These days it feels like every city centre bar has a sunny roof terrace, a quirky little courtyard or tables taking over newly pedestrianised streets.
But back in the mid-1990s one bar, The Courtyard, built its reputation around what was then something of a distinguishing feature.
Although the venue became A Nation of Shopkeepers eight years ago and underwent a revamp in April 2017, its large courtyard remains one of the bar’s big attractions and still holds its own.
The wonky cobbles, now fully covered with decking, offer a mix of colourful open air tables, partially covered wooden booths and an enclosed area with heaters for cooler evenings.
On the weeknight that we visited, it was the courtyard where the majority of the post-work crowd were unwinding and chatting over drinks.
The booths all claimed, we bagged one of the open air tables in defiance of the chilly conditions – at least for a while.
There’s a wide selection of beers and ciders on draught, which should come as no surprise in a bar that says it takes it inspiration from the classic British boozer.
It works alongside a range of breweries, including Brewdog, Tiny Revel, Beavertown, Hop Stuff, Meantime and Camden, and hosts seasonal residencies featuring craft beers from home and abroad.
Happily for the non-beer drinkers, there’s also a decent selection of spirits and soft drinks along with almost a dozen wines and proseccos.
I kicked things off with a pint of the Aspall Temple Moon still cider (£4), which packed a punch at 5.8% and left me with what my other half likes to describe as a ‘head change’.
My friend went for a pint of Blue Point’s Toasted Lager, which I’m told had a hint of smokiness but could have done with a bit more oomph.
Feeling the cold later on, we headed inside and took one of the booths by the window while we enjoyed a second round.
My friend went for a pint of the trusted Camden Hells (£4.50), but I decided to try something I’d not had before.
Perusing the gins on offer, I settled on the lemon drizzle (£3.85) with Fevertree tonic water (£1.70). Served with a slice of lemon, it was not sweet as I had expected but instead crisp and refreshing.
While both fans of the bar, neither of us had been in months and we agreed that its location meant this trusty spot can easily been overlooked in favour of parts of the city with a higher concentration of bars.
This is clearly understood by the management though as there’s a regular programme of live music, DJs and a pub quiz on Monday nights as well as the lunch and supper club to boost the bar’s appeal if the chilled atmosphere, wide range of beers and revamped courtyard don’t do the trick.