On the cusp of our self-enforced NQ boundaries, The Crafty Pig is a relative newcomer placed precariously on the edge of Piccadilly Gardens. Pitching itself as a place that caters for all of your craft beer needs, it’s no surprise to see a blackboard with the latest offerings behind the bar and a variety of young and old patrons in attendance.

The problem is, the place looks a bit tatty now. We don’t mind a bit of rough around the edges here at TNQR but we do mind a place where collecting glasses and wiping down tables seems a bit of an afterthought as it was on our visit. This may have been down to the lack of bar staff (a single girl on this particular day was trying to serve pints, spirits and cocktails to about eight people at one time) but for any city centre boozer especially at this time of year to be so horrendously understaffed is particularly poor.

When we arrived it was also full of ‘locals’ who had already imbibed way too much, shouting and swearing as they swayed, all at 5.30 in the afternoon. Yes, we know this happens everywhere around the NQ on occasion but it really didn’t help to make a pint in The Crafty Pig desirable. We persevered and took a couple of sofas at the front of the bar, and the place suddenly transformed – the lighting was dimmed, the tipsy crowd fell out of the door and a slightly different clientele gave the place a better aura. Yes, it was still slow to get a pint but things definitely improved.

The other disappointment about The Crafty Pig though is the beer choice. For somewhere that boasts about stocking unique and local brews, the taps contained a load of generic lagers as seen pretty much everywhere else (Heineken, Amstel, Moretti). There were only two casks on too, one of which was the omnipresent Hobgoblin, although it was good to see another boozer stocking Lagunitas IPA. Looking at the aforementioned “Craft Beer” chalkboard it was obvious the place was struggling; where similar places would have eight or so interesting brews on tap, The Crafty Pig included Guinness’ own Hop House lager on their list alongside standard bottled fare like Vedett. Decent enough beer but by no means “craft”.

We didn’t partake in the food offering but the menu at The Crafty Pig looks dangerously extensive. So often pubs take on too much rather than specialising and you wonder how good the food can be when there is such an array of burgers, platters, pies and assorted pub classics like sausage & mash and fish & chips. Even so, we didn’t eat a thing or see any food brought out so it would be unfair to pass judgement on quality.

There are some nice things about The Crafty Pig, but we can’t help feel its location will drag the wrong kind of punters in. It’s next to one of the busiest bus stops known to man and opposite Sachas so it’s always likely to get an anti-NQ crowd in, despite the decor and theme aiming for just that. Hopefully the bar can sharpen up its image and get back to its original ideals in the not too distant future.

The Crafty Pig

Classification: Bar

Food: Sharing platters, pub classics, burgers, sandwiches and pies

Drinks: Cocktails, craft beers, spirits

Price: ££

Related City Centre establishments: None

Bongo rating: 4/10