St Michael’s Hill has long provided a top notch pub crawl route in the city centre (although I’ve always advised making your way in a downhill direction, much easier on a tummy full of beer), and it just got one pub longer…
The Cotham Arms was a bit of a surprise arrival for me, following the closure of popular bistro Chin Chin! the place was gutted and turned into a pub, following the trend of a few micro pubs in the city (namely The Drapers Arms on Gloucester Rd and Chums on nearby Chandos Rd – both formerly shops), and I for one am never disappointed to see another boozer spring up in this time of pubs closing left, right and centre across the county.
So, what sort of pub is it? St Michael’s Hill is already well catered for with craft beer pubs (Beerd & The Robin Hood), cosy locals (The Highbury Vaults & Colston Arms) and student favourites (The White Bear & Colston Yard) – where does The Cotham Arms set itself among this myriad of merry-making establishments?
Well, on first appearances, it’s a smart take on ye olde pub (to be fair, it does call itself a ‘modern local pub’ on its website) – think old beer signs, black & white photos and newspaper cuttings, mismatched seats…but the place has a genuine charm to go with the choreographed nostalgia.
You can sit up at tall tables near the door, comfy booths at the sides, or longer benches and tables in the back room (still tiled from when it used to be the kitchen for Chin Chin!) – and you get a warm welcome as soon as you come in.
They’ve kept the menu fairly simple (wise, seeing as they no longer have a kitchen), with a focus on sandwiches, cakes and meat & cheese boards. We opted for a mixed meat & cheese board, and took a while to mull over the sarnie selection…
Here’s that meat & cheese board – imagine my elation when I spotted not just one, but TWO chutneys, plus picked onions. Livin’ la vida loca, boys and gals.
Everything on the board tasted good, although it was all fresh from the fridge (health and safety and that) which meant it still had a bit of a chill when we first started digging in, so the flavours weren’t quite as pronounced. Maybe we should have slowed down our eating, but like that’s ever going to happen.
As we demolished the mega board, we sipped a tasty Malbec (£6.85 for a 250ml glass, although they do have an Italian red/white on for £5.55) and made our sandwich decisions – I chose The Cotham Arms Reuben, and my companion went for the Chilli and Quicke’s Cheddar Melt.
Take a look at my Reuben above – it may not be a Reuben in the purist sense of the word (towered high with salt beef, sauerkraut, mustard and pickles), but for a pub toasties it certainly did the job – oozing cheese, with a good few slices of salt beef and chunky gherkin inside.
The chilli cheese melt with jalapenos was less interesting (I love a really mature cheddar so the cheeses in these toasties were a bit tame for me – personal preference though), but livened up by some mustard. Still a hearty snack in between beverages though!
A special shout out has to go to the service on the evening – all of the team were ridiculously lovely and attentive to us and anyone who walked in the door, they really did create a lush friendly vibe which made my friend and I want to return before long.
With cold sarnies priced at £4, hot toasties at £5 and meat or cheese boards around the £5-7 mark, this place isn’t punching too high with its prices, while still managing to deliver on quality. The same goes for its drink prices – you can get a bottle of wine for £14.50 (or £19 for sparkling), coffees for £2 and under, and fresh smoothies for £3.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Cotham Arms, but it already seems to be drawing a mixed crowd from the local area for it’s good drinks selection, tasty snacking menu and warm hospitality. A fine addition to an already excellent stretch of pubs. Cheers to that!