Friday, 20 November 2015

Unpaid Review: The Coronation, Derby (Steamin’ Billy Pubs)

Bit of an odd one this, I only usually do restaurant reviews. You know, because that’s the sort of place you actually might visit if you found yourself in the area.

Not that I’m saying you wouldn’t…

Well, isn’t this going well? I’ll start again.

A little under 50 years ago, there was, unto the small hamlet of Crewton, in Derbyshire, born a saviour… A saviour of grammar, good breeding, pronunciation and forensic etymology.  Namely me – And just around the corner was a pub, and it was called the Coronation (it’d been built in 1953 y’see), and it wasn’t a hugely nice place at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the lounge was OK in a ‘stuck in the 1950s/yellowing paintwork/smelled a bit fusty’ kinda style.  But you wouldn’t go in the bar without being dressed like James Caan from Rollerball (The original one, from 1975, not the awful bloody remake with Chris Klein – Although, thinking about it that one did have Rebecca Romjin in it… Yeah, OK, watch them both – But for different reasons)

Upon my coming of age in the mid-80s, or slightly before, truth be told *cough* I often went there with my Dad (when he was still alive – He’s nowhere near as vocal since he died, unlike my Mother) and we’d sit in the lounge and nurse a couple of pints for the evening. And later, when my Brother visited from his hollowed out volcano lair in the Mediterranean, we’d do the same.  Although we’d drink more quickly because he was richer and could afford to buy more beer more often and have the occasional go on the tote.  But still, we’d never go in the bar, for that way madness lay.

Over time, the pub went a bit further downhill, it was mismanaged by a succession of half-baked tenants and landlords – this, along with a generally unsavoury reputation, culminated in the pub closing its doors.

The pub was due to be sold to a developer so that it could be knocked down and about 70 tiny houses built on the half-acre site. But luckily they got cold feet, or they woke up with a Staffordshire bull terrier’s head in their bed or something similar. Because the jolly types at Steamin’ Billy managed to get hold of it and turn it back into their latest real pub.

It's significantly better on the inside, honestly.

It only opened a week ago (05/11/15 if you’re reading this in the future – Which is likely, as that’s when I’m writing it) and it’s not really fair for me to give it a full ‘Dandy’ style review as the staff and their support team are still ironing out all the kinks and suchlike.  But as you know from past experience, ‘fair’ is one of those things that I don’t often do… Along with favours, chick-sexing and teaching pigs to whistle showtunes.

So here’s an interim report - a story so far, if you will.

The pub is literally five minutes’ walk from Dandy Towers, so Heckmondswyke didn’t need to unmothball the Dandymobile – I gave him the rest of the evening off, he has just taken up the gentle art of steam-ironing badgers you see and I understand that he used his downtime to practice folding them so that they’d fit nicely in his album with a minimum of kerfuffle.

On their opening night Mrs Dandy and myself sauntered down Baker Street, where the establishment is located, fireworks bursting overhead and Gerry Rafferty’s oeuvre spinning around in our heads.  Upon entering, we gravitated towards the lounge – as was traditional at the time.  I had a pint of real ale that may, or may not have had a cartoon of Oliver Reed on the handpump and Mrs Dandy contented herself with a half-pint of fruit beer (She’d developed a taste for fruit based alcohol during the week we spent trekking back to civilisation in the Andes after our Heinkel ditched whilst we were supposedly ‘Nazi-Hunting’ in Bolivia).  The place was everything you could expect from what we assumed to be a normal ‘estate’ pub – There was music, just at the right volume, and the banquettes were upholstered in a wonderfully gaudy striped material which I would have no compunction about having a pair of curtains, galoshes or indeed a dinner jacket made from.  There was a selection of memorabilia affixed to the walls as is so often the case in the modern victualing environment, including hunting equipment and the occasional stag’s head – Which may put off the pale hemp-wearers a little, not that that’s any bad thing as there are plenty of places that welcome that kind of tomfoolery with open arms.

