Last time I visited this site was in its former guise as Finbarr’s.
Gone are the minimalist colour scheme and clean lines of its predecessor to be replaced by a busy blend of tartan chairs and carpets, wood panelled walls festooned with hops and crests of old England on the walls.
New owners The Inn Collection, who also operate the popular Seaton Lane Inn, have stamped their brand of comfortable classic pub on the site, which has reopened as The Kingslodge Inn.
Even though it’s a city centre site, it’s got a country pub feel, surrounded by lush greenery in the shadow of the viaduct – and there’s plenty of free parking, which is always a bonus in a city where it’s at a premium.
The menu’s in-keeping with the new look and has ditched fine dining for heartier fare, served daily from noon to 9pm, which is ordered at the bar.
It’s all classic pub grub stuff, think hot meat dip in ciabatta (£9.95); steak and ale pie (£12.45) and trio of sausage and mash (£9.95) as well as a nod to the region with North East favourite pan haggerty (£10.95).
I chose breaded brie to start. Prices are higher than your average pub, but for £5.95 I was presented with plenty for my pounds: a duo of doorstopper wedges of gooey cheese coupled with oat cakes and cranberry.
For mains I chose the country salad (£10.95). Again, it didn’t skimp on size, there was plenty of bacon, salad and a perfectly executed poached egg perched on top which oozed onto the salad with the lightest of touches. But the black pudding hadn’t been diced, just plonked on the side as two discs, which made them seem like a bit of an afterthought rather than the main ingredient, while the salad itself seemed a little limp. I wanted it to be better than it was for the price.
Drinks-wise, you can knock back local real ales including guest hand pulls, chilled continental lagers and ciders, as well as bottled craft beers, with prices for a pint of craft starting at £4.35.