is there that little vinyl store and swap-shop beside the bar, but the menus are designed to look like records and themed options include the Elvis Burger, the “Sgt Pepperonis Oniony Hearts” pizza, and sandwiches called The Four Tops, Morrissey, Bowie and Pigbag.
The pub reopened on Wednesday with a gig featuring local bands and DJs. That was followed by a more official launch last night. And that too will be followed today by the ukulele extravaganza.
The pub will be open from 11.30am daily to appeal to coffee-drinkers, and the large garden remains a cracking sun-trap behind the car-park.
THE Aldwark Arms in Aldwark, a few miles north of Linton-on-Ouse, is holding a beer and music festival next Friday and Saturday, with 20 Yorkshire ales.
The event will raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and St Stephen’s Church in the village.
SUDDABY’S in Malton has its summer beer festival from next Thursday to Sunday (July 17 to 20), with 28 beers, a few ciders and live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.