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BITE user comments - Blackthorn

Comments by Blackthorn

The Kings Head, Bristol

This definitely seems to have gone down hill recently. There was a distinct smell of pee at the front of the pub, which is actually the opposite end from the loos, so it wasn't coming from there. And I got charged £6.70 for a pint of cider and a small glass of orange juice and lemonade.

22 Feb 2016 16:17

Westbury Park Tavern, Bristol

Better known to many as “The Kebab & Calculator” from the BBC TV Series The Young Ones, this is an unusually shaped, circular pub consisting of one single room wrapped around a central island bar. There is a limited amount of outside seating but the outlook is not that great being opposite a busy junction and a supermarket.

Although it’s carpeted throughout other than some tiles leading from the door to the bar, the décor divides it up somewhat with cream paintwork on the walls in the front half of the pub, and floor to ceiling wood panelling in the rear, giving it something of the feel of an old hotel drawing room. There was an old tiled fire-place to one side, although whether this is still used I’m not sure. Sport seems to fixture fairly prominently here, with a plasma screen and a large projector showing rugby and cricket matches. There was a pool table at the rear as well as a darts board.

The menu looked to be a fairly typical “pub grub” affair with options such as Steak & Ale Pie, Scampi & Chips, Hunter’s Chicken, Bangers & Mash, etc., and these were mostly priced around the £6 - £8 mark, although many of them were also available as part of a “2 for £10” deal. There was also a specials list printed on a separate piece of paper, and unusually these seemed mostly cheaper than the regular options coming it at around £6 or just under.

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Gem and Doom Bar although there were a further three pumps on the bar that were not in use so there may perhaps on occasions be more than this. Ciders were Blackthorn and Summersby.

2 Jun 2014 10:59

The Red Lion, Milton Bryan

A good sized pub in an attractive village setting, this was taken over by the friendly new owners in February and has since had something of a makeover, which judging by the smell of paint must have been completed quite recently. There is a garden area adjacent to the pub as well as a car park.

Inside the pub is split in to two halves, with the larger half being very much geared up for dining. The drinking half appeared bereft of the usual tables and chairs, with the seating being all low leather sofas and low wooden tables, so not necessarily the most comfortable or practical seating in my opinion. Décor was similar throughout with a mixture of freshly painted plasterwork and exposed brick. The plastered areas had pale green wood panelling on the lower part of the walls, whilst the flooring was a mixture of flagstones in front of the bar, carpet in the restaurant and wood strip in the bar. There was also a certain amount of exposed woodwork such as the odd beam and support pillar.

The restaurant had a freestanding dual aspect brick fire-place with a pile of logs ready for the colder weather (it was actually somewhat chilly in there on a recent end of May visit, but they kindly turned up the heating) as well as another brick fire-place and wood burning stove in the bar area. A large beer barrel was opposite the bar, perhaps for vertical drinkers to rest their pint on, and a nearby plasma screen was showing a tropical fish screen saver which looked very similar to what my dentist uses in order to try and relax his patients.

Food wise, the menu offered half a dozen or so choices which were perhaps a step up from your usual pub grub. It included options such as Burger, Fish & Chips and a Curry but there were also a few more adventurous dishes and another three or four options chalked up on a specials board. Main courses were mostly in the £10 - £13 range. My starter of Scallops with Crispy bacon and a Pee Puree and a main course of Smoked Haddock on a bed of Creamy Mash with a Mustard Sauce and a Poached Egg were both decent and tasty dishes which I thoroughly enjoyed. Other main courses on my table consisted of Monkfish wrapped in Parma Ham and a Lamb Shank all of which were similarly well received. In a nod to trendy dining fashions, the starter was served on a slate tile and the milk with the coffee came in a miniature milk bottle.

Regular beers on tap were all from the Greene King stable, with their IPA, Abbott Ale and Old Golden Hen. The guest on this occasion was Timothy Taylor Landlord whilst the solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk. Overall I quite liked this pub, but at the end of the day it’s not really that “pubby”, so it depends on what you’re looking for. Having said that, they were advertising a forthcoming pub quiz, so it’s clearly not all about the food.

29 May 2014 07:41

The Old Swan Inn, Astwood

An attractive, thatched pub in this small village it benefits from a beer garden at the rear with some well-tended shrubbery as well as a few tables and chairs overlooking the village green opposite. The pub is privately owned and the current landlord has been there about twelve years. Apparently he has turned it from something that was rather tired and shabby in to the very pleasant pub that it is today.

Inside it consists of two rooms, an L-shape bar and a cosy restaurant area. The main bar has some well-polished flagstones on the floor, plenty of black beams on the ceiling and the obligatory selection of horse brasses, country water colours and framed salmon as well as a large collection of keys. At one end was a large dresser with a huge selection of pottery and there were a couple of brick fire-places with wood burning stoves, piles of logs and copper pans. The restaurant area looked to have similar décor with a carpeted floor and an even lower ceiling.

Food wise, the menu offered a good selection of dishes, perhaps a step or two up from your usual pub grub, although there were still pub favourites such as Fish & Chips, Chicken Tikka Masala and a Beef & Guinness Pie. Most of these were around the £10 - £12 mark, although some of the steaks were obviously more. There were also another half dozen or so dishes chalked up on a specials board. My Chicken in a Creamy Vermouth & Mushroom sauce was a pleasant and tasty dish, although if I were being critical I would say it was a little on the small side for £10.95. I was especially disappointed that I got charged an extra £2.50 for a side dish of vegetables. I queried this and was assured that this was stated on the menu, which it may well have been, but when you’re asked if you’d like “chips or potatoes with your meal” as opposed to “would you like some vegetables with your meal” then the implication is that they’re included. Together with the fact that the meal would have been very one dimensional without them, and this is a pub, not a top restaurant, this somewhat soured what was otherwise a very pleasant visit.

Beers on tap were just London Pride and HSB. There was a third pump on the bar that appeared unused, so there may on occasions be another choice. The solitary cider was Stowford Press which makes a pleasant change from the usual dross around these parts. Overall, I’ve mixed feelings about this. It’s certainly a very nice pub in an attractive setting, but the unexpected charge for the vegetables and the somewhat uninspiring beer choice detract from it somewhat.

21 May 2014 09:15

Broughton Hotel, Broughton

A relatively new pub even by Milton Keynes standards, it is part of the Greene King Hungry Horse chain and also includes accommodation. It’s a good sized pub in it’s own grounds, and I understand that the original nearby village of Broughton is a pleasant spot although I have yet to investigate this.

Internally, the pub consists of a number of interconnected areas which also seem to be for multi-purpose drinking or dining use. Décor wise it has the usual generic mass produced look with a red patterned carpet on the floor, some tiling around the bar area and paintwork in various shades of brown, salmon and mustard. Some large windows along the front make the most of the outlook, such as it is, and there were a few random vases and such like dotted around on shelves. A number of plasma screens showed either sports or news channel, although the volume was muted so this was not too intrusive. There was however a forthcoming football fixture advertised so it would appear that this is not always the case. There was also a darts board and a pool table at one end.

The food menu offered a very extensive range of dishes and even the fussiest of eaters should be able to find something that would suit. It was divided in to sections such as Steaks, Burgers, Baguettes, Big Plates, Classics, Curries, etc., and these were mostly priced somewhere around a fiver, give or take. A meal deal of some sort was also available most nights. My Chicken Tikka Masala was not too bad at all as long as you’re happy to accept that it’s not going to be freshly prepared on the premises. It was a generous portion with decent chunks of chicken and the accompanying poppadum came with a pot of mango chutney, mint sauce and cucumber/onion which is not something you usually get in a pub. On the downside, the poppadum was undercooked in places and the advertised garnish of fresh coriander was conspicuous by it’s absence.

Beers on tap were Abbott Ale and Greene King IPA. A third pump had it’s clip reversed but appeared to be something from Edmunds. The solitary cider was Strongbow unfortunately. Overall this wasn’t a bad pub, and the staff were all very friendly, but it’s never going to be a destination of choice for the discerning beer drinker or diner.

14 May 2014 07:52

The Rose and Portcullis, Butleigh

A traditional, stone-built country pub, this appears to have been extended and modernised in recent years and may perhaps have lost some of it’s character, but it is nonetheless still a very pleasant pub and still retains plenty of traditional features.

It consists of a number of rooms which were probably entirely separate at one time but it has now been opened up so that one flows in to the other. There are large flagstones on the floor throughout whilst the walls are a mixture of exposed stone work and plaster. In the large room at the front these have been painted in contrasting shades of maroon and cream. A number of old local photographs were on the wall and there was also a piano and an old stone fire-place. One of the ceiling beams had a carved rose on it in a nod to the pub’s name. A smaller room behind this had a trophy cabinet, a few logs smouldering away in the fire-place and the two old sofas in front of it were a popular spot.

A smaller room off to one side housed a darts board, yet another fire-place with a wood burning stove and a very large beer barrel, perhaps offering somewhere to rest your pint. Hops were strung around the bar counter and at the rear was a more modern extension that was perhaps more geared up for dining. We didn’t investigate this, but from a quick glance it looked to be slightly more contemporary with large glass doors at the back and a laminate wood floor.

Beers on tap were Bays Topsail from Torbay, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Otter Ale and Sharp’s Own which makes a change from the omnipresent Doom Bar. Ciders were also well represented with Ashton Press, Reveller and Maverick from Orchard Pig and something that the board up above the bar described as “Farmhouse Cider (strength varies)” !

12 May 2014 12:24

The Fancott Arms, Fancott

An attractive looking country pub with plenty of colourful hanging baskets and flower troughs outside, it consists of a bar area at the front and a restaurant at the rear along with a patio area, good sized beer garden complete with children’s play area and even a miniature railway running around the garden.

The bar area at the front of the pub appears as though it may have recently been refurbished, but still retains plenty of character with a low, beamed ceiling and quarry tiles on the floor. A large stone built fire-place was at one end complete with a wood burning stove and a pile of logs ready for the colder weather whilst the seating was a mixture of high stools at the bar and high tables and chairs in the large bay windows. To the left is a small snug area with a carpeted floor and low chocolate brown leather sofas with plenty of cushions around the perimeter. The other seating here was small pouffes which were a clear case of style over substance and were quite uncomfortable, especially if you were going to be eating. Another, smaller fire-place and wood burning stove was in here.

To the right was a parlour style room complete with a dresser full of condiments, although most of the punters in here appeared to be eating. Service was ok, if a little slow and distracted at times – plates were not cleared from the tables and I overheard someone else asking for their table to be wiped down as it was all sticky. To be fair though, the restaurant at the rear was full to capacity even on a recent Tuesday evening visit, so they were no doubt concentrating on that.

The food menu offered a decent selection of dishes, and was divided in to sections such as Baguettes & Melts, Salads, Bar Snacks and “Stove”. The latter category contained a number of options in the “pub grub” genre such as Cod & Chips, Steak & Kidney Pie, Burger, Chilli, etc., and these were mostly priced somewhere in the £10 - £12 range. My Smoked Salmon & Champ Fishcakes with a creamy wholegrain mustard and dill sauce was a pleasant enough dish and a very generous portion consisting of two large fishcakes.

Beers on tap were Tribute and Doom bar whilst the solitary cider was Stowford Press, which makes a pleasant change from the usual dross around these parts. Overall I quite liked this pub, but the emphasis is very much on food, so if you’re after a more traditional drinking pub this may not be for you.

30 Apr 2014 07:47

The Anchor Inn, Oldbury on Severn

A traditional pub in the centre of this small village, it consists of two bars plus a restaurant area at the rear and a good sized garden. On a recent visit, the car park contained both an old tractor in immaculate condition, and some type of armoured vehicle complete with turret and rocket launchers!

The lounge area is to the left and is an L-shaped room with the usual generic red patterned carpet on the floor and cream paintwork on the walls as well as a low, beamed ceiling, although for some reason the ceiling between the beams had been painted orange which seemed a little odd. A very large, stone fire-place was to one side, and it looks as though logs would be blazing away in the colder weather. The stone built bar counter was inset with some beer barrel ends and there were a number of water colours on the wall depicting country landscapes. A stone pillar was in the middle of the room.

The bar area was to the right and had a few lively locals in, although we did not investigate this. To the rear was a restaurant area overlooking the extensive garden. A river runs alongside the garden, although it is at a considerably lower level and so is not really visible. There was also a sports pitch of some sort beyond this.

Beers on tap were St. Austell’s Trelawny, Butcombe and Bass. Ciders were Ashton Press, Ashton Still and Thatcher’s Dry.

22 Apr 2014 14:45

Bathampton Mill, Bathampton

A good sized pub overlooking the river, weir and bridge, it makes the most of it’s attractive location with a large beer garden and plenty of outside seating, both on the grass alongside the riverbank and on a terrace made of wooden decking running around two sides of the pub. It appears to have been recently refurbished, and I believe that it was badly flooded a few months back which would account for the fresh look.

Inside, the pub consists of one large, open-plan “L” shaped room with a small snug at the back and a mixture of tiling and wood boards on the floor and further wooden boards cladding the back wall. A stone fire-place was at one end and the paintwork was the usual Farrow & Ball pastel shades and whilst pleasant enough it all seemed a little bland and unimaginative like you get I many chain pubs. A few old oak beams were the only nod to anything slightly more authentic. Service at the bar seemed somewhat chaotic – it was a sunny bank holiday afternoon so naturally the pub was very busy, but the problem was not so much a lack of staff but a lack of any organisation with many of them just milling around instead of serving the throng of thirsty punters waiting at the bar. The terrace outside looks to have had some money spent on it, with lots of wooden furniture, candles swinging from the frames above the tables, and even cushions laid out on the benches which was a nice touch. Seating in the garden was mostly plastic by the look of it, but unusually included loungers as well as chairs if you just wanted to relax and admire the view.

Food wise the menu offered a good selection of dishes, perhaps a step or two up from your usual “pub grub” but nothing too out the way and also included a selection of sharing platters and sandwiches. Most of these were priced somewhere between about £9 - £13, and many were available in both small and large portion sizes. We were only there for a mid-afternoon snack so opted for a Beef Tomato, Mozzarella and Avocado Half Baguette with optional Chicken. At £9.45 this seemed expensive, even though it was accompanied with a side-order of chips. As it happens, ours came out without the requested chicken, which I wasn’t too concerned about as long as we didn’t get charged for it, but the waitress Lucy, who incidentally, was very hard working, switched on and a real credit to the place, brought us a whole new baguette complete with chicken this time, and another portion of chips. So in the end, two meals for the price of one was pretty good, but ordinarily of course that would not be the case.

The beer supply seemed just as disorganised as the kitchen and the bar service and despite five pumps on the bar, two had no clips on and two had apparently run out leaving just Gales Spring Sprinter. When a punter next to me asked for this, he was told it had run out, but they had Proper Job on instead. By the time I left, neither of these were in evidence, but they were apparently serving Doom Bar and Gem. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk which was a bit of a shame – why they couldn’t have offered something a little more local I’m not sure. Overall, I’ve mixed views on this – it’s certainly a very pleasant spot, but whether there is much reason to visit when the sun’s not out is open to debate.

22 Apr 2014 12:40

The White Bear, Towcester

A traditional looking pub on the edge of town, it presumably takes it’s name from the nearby racecourse but is otherwise devoid of any equine influences. It appears to have been recently refurbished and now has little in the way of any traditional pub ambience and in many ways looks more like a trendy restaurant with high-backed wooden chairs and colour co-ordinated napkins.

As you go in the door you are offered the choice of going right to the “grill” or left to the bar, although in reality it makes little difference since it is all just one open plan room inside, but divided in to two halves for eating and drinking. The flooring is dark polished wood whilst the paintwork is the usual neutral Farrow & Ball shades with one wall in contrasting chocolate at the restaurant end and lime green at the bar end. Cream wood panelling covered the lower part of the walls and the curved bar counter. Various vases of twigs were dotted around, with some of them being illuminated. The bar area had limited seating options with a number of stools at the bar and a couple of high tables and chairs. A plasma was stuck up on the wall at the restaurant end which seemed somewhat out of place, although this was not in use.

Food wise the menu offered a decent selection of dishes with a few pub classics such as Scampi & Chips, Steak & Ale Pie or a Burger at around the £9/£10 mark and a few more adventurous dishes such as Beef Wellington, Sea Bass or Lamb Shank were priced somewhere in the £10 - £15 range. My Crab & Vegetable Stir-Fry with Noodles from the specials board was a decent and tasty dish and good value at £9.95 I thought. A bar snack menu meanwhile offered such delights as Cheesy Chips or Onion Rings.

Beers on tap were just Doom Bar and Hobgoblin, whilst the ciders were Strongbow and Weston’s Rosie’s Pig. This is a tricky one to mark – the staff were friendly, the food tasty and overall I quite liked it, but it’s got little in the way of appeal for someone just dropping in for a pint.

16 Apr 2014 07:41

The Bear, Bath

A prominent and good sized pub on the main Wells Road out of Bath, it doesn’t look particularly inviting from the outside and I was expecting to find some type of run down sports bar. Consequently it was quite a surprise when I got inside and found a pub that looks as though it has perhaps been recently refurbished and is split about 50/50 between pub and restaurant. In fact I’d go as far as to say that even the non-restaurant part didn’t feel particularly pubby, and I felt that in some ways it has a bit of an identity crisis – is it a pub, a restaurant, or a café?

It’s an L-shape pub with similar décor throughout, consisting of a light, tiled floor and pale green paintwork, with darker green wood panelling on the lower half of the walls. The restaurant area is to the right, and here all of the tables were laid up for food with many of them being reserved. The other half to the left and around the corner had somewhat limited seating unless you were part of a large group – there were a couple of tables that would sit eight or ten, and only a few smaller ones. There were also a couple of chocolate brown leather armchairs and some low tables. A large bay window to one side let in plenty of light, and there was a plasma on the wall at the rear, although this was not in use on our visit.

There were various small items of artwork on the walls, and these consisted mostly of single colour drawings of well-known landmarks, many of them local but some further afield. There were also some colourful photographs of the local area which were for sale, and I daresay that these are popular with the visitors staying in the adjacent hotel. A selection of cakes in a display case at the end of the bar hinted further at the pub’s café credentials.

In spite of all this, there were nonetheless a good range of beers on tap, consisting of Robinson’s Hoptimum Prime, Doom Bar, Adam Henson’s Rare Breed from Butcombe, Bellringer and Dartmoor IPA. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Stowford Press.

14 Apr 2014 12:11

Dolphin, Newport Pagnell

A traditional, stone built pub at the end of the High Street, it seems a popular spot and I have on many occasions seen groups of people sitting outside on the benches on the wide pavement in the warmer weather, although on a recent wet Monday evening visit it was somewhat quieter.

The pub is split in to two halves with a lounge bar on the left and a public bar on the right. Décor wise, the lounge looks as though it may have recently been refurbished and consists of a laminate wood floor, Farrow & Ball style paintwork and a low beamed ceiling which has unfortunately all been painted over. A brick fire-place was at one end complete with a wood burning stove and there was a dining area off the lounge at the rear. A few high stools were at the bar, but other than that the seating was conventional tables and chairs. The public bar looked to be fairly similar in terms of the décor but included a pool table and a plasma screen showing a sports channel.

The menu offered a decent looking choice of “pub grub” dishes such as Chilli Con Carne, Scampi & Chips, Sausage & Mash, Steak & Ale Pie, Chicken Tikka Masala, etc., and these were mostly priced around the £6 mark. A specials board listed a Corned Beef Hash and roasts were apparently available on Sundays and Thursdays. I went for the Chicken breast topped with bacon and melted cheese and whilst it was a very generous portion it was a pretty dire dish and I would much rather have paid more for something better. It came with chips rather than the advertised mash and the chicken was tough, chewy and stringy and I struggled to eat it. I feel slightly guilty about saying this as the Landlord was a friendly young chap and opened up the kitchen especially as they don’t usually serve food on a Monday night. Perhaps I was unlucky and on regular food nights it may be different.

