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Regency Tavern Opening Party

Saturday 24 July 2010
Words Spindle

Here at Spindle magazine, we like to source the weird and wonderful events from all across the UK. So when we heard that one of Brighton’s most unique pubs had had a facelift, we just had to go down to the re-launch party to check it out.

The grand surroundings of Regency Square demand a little extra something of the homes and businesses that inhabit it; indeed, the off the wall ethos of both the Artist Residence and Hotel Pelliroco definitely live up to the standard of their dramatic environs. Tucked in the North-East corner, the Regency Tavern seems to guard the entrance to the square. It is fitting, then, that during the 1700’s the pub operated as a toll where you could pay a half penny to ‘promenade’ around the square.

The tavern has been famous for roughly six thousand years for its flamboyant decor of heavy drapes, gold cherubs, palm leaves and the odd disco ball. Imagine my shock and dismay when, without warning, I strolled past one evening to see that the interior had been almost entirely gutted. Panic ran through me — surely Brighton’s most eclectic pub was not about to become just another dull, beige gastro-bar? More than I could bear! Luckily, the refurb was mercifully brief — a swift ten days — and I was not to be disappointed.

The previous green decor had, admittedly, started to look a bit drab. So the new owners went for a bold colour scheme of…well, red, mostly. (Though there was some discussion in my group as to whether the carpet was actually scarlet or burnt umber. Let’s just go with red). The cherubs and chandeliers were intact (hooray!), and there was even a hint of leopard print upholstery. As a friend described the place, it seems very tongue-in-cheek; there’s the traditional Regency decor fused with OTT gold palm leaves and leopard print seating. And it works!

On arrival we were greeted by a pianist playing a selection of classics. Joined by a vocalist, I counted at least four tracks from ‘My Fair Lady’, so this was definitely my idea of heaven. The crowd was jovial, the staff friendly, and the canapes were to die for (We got several Hi-Def close-up pics of the mini cheesecakes, but I decided against including them in this article. E-mail me if you’re interested in food porn).The evening was topped off by a visit by John Solliman, magician extraordinaire, who dazzled us with a selection of tricks involving grapes, kiwis and five pound notes. No, not like that. You have a dirty mind.

What makes a diverse town like Brighton so wonderful is the knowledge that there are places such as the Regency Tavern that will always resist the urge to become yet another identikit bar. The tavern has had a facelift, the cobwebs have been blown away, yet it still retains every bit of the charm that made it such a landmark in the first place. This is what brings us great joy at Spindle.

Photography by Stephanie Coffey