Happy Birthday Beautiful Pubs!

Can you believe it, the Beautiful Pub Collective is celebrating 15 fine years in Leicestershire. Under the expert guidance of Sam Hagger, and a little help from Everards Brewery, we have all been fortunate to enjoy years of great service, delicious food and tasty pints at their pubs.

Precious memories

I’ve been enjoying those beautiful pubs myself for the full stretch. The first pub was The Forge in Glenfield. It has recently undergone a £200k spruce up as a little birthday present. This delightful rural-ish pub has always been beautifully turned out though, and always a prime choice for us when eating out away from town. The highlight was always Glenstock, the annual mini festival raising money for local charities. I even wrote about it once, back in 2015, although clearly brevity was key for me in those days. Glenstock

Then of course there’s the Rutland & Derby in Leicester city centre. I have spent a lot of time in that pub. My friends and I owned the Monday quiz for well over a year, once upon a time. They offered the best option in the land for the Extreme Housewifery Tapas Trail, which I ran across Leicester in 2015. It was long before anyone English knew the word ‘bao’ in this country, which is why it’s just called a steamed bun. The highlight though, always was and still is, the sun trap garden. It’s changed a lot over the years, but it is consistently a top spot for those in the know on finer days. Beer garden

Of the way we were

I have to give a little nod to the King Richard III. It is no longer under the auspices of the Beautiful Pub group (and we all know that I liked a game of pool down the Dickie as it was before the refurb. And the murder.) But they made that lovely building pretty again, and the Sunday Lunch was the stuff of dreams. It’s such a lovely pub, but such a shocking location for footfall. My annual appeal for people to take 50 steps out of the ‘food court’ area of the Highcross and explore the independents all around. Sunday dinner memories

And the Knight & Garter. Another city centre favourite I have said on numerous occasions that this is the best place to eat in Leicester. I still stand by that, although obviously I’m not as in the thick of it as I once was. Oysters in the downstairs bar. Hot chocolate on the terrace and watching Elf projected on Green Dragon Square at Christmas. Bringing some of the best gelato makers in the world there for a fantastic dinner when I helped organise Gelato in the Square and we had finished work for the day. I also held a brilliant wine tasting there showing off some tasty local Rothley Wines for guests with incredibly tasty food pairing.

A couple of years ago, they started doing a weekend special menu at the Knight. They are always phenomenal, and I look enviously at their Facebook posts every week. Specials menu

Meanwhile, back in the present day

It was a pleasure to be invited back to celebrate 15 years with the team last week. We were treated to the best that the Knight & Garter has to offer. Impeccable hospitality from a well-trained, confident and friendly team. Delicious food and drinks with a backdrop of some quality entertainment. The saxophonist was my favourite. I’ve seen him at their events before and I just think he’s brilliant.

So often it feels like I write nothing but doom and gloom for pubs. Rising costs and brilliant independents unable to fight against the tide. Yet in those stormy seas, some people – like Sam and his team – are able to make it work. And they do everything right. Attention to detail when sourcing ingredients. Well kept cask ale. Innovative cocktail menus. Immaculate surroundings. A caring and supportive environment with real progression opportunities for staff. Long may it continue. Stay beautiful.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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