High Pavement, Warwick

High PavementAfter running bars for other people, Paul Brown has realised his ambition of running his own venue. With a business partner, the former bartender has launched High Pavement in the historic heart of the market town of Warwick, serving up premium drinks and cocktails alongside a dining room specialising in freshly cooked “small plates”.

Taking over the former site of a Prezzo restaurant, they have spent about £500,000 on revamping the premises, bringing in leading hospitality specialist Steve Howie Design. Steve Howie and his designer Tres Stone have created a contemporary industrial concept that Paul says “would not look out of place in parts of Manhattan”. However, it is in an historic building and goes by the old historical name for Warwick’s High Street.

Steve says he was nervous about some of the less conventional ideas used in the cutting-edge design but the result is a success. It mixes a lot of metalwork with multi-coloured bricks and luxury seating, while the colour scheme combines neutrals in the background with primary colours such as the turquoise furniture and some of the wall-padded features. Steve points out that a wall hanging mixing the modern with medieval, with a stone pavement slab at the bottom, was designed as a talking point. The existing flooring was sanded down and re-stained.

The customised oak bar has two sloping curves at either side – which Steve says was a challenge for construction – alongside a lower bar area of stainless steel. Instead of conventional glass, the back bar uses 12-metre clear Perspex shelving which allows the LEDs placed on either side to illuminate the entire shelf – which creates a much better illuminated result.

High Pavement

Behind the bar, Paul has drawn on his broad experience to create original cocktails and his own infusions. He was previously bars manager at the Lacemarket Hotel in Nottingham, where he was trained by Giles Looker and Michael Butt of Soulshakers, and worked at Mitchells & Butlers’ Premium Country Dining Group (PCDG) pubs and as general manager of pub company Peach’s Rose & Crown in Warwick. At High Pavement, he has put together a premium drinks list led by brands such as Belvedere as well as his own infusions. These include an Earl Grey-infused Doorly’s rum which is mixed with lime juice and agave syrup to make a cocktail called 50 Shades.

Other cocktails – all priced £7.50 – range from the Mandarin High Tea, made with Belvedere Orange and lemon juice and topped up with Earl Grey foam, to the Spiced Ananas, using Belvedere Bloody Mary mixed with pineapple juice and smoked paprika. Other options include Soul Happiness, combining Jose Cuervo Reposado tequila with watermelon syrup and orange bitters. “I’ve put together a London cocktail menu but for a sleepy market town,” Paul says.

With its affluent clientele, the wine list includes several champagnes, from Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot Brut NV up to Dom Pérignon 2000. Trading till midnight during the week and 12.30 Fridays and Saturdays, it has DJs at weekends but, at the same time, is open for breakfast from 9am at weekends. “In the morning, it opens as a boutique coffeehouse and rolls on into the evening when it becomes a New York-style cocktail bar,” Paul says.

He says the business, called Ventner & Brown Leisure, is already on the look-out for a second site in similar towns in neighbouring counties such as Oxfordshire or Berkshire. “In terms of what we offer in Warwick, there is nothing like us. We are completely unique.”

High Pavement, 1-3 High Street, Warwick CV34 4AP Tel: 01926 494725 www.highpavementwarwick.com

Originally published in the November 2012 edition of Bar magazine.

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