It was said of the Bell Tavern in Harrogate, way back in 1786, that they, “provided a stock of the best wines and other liquors, and furnished the house in a manner commodious for the reception of the genteelest families...” a statement not too far removed from the pub, which 200 years later occupies the site.
Genteel families may no longer be the target market of the Old Bell Tavern in Harrogate, but it’s easy to understand why once it was, tucked into the Montpellier quarter; also home to Valley Gardens, the Pump Room museum and some seriously swanky property.
From once stocking the best wines – they still provide a decent list – it is ales and ciders, which now pull the drinkers in. It is not surprising with nine regular cask ales, including the usual culprits of Timothy Taylor, Theakston and Black Sheep, plus one pump dedicated to Roosters, the local Knaresborough brewery. There is a potent list of ciders and guest ales are kept to one barrel each – when it has gone, is gone; an approach which keeps customers begging for more.
Notwithstanding the sizeable role of drink at the Bell, food is firmly positioned alongside with a full-bodied menu from small nibbles, to full-on bangers-mash-fish-and-chips type fare. You will be hard-pressed to get a table in the bar for food on busy nights, there’s a brasserie upstairs with a not dissimilar menu, but lacking in the atmosphere and conviviality of the bar.
Old Bell Tavern, 6 Royal Parade, Harrogate, HG1 2SZ. 01423 507930, www.markettowntaverns.co.uk