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Pint to pint: Adam and Eve, Norwich - Telegraph

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    Pint to pint: Adam and Eve, Norwich

    Our guide to the best British pubs. This week: Adam and Eve, Norwich .

    The Adam and Eve, Bishopgate, Norwich, is the oldest pub in Norwich.

    By Adrian Tierney-Jones

    5:18PM GMT 12 Mar 2012

    The oldest pub in Norwich stands just outside the city’s cathedral walls, the sacred and the profane cheek by jowl. Evidently nobody mentioned this divide to the medieval monk whose remains were found during cellar evacuations in the Seventies. Is it his ghost that reputedly haunts the pub, an eternal act of penance?

    No matter. History has a habit of leaving its mark on this fabulous city pub: its records go back to the 13th century, when the cathedral’s builders were housed and refreshed here. The outside mirrors this wondrous sense of antiquity with its facade of red brick and flint that has weathered countless Norfolk winters. Meanwhile, curved Flemish gable ends rekindle memories of the workers who once flocked to the area from across the North Sea.

    As you’d expect, the interior maintains this sense of rootedness. It feels like a time bubble with that blissful sense of lived-in comfortableness, like an old tweed jacket that just gets better the older and more worn it becomes. As I stand at the bar I overhear a man say, “I’m just an esoteric regular,” as if to confirm the uniqueness of the place.

    The main bar’s whitewashed walls are decorated with etchings of old Norwich, while the bottom bar, which was once used as the cellar (this is where the monk’s rest was interrupted), offers a more cosy subterranean environment. I chat with landlady Rita McCluskey, who points out a window and tells me it’s where the barrels used to be rolled down. “And I think that the small alcoves in the wall were used to hold candles.”

    It’s early Saturday lunchtime when I visit and the bar gently breathes with a steady influx of locals. The esoteric regular is now discussing Norwich FC and Delia, while down in the snug I catch an Alan-Bennett-like conversation between two mates out for a jar. “Do you like leeks? I thought about making a pasta sauce with them.” His companion nods his head, possibly thinking that a dish from the pub’s robust and pleasing menu might be more worthwhile — like the massive cod in beer batter with chips (£9.95) I tuck in to.

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    Naturally, a pub with this historical venerability must be good for beer, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are four cask beers, including Golden Jackal from local brewery Wolf, and Yorkshire’s Geoff Capes of an ale, Old Peculier. I plump for an old personal favourite, Adnams Southwold Bitter, a muscular best bitter with a dry, crisp malty backbone and bright citrusy notes. For a 3.7% beer, it has plenty of flavour and body.

    And after that? I decide to have another and play at being an esoteric local for the rest of the day.

    Adam and Eve, Bishopgate, Norwich (01603 667423)

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