ACCORDING to an inscription on the wall of the Bear of Burton, Goldilocks “woke in a fright, jumped out of the window and ran away – never to return to the Three Bears’ snug little house again”.
That’s something which is very unlikely to happen if you visit the pub in Burton which has reopened after a spectacular refurbishment that was three years in the making.
In fact, after lunch there I can see myself returning to this particular bear’s house again
and again – if only to spend time on the huge terrace overlooking forest and fields; a
gorgeous sun trap to linger with something cool and refreshing.
And this applies equally in the winter when the interior offers beautiful, cosy places to enjoy a drink or dinner.
And as for the rooms upstairs, I might only live a few miles down the road but they are so stylish – especially the Goldilocks suite complete with deep, copper roll top bath in the room – that I can see myself booking in for a night just for a treat.
At the official opening of the Bear (held just before lockdown) Virge Balthazard, operations manager for Fullers brewery, said: “It’s taken us slightly longer than anticipated to get here, and it was certainly a labour of love, but we are so pleased with how it has turned out.”
The reopening of the Bear did not last long before the coronavirus pandemic led to all pubs shutting until the beginning of July.
But now it has reopened again, and ready to show off its shiny new makeover to customers.
Safety measures are in place with ordering at the table where possible, pre-booking of spaces online, social distancing observed at all times, and rigorous cleaning regimes.
People who do venture to the Bear to see the £2m transformation will be impressed with the design team’s vision and skill.
As Virge says, when Fuller’s acquired what was then The Manor it was “slightly unloved.” Dark and dingy was probably a more fitting description.
Taking inspiration from the fact that Goldilocks author Robert Southey once lived in Burton, the design team set about creating a modern, bright, quirky interior.
There is much fun to be had in spotting the homages to Southey which range from inscriptions dotted about the pub, to the chair in the Goldilocks suite which bears a brass plaque with the words: “Too hard.”
The bar is decorated in teal and trendy brass, industrial-style lighting while the Tack Room has horseshoes inlaid in some tables. There is a firmly tongue-in-cheek aspect to some of the pub’s interior design which makes it all the more fun to visit – boring, it is not.
It is no wonder that deputy manager David Crookes has a wide smile on his face. As he said: “The transformation has surprised a lot of people. They have been very happy to see what has become of The Manor.
“Personally, I think it is incredible. It is so light and airy and very different to anything else in the area.”
The Bear will be offering all-day dining with head chef David Basher, formerly of the Jetty, the Bell Inn and West Beach, in charge of a comprehensive menu.
He told the A&T: “At the moment it’s what I call our ‘get us going’ menu. I hope once we’ve been open a while, we will get to know our clientele and make changes accordingly.
“I will also be introducing signature dishes created by myself. I’ve got a brand new, extensively equipped kitchen which is absolutely fabulous for me and my team to work in.”
As much attention has been lavished on the pub’s 10 rooms as downstairs. Each one is different and boasts vintage accessories including a Marshall radio together with more contemporary features like a Nespresso coffee machine.
After a tour I sit down to lunch. The wine list includes a selection from the Coravin system which means you can enjoy just a glass of something expensive without having to shell out on a whole bottle.
There is also an extensive range of cocktails, Fuller’s beers and alcohol-free drinks.
The menu includes pub classics like fish and chips along with lighter dishes including an interesting range of sandwiches like Halloumi wrap with pickled red cabbage, piquillo peppers and siracha sauce.
There are also lots of options for vegetarians like me, so it was good to see something different to the ubiquitous mushroom risotto, or spinach and ricotta cannelloni.
I chose a starter of watermelon, feta and spiced cashews (£6) followed by spring onion polenta pancakes with cavolo Nero, onions and peas (£10).
They were both presented beautifully, and as Goldilocks discovered when tasting little bear’s bowl of porridge: “It was just right, and she ate it all.”