Pubs. I bleddy love the boggers. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not averse to the more posh-beer, hipster-esque gaffs that’ve been opening up of late, but there’s nowt quite like the nostalgic feel of a proper British tavern. Takes me right back to the days of Panda Pops, Space Invaders, and out-of-tune karaoke numbers.
Luckily, The Nav provides all those memorable vibes, but with proper goods. Local, independent, and glowing next to the canal, they’ve got live music nearly every night, loads of real ales, a heated smoking area, and a brand new food menu that screams pub grub. Plus, the staff will make you feel like you’ve just landed in your living room, ready for dad jokes and mammar sympathy.
We started with a Martson’s EPA from the cask and an Addlestones Premium Cloudy Cider from the keg – just what we needed on a chilly Friday night. That, and a good owd chinwag with new owner and head chef Bud, and director Pete. They let us know about the local bands that take the stage, plus the top-scoring edible selection. “It’s all cooked fresh and locally sourced,” says our Bud. You won’t find a microwave in sight and nothing is frozen. “Apart from the peas,” he laughs.
First up: a delicious French onion soup (£3.50) served with a massive chunk of bread and an additional cheesy slice sailing atop its waves. It was really salty, full of flavour, and got wolfed in a hot sec. My dining partner had garlic breaded mushrooms (£3), which came served with three big pots of sauce – sweet chilli, garlic mayo and barbecue. The ‘shrooms were breaded carefully, and weren’t completely encased as to possess that hot pool of oil you so commonly burst and burn yersen with. No, these were up there with the best of ‘em.
For mains, we had toad in the hole (£5.45) and a Yorkshire pudding filled with chilli (£5.45). I got four massive sausages, peas and gravy for the toad, while the chilli came served with cheesy tortillas, and was actually quite spicy. Kicking flavours all round. Bud chucked a portion of chips our way too, and I’m glad he did. Twice cooked, they had almost a buttery element to them. Proper chip shop chips. No messing about.
We were bursting at the seams, but a pudding sample was imperative. Despite promising ourselves a simple mouthful, we managed to scoff an apple crumble with custard and ice cream between us. It was without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever had – in fact, I’m gonna nip in on my way home just for that. Don’t judge me. Bridie Squires
Castle Lock, Wilford Street, NG2 1AA. 0115 837 1930