ALE Winter 2002/2003 No. 308

First-day review of "B"

McMullens have been trying to convert the former Arts Cinema in Market Passage (Cambridge) since at least October 1999 and at last it opened on 15th November.

It's part of their Baroosh concept bar chain, the others being in Hertford and Uxbridge.

There are four levels, all open-plan with wooden floors, rugs, comfy chairs and discreet yet not low lighting. As such, it's clearly following the trend, like the Bath House or the Mitre or All Bar One.

It's probably intended to appeal to all ages, at least till mid-evening, but as of 5pm on this first day, 95% of customers appeared to be under 25.

The beer founts are uniformly styled in steel pipes with black taps or handles. There's one handpump in each set, currently with McMullen's Country beer on at 2.30/pint. The usual disc logos are absent; instead one has to peer at a small rectangular badge to see what's available on each fount.

The large menu shows that food is very important here and it's of the trendy over-elaborate style.

Some examples:

Overall it seems significantly better as a place than the All Bar One or Rat & Parrot II but will it appeal to a broader age range of customers than the other bars on the Drinking Circuit?

Naturally CAMRA believes there should be a real choice of real ales but this is unlikely under the current ownership and with current corporate thinking for big bars.

The biggest problem here is the narrow Market Passage: with Fez nightclub (open till late) and Borders (open to 11pm) there are likely to be public order problems in evenings in such a confined space.

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