It’s a bit of a roller-coaster out there at the moment – one day you excitedly pack away your ‘big coat’ as you see the bright spring sunshine peeking into your life, the next you realise you’ve been conned whilst you shiver your way to the bus stop. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’ve done a little research and unfortunately it looks like we’re stuck with this can’t-make-up-its-mind climate for a little while longer. Not only is that a problem for wardrobe rotations around the country, but also for social planning. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for somewhere with both an indoor and an outdoor.
One such place just happens to be one of my favourite pubs in Brixton – the Trinity Arms. I’d lived in Brixton for quite some time before I happened upon this hidden gem. To find it, take the road between NatWest and Brixton Town Store and head to the far corner of Trinity Gardens. This pub is one of over 150 managed by the Young’s chain throughout London and the South East.
Young’s has a knack of making each of their venues feel individual and that’s largely down to the fact that they entrust the pub manager with running it as they want, though they do all retain a sense of the classic public house. This particular pub, built in 1850, was named after the Trinity Asylum in Acre Lane which was founded for poor, elderly women with a strong belief in the Holy Trinity.
Through the doors, you’ll find a horseshoe bar with plenty of seating round the edges. The dark wood, cast iron fireplace and wall lighting make it feel like the ultimate modern British pub. It’s full of knick-knacks and there are a couple of board games to keep you occupied.
The real value of the Trinity Arms, though, is that it has two outdoor spaces – a courtyard at the front and a ‘secret garden’ out the back which has a bit of a bohemian vibe. So, if there’s a sun to chase, you’ll find it somewhere here. A further plus point is that the square the pub sits on is gated, so if you’ve a couple of kids who want to run wild then you can send them in there where you know they’ll be safe and can keep an eye on them.
The bar stocks a selection of Young’s own beers, plus a New World IPA called DNA on tap, which is the product of a collaboration with Dogfish Head brewery. The wine list is, happily, more gastro-pub than pub and has a number of good options whichever your colour of choice.
On the food menu, you’ll find a sturdy list of pub classics including fish and chips, sausage and mash and battered onion rings. Basically, anything that goes well with a pint. Hungry, we ordered a bruschetta to put us on. This is one of the few places I’ve seen which serves bruschetta warm. I’d got so used to it being served cold that I’d started to think that was the norm. It was a handsome and generous plate of tumbling fresh tomatoes, red onion and garlicky pesto. It did lack seasoning, though, and in my eyes a tomato without salt is a big no-no.
On Mondays the Trinity Arms hands out two burgers for just £12, which is quite startling when you consider the menu price is just a pound less. Our medium-rare burger was definitely more of the former than the latter and in honesty, at the full price, wouldn’t have been good value. Better burgers for lower prices are easily come by in Brixton. But a hefty portion of chips went some way towards making up for it.
Thankfully, we’d also ordered their pie – this week’s special was chicken, broccoli and Stilton but it changes regularly. Ignoring the bland boiled veggies, this was wonderful. The chicken was plentiful and tender and the creamy Stilton gravy was seriously punchy. Plus – it was a proper pie with golden flakey pastry on all sides; not one of those fancy ones with just a sliver of it on top, which leaves you wanting more.
This was true pub grub with positives and negatives, and that fell a fraction short of what the rest of this wonderful pub has to offer.
But there’s good news just around the corner, as the chef is currently busy planning a menu-makeover. It will arrive this April, just in time for sunshine and when this pub really comes into its own. The new menu will take the focus away from the pub classics and onto a mixture of meat, fish and vegetable small plates for people to graze on, rather than tuck into. Personally I think this is a smart move from the cute pub and I’m very much looking forward to sampling the new menu – all in the name of research, of course.