Upfest was still in full swing when I visited the Hen & Chicken on North Street in Southville earlier this week, with its beer garden the venue for several new pieces of work, a room accessed off that same beer garden selling canvasses and a side entrance to the pub given a peculiarly graffiti-style lick of paint.
Canvasses on the walls inside the Hen & Chicken are of hens, or are they chickens? The noticeboard is also amusingly named ‘Chicken sh*t’; the asterix theirs not mine.
Recently benefitting from a refurbishment, the bar here is a horseshoe shape in the middle of the room and made of doors sawn in half rather like in Beerd.
Which brings us to the beer, one of which from the Devilfish brewery has the gramatically intriguing name of Be:er. Other beers when I visited were Butcombe Mendip Spring, Joseph Holt Humdinger and Doom Bar. Ciders on tap are Stowford Press and Addlestone’s.
The food here is several notches above usual pub fare, with stone-baked pizzas a speciality. I enjoyed one of the specials on my visit, a delicious 4oz rump steak sandwich for the bargain price of £5.
The last time I had eaten in the Hen & Chicken was at a work Christmas meal a few years ago, where someone who is now an award-winning young journalist climbed onto a table to dance after our meal was over.
What many people visit for is not as a pub at all, but for arguably Bristol’s best comedy venue, the Comedy Box upstairs which today sees Craig Campbell and later this month sees the welcome return of the Bristol BrouHaHa, featuring previews of many Edinburgh Fringe shows before the festival.
The Hen & Chicken, 210 North Street, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1JF. 0117 966 3143.