The staff were all exemplary, friendly, knowledgeable and attractive. Chris, the Landlord is a hale fellow, hearty of forearm and ruddy of cheek.  He made us feel welcome, commented personably on our refreshment choices and as the younger generation may still say ‘Ticked all the boxes’ as one would find in the 2010 Mein Host examination paper. He is also the older brother of Bill, the chap who runs the Brewery that runs the pub. This positively ourobourosian prospect means that there’s a real chance that any suggestions about general services and improvements are a mere whisper away from the heart of the decision making process – Which can never be a bad thing in my experience.

We have visited The Coronation of a number of occasions over the past week and have found ourselves favouring the bar area – The main reason for this is that it is also the food area and has, at its centre, a brand-new (as you would probably expect after a complete renovation) £20,000 pizza oven.  This produces some very splendid thin-crust pizzas (using bought-in dough by the taste of it, but as I mentioned, they’ve only been open a week) which all have a royal theme.  Sadly I don’t believe there was one called ‘The Prince Albert’ that comes with a complementary piercing… But that’s idea for the future perhaps?  Both the bar and, when it is completed I assume, the beer garden are both animal and child friendly - behaviour notwithstanding (up to 7:30ish in the evening, completely at the landlord’s discretion – and he strikes me as stern but fair) and there are tales of a non-smokers shelter outside with a wood-burning stove that has yet to see the light of day.  During my visit on Tuesday afternoon I was treated to the sight of a gentleman climbing on a roof in the rain, with an electric screwdriver – So I’d assume work is going on at a fair old pace.

On the whole, it’s a great place. The Memsahib and I have adopted it as our local and we will be attending as often as our currently limited funding sources allow (Buy my books, it will mean that I can go to the pub more often).  There is a poster (Well, an upturned wooden box affixed to the wall) that promises a steak night, a pie night and a quiz night (Sundays from 8:00pm) amongst other things and no doubt these boundless hedonistic pleasures may well be the subject of many future blogs.

You could do a lot worse than spending your free time at The Coronation.  The staff are friendly (one of them even lent me 5p, which I should really pay back at some stage), the beer is excellent and the pizzas are flat with cheese and other things on top.

Oh! – Just realised that we’ve been all pros and no cons… My only reservation is that it’s not cheap, you’d be well advised to budget for your pint of beer to cost you somewhere between £3 & £4 – But this is really to be expected for the amount that has been, and probably will be, invested in the pub in the near future.  It’s still less than a tenth of what a china cup of my exclusive weasel tea would cost if you visited me at home. Actually, a couple of the re-purposed scaffolding board tables could do with a bit more sanding too if I'm being totally honest.

The Coronation
Baker St, 
Derby DE24 8SL
Tel: 01332 913140

Facebook: The Coronation
Twitter: Steamin' Billy


  1. You have almost tempted me into a visit in the future, damn you with your fine words and witty turn of phrase. I wasn't totally convinced until you mentioned the flat pizzas and that had me hooked. I am not one for all these posh dough based, experiments with strange substances rammed into the crusts. I like my pizzas with toppings on top where the great Hairy Womble in the sky intended them to be, because after all you wouldn't want you steak and kidney pudding with all the filling on the outside would you so why settle for toppings on the inside. Prices do sound a tad high which could be problematic, but nothing a 15oz Stamley framing hammer and the Minions money boxes wouldn't soon have solved. Now if I can just convince the good lady wife to provide transport by the way of a piggy back there and back I am sorted.

  2. A fine review and good to hear this holds up to the high standards of its Steamin' Billy brethren. I suspect they may engage in the same Happy Hour antics as the other pubs, which may save your pocket a little. I have a Leicester Happy Hour Directory on my blog, check out the hours for the Parcel Yard as an example.
    Cheery pip for now.

    Extreme Housewifery