Express & Star

A pub I've been visiting for decades got a big renovation - here's what I made of the changes

When a pub you’ve frequented for decades has a major refurbishment it is like when an old mate gets a new girlfriend.

Steak and Ale pie

Will she just smarten him up? Make him look his best self, haircut when needed, new and clean clothes?

Thankfully, when the doors reopened of The Bear Tavern, Bearwood, seeing the same landlady behind the bar meant one of my favourite pubs got a makeover, not a personality transplant.

Greene King is the current owner of The Bear - a national chain, which usually means their food will try to be all things to all types of people.

Well, the new menu had plenty of offers, had more choice and was cheaper than a Greene King pub in Birmingham city centre – well, President Clinton did have a pint at that one after all.

The welcome sign

The menu felt like it had been put together by a focus group, full of people who go to the pub between 2pm and 7pm and go home.

However, that’s not a criticism - it is a menu full of pub classic dinners, all scraping in under £12, not including the steaks.

There was a bit of a lack of starters that I fancied, however, which meant I would have to be creative – and I struck gold.

Because, there on the sides menu, too far from each other to be a couple, but near enough to create that frisson of excitement when they meet: chips and two slices of bread and butter.

And I had the choice between white and brown, I went for white. Sliced from a bloomer, no less.

Chips and bread and butter. for £3.98

The boffins at the Greene King Sports app (if you download it you get a free drink) have missed a trick, because the Bear is the closest of their pubs to the birthplace of Steve Bloomer.

Born in Cradley, Bloomer was a marauding Derby County striker who was given the brilliant nickname The Destroying Angel as he broke scoring records for England in the 1920s.