I met Jo at the Corner House, a pub I hadn't visited for years given its former reputation, not least for its beer (real ale vanished altogether at one stage). It is in fact a really attractive pub which should look even better after the complete redec due in January. The main bar has a stage in an alcove area, a real fire, bare board floors, high ceilings and a traditional bar counter and bar back. The light, airy dining room will soon see its real fire back in use. On the handpumps, IPA is a fixture with the other two offering changing guests from the Greene King list Moorhouses Black Cat and an Otter beer were about to replace Fireside and Old Hookey. There's live music between two and five times a week and it has proved a great little feeder venue (though one band, the Vaccines, found themselves on Later alongside Eric Clapton the week after playing here!) The Corner House serves food 12 3, 5 9 during the week and all day weekends; gluten-free meals are a speciality and I'm told both the stone-baked pizzas and West African curry have strong followings, as does the Steak Deal on Monday evenings.
The Haymakers is now one of the city's leading music venues with many of the gigs being put on by Green Mind, who also promote at the Portland and the Junction. Some relatively big names have played recently e.g. the Duke and the King (a spin-off from the excellent Felice Brothers) whilst Damon and Naomi, the Primitives and the Bravery are/were forthcoming attractions. The interior of the L-shaped bar has been stripped back to its basics with bare floorboards and plain walls (partly covered in unfortunate stone cladding, a relic of a past d้cor scheme) and the stage dominating one end. On my visit only two of the four handpumps were operational, the others having broken; Jo says the pub sells vast amounts of real ale so she's on the case to get more working pumps installed. Woodforde's Wherry and Adnams Broadside are the choice until then.
Finally to the Zebra where Jo is joint licensee with her mum and day to day management is in the capable hands of Royston. Since we wrote about it in the last ALE, the French chef has taken up his duties and the menu looks very interesting. The number of real ales is steadily increasing with the aim to have seven in due course. The 1930s interior has a sophisticated and chilled ambience a nice place to be.
In the meantime, as well as running three pubs, Jo continues to book around 30 bands a week; she's very grateful to her young and enthusiastic staff who all share her passions for good pubs and good music. On which note, apologies to Jo for the headline I suspect she's not a major Lionel Ritchie fan!