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Chough, Salisbury

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user reviews of the Chough, Salisbury

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

An update on the closure: It is now set to become a "Bill's Delicatessen and Café" opening in November 2013, so Salisbury has permanently lost one of its best pubs (if not THE best). If the closing had been better publicised (and the locals had realized what would happen to the place) then some action might have been taken. (Bill's Delicatessen and Café will be familiar to Brighton people, and the chain is now branching out the "Ye Olde" towns around the country: Cambridge, Bath, Lewes, etc.).
HenPen - 8 Oct 2013 22:34
According to the Salisbury Journal, this is due to close on 18/8/13 "for re-development". A pity, since it is one of the best pubs in Salisbury centre. It will be missed. It was 7/10.
HenPen - 17 Aug 2013 21:07
Great beer range and the pint I had was well-kept and delicious! A lovely pub, with areas set aside for diners. Super duper!
beerPrincess - 27 Jul 2012 15:45
Wow what a change this place is defenatly worth a vist the new folks there have put a spark back in the place the food id fantastic and they 7 real Ales when i dropped in The Piston Broke and Pride where great pints to
lordAndy - 2 May 2012 22:45
Beer much improved since awful hidden Brewery days as poster below notes but the pub is very quiet considering its size and location on the Salisbury market square.
The Wed eve before Christmas was deathly quiet. 6/10
Chrisnutt - 5 Jan 2012 21:06
Vastly improved since the Hidden days.
A decent selection of ales served by young & keen staff who seemed to care what they were doing, sadly quite unusual these days which is why this place stood out.
Clean & tidy too, a pub I would revisit when next in Salisbury.
FLO - 13 Nov 2011 12:49
THE BEST ITS EVER BEEN.

This pub was in need of some genuine TLC and its been well recieved. the pub is clean, tidy, professional staff and offer a wide range of beers with 12 ale lines and lots of draught lagers! lots of bric a brac from throughout the years and what a place to eat. everything is fresh and its the best sunday roast i have had in years!

Gusto inns have made this the place to go in Salisbury, great job!
tommystops - 11 Mar 2010 13:38
Well, Hidden have moved on, and the place has been taken over by an outfit called Gusto. I'm not sure whether the intention is to focus on food, but the Hidden beers have been replaced by the likes of London Pride and 6X. The 6X was okay. Alot of the previous comments regarding the quality of the ales became clear to me when I heard the new manager explain to a few people around the bar that when Gusto took over, they found the beer lines to be disgusting and appeared not to have been cleaned for at least 6 months!!
afullpint - 25 Nov 2009 16:37
We visited this pub in 2007 and it was great.
Well kept beers, good atmosphere and reasonably clean and tidy.
Shocked to see how far down the pan its gone on a recent visit.
The beer was average, the staff disinterested and I don"t think it had seen a toilet brush or duster since 2007.
How can a pub get so bad ??
westbound - 31 Oct 2009 08:51
Well, my mistake - I posted my comments about this pub against The Cloisters. But my hourable friend's coments below sum yesterdays visit up perfectly.
cheshirecat - 11 Oct 2009 19:25
Its a long long time since I've had a pint of "vinegar" served to me but this sadly was the case. Hidden "Froth and Nonsense" was the culprit,served by a young though totally disinterested girl. The pint wasn't even full,and neither was my friend's Hidden Potential but I suppose untrained staff pouring ale with one hand in her pocket couldn't be expected to do much better. 2.90 a pint-I emphasise the price because on the return of the said vinegar I was asked to pay for the replacement!!!!!!!!! (I didn't pay let me add.) And the quote of the day from the barwoman to presumably the manager woman(sitting outside the bar munching crisps and reading "Bliss") was "Bloke says the froth and nonsense is vinegar",the reply to which was "Ah just turn it round like..." Said as if they were used to these happenings.........

For the record the Hidden Potential was ok.There were about 10 handpumps but after the condemnation of the sarsons I think only 4 were still in use,all with Hidden brews. There were flies flying everywhere. The place had several unchecked shouting drunks. A nice pub dog was under everyones feet,making the place feel like any other pubco suburban pub. For a big central pub food wasn't being served "this week".