Beers on tap were Charles Wells DNA and their Eagle IPA along with keg Bombardier. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

8 Apr 2014 11:44

The Croft, Stokes Croft

Now known as Crofter's Rights as bamberg1 has mentioned, this is a large pub on the main road up through Stokes Croft, and one of the original bars in the locality having been here for a number of years unlike many of the recent upstarts in the area now that The People’s Republic is suddenly becoming trendy. It was for some time something of a live music venue, but has had a chequered history of late being closed as often as it’s open, and even now it’s established itself as something of a craft beer venue the opening hours can still be somewhat erratic.

The front of the pub is the cosier half having a low ceiling with plenty of beams and this opens up in to a barn like area at the rear with a high vaulted ceiling and even some old barn doors off to one side. The flooring is sanded wood boards and there is exposed stone walling on the left and at the back which adds to the barn like ambience. There is some tiered seating opposite the bar counter, perhaps left over from the days when music featured more prominently and beyond this a red velvet curtain was draped across an open doorway, although we did not investigate what lay beyond. Elsewhere the seating looks as though it has all come from a charity shop with a complete mix of styles – wire framed chairs with plastic seats, Chesterfield sofa’s, wooden tables and chairs and some wood benches. I’m all for the shabby chic look, but this was perhaps a step too far with no discernable theme or style at all. A 1970’s log effect electric fire in a wooden cabinet complete with a couple of glass cupboards either side was presumably purchased from the same source.

A spiral staircase leas down to the gents, although this is not quite as precarious as the one at the White Lion on the centre. To the right was a doorway through to Gringo’s Diner, although it did not appear open when we visited. This has it’s own entrance out to the street, so presumably can open independently of the pub.

As is often the case with craft beer venues, there were no draught ales available. A row of 20 small boards along the back of the bar counter corresponded with 20 taps underneath suggesting an impressive array of keg options. On closer examination however, a number of these were duplicated as well as including cider and lager, so the range is not as extensive as it first appears. Unusually I neglected to note what they all were, although I can report that the pint of Simcoe I had from local micro Wiper & True was not really to my taste, although I’m sure that’s no reflection on it’s quality, just personal preference. What wasn’t in any doubt though was that at £4.80 it was one of the most expensive pints I have come across in a long time. Ciders were Sandford’s Devon Mist and Orchard Pig Reveller.

7 Apr 2014 16:24

Furzton Lake, Milton Keynes

A modern, purpose built pub on the edge of the lake and attached to a large Premier Inn, it’s a pleasant enough setting but fails to deliver on many fronts and no doubt relies for a lot of it’s custom on the residents of the hotel who don’t know any better. There is extensive outside seating some of which has views of the lake, although there is no garden or grass area and as such is not nearly as attractive as the Caldecotte Arms, for example. There are a number of water features that have been made outside of the pub, and this includes a Fayre & Square longboat. There is also an enclosed kid’s play area.

Inside the pub is extensive although much of it appears to be given over to dining. Décor wise it’s the usual fairly bland corporate approach, with a generic patterned carpet on the floor in some places and attractive green tiling elsewhere. There is quite a bit of exposed brickwork on the walls along with some light wood panelling and some features that have been added to make the place look old, such as some high level wooden loading doors and a brick fire-place. The smaller area to the left is for drinking and a plasma in the corner was showing a very grainy Coronation Street. To the right was a “Please wait here to be seated” sign suggesting that the larger half of the pub is very much for dining, and this was split over two levels with a mezzanine level floor. A triangular free standing chimney in the centre contained wood burning stoves.

Food wise the menu was extensive and there should be something to suit most tastes and there was also a tall pudding display cabinet just inside the door with some enormous sponge cakes inside. The menu was divided in to sections such as Burgers, Grills, Chicken Dishes, Fish Dishes, Jackets, Pub Favourites, etc. Price wise, most things seemed to be somewhere around the £7/£8 mark. I went for the Chicken Tikka Masala which was very disappointing – a few pieces of rubbery chicken floating around in a very sloppy sauce and rice which even the menu could only describe as “yellow”. It wasn’t even worth half it’s £7.69 price tag.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Old Hookey. A third pump for Old Peculiar appeared to have run out. Ciders were Strongbow and Magner’s Golden Draught. The barman appeared a bit dopey but managed to get the job done, whilst the table service was very poor – even when my food arrived dirty glasses from the previous incumbents were left on the table and remained there for another ten minutes after I had finished eating.

3 Apr 2014 12:13

The Isambard, Paddington

One of a number of small units on the station concourse, this is a modern, single room pub with windows on two sides allowing good views of the comings and goings outside.

The pub has a laminate wood floor and pale green paintwork. High stools around the windows are joined by tables and chairs elsewhere and some leather bench seating around the walls. A plasma was at the rear built in to a unit displaying a selection of wine bottles either side. This was showing a news channel, but the volume was muted so it was not at all intrusive. I didn’t check the menu, but did notice a pile of pork pies on the counter and a board advertising some tapas style grazing dishes priced at three for a tenner.

Beers on tap were Tribute, Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen. The craft beer of the month was apparently Meantime London Smoked Porter. The solitary cider was Symonds Founder’s Reserve which was slightly disappointing – seeing as a large proportion of their clientele are going to be from the West Country, it seems odd to have picked a cider from Herefordshire.

3 Apr 2014 10:18

The Tudor Rose, Marylebone

An attractive Tudor pub just off the Marylebone High Street, it occupies a prominent corner position and there are a number of picnic benches outside on two sides. Besides the Tudor frontage, the pub had leaded, stained glass windows and a number of hanging baskets to add a splash of colour.

Inside the pub consists of a single room downstairs which has quite a traditional feel with a dark wood floor and an old wooden fireplace with a plasma mounted above it, although this was not in use. A darts board was in one corner and a staircase at the back leads to an upstairs restaurant, although we did not investigate this. The specials menu above the bar offered a Spam Fritter Burger which didn’t really inspire me to try the food if I’m honest. There was another stained glass window in the door to the gents which said “Lincoln Inn, Marylebone”. Whether this was the original name of the pub I’m not sure, but the Tudor rose in the outside windows and carved in to the bar counter suggest not. Perhaps this was rescued from elsewhere.

Beers on tap were London Pride and Rev. James, whilst a third pump for Adnams Bitter appeared to have run out. Ciders were Strongbow and Symonds Founder’s Reserve. Overall I quite liked this pub, but be aware that the opening hours can be somewhat erratic – we found it closed at 9:30pm on a Saturday evening which we subsequently found out was because they had been “very quiet”, and it also appeared to be closed all day on Sunday.

3 Apr 2014 08:22

Coco Momo, Marylebone

A prominent, street corner building on the Marylebone High Street, this is much more of a bar than your traditional pub although it has little in the way of any atmosphere and seems to fail somewhat on that count as well. I suppose if it were busy it may feel different, but it was very quiet (in terms of the number of punters, not the volume of music) on a recent Sunday evening visit so we only had a swift one and then went elsewhere.

It’s a single room, high-ceiling bar which makes the most of it’s position with large, dual aspect windows to watch the world go by, and a number of high stools and a shelf around the perimeter assist with this. The floor is sanded wood and there are a couple of large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The end was all exposed brick and there were a few wooden chairs hanging on the wall which is presumably supposed to be arty in some way.

Unfortunately there were no real les on tap, just keg Camden Hells and Meantime London Pale Ale. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk.

3 Apr 2014 07:55

Ice Wharf, Camden

A large and modern Weatherspoon’s immediately adjacent to Camden Lock, it offers little in the way of any merit as far as the building goes but nonetheless the outside seating is a pleasant spot on a sunny day to sit and look boats passing by and the hordes of tourists in the market opposite.

The building itself has a curved frontage with large windows and is all one cavernous open space inside. A montage of black and white photos of the local area covers the end wall whilst colour photographs replicate the local streets in the corridor leading to the gent’s loos. Flooring is partly laminate wood and partly a mustard colour carpet. Tables and chairs are packed tightly in to maximise the pub’s food revenue, although there is plenty of vertical drinking space near the long bar counter.

Their International Real Ale Festival was in progress during our visit so the beer range was no doubt somewhat different to usual, but on this occasion consisted of Abbott Ale, Elgood’s Plum Porter, Everards Regimental IPA, Wicked Weed’s Sir Ryan The Pounder, Thwaites Coiled Spring, Wharfe Bank Black Geld, Hildegard’s Solange, London Pride, Mateo & Bernabe Fermín Red Ale and Standeaven African Pale Ale. Ciders were also well represented with Strongbow, Brothers Pear, Stowford Press and Thatcher’s Gold.

2 Apr 2014 17:08

The Barley Mow, Marylebone

A pleasant enough pub a couple of blocks away from Marylebone High Street, it doesn’t have quite the Victorian grandeur of some other central London hostelries, but is nonetheless quite traditional and has no doubt remained unchanged for some time. It has an attractive appearance with a number of hanging baskets outside, and there is also some outside seating although according to a notice on the door the times that this can be used has recently been restricted due to complaints from local residents.

The pub consists of a larger bar at the front and a small snug at the rear. The front bar has wood flooring and two tone wood panelling on the walls, along with a number of beer mats and an old Fuller’s, Smith & Turner mirror. An interesting feature was two enclosed wooden booths to the left of the bar counter where you could sit in private but still access the bar to get your drinks refilled. The snug at the rear had a carpeted floor and included a couple of shelves of books that could be swapped. A notice advertised a Saturday quiz night, although by the time we arrived at 9:30pm there was no sign of it and the pub was fairly quiet. Food is apparently offered on lunch times and a small board offered a selection of burgers, wraps, chilli and pies at around a fiver.

Beers on tap were London Pride, Kings, Dark Star Festival, Oscar Wilde and Gale’s Spring Sprinter. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk.

2 Apr 2014 12:00

The Dog and Duck, Soho

A street corner pub in the heart of Soho, this has a traditional interior that has probably remained largely unchanged for decades. It consists of a fairly small, single bar downstairs, whilst an ornate signed advertised a “Classic Dining Room” upstairs, although we did not investigate this.

The most interesting feature of the pub is probably the tiled back wall which consists of ornate coloured tiles arranged in to a number of large panels. To the right are a number of large branded mirrors, many advertising old tobacco products. The curved bar counter in one corner has two rows of suspended shelving above for glassware whilst the flooring is dark wood boards and the ceiling a deep red. Seating is minimal due to the size of the pub, with a few tables and chairs at one end and a few high stools around the bar counter. Many people were spilling out on to the street on a recent Saturday evening visit. The gents loo was unusual in that it looked like a small wardrobe in the corner. I didn’t investigate but it was down a couple of steps so presumably went elsewhere!

Beers on tap were London Pride, Liberation Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Balmy Mild, Nicholson’s Real Ale (brewed by St. Austell apparently), Stonehenge Sign of Spring and The Solution from Brains Craft Brewery. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk.

2 Apr 2014 09:45

The Angel in the Fields, Bond Street

A traditional Sam Smith’s pub on the Marylebone High Street, it consists of a single downstairs room with dark wood panelling on much of the walls and another room upstairs although we did not investigate this. Food is offered here apparently, but we did not check the menu.

The pub sits on a corner plot, but the side road is not quite a right angle, and consequently the bar has a slight wedge shape to it. Stained glass windows are on two sides which is an attractive feature, and this together with the wood panelling and dark brown paint on the ceiling lends it a traditional Victorian ambience, although the red lino like floor covering could perhaps be improved. A small bay window is an unusual feature between the stairs and the bar. A fire-place was at the rear, although whether this is still in use I am unsure and there was a darts board in one corner.

Beers on tap were the usual somewhat uninspiring keg range from Sam Smith’s and consisted of their Old Brewery Bitter and Sovereign. The solitary cider was also their own Reserve.

1 Apr 2014 17:18

The Cock and Lion, Bond Street

A smallish, fairly narrow and traditional pub, in consists of a single bar downstairs and another room upstairs that is perhaps more intended for dining, although there is also a small bar counter here albeit without any cask ale on. There are also a couple of small tables on the pavement at the front.

Downstairs there is carpet on the floor and a part tiled bar counter to the left. A wood and part glazed partition separates off the rear area slightly. There were a number of old black and white photos of London street scenes on the wall, and also a couple of plasmas. A sports fixture list for March was on the wall, suggesting that most major matches are screened. The restaurant area upstairs was deserted on a recent Friday evening visit, which was slightly concerning as everywhere else nearby seemed to be rammed. Here there was another plasma showing a news channel although with no volume, and a number of black and white cricketing photos on the walls. An old wooden fire-place was to one end, but this appeared unused.

The menu consisted of a number of “pub grub” dishes with options such as Cajun Chicken, Hunter’s Chicken, Sausage & Mash, Ham Egg & Chips, etc., and these were mostly priced at around a tenner, although the steak options were considerably more. A Steak & Ale Pie was a very generous portion and very tasty as well, and a Smoked Chicken and Creamy Pepper Pasta was a similarly decent dish and very well received. Quite why it wasn’t busier I’m not sure, although a few more punters had come in by the time we left.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Tribute, London Pride and Timothy Taylor Landlord. The solitary cider was Carling which I’ve not come across on draught before.

1 Apr 2014 15:58

Eager Poet, Milton Keynes

An unremarkable looking, modern estate pub like many built in the suburbs of Milton Keynes it sits in the local centre surrounded by a small supermarket and a couple of takeaways. There is some landscaping at the front and a few picnic benches, although the noise from the main road makes it a less than relaxing spot.

Inside it’s clean and up together and does perhaps have a little more character than many pubs of it’s ilk. It’s a large L-shape pub with a generic red patterned carpet on the floor and exposed brickwork on the walls which has been painted in a shade of lemon yellow. The roof space is largely open and the rafters here have been painted in a contrasting black. A couple of pool tables are down at the far end of one leg and there were a few plasmas around showing a sports channel as well as a projector screen. Fortunately the volume was kept low so this was not too intrusive.

The menu consisted of a good selection of “pub grub” dishes such as Gammon & Eggs, Scampi & Chips, Sausage & Mash and a Steak & Ale Pie. Most of these were priced in the £4 - £5 range and there were also a number of meal deals available. My Chicken Tikka Masala was tasty enough although I’m not under any illusions about it being freshly prepared on the premises. At £4.49 it would be churlish to complain, although it was perhaps a little light on the chicken.

Unusually for a Greene King pub, there were no real ales available, although there was an unused pump on the bar so perhaps there are on occasions. Beers were limited to keg Ruddles Best or John Smith’s Extra Smooth, whilst the solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Overall this was an ok pub that no doubt serves the locals well enough, but I can see little reason why anybody from further afield would make a point of going here.

26 Mar 2014 07:52

The Strawberry Special, Draycott

An attractive country pub, slightly off the beaten track these days, although with the former railway station directly opposite it must have been a lot busier at one time. The branch line was known as the Strawberry Line as many of the trains took the local strawberries away to market and this is reflected in the pub’s name. In fact there are still plenty of strawberry fields nearby, although these days the produce obviously go by road.

The pub consists of a small room to the right which is perhaps more geared up for dining. There is a small brick fire-place although this appeared unused, and cream walls with plenty of plates and such like on shelves around the top. The larger room to the left has quite a traditional appearance with red patterned carpet on the floor, a mixture of church pews and red vinyl benches as well as plenty of tables and chairs. It is divided in to two by a free-standing brick chimney and a dual aspect fire-place which had a coal effect gas fire blazing away. The walls are plastered with all manner of pictures, mostly being old black and white photos of the pub and village, pub sports teams and several old railway drawings as well as a concert listing from the nearby Webbington Hotel in the 60’s – Slade, Mud or The New Seekers, all for £2 a ticket!

A couple of plasmas were mounted up in the corner, one of which was showing the horse racing at a volume that seemed a little too high considering there were only a handful of punters sat up at the bar, none of whom seemed to be taking much notice. There was also a darts board off toone side, and a number of trophies scattered around. I didn’t check the menu, although a small blackboard listed a few snacks such as Steak & Ale Pie or Cornish Pasty at a very reasonable £2.20 and there was a basket of filled rolls on the bar.

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Doom Bar and London Pride, whilst the ciders were Blackthorn and Thatcher’s Gold.

24 Mar 2014 12:15

Kings Arms, Newport Pagnell

A good sized pub in it’s own grounds on the outskirts of Newport Pagnell, it’s a single room pub, U-shaped pub with a garden at the front and a car park and some decking at the rear. It seems to be something of a local’s pub with the friendly landlord addressing most punters by name, but as a visitor I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable.

The pub has something of a dated feel to it with red patterned carpet on the floor, a high ceiling with an intricate cornice, and large windows at either end with red patterned curtains. Paintwork is a mixture of a very neutral shade and chocolate brown elsewhere. Otherwise there is little of any note. A darts board was on the wall as well as a plasma stuck up in the corner, although this was not in use on my visit. Unusually there was a small freezer cabinet at the end of the bar containing a selection of ice cream cones.

Food wise, the menu consisted of a decent selection of “pub grub” dishes such as Fish & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Pie of the day, Sausage & Mash, Chilli Con Carne, etc., and these were mostly priced in the £8 - £10 range. In addition to this there was a snack menu with a few options such as sandwiches, jacket potatoes, cheesy chips and such like, and a specials board with another half a dozen options. These were similarly priced and included choices such as Sweet and Sour Pork and Cottage Pie. I chose the Chicken Tikka Masala from the specials board, and it was really very good. Homemade, very tasty and a generous portion. If I were being very critical I’d say that the overly greasy poppadum let it down somewhat, but that’s a minor quibble. Going on the ambience and feel of the pub, I had expected a ready meal out of the micro-wave, so it really was much better than I had expected.

Beers on tap were Eagle IPA, Courage Directors and Arkell’s Moonlight. Ciders were Strongbow and Scrumpy Jack.

19 Mar 2014 08:19

The Poltimore Inn, North Molton

Located right in the centre of the village just opposite the square and the church, this is an attractive looking pub with flower troughs along the front and a freshly painted appearance. Inside too, it looks as though it may have been recently refurbished and there is a pleasant looking beer garden at the rear.

It consists of two rooms, with the main bar being at the front. This has a tiled flooring similar to flagstones and canary yellow paintwork throughout. The low beamed ceiling had all been whitewashed which may have detracted slightly from it’s authenticity but gives it a light and airy feel. A couple of cartoon drawings were on the wall and a large stone built fireplace at one end complete with a wood burning stove and a set of antlers up above it, and next to this was a darts board. A slightly smaller fireplace was at the other end along with a plasma that was showing the rugby. Consequently it was difficult to get a feel for the usual atmosphere of the pub since everyone in there was watching, and enthusiastically cheering, the rugby. It doesn’t particularly strike me as a sports bar and I would imagine it has quite a different vibe to it on other occasions.

At the rear is a room given over more to dining with all the tables laid up for food, and this had floor to ceiling windows along the back wall giving great views across the countryside from the pub’s elevated position. We didn’t see a menu other than an A-board outside advertising Sunday lunch, and it would seem that the only food offering on this occasion was a selection of filled rolls behind the bar. The barmaid was friendly enough and a notice was advertising a forthcoming wine tasting evening.

Beers on tap were Exmoor Ale and Tribute, although there was also a third pump that appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold.

