Review: Cooper Rose, Albion Place, Sunderland

The Cooper Rose in Albion Place, formerly the Blu Bamboo
The Cooper Rose in Albion Place, formerly the Blu Bamboo
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REAL ale buffs will be delighted with the latest addition to Sunderland’s pub scene.

The Cooper Rose, owned by pub operator JD Wetherspoon, opened earlier this month on the site of former nightclub Blu Bambu.

Although you can still pick up a pitcher of cocktail and the centre of the pub is kitted out with a dancefloor and DJ booth, the daytime focus is very much away from partying hard and on to food, real ales and ciders from local brewers, including Maxim ales and Lambton’s.

I’d called into The Cooper Rose with my mum on an weekday evening to discuss one of the most complex and energy-sapping events of the year – planning the annual O’Neill family get-away.

We had aimed at sitting down over some food, but staff politely informed us that a number of items on the menu weren’t available, from some steaks and ham to noodles.

Fortunately, there was enough choice to work around the shortfall and I ordered an “award-winning” sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry, with naan bread, yellow basmati rice, popadoms and mango chutney for £6.59.

No clues as to who or what the award was from, but it was tasty enough, although the chutney did come in a cheap-looking plastic carton.

Mum went for another award-winner, the steak and kidney pudding, with British farm-assured beef, mushy peas and chips, for £4.30.

The pudding was small yet plump and my mam said she could definitely taste the kidneys, though added homemade chips would have been a nice touch.

On the plus side, Wetherspoons is one of the few menus I’ve seen which tells you if a dish is low fat or gluten free, if you are saving your calories for a sweet treat or liquid lunch.

I’m not a real ale fan, but was impressed by its selection of ciders, from the punch-packing Westons Perry to the intriguingly-named Cornish Rattler.

More great news for real ale and cider lovers; The Cooper Rose is taking part in the world’s biggest real ale and cider festival until April 10 – a great excuse for sampling.

There’s also an extensive selection of wines and spirits to choose from and though the large, two-storey pub wasn’t packed out, it did have a friendly atmosphere, with couples and friends enjoying a few drinks.

A quiet night did make for quick service, with some brownie points won back for wiping our table down before our meals were served up.

The pub’s intriguing name comes with a brief history lesson – Doctor Henry Renney, the Public Vaccinator for Sunderland, lived at Albion Place in 1890.

Ten years later, his thoughts on public vaccination were published in the British Medical Journal, where he advocated the use of the Cooper Rose vaccinator, which carried: “half an ounce of antiseptic, more than enough for nine arms”.

The Cooper Rose is open from 8am until 2am Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, from 8am until 3am on Monday, from 8am until 1am on Wednesday and from 8am until 4am Friday and Saturday.

Food is served throughout the day until 10pm.