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Bar Essentials: The Pilgrim

Liverpool Confidential's lowdown on pubs and bars that we've already found ourselves in this week

Published on September 20th 2010.


Bar Essentials: The Pilgrim

What's the story?
THE Pilgrim or “The Grim” as it is fondly known, lurks in that tiny cobbled artery that runs parallel to Hope Street. In an area full of old boozers, and we're not just talking about the local residents, The Pilgrim is a relative new kid on the block, having only been open for 25 years. Previously it was a shebeen and before that a Johnstone's Paint warehouse. In its time, it has been home to the Pilgrim Poets, and a glittering and not-so-glittering array of musicians and other artists have performed in its upstairs space over the years. Landlord John has been in charge since 1993 - “and I've never had any trouble”.

Who goes there?
You certainly won't find the usual VIP-a-likes or spray tans in here. In fact the only wags you'll get are the hair-of-the-dog kind, and the staff. Or, as John tells us: “We draw the line at strippers performing in here. I save that for when I get home.”
What you will get are students – many of the drama kind – from nearby LIPA and JMU – and the odd cleric from the nearby Anglican Cathedral, adding new significance to the phrase “as the bishop said to the actress”.

Why go there?
It's cheap and it's cheerful. An all-day, full English breakfast (with a vegetarian option) has been consumed by so many thousands of happy customers down the years that it has become part of the fibre of city life. It's still only £2.80 and a must to put right those young livers that still haven't learned to tolerate irresponsible drinking.
There is also a full range of cheap, home cooked grub from the kitchen whose staff serve their customers with a smile, making you feel like you are just back at your mum's. And with a three course Sunday lunch at under a fiver, why would you ever want to go back there?

It's also got a nice, if ramshackle, outdoor area at the entrance, while, inside, its booths (it's half bierkeller,

half shed) make The Pilgrim jolly handy for “intimate gatherings”, whether you are a deux or a dix.

What's yours?
With bitters and lagers starting from £1.60, a doubles bar starting at £1.50 and a trebles bar at just £2.30, it would be rude not to. It's a free house and this is as near as damned as you'll get to it, price wise. There is also a range of cask ales, including Cain's bitter and Thwaites, and a couple of guest bitters. They also serve the first Tayto crisps we've ever seen outside Ireland, should you decide to ditch the dinner date and dine out on bar snacks.

That's entertainment!
The Pilgrim has the lot, and it's all free. This is a good choice of venue for watching big sports events, with its two plasma tellies, and the pub says it has an all-comers policy for people wanting to perform, whether it's a poem, a play or pop -“if they can bring a crowd with them, then they are in” - and at just a couple of days' notice.
There is a popular open mic night on Sunday, too, a very extensive jukey downstairs, while up the iron spiral staircase is a free function room where people teach things like pole dancing. “It's very good exercise,” says John with a faraway look in his eyes.

What's the crack?
A good place to start off a pub crawl and, even if you are not part of the student crowd, you'll feel all cosy and fuzzy in no time.

Verdict?
Smashing.

Where?34 Pilgrim Street, Liverpool, L1 9HB. Tel: 0151 709 2302

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12 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Inny BoyJune 30th 2008.

The Pilgrim also used to celebrate a special 'Pilgrim' Christmas and New Year over the week containing Midsummer's Day, getting a piper in for the Hogmanay!

Need to get out more saysJune 30th 2008.

and regulars call it HoBos

Frank GallagherJune 30th 2008.

"Ass-kiss"? You mean they kissed donkeys?How did they get them down the stairs?

Pilgrim StreetJune 30th 2008.

The Pilgrim was a great place for a Sunday morning post-mortem of the night before, with huge fried breakfasts, mugs of tea and pleasant company before licensing hours started. Alas the students who had overrun the place even managed to ruin this by turning up early on Sunday and inflicting agony on the recovering pissheads by playing predictably sh*te records on the previously-silent jukebox.

SiobhanJune 30th 2008.

I've actually gone in there for Sunday breakfast at midday to nurse my hangover, sat there with my mates sipping fruit juice all day and then started drinking again and staying the for open mic night, eventually getting moved on to the Magnet at closing time.

Karen GrantJune 30th 2008.

The Pilgrim is still good and all the better for the fact that the Unity crowd and all the attendant fag-hags don't air-kiss and ass-kiss about the place these days.

V. I. Lenin AirportJune 30th 2008.

The Pilgrim isn’t a patch on what it used to be! It used to be a genuine oasis of bohemia, with an eclectic crowd of regulars, actors from the Unity Theatre, poets, journalists (including Joe Riley) artists, solicitors, research chemists, architects, Ruritanians, cranks, normal folk, police and thieves.Before that it was the Academy Gallery Bistro, serving the art gallery upstairs where I attended a showing of cult film ‘Eraserhead’ in a badly blacked-out attic room in the company of Liverpool’s beau monde.In the 1980s The Pilgrim even posed as a trendy restaurant attended by Roger and Heather Haversham in ‘Brookside’ – they always sat by the spiral staircase.Then one Friday night a huge gang of students came across from Rice Street and tried to get into the El Peregrino Spanish Restaurant upstairs, thinking it was a pub. Like something horribly compulsive scene from Night of the Living Dead the drinkers inside watched with fascination as the plague of chumps eventually found their way around into the yard and down the stairs into the bar and that was that. Over the following weeks the regulars gave up trying to get through the squealing, juvenile, snogging, vomiting hordes of gormless students and they were scattered to the four winds. Some re-established themselves as regulars years later at the Flying Picket, which incidentally sold ‘Tayto’ crisps for yonks before it was closed by a rotten deal between the Council and its chums the property developers in the name of “regeneration”.

No, you're wrongJune 30th 2008.

Nobody calls it Home Bargains except people who've never shopped there.

How many timesJune 30th 2008.

It's Home & Bargain. Not Home Bargains!

You're wrongJune 30th 2008.

It is actually Home Bargains now!

Phil McCrackenJune 30th 2008.

Tayto crisps are on sale in the wonderful Home Bargains at 15p a pack

Stude DudeJune 30th 2008.

Nevermind all this. Pilgrim is a top pub. The booze can be a bit dodgy but we love it for so much more. And what would I know anyway?

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