I loved this one from the second I walked through the door.

First, there was live music, always a very positive, upbeat sign, and then, on top of that, there was a real lively buzz about everyone.

I got a friendly, down-to-earth welcome from the barman, a bearded guy in a stripy T-shirt, who was quick to recommend several craft beers.

He followed this up with several samples for me to taste.

I began with a powerful little number at 5.5 per cent, Franciscan Well’s Chieftain IPA – it’s a bit of a beast, but slipped down smoothly enough and justified his commendation. It was even served in a mug.

I was famished and looking around at other diners I decided this was a good place to eat.

Basically it serves Thai food and, being a fan, I was in my element.

I reckon you can tell a lot about a place based upon the quality of its red curry and this was an absolute belter, perfectly spiced and flavoured, just the right amount and beautifully served.

The curry was £6.45 and the jasmine rice £2.90 – served in a heart-shaped bowl this was an absolute bargain.

The IPA was a bit steeper at £4.95 but I reminded myself that the outside of the pub was painted in olive green and it advertises craft beer, so prices are automatically hiked by anything between ten and 20 per cent.

There was even a small bouquet of flowers in a Scapegrace gin bottle on my table, nice attention to detail.

A strumming minstrel, who went by the name of Chris, had opened up with Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay and performed a darned good version – great guitar playing.

There was a fairly lively gang of youngsters sitting alongside me who were out to celebrate Peifang’s birthday and they approached the music man with a request.

To his credit he performed a lovely little version of Happy Birthday – another nice touch.

I wandered out to the back and casting an eye over the beer garden I was impressed.

I could definitely while away many happy hours here, provided the mugs of beer kept coming.

Elsewhere in the pub there are some secluded little seating areas and the layout, combined with the stained glass, reminded me of a few Belfast bars I’ve been lucky enough to frequent.

By now Chris had moved on to his version of Dancing In The Dark and looking around the pub it was good to see such a variety of different age groups milling about together, a good mix of people.

As he sang “couldn’t start a fire without a spark” I couldn’t help notice the irony – it was a warm evening but he was sitting in front of a gas fire turned up full, I’m surprised he didn’t melt.

This is a pub designed for people to revel in each other’s company, sample good food and drink and generally enjoy the craic.

There is still a large screen for major matches and anywhere with tortoiseshell patterns on the trap doors isn’t taking itself too seriously.

By now I’d moved on to a pint of Staropramen, which was well chilled and nicely served, but at £5.10 was a bit steep.

I decided to shift across to the gin and Fevertree tonic, which at £5.60 seemed a much better deal.

To top it all, joy of joys, I can report the toilets smelt of lemon blocks rather than the usual aroma of a pub gents.

I’m pleased to be able to report my memories of the Royal Sovereign are extremely positive and I have no qualms in advising anyone to get themselves along there.


Decor: ★★★★☆

Love the central bar and shape of the pub

Drink: ★★★☆☆

Not the best, but by no means the worst, craft beer I’ve had

Price: ★★☆☆☆

The food’s good value, but topping £5 for a pint of lager is a bit steep

Atmosphere: ★★★★☆

Great mix of people, all enjoying themselves loudly

Food: ★★★★★

Excellent Thai red, still tasty on the lips as I left the pub

Staff: ★★★★☆

Helpful and happy in their work