“ Address: The Mailcoach / Derngate / Northampton / NN1 1UB / Tel: 01604 604 669 „
6-8 Derngate, Northampton, Northamptonshire
If you are over 25 and don't want tinny dance music or a flying glass in your ear on then The Mail Coach is the place to go in Northampton's town centre if you are looking for the weekend atmosphere but not the competitive crush of youngsters. Its one of the few pubs in the centre zone that has managed to position itself to survive the smoking ban but still attract a good crowd and hold on to a decent non threatening vibe. It doesn't rely on kids hammering the binge deals or expensive chasers to make the lost revenue and custom back and with its mix of regulars and one drink punter there has never been anything but a nice atmosphere here since it's remodeled itself.
It's effectively a local pub positioned smack bang in the centre of Northampton and its custom reflects that. As I say it's a more mature clientele than the rest of the town centre bars and its just far enough away from the main drag to not attract the younger lively working-class and siphons off the decent punter, a good mix of attractive and regular folks from all social classes enjoying an ambient and bustling traditional pub atmosphere with no loud banging music to kill the welcome hum of conversation, and surprisingly stylish decour for this type of bar.
On a busy Saturday night the oldest patron could be a chubby 50 in an old and shiny leather jacket....the youngest a cool and hip 17-year-old, neither having an issue with status or social class, the adjacent Derngate Entertainment complex always a good supply of new custom after a late night show, encouraging that eclectic mix...Russell Brand fans mixing with builders. The pub is not best designed to handle a big crowd though and some of the regulars who have been going there all their lives often refuse to make way at the bar like you have with the country pub cliental and so that can create bottlenecks.
It has a relaxed and welcoming beer garden, like one you would see in a backpacker sin Australia, decor that reflects the more bohemian showbiz types that visit from next door in their 'lunch hour', the show posters of previous performances that have played the Derngate venue dressing the walls of the undercover decked and seated area for the smokers and bigger groups, adding an extra texture to the laid back atmosphere where smokers don't feel guilty when they mingle with non smokers, even in the winter. Pubs have to cater for smokers some how or they will close down and the Mail Coach has got it just about right.
They do standard brewery beers and the bar staff are fast, sexy and young, food available in the week between 12-3pm and 5-9pm. The menu is traditional but do fancy tapas for the lunchtime office crowd if the kitchen is quiet. The food isn't cheap but its also affordable, appetizers between £2 and £4, main plates from their in-house chef between £9 and £15 accompanied by a decent win list. They recently did up one area for private meals that would appeal to small informal staff do's. But wit pub punters looking over and in the area it's hardly intimate. If you thinking Christmas bookings they can do 34 in total but its more suited to 5 or 6 to a table pi** ups. It's not for the whole works do and raucous behavior for the shop girls after half a bottle of vino!! Toby Inn, as always, is available for that seasonal tacky behavior!
There are some excellent internal seated areas and a new lounge space that has been created to encourage a more intimate space for the non smokers that are supposed to be flocking to bars and pubs now the air is as clean as a Swedish kitchen service. There are board games for the students and happy twentysomethings, who crowd on to the mahogany tables to enjoy and shout a lot playing Connect 4, and with some standing space near the tables just enough room to gawp at the pretty girls. I wouldn't say it's a pick up bar but you never know.
This is definitely the best pub in the town centre to go to on a Saturday night if you're over 25 but you still want to feel you're at a decent place to be that doesn't make you feel old and un-cool. Both Northampton's professional cricket and rugby teams drink here, before going on to the Black Bottom Club where all the rich young professionals go in Northampton. It really is an excellent little pub to escape the trendy throng and noisy teenage youth and still have a good night out, or at least have one pub on your route you know you will enjoy because it's not leery on your pub crawl in the city bowl.
Owing to its popularity they are staying with the Wednesday night steak offer of 2 Ribeye steaks for £10!
Also see the great lunchtime offer. A free soft drink or coffee with anything from the lunch section of the menu!