10 Mar 2014 11:44

The Crown Tavern, Bristol

A basic, no frills boozer just off the main Old Market strip, we initially thought that it was shut on approaching due to curtains drawn at the windows and virtually no light visible from outside. It consists of a single room bar with the counter at the back. Green seems to be very much the colour theme here and this included various paint shades on the wall as well as the seating and the curtains.

Flooring is a mixture of old wooden boards at the front and some type of lino at the back. There were a couple of original looking fire-places with a tiled front and a dark, carved wood surround, although it did not look as if they were used. A darts board was off to one side with a couple of trophies on the shelf above and there was a small TV stuck up above the door showing some terrestrial television although at quite a low volume. There was a good crowd of punters in there on a recent Thursday evening visit, although most appeared to be of the older generation.

The solitary real ale was Bass, although there was also keg Worthington’s Best, Worthington’s Trophy Bitter and Bass again. The solitary cider was Blackthorn, although we were also offered canned Thatcher’s Gold. £3.40 for one of the cans and a pint seemed very reasonable.

7 Mar 2014 11:07

St Christophers, Bath

Now known as Belushi's, this is a good sized pub on a corner plot just up from Pultney Bridge, it consists of a U-shape room with the bar counter at the top. Flooring is a mixture of wood strip and tiling whilst the colour scheme is maroon and cream, with the exposed air conditioning ducting on the ceiling also being painted cream. There was some dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls.

The left hand leg of the U facing the street has red leatherette bench seating split in to booths alongside the windows whilst there were a few high tables and chairs at the top. Around the other leg of the U was a room housing a pool table with a rugby mural on the wall and a vaulted room off to one side with old music posters on the ceiling. This seems to be something of a rugby pub and a projector screen at the front was showing the match.

We didn’t inspect the menu, but it looked to be of the cheap and cheerful variety and we spotted a few burgers being dished up. Many of the punters left something to be desired with a bunch of guys stood around the bar swearing rather loudly and kids running riot elsewhere. At least one couple walked out whilst we were there without bothering to stop for a drink.

Beers on tap were Gem, Dartmoor Jail Ale and Deuchar’s IPA. Ciders were Strongbow, Magner’s Golden Draught and Bounders. The barman seemed a bit clueless serving a Gin & Tonic in a short dumpy glass, and I had to explain to him what mini cheddar’s were.

3 Mar 2014 17:37

Flan O'Briens, Bath

A prominent pub built of Bath stone and occupying a large corner plot just opposite the Theatre Royal, it doesn’t have quite as much of an “in your face” Irish theme as you might infer from the name, and as far as I could make out the only items representing the Emerald Isle were a few small flags and some Guinness ice buckets.

Inside it’s all one large, open room with very high ceilings and large windows on two sides giving a light and airy feel. The flooring is dark black boards whilst the paintwork is mostly a pale khaki green with dark brown paint on the timberwork. There are a few old black and white photos on the wall and a small fish tank behind the bar, but other than that there was little of any note. A large projector screen was showing the rugby as well as a plasma screen elsewhere and the volume was somewhat too loud making it difficult to escape from the commentary if you weren’t interested in it.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Butcombe, whilst the solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold. Overall, this isn’t a bad pub, but it’s not especially great either. At least it’s not been gastrocised or otherwise tarted up, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of atmosphere and the beer choice is somewhat uninspiring.

3 Mar 2014 16:40

The Bull, Newport Pagnell

A traditional looking boozer located a few minutes walk away from the town centre and past the site of the old Aston Martin factory, this seems to be a popular local’s pub and was fairly busy on a recent mid-week evening visit. However, they also offer quite cheap B&B and I think a number of the punters may have been staying there, including one guy I got chatting to who had apparently split up from his wife and been there for six months!

It’s a two room pub with the lounge to the left. This is quite attractive and has an old country inn feel to it with a wood strip floor and a low beamed ceiling with a few of the obligatory horse brasses dotted around. The walls have dark wood panelling on the lower part with rough white plasterwork above and black timber detailing, as well as some exposed brick work. A large brick fire-place is to one side and it looks as though a log fire is lit on occasions. The bar counter was fronted with old beer barrels and there were hops hung all around the ceiling. A small alcove up a couple of steps at the rear housed a plasma and this was showing a football match although the volume was off so it was not too intrusive. The public bar to the right has a tiled floor along with both a pool table and a darts board.

A menu board outside the pub listed a number of “pub grub” dishes for £6.50 and I enquired before ordering my pint if they were doing food. I was assured that they were so duly ordered a drink and then asked for the menu. I was then told that there was no menu, the choices were Chicken & Chips or Sausage & Chips. To be honest I was quite annoyed about this, it’s certainly not what I had in mind. And what if I had been vegetarian? I don’t know why I couldn’t have been told when I asked if they were doing food that the choice was so limited. Perhaps it was because the barmaid seemed very distracted, I didn’t even get the change from my food order. To be fair, the (three) sausages, pile of chips and peas were a generous portion and at £2.99 it would be churlish to complain even if the gravy was conspicuous by it’s absence.

Beers on tap were Everard’s Tiger, Bengal Lancer and Spitfire. A fourth pump for Abbott Ale appeared to have run out. Ciders were Strongbow and Scrumpy Jack. In many ways this seems quite a decent pub and if you’re just popping in for a pint then I’d probably recommend it, but for me the misleading lack of food left something of a sour taste.

26 Feb 2014 08:01

Mitre, Buckingham

This is reputedly the oldest pub in Buckingham, and I have no reason to believe that this is not the case. It’s an attractive stone built building with a traditional interior and also has a “secret” garden at the rear and a lean-to smoking shed.

Inside it’s essentially all one open plan room, although with some partitioning to break it up slightly. The flooring was a rather nondescript screed, but other than that it featured all the usual old pub features such as a beamed ceiling and a large brick fire-place with a log fire blazing away. Paintwork was a mixture of orange and green which might sound a bit much but they were both fairly muted shades and worked quite well and there was dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. A pool table was up a couple of steps and through an archway at one end and there was also a darts board.

A board next to the fire listed various up-coming events such as poll/quiz/darts nights as well as a curry night although unfortunately they were not doing any food on the Tuesday evening that I visited. There were some friendly locals sat at the bar who suggested a couple of other places where I could get some food. A piano was in one corner and also a community notice board. There were a couple of plasmas on the wall and a board listed various upcoming sports fixtures, although fortunately these were not in use when I visited. Seating was a mixture of small round tables and chairs along with some wooden benches around the perimeter.

Good choice of beers on tap with their own Mitre Ale from Silverstone, Whittlebury Golden Vale, Patriot American Pale Ale and Oakham’s Inferno and Perun. Ciders were Strongbow and a very pleasant Cotswold Cider.

19 Feb 2014 08:08

The Black Horse, Clapton in Gordano

This is a fantastic, unspoilt country pub, slightly off the beaten track but well worth making the effort to find it. It has a traditional whitewashed appearance and still has the old Courage sign hanging outside. It’s a popular spot, especially with walkers in the summer and I have even seen a horse in the good sized car park before now. There is a beer garden at the rear as well as several picnic benches next to the pub.

Inside it consists of two rooms either side of a corridor with the smaller one invariably being empty with everyone being squeezed in to the main bar. The traditional style continues here with whitewashed walls and painted black timberwork and a predominantly flagstone floor with some quarry tiles in front of the large fireplace. This had a few logs blazing away and was kept regularly topped up. The walls were covered in pictures, mostly old black and white photos of the pub and the village and there were numerous guns dotted about as well as the obligatory horse brasses. In a small snug at the rear, dozens of tankards hung from the low beamed ceiling.

Beers on this occasion were Butcombe, Butcombe Gold, Courage Best, Otter and Gem with many of these being dispensed from barrels racked up behind the bar. Ciders were also well represented with Aspall’s Suffolk, Thatcher’s Dry (both still and sparkling), Thatcher’s Heritage and Ashton Press. Along with The Plough at Congresbury this is one of my favourite pubs and well worthy a visit.

17 Feb 2014 12:53

The Red Admiral, Weston Super Mare

A traditional style of pub just opposite Tesco and a handy last stop before the catching the train, it consists of a fairly long and narrow single room with the bar counter in the middle. Décor wise it is quite conventional with carpeting on the floor, red velvet curtains at the windows and some dark wooden balustrade. There were a few high stools at the bar and small tables and chairs elsewhere and a couple of guitars were affixed to the wall at one end.

On the night we visited there was karaoke in progress with some of the punters being actually quite good, and some not so good. One guy was getting quite in to it, going down on one knee and serenading a couple of ladies at a table, which must have been slightly embarrassing for them as they apparently did not know him. The barmaid Vanessa was absolutely brilliant – friendly, chatty, bubbly, attractive….and completely mad. Definitely an asset to the pub.

Food wise the men offered a selection of basic pub grub dishes such as Burger & Chips, Scampi & Chips, Steak Pie & Chips, Fish & Chips (can you see a theme here?) or Sausage & Mash, and these were mostly priced at around a fiver. A blackboard advertised Sunday lunch for £5.99.

Beers on tap were Ruddles Best and Butcombe, whilst a third pump appeared to have run out. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Symonds Founders Reserve.

14 Feb 2014 14:34

Foxy's, Weston Super Mare

Now known as The Live Lounge, this is in many ways more of a cocktail bar rather than your traditional pub, although as it’s name suggests there is also something of an emphasis on live music and there was a large stage in the corner with some very big speakers. The barman informed us that there was going to be karaoke on later, although when we left at 9:00pm there was nobody else in there so it hardly seemed worth staying open. A lighting rig across the centre of the pub continued the music theme.

Décor wise it is fairly unremarkable with rough wooden boards on the floor, cream wood panelling on the ceiling and a red neon strip light around the perimeter. An old wooden fire-place was at the rear which had unfortunately been blocked up. This was a shame as it was several degrees too cold in there and I kept my coat on the whole time. Presumably the “warm welcome” referred to on their website must be in the metaphorical sense. There were a number of old vinyl LP’s stuck on the walls as well as pictures of musicians and American cityscapes. The corridor leading to the loos was lined with black and white photographs of starts such as David Jason, The Two Ronnie’s and Kenneth Williams.

Unfortunately there were no ales on tap, real or otherwise, whilst the solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold, although this was at least priced at a reasonable £3.00. A notice on the wall advertised various cocktail and shots deals.

14 Feb 2014 12:20

The Quarter Jack, Wells


A new Wetherspoon’s opening in a building that was originally part of the bus depot but has been empty for some years, this has been in the planning for a considerable time having met with much opposition from locals NIMBY’s who want to see Wells remain a sleepy backwater rather than progressing in to the 21st Century. Much of the opposition seemed ill informed, including the neighbours of my in-laws who were vehemently opposed, despite having never set foot in a ‘Spoons.

It consists of one single L-shape room with a long bar counter on the right, although there is also a small snug off to the left with a glass partition. Décor wise it follows the recent JDW formula, with a slightly more contemporary look than some of the company’s older outlets. The central area has a pale parquet wood floor with trestle style tables and black leather chairs. Elsewhere the flooring is a mixture of carpet and tiling, whilst the paintwork is mostly battleship grey. There is also some exposed brickwork and quite a lot of dark slatted wood panelling on the walls as well as a number of pictures of the local area and notices regarding the local history including details of an old river that runs under the pub and the clock on the nearby cathedral from which the pub takes it’s name. An unusual feature was the “cellar” at the rear of the pub which was a sectioned off room with glass walls providing a clear view of the stillage.

Food wise, the menu offered the usual extensive range and my Pulled Pork Burger with Barbeque Sauce, Fries and Coleslaw was tasty enough and very good value I thought at £6.89 including a pint. It’s early days yet as this was the first Saturday of opening, but overall I was quite impressed. Staff seemed friendly and on the ball and this is a welcome addition to the local pub scene. The only downside was the temperature which could definitely have been a few degrees warmer. It’s seemed odd to have the air conditioning on, but not the heating, in the middle of January. Hopefully these are just teething problems.

Beers on tap were the usual Abbott Ale, Ruddles Best and Old Speckled Hen. These were joined by Bishop’s Finger and RCH Pitchfork. London Pride was apparently coming soon. Ciders were Strongbow, Stowford Press and Thatcher’s Gold.

9 Feb 2014 18:27

Ship Ashore, Milton Keynes

This is a new(ish), purpose built pub in a somewhat uninspiring location next to a Chinese takeaway and a mini-supermarket, so expectations are not too high. Once inside though, it’s clean and up together and perhaps recently refurbished, although it does follow the somewhat formulaic approach favoured by many other chain pubs and consequently has little in the way of individuality or character. It was however quite busy even at 6:00pm on a mid-week evening with a mix of after work drinkers and diners who were perhaps taking advantage of the Thursday “Grill Night” deal.

It’s a good sized pub, split in to several different areas, but all flowing from one to another. Although food is clearly quite a major focus here, drinkers are not overlooked and there are areas that looked to be more intended for drinking than dining including an unusual high bench seat next to the bar counter. Flooring is the usual mixture of sanded boards, tiling and carpet whilst the paintwork was predominantly either cream, or burnt orange. A number of fire places were a prominent feature being free standing in the centre of the room and thus gave heat off in two directions. Some had large copper metalwork attached and they appeared to use real logs which is something of a rarity in such establishments. A smaller room off to one side had something of a conservatory feel to it with venetian blinds on the floor to ceiling windows and a couple of bookshelves in the corner.

Food wise, the menu offered an extensive choice and there should be something to suit most tastes with the prices for the main courses somewhere around the £8 - £10 mark, although many are also available as a “2 courses for £9.95” deal. My Fish Pie was a decent and tasty dish with a selection of different fish and a cheesy mash topping. The “buttered mixed green vegetables” that came with it though were abysmal – no discernable butter and the vegetables consisted of some soggy cabbage, six small and shrivelled green beans and a handful of peas. This really let the meal down and is something that should be so simple to get right.

Beer choice was extensive as tends to be the case with Ember Inns and tasting notes were provided on the tables. On this occasion the range consisted of Greene King IPA, Hop Back Winter Lightning, Ubu Purity, Adnams Explorer, Kirkstall Dissolution IPA, Saddle Black and Red Squirrel’s Scottish Ale. Ciders were somewhat disappointing after such a good range of beers with just Strongbow and Aspall’s Suffolk. Why a pub that seems to take it’s beer so seriously should just offer a couple of cloyingly sweet, bland artificial ciders is somewhat beyond me.

7 Feb 2014 08:21

The Nut and Squirrel, Westcroft

A relatively modern pub in the corner of a supermarket car park, it lacks much in the way of any character but is nonetheless pleasant enough and includes a few picnic tables on a patio at the front as well as a covered smoking area.

Once inside the corporate look continues, and although this pub is part of the Ember Inn chain it might just as well be a Premier Inn or a Brewers Fayre. That’s not to say that there’s anything at all wrong with it though, it is what it is. Paintwork is a mix of burnt orange and grey with some pale brown wood panelling. Flooring is mostly carpet with a few tiles around the bar, and there was a gas fire burning away. The main bar area is at the front of the pub, with a restaurant off to the left. To the right is a slightly cosier area with some leather bench seating and wallpaper. Staff seemed friendly enough, and it was only really let down by some rather rowdy guys at the bar who seemed a little out of place in such a family orientated/dining establishment.

The food menu was extensive and consisted of a number of options divided in to sections such as burgers, pub classics, fish, chargrill, etc. Most of the main courses were somewhere around £8 or so, although many were also available as part of a “2 courses for £9.95” deal. My Chargrilled Salmon with Chowder Sauce was a generous portion, although not quite as tasty as I had hoped and the advertised “mixed green vegetables” consisted solely of beans. Together with a Millionaire Chocolate Brownie though, this was good value and I would happily return to try something else.

The most surprising aspect of this pub though was the beer choice, with no less than ten pumps on the bar and all but one being available whilst the other one was apparently just settling. Many of these were quite unusual, and tasting notes were helpfully provided on the tables. The range consisted of Roosters 41° South, Adnams Southwold, Adnams Explorer, London Pride, Stewart Zymic, Exmoor Ale, Downton Chocolate Orange Delight, Whitstable Bay, Lancaster Blueberry Ale and Sunny Republic’s Huna Red. After that lot, the cider choice was somewhat disappointing with just Strongbow and Aspall’s Suffolk.

29 Jan 2014 08:04

The Muddy Duck, Hethe

Now known as The Muddy Duck, from the outside this looks to be an unremarkable village pub, blending in seamlessly with the surrounding buildings and probably unchanged for a hundred years. As soon as you drive in the car park though, you notice that something may be a little different. There is expensive, freshly laid gravel covering the floor and recessed uplighters illuminate the stone walling. You pass by a patio with smart wicker furniture and a number of decorative wood carvings. By the time you reach the end of the car park you notice that it’s filled almost entirely with Beamers and Mercs, with the odd Range Rover or Porsche thrown in for good measure.

You can enter the pub either from the car park which takes you in to a sort of lobby area between the bar and restaurant or use what is presumably the original door at the front. I went for the latter option and found myself in a small vestibule with two doors off of it marked Smog and Grog. Smog leads to a small inner courtyard and Grog to the main bar area of the pub. This is a pleasant enough spot, although somehow feels a little artificial. It’s clearly been renovated recently and consists of a bar counter on the right, wood strip on the floor, some very neat stone walling, a few oak beams around and various duck related pictures on the walls. Seating was a mixture of chunky wooden tables and high chairs at the bar and in the bay window. A stone large fire-place was at the far end and a fire was blazing away. A tiled passageway leads passed the semi-open kitchen to the restaurant although I did not investigate this.

As might be expected, the menu is a step or two up from your regular “pub grub” and there is both a bar menu and a separate restaurant menu. Options on the bar menu included Fish & Chips, Burger and a Provençale Fish Stew, many of which were available in both larger and smaller sizes. Price wise, the smaller options tended to be just under a tenner with the larger version about 50% more. The restaurant menu added a few more choices, with prices stretching up to almost £30 for the beef fillet. My Butternut Squash Risotto came in at £14 and was a tasty and pleasant dish, with creamy rice and a generous portion. The subtle marzipan flavour was an unusual twist, but not unpleasant. Somewhat frustratingly though, I would like to have chosen a meal from the restaurant menu, but apparently it was not possible to eat this in the bar. I don’t know why this should be since many of the dishes overlap, including the risotto that I ended up with. The guy behind the bar said it was something to do with the kitchen being able to cope with the orders, but when I queried what difference it made to the kitchen where I was sat, he just said that it was the pub policy. To be honest this annoyed me somewhat. It’s the sort of thing I might expect in a large chain pub where head office dictates every detail of the operation, but for a small village gastro-pub clearly trying to sell themselves on the customer experience, I found it rather baffling.

Beers on tap were Tribute, Hooky, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Side Pocket for a Toad. The solitary cider was Stowford Press. Overall, I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. On one hand it offers a decent, if slightly pricey, food choice, they’ve made a real effort to renovate it, there’s a reasonable range of beers on tap and the front bar is not food dominated by any means. But there’s something about it that didn’t quite gel with me, although it’s difficult to put my finger on. Possibly the Hooray Henry clientele that it seems to attract, including a very large party of what I assume were public school kids on a belated Christmas party.

22 Jan 2014 09:07

Wheatsheaf, Bow Brickhill

A traditional looking stand-alone pub on the main road through this tiny village, it consists of a bar area at the front and a restaurant at the rear. There is also a car park at the rear of the pub, although little in the way of outside seating as far as I could make out. The barman was very polite, although I would perhaps have preferred friendlier and more informal.

The bar area at the front of the pub is quite traditional and consists of an L-shape room and is mostly carpeted with some tiling around the bar. There is dark painted wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and pale beige plasterwork above with the usual generic watercolour pictures of country scenes. Seating is somewhat limited with just four or five large round tables and a couple of leather arm chairs at one end. At the other end was a darts board and a couple of locals were having a game on a recent visit. The restaurant area at the rear is much more contemporary and looks as though it may have had a recent make over with a laminate wood floor and upright leather chairs. There is a small bar counter here as well although whether that is still used or not I’m not sure.

