Sometimes we’ve all been guilty of ignoring a little gem from right under our noses and this was the case with me and The Malt Cross in Nottingham until the past year or two. I always knew of it’s existence just off the Old market Square in the city centre on the pedestrianised St. James Street, adjacent The Bell Inn, but never visited. I wasted some time because the converted music hall dating back to 1877 is a beautiful and interesting place to find oneself for a quiet pint and tasty snack early evening after work or to listen to the good quality live music that the venue sports.
Built on two floors, the upper area is an oval balcony that looks down on the throng below and also the small stage which is curiously situated at a height between the two floors at one end of the building. Presumably this would have been where the original music hall acts of the Victorian era would perform and heavily harks back to that age.
As well as an impressive and historic structure, The Old Malt Cross has pleasant, friendly and efficient staff which means those dreary and frustrating queues for drinks or usually absent, even at the peak of a busy Friday night in Nottingham’s city centre.
Being so close to the main cut and thrust of Nottingham’s pub life one might imagine it to possess some of it’s less salubrious characteristics but this is firmly not the case. Whilst this is a pub with a generally young clientele, the Hens and Stags in their various paraphernalia and the gaggles of hard-drinking youths in their shirt-sleeves are just not interested in this place. It seems to hold no appeal for them (thankfully). Perhaps this is due to the preponderance of students that seem to gather in the place but it should be stated straight away that this bar does not have the atmosphere of a ‘student pub’. The younger crowd that tend to gather in The Old Malt Cross are an exceedingly decent and pleasant lot. Age is not a barrier to enjoying a drink or a snack upstairs or down.
On some evenings a DJ and his decks operate in the corner of the ground floor at a very listenable volume whilst still being able to talk with friends over the music. What is really surprising is the eclectic mix of music being spun on any given night, visitor is just as liable to hear a little Led Zeppelin being played as much as dance music. I like this idea of music for all tastes in a pub and am far more likely to listen to someone else’s tastes because of it. This all-inclusive attitude is one that more bars should experiment with I believe.
Add a decent suite of drinks on draft at fair prices to all of the above and I believe one has a winning formula. I’d like to think so.
There’s no doubt that The Old Malt Cross feels like something of a quiet oasis in the middle of the busy city, not only during a quiet early evening as people rush by on their way home from work but also when stepping inside a full pub and out of some of the madness immediately out on the streets outside. If you’re passing this way way try it. I’m sure you’ll find a it a refreshing change.