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John O'Gaunt, Lancaster

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user reviews of the John O'Gaunt, Lancaster

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

How are the mighty fallen ! A few years ago (when my friend lived nearby) this was definitely the best pub in Lancaster. Now it has gone decidedly downhill. Judging by the photos on the wall, it’s main purpose seems to be a live music venue – the dominant to the exclusion of virtually everything else. The decor is a bit shabby, and the clientele slightly dubious.

The beer range used to consist of 7 or 8 real ales from a range of breweries (I distinctly remember drinking Blackpool Bitter here), but nowadays there are only 4 national ales available of which the only one vaguely interesting was Hobgoblin Piledriver. This was served much too cold.

There used to be an interesting range of food – last time I ate there I had kangaroo burger ! This time I could see no reference to food at all – though it may still be available.

5/10 – go there for live jazz – but not for beer !

Martinsh - 14 Feb 2015 22:10
Visited the John o Gaunt on Saturday 15th June 2013 7pm before the cinema. A few years since I visited and won't be going back in a hurry. There were 4 cask beers and my partner and I went for Doombar which was in good condition. 1st impression when walking in was why was music pumping out in the porch as we entered? We were greeted by two very noisy barmaids and then we sought a quieter part of the pub which proved difficult what with Dire Straights and the Stones pumping out at excessive level. There were very few people in the place but it was so noisy. We were then amazed when the two rowdy barmaids burst into a very loud attempt to sing something completely different to what was playing (for the benefit of the three locals at the bar). To be honest I would have expected the barmaids to be asked to leave had they been customers. What a shame that an historic pub famed for its jazz in the past has gravitated to such depths. Definately a no go area for me in the future. The drink that we had after the cinema was in the Three Mariners near the quay which proved much more calming and the beer was great.
alefanuk - 16 Jun 2013 12:59
Fairly busy and characterful town centre pub that has a small drinking area at the front and opens up to a slightly larger space at the rear. Music was playing slightly too loud for my liking and they seemed to be preparing for a live session later in the evening. The beer range was not as good as the Sun, just down the road - Moorhouses Pride of Pendle, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Robinsons Dizzy Blonde, Copper Dragon Golden Pippin & Jennings Cumberland Ale. Nevertheless this represents a better than average range and the John O'Gaunt is worth a try.
blue_scrumpy - 15 Jul 2012 17:27
If the previous reviewer thought his beer was "vile" he should have taken it back and asked for it to be changed - this would have been done without quibble. When the Black Sheep ran out last Monday night and I had to have Copper Dragon instead I was only charged half-price because the barman was on his own and didn't have time to change the barrel. Its a proper pub with proper people and proper beer as well.
dorothygoodbody - 5 Dec 2011 23:20
nice old city centre pub,unfortunately the pint of Jennings was vile,5/10
fat_beer_badger - 6 Sep 2011 19:38
Visited this pub last night.... nice atmosphere, superb beers.. sampled one called Golden Pippin and it was lovely !! there were 4 guest ales on and I was really impressed.

Only one small downside, there is no beer garden which in nice weather is a bit of a shame !!
Enigma35 - 10 Apr 2011 12:26
Liked Market street..... Popped in cause it's in the good pub guide.... Stayed cause it was raining..... Good black sheep and a thriving pub with atmosphere....
Mappiman - 13 Mar 2011 21:12
there a lot of old reviews here.
suggest you give it a visit as the current owners have restored it back to its former charm
decent little boozer with great ales.
sandgrownun - 20 Feb 2011 13:21
visited pub for the first time yesterday (9-2-11), what a pub made to feel very welcome, your staff deserve a medal for customer service skills,as a stranger to the area this is what customers need, the food was very good, must try the scellun scink, next time i come in, which is next week, nice to see such glowing reports from other customers, see you all soon, good luck.
tazmania1 - 10 Feb 2011 11:34
Nice to see the old place getting back on its feet. Just one small 'whinge'. I went in for last orders; bought a pint,sat down only to be surrounded by chairs being put on top of tables. I felt about as welcome as 'a turd at a swimming gala'.Nice beer ,though; just a pity I wasn't able to enjoy it 'at my leisure'.
westpennine - 9 Jan 2011 17:42
Seems a bit rough and ready, but good pint of Lancaster Blonde yesterday afternoon.
jagsfan - 13 Jun 2010 17:11
City centre pub in the main shopping area, that seems to be back to its best. The one long narrow room has a central bar, and is traditionally furnished throughout with leather wall mounted seating and stools- the extent of any opulence is the impressive stained glass bow window at the front. Old pictures abound, with a clock showing 'Morecambe Standard Time'- 1951 etc.- a source of amusement Towards the rear, past the bar, a collection of old beermats mounted on the wall are interesting to peruse- to see how much has changed!
The pub seems to have become more music oriented- on my visit a band were playing and a good atmosphere prevailed.
The beer range has improved again lately, with Deuchars, Tetley's, Black Sheep plus Lancaster Blonde- the latter was in good form.
Always one of my favourites in Lancaster and good to see it doing well again.
Carlurmston - 13 May 2010 17:51
As a loyal customer for over 22 years I believe wholeheartedly that this pub has come back from the brink - and with a vengeance. After Steve and Ula Thorn turned it around into Lancaster's top music venue back in the late 80's it was a cracking boozer until the next leaseholder closed it without notice thereby disenfranchising many customers and losing the Sunday noon to 3pm trad jazz, the Thurs folks sessions and several other bands.

