Friday 19 October 2007

Aberystwyth - Yr Hen Llew Du (The Old Black Lion)

Address: 14-18 Bridge Street, SY23 1PZ. Tel: 01970 615378 [gmap] 
Last APG visit: 18/05/2012

Background: Imagine, if you will, my utter bewilderment on re-entering the Llew Du after its refurbishment in 2011 to find that it has regenerated into something that bears little resemblance to the previous Welsh nationalist incarnation. Almost everything has changed - the bar has been moved, large chunks of the interior have been stripped out (including the old fireplace) and a veneer of 2011 has been smeared around the inside. I really can't quite begin to describe how remarkably different this place now is apart from to say that if I had been bundled, blindfold, into the boot of a car in Capel Bangor, driven to and around Aber, then dumped into this place Terry Waite style, I would have literally no idea where I was once the blindfold was removed.

Student factor: Plenty of them, mainly English on our Saturday visit, including some utter wankers on scooters (yes, inside the pub - very Nathan Barley). They'd have been ejected by the locals if they'd tried pulling that stunt a year ago. 

Atmosphere: Not many punters on either of my last two visits.

Drinks range: One area of definite improvement, with two scrummy Purple Moose beers - Glaslyn and a house brew (I forget the name - presumably a re-badge of a regular brew?) which were both excellent. I think there was also Fentimans soft drinks too! However the 'get plastered on nasty cheap shit' ethos remains.

TV/Music: Trendy music - way too loud. Could barely hold a conversation.

Other stuff: The bar is - weirdly - too tall, I wouldn't fancy being a midget ordering a beer. Barmaids on our last visit were surly and too busy gabbing amongst themselves than serving customers punctually.

Quinno’s verdict: Having now been twice post-refurb (I was initially too stunned by the change inside to make much of a judgement first time), I have to admit I am deeply unimpressed. It's a pretty souless place and the idea of moving it upmarket kind of flounders in the little things like not being able to talk over the music. The signs are bilingual and the dragon flag still flutters outside but that's all that's left.

Old review below, for posterity: 

Background: The Welsh-speaking nationalist hangout in town, which puts a lot of English (and English-speaking Welsh) off. Don’t be, it’s got a nice vibe and the punters are generally a friendly lot. The inside can feel like a rabbit warren when it’s busy – easy to get lost on your first visit after a couple of pints too many.
Student factor: Many of the client√®le are students or student-related during the week with a few Welsh-speaking locals mixed in. However the odd gang of knuckle-dragging farmer-types turn up on the Saturday worse for wear – they’re best avoided as many of them are only after a fight. 

Atmosphere: Often quite boisterous, most of the patrons in here treat drinking like a sport. On a visit after the Wales-Cyprus game we were met by the sight of a bloke standing on a table - trousers round his ankles, mickey out for all to see. Quite a few are chatty once you’ve said hello, just be careful not offend by accident as the atmosphere can turn sour quickly if they think you’re taking the piss. Just be sensible and don’t take in any Little Englander types who can’t handle their drink.
Drinks range: Steadily improving, standard fare of lager and spirits now supplemented by an ale (usually Brains) and bottles of Bass Red Triangle - however recent reports from APG Agent Amelia suggest that the beer is often pretty terrible and that the staff aren't that interested in doing anything about it. Not too much of a slant towards Welsh produce, which is disappointing given the venue. Prices seemed a little on the steep side last time I went in, unless you opt for the offers. 

TV/Music: Has a mix of both. A good place to watch Wales play if you’re a fan, brilliant atmosphere. Also hosts occasional gigs. 

Other stuff: Has a small outside drinking area. Serves food, but have never sampled. Pool and darts available. Heard rumours of there being shove h’apenny but never seen it. Toilets are pretty good given the battering they take every weekend, nicely tiled like a bathroom showroom. Some of exterior is looking a bit weather-worn now and needs a lick of paint. 

Quinno’s verdict: Ignore the scare stories and give this place a try. You might just like it - though don't drink the ale.


Anonymous said...

It's the best pub In Aber, as a Welsh Student It's where everyone meets up at the end of the night. It's amazing at Rugby international days, 6 nations tip- If your and English fan of Rugby DO NOT enter- you will be abused lol!!

Anonymous said...

The bar really is a weird height. At 5 and a half foot tall, I had to reach up to pick up my beer. It's more like a shelf than a bar.

Anonymous said...

Ok so it is a bit clinical looking and has lost much of it's old charm since the refurb but the food it absolutely great. Good value, portion size is just right, and they do home made chips like mum used to make! I'd recommended it any day of the week.