On Monday 28 March, Tring-based pub company, The Oakman Group, unveiled the much-anticipated restoration of Tring’s Victorian canal-side pub, The Grand Junction Arms, following a six-month, £1.2 extensive redesign and renovation.
It is a year since The Oakman Group acquired Joycelyn Neve’s six North-West seafood pubs to form their new Seafood PubCo division and The Grand Junction Arms will be their southern flagship serving food from both land and sea.
The handsome Victorian canal-side pub, which the locally-based pub company purchased last spring, has always been high on the wish list of Peter Borg-Neal, the founder and executive chairman of The Oakman Group, who admitted that he had always wanted to own the pub. Peter said: ‘This was bubbling away in the back of my mind for some time. A long time ago, my son Éamonn and I had discussed what we’d do to improve it after years of insensitive piecemeal alterations. We knew the building and the garden would require a great deal of work and when I showed it to Joycelyn, she could immediately see its potential as a Seafood Pub.’
The opening is particularly significant for Peter as Tring is where he opened his first Oakman Inn, The Akeman in 2007 and his son, Éamonn, who has worked for the pub group for 10 years is The Grand Junction Arms’ General Manager.
Éamonn said: ‘This has been such a great journey. We saw a gap in the market in Tring for fresh seafood. Joycelyn has a wealth of specialist seafood knowledge and the team training she has initiated has been inspiring. We source the best of the day’s catch for our seafood specials using south coast day boats, which are then prepared by our Head Chef James Norie and his team. But our menu offers so much more – we are serving British pub classics, using the best seasonal and regional ingredients, traceable and sustainable, from both land and sea. Whether it’s a pie and a pint on a Tuesday night or Lobster and Champagne at the weekend, we want to be the locals’ pub of choice for every occasion.’
A glance at the menu reveals Devilled Kidneys, Oysters, Goan King Prawn Curry (a nod to the pub’s past popularity for curries) and different cuts of grilled steak, sitting happily alongside homemade pies, Syrup Sponge Pudding, and a fun and healthy kids’ menu.
As one might expect, the lunch menu is lighter and includes a Lobster Brioche Roll and Eggs Benedict. For those wanting to treat themselves, Fruits De Mer and 32oz T-Bone Steak to share are available to pre-order with 48 hours’ notice. Sundays will of course have a selection of Roasts including a Vegetarian option.
Inside, the pub’s atmospheric Victorian heritage returns with wood-panelled and dark-painted walls adding warmth and style; varnished wooden flooring; traditional banquettes and carver chairs upholstered in a mix of Prussian blue and oxblood leather with herringbone backs. The striking, original horseshoe shaped bar has been reinstated to take centre stage once again, a wood-burning stove creates a cosy corner in a reclaimed fireplace and with the additional seating there’s room for up to 80 diners.
Outside, the customised all-weather heated outdoor dining terrace provides al fresco dining, a communal circular fire pit and dedicated bar. The Towpath Beer Garden alongside the canal has been levelled and is overlooked by three glazed igloos known as ‘OakPods’ where groups of six can enjoy a private dining experience in their own personal bubble.
Win a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine at The Grand Junction Arms in our competition.
A: The Grand Junction Arms, Bulbourne, Nr Tring HP23 5QE
T: 01442 824159
FB: /grandjunctiontring | IG: /grandjunctiontring
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday: 10am-11pm
Food Service: Sunday to Thursday: 12pm-9pm | Friday & Saturday: 12noon-9.30pm
Photo: Joycelyn Neve, MD of the Seafood PubCo division, flanked by on the left by General Manager, Éamonn Borg-Neal, and on the right by Head Chef James Norie with large platters of Fruits de Mer.