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We’re like Pauline. We love a nice pen. So you can imagine how excited we are for the imminent arrival of the Pen Factory. Hope Street’s heavyweight status is set to go into overdrive (or maybe pen drive) when Paddy Byrne heads back to the top of the town to show them how it’s done.

What’s really, really interesting is to see whether the new ‘bistro’ goes for evolution or revolution. We understand it’s the former, with those signature quiches and salads – but with table service. And we can’t stop peering through the windows – which is, frankly, a little sad – to see the site morph into something warm, open plan and (surprisingly, for a basement) light. That’s got something to do with the strange topography of Hope Street. The new space, while being sub-pavement level at the front, actually opens out onto a smashing little walled garden at the back (where, as you can see, even in winter, the sun beats down on the sunken garden).

There’s plenty of exposed brick, a sleek wooden bar that stretches down to an open kitchen, and a touch of steely grit in the shape of the building’s sturdy skeleton of girders. It’s looking very much like our new favourite Hope Street venue.

And the fact that the Pen Factory’s upstairs-downstairs aspect brings in natural light, and fresh air, means that, whatever happens, chances are we’ll get a mobile phone signal down there too. That’ll make a nice change.

Word is it’s full steam ahead for a late-November opening. And word is, the neighbours are going to be very, very interested…

  • Neil Worrall

    Yes, but does it sell pens?