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Blakes, Dover

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user reviews of Blakes, Dover

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Worth dropping a fresh review for Blakes as I'm advised that the previous incumbents, Peter and Catherine, have moved on - reportedly to retirement rather than another place in the pub trade. A shame, for they knew what they were doing with beer, albeit perhaps with a faint air of knowing superiority which I think one of the earlier reviewers objected to.

I didn't stay long and only indulged in a wee half, so my judgement wasn't so much impaired as ill-informed. But my take on it was that in essence, the good features of the old Blakes were in check: a range of 3 cask beers (all pumped though - no casks now) from a diverse array of sources were served; well-heeled but not overly-snooty locals occupying the cavernous and characterful bar area; a range of decidedly un-snooty meals (chips 'n' gravy for £2.50!), and a nice tucked-away beer garden for when weather is more clement than it was on Friday when I last turned up.

We were served by a friendly and homely-looking sort of lady whom one can only assume was the licencee although I've no evidence for it. She was perhaps less-business-like than Catherine, and certainly less-intimidating than Peter, so perhaps that might help draw some doubting Thomases back to Blakes (hell, if you live here and love good beer I doubt you can afford to be that choosy!).

Saying that though, it somehow lacked a certain vim and vigour of its past. Maybe it was to do with the lunchtime lull - it always was more vibey of an evening in my recollection. But besides being a little quiet, the ales lacked a certain summat too; my Adnams Lighthouse was, well, okay but hardly sock-knocking. My mate's Canterbury Ales (damn can't recall which one) was rather lifeless and flat. I'd say that while choice was gratifying enough, conditioning was lacking a little and there is room for improvement here. The Peter touch was all-too-evidently amiss in this regard - he had the presence of a sergeant-major, but he applied a military discipline to keeping his beer which was worth the salute every time!

Don't know when next I'll be back in Dover but I'll be interested to see how things progress. I'd say don't be lackadaisical; be brisk in business and the customers will briskly follow. A subterranean venue like this needs that bit extra to draw people below as its appeal cannot be displayed from the kerb.

TWG - 23 Jul 2012 17:29
Friendly and with excellent quality ales, the best pub we in found in Dover, by a long way.
biggles221 - 14 Mar 2012 06:58
Two years ago I visited Blakes of Dover and wasn’t impressed. I would so dearly love to have this place in my top ten list of pubs. It has everything I rate in a pub. It’s off the beaten track. It’s downstairs in an obscure basement. It has decent ale – and the ale is from the barrel. It has pickled eggs.

One of it's main problems however is that it also has bar staff who also know how marvellous their pub is.
And it's other main problem is that rather than having clientele or regulars, it has an “in-crowd” who make a point of staring at the newcomer.

On my last visit I rather slated the place in my review, and today’s visit gave me no reason to change my opinion of the place. In fact my opinion has gone down as the barrels of beer have gone.

MankyBadger - 8 Nov 2010 20:04
Shame it was closed at 10:00 on Sunday evening!!
stevane - 18 Aug 2010 18:34
Marvellous! Beer in tip-top condition; friendly staff and a lovely cosy atmosphere make this a worthwhile place to visit.
markcp1981 - 14 Mar 2010 07:48
One of the better pubs in Dover. Not that there's much competition! Always good to see Harveys Sussex available. Sampled a pint and one of Polar Beer too. Hopdaemon Dominator was also on.
Seems very much a pub for the beer connoisseur- nothing wrong with that. An oasis of calm and decent beer in a grotty run down town.
outtamehead - 21 Jan 2010 09:54
Well that is me told then! Apologies if I offended anyone with my posts but I rather like the "Little Englander" crowd, if there were more of them about the Country wouldn't be in such shite order. And when I meant "a certain Class" I was alluding to those of us that have more than 2 brain cells to rub together, rather than those that think a great night out is to quoff as much lager and shots they can cram down their necks in the shortest possible time and then smash someone's face in, usually an innocent bystander. Pardon me for not subscribing to that.
john1969 - 22 Nov 2009 10:09
The last comment is more "unfortunate" than its predecessor even if it does accurately reflect some of the little Englander types that can infect this place on a regular basis. IF you can block out much of the nonsense that passes for witty repostes in this somewhat cramped bar, and overcome the inherent smugness of the proprietors , (even if it may be well deserved), it is possible to enjoy a good selection of well kept and keenly priced ales. Clearly a white noise generator would be an asset under these circumstances, but otherwise, I find the old 'allo 'allo trick with the cheese normally works well enough. Having seen the last reviewer's comments about the Falstaff, I am somewhat struck by the irony that this too is a bar spoilt in large part by those that frequent it. There he called them "oafs", here you'll find the Colonel Blimp Brigade...oops I meant people of a certain class. Know wot I meen guv?
eastkent - 13 Aug 2009 20:38
One of the places I (very) regularly use and would thoroughly recommend to anyone who seeks a perfect pint. Peter and Kathryn, the proprietors, make every effort to keep standards impeccably high. The main pint is Harvey's straight from the barrel, which is always sublime, and then 3 guest ales, at least one of which is a local Kentish Ale.
The last comment is unfortunate, this is a discerning place for discerning people of a certain class and outlook and attracts a like-minded, repectable clientele who go for the beer and each other's company. Loud and brash Fosters drinkers, please stay away!
john1969 - 5 Aug 2009 17:52
It’s a wonderful place to drink – the only drawback is that the people behind the bar know it. Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, but I wasn’t impressed by the condescending attitude of the staff. What might possibly have rated a score of 9/10 was lucky to score 7/10.
MankyBadger - 7 Feb 2009 21:34
At first glance, from the street entrance nothing much appeared to be happening but the real beer action takes place down the stairs as the top level is a restaurant. Unfortunately at the time of my visit, the ales straight from the barrel behind the counter appeared to be having a day off! However, the three handpumps dispensed fine quality beers from local breweries. A haven of peace and quiet located just off the market square. When you’ve had enough to drink, there’s a good chippie right next door.7/10
Alerover - 5 Aug 2008 17:12
totally agree with lambo re the white horse topsy as usuall doesnt kno what hes talking about
anonymous - 15 Jul 2007 22:26
The beers in this cosy ‘no smoking’ cellar bar are excellent!
The stillage has been brought down from the now closed Mogul.
There are interesting beers, which are constantly changing on offer.
Goachers ‘Imperial Stout’ is a regular on the pump and is very good indeed.
Hopdaemon ‘Golden Braid’ and ‘Incubus’ also well worth a taste in the summer months.
Cider & Perry also available.
The bar is very popular at lunch times with the ‘professionals’ of the area with its strong focus on food.
On the downside, in my opinion Blakes is not the same as it was a year or so ago.
Interestingly, the local CAMRA agree, as Blakes did not make the local POTY shortlist for 2007/8.
Many of the local Dovorians now prefer to drink at nearby White Horse, which is deemed to be more convivial with its traditional pub atmosphere.

