The Malt Cross
Few people in Nottingham haven’t heard of The Malt Cross, situated just off Market Square in the city centre. One of Britain’s last remaining Victorian music halls and managed as a charitable, not-for-profit venue, the site of The Malt Cross has been a public house since 1760, located on what was then one of Nottingham’s more notorious thoroughfares. In 1877 it was converted into an elegant music hall, with an amazing arched, glazed roof and a two-tier performance area.
The music hall hosted a number of notable Victorian performers but eventually lost its licence in 1911 due to questionable behaviour by some of its clientele. In 1997, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Malt Cross was redeveloped as a modern music and arts venue and established as a charitable trust. Today it is a vibrant café, bar and music venue, with many original features and, of course, that amazing glass roof that pours light onto the mezzanines and floors below. Beneath the building is a network of ancient caves, and heritage tours exploring the fascinating history and architecture of The Malt Cross are also available.
When we visited, the bar was buzzing and nicely busy, with a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and some superb modern folksy music playing. We felt so comfortable we could have happily wiled away the afternoon. The menu is familiar, with full English breakfasts, burgers, pies, curries, fishcakes and steaks amongst the mains, lots of sharing plates, and “planks” groaning with fries, soup and sandwiches. The quality is excellent and where possible ingredients come from their own gardens and local producers.
We enjoyed a great lunch: my blue cheese and bacon burger was good quality (although the plank of fries with hummus defeated my husband), the staff were helpful and friendly, and the atmosphere and music was fabulous. The Malt Cross is a gem and the ideal retreat from the bustle of the Market Square.
By Abby Brennan, Nottinghamshire editor