Cut to last September after a couple of managers later and the duo of lease holder and manager Rick and John have come in like a hurricane. They have reinstated quality and wide ranging music 6 nights a week, a Sunday funk session after the jazz that moved to the Robert Gillow, the beers are cracking again, the place is cleaner than it has been for at least 5 years, the walls repainted with nicotine paint to match the original veneer (that was chipping away), the old English sausage menu is back, the bar rail has been ordered, the bar staff are delightful, Rick and John are total characters but run a great ship well (just like Steve when they have a drink they put money in the till). And I, most of my friends, and many of Lancaster's musicians, old and new are all flocking back.

Barry Marshall who took many of the original musician photos has started adding new ones to the old collection too.

My favourite pub in Lancaster again, at last!!
boogalooboy - 4 Feb 2010 04:29
Time changes everything.Once would always make a beeline for this place.It always seemed to do the right things,in its own particular way.Not been in for a good while,so lets hope that whatever changes happen,happen for the best.
delstefan - 4 Dec 2008 20:10
On Friday night they had Hobgoblin, Black Sheep Bitter, Tetley's, Deuchars, Jennings Cumberland and Landlord. Old looking pub, bar on the right as you go in and goes back further. Pleasant enough place for a drink.
GuideDogSaint - 2 Nov 2008 11:21
Old pub with old musician pictures on the wall. Nice to see it is back on the up as it was closed in Feb 2008. All seems a bit dated and in need of a bit of tlc. 4 cask ales on, unimaginative but kept well.
AlRobis - 28 Sep 2008 18:17
After a very troubled time, the dear old John O'Gaunt may finally be finding its feet again. Forget what it once was though, those days ended a couple of landlords back.. But what it's becoming shows promise again.

The current manager's friendly and competant, the atmosphere's good, but it's the music which really gives me hope. Many of the same old trusted musicians play here, and it's great stuff. However there are signs of fresh talent moving in and some younger, different bands being booked. There's even talk of an Indie night!

I love this pub. I've remained faithful to it through the tough times but had started to despair that it could ever be the great pub it once was. Then, just recently, things began to turn around and I saw a definite improvement.

We all loved the smokey old jazz venue it once was. But times change, and maybe what it's becoming might be just as exciting.


Goodtime - 30 Jul 2008 18:37
Decent old-fashioned old school boozer - beer well kept, although selection was a bit unimaginative.
Rich66 - 3 Jul 2008 22:39
been in a few times lately but it has lost its buzz, 3 changes of management this year! Can't be good or is it a sign that no one wants this pub to work?
loopilou1411 - 17 Jun 2008 19:46
I've rated this pub as poor as it's a mere shadow of its former self. The pub is generally unkept and tired, it's one thing to attempt to be "authentic" - it's another just to be scruffy. The new owner hasn't advanced the place one inch, still selling "Bambi Burgers" and still employing the same desperately slow bar staff. In my opinion it's become a parody of itself.
Yorkiephil - 27 Dec 2007 08:57
A nice pub, not sure about the entertainment though.
anonymous - 21 Sep 2007 01:49
Was the best pub in Lancaster when I was at uni 2001-2004 and I would guess it still is.
silentbob9484 - 15 Aug 2007 14:52
Still the best pub in Lancaster.
anonymous - 17 Mar 2007 14:27
A corking heritage pub, with lots of ale (though a bit mainstream on my visit though I am assured it usually more eclectic), lots of character and impromtu music sessions.

If you're lucky enough to get a seat (it's always busy after 3) you really could stay here all evening.

Lancaster has a lot of good pubs, and this is one of the top three, and definately the best in the immediate town centre.
Quinno - 4 Jan 2007 15:50
An oasis of sanity in the city centre.No 'thickos',and not a baseball cap to be seen.Has the feel of a postgraduate common room with good ale and intelligent 'punters'.
anonymous - 19 Oct 2006 19:52
Come on! The last landlord used to put up the price og Guinness on St. Patricks Day! Mind you the food is good I have to give you that.
hooley - 24 Jul 2005 13:08
I used to work here and i have the fondest memories ever of most definately, Lancaster's best ever pub. There aint nothing you cant get there, from malt whiskies to a multitude of vodkas in the freezer and also the best pub grub ever. I have since moved away from Lancaster, but its my first stop when i come back to visit, and also usually where i have my breakfast the next day...usually the fantastic shepherds pie. But quite literally everything on that menu is wonderful. Steve, the old manager, should be very proud of himself. Its good to know that since it changed hands that it hasnt changed at all. Also has the best staff ever, namely Debs and Alan! Just wish there was more pubs like this one in London :(
charlottekm - 23 Jul 2005 17:08
Great City Centre pub to include on a crawl especially on live music nights. It has been noted for quality beer during the last 40 years.
Rocket - 19 Apr 2005 20:03
An oasis in the desert of town centre pubs, great atmosphere and reasonable music. Recently changed hands with no apparant change in policy. Drinks a bit pricey on the guest ales and the bands that play there are fairly limited in choice. Would like to see more choice in bands and sticking to the policy of theme nights ie playing blues on the blues night etc.
SOME staff are a bit annoying collecting glasses all the time and a rather indifferent approach, but all in all well worth a visit.

boblad - 17 Dec 2004 15:13
The best pub in town for authentic food, music, drink and punters. Don't understand 6/10 rating given the reviews above. Have spend many hours there both as a customer and a playing musician.
Boogiebill - 6 Oct 2004 12:56
Excellent pub with live music Sunday - Thursday and good beer. Food is also available although I did not try that.
Andy Sinclair - 26 Jul 2004 10:54
Located right in the town centre on the market square. Beers are always well kept and bar meals are served at lunchtime.
Mike - 21 Feb 2004 21:03
A traditional bar, offering a range of cask ales and with live music every night except Sat & Sun, covering Jazz, Folk, blues etc. A regular CAMRA winner, the pub is well known for its friendly and intelligent staff and Customers as well as the beer and music. Good whiskey selection.
anonymous - 19 Feb 2004 13:09

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