Food wise, the menu offered a fairly succinct selection of dishes and these were priced somewhat above your usual pub prices with the cheapest option (a steak and kidney pudding) coming in at £12.95 and a couple of the other dishes nudging the £20 mark. The menu does name check several local suppliers though, so I assume it’s all freshly prepared on the premises. Fortunately I was there on a Tuesday which is apparently curry night, and a blackboard offered three choices form this genre at £7 each, although I thought another £2 if you wanted poppadums was a bit steep. My Chicken Balti was a generous portion with plenty of tender chicken, although if I was being critical I didn’t think it had that much taste to it.

Beers on tap were Young’s Bitter, Eagle IPA and Bombardier. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

15 Jan 2014 08:00

Halley's Comet, Bradville

A good sized and recently refurbished pub from Greene King, it has many similarities to their Hungry Horse chain although is not branded as such. Perhaps slightly more emphasis on sports rather than food is the reason for that, although I suspect the menu is very similar to a HH pub.

It consists of one single, open room arranged around a central bar counter. At the rear is a patio area and a beer garden. Décor wise, it looks to have suffered from a paint factory explosion with every available surface, even the ceiling, being painted in deep colours such as maroon, mustard, khaki green or purple. Even a row of four rather odd looking throne like chairs overlooking the pool table had not escaped, being finished in a mustard and purple hue. Other than that, it’s fairly conventional with the usual generic pattered carpet covering most of the floor along with some pale tiling around the bar and towards the entrance. Some shelving to one side housed a number of books, vases, etc., and an astrological chart on the wall gave a nod to the pub’s name, although it did not clarify what the connection is between the comet and Milton Keynes (if any).

As previously mentioned, the pub has something of a sports emphasis with a number of plasmas dotted around showing the football, which may account for the majority of the punters being young, tattooed males. In addition the sound was piped to a number of separate speakers at too high a volume for my liking, so if sport’s not your thing it was a little difficult to avoid. In particular a smaller lounge area to the right could have done with the volume being turned off at least, I thought. There was also a pool table and darts board at the rear of the pub.

Food wise, the menu looks to be a mass produced affair divided in to a number of different sections such as Burgers, Sizzlers, Steaks, Giant Platters, Baguettes and Pub Classics. The latter section offered the usual selection of dishes such as Beef & Ale Pie, Fish & Chips, Lasagne, Hunter’s Chicken, etc., and these were mostly priced somewhere around a fiver. My Sizzling Chicken Fajitas consisted of spicy chicken strips cooked with onion and red pepper and served with flour tortillas, soured cream, salsa and cheese. It was a generous portion and quite tasty, although clearly in a venue such as this it’s not going to be freshly made on the premises. The only gripe really was the salsa, cream and cheese which were served in very flimsy paper pots that collapsed as soon as you tried to pick them up.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA, Abbott Ale and the seasonal Rocking Rudolph, although by the 7th January that seemed a little out of season. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Overall I’m sure this pub serves the locale well enough, but it’s unlikely to be somewhere that anybody makes a special point of going to.

8 Jan 2014 07:58

The Crystal Palace Tavern, Bath

A traditional pub located in an attractive square just next to the abbey, this is one of three pubs in bath that have recently benefited from a combined £7.5m refurbishment. It’s a good sized, inverse U-shape layout with a couple of bars each side joining at the back in to a conservatory overlooking the courtyard. A picture of the Crystal Palace is just inside the door, although I’m not entirely clear on the connection between the venue for the Great Exhibition and the pub.

The left hand bar has something of a hotel drawing room feel with wood panelling all down one wall and there was also wood flooring, the usual Farrow & Ball paintwork and plenty of pictures hung on the walls. A stone fire-place was off to the left, although this was not is use even in January, so is perhaps, merely decorative. There was a gold gilded mirror up above it, and a plasma screen perched somewhat incongruously in the corner, although fortunately this was not in use. The bar to the right looks to be more geared up for dining with a number of the tables being reserved. The décor here was a little softer with a carpeted floor and a large stone bust in the corner.

The conservatory at the rear had a sloping wooden roof and a lighting level that may either be described as atmospheric or gloomy depending on your point of view. There were large bi-folding glass doors covering the entire back wall and this leads out to a pleasant, tiled courtyard. This is almost entirely covered by two large umbrellas, making a suitable outdoor refuge for the smokers. Besides the wicker furniture, there was plenty of foliage and some atmospheric lighting on the stone wall at the rear.

Food wise, the menu offered a decent looking selection of “pub grub” dishes such as Faggots, Haddock & Chips, Burger, Roast Chicken, etc., and these were mostly priced somewhere around the £10 - £12 mark, so perhaps slightly above your usual pub prices. In addition to this there was a selection of sandwiches and a small specials board. A sign also advertised some type of burger deal on Monday nights.

Beers on tap were predominantly from Fullers, with their ESB, London Pride and the seasonal Jack Frost. The only other offering was Butcombe. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Cornish Orchards Cornish Gold. Prices seemed a little steep though with a pint of the Thatchers and a G&T costing £9.10. Overall I quite liked this pub though, and felt that the sympathetic refurbishment has brought it up a notch or two. It was only really let down by a group of somewhat rowdy guys breaking in to song every few minutes. Not entirely the pub’s fault, but it took one of the punters to ask them to keep it down a bit rather than any of the bar staff.

6 Jan 2014 11:26

The Flemish Weaver, Corsham

An attractive, stone built pub at the end of the High Street, it’s not quite as traditional and atmospheric as you might expect from looking at the outside, but is nonetheless a pleasant spot to stop for a pint or a bite to eat. There is a courtyard at the rear with a few picnic benches, and signs advertised a number of events such as Jamaican nights on a Friday.

It consists of a larger bar at the front with some partition and low walls breaking up the space further and a small area at the back containing a darts board. Decor wise, the pub is fairly similar throughout with small flagstones on the floor, pale green paintwork and some exposed stonework. The right hand half had thick oak beams on the ceiling, whilst the larger left hand side was just painted wood panelling. There were a couple of stone fire-places with wood burning stoves, but unfortunately these were not in use despite an A-board outside advertising a log fire. A few local water colours were hung on the walls, and these were for sale priced at £30 or so.

Food wise, the menu offered a selection of “pub grub” dishes with options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Scampi & Chips, Lasagne, Fish & Chips, etc., and these were mostly priced in the £8 - £10 range. In addition to this the menu had a few other sections such as steaks, salads, jackets, sandwiches, etc. Our Panini’s were ok – certainly nothing special, but then they were only £4.95 so it would be churlish to complain.

Beers on tap were Bath’s Gem and Doom Bar whilst the ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Stowford Press. All in all this was a decent if unremarkable pub, and I would happily pop back in if in the area.

31 Dec 2013 14:34

The Bristol Inn, Clevedon

I don’t make a habit of reviewing pubs that I’ve not had a drink in but I’m going to make an exception in this case, so apologies if the description of the establishment is a little brief. I had avoided this pub for many years as it had a slightly unsavoury reputation, not rough as such, but frequented by teenagers who drank too much. However, I heard that it had been refurbished and was under new management, so I was keen to give it another go.

It’s a good sized pub, only a couple of minutes stroll from the triangle, but located in a side street so many people who don’t know the town well might not realise it’s there. It appears to be largely one open room split across two levels, with a cosier lounge area around one corner although this was in darkness on a recent visit. Facilities include a juke box and this was playing slightly too loudly I felt, but then my age group is clearly not the pub’s target market.

We had been stood at the bar for some time despite nobody else waiting. It would appear that the heavily tattooed barman was unable to serve us as he was part way through a transaction on the till with another punter who had disappeared. After being told three or four times that he would be “with us in a second” we gave up and went elsewhere. To be honest though, I didn’t need much encouragement to move on. Neither the pub’s clientele or their drinking habits seem to have changed, and whilst there was certainly no hostility, we nonetheless felt rather uncomfortable.

There were three or four hand pumps on the bar, but only one was in use dispensing something fairly mainstream such as Doom Bar if I recall correctly. Ciders were better represented with Thatcher’s Gold, Thatcher’s Dry and Blackthorn.

31 Dec 2013 09:24

Red Lion, Clifton

This is now back to a proper pub after it’s fairly brief outing as a trendy wine bar. Decor wise it has changed little, if at all, although obviously the deli counter has now gone to be replaced with a few tables and chairs and the hams are no longer hanging in the wine cellar.

A couple of plasma screens were dotted around although these were not in use on our visit, and there was a trophy shelf at the rear along with a couple of signed football shirts. The fire-place had a large selection of church candles burning away, whereas a proper fire would have been nice on a cold December evening.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Cornish Coaster and Hook Norton’s Lion whilst the ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Thatcher’s Dry. Unusually there was a slow cooker on one of the tables next to the bar which was presumably dispensing a mulled drink of some sort.

30 Dec 2013 14:48

The Cheddar Valley, Wells

A basic, no frills boozer just a short stroll from the town centre, this nonetheless seems a popular local’s pub and there was a decent crowd in on a recent boxing day visit, with the Christmas raffle in full swing. There is apparently a beer garden at the back although we did not investigate this.

It’s a single room pub, although divided in to a couple of different areas. The flooring is a pale brown tiling with pine wood cladding on the lower part of the walls and cream plasterwork up above and there is a small stone fire-place with a wood burning stove. To the left is what might loosely be described as the cosier half, with a few black beams on the low ceiling, and an old leather sofa in the window, although with a plasma that was showing the horse racing protruding from the wall just above it I would have thought that anyone sitting there would have been in danger of hitting their head when standing up. Next to this was a darts board and a piano wedged in to the corner and blocked in by a table. To the right is another darts board and a pool table.

Beers on tap were slightly disappointing with just Exmoor Ale being available on tap, although there was another pump on the bar so perhaps there is a second option on occasions. Ciders were better represented with Thatcher’s Gold, Blackthorn, and, rather obviously given the pub’s name, Cheddar Valley.

27 Dec 2013 16:28

Sublime, Bristol

Since my previous review this has changed hands yet again and is now known as Small Bar and is one of a burgeoning number of craft beer venues in the vicinity. Hopefully this will prove to be more successful and long lasting than it’s many predecessors. The venue’s strapline appears to be “Small Bar, Big Beer” and this was prominently featured on the staff’s tee shirts and etched on to the windows at the front.

The basic layout is largely unchanged but has been smartened up considerably. The smaller bar to the left houses the bar counter and has a rough wooden floor with dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and cream plasterwork above. There was a small fire-place to one side with a brick chimney above it, although it’s a shame that this was not lit on a cold December evening. The tables were all old beer barrels which seemed appropriate and the light fixtures were unusual consisting of old pallets suspended from the ceiling and then a selection of pendent lights dangling from them. Church candles on all the tables added a cosy atmosphere.

The larger room to the right has dark wood panelling covering the entire right hand wall except for a small section of exposed brickwork at the front. The flooring is again wood strip with some flagstones at the front. At the back was what appeared to be another bar counter, but with no pumps or anything else on it. Behind this were three stainless steel vats. Whether this is a micro-brewery of some sort or just storage, I’m not sure. Stairs lead up to something described as the library, but we did not investigate this. Food is not currently offered, but it would appear that there are plans to offer a couple of sharing platters and a selection of Tom’s Pies in the near future.

Beers selection was extensive as would be expected, although as seems typical with craft beer it was almost entirely keg. The current beer choice was chalked up on boards above the bar, and these were divided in to four sections – Pale/IPA, Red/Stouts/Belgian, Sours and Crazy Shit. The latter category contained three beers all between 8% and 10% ABV. On this occasion the beers were (deep breath): Kernel Table Beer, Williams Draught, Moor S’Hop, BBF Independence, Tiny Rebel Full Nelson, Black Rocker, Arbor Amber, SB Rocket Science, Williams Black Bull, Kernel Biere De Table, Buxton Dark Knight, Siren Broken Dream, Redchurch Export Stout, Levian Frankenbeer Ryesour, Mikkeller Spontanframboos, Dark Art Raspberry Sour, Westbook Citrus Ninja Exchange, Moor Fusion and Tempest Old Parochial. At least, that was the initial selection. By the time we left, a couple of these had been replaced with BBF Southville Hop and Cromarty Happy Chappy. In the unlikely event that none of them appeal, menus on the table listed a further 65 available by the bottle. After that lot, the cider selection was perhaps a little disappointing with just a still and sparkling option from Burrow Hill, somewhat unusually served in two thirds of a pint glasses.

20 Dec 2013 11:38

The Butchers Arms, Fringford

An attractive pub just off the main Buckingham to Bicester road, it looks in many ways the quintessential country inn with an ivy covered frontage, a few picnic benches out the front, a couple of enormous beer barrels either side of the doorway and even an old red telephone kiosk.

Inside, the main bar is an L-shaped room, and this continues in a similar vein with a few black beams on the low ceiling and a selection of horse brasses, old black and white pictures of the pub, a couple of large clocks, miniature vases and copper pots and pans dotted around. To the left is a dart board and to the right a small stone fire-place which the landlord was keeping topped up with a supply of logs. Flooring is carpet and the lower half of the walls are clad in light wood panelling whilst there is cream paintwork up above. To the rear is a separate restaurant area, and décor wise this looked to be fairly similar with the exception that the floor was wood strip.

Menu wise, a chalkboard next to the bar offered a decent selection of “pub grub” dishes, with options such as Chilli Con Carne, Pie of the Day, Sausage & Mash, Steak, Burger, etc., and these were mostly priced just under a tenner. My Curry of the Day (vaguely described as Chicken by the third member of staff I spoke to after she had enquired of the kitchen) was a decent enough dish and a generous portion, although more reminiscent of the Chinese takeaway style than anything authentically Indian. Whether pudding are offered or not I’m not sure, they weren’t listed on the board and nobody asked if I wanted one.

Beers on tap were Adnam’s Broadside, Doom Bar and Brakespear Bitter whilst the ciders were Stowford Press and Hogan’s Passion Picker which makes a pleasant change from the usual dross around these parts. Overall I quite liked this pub, although my initial impressions were that the landlord was a bit miserable. On reflection, I think perhaps he was just very quiet, and offered a cheery goodbye as I left. It’s interesting though, that like one of the previous posters when I asked if they were doing food I was told “We will be”. Further enquiries elicited the fact that, yes, they were doing food now, so it seems a slightly odd response. Overall though, well worth the short detour off the main road to get here.

18 Dec 2013 07:46

White Hart, Buckingham

A prominent pub/hotel situated right in the centre of town, it’s quite enormous inside extending some considerable way back as well as being spread over two floors.

The top floor at street level has a large bar counter down the right hand side, and it mostly open plan, although divided up in to a few different areas. The central area is on a slightly lower level, with rooms at each end being up a couple of steps. Flooring is predominantly wood strip with some chequered tiles around the bar and carpet in some areas. At the front is a smaller room reminiscent of an old hotel drawing room with it’s dark wood panelling on the walls and a small tiled fire-place, although these days it only contains a gas fire. The effect was spoilt somewhat though by a plasma stuck on the wall showing a football match, even if they had mounted it inside a heavy ornate gold frame. A similar frame hung in the window, but the “picture” was advertising a burger and drink deal. Around to the side was a lobby leading to the hotel reception, and this included a snug area with a couple of sofa’s.

Downstairs was a similar theme decor wise, and once again another room that might otherwise have been quite pleasant was spoilt by the somewhat intrusive football. Further back still was a projector screen showing the same match, although the image looked rather poor being quite dark. There was also a smaller bar counter here, although this was closed off on a recent Tuesday evening visit. Next to this was a pool table and behind this some patio doors leading to a terraced area with views of the car park.

Food wise, the menu looked to be a mass produced, laminated affair and was divided in to sections such as Burgers, Pub Classics, Pies, Steaks, etc., with most of the main courses being somewhere around the £7 mark, although some were also available as a £2 for £12” deal. There was also a small specials board listing a few other options, although none of them struck me as that special. My Chicken Pesto Linguine in a tomato and basil sauce with red onion and olives was ok as long as your expectations weren’t too high, and it was a generous portion.

Beers on tap were Nobby’s Biggus Dickus and Oakham’s JHB. A third pump for Doom Bar appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Strongbow unfortunately. Overall I felt that this could be a decent pub, and probably was at one time, but it emphasis on televised sport and cheap food didn’t really do it for me.

4 Dec 2013 07:49

Cock Hotel, Leighton Buzzard

Now known as The Heath Inn, this is a good sized pub on the main road through the village consisting of two bars, a small patio area and a separate accommodation block at the rear. The pub holds monthly jazz nights, although these are usually big names and so there is an entrance charge of around £10. Barmaid was friendly and helpful.

The main bar is at the front of the pub and this is a U-shape room around the stone built bar counter. Slate tiles cover the floor and it has a fairly traditional country pub feel with plenty of beams on the low ceiling, a few brick pillars and the obligatory horse brasses dotted around. At one end is an enormous brick fire-place that has been converted in to a seating area, whilst a smaller stone fire-place at the other end had a few logs burning away. There were a few high stools around the bar and a couple of leather arm chairs opposite, but otherwise the seating was conventional tables and chairs. A plasma was up on one wall showing a Sky sports channel.

The other bar at the rear had cream wood panelling on the walls with a mixture of carpet and orange tiling on the floor and was apparently not in use on a recent Tuesday evening visit. Unusually there was both a pool table and a carvery counter, which seemed an odd combination.

Food wise, the menu is a straightforward “pub grub” affair with options such a Fish & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Pie of the day, Burger, etc., as well as a small specials board and these were mostly priced around the £8 mark. My Scampi & Chips was a decent enough dish, with the chips being so large that they were essentially potato wedges. Proper branded bottles of sauce were supplied which I always think is far preferable to sachets or a small dish with contents of indeterminate origin. There was even a grinder for freshly milled pepper.

Beers on tap were Tring’s Ridgeway, Ringwood Forty Niner and Brakespear Bitter. Two further pumps were on the bar, one of which appeared to have run out and one which was possibly unused. The solitary cider was Stowford Press which makes a pleasant change from the usual dross around these parts.

27 Nov 2013 07:57

The George Inn, Little Brickhill

A good sized pub on the main road through the village, this gives the impression of being more of an Italian restaurant these days with the pub’s website describing it as a “Ristorante, Bar and Pizzeria” and the pub sign having the restaurant name, La Collina, displayed prominently with The George being relegated to very small lettering underneath. Outside seating consisted of a small patio at the front, and a courtyard and beer garden at the back.

Consequently I was quite surprised when I got in to find that the main room at the front of the pub is quite a traditional bar with the restaurant operation being in a smaller room at the rear. The bar is split in to two halves, although it’s all one open space. There are rough wooden boards on the floor with a mixture of cream and deep red painted wallpaper on the walls. To the left was a large brick fire-place with an old clock above it and a wood burning stove which the friendly barman was keeping topped up, and in front of this were a couple of brown leather sofas whilst elsewhere the seating was conventional tables and chairs. A pool table was in the corner in the right hand half, and a football match was being projected on to the wall. Clearly their budget did not run to a proper screen and the image was badly out of focus.

