Food Reviews

The Buzz Of The Beeston Social: A Night At Beeston’s New Bar, Deli and Arcade

Damien Stephen

As a perennial drinker, I am qualified to assess the relative merits of one of Britain’s oldest institutions; the pub. They have gone through phases of being community hubs, the bases of revolutions, local parliaments, the practice dens of sportsmen, singing, wedding receptions or can just be a simple place to meet your mate for a bit.

The core truth though is that they are where you get drunk, and the positivity of that sensation is dependent on setting, atmosphere and location, so when I heard that a new one was opening, in an ever improving part of Nottingham, I took up the opportunity instantly.

Fresh off the back of a number of artisan locations that have opened up in Beeston over the last few years such as the Bendigo Lounge and the Circle Eatery, the new ‘Beeston Social’ neighbours the still relatively new Arc Cinema within the large shopping complex by the Beeston Bus Station. I thought the new shopping complex a hideous neo-brutalist eyesore but now as more venues have began to open up within it, its drab image has somewhat vanquished. The addition of a large bar and eatery is certainly welcome and I think necessary at the point where most people arrive into Beeston.

Post-industrial chic elevated the entire experience to something very pleasant

Walking in I was greeted with an unusual sensation: I didn’t feel like I’d left the outdoors. The canopy of plants and hanging baskets; a blend of grasses, ferns, ivies and palms was a botanists treat and gave a really fresh aroma. There was a contiguous element to the design, elements of nature adorning polished darkened woods, walnuts and red gum. This really does risk summoning back a dingy 1970s aesthetic, but the natural elements as well as post-industrial chic elevated the entire experience to something very pleasant.

The Beeston Social: A kaleidoscope of colour

Those familiar with The Hockey Arts Club and Penny Lane will be immediately at home with the design, indeed, they are run by the same people which is a successful Nottingham based company. Speaking to one of the directors of the business, Rory, explained the purpose of The Beeston Social is to bring a bit of those sensations into the suburb.

I think it has succeeded in that respect but the atmosphere of its sister bars is certainly augmented by the fact they are very busy, and this place certainly came alive the busier it got. But this was a VIP night, and the entourage at the door were generous with the free drink tokens The big question is, ‘can this atmosphere be sustained now it’s open to paying customers?’

I hope so, because with additions like this, Beeston is becoming increasingly viable for a pub crawl lasting a whole night – especially as an option for when you don’t fancy the full ‘town’ ordeal. This should buoy up business for The Beeston Social and others such as the aforementioned Bendigo Lounge, the Commercial Inn and the Malt Shovel.

Beeston is becoming increasingly viable for a pub crawl lasting a whole night

Its unique qualities are its design for sure, but also it has an arcade! Whilst not excessively large that it distracts from that The Beeston Social is primarily a deli kitchen and a bar, they’ve chosen there arcade machines very well – in fact I’d say perfectly given the limited space, the proper stuff, the real stuff. – Sega Rally, Dance Dance Revolution, Skee-Ball and Air Hockey. See I told you.

The horticultural ceiling and large windows give it a very summery vibe

As for the food, well the menu is sizeable and friendly to all dietary requirements. Fortunately, I got to taste almost everything on the menu thanks to a circling of amuse-bouches from a very polite roster of staff. The meat dishes are particularly delicious, the boneless Korean barbecue wings with sesame, spring onion, gochujang (whatever that is) and chilli would be my personal recommendation. Importantly though, unlike Wetherspoons, and Stonegate pubs where I find sometimes there’s nothing I really fancy, the menu at The Beeston Social is very diverse as well as there being a simple split between large meals and small, a breakfast menu and the venue’s party piece – burgers and pizzas. – Lush. In a lapse of journalistic concentration I forgot to photograph the food samples because they food was so nice, so consider that an endorsement.

The cocktail range is very nice, and seemingly a bit longer than some locations. They are also crafted pretty well, the recipes too are imaginative, but calling one ‘Paloma Faith’ was a bit far and the ‘I Heart Beeston’ cocktail did not feature nectar or honey and was not adorned with a flower. I think they missed a trick there.

the ‘I Heart Beeston’ cocktail did not feature nectar or honey and was not adorned with a flower

The upstairs bar was a slight disappointment, with how busy it was on the night, it was certainly necessary but there was nothing exclusive or special about what was being served, which is surely the point of a secret snug, hopefully this will improve in time. The alcohol choice for non-cocktail drinkers who like things from the tap was too simplistic too. I don’t know why corporate style bars seem to assume all lager drinkers like Corona and subsequently offer few alternatives but unfortunately here another bar is guilty of the same thing, and leaving is preferable to drinking Budweiser.

Small criticisms aside, I hope The Beeston Social is successful and it certainly has a lot that can make it so. It’s going to be central to a modernising suburb of Nottingham that’s been steadily improving and is now a pleasant place to be. I hope the fact it’s got a name that’s a bit wishful thinking doesn’t become a noose around its neck – a bit like calling a pub ‘The Good Conversation’. It’s certainly not to everybody’s taste, I like old fashioned or what old men might call ‘proper pubs’ but even I can see its broad appeal. Also ‘gentrification’ is still seen by some as a dirty word, but when it rejuvenates what was a pretty dull suburb then surely we should be all for it.

P.S. I sincerely regret not taking the time whilst the arcade was on free play to set some serious times on Sega Rally.

Damien Stephen

Featured image courtesy of Damien Stephen. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image. 

In-article images courtesy of Damien Stephen. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to these images.

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