Maybe Hidden need to have a look at themselves,but haven't I said this before..... Very poor.
an_ecunemical_matter - 11 Oct 2009 11:30
went in there a few weeks back for a tap pub had the worst pint of hidden i have ever had flat and undrinkable and young lad behind bar couldn't give a toss wont be going there again
WillyTheBeer - 23 Aug 2009 10:05
The Chough (for the unitiated, it is a coastal bird similar to a Crow) is the latest and largest of 4 pubs currently under the ownership of the Hidden Brewery having been acquired in 2007. Originally a 14th century coaching inn, it has been much altered and extended over the centuries and presents itself is a healthy mix of old and new. The interior is divided into many sections, each with its own bit of character. The section nearest to Castle Street is presumably the oldest and most original part of the pub and has a basic feel with flagstoned floor, low beamed ceilings and multiple photos of the Brewery. The bar at this end of the pub seemed to be out of long term use so you need to go to the main bar in what was once part of the courtyard. Above, theriough the glazed roof can be seen old style adverts high up on what were once the exterior walls. A few stairs lead up to an unobtrusive pool table and tucked round the back is a more loungey area dominated by a splendid fireplace. There is still an open section of the courtyard for smokers and al fresco beers. It seems to be a pub for allcomers and you coulkd almost treat is as 2 or 3 pubs in one.

The main draw is the beers. There were 8 operational hand pumps (and a further 3 located in the disued section of the bar) with 6 ales available on my visit, 5 from the Hidden Brewery (Pint, Red Eye, Pleasure, Depths and Potential) and a guest beer (Bristol No 7). A further 2 Hidden beers (Old Sarum and Quest) had reversed clips. I am not over familiar with Hidden Beers but my pint of Pint was fine and reasonably priced and I could happily volunteer to while away a few hours in here whilst going down the pumps. It was fairly quiet on my visit but they clearly aim for an eclectic mix of people though sadly I didnt encounter any New Age Pixie folk!

RogerB - 14 Aug 2009 12:40
The Chough (for the unitiated, it is a coastal bird similar to a Crow) is the latest and largest of 4 pubs currently under the ownership of the Hidden Brewery having been acquired in 2007. Originally a 14th century coaching inn, it has been much altered and extended over the centuries and presents itself is a healthy mix of old and new. The interior is divided into many sections, each with its own bit of character. The section nearest to Castle Street is presumably the oldest and most original part of the pub and has a basic feel with flagstoned floor, low beamed ceilings and multiple photos of the Brewery. The bar at this end of the pub seemed to be out of long term use so you need to go to the main bar in what was once part of the courtyard. Above, theriough the glazed roof can be seen old style adverts high up on what were once the exterior walls. A few stairs lead up to an unobtrusive pool table and tucked round the back is a more loungey area dominated by a splendid fireplace. There is still an open section of the courtyard for smokers and al fresco beers. It seems to be a pub for allcomers and you coulkd almost treat is as 2 or 3 pubs in one.
RogerB - 14 Aug 2009 12:40
Some Hidden Brewery beers in The Chough are better than others and they seem to change fairly regularly, but as I was charged only 2 for a pint last Saturday evening, having just paid 3 in another Salisbury pub, I'm not complaining.
boqueron - 19 May 2009 23:51
Appears this is Hidden's brewery tap, an entrance off the Market Place through a courtyard often littered with the usual suits and rugby types there is a more pub like door on Castle Street. The building appears to be an amalgam of at least two buildings with the courtyard, which is partially covered in at one end, between them. The Castle St side looks like an old pub and is labelled the Tap Room, the other side is a modernistic multi level dining area with lots of wood and exposed brick, furnished with sofas as well as chairs and tables. Odd bits of milling related equipment form part of the experience. The cask beer from Hidden is excellent and there is a mundane range of kegs arranged on a pretty horseshoe shaped thing plus more unusual Grolsh Blonde and Weizen. Mixed clientele ranging from middle aged jazz fans waiting for the regular live music to start, middle class diners, bellicose chavs bellowing into mobiles and the odd member of the Wiltshire pixie folk lost on the way to the new age. Food is obviously a major part of the business.

