Thursday 6 October 2011

The Birchgrove, Cardiff

The Birchgrove, 1-3 Birchgrove Road, Cardiff, CF14 1RR,
Open all day
The Birchgrove is a large and imposing pub, built in 1926 and designed by Sir Percy Thomas, who also designed Swansea Guildhall. This present structure replaced an older building which supposedly dated back to the 1700s. This new building was built in the roadhouse style and the tall brick chimneys, dormer windows and sloping roof lines are typical of this style of pub. The pub was gutted by a major fire in 1968 but was rebuilt by owners Brains.
 Above: The Birchgrove after the 1968 fire

Today the famous Red Dragon of Wales' largest real ale brewery, SA Brain is prominent on the sides of the pub, contrasting nicely with the painted gable sides. The front of the pub features a covered smoking area and, as with buildings of this age there are a choice of rooms with the small but cosy bar on the left and the larger dining area/lounge to the right.
The large lounge still features a Brains AI blue diamond leaded glass window which has miraculously escaped the fire and the refurbishments the Birchgrove has had over the years. The walls still feature some wood panelling, although the newer parts have not the same dark colour as the older parts. A brick-built fireplace is a major feature in this room and is another original part of the building that survives to this day. The lounge has a raised seating/dining area towards the rear and is decorated throughout with old photographs of Cardiff and brewing memorabilia from Brains.
The bar back, although not original has some intricate carving on it. The wooden bar counter features beers from SA Brain such as Bitter, Dark, SA, Rev James their excellent current seasonal beer Legends as well as guests from other breweries such as as Keltec and St Austell breweries of Cornwall. A guest cider is also served with Old Rosie from Weston's in Much Marcle being the current featured cider. The quality of the beers is recognised by both CAMRA who have put in the Birchgrove in the Good Beer Guide and by Cask Marque who have given their award for quality real ale. The Birchgrove even has a beer festival every year. Monday and Tuesday nights the prices of the cask beers are reduced to £1.99/pint.
The bar is a smaller room but again features wood panelling and an original fireplace that plays host to the pub's collection of sporting awards won over the years. At the rear, there is a sheltered beer garden with an all-weather plasma screen. The Birchgrove also has a skittle alley and offers free WiFi.
Food is served all day from a traditional pub menu with daily specials on a chalkboard in the lounge. Wednesdays are curry nights.

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