Normally I’d be critical of any pub whose relaunch happened in semi-darkness but it wasn’t really The Alexandra’s fault its big night was hit by a power cut, writes GRAHAM CHALMERS.
The new-look Pizza Kitchen & Bar, as it’s been rebranded, may have been light on lights but it was awash in atmosphere as staff improvised with scores of candles which lit up the faces of the assembled guests.
In daylight hours the transformation of this ever-popular Harrogate watering hole on Prospect Place facing the West Park Stray is far easier to judge.
Formerly known as the Rat & Parrot and before that Gladstones, the building dates back to 1896 when it was originally an hotel.
Although part of Orchid Pubs and Dining Ltd’s growing family of Pizza Kitchen & Bars, tradition is in its blood.
While keeping its quintessential English pub design overall with traditional timber wall panelling, there’s a whole new range of modern touches.
Feature wallpapers, modern dining furniture, quirky lamps, trendy artworks and contemporary tiling.
Live music remains an important part of the refurbished ‘Alex’, usually on a Thursday night when great tribute acts and the occasional local originals band perform such as The Four45s, who’re on tonight, Thursday, as it happens.
Launch night saw Tony Audenshaw, who plays Bob Hope in the ITV soap Emmerdale, on stage with his fun band White Man Van.
There’s also no way the pub restaurant’s general manager Lawrence Shirley would drop sport. A big selling point has always been the ability to watch Sky Sports and ESPN wherever you happen to be in this sizable location and that is set to continue with certain events also in 3D and HD.
Launch night saw a sea of people I recognised and the ‘blokes’ all seemed pretty happy with The Alexandra’s extensive world drinks selection and plenty of Cask Marque accredited national and local real ales. Amid the sea of familiar faces there were a lot of customers I didn’t recognise, especially of the feminine persuasion.
Apart from the slight aura of glamour attached to a launch night, I’m guessing that was on account of The Alexandra’s even stronger emphasis on food, a common theme these days in a growing number of premises along Albert Street which leads to the side of The Alex.
Of course, the power cut meant I couldn’t actually sample much myself that first night but I’m told The Alexandra’s pizzas will be known for their 100% fresh dough guarantee - and all made daily by hand.
With fresh Italian coffee from renowned producers Illy, it may also mean there’s more to this refurbishment than the look of the place.
Who knows, after all these years, The Alexandra’s clientele may change and expand as a result.