anonymous - 4 Apr 2009 14:52
I both agree and disagree with afullpint. Agree that this place has nice ambience, and that the Village and Winchester Gate are good pubs too. Disagree that Hidden beers are "all rather ordinary" (you seem to have only tried one; I had Hidden Old Sarum at what must have been about the same time as you were there, and found it very pleasant indeed). Also disagree about Rai d'Or - which seems only to cater for diners who've booked in advance: if you haven't booked, you can't eat and you can't sit down. In the Rai d'Or, even if you sit at a place that isn't actually marked as "reserved", you'll be asked to move...
Trev - 15 Mar 2009 09:03
I'm afraid I have to disagree with the last few reviews. I have never been a fan of Hidden beers - they are all rather ordinary - and I had a very unpleasant pint of Hidden Potential in this pub last week. If ale is your thing, then there are much better pubs to go to such as the Village, the Winchester Gate and the Rai D'or. However, all is not lost as the ambience is fairly pleasant - but "the best real ales around"? I think not!
afullpint - 11 Mar 2009 11:56
This has got to be the best place for a pleasant evening on Wednesday's.....Live Jazz is excellent and the food is probably the best in Salisbury and the Hidden beers - all of them - are the best reals ales around


Dave.yd - 26 Feb 2009 18:11
Nice 'olde worlde' feel to this pub, and a really interesting range of beers from Hidden brewery.
edward_hodge - 22 Feb 2009 18:53
Six ales on, all from Hidden Brewery - is this Hidden's first tied house? Food was ok, live music wasn't too obtrusive, the wonderful medieval building rambles making it seem much larger than it appears from outside, but the beer really made it great. The Hidden Pint was superb and the Hidden Potential was first class. Sadly, the Hidden Depths was a bit off, but I'm hoping that's an anomoly.

Well worth spending an evening here.
ETA - 5 Feb 2009 09:58
very friendly staff, great food and well kept beer. ill definatley be going back soon
thedon09 - 28 Jan 2009 09:53
been serveral times to this pub in the past and it seems this pub has taken a new lease of life good atmosphere tried several pints of real ale from the hidden range and had the best ever steak and kidney pud we will revvist this pub soon
reeder - 12 Jan 2009 19:05
i have lived in sailsbury now for a number of years and never used the chough as a local pub before but recently it has been taken under new management by dave reed and his team. the atmosphere is always warm and friendly, its great to start a night or finish it off. the food is all home cooked and to a high standard even when busy. i would definatley recommend this pub to any one of any age
thedr - 9 Jan 2009 14:52
Popped in for a swift pint on 21 December. The Chough had a Beer Festival on but I was in a rush. I had a pint of Hidden Porter, can't remember the exact name of the ale. It was delicious. I would have stayed longer and sampled more beer, but the wife and the mother-in-law were hovering over my shoulder like harpies!
generalstaal - 23 Dec 2008 16:33
I'm anxious that this pub succeeds, but afraid I have my doubts. All the 'Hidden' brews are terrific when well kept, but are either troublesome to keep well or there is a deficiency of will or knowledge amongst the staff. I love the stronger 'pleasure' brew (4.9%), but it has on more than one occasion been awful or not available. One one occasion, having achieved consent with the barman that it was a lot below par, the alternative 'fantasy' that I chose was a bit rum too.
As a keen student of human nature, the alleyway that faces on to the Market Square has a few metal tables to sit at and gawp at your fellow men and women of Salisbury as they go about their business whilst you sup and toke, which I like.
The food is no more than OK in here.
As I say, it's a regular haunt of mine and I wish it well, but quality control needs some attention if occasional beer fans aren't to visit once than decide to get their malt and hops elsewhere....
bigsand - 3 Dec 2008 19:01
The Hidden Brewey took over this pub a year ago and have cleaned it up, fitted new beer lines and redecorated. Dave Reed and his team are welcoming and friendly. I was allowed tasters of the beers before I chose, particularly liked the Hidden Depths stout. Good food at reasonable prices, not a gastropub as someone else had concern about.
I shall definetly keep using this place whenever I can.
andrewh - 2 Dec 2008 15:10
Fairly spartan pub inside but does a big range of Hidden beers. Judging by the food it is attempting to be a gastro pub.
wildnight - 26 Oct 2008 18:51
Pleasently surprised after reading some of the reviews. 7 different real ales on and the ones I tried were in excellent condition.
Arrived early Saturday evening and spoke to very friendly staff, all new, and explained an experienced couple from out of town had taken over.
Spent a couple hours here and enjoyed every minute. It is a bit of a rough diamond, but by the time I left, the place was packed so they are obviously doing something right. I will go back. Keep up the good work.
Dave_Yeats - 22 Jul 2008 13:00
Upon visiting the Chough recently, a good selection of 5 cask ales from the Hidden range were available, kept to a reasonable - if not outstanding standard.

