Question. How many black pubs are there? I don’t mean segregated (none, thank god) and I don’t mean sticky carpet filthy (although plenty lurch into mind). I mean black black. Painted black. Every external brick rendered to look like a lump of smutty coal, so black in fact the outside of this place looks like some Dickensian throwback; as if Bill Sykes himself might stumble out of the door with his boot firmly up Bullseye’s arse. Mind you, having an evocative address like Tanners Moat helps too; all of which means that before you’ve even got through the door, The Maltings is just that little bit special. Take another moment though. The black bricks are not the only thing odd about this pub’s exterior features. Up above the door there’s a yellow-painted BMX (naff – get rid of it – the Tour de France is SO yesterday) and either side of the entrance are a smattering of smarty-pants slogans such as “Exceeding your expectations is our pleasure” (also naff – best relocated at the council tip – or in a nearby wood if the tip’s closed). So let’s step inside out of the cold…..and head for an early slash.
Now as any bloke knows, standing at a urinal is an utter waste of life’s precious gift, so when a pub goes to the trouble of framing the front and back pages of a newspaper right in front of your face, you’ve got to be impressed. Anything beats looking at your own dismal todger (or other people’s come to that) and to be honest no paper is better suited for a lavatory wall than the Yorkshire Post. So, bladder emptied and now fully appraised of Bradford City’s moves in the transfer market, let’s have a gander at the pub itself. Oh yes. This is indeed a fine little watering hole. It doesn’t really matter that much of its crafted vintage feel is phoney because it (mostly) just works and rings true. Like the wonderful pine panelled ceiling, and the bar made of recycled Victorian doors. Like the truly fascinating collection of enamelled Edwardian advertising plates (Brasso Metal Polish, Black Cat Cigarettes, Standard Lamp Oil and many, many more). Like the excellent red and black floor tiling and the landlord wearing shorts in January……
Still, don’t worry about him. He might look like a prat, but he knows what makes a pub work and that’s beer. Go to most places these days and you’ll get handed a copy of their bar food menu. Here, you get a bloody printed beer menu. Well over 30 listed bottled and draught ales, stouts and porters ranging from the merely lethal (Brooklyn Chocolate Stout at a thought-provoking 10%) to the socially survivable Leffe Blonde at 6.6%. All this PLUS draught ciders, lager, and other less esoteric brews from Yorkshire’s thriving underworld of real ale makers. And naturally, once you’re seeing treble and ready for some scran, there’s food at the ready; proper solid grub served in Himalayan proportions. In fact, the food is piled so high on your plate here it requires scaffolding. Eating the lot is a serious undertaking, and a starvation diet of at least two days is recommended before any visit. In fact, The Maltings is so dedicated to normal food that they boast a belt-busting five different kinds of chips. Cheesy chips. Curry chips. Chilli chips etc. And when they say chicken they mean, well, what looks like a whole bloody vulture, deep fried and indecorously perched on top of whichever chip you’ve favoured on the day….
So, in short (or even in shorts) this is a good egg of a hostelry, perfectly located at the midpoint between the York Tap (alongside the railway station) and either a) The Minster if you’re interested in, err, Minsters or b) another pub. Be warned of one thing though. Please don’t throw your empty crisp packets on the fire. Sadly – and for this there are significant minus points – it’s not a real fire, it’s one of those dribbly little pretend gas jokes which gives out no heat and looks as comforting as a man holding a spent match.
Oh yes, and please – repeat please – get rid of the bike.