Service with a smile

The Mayor opens the new Church House pub
The Mayor opens the new Church House pub
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A colleague’s recommendation about good food in city centre pub The Church House prompted a rare lunchtime outing to try it out.

Sadly, the days of boozy lunches are long gone for local newspaper journalists, so it was nice to get away from a sandwich at the desk.

This place, tucked away in James Street near the Anglican cathedral, has had many renamings over the years and the outside still has a small reminder of the thankfully ill-fated Ferret and Trouserleg. It’s been open a year in its present form.

Inside looks like a cross between a traditional pub, all gleaming dark wood and brass at the bar, and a more genteel version 0f the eclectic designer shabby chic look in the sitting area.

It’s one big open space but has a very warm feel.

A board outside advertises several beers at £1.95 a pint. The choice is mainly Caledonian, including Church House bitter.

The website says they have Deuchars IPA, Flying Scotsman and Church House on all the time, plus a rotating selection of three guest beers at a time.

My workmate Tim tried the Flying Scotsman, which he remembered as being good from a previous visit, but this time pronounced it “nothing special”.

My Church House was pleasant enough, if unremarkable. Great price, though.

There’s quite a wide range of food, which is served from 11am to 9pm daily, ranging from the classics like fish and chips and homemade pie of the day to sharing platters, posh sandwiches, classy burgers and cheese and deli options.

Fish lovers do well but the vegetarian section is disappointing, offering only pasta carbonara or lasagne. Elsewhere on the menu offered a veggie burger plus a couple of imaginative cheesy bread-based options.

Main course prices go from about £5 to £16.

We didn’t have time for an elaborate deli selection process and opted for some more typical weekday lunchtime fare instead.

We ordered from a very pleasant and helpful young woman at the bar. You can pay by card with a minimum £5 order.

I ordered the flash friedBritish steak sandwich (£6.95) and Tim decided to try the express lunch of a ciabatta and a mug of the soup of the day (£5.75).

Our helpful friend set the table with cutlery and when the food appeared at a reasonable, if not quite express time, noticed that Tim’s soup hadn’t come with it. It took her a few minutes to track it down but it arrived in good time.

My sandwich was packed with hunks of tasty, well cooked steak, mushrooms and soft onions and went down a treat.

Tim’s focaccia was filled with pastrami with generous chunks of applewood cheddar and fennel slaw.

The fresh tomato soup was rich with chilli kick.

Both meals were served on wooden boards with potato wedges and fennel slaw and nicely-dressed mixed salad.

This created potential logistical problems trying not to throw the salad everywhere but we managed fine.

All in all, a pleasing lunchtime visit costing £16.60.