Decor seems little changed, although the sofas make a welcome "lounge" area. The toilets are badly in need of renovation - in fact the gents was closed, with the ladies room now relegated to "dual purpose". I'm not sure how clever an idea that is on a Saturday night..

Having said that, a great improvement on what went before, in an interesting building. If the Hidden brewery can build on this, this has the makings of an excellent pub.
aquadave - 21 Apr 2008 19:10
Upon visiting the Chough recently, a good selection of 5 cask ales from the Hidden range were available, kept to a reasonable - if not outstanding standard.

Decor seems little changed, although the sofas make a welcome "lounge" area. The toilets are badly in need of renovation - in fact the gents was closed, with the ladies room now relegated to "dual purpose". I'm not sure how clever an idea that is on a Saturday night..

Having said that, a great improvement on what went before, in an interesting building. If the Hidden brewery can build on this, this has the makings of an excellent pub.
aquadave - 21 Apr 2008 19:10
Recently rescued by the Hidden Brewery. Appears to have dumped the stupid 'Alchemy' prefix. Good range of ales and the food looked good - didn't try.Service a bit slow, but well worth a visit.
baxterfish - 20 Apr 2008 12:52
Good central location; close to market, bus station and train station. Brilliant concept: range of local ales plus a guest. Yes there's work to be done on it, but I'm sure this will become over time the first choice meeting place for serious beer drinkers in Salisbury.
Trev - 12 Apr 2008 09:16
We,, having read the articles in the Journal and the latest posts, decided to give it a go.

Went in on Saturday about 8 in the evening...1only 2 beers on. Stayed around for on hour...down to 1 beer on (apart from the lagers)...stuck about for another half hour...nothing changed.

In Salisbury next day so went back at lunch time. Closed, though had been told they opened on Sundays.

Pity, things did look promising at first.
Dave.yd - 3 Mar 2008 10:03
Why was alchemy ever added as a prefix in the 1st place? Anyway, now the Chough is offering 6 cask beers from Hidden Brewery & I think we tried em all between us, very nice. A rambling barn of a pub, high ceilinged bar area with beamed offshoots, some flagstoned flooring, loads of room, plenty of seating, unobtrusive tv in bar, plasma in rear room to left. If a couple of locals found it amusing that some of our party wanted two halves each for taste comparisons of relatively new beers then I suggest they go drink their festers elsewhere & mind their own business; I doubt that they would be managing 10 pubs & 13 pints on the day. The barman, btw, was perfectly friendly & polite about the combinations.
trainman - 25 Feb 2008 12:57
Full of visiting football supporters on Saturday lunchtime who seemed impressed with the hot bacon and egg rolls at 3. Five Hidden brewery beers on, all in good nick. Friendly efficient service. Some refurbishment is needed but doesn't detract from what is an excellent pub.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 21 Jan 2008 14:17
This pub is no longer called Alchemy @ The Chough, just plain old "The Chough".

I went in last night and was met by a smiling barman and an array of six handpumps. I had a pint of Old Sarum, which was delicious.

As mentioned below, the pub is under new management by the Hidden Brewery, and it looks like it's going back to being a good, solid pub once more. I wouldn't step in there if I could help it under the "Alchemy" guise - the beer was terrible, and the music too loud.

Chatting to the barman he said that the bar would be refurbished soon to include a total of 8 handpumps (2 will showcase guest ales).