Food wise, the menu was very much Italian influenced as previously noted, with plenty of pizza and pasta options as well as a handful of meat and fish dishes. The pricing structure seems a little odd, with most of the pasta dishes being in the £10 - £15 price range and pizza’s varying from £6.95 to £12.95. This is clearly overpriced, with my Penne con Pollo & Salsiccia Calabrese (Sauté chicken & spicy calabrese sausage with penne pasta topped with melted mozzarella) worth nowhere near the £13.95 listed on the menu. Not there was anything wrong with it, but it was a fairly basic pasta dish, certainly nothing out of the ordinary. However, there are a number of discount vouchers on their website, and I used a 30% off pasta deal, so £8.37 is much more reasonable. On the other hand, if you turn up without a voucher you may well feel somewhat hard done by.

Beers on tap were limited to just Greene King IPA as far as I could make out, although there was also a board advertising Adnam’s Lighthouse as a guest. Unfortunately there were no draft ciders available, which seems very odd in this day and age.

20 Nov 2013 10:52

The Bloomfield Inn, Arno's Vale

A good sixed pub in the middle of a residential street, this has been closed for some time and has recently re-opened, although judging on a recent visit I’m rather inclined to wonder why they bothered. The front part of the pub was in darkness and we initially were unsure as to whether it was actually open or not, but it then transpired that the open bar was the small one at the rear.

This is a fairly tatty room with ripped red velvet seating, old carpet on the floor and plastic covered tables in some type of mock wood. A plasma was playing some music videos and there was a darts board off to one side. There was a pool table in the room at the front. The majority of the clientele seemed barely old enough to drink as was the barmaid, although she was pleasant enough. The atmosphere struck me as somewhat volatile and I half expected a fight to break out.

The solitary beer on tap was Courage Best. Another pump displayed an Old Speckled Hen clip but this appeared to have run out, and a further three pumps had no clips on at all. Ciders fared slightly better with Blackthorn and Thatcher’s Gold.

15 Nov 2013 13:12

The Kings Arms, Brislington

One of only two pubs left in the village now with both The Hollybush and The White Hart having closed in recent years, I have always quite liked this pub and it strikes me as a cosy place with quite a country pub feel to it, no doubt due to the fact that much of the interior is exposed stone walls. It has had a chequered history of late being closed for some time, and although now re-open there is a To Let sign outside, so it’s looks as though the future may still be uncertain.

It consists of two rooms, the rear one has the exposed stonework all the way round and also has the bar counter. This is quite a small room with a mostly carpeted floor and some slate tiles nearer the bar along with a large fireplace, although this was not in use on a recent visit. The front room doesn’t have quite the same cosiness with just the partition wall to the other bar being bare stone. Elsewhere there was a mixture of pale grey wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and rough cream plasterwork above with some black gloss wood detailing. A darts board was on the wall and there was a projector screen rolled up, although whether this gets any use I am not sure. A very small snug was off to one side which in reality looked to be more of a cupboard and there was what appeared to be a wood burning stove in a chimney recess but was I suspect a gas model. There is apparently also a beer garden although we did not investigate this.

Beers on tap were Courage Best, Doom Bar and Wickwar’s Bob. Ciders were well represented with Stowford Press, Blackthorn, Thatcher’s Traditional and Thatcher’s Gold, although the latter was past it’s best unfortunately.

15 Nov 2013 11:15

Pilgrim Inn, Brislington

A back street pub a bit off the beaten track and away from the main road, it has nonetheless managed to survive when two others pubs in the village have both closed in recent years. Having said that, I was initially unsure if it was open when we visited – the pub sign was not illuminated and the pub was in darkness other than a couple of hanging lamps above the bar. We persevered though, and found two other punters in there.

I was under the impression that this had been taken on by the team behind The Hen & Chicken in Southville a few years back, but whereas that remains a popular and buzzy place with a good range of pizzas, this seems quite the opposite and any sign of a refurbishment has now been lost. It was difficult to discern much in the gloom, but from what I could see it’s a good sized U-shape pub with a wood strip floor at the front and tatty cream paintwork on the walls. A pool table was at the rear and here there was chequered lino on the floor, whilst a dart board was on the wall. A plasma was up on one wall but this was not in use, and one of the other punters in there was making some selections from the jukebox which was just as well or it would have been deathly quiet otherwise. The most interesting feature was probably the carved wooden backdrop to the bar. There is also a courtyard garden apparently, although we did not investigate this.

Beers on tap were nonexistent unfortunately. Despite two hand pumps on the bar, both of these had run out or were not in use. One had a Doom Bar clip on it, the other nothing. Ciders fared better though with Thatcher’s Dry, Thatcher’s Gold and Blackthorn.

15 Nov 2013 10:34

The Rose and Crown, Ridgmont

A good sized pub on the main toad through this village, it consists of a couple of bars, a restaurant, patio area and beer garden and a large car park, plus a separate building known as The Stable which may perhaps be accommodation or a function room.

The lounge bar to the right was quite cosy with a carpeted floor, a couple of beams on the ceiling and a log fire blazing away which was a nice touch on a cold November evening. Paintwork was a mixture of cream on the upper part of the walls and a dark brown lower down. Seating options were limited with about three tables and the remainder being armchairs, both in the window at the front and in an opened out area at the rear. This was a bit of a shame since as all the tables were in use my only options for eating was the other bar which was deserted. This had a slightly more contemporary feel to it with a wood floor, disused fireplace and all the tales being laid up for food. There was also a separate restaurant area a couple of steps at the rear.

Food wise, the menu offered a decent enough selection of “pub grub” dishes with options such as Fish & Chips, Scampi & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Lamb Shank, Steak Mushroom & Guinness Pie etc., and several steaks. Options for veggies were somewhat limited with none of the main courses being suitable other than a couple of pasta dishes. My Cod & Prawn Mornay was a very generous portion and came complete with a good selection of rather bland vegetables – carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and even sprouts! Possibly at £10.95 it was a little on the expensive side, but I’ve no real complaints. It’s a shame that the landlord felt the need to try and feed his shrieking toddler on the next table though which made for a less than relaxing meal.

Beers on tap were Eagle IPA, Directors and Golden Newt. The solitary cider was Scrumpy Jack.

13 Nov 2013 08:48

The White Horse, Husborne Crawley

A substantial corner pub on the main road through the village, it consists of a single U-shape room wrapped around a central bar counter along with some outside picnic benches.

The rear part of the pub has perhaps a slightly more lounge bar feel to it with a carpeted floor and some exposed brickwork on the walls as well as a brick pillar or two. Elsewhere the walls were painted in a very deep red colour and there was some timber detailing. A brick fire-place was to one side, although this is clearly no longer used. Various miscellaneous pictures were dotted around the walls and there was a small bird twittering away in a cage. The other half of the bar at the front of the pub has a similar look although with red quarry tiles on the floor and a wood burning stove in the fireplace which looks as though it may actually get some use.

No food was available on my Tuesday evening visit, although there were signs promoting curry and steak nights on other days of the week, and I believe they offer food at lunchtime. There was however a solitary Danish pastry on the bar. Other events included quiz nights and jazz nights.

The solitary beer on tap was Bank’s Bitter although there was a second pump for Best which appeared to have run out. Ciders fared little better with just Strongbow and Bulmers.

13 Nov 2013 08:16

The Axe and Compass, Heath and Reach

A good sized pub on the main road through the village, it consists of a good sized car park with a small accommodation block off of it, a beer garden with good views of the adjacent countryside and a patio area at the rear.

The rear bar is what might be described as the public bar and seemed a popular spot with locals on a recent Tuesday evening visit. The flooring was a mixture of strip wood and some grey, slate like tiles whilst the walls had wood panelling on the lower part and some lime green, floral wallpaper up above. There was a plasma on one wall as well as a pool table, darts board and a small trophy shelf. The lounge bar at the front of the pub had similar décor but with a straw colour carpet on the floor, some black beams on the ceiling and pale lemon paintwork on the walls. There were a few small pictures dotted around such as artistic drawings of food and drink and a few old black and white photos of the locale.

The menu offered a decent looking selection of pub grub dishes, with option such a Ham Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips, Steak and a Stilton Chicken Breast as well as a few burgers, baguettes and homemade pies. Most of the main courses were in the £8 - £9 range. My Chicken Tikka Masala initially looked promising with a generous portion of chicken and sauce on a bed of rice with an accompanying mini naan bread. However, the sauce wasn’t particularly tasty and the chicken had that curious rubbery quality that you sometimes find in cheap Chinese takeaways. The menu listed it at £8.25, but apparently they have a “50% off” deal Mondays to Fridays so it only cost me £4.47 (although eagle eyed readers will note that this is actually only about 46% off) so at these prices it would be churlish to complain. Offering half price food virtually all the time though does of course mean that in reality that’s all it’s worth and one might feel slightly aggrieved at paying the “normal” price on a weekend.

There were a good selection of beers on tap, although it would appear that they were running a beer festival on the occasion of my visit, so it may not always be this extensive. There were three hand pumps on the bar suggesting that this may be the usual number and a further three barrels sat on the end of the bar. A blackboard listed the options as Potton’s Phoenix and Lion IPA, Tring’s Phantom Monk, Vale’s Red Kite, Kite’s Scary Kite and Caledonian’s Autumn Red. The only cider on tap was Strongbow, although these were joined by boxes of Weston’s Country Perry and Family Reserve. Hopefully the latter are permanent fixtures and not part of the beer festival.

6 Nov 2013 08:32

The Plough, Simpson

A traditional pub that was in the village of Simpson before it was swallowed up by Milton Keynes, this has a beer garden adjacent to the canal and is thus a popular spot for walkers in the warmer weather. It’s a good sized pub divided in to separate eating and drinking areas. Service at the bar was somewhat slow with just one barman serving who was friendly enough but seemed somewhat ineffectual at actually achieving anything.

The main bar area as an L-shape room at the front of the pub and this has a strip wood floor, a few insubstantial black beams on the ceiling and wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. The colour scheme was predominantly cream with some maroon detailing. A couple of fruit machines were opposite the bar, as well as a community notice and photo board and there was a small TV up in the corner although this was not in use. Many of the locals were sat up on high stools at the bar.

There is also a snug off of here which had a salmon and mustard colour scheme and a mixture of black and red leather armchairs along with a wood burning stove in the fire-place. This didn’t seem particular cosy though, perhaps just because it was reasonably big or the lack of carpet on the floor. At the back of the pub was a much more contemporary room used as a restaurant. I didn’t inspect this closely, but it looked to have vibrant lime green paintwork and some colourful murals of the countryside on the walls.

Menu wise, the theme seemed to have something of an Italian influence and there were several pasta and pizza dishes available as well as a few more regular pub dishes. The pizzas were mostly in the £8 - £10 price range, with the pasta dishes being a pound or two less and the other dishes a pound or two more. My Sundried Tomato and Haddock Fishcake was a decent enough dish and appeared to be homemade. Puddings offered a very temping selection and I would like to have tried nearly all of them. Fortunately you could opt for a trio of miniatures consisting of the Chocolate Nemesis, Limoncello Cheesecake and homemade Tiramisu and these were all very good.

According to a chalk board next to the bar, the beer choice consisted the regular Bombardier and Eagle IPA along with a couple of guests which were the seasonal Bateman’s Autumn Fall and Golden Cauldron. Unfortunately all but one of these had run out which doesn’t say much for their stock-keeping, unless they had a particular busy weekend perhaps. Ciders were a somewhat uninspiring Strongbow and Aspall’s Suffolk.

30 Oct 2013 08:21

Jack Stamps, Weston Super Mare

As FBB pointed out five years ago, this is now called Tavern Inn the Town and is a large free-standing pub right in the centre of town, it would appear to be aimed at a younger crowd, being rather dark and loud, but to be fair they did have a couple of unusual local beers on which is more than might be expected from such a venue.

It’s an open, L-shape pub with the space only broken up by some small wooden partitions. There is a small stage area in one corner and this was in use by various (bad) karaoke singers on a recent Friday evening visit. When there were no punters signing, karaoke duties were taken over by the landlady, who was, unfortunately, equally bad. It was difficult to discern much in the way of décor due to the subdued lighting, and the red and green dots of light from a glitter ball bouncing around everywhere, such as all over your friend’s faces, was rather off putting when you’re trying to have a conversation.

There was a pool table at one end and a couple of smallish LCD TV’s dotted around, but these were not too obtrusive and there were also a number of black and white photos on the walls. The menu looked to be a fairly typical, mass-produced “pub grub” affair with options such as Chilli Con Carne, Fish & Chips, Lasagne and a Curry of the Day. These were mostly priced at around the £6 - £7 mark.

Beers on tap were Piston Broke and Tunnel Vision from the Box Steam Brewery. There was a third pump on the bar, but this was not in use. Ciders were better represented with Blackthorn, Strongbow, Thatcher’s Dry and Thatcher’s Gold.

21 Oct 2013 17:21

The Queen's Head, Wing

A good sized, traditional pub towards one end of the High Street, it consists of a restaurant area at the rear and a bar at the front. Style wise it’s a bit of a mixture of traditional and contemporary, and some parts have clearly been refurbished fairly recently. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

The main bar at the front is an L-shape room divided in to two halves. The main bar area along the front has red quarry tiles on the floor and a couple of beams on the sagging ceiling. At one end there was a large brick fire-place with a log fire blazing away and a piano in the corner at the other end. Around the corner is a much more contemporary bar which is perhaps more intended for dining. This consists of a wood strip floor, black wooden posts in the walls and a predominantly cream colour scheme with one wall painted in a contrasting maroon. I didn’t investigate the restaurant at the rear, but this too looked to be quite contemporary with a wood floor, some patterned wallpaper, a couple of leather arm chairs and a small bar counter.

Food wise the menu was very much meat focused with six of the seven main courses being meat based and offering choices such as Sirloin Steak, Duo of Pork and Rump of Lamb. If you’re vegetarian your choices appeared somewhat limited, with the one remaining main course option being fish. There was however a Cheese & Onion soufflé available from the verbal specials menu. Prices were somewhat above your normal pub grub with most of the mains being somewhere between £10 and £16, although there were a couple more options from a “2 courses for £12.50” menu. I went for the fishcakes which were rather disappointing – potato cakes would have been a far more accurate description. These were from the fixed price menu, so clearly one of the cheaper options, but then I requested just this dish from the set price menu rather than two courses and so was charged £10.95. This was way overpriced. In contrast a zesty lemon brûlée with shortbread biscuits for desert was an excellent dish; just the right combination of lemon and sweetness, with a fresh, crispy topping and soft, crumbly biscuits. On that basis I would be happy to return and try something else, but would definitely order from the a la carte menu next time.

Beers on tap were Tring’s Brock, Bombardier, Vale’s Brill and Bateman’s Autumn Fall. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

16 Oct 2013 08:54

The Horseshoe, Olney

A good sized Charles Wells pub in the centre of the village, it has a large car park at the side as well as a few more parking spaces and some picnic benches at the front. Judging on some of the pictures on the walls there is also an attractive beer garden at the rear, although I did not investigate this on my visit.

The pub is divided in to two halves, with a bar area to the right and a lounge/dining room to the left. The bar looks quite attractive with a large brick fire-place at one end, and a Northamptonshire skittles game in a smaller room adjacent to it. As I was dining though, I opted for the other half of the pub. This is an L-shape room with the dining area separated by some painted wood partitioning up a couple of steps at the rear, and this was in darkness until a couple of other punters turned up and wanted to sit there. There are plenty of beams on the ceiling, which was sagging considerably in the middle and consequently supported by a wooden post. Paintwork was a mixture of maroon and cream, with some khaki green wood panelling in the room at the back. A stone fire-place with a copper hood was at one end and a pile of logs were in the grate ready for the colder weather.

Food wise, the menu offered a decent selection of pub grub dishes such as Fish & Chips, Steak & Kidney pudding, Gammon Steak, etc., and most of the main courses were around the £9 - £10 mark. There was also a specials board offering another three or four options. My Chicken & roasted ham pie, in a cream, white wine, garlic & oregano sauce served in a puff pastry case with seasonal vegetables & gourmet chips was a hearty dish and reasonably good value at £9.25 I thought.

Beers on tap were Eagle IPA and Courage Directors. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Overall I quite liked this pub, although personally I would have preferred it if the landlady’s toddler wasn’t running around. Not only that, but the grandmother was actually encouraging her by getting her to “help” collect plates, take orders, and such like. I guess some people might think it’s cute, but personally I’ve always felt that pubs and kids, especially ones as young as that, don’t really mix.

11 Oct 2013 12:05

Rose and Crown, Hartwell

An attractive and traditional whitewashed stone pub on the main road through the village, it’s appearance is only let down only by the illuminated Carling sign underneath the pub sign which is hardly likely to do much in the way of drawing punters in I wouldn’t have thought. There are a couple of picnic benches on the hard standing out at the front whilst the pub itself is divided in to one long room across the front, and a smaller room to the rear.

From what I could see, the room at the rear was much smaller and housed a pool table, although I did not investigate this. The main bar at the front has the quintessential country pub feel with plenty of black wooden beams on the low ceiling, numerous horse brasses dotted around and a stone pillar in the centre. The flooring was a red patterned carpet, walls were white painted wallpaper and there were various old black and white photos and generic country drawings dotted around. To the right was a large brick fire-place with a wood burning stove and a selection of cups and shields on the mantelpiece above. There were a few high chairs at the bar and elsewhere the seating was a mixture of chairs and small stools.

All in all, this had many of the ingredients of a great country pub. For me the thing that let it down slightly were some of the clientele. Clearly it was made up predominantly of locals from the village (in itself no bad thing of course), but that in turn meant that they felt rather at home and were somewhat free with their use of language. One middle aged couple at the bar in particular used the f-word rather too much for my liking and much of their conversation seemed to be of a sexual nature. The barman clearly knew them and was happy to join in with their banter.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Purity’s Mad Goose whilst a third pump was in the process of being changed. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Food is not offered.

11 Oct 2013 09:35

The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, Bristol

Since my previous review, this has been shut for a few months and has now re-opened under new management after a refurbishment. The basic layout is still an inverse “U” shape, with the right hand side being signed as a restaurant. The left hand bar is mostly one open space, although divided in to a separate area at the rear. Leaded windows look out on to the cobbled street.

Decor wise, the paintwork is a mixture of cream and a very pale brown and there are plenty of nautical pictures such as old sailing ships on the wall. The flooring is some type of laminate wood and there were candles on all the tables as is the vogue in many pubs these days. At the rear were several brown leather arm-chairs and sofa’s which created a somewhat more relaxing ambience, although this made the plasma mounted up in the corner seem all the more out of place. Fortunately it was not in use on our visit, but a blackboard listed a number of forthcoming sporting fixtures which seems slightly out of kilter with the image the pub presents. An interesting feature were the gent’s urinals which were all made out of old beer kegs, with the top and part of the front cut away. The cistern too was an old keg.

Unusually the hand pumps on the bar were all unlabelled, with the beer choices being displayed on a board to the right. There were quite a number of both cask and keg options, although whether it would be called a good selection or not is debateable, since they were all, at least as far as the cask went, from just one brewery, Yorkshire’s Summer Wine. On this occasion they were Calibo Cali, Rouge, Diablo, Oregon, Zenith, Resistance, Teleporter and Barista Stout. A similar number of keg options were available, some of which were duplicated with the cask offering and all but one still from Summer Wine. The only other choice was Williams Draught. Ciders were Sandford Orchard’s Devon Mist and Purbeck’s Dorset.

7 Oct 2013 12:34

Bar Essential, Bristol

A recent addition to the Bristol pub scene, this is now known as the Bavarian Beerhouse although venue has been various other establishments over the years including Azucar and Bar Essential, and generally seems to be closed as much as it is open. The new venture is apparently the third in a chain with the other two being in London.

First impressions were that it was slightly tacky. All the waitresses are dressed in typical German dress and the seating was long communal benches. A montage of photographs covered the back wall although we didn’t stay long enough to inspect these. Apparently you are not allowed to order at the bar but have to wait for table service. A drinks menu is helpfully provided on the tables.

