The Wig and Pen on St Giles Street, Northampton town centre is one of my favourite pubs in Northampton. In fact, I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to post about it! It really is very good, and its popularity is for a variety of reasons – not simply a good variety of drinks and a good atmosphere.
Talking of atmosphere, the Wig and Pen has a great one. In a town where the variety of pubs cater to your typical larger lout out on the town on a Saturday night, the Wig and Pen makes a refreshing change; it is what I would call an ‘old man’s pub’. Dont get me wrong, I love ‘old man’s pubs’, they are traditional pubs that Britain is famed for, I just wish there were a little more about these days. Why would I describe the Wig and Pen as an ‘old man’s pub’? Well the clientele is certainly a little older, definitely mid twenties plus which I have no problem with at all; the people I generally go for drinks with don’t go out to pick up men or gawp at women with far too little clothes on! It also doesn’t play booming loud pop music and does not have posters everywhere advertising the latest revolting sounding shot or promo on urine-like larger (gosh I sound like a grumpy old woman today!!). Anyway, everyone in the Wig and Pen seems very friendly and out to have a good time which makes for a nice relaxed atmosphere.
The interior of the pub looks rather traditional which is as it should be I guess considering the building is really very old; it is rumoured that parts of the building are haunted and seances have previously been held there. The garden is somewhat more modern with comfortable rattan furniture, patio heaters and even a flat screen TV to watch the rugby on (speaking of rugby, the Wig is a big Northampton Saints supporters pub and is almost always packed on match days!). My only criticism is that the pub is quite small and it can often be difficult to get a seat, especially as the pub is so popular.
Anyway, the selection of drinks on offer at the Wig and Pen really is fantastic. They have a wide variety of real ales on tap and also have regularly changing guest ales and ciders. The wine selection is also very good as is the choice of bottled continental beers. There are regular ale and cider festivals which almost always coincide with bank holiday weekends – always a winner!! Another bonus is that the pub offers ‘Beer Tapas’ – three third pints of different ales for the price of the most expensive pint. An excellent option if you want to sample more than one of the ales on tap and still be able to walk straight!
On to the food which is the main attraction of this place for me! The menu may look like a typical British pub menu serving dishes such as assorted sandwiches, sausage and mash, pies and burgers however, it really is something special. You can tell that a lot of thought and attention has gone into the food here, the presentation is always excellent and the ingredients are, where possible, locally sourced. There are also mouth-watering sounding daily specials and a ‘Butcher’s Best’ night each week which promises a selection of locally produced meat for two.
Mr MAC and I have eaten at the Wig and Pen twice recently and both times have chosen to eat deli boards. On numerous occasions, we have been let down at other pubs by their sharing boards – there has not been enough food to eat or the food is bland and tasteless and has come straight out of the freezer. This is certainly not the case at the Wig and Pen! We first tried the cheese fondu; absolutely gorgeous with plenty of tasty meats, potatoes and bread for dipping. We weren’t sure what the size of the platter would be like so we also ordered some thick hand cut chips; it turned out that we really didn’t need them but they were so crispy and fluffy, we still managed to finish off the entire bowl!! Each element of the dish was obviously carefully thought out and the proof certainly was in the tasting!
Our second experience of eating at the Wig and Pen was on a cold, rainy Sunday so therefore the obvious choice was a warming, hearty pie sampler to share. The ‘Wig and Pen Pie Sampler’ featured chicken and mushroom, steak, vegetable and steak and kidney pies served with mash potato, gravy and parsnip crisps. It not only looked beautiful but was also really tasty. I would not normally choose to eat a pie in a pub as, from memory, they can so often be tasteless and stodgy but this was not the case. The mash was wonderfully creamy and the gravy had a beautiful flavour plus, I am always a sucker for parsnip crisps! The sharing boards are not only a very filling meal but are really reasonable at £8.95 for one or £12.95 to share.
Another important thing to note about this pub is the entertainment that is regularly on offer. My boyfriend and I have watched quite a few bands here and they have all been really good. I love the fact that the pub has jazz nights each week and bands playing live on a Sunday afternoon. As mentioned previously, this is a big rugby pub so all the matches are shown here and they even open extra early sometimes for matches that take place abroad (and serve wonderful breakfasts to boot!).
Visit this pub. It really is very good!