Joe's is an uber-minimalist bar in high street thornbury that offers (a) older, more grizzled locals the opportunity to teach the world a lesson through drinking in an appropriately dim atmosphere (b) younger locals the opportunity to have a few ciders with the off chance of availing themselves of life's corporeal enjoyments and (c) parents of attendees and local workers a place to drink while feeling ever so slightly awkwardly out of place. The venue itself, with a genuinely charming yet curiously c.1890s US décor, was an old shoe shop, of which the aforementioned Joe was the proprietor, and an Australian of a certain age are reminded to get a bit wistful at the slow disappearance of the suburban, post-war immigrant small trade that Joe would have offered. There is a photo of him above the bar, at a younger age, involved in some amateur boxing . A few nods to the shoe making and repair that went on there are also on offer. Joe is gone, but the last of his kind is happily evident still in George the fish and chip man up the road. You don't need to go there, however, girlfriend, as tasty treats are available within reach of the bar. Whilst not perhaps offering some of the more traditional hipster / foodie staples such items drizzled in jus, soft shelled crab or indeed 'sliders' of any variety (whatever the hell that may refer to), Joe's Shoe Store offers hearty doses of excellent craft pizzas from next door's Pizza Meine Liebe. These are a mightily tasty accoutrement to the excellent wines by the glass and beers of many a heritage on offer. The young ones seem to like the cocktails, and I can recommend the coffee martini's ability to reach the parts other drinks don't seem to touch. I have had the pleasure of seeing young romance kicked off by a spot of absinthe there, but cannot personally comment as to its efficacy. The staff and the owners at Joe's all offer genuine personality that adds to the experience, either in the form of a chat if you're up for it, or at the very least a knowledge of the Italo/Brazilian funk alternating on the turntable with the charming yet obcure 1993 shoegazer/grunge b-side which makes Galaxie 500 seem mainstream. You will leave Joe's with happy memories, a potential hangover, romance, or perhaps all three. Heartily recommended.
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