ONE of my favourite things about cold, dark nights drawing in is the welcoming atmosphere of a cosy pub and a warming glass of red wine. There are many pubs to choose from in Richmond, but this week we decided to try Number 29 Ale House and Gin Bar, in Frenchgate, after hearing about its tapas and range of gins.

Set in the dip of Frenchgate, just out of the Market Place, Number 29 is small but immediately inviting thanks to the aroma of spices and garlic coming from the kitchen to the rear of the bar. A former café, the space is small but with a bar seating area at the window, bench seating on one side, a couple of tables and a more private booth on the other, it is perfectly formed.

Despite it being a Wednesday night, we had been warned on booking there was a large party coming in, but was assured we didn’t have to rush with our order. As well as the large party of around ten, there were also about three other couples who enjoyed drinks while we were there, giving a fun atmosphere and making us feel we could be in a smart city bar.

On arrival, I ordered a gin from the newly established Taplin & Mageean Spirit Company, based in Wensleydale (£5.60), and my husband tried a craft amber ale called Barney (£3.50) (Not actually named after me, I presume, but that’s what made him order). The woman serving us was friendly, chatty and made us feel instantly relaxed. She let us choose where we sat, so we made a bee-line for the high-seated booth set slightly away from the rest of the room.

The menu consists of a choice of three sharing boards (£15), meat, vegetarian and cheese, and then a large choice of tapas dishes. We opted for the vegetarian sharing board to start, followed by four tapas dishes – Cajun chicken (£4.50), tiger prawns (£5.95) lamb kofta (£5.95, and a courgette and aubergine cheese bake (£5.50).

We ordered a bottle of Malbec to accompany our meal, at £20.

The sharing board came out quickly, brought to us by owner Andrew Lamont, who opened the bar in September last year, and was working with just himself and the bar manager.

The platter was packed with a generous amount of fresh bread from the local Angel’s Share bakery, a large pot of creamy hummus, olives, stuffed peppers, and slices of a deliciously sharp cheese. It also came with oil and balsamic vinegar. We polished off the lot.

Our tapas dishes arrived together, and our smooth Malbec was a great partnership with the meaty dishes.

My highlight was the garlicky prawns - ¬ perfectly cooked so they were plump and juicy, and the simple sauce didn’t overpower their delicate flavour.

We both enjoyed the kofta with its tzatziki dip, reminding us of some of the best kofta we had when on holiday several years ago; the chicken was punchy in flavour, and the aubergine and courgette dish was wonderfully cheesy.

James’ only gripe was the lack of chips. I wasn’t that bothered, although I do enjoy patatas bravas on a tapas menu. I did point out to him that he could have ordered another tapas dish, but he thought some chips would be ideal to mop up the rest of the sauce in the bowls, and had had enough of bread. Fair enough. We did chat to the bar manager about the lack of chips on the menu, and she explained the kitchen does not have a fryer, so it isn’t something they can currently offer.

For such a small and simple kitchen, the quality of the food coming out was excellent, and I don’t think they are losing much by not offering potatoes.

We decided to finish with the dessert sharing platter, which came with a cherry bakewell, chocolate brownie and a blondie, accompanied by strawberry and vanilla ice creams and raspberry coulis.

All the baked elements were light, tasty and delicious, and the ice cream, from Brymor, was excellent quality.

We finished our wine at leisure, enjoying the comfortable surroundings and background chatter. It made for a lovely evening, one we will look forward to repeating. The bill came to £76.95.


Number 29 Ale House and Gin Bar, Number 29 Frenchgate, Richmond, DL10 4HZ

Tel: 01748 850491

Facebook: Number 29 Ale House and Gin Bar

Open: Monday -Thursday noon to 10pm, Friday – Saturday noon to 11pm, Sunday 2pm to 10pm

Ratings (out of ten): Food Quality 8, Service 9, Surroundings 9, Value 7