Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Parrot

Canterbury = Old

You cannot move in the city before being hit over the head quite forcefully with a bit of history - a church here, a cobbled street there, medieval architecture cluttering up the place and the entire city framed by the ancient wall.

However there is one place that is older than many of the rest of the city's buildings.  Just a smidegeon older.

Tucked away off the main routes down picturesque Northgate is a wonderful little place called The Parrot.
You step into the pub, passing between two evergreens bejeweled in fairy lights and down below street level, onto the deep rust red tapestry rugs that are strewn over the dark oak floor and you feel like you have stepped back in time.  All that's missing are the willow rushes and the pigs rooting in the corners.  Floors slope like drunken sailors, door frames are low and crooked, wood is dark with age and use, tapestry's and wrought iron hang from exposed brickwork while the 15C chimneys can still be seen in the secluded courtyard garden.  Everything creaks.  This is character that no interior designer could ever hope to match.  This is character that is earned from nearly 650 years (off and on) of serving customers ale.  The Parrot have embraced their medieval mantra whole-heartedly - just check out their website
The Parrot is rightly famed for its cask ale selection and I am particularly partial to the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that they serve.  In very large glasses.  Don't judge me.
 The food is also fantastic; in the summertime there is nothing quite like relaxing on the oversized furniture in their courtyard garden, debating whether to go for the Kobe Burger, Shredded Duck Platter or the Grill Stone Rump Steak and deciding if you have the energy to indulge in a game of chess.  The fire pit means you don't need to go inside if the weather turns a bit nippy.  In the winter the pub is warm and cozy with blazing fires and sizzling skillets of roasted vegetables and halloumi or prawns, Kentish pork belly or sea bass to warm you up.  I  think you can always judge the skill of a resturant by their chips.  Just check these out - so good!
I wasn't just at the Parrot for the pleasure of the building, wine and food last night.  Last night I was out for Cafe Theatre.  I've alluded to the fact a couple of times that Steve is rehearsing at the moment for a production by the AshCan Company and last night was the final showing.  Cafe Theatre is a lot more intimate than regular theatre, with audience numbers normally less than 50 per night; sometimes less than 25.  Autobahn by Neil LaBute is a triple header and Steve plus another friend were playing boyfriend and girlfriend going through a break up at a popular break up / make out spot somewhere in the States in the first of the trilogy (Benchseat).  All three plays were performed upstairs in the Tapestry Room of The Parrot and a group of us joined the intimate audience for the final evening performance.  This was like no theatre venue I had ever been in before - I immediately wanted to start preparations for a medieval mystery play which would work wonderfully in the space. 
 There is also something very strange about the juxtaposition of the medieval and the modern - like the state of the art sound and lighting desk being lit by candlelight.
I wasn't able to take any pictures of the actual production as it was too small a space and would have distracted the six actors.  The set was simplistic and worked wonderfully - anymore and it would have overpowered the Venue.  All three plays were powerful and well acted - thanks AshCan, thoroughly enjoyed my night out!
We also managed to promote my production of Teechers that I am currently directing - more on that in a later post.
The pub was refurbished in the mid-2000's and was renamed The Parrot as according to locals at some point in its illustrious past it had been called this previously.  No evidence to back this claim up has been found, but it did give the pub a decent excuse for a while to have a pet parrot in a large ornate cage residing on the far end of the bar.

Sadly the parrot is no longer present. Legend has it that he was too foul mouthed for the customers and would regularly abuse them as they waited for their drinks at the bar.

The Parrot is a beautiful pub - well worth a visit for lunch or dinner at any time of year if you are in Canterbury.  If you are planning to eat dinner here I would strongly advise booking in advance - this place has a well-deserved reputation and it fills up quickly! 
If you do manage to visit, please do let me know what you think of The Parrot.

1 comment:

  1. I've been going to the pub now known as the Parrot for as long as I've been a resident of Canterbury - it was Simple Simon's, a folk friendly Pie pub when I started. Some of my favourite nights (and days) at Uni started with going for a quick one there before 'moving on', only to find several hours, a few pies, some pints later, we were at the same table. I love the Parrot and the food (I think they do stone cooking for steaks, or used to) , and I think I shall have to reintroduce those days to my life!