If you like a friendly pub with beams, flagstone floors, and excellent beer, this is your pub in Salisbury. Within the same building there's a separate and slightly 'trendier' area with sofas (with wifi internet access coming soon). Recommended.
Taran - 8 Jan 2008 12:57
The Chough has just been taken over by The Hidden Brewery. They already own three other pubs in the South of England including the Cornubia at Bristol which is playing to packed houses of beer enthusiasts.
While there is a great deal of refurbishment to do the new owners are offering a range of Hidden Beers (all good) and a limited range of bar food while the kitchens are upgraded. I'm marking high for the beer but expect it won't be too long before I can do the same for the food.
andrewh - 18 Dec 2007 16:58
I visited this pub with my partner and while it was early we where the only two persons in. Maybe its something to do with paying 7.50 for a pint of (average) 6X and a glass of red wine!!
Apostar - 29 Jun 2007 13:28
I worked here in 1989 when this was a Beefeater. a great old pub with lots of happy memories. The patio leading up to the main doors used to be swept by a local called " jimmy the hat"

Only been back once in 18 years but still a great pub
fastjedi - 12 May 2007 21:07
We came to pay a visit to see the sights of Salisbury and casually stumbled accross what a pub to remember, Alchemy @ the Chough! A truly beautiful pub with open fires,great big comfy sofas,delicious food served by warm and welcoming friendly staff. Most certainly a pub full of character, personality and individual taste. Definately a place worth coming back to even all the way from Surrey just to enjoy a lovely lunch and a lazy afternoon.
maryh - 7 Feb 2006 15:31
Called for sunday luncheon today. Despite a 40 minute wait for food, the beer, Wadsworts, was in good condition and served with a smile. The sunday roast(s)were well cooked and presented. Nice to have a smoke free area to eat in.
All in all, a good experience and worth repeating.
almost_an_old_git - 5 Feb 2006 17:58
I can only dream that someone will open a bar/pub as cool as this in Exeter! I'd practically live in it! If our City had a place anything like as good as The Alchemy @ The Chough it would be the only place to be seen, chill, hang out, party. The great thing about this place is, you can veg in the most excellent sofa zone with a gorgeous big cup of hot chocolate after a good shop, go back again later for a great bite to eat before going out to the movies and back even later to catch a great live band! It's so welcoming, comfortable and unpretentious. I love it! You know they've got it right when everyone from students through to the "young at hearts" all feel comfortable. You Salisburyites don't know how good you've got it!
morse - 7 Nov 2005 21:25
I had heard of Alchemy @ the Chough,some saying Salisbury's best kept secret (Salisbury Life Magazine)and others feeling disastisfied. With mixed views on the venue I decided once and for all to put it to the test for myself. I am so pleased i decided to check it out, well deserving its rave reviews the pub is warm and friendly with plenty on offer from comfort to drinks to food all in the one setting. With a gorgious function room upstairs draped in a Victorian Era I was amazed at how huge it is, not just the room but the pub itself is like a maze! Definately one to visit!
anonymous - 11 Aug 2005 22:57
I was greatly surprised by this pub. After reading the other reviews on this site I wanted to see how bad it was. I was shocked at the harshness of my fellow reviewers. I thought that the selection of real ales was good, and their food was punctual and tasty, even on the market day. What really made the place great was the welcome from the staff, the sofas and the music. Big fan. Its a jem, and obviously the reviewer's have held a grudge.
lastordersplease - 25 Jul 2005 22:14
i was well dissapointed with this place, the beer was nothing special and the food was crap, the bar staff looked like they'd just fallen out of bed and the bloke who delivered the food to our table was filthy and sweating like hell... not nice...
Skin - 8 Jun 2005 11:32
Very unhappy with the service. Having waited for 35 minutes for food, we were very disappointed with the quality, the food was cold, and very expensive. Having odered a pint of Ringwood Best, we had to leave it as it tasted foul.

Unfortunetly, the Chough has made no impovement on service you can't make a silk purse out of a pigs ear!!!
eddiep - 16 Feb 2005 16:57
The Alchemy Bar is in a league of its own! It is a great place to go and chill out in boasting the comfiest sofa's, or live the night to the full with its wicked shots and cocktails!! In addition the food is absolutely fab, especially on Sundays with a musical feast of a roast! It has a unique character compared to other bars as it has more of an individual style and taste that compliments both the people that go in and indeed the friendly staff behind the bar! A definite recommendation to anyone looking for a recipe of unique chemistry...
Elle - 2 Dec 2004 22:19

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