I was invited down to the Cotham Arms this weekend to review the latest addition to St Michael’s hill. Samir and I decided to visit on a Sunday evening and were really pleased to see that the pub was buzzing with activity – friend’s playing a boardgame, couples sipping prosecco, old friends catching up over a pint at the bar and friendly dog walkers coming in to rest their feet with their pooches because dogs are very welcome here and they even have a jar of treats awaiting their 4 legged visitors which gets a big thumbs up from me.
The staff were absolutely lovely and were happy to talk us through the drinks options when we arrived. I was really pleased to see an extensive gin menu(!) and went for a Warner Edward’s rhubarb gin and tonic & Samir opted for a pint of Lagunitas IPA. They offered to bring our drinks to the table and my gin looked brilliant, a big fishbowl style glass and they’d added juniper berries to bring out the flavour of the gin, which I thought was a lovely touch. For non-alcoholic drinks they also had a smoothie menu with a few different options which is a brilliant idea as an alternative to the usual fizzy drinks.
Before we thought about food, I decided to have a nosy around the pub and approved of the decor that the owners have gone for. It really seemed like a place where everyone was welcome which was echoed by the clientele spending their Sunday evening there. They had a great selection of local art on the walls including maps of old Bristol & some funky screen prints on aluminium which were beautiful. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this windowsill garden full the brim with succulents. They also have a good selection of board games which customers are welcome to play (this time we were too busy drinking and eating but next time I’m totally playing Scrabble!).
The menu is simple and focuses on two core ingredients – meat and cheese. As vegetarians we were tied to the cheese options but we were more than ok with that! We decided to get a cheese sharing board made up of 3 different types of cheese: Quicke’s Mature Cheddar, Cropwell Bishop Stilton, Cornish Brie, sliced white bread, butter, olives, sliced apple and 2 types of chutney – one apple and the other branston pickle. The waitress offered to bring additional bread if we needed and kindly doubled up the cheese as we wouldn’t be having meat. The meat options were: Dorset Coppa, Dorset Salted Beef, Dorset Smoked Mutton. Customers can mix and match meat and cheese to create these boards with 3 options costing £6 and 6 options costing £11. You could also choose a smaller board with 1 option costing £5 and 2 options costing £7.
We really enjoyed the cheese board and thought it made the perfect ploughman’s. My only gripe is that the cheese isn’t sourced super locally and Westcountry cheeses would have been a better choice, perhaps from the Bristol Cheesemonger? As the cheese was pretty heavy it would have been nice to have some more apple but that being said, I’m sure if we’d have asked the staff would have been happy to oblige!
After demolishing our cheese board we decided to try one of their toasties. We were limited to only the one option – Quickes cheddar & jalapenos. Options for meat eaters are: Dorset Salt Beef and Cornish Brie, Houghton Ham and Quicke’s Cheddar, Dorset Salt Beef and Cropwell Bishop Stilton & the Mother of all bacon butties. Their toasties cost £5 each and they also offer cold sandwiches for £4 – Houghton ham with mustard mayo, Quickes cheddar with tomato and pickle & a classic BLT. The toastie had an excellent ratio of cheese to pepper but was way too spicy for my tastebuds. I am, however, a complete baby where it comes to spice and Samir really enjoyed it. I think that the owners are really missing a trick with vegetarian options here – Caramelised onion and brie would be delicious or mushrooms and cheddar? Sauces would also be a great addition too and seeing as they have mustard mayonnaise as an option for the cold sandwiches this should definitely be served with the toasties too!
It’s safe to say that after that lot, we were completely cheesed out and couldn’t even face some pick and mix which looked super appealing in the jars placed to the side of the bar. As well as these, they also had a few different cake slices, cookies and tray bakes on offer for £2-£3 which we will definitely be trying next time that we visit!
Luckily the pub is just around the corner from our flat so we could roll straight to our front door and we were really pleased to discover a new pub that could become a local for us. Although the menu isn’t extensive, they have good options which were being enjoyed by lots of other pub goers around us. Although it may not be right for a meal out, they have pitched the perfect accompaniment to an evening pint and I’m sure it’s going to be really popular with their customers. Cheese & gin & beer make us very happy people so we’ll definitely be back!
We were given a complimentary meal and drinks for the purpose of this review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.