Saturday, 20 November 2010

inns & taverns: pudding's tavern

Pudding's Tavern is tucked in a busy side-street, jostling with bakers and four storey narrow houses. The circular oak sign has the name painted in gold. It's dark walls and doors radiate warmth and a constant hubbub of activity. The smell of bread and hops is a constant companion interrupted by cooked food. The guild marks etched in the lintel showing the approval of bakers, butchers carpenters and potters who drink here.

Inside Pudding's is bustling, often crowded. Tables and stools occupied by off-work artisans clump together. The smells of food and drink mix with fresh sawdust on the floor and the orange light of the hearth and lamps at the larger table. Stairwells leading up are sometimes taken by guests laden with clay tankards. Kitchen staff emerge with boards of pot pie and sticky tartlets intent on their buyers who bellow directions. The bar alternates between quietly occupied and stacked two deep as the artisans drink in waves with the industrious staff scratching tallies on a huge chalkboard behind them.

The house ale is dark ochre with a potent bite and treacle aftertaste. Other ales are served, a pale ale favoured by thirsty smiths and a thick, dark stout more commonly served by halflings to their friends. Those who don't drink ale can buy either red or white wine or a measure of fortified red wine to keep the chill away. In food, the tavern excels. The local bakers provide pot pies and cakes in return for a tab and this benefits all parties. Pudding's is used to showcase some of the finer eating. Prices are a little above average but the quality is repaid with interest. Artisans out to impress often visit Pudding's as part of an evening's entertainment.

Games of chance are a regular occurence, the butchers who drink here play games of draughts and lay wagers. Students of human nature will notice the butchers here are skilled gamblers capable of bilking the unwary in drinking contests, draughts or even simple wagers. They are often accompanied by a squat, tenacious dog of uncertain breeding and many sharp teeth. This beast is beloved of many regulars and waddles around like he owns the place.

For accommodation, Pudding's is functional. A few coins will rent a key to a narrow room for a night with a straw mattress and a chamberpot with a covered lid - the keys all fit each other's locks and guests are told that their possessions are their own concern. Most guests leave the key in the lock. Larcenous types don't usually visit and those who do attract the malicious attention of the landlord's cat, an ill-tempered, aged beast with broken teeth and razor claws who stalks the halls with the stealth of a goat. Guests will find the cat glaring balefully at them when they leave the room. The cat never visits the ground floor - the dog and it are well-acquainted of old.

The tavern is named for the family who founded it forty years ago. Former bakers, they decided to change direction and their fortunes were assured as a result from careful deals negotiated with the artisans of the town. The latest owner works as the landlord and business is booming under his careful eye. He brews the house ale to a family recipe and keeps this secret. Barring war, famine, pestilence or even sudden death, the Pudding Tavern will continue to prosper for some time.


  1. Another evocative inn write-up--though I confess I don't have the cultural background to appreciate what a "treacle aftertaste" might be.

  2. Treacle = Low-viscosity molasses. Popular in some English desserts, recently made trendy by Harry Potter (who eats a lot of treacle tart - an old English standby).


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