As might be expected, there were no real ales on tap with all the “beer” options being German. The only one that I recognised was Löwenbräu, but then I’m no expert. Other choices included various different Krombachers and Erdingers along with a couple of others. When they first opened these were all priced at £3.90 for a half which seemed quite frankly ridiculous. Now though the menu has been covered in little stickers pricing them at £2.90. On the other hand, pints are £3.80 which doesn’t exactly encourage sensible drinking. Besides that Schnaps and Shots featured prominently on the menu with options such as Kleiner Feigling, Porno Brause and Flügerl. Jägermeister is available on tap and is apparently cooled to -15°C. Quite why that’s a good thing I’m not sure.

The final straw for us though was that the solitary cider, Possmann Apfelwein (which the menu helpfully describes as being made with apples) had run out. At this point, we departed and went elsewhere.

4 Oct 2013 16:13

The Old Red Lion, Great Brickhill

An attractive pub at the centre of the village, it looks very inviting with it’s hanging baskets along the front and there are great views across the valley from the beer garden at the back. The area is a popular spot with walkers and this means it can get very busy in the summer months.

Inside, it’s divided in to two rooms with the one on the right being very much more geared up for dining as all the tables were laid up for food. The left hand bar is a square room with red carpet on the floor, a few quarry tiles around the bar counter and chunky pine tables. There are a few small oak strips on the ceiling and a brick fire-place to one side which had piles of logs stacked up ready for the cold weather. A number of artistic wildlife drawings were on the wall, and there was also a plasma stuck up next to the fire-place, although this was not in use on my visit. Clientele appeared to be predominantly workman types stopping for a pint after work. This seemed rather at odds with the character of the pub, and made for a less than relaxing appearance with their loud voices and laughter. It may of course be completely different at other times though.

The menu offered a decent selection of dishes, although perhaps a cut above your usual “pub grub” with most of the main courses being around the £10 - £12 mark. In addition to the printed menu, there was a specials board that listed a further half a dozen options. My Thai Green Curry was a decent and tasty dish, although perhaps not the most authentic version of the genre.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA, St. Austell’s Trelawney and London Pride. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

2 Oct 2013 08:20

The Swan Inn, Cranfield

Sorry, review below was for the nearby Cross Keys. Correct review for this pub:

A substantial pub just off the main road through the village, it consists of a large lounge bar to the right and a smaller public bar to the left, although the former was closed off for a private function on a recent visit. There is plenty of parking in the car park at the front of the pub as well as the adjacent road.

The public bar is a fairly basic affair and the clientele seemed to be predominantly “workman” types. The walling is mostly wooden panelling painted in a very pale shade of green and there was carpeting on the floor with a few cream tiles around the bar. A large bay window is at the front and there is a small brick fire-place to one side which had a plasma mounted up above it, although this was not in use, and there was also a pool table in one corner. Background music consisted mostly of current chart hits and there were a number of high stools up at the bar which seemed to be where most people were congregating.

From what I could see of the lounge, this looked slightly plusher with a burgundy type of paintwork and stripy curtains. There was also a plasma in here although this too was switched off. Unfortunately due to the private function, food was not offered on this occasion which was a bit of a shame as that was the main reason for my visit.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen. The solitary cider was Blackthorn which was a bit of a result and makes a pleasant change from the usual rubbish around these parts.

25 Sep 2013 11:06

The Swan Inn, Cranfield

A substantial and traditional pub on the main road through the village, it has some attractive features such as leaded windows and consists of two L-shape bars wrapped around a central serving counter as well as a few tables and chairs on the small patio at the front. It was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening visit, in fact completely deserted other than one punter outside smoking. I rang the bell on the counter, but still no-one appeared to serve me. With half the pub in darkness I was beginning to wonder if it was actually open. Eventually someone turned up though.

The public bar is to the left and front of the pub, and this consists of a red tiled floor with a couple of old rugs dotted around, cream painted wallpaper with dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and red padded bench seating and bar stools. A darts board was on one wall and a plasma on another and although this was not in use when I visited, I understand that Sky Sports is available. The lounge bar to the right and rear of the pub had more of a green colour scheme as far as I could see and was fully carpeted.

The food menu was a basic pub grub affair with options such as Fish & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Chilli Con Carne, etc., although a number of these were unavailable. Most of the main courses were around the £8 mark. My Scampi & Chips was decent enough and a generous portion, although not exactly a great test of the chef’s prowess of course.

It was a shame that it was so quiet as it was difficult to get a feel for the atmosphere the pub may have had if it had been busier. Once the smoking punter had left, I was the only one in there for a while and with the lack of any background music it was a slightly surreal experience. The friendly landlady did explain that many of the local old boys turn up at about 10:00pm when their wives have gone to bed! Some planning for a forthcoming pub quiz was in progress, so clearly they do get busier on occasions.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

25 Sep 2013 11:05

The Green Man, Eversholt

A traditional looking pub in a small village just outside of Woburn, this looks to have been recently refurbished both inside and out. Whilst it retains it’s traditional appearance, the outside has been enhanced with spherical hanging shrubbery and uplighters on the wall. Inside it has a much more contemporary appearance, so whilst it may perhaps have lost some of it’s more authentic features, it is nonetheless still a pleasant enough pub. There is also a patio area at the rear of the pub for the warmer weather. It was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening visit with just a couple of locals propping up the bar.

The pub consists of two rooms in an L-shape configuration. The smaller bar to the left looked to be more geared up for dining with most of the tables being laid up for food. There was some wood strip on the floor, but other than that it was difficult to discern much in the way of detail as it was in darkness on a recent Tuesday evening visit. The main bar to the right is divided in to two halves with tables and chairs at the rear and a mixture of seating at the front including a brown leather sofa and a few armchairs clustered around the two brick fire-places. Décor wise, there was some attractive, mottled tiles on the floor with green paintwork on the top half of the walls and wooden cladding lower down.

The menu offered a good mix of dishes and included pub favourites such as Ham Egg & Chips, Battered Fish & Chips, Burger, Fishcakes, etc., as well as a few more adventurous dishes. There was also a specials board that offered a few other options, so there should be something to suit most tastes. Most of the mains were somewhere around the £10 - £13 mark, so a step up from your usual pub grub. If you only wanted a light snack, there was also cheesy chips, wedges and such like available for £3 or £4. I had a Fisherman’s Pie with a Cheesy Mash, and this was a decent and tasty dish. There was a slight mix up with the accompanying vegetables, but I got the impression that this was a genuine mistake which they were very apologetic about and swiftly rectified.

Beers on tap were Old Hooky, Doom Bar and London Pride. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk. Overall, despite that fact that it may not be quite as traditional as some country inns, I liked this pub and would happily return.

18 Sep 2013 08:20

The Three Trees, Bletchley

A very large, multi-roomed pub in the centre of Bletchley, it has the bland, identikit feel of many chain establishments and the focus here seems to be very much on bland, identikit food which is, I suppose, in keeping with the surroundings. That said, it’s a reasonably attractive building with plenty of flower filled hanging baskets and a garden area at the front, along with further outdoor seating on two sides. Some of this is reserved for diners though.

The front of the pub has a wood strip floor with wood balustrade partitioning and this appears to be the restaurant area with the majority of tables filled with diners on a recent visit, and I got the impression that one ordered at the table if eating here. To the right was a large carvery counter and this seems to be a popular feature of their food offering.

The bar area is around to the left, and this is slightly more convivial with carpeted flooring and the usual generic cream and pale brown paintwork. There are a few high bar stools and tables to sit out and this extends out in to a couple of conservatories at the side and the rear. I guess these could on occasions be used for eating as well, which may well leave limited room for drinkers. On a recent Tuesday evening visit though it was fine, with these two areas being almost empty. There were also a couple of Chesterfield sofa’s about and a bookcase with a selection of books to peruse. Various other miscellaneous junk was dotted around such as old tea pots and candelabra and a plasma showing a news channel was on the wall, although the sound was off so this was not too intrusive.

Besides the carvery mentioned previously, the menu offered an extensive selection divided in to sections such as Pub Classics, Steaks, Burgers, Fish and Pies, with most of the mains being around the £7 - £8 mark. I think there may also have been various specials on different nights of the week. My Chicken Tikka Masala was an odd dish whose dominant flavour was tomato soup, and indeed it had a similar appearance and texture save for the few bits of chicken floating about in it. It’s often the case that if a pub meal is not particularly satisfactory it might be compared to a supermarket ready meal, but in this case I think that would be doing ready meals a disservice. And why on earth were the rice and curry served in two small separate bowls plonked on the plate? Who wants to try and eat their food like that, and even if you did the sloppy texture of the curry would have made it next to impossible to get out without a spoon.

Beers on tap were Marston’s EPA, Hobgoblin and Doom Bar. Ciders were a somewhat uninspiring Strongbow and Magner’s Golden Draught. I was going to mark this pub a 5, but with the poor food it can only be a 4.

11 Sep 2013 08:25

Lambrettas Bar, Bath

This is a single room pub just opposite Bog Island which is very easy to miss. It blends seamlessly in to the rest of the Georgian terrace and does little to advertise it’s presence other than discreet signs above the door and on the railings and a few tables and chairs outside. Whether this is through choice, or planning restrictions I’m not sure. Together with the wide pavement and flower troughs on the window sill, this makes for an attractive looking building although the gaggle of smokers in the doorway were slightly off putting, and also singularly ineffective at keeping the smoke out since it blew straight back in.

At one time this must have been a very elegant pub with it’s floor to ceiling wood panelling and was presumably attached to one of the adjacent hotels. These days it seems to have been turned in to more of a sports bar unfortunately, and there were numerous plasma screens dotted around as well as a projector screen. These were all showing the rugby, and the sound was piped to additional speakers around the room which made it very difficult to escape if that’s not your thing. Rugby is clearly a central theme here, understandable perhaps given it’s location, and there were also numerous photographs and a shirt displayed on the walls.

A pool table dominated the left hand side of the room, and cues were apparently available for a £5 deposit which struck me as unusual. Are the punters in the habit of walking off with them? The flooring was old wooden boards and the maroon paintwork on the ceiling contrasted with the cream walls. Other than that, there was little of any note.

Despite four pumps on the bar, only two were in use dispensing Tribute and their own Lambretta’s Gold. Ciders were well represented though with Thatcher’s Gold, Stowford Press and Wilkins Farmhouse, the latter being served direct from the barrel.

9 Sep 2013 12:57

The Robin Hood, Clifton Reynes

A traditional pub somewhat off the beaten track in this very small and attractive village, it cannot get anything in the way of passing trade since the whole village is a dead end. There is a small signpost from the main road, but it must rely very much on locals and others in the know for it’s business. There is a good sized beer garden at the back looking over open fields, as well as a patio area and the staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

It’s a fairly traditional two room layout with a central bar counter serving both rooms. The room to the right is more of a public bar and this included a Northamptonshire skittles game, a selection of trophies on the window sill and some unusual built-in cupboards above the fire-place. I assume perhaps that these may have contained a darts board and score board, but I’ve not seen anything quite like it before.

The bar to the left was more of a lounge bar although there were still a few stools at the bar. The floor was predominantly old red carpet/matting with painted wallpaper on the walls and a large stone fire-place to one side. This housed a wood burning stove as well as the usual horse brasses and a pile of Good Beer Guides. An unusual feature here was what looked to be a small, recessed, stained glass window at the back of the fire-place. What it’s original purpose would have been I’m not sure, unless it was perhaps an outside wall at one time. The décor was completed with a history of the pub on a large scroll and a few black and white photo’s of Robin Hood film shoots. At the back was a conservatory with a red quarry tiles floor and some exposed stone wall which looked quite attractive.

I get the impression that the pub offers food as a bit of a sideline rather than making it the prime focus as so many pubs do these days. The menu offered a reasonable selection of dishes such as Steak & Ale Pie, Ham Egg & Chips or a Chicken Burger and most of these were priced in the £9 - £10 range. There were also a few steak options. I thought the ribs in sticky barbecue & chilli sauce drizzled with honey sounded good. Unfortunately a few minutes after I had ordered, someone from the kitchen came out and told me that they had run out of this. It had actually been a toss up between this and the chicken, ham & leek hot pot pie in a creamy sauce with mustard & sauté potato anyway, so I was happy to change my order to this. “That’s no problem, we can do that” he said. A few minutes later he came back and told me that I had ordered from an old menu and that they have stopped doing that dish (I notice it’s still listed on the menu on their website though). At this point I would usually have walked out, but I must have been a good mood so went for the Scampi & Chips instead. That was fine, but then it’s a pretty consistent dish that’s difficult to get wrong, so it’s not much of a test of a kitchen. They’d made a little more effort with the salad including radish and pepper besides the usual suspects, but if I were being critical I would say that a little more scampi and less chips would have made it even better.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Lion from the Cotswolds. A third pump appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Hogan’s Pickers Passion which is a new one on me. All in all, despite the hiccup with the food, I quite liked this pub.

4 Sep 2013 08:31

The Coachmakers Arms, Newport Pagnell

A basic, no frills boozer just off the High Street, this is clearly quite an old building with a few original features although it lacks much in the way of any “olde worlde” charm. It’s a single room, U-shape layout wrapped around a central bar with a rough wooden floor.

Seating is mostly around the perimeter with a mixture of chunky wooden tables and leather armchairs. There is quite a bit of exposed stone work on the walls and elsewhere the walls are whitewashed. A large stone fire-place is off to one side and a plasma stuck on the wall next to it which was showing a sports channel, although the volume was off so this was not too intrusive. There were a couple of fruit machines opposite the bar. A large recess to the right must have been an impressive fire-place at one time but has since been whitewashed and turned in to a seating area.

A darts board was at the rear and a match was in progress on a recent Monday evening visit. A friendly pub dog turned up and encouraged us to throw his stick for him and there is a garden at the rear. Food is offered at lunch times, although I didn’t inspect the menu.

The solitary been on tap was Doom Bar and the only cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

2 Sep 2013 22:43

Weathercock Inn, Woburn Sands

Recently re-opened after being closed for several weeks for a refurbishment, this is a traditional looking pub on the outskirts of Woburn Sands with plenty of picnic benches and umbrellas in a garden at the front of the pub as well as a small garden at the rear adjacent to the car park.

Inside it’s got a fairly typical interior that has been renovated in a “traditional” style, so a few “old” oak posts and beams dotted around and a smattering of exposed brickwork, along with a display cases containing a number of antique items such as a typewriter and a sewing machine. The flooring is predominantly dark laminate with a few rugs as well. There is a small bar to the left which had a plasma on the wall displaying a sports channel and a fireplace below it. The paintwork was predominantly the usual shade of gastro-pub khaki green with contrasting maroon and wood panelling elsewhere. The main bar area was a reasonable size and also had a fire-place to the one side, although I suspect this may well have been decorative rather than functional. A small snug at the rear had a couple of large posters on the wall and a brick fireplace with a wood burning stove.

The menu had something of an American theme so offered dishes such as Barbeque Ribs, Southern Fried Steak, Chilli Chilli Bang Bang and even an Alligator Burger on the specials board and these were mostly priced in the £10 - £15 price range. Continuing the American theme, the menu also said that they “proudly brew” Starbucks coffee which didn’t necessarily strike me as something positive, but I suppose it make a change from a number of pubs that I’ve seen recently that are proudly brewing Costa coffee. My Teriyaki Pacific Salmon on a bed of American Wild Rice was pleasant enough, although too salty for my taste. At £12.95 I thought it was over-priced by about a fiver.

Beers on tap were rather uninspiring being entirely from the Greene King stable with their IPA, Abbott Ale and Old Speckled Hen. On the plus side they had Thatcher’s Gold cider which makes a very pleasant change from the rubbish you generally get in GK pubs. Somewhat unusually they only take cash payments below £50. I’ve seen £5 or £10 limits elsewhere, but never anything like that. There is however a free cash machine on site.

29 Aug 2013 08:33

The Dolphin, Stoke Hammond

This is an odd pub. I popped in to enquire if they did food, but was told that the only option was an Indian takeaway, but there was no suggestion that I could eat it in the pub which I would have been happy to do. Odd because I’ve come across a number of pubs that don’t sell food, but are happy for you to get a takeaway elsewhere and eat it in the pub. But here’s one that will sell you food, but not let you eat it there.

Other than that, my impression was of a rough and ready boozer divided in to two rooms. The one to the right looked to be largely devoid of anything other than a pool table with the one to the left having the bar counter and a plasma that was showing a sports channel. Unfortunately I did not stay long enough to note any further details.

29 Aug 2013 08:12

The George Hotel, Wedmore

A traditional, stone built pub in the heart of Wedmore, it consists of several different bars on different levels and in addition to this there are a few picnic benches out the front which is a pleasant enough spot to watch the world go by. There is a skittles alley at the back and a match was in progress on our visit.

Even the bar counter itself is split across two levels with the draught ale pumps on the upper bar and everything else on the lower one. Seating in this upper bar is quite limited with just a few stools at the bar, but the lower level is an attractive room with exposed stone walls, a flagstone floor and some chunky pine tables. A number of old metal advertising signs are on the walls and there is a free standing wood burning stove in on corner surrounded by an old sofa and a couple of arm chairs. There are a few books around to peruse, some board games and a darts board in the corner. The only thing that looked somewhat out of place was some rough grey plasterwork on the lower part of the walls. Why anyone would want to obscure the natural stone in this was I’m not sure.

We didn’t inspect the other bars closely, but the main one at the front looked to have more a hotel drawing room feel to it with old wooden boards on the floor, high backed black leather arm chairs and lots of black and white photos on the walls. The remaining rooms looked as though they may have been more geared up for food, with at least one of them having all the tables laid up.

Food wise, the menu offered a good selection of pub grub dishes such as Burger, Fish & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips and Sausage & Mash. There were also several fish options. Prices were perhaps slightly above your usual pub prices with the most of the mains being in the £10 - £12 range, although there were a few more expensive options as well. My Beer Battered Haddock & Chips was a decent enough dish with tender, flaky chunks of fish although if I were being critical I would say that some more fish and less chips would have been good. A cold seafood platter of Smoked Salmon & Trout, Crayfish Tails, Shell on Prawns & Cornish Crab was very good, but then at £16 you could argue that it should be.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Butcombe and Glastonbury’s Mystery Tor. The solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold, unless you count some Raspberry concoction from Sheppy’s.

23 Aug 2013 11:08

The Flying Fox, Milton Keynes

An attractive, part thatched pub on the A5 just south of Milton Keynes, it is part of the Vintage Inns chain and thus whilst it’s nice enough it does have a slightly formulaic feel similar to most of their other establishments. The side of the pub away from the main road is in a no through road and has a few tables and chairs in the garden which is a pleasant spot.

Inside it’s split in to a number of different areas, although they all flow through from one to the other rather than being entirely separate rooms. The emphasis is very much on food here, with most, if not all of the tables being laid up. As is often the case in such establishments, service at the bar could be painfully slow. When I arrived, there was another punter waiting and nobody around. After waiting for a couple of minutes I went off to find someone, and said I’d like to get a drink. Her immediate reply was to ask if I was eating; apparently if I was I had to have table service, I wasn’t allowed to order at the bar. That said, the staff all seemed pleasant enough.

Décor wise, it’s all a bit generic and rather similar to their other pubs as I recall. That said, it does have a bit more character than some of the other chains that just look like hotel bars. There’s was plenty of “old” oak around, paintwork was a mixture of cream and maroon and the flooring was a mixture of carpet, wood strip and tiling. A few random drawings were on the wall and there was one old leather sofa to sit on if you weren’t eating. A small TV was mounted on one wall which seemed a little out of place, but this was not in use. Elsewhere were a couple of fruit machines.

