“ Address: 16 St James's Street / Nottingham, NG1 6FG „
If you're in Nottingham and fancy a beer, a bite, or a cup of coffee somewhere unique and full of atmosphere, you could do an awful lot worse than visiting the Malt Cross Music Hall in Nottingham.
Located on St James' Street, just of the Old Market Square in the centre of Nottingham, this former Victorian music hall is now a thriving bar and cafe, and serves a great selection of beers, freshly cooked food, and a range of speciality teas and coffees .
Seating is arranged on two levels - on the ground floor are plenty of tables, some of which are surrounded by squishy leather chesterfield sofas, whilst others have an assortment of wooden chairs and booth seating. The bar runs along the left hand side of the room, and next to this is a blackboard displaying the daily specials. On the upper floor there is more seating, as well as various artworks from local artists displayed for sale on the walls .
The decoration inside is fantastic, as the building retains many of it's original features, including a magnificent curved glass roof, which must have been quite a challenge to build! The colour scheme is sympathetic with the architecture, largely greens and reds, and in general it's very attractive .
I usually tend to pop in in the daytime for a hot chocolate (£3.50) - complete with whipped cream, marshmallows, and maltesers. Perhaps not the healthiest drink in the world, but it's absolutely delicious . They usually have a range of freshly baked cakes and flapjacks along the bar, and the flapjacks in particular are delicious.
The beer range is fairly good - though you'll never see most of the premium brands common to many pubs - no Fosters, Strongbow, of Carling to be seen. They do serve Krombacher lager which is absolutely fantastic, though it does cost £3.50 a pint . I would say beer prices here are a little steeper than in many of the other pubs in Nottingham, but I do like to pop in here every now and again for one as the atmosphere makes it worth it. They also tend to have two or three real ales on tap, as well as Belgian wheat/fruit beers, and a decent range of spirits, including some unusual Japanese whisky.
Food here is reasonable priced, always fresh, and fairly quick out of the kitchen . The portions here are absolutely huge though - a side order of cheesy chips (£3) is usually more than enough to share for two as a snack. It's worth noting that there is a small children's menu available during the day, and also some of the vegetarian food options are fantastic. I'm not personally vegetarian, but I often opt for vegetarian food when I do eat here, and have a particular liking for the butternut squash and sage risotto, which costs £8 for a large plate .
All food orders are placed at the bar, and then served at the table.
In the evenings, there is often live music at the bar, though I have only been once when there was a Latin American band on . The bar did get very crowded on this occasion (in fact, it is usually very busy after 5pm) but it was a pleasant and vibrant atmosphere , with a real mix of people.
The staff here are very friendly, and even at the busiest times will greet you with a genuine smile. Overall, the atmosphere of the place is casual and friendly, but always lively even at lunchtimes, when it does fill up with local office workers.
The pub is unusual in that it is run by a Christian charity - this isn't something you'd notice in the bar - there is certainly no hint of anything religion based inside. However, I must mention some of the fantastic work the charity has done for the city of Nottingham, as I feel is does contribute to my liking of the bar . The charity runs a service on busy nights in Nottingham called 'Nottingham Street Pastors'. Far from going out preaching, what they actually do is walk around in small teams in town helping to make it a safer and nicer place to party . They hand out free flip-flops to girls working barefoot, hand out lollipops , hand out bottles of water to prevent people becoming dehydrated, and sweep up broken glass from the streets . They also liaise with local police officers, reporting in potential trouble.
As if all this hard work for the city wasn't enough, they recently opened the Nottingham Safe Space - which is open between 10pm and 4pm on Friday and Saturday nights . This safe space is located on St James Street also, and provides a place where drinkers can go to get basic first aid, a drink of coffee or water to sober up, and a safe place for drinkers, particularly young women, to wait for a taxi home.
I think the Malt Cross is a fantastic place to stop off for a drink or a bite to eat at any time of day, and I think the work they do with the profits they make is simply fabulous, and a real benefit to Nottingham. I would highly recommend it to anybody - it is family friendly, wheelchair accessible, and serves wonderful food and drink, and what better reason could there be to get drunk as a skunk than giving to charity!
I also recommend watching the NSP video, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=130qSuQwVLA