Lambo - 22 Mar 2007 18:41
This cellar bar is well worth seeking out and is a must for any Real Ale drinker if ever in Dover - Fantastic range of ever-changing ale accompanied by great ambience.
shepwayblade - 5 Feb 2007 18:28
It seems that Dover has so little to offer the ale enthusiast, but deep beneath the ostensibly winebar-ish entrance to Blakes lies redemption. Taken over last year by Peter & Catherine, formerly of the Yew Tree at Barfrestone (which they made a huge success of during the 2 years they were there), they have successfully turned round this cavernous cellar bar to appeal to the discerning drinker and eater, with good food being served up in addition to at least 4 cask ales - 1 or 2 off the stillage behind the bar. It creates a subtle, stylish but unpretentious subterranean atmosphere enjoyed by the more savvy locals (and a few even savvier tourists!), enhanced further by the pleasant garden to the rear which can be enjoyed in warmer months.
Having spoken to him here and at the Yew Tree it is clear that Peter has an uncompromising attitude to running what he sees as a hostelry of quality, and both he and his wife work tirelessly to keep standards high. In addition to the bar they also have to keep on top of a B and B operation which is housed above.
They are no-nonsense people, yet retain much charm, and they are possibly the most decorous pub owners I know. If one shares their vision, then one shall not go home from Blakes disappointed.
TWG - 25 Oct 2006 16:03
Good prices for good beer, great food fresh and quality ingredents. A place to eat and have a pint or two, not a session pub. Chavs should stay well clear of this place and leave this pub to people that are more discerning.
indycant - 11 Oct 2006 00:37
Very good cellar bar with an interesting and ever-changing range of ales served in tip-top condition. Perfectly charming and witty landlord ably assisted by his shrewd, perceptive wife. A 'pub' for the discerning.
anonymous - 9 Oct 2006 09:31
And over forty different sorts of Malt Whisky
5thearlofwimbourne - 22 Aug 2006 14:22
Popped in for a pint of Goacher's Stout - excellent as usual. I also tried a pint of Westerham Brewery's 1965 Premium Bitter ( 4.8$ ). That was also in excellent condition.

All ales are priced at £2.40, irrespective of strength. If you want to strip the enamel off your teeth and consign a few thousand braincells to oblivion, you have the choice of Mole's "Black Rat" cider, or Thatchers' cider - both 6.0% and £2.50 a pint.

Blakes is now non-smoking, so I'll have to smoke my pipe in the garden in future.
5thearlofwimbourne - 18 Aug 2006 13:08
Thanks Cap'n - I'm more than likely going to pop in there for a pint on the way home this evening. it really is one of Dover's few redeeming features!
5thearlofwimbourne - 7 Aug 2006 18:15
I too can concur with Lord Wimbourne's praise of the Goacher's Stout. I also tasted this and it is a indeed superb tipple. Strange but true trivia fact: the restaurant for Blake's was the setting for spy George Blake's meetings with his Russian handler ...
Captain_Swing - 7 Aug 2006 17:44
Excellent news - Blakes' no longer stock aerosol stout.

It's now Goacher's Imperial Stout and it is superb!

5thearlofwimbourne - 14 Jul 2006 12:01
Blakes obtained the 6-firkin stillage from The Mogul when that pub closed and attracted most of the former Mogul regulars. The beer range has improved (micro-breweries featured), the quality is up & the prices down a little. Expect GBP 2.20-2.30 per pint for real ale.

topsy - 27 Nov 2004 15:01

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