The menu was extensive as might be expected and should offer something to suit most tastes. Main courses were divided in to Classics which consisted of options such as Fish & Chips, Gammon & Chips, Hunter’s Chicken, Fish Cakes, etc., and these were mostly in the £8 - £10 range. There was also a Seasonal Favourites section which included Sea Bass, Pork Belly and Duck Breast. These were more expensive at £12 - £15 or so. My Fish Pie was a decent enough dish and a generous portion and came complete with a rather more interesting side salad than is usually the case including soya beans and pomegranate seeds among other things.

Beers on tap were Ubu Purity and Adnams Southwold. Ciders were a slightly disappointing Strongbow and Aspall’s Suffolk.

20 Aug 2013 07:58

The Kings Head, Cheddar

This is very much a traditional local’s pub in the old part of Cheddar, well away from the throngs of tourists in the nearby Gorge. It’s an attractive looking thatched building with a couple of picnic benches out the front and a large car park.

Inside it’s consists primarily of two rooms, although other areas seem to have been cobbled on to it at some point. The two original bars were broadly similar décor wise with a quarried tile floor, beamed ceiling, exposed stone walls and a large fire-place at the front. The front one had a large number of trophies on a shelf in the corner. A passage way to the rear had a number of old metal advertising signs on the wall such as Pears Soap, although going on their pristine condition I assume these were reproductions rather than originals. This led to an area that must have been outside at one time, but has had some Perspex roofing installed to make another indoor room with a couple of old leather sofas, although without any heating as far as I could ascertain so it’s going to be rather cold in the winter I would have thought. The roof covering also has the advantage that the loos are now effectively inside, instead of separate blocks at the rear as was previously the case.

Beyond this was a good sized rear garden with a number of picnic benches and a kid’s slider as well as a small patio and some covered decking for the smokers. The landlady seemed friendly enough, and whilst the locals were not unfriendly, some of the language was a little colourful and it was very male dominated which may not suit everyone. It would appear that food is not offered, going on the fact that we were there on a Sunday lunchtime and there was no sign of anything then.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Bombardier. Ciders were well represented with Cheddar Valley, Thatcher’s Gold and Stowford Press.

19 Aug 2013 17:25

The George Inn, Abbots Leigh

Since my previous review this has been closed for some time and has now re-opened under new ownership. This is a shame as I enjoyed my previous visit there and had a very good meal. Decor wise it’s largely unchanged, although the partition between the two bars has been removed and the brown paintwork has been replaced with green. I also spotted a garden at the rear along with a patio area and usefully a hatch straight in to the bar for service.

The emphasis still seems to be on food here, and the prices of the main courses are now in the £10 - £15 range, although there is also a much more limited menu offering two courses for £9.50. I chose from this menu and found it to be very good value. My Fried Whiting with Chips, Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce (the sauce was deconstructed, so was just a bowl of capers, pieces of gherkin, etc.!) was a decent enough dish, although perhaps a little light on the fish. Similarly a desert of Rich Chocolate Torte was very pleasant. Less successful perhaps was a Lamb Neck Fillet from the main menu. This had been cooked for 12 hours so was beautifully tender, but could have done with some sauce or juice to liven it up a bit, and the accompanying Rainbow Chard had a decidedly burnt taste to it. At £13.50 it seemed expensive, although it was a decent sized hunk of meat.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Gem, Purity Mad Goose and Salopian Shropshire Gold. Cider’s were Thatcher’s Gold and Symonds Founders Reserve.

16 Aug 2013 09:19

The White Hart, Sherington

This is a pleasant pub in an attractive village and is now the only one remaining nearby now that The Swan has been turned in to a private house. There is some outside seating in the courtyard at the front as well as an enclosed beer garden at the rear that had a hen wandering around in amongst the tables.

Inside it consists of three rooms, although these are just partitioned off from one another rather than being entirely separate. The main bar in the middle has a tiled floor and a stone chimney breast at one end complete with an oversized clock hung above it and a large cut-out of a cat sat in the hearth. A small snug to the right had a wood floor with a few chunky wooden tables, some exposed stone wall and a wood burning stove. The walls were white plasterwork with black wooden detailing. There was some blue bench seating in the bay window and a couple of old black and white photo’s on the walls.

To the left was a room more geared up for dining with whitewashed stone walls and a vaulted ceiling. Besides the aforementioned garden there was also a covered courtyard area complete with a plasma screen at one end. The barmaid was friendly and helpful, although the waitress who brought the food a little less so.

Food wise, the menu offered a good selection of pub grub dishes including Ham Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips and a Burger as well as a few more adventurous options with most of the main courses being somewhere around the £10 mark and a selection of tapas dishes. My Sea Bass Fillet on a bed of Thai noodles and vegetables was one of the more expensive options at £14.50 but was a pleasant enough dish. If I were being critical I’d say that it could perhaps have been both a little tastier and a more generous portion but nonetheless I would be happy to return and try something else.

Beers on tap were Spitfire, Potton’s Lion Pale Ale, Adnams Southwold and Hopping Mad Brainstorm. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Weston’s Family Reserve which makes a change from the usual rubbish around these parts.

13 Aug 2013 22:25

The White Hart, Sherington

This is a pleasant pub in an attractive village and is now the only one remaining nearby now that The Swan has been turned in to a private house. There is some outside seating in the courtyard at the front as well as an enclosed beer garden at the rear that had a hen wandering around in amongst the tables.

Inside it consists of three rooms, although these are just partitioned off from one another rather than being entirely separate. The main bar in the middle has a tiled floor and a stone chimney breast at one end complete with an oversized clock hung above it and a large cut-out of a cat sat in the hearth. A small snug to the right had a wood floor with a few chunky wooden tables, some exposed stone wall and a wood burning stove. The walls were white plasterwork with black wooden detailing. There was some blue bench seating in the bay window and a couple of old black and white photo’s on the walls.

To the left was a room more geared up for dining with whitewashed stone walls and a vaulted ceiling. Besides the aforementioned garden there was also a covered courtyard area complete with a plasma screen at one end. The barmaid was friendly and helpful, although the waitress who brought the food a little less so.

Food wise, the menu offered a good selection of pub grub dishes including Ham Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips and a Burger as well as a few more adventurous options with most of the main courses being somewhere around the £10 mark and a selection of tapas dishes. My Sea Bass Fillet on a bed of Thai noodles and vegetables was one of the more expensive options at £14.50 but was a pleasant enough dish. If I were being critical I’d say that it could perhaps have been both a little tastier and a more generous portion but nonetheless I would be happy to return and try something else.

Beers on tap were Spitfire, Potton’s Lion Pale Ale, Adnams Southwold and Hopping Mad Brainstorm. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Weston’s Family Reserve which makes a change from the usual rubbish around these parts.

13 Aug 2013 22:25

The Somerset House, Bristol

Although this has been a Clifton Village stalwart for many years, it has recently undergone an extensive renovation and there is now much more of an emphasis on food. In fact the signage outside has been changed to say “Pub & Kitchen” and the loos have been shifted upstairs to make way for the open kitchen where you can see the chefs hard at work. Apparently there are also plans afoot to open a Champagne & Gin Bar upstairs which will no doubt suit the local well heeled residents.

As soon as you get in to the hallway there is now glass partitioning in to the front bar which gives it a more open feel. This is the larger of the two bars and seems to be used for a mixture of drinking and eating. The tables are mostly small round and metal with bar stools to sit on. This didn’t strike me as particularly comfy to eat at, but nonetheless at least one of these was reserved. A large brick chimney breast with a wood burning stove was a prominent feature with a few rifles hung above it. The flooring is dark boards and this continued down a couple of steps in to the rear bar with a wine rack partition between the two areas.

This rear bar is very much more geared up for eating with a table for fourteen reserved on our visit. As previously mentioned an open plan kitchen is off to the right and this was adorned with strings of garlic and chillies. To further emphasis the foody nature of the pub, an industrial food mixer was a decorative feature next to the kitchen counter. To the left is black button back bench seating, there is some exposed brick work on the walls and elsewhere is the usual shade of gastro-pub green paintwork. An arched ceiling with a skylight at the top has been painted in a contrasting cream colour. The tables here came complete with retro “3D” binoculars which was an unusual feature.

To menus were offered, a regular and a specials. These offered a decent selection of dishes, with most of the mains being somewhere around £10 - £15 on the regular menu and £15+ on the specials menu. I enjoyed both my starter of Lime Bay Crab on toast and a main course of Pan Fried Brill, Scallop and Prawn tagliatelle. Slightly less successful in my opinion was a desert of Apple Doughnut with Mulled Cider and Toffee Sauce. Not there was anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t as good as I expected. Three courses for two and a bottle of wine came to £80 though, so this is clearly a cut above your regular “pub grub”.

Beers on tap were predominantly from Caledonian with their Deuchars IPA, Flying Scotsman and Golden XPA. The only other beer option was their own Somerset House Ale. Ciders were Symonds Founders Reserve and Scrumpy Jack.

12 Aug 2013 20:26

The Boot, Soulbury

A good sized pub on the edge of this attractive village, it looks as though it may have had a bit of a makeover at some point but nonetheless still retains a fairly traditional air unlike many others of it’s ilk which have had any semblance of originality stripped out.

The main bar is at the front of the pub and has something of a farmhouse kitchen feel to it with it’s red quarry tiles, pale green paintwork on the walls, cream painted beamed ceiling and plain wooden furniture. Seating was fairly limited here in spite of the room being a good size. Besides two or three bench tables, there were a number of stools at the bar that had been arranged in to a semi-circle by the locals, and a single black leather sofa next to what was probably a fire-place at one time but had been knocked through to simply provide a partition in to the rear room. A plasma stuck on the wall to one side looked slightly out of place, but fortunately was not in use.

This smaller room at the rear continued a similar decor theme and had a large brick fire-place at the rear with a black wooden mantle. A pile of logs in the grate suggested that it may be pressed in to use in the colder weather. Another room at the front was more geared up for dining with all the tables laid up for food, and this had a slightly more contemporary feel, although the pale green paintwork and quarry tiled floor continued along with some floral artwork on the walls. The pub also has outside seating consisting of some decking and a small garden at the rear as well as a few tables and chairs at the front.

The food menu offered a good selection of dishes, although these were clearly a cut above your usual “pub grub” with most of the main courses in the £15 - £20 range. There were also a couple of specials boards, one offering a similarly priced range and the other a “bar specials” range. These were more pub like dishes and included Ham Egg & Chips, Lasagne, Burger and a Steak & Ale Pie but even these were £12.95. My Salmon & Crab Fishcakes were one of the cheaper options at £14.95 and were a decent and tasty dish. If I was being critical I would say that they were perhaps a little on the small side, but then crab’s not a cheap ingredient and there was plenty of it in there.

Beers on tap were Old Speckled Hen, Greene King IPA and Doom Bar. Ciders were Strongbow and Weston’s Old Rosie. Overall I thought this was a decent enough pub with a good mix of food and drink offerings. Staff were pleasant and helpful, although the young waitress didn’t seem particularly switched on – is it really necessary to use a calculator to add £14.95 and £4.95 for instance? On the downside, it’s not quite as “pubby” as some places, and of course the food is not cheap.

6 Aug 2013 22:07

The Beaufort Arms, Hawkesbury Upton

A traditional, stone built pub in this small village, it would appear to be a popular spot with locals but on a recent Sunday afternoon visit there were clearly a number of visitors there, no doubt due to the fact that one of the eighty Gromits from the “Gromit Unleashed” trail currently on around Bristol was in the small beer garden at the back.

The pub consists of three rooms. The public bar at the front of the pub is the smallest, and this was a pleasant room with beams on the ceiling, mustard colour paintwork and dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. Flooring was mostly wood and there was a brick fire-place to one side with a wood burning stove. A plasma was stuck on the wall above this which spoilt the look of the brick chimney breast somewhat, but at least it was turned off. An old ship’s lantern was sat on top of the stove and there was various brewery memorabilia about such as old mirrors from Bass and Youngs.

To the rear of this is a much larger room that looks as though it was a skittle alley at one time, and perhaps still is, but also doubles as a function room. This had a high vaulted ceiling and a number of old metal advertising signs were on the walls from companies such as Cadburys and the Western Daily Press. There was some flagstone flooring in here besides light wood strip. A lounge bar to the right had slightly more of a food focus with some tables being reserved, but was still a pleasant room and there were a few punters sat up on stools at the bar.

Beers on tap were Cotswold Spring’s Stunner, Bath Ales Spa and Bristol Beer Factory’s Acer. Another pump for BBF No. 7 appeared to have run out. Ciders were also well represented with Stowford Press and Ashton Press as well as both Bounders and Bounders Traditional from Bath Ales.

5 Aug 2013 22:03

Fox Inn, Carlton

This is an attractive thatched village pub with a small beer garden at the front, and it was good to see it almost full on a recent mid-week early evening visit, although it didn’t empty out a bit later on suggesting perhaps that many of the clientele pop in for a couple of pints before going home. Most of the punters seemed to be locals who knew each other or the landlady.

It’s quite a small single room pub other than a restaurant area at the back, although this was in darkness when I visited. It has a fairly typical country pub appearance with a low beamed ceiling and the obligatory horse brasses dotted around. The flooring is a tartan carpet and there was a large brick chimney at one end which had a fox carved in to it. Seating options were limited with only five or six tables and a few bar stools. At the other end of the pub was a darts board and a table top (Northamptonshire?) skittles game along with a rolled up projector screen. I thought that was a bit out of place in this pub, but presumably it’s only pressed in to service for major sporting events. A small trophy cabinet and a few old black and white photo’s of the locale completed the interior furnishings.

The food offering was a basic “pub grub” affair with options such as Haddock & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Burger, Sausage & Mash, etc., along with several ciabatta based choices. Most of the main courses were around the £7 mark although on a Wednesday they offer a few additional choices from a £5 set price menu. My Scampi & Chips did what it said on the tin. It was an ok dish, although the chips were somewhat soggy and overcooked. Overall I’d be happy to return and try something else though.

Beers on tap were Eagle IPA, Tribute and Hurricane from the Buntingford Brewery. A fourth pump for Woodfordes Wherry appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk.

1 Aug 2013 14:17

The Poole Arms, Poole

An unusual looking pub covered in green tiling on Poole’s popular quay front, it makes the most of it’s position with outside seating to enjoy the views. It has a somewhat more traditional feel than many of the brasher bars nearby, and was quite quiet when we visited on a recent Sunday evening, with only half a dozen other punters in. The downside of this was that the two young barmaids were so bored they appeared almost comatosed, and it took them some time to notice that a punter did want serving on occasions. A similarly lackadaisical attitude was displayed when wiping down the tables – I can’t believe she actually wiped around the beer mats rather than bothering to move them! Together with the very quiet background music, you almost felt as though you had to talk in a whisper to avoid disturbing anyone. An unusual situation for a pub.

The interior is mostly wood panelled and has a slightly nautical feel reminiscent of a ship’s cabin with white wood panelling on the ceiling and an old ship’s wheel on the wall. The theme is continued with a number of old black and white photos of ships on the walls as well as a few of old Poole. The floor is old flagstones and there were flower pots on the window sills. Behind the wood panelled bar an old brick fire-place, although this has been blocked in and is now using as shelving for the bottles of spirits.

Beers on tap were Fortyniner and Best from Ringwood along with Wickwar’s BOB. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

1 Aug 2013 08:47

The Lord Nelson, Poole

One of many pubs along The Quay, this is perhaps a bit more of a traditional boozer than some of it’s neighbours but naturally makes the most of the views with plenty of outside seating.

Inside it’s an L-shape bar with a somewhat run down feel, and like many of the nearby hostelries it has a vaguely nautical theme with dark blue and cream paintwork and various parts of ships on display such as an instrument cluster and a anchor chain reel. The flooring is mostly old flagstones with some carpet around the perimeter, and there is a small stage area in the corner. It would appear that live music is on most nights, and the Sunday evening we were there it was a 60’s Rock’n’Roll band, who probably weren’t too bad but were evidently trying to play at a somewhat higher volume than their PA equipment allows, with the resultant music being rather distorted.

A free standing wood burning stove stood at the front of the pub surrounded by piles of logs and a railing. Off to one side was an old space invaders game, and a plasma was on a wall to the left. Around the corner at the rear there was a pool table, table football game and a darts board. Unusually besides the usual condom machine in the gents, there was also one dispensing vibrators – just £5 including batteries, but I didn’t try one myself.

Beers on tap were all from the Hall & Woodhouse stable with their Badger, Tanglefoot and Hopping Hare. Ciders were Stowford Press and Weston’s Traditional Scrumpy.

31 Jul 2013 13:31

The Angel, Poole

A pub in the old town area of Poole that is painted in an unusual battleship grey colour, it’s no doubt an old building and was quite historic at one time but it’s clearly been refurbished and is now one large open room wrapped around a wood panelled, oval bar counter.

It has something of a nautical feel with blue and white paintwork and even white wood panelling on the ceiling along with a strip wood floor. There is a small courtyard area at the back and a couple more tables out on the pedestrianised area in front of the pub. There were a few black and white photo’s of old Poole on the walls and a brick fireplace on the left. The young barmaid had zero personality and seemed barely able to speak. Why on earth she thought she’d like a job that involved conversing with members of the public I can’t imagine.

Beers on tap were all from Ringwood with their Fortyniner, Best, Old Thumper and Boondoggle. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Cheddar Valley.

31 Jul 2013 13:13

The King Charles Inn, Poole

A traditional and good sized pub just off The Quay, it consists of a single bar in the main part of the pub with a function room up a few stairs to the left. This had an attractive vaulted ceiling and was hosting a RNLI benefit gig on the evening we visited.

Despite being one open room, it’s divided in to a few different areas by virtue of the décor. At the front to the left is a small snug reminiscent of a hotel drawing room with a few beams on the ceiling and opposite this was an old grandfather clock. The walls were white washed stone and these had been covered on the lower half with dark wood panelling and there was also some exposed brickwork including an old pillar. At the rear this gave way to red paintwork. A plasma screen was also at the rear showing a darts match and there was also a darts board and some type of miniature snooker table (I’m sure there’s a proper name for it, all the pockets were at one end).

Food wise, the menu looked to be a traditional “pub grub” affair with options such as Scampi & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Burger, Sausage & Mash, Chilli Con Carne, etc. Most of these were priced somewhere around the £7 mark, although we didn’t sample anything so I can’t comment on the quality.

Drinks on tap were Doom Bar and Bombardier whilst the ciders were Strongbow and Thatcher’s Gold.

31 Jul 2013 10:15

The Portsmouth Hoy, Poole

One of several pubs on The Quay that make the most of the pleasant views and provide some outside seating, this is perhaps somewhat more of a traditional pub than some of it’s compatriots and is a pleasant enough place to stop for a pint.

It’s a single room bar with dark wood flooring, a few oak beams on parts of the ceiling and wood cladding elsewhere. A couple of old beer barrels had been pressed in to use as tables for you to rest your pint on and there were various nautically themed pictures on the wall such as boats and fish. Some wood and glass partitions on the right separated the area in to booths with leatherette bench seating around a table. A small raised area at the rear had wood panelling on the walls.

The menu looked to concentrate mainly on fish dishes, and price wise these appeared to be a step up from your usual pub grub with most of the main courses somewhere in the £12 - £15 range. We didn’t eat though, so can’t comment on the quality. Staff seemed quite switched on and were often seen wiping down tables when they were vacated.

Beers on tap were all from the Hall & Woodhouse stable with their Tanglefoot, Badger and Hopping Hare. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

30 Jul 2013 23:19

The Antelope, Poole

One of two pubs immediately next to each other just off the Quay, this is a single room U-shape pub although differing decor styles serve to divide up the internal space somewhat.

