Most new pubs take a while to bed in. When the décor is new and the place smells vaguely of paint it’s difficult to get truly comfortable.
The House of Trembling Madness, however, has only existed since early last year and yet it feels like it’s been around for centuries. This wonderfully cosy one-room attic pub is upstairs from the Trembling Madness off-licence – you have to go through the shop to get to it – and was superbly converted from a 12th-century room . Owner Ian Loftus says one wall is even older. With its original wood beams, bare bench seating and bar made from an old church pulpit, it has the feel a drinking den normally found tucked away down an alley in Prague, or maybe a Bavarian hunting lodge – a feel accentuated by the stuffed animal heads on the walls and bar.
The pub’s beer and drink selection is drawn from the best of the stock on sale downstairs and includes one guest cask ale (rotated on a one-cask-at-a-time basis), several draft US and Euro-beers, exotic spirits and whatever speciality beers have been selected for regular, themed mini-festivals. At the moment they have six UK ciders barrels above the till to celebrate the apple harvest. The pub offers only a handful of daily updated dishes but all are delicious, wholesome, seasonal and feature locally-sourced ingredients. As they are all prepped behind the tiny bar, dishes tend toward the stew, platter and one-pot variety. Prices are £7-ish for a good plateful.
Better than the food and drink is the atmosphere – packed and lively on a night and bustling but friendly during the day – it feels like the sort of place that will quickly become a bit of a legend.