I was recently asked by a friend if I would recommend La Tomatina, the new Spanish restaurant at the bottom of Park Street. The answer was a yes, but as a caveat I said that for a more authentic Spanish experience I would definitely head to El Rincon at the Greville Smyth Park end of North Street.
The problem is that this particular friend is a big Bristol Rovers fans. She is such a big fan that she no longer just supports the club, but also works for them full-time.
So when I suggested a bar a stone’s throw from Ashton Gate she decided not to pay a visit. Most definitely her loss and rather an unusually xenophobic devotion to one’s club.
Goodness knows then what she would make of the Coopers Arms, even nearer Bristol City’s stadium than El Rincon, and on match days most definitely home fans only.
As a football fan, she would have probably appreciated a repeat of Manchester City vs Arsenal on the television in the corner when I visited on Monday evening, in what by the commentary sounded like it was being beamed straight from Russia.
It’s not just football here, however, with a signed print of England’s World Cup victory from 2003 featuring Bristol boy Mark Regan, and another Bristol sportsman Judd Trump on Eurosport as the landlord flicked through the channels.
Trump would certainly appreciate the pool table here, with other entertainment on offer a juke box and quiz machine.
Bombadier, Tribute and Courage are the ales on tap this week, with Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold the ciders, in a pub that doesn’t do cooked food but ask the barmaid and she will reel off a choice of about a dozen flavours of crisps.
There are some pubs in Bristol that remain resolutely traditional. Even with its flatscreen televisions, the Coopers Arms in the shadow of Ashton Gate is one of these; just don’t choose it to take a blue-blooded Rovers fan for a drink.
The Coopers Arms, 12-13 Ashton Road, Ashton, Bristol, BS3 2EA