The more traditional pub area is across the front, and this has plenty of beams on the ceiling, some exposed brick walls and a brick fireplace with a wood burning stove although the lack of any visible flue suggested that it was perhaps more decorative than functional. To the left was a raised area with dark wood panelling on the walls and a couple of church pews arranged end on. There were a couple of plasma screens on each side showing a news channel, although the volume was off and so this was not intrusive.

To the rear is a slightly less attractive area with maroon paintwork on the upper part of the walls and wood panelling down below that has been painted in a rusty brown shade that looks suspiciously like the stuff that I’ve used on my garden shed. A number of lifeboat pictures were on the walls whilst the flooring was a mixture of carpet, wooden boards and tiling. Outside seating consists of a courtyard and some decking at the rear.

The food menu was extensive and divided in to several different sections. Most of the mains were somewhere around the £8 mark, although there was also a fixed price menu with one course for £5.95 and a few “daily specials” although the actual date on the menu was a few days previously. My Chilli Beef Burritos with soured cream and cheese was a tasty enough dish although the few very tired leaves of lettuce that came with it were both superfluous and past their best.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA, Abbott Ale, Old Speckled Hen and something called Landlord’s Choice Smugglers Ale which I suspect is a generic brew from the GK stable. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

30 Jul 2013 22:46

Swan, Woburn Sands

I’ve driven past this pub on several occasions and with it’s unusual wood cladding it always struck me as somewhat ramshackle and not particularly inviting. When I did get around to trying it, I was quite pleasantly surprised and found a pub that whilst perhaps slightly gastro and impersonal was nonetheless well presented and up together.

It’s a good sized pub with a restaurant area off to the left, the main bar has red quarry tiling up through the centre with a mixture of carpet and wood strip elsewhere. The colour scheme was the usual gastro-pub shade of light khaki green and there were pine beams on the ceiling and door frames. The more casual bar area off to the right had brown leather seating, some rather industrial looking metal tables which seemed an odd choice, some exposed brickwork and a LCD TV stuck up on the wall, although the volume was off. At the rear was a large brick fire-place with a black chimney hood although whether it was actually used or just decorative I’m not sure. When I visited in just contained a couple of logs and some candles, but then I wouldn’t expect it to be lit in the height of summer.

Food wise, there was a good selection of dishes divided in to sections such as Surf & Turf, Mains, Land (ie; veggie) and Burgers. Prices varied considerably, but most of the mains were somewhere in the region of £10 - £15, so certainly at the pricier end of pub food. My Sticky Chicken with a Lemon, Honey & Chilli sauce was actually a pleasant and tasty dish, and one of the cheapest options at £8.95. Certainly I would be happy to return and try something else.

Beers on tap were London Pride, Adnams Southwold and Purity’s Mad Goose. Ciders were a somewhat uninspiring Strongbow and Aspall’s Suffolk.

23 Jul 2013 23:06

RSVP, Bath

This is now a Slug & Lettuce as rsvplegend has noted below (seven years ago, and the admin’s still haven’t updated the entry!). The pub follows the usual rather bland, corporate style and limited range of beers that one would expect from this chain, although in this case it does have a redeeming feature in that it has a reasonable size beer terrace/patio at the rear which is quite a sun trap and venues with outside seating are in limited supply in the local area. There are also a few more tables and chairs on the wide pavement at the front.

Inside it’s all very generic and feels more like you’re in a large hotel chain rather than a pub, particularly a couple of the smaller rooms to the left. Flooring is mostly strip wood, although with carpeting in some areas and tiling around the bar. The backdrop behind the bar is all mirrored tiles and elsewhere are a number of heavy gilt mirrors with purple back lighting. Paintwork is predominantly grey and I noticed a glitter ball towards the rear hinting that it may get somewhat livelier and nosier later on in the evenings. The room at the back has some windows in the ceiling and this together with the large doors leading out on to the patio give a light and airy feel.

Food wise the menu was extensive and divided in to several sections such as mains, burgers, curries, salads, pasta and even an “under 500 calories” section. Most of the mains were in the £8 - £11 range, although many more were available at £6.45. We didn’t eat however, so can’t comment on the quality. Service at the bar was slow and haphazard, even though they weren’t particularly busy. Several staff seemed to be milling around without really achieving much. In contrast though was the pleasant and helpful young lady serving in the garden who even offered to go and find us a table from a store room since they were all in use and we had only managed to get a couple of odd chairs.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Dartmoor Jail Ale. Ciders were somewhat uninspiring with just Strongbow and Magner’s Golden Draught.

22 Jul 2013 23:27

The Hare and Hounds, Bath

An imposing stone built pub that looks as though it may perhaps have been a school in a former life, there are fantastic views across the valley towards Batheaston and the hills of Wiltshire beyond. The pub makes the most of this by providing plenty of picnic benches on the lawned garden as well as an outside bar and barbeque in a marquee and a good selection of tables and chairs on the terrace. It’s a bit of a shame that this faces east and so completely loses the evening sun, but it’s still a very pleasant spot. The downside was that there were perhaps one or too many kids running around for my liking, particularly when they’re kicking a football around. This was surprising as it doesn’t strike me as a pub that aims to attract children, so it may of course just been a one off when we visited. It’s very much in the “gastro” category these days, and is, I believe, run by the same team behind the Malborough Tavern and Chequers.

Inside it has a fairly traditional appearance with old wooden boards on the floor, a mixture of cream and blue/grey paintwork on the walls and a cream panelled ceiling. There are full height leaded windows all along the back wall to make the most of the views even if you’re sat inside. There was an old fire-place at the rear and a conservatory off to one side. This had massive black flagstones on the floor and exposed stone wall and doubles up as the restaurant, although there were also several tables reserved in the main bar. Some wildlife artwork was for sale on the walls, appropriately enough of a hare and a hound, and these were priced in the £280 - £300 range. It looks as though there may also have been a lounge bar at the front, although we did not investigate this.

As previously mentioned, food is in the gastro-pub category, although the menu was split in to two with one section on pub classics and this included options such as Haddock & Chips, a burger or steak. These were mostly in the £10 - £12 price bracket, whilst the more adventurous main courses from the other section were in the £15 - £20 range. I chose from here and had a tasting of Dorset pork with sage confit potato, caramelised apple and a smoked paprika sauce. All in all it was a pretty decent dish, and I would happily return to try something else.

Beers on tap were their own Hare & Hounds ale along within St. Austell’s Tribute. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve.

22 Jul 2013 20:50

The Swan, Salford

A good sized village pub that looks to have had a recent makeover, and is now very firmly in the “gastro” category, even to the extent that a blackboard at the rear or the pub name checks the chef and gives a short résumé of his career. Judging by the Range Rovers, BMW’s and other prestige vehicles in the large car park, it’s does not appear to be at the budget end of the gastro scale either.

It’s essentially a square pub with a central bar area dividing it in to two halves, although you can walk all the way round. The larger area to the left is very much the dining room with all tables laid up for food and a view in to the kitchen via an etched glass window, but to be fair to them the bar on the right does look to be more suited to drinkers with brown leather arm chairs. There was a fire-place at each end, although at least one of these was clearly decorative rather than functional with just a pile of logs in an otherwise empty grate. The other one had a wood burning stove and may perhaps be used in the colder weather. Décor wise it’s the usual gastro-pub shade of brown with wooden strip flooring either side and some colourful tiles in the middle giving it something of a Mediterranean feel. There is also a pleasant garden at the front of the pub with plenty of seating, and this was full to capacity on a recent warm summer’s evening.

The menu offered a reasonable selection of dishes and was divided in to a few sections such as mains, chargrills, salads and rice and there was also a specials board with a few additional choices. My earlier assumptions about their pricing structure was proved correct with the cheapest main course (ham, egg & chips) coming in at £12.50 and the majority being somewhere around the £15 mark. If you were feeling extravagant, you could spend £29 on a steak, plus a further £3.50 on top if you wanted chips with it. My Salmon Fishcakes with a Niçoise Salad and Basil Mayo was a decently cooked dish with plenty of salmon, and was one of the cheaper options at £13.50. If I was being critical I would say that it could have done with more flavour, but that’s probably personal preference more than anything else.

Beers on tap were slightly uninspiring with just Greene King IPA and Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk. Be aware that the beer supply can be somewhat erratic – I have been in previously when both had run out.

17 Jul 2013 08:51

Caldecotte Arms, Milton Keynes

A unusual and good sized “Fayre & Square” pub built around a windmill and attached to a Premier Inn on the banks of Caldecotte Lake. There is an extensive grass area between the pub and the lake and there are plenty of picnic benches here to make the most of the pleasant views, as well as a small terrace area at the back of the pub.

The building itself appears to be a mixture of old and modern, with many of the original features of the windmill apparently retained, such as old oak beams and an brick tower with a high archway that looks as though it may have been part of the old mill. All this had me fooled anyway – on chatting to someone who has lived in the area for many years, I discovered that previously there was nothing here at all and it was built in the 1970’s along with the rest of Milton Keynes. Besides the faux old stuff, the remainder of the décor is the usual mix of bland corporate colours and furniture that one always finds in such establishments.

Besides the aforementioned “old” brick mill, there is also a conical brick tower just inside the entrance and this leads to a galleried landing which looks to be a pleasant spot. The pub is clearly built to make the most of the lake views, with several large windows all along the back wall. There were a number of generic pictures on the walls and a “grab” machine such as you often get at fair grounds – one filled with the usual selection of cuddly toys and the other with miniature bars of chocolate. At 40p a go, this seemed expensive; I wouldn’t have thought a miniature bar of chocolate would cost that much to buy and at least then you know you’re going to end up with one.

The food offering looked to be very much the cheap and cheerful, mass produced variety and offered an extensive choice of dishes divided in to sections such as pub favourites, burgers, chicken, seafood, grills, etc. Most of the mains were around the £6 - £8 mark, although many of them were also available as part of a “2 for £10” deal. Other deals were also available such as Wednesday curry nights.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Hobgoblin. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. This is not really my sort of pub, but they have made an effort to build an interesting building, even if it is all fake, and the views over the lake are very good.

16 Jul 2013 13:08

Courtyard Wine Bar, Nailsea

Since my previous review, this has been closed for a few months after the previous landlady retired. Since then it’s been refurbished and extended and is now back open. Passing by one lunchtime I thought it looked more like a café than a pub with blue and white chequered tablecloths on all the tables. It has perhaps a bit of a French theme now, and this is reflected in the nationality of the landlord as well as some of the pictures on the walls.

The area that was formerly an outside patio area has now been covered over with an extension, doubling the size of the pub. This still has a semi outdoors feel however with a paved floor, glass roof, large bi-folding doors and even a water feature (and a parrot in a cage). There is still a minimal amount of outside seating, although this is in the part of the courtyard that serves other businesses. If you don’t mind being overlooked by a barbers and a garden shop, along with all their customers squeezing past, then I’m sure it’s fine. Inside it’s been spruced up and has a more contemporary feel with fresh cream paintwork on the walls and new furniture.

Food is offered, although I didn’t check the menu. All I noticed was a blackboard advertising Sunday lunch between 12:00 – 5:00. The only beer on tap was Bath’s Gem along with their Dark Side stout. The solitary cider was Bounders from the same company. Oddly there was no lemonade on tap, so if you wanted a shandy or even a soft drink then your only option was to buy several small mixer bottles which would presumably have been rather expensive.

16 Jul 2013 11:49

The Magpies, Woburn

As mikey64 pointed out more than two years ago, this is now Longs Inn, but, surprise, surprise, the listing has not been updated…

At one time this must have been a traditional old coaching inn and in many ways still looks the part, but has also clearly had something of a contemporary makeover. It consists of a public bar to the left, a lounge/restaurant area to the right and a courtyard garden at the rear. It would appear that accommodation is also offered. It was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening visit, and it looked as though all the punters that were there may have been residents. The public bar is currently closed for refurbishment, so unfortunately I am unable to leave much in the way of a detailed review for this. The landlady was friendly and helpful.

The lounge and restaurant off to the right consists of a small lounge area at the front with just a couple of tables, leather arm chairs and a sofa. Further back it opens out in to the restaurant with a small bar counter dominated by a coffee machine. This has quite a contemporary feel with wooden boards on the floor, khaki green paintwork on the walls with white detailing elsewhere and a number of black ceiling and support beams. The tables were all laid up for food and the chairs were of the upright, brown leather variety. A couple of arty black and white photos were hung on the wall and there was a brick fire-place. From what I could see of the bar this had a tiled floor and a large brick fire-place with a wood burning stove as well as some exposed brick wall elsewhere.

The menu was fairly succinct, and appeared to be aimed slightly higher than your usual “pub grub”, but certainly nothing too gastro-like. Most of the mains were around the £10 mark and consisted of option such as smoked haddock fishcakes, sausage and mash and a venison burger. My meatballs with tomato and basil pasta and garlic bread was a decent enough dish and generously proportioned. Possibly the price was slightly ambitious at £10.50, but I’ve no complaints and would happily return to try something else.

Beers on tap were the local Fenny Popper from the Concrete Cow Brewery and the ubiquitous Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

10 Jul 2013 08:11

The Red Lion, Salford

A pleasant and traditional village pub, it consists of two rooms with one very much more geared up for eating since all the tables were laid up for food. Staff were pleasant and friendly, and there is a good sized beer garden at the rear, although this is predominantly just grass with limited seating.

The bar area to the left has a carpeted floor, except for some pale tiles in front of the bar counter, and pale blue wood panelling on the lower part of the walls with cream plasterwork above. There is a brick fire-place to one side, although at this time of year all it had in it were a couple of candles. Various pictures adorned the walls. The restaurant area to the right was a similar decor with chunky pine tables and a slightly larger fire-place.

The menu was extensive and offered all manner of dishes divided in to sections such as burgers, fish, mains, vegetarian, omelettes, etc., with most options being somewhere in the £8 - £12 mark. My Chicken Curry seemed ambitiously priced at £11, but it was a generous portion of tender chicken and came with naan bread and a mango chutney rather than the usual greasy poppadoms. Personally I would have preferred it somewhat tastier, but overall I have no complaints.

The menu mentioned that they had been in the good beer for 20 years, so the choice on tap was surprisingly uninspired with just Bombardier and Eagle IPA. Perhaps it’s very well kept. The solitary cider was Scrumpy Jack, which although not a particular favourite of mine is better than the usual rubbish that you find around these parts. All in all, a decent pub and worth a visit.

2 Jul 2013 22:44

The Swan, Salford

A pub that looks to have been recently refurbished and very much in the gastro category. Unfortunately I am unable to leave a detailed review at this time, as despite two hand pumps on the bar (Greene King IPA and Doom Bar), they apparently didn't have any beer on. The only cider was the cloyingly sweet Aspall's Suffolk (although whether they actually managed to have this in stock I'm not sure) so I swiftly departed and went elsewhere.

2 Jul 2013 22:27

White Hart, Stoke Goldington

Recently re-opened, refurbished and even renamed to The Malting House after a spell of closure, this is now a very contemporary pub with an emphasis on food, although there is still a small bar area available for drinkers and there were a couple of locals enjoying a pint on a recent Tuesday evening visit. Unlike many pubs which have signs on the door denoting bar and lounge, this has a bar and restaurant, so clearly you’re not intended to just have a drink in the latter. There is also a small patio area at the rear of the pub as well as a beer garden with a few picnic benches.

The bar is quite small as mentioned previously, but is a pleasant enough space with exposed stone walls on two sides, pale blue paintwork elsewhere and a small fireplace. Seating is limited with just a couple of tables, a few stools and some bench seating in the window. A few old beams above the bar counter hint as what it must have been like before it’s makeover. When I got there initially there were half a dozen guys sat round one of the few tables and it was uncomfortably noisy though and I was glad to get to the restaurant. Later on when they had gone, it was a totally different atmosphere and much more pleasant. There was a small tray of tasty sausage portions on the bar which was an unusual touch. To the rear of the bar is a small snug with about three tables and a very contemporary red and grey colour scheme, but the tables here were all laid up for food.

The restaurant area also has a couple of old fire-places to compliment the modern styling, but other than that it’s pale grey paintwork, artistic black and white photos of the locality on the walls and various displays of wine bottles along the mantle piece and stacked in recesses in the wall. The menu is divided in to bar and restaurant options and it would seem that if you choose from one you have to sit in that area. It’s not possible for example, to eat a restaurant menu in the bar. The bar menu was very limited and consisted of just a few baguettes plus pub classics such as Ham Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips or a burger all for £8. The restaurant menu offered more options but was still fairly concise with about half a dozen choices per course. These were more in the £12 - £15 range, although the fillet steak was over £20. My Baked fillet of cod with macaroni cheese was a straightforward dish, but quite pleasant and enjoyable. If I were being critical it would have been nice if the fish had been filleted and the sauce could have done with being cheesier, but I was still quite happy with it. Staff were pleasant and helpful, although the waitress’s habit of finishing every single sentence with “You’re welcome” got slightly irritating after a while.

Beers on tap were Brakespear Bitter, Jennings Cumberland, Sunbeam and Patriot American IPA. The cider was Thatcher’s Gold which was a bit of a result, and a very pleasant change from the ubiquitous Strongbow around these parts.

19 Jun 2013 08:15

The Grebe, Great Holm

A fairly unremarkable chain estate pub, it is nonetheless somewhat better than I was expecting and it looks as though it may have recently had a refurbishment. It consists of one large open plan room although this is divided in to a couple of different areas with some dark wooden balustrade and stained glass partitions. Outside is a patio area complete with plasma so you can continue to get your sports fix.

Decor wise it consists of a generic corporate style patterned blue carpet, and some pale green khaki paintwork along with a few artistic black and white photos of the local area. At one end was a pool table and darts board and at the other an area which is perhaps more intended for dining with tables containing cutlery, cruet and menus. A fairground style grab machine filled with cuddly toys perhaps gives some indication of the target clientele.

Food wise, the menu was very much of the mass-produced, sizzling variety and consisted of a number of “pub classics” at around the £6 mark as well as a number of steaks, jackets, baguettes, burgers and sizzlers. Various deals are also available on various nights of the week such as curry and pint, sizzler and pint, etc. My Enchillada Sizzler with beef chilli on a bed of peppers and onions with salsa and melted cheese was not too bad as long as you’re happy to accept the fact that it’s not going to be freshly made on site.

Beers on tap were all from the Greene King stable with their IPA and Old Hen’s of the Golden and Speckled variety. There was also a fourth pump that had it’s clip reversed and appeared to be something from Edmunds. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

18 Jun 2013 22:37

The Langton Court Hotel, St Anne's

A traditional and large U-shaped pub in the middle of a residential street, it was good to see it quite busy on a recent Thursday evening visit with most of the tables taken, although it is in a densely populated neighbourhood and there are few other pubs around, so it is perhaps unsurprising even in the current climate.

The main bar area is across the front of the pub and is of a conventional design that has probably not changed much in decades. The larger area to the left is more of a lounge bar with carpeted floor, mustard colour paintwork and a few small beams on the ceiling. A plasma was mounted on the wall at one end showing the golf, but the volume was low and this was not too intrusive. There were a few colonial style circular fans on the ceiling and the wood panelled bar counter had red velvet inlays. A smaller rear bar was off of the lounge.

To the right is more of a public bar area, although this just flowed from the lounge rather than being a separate room. The colour scheme here was a pale blue and the area was dominated by a pool table with some exceptionally bright illumination above it. There was another plasmas on the wall although this was not in use, perhaps because of the ladies darts match that was in progress. A notice board detailed forthcoming skittles fixtures, and there was a large cabinet with plenