When I heard the Nags Head was reopening, I was intrigued. The pub has a prime location on Abingdon Bridge and, in the summer, one of the best beer gardens you could hope to find, on an island with the river passing on either side. Its closure last January was blamed on rent and falling sales, but the truth is that it had become a complete dive (and not in a good way). Surely, given that setting, someone could make a go of it?
Thankfully, unlike what has happened to a couple of other local boozers that shut down at the same time, that someone hasn't been Tesco. Instead, the former landlord of the Broad Face, Dushan Salwathura, has taken it on. The attractive building has had a tasteful interior refurb (including some significant structural repair work), it's serving a range of six local ales (including Loose Cannon's Abingdon Bridge, naturally) and the menu's been revamped.
On our first visit last night, I enjoyed a couple of tasty pints of another Loose Cannon beer, Bandwagon, and marvelled at the sight (and smell) of the slabs of steak coming out from the kitchen. There's definite potential for future inclusion in the Reasons To Be Cheerful series - if only there wasn't a band badly and very, very loudly murdering everything from The Jam to Mike & The Mechanics...
Meanwhile, just down Bridge Street into town, Salwathura's old haunt the Broad Face was completely dead. Its days as a watering hole and gastropub of distinction seem to be at an end - and a further cat will be set amongst the town's pub pigeons if (or when) the old post office is finally converted into another outpost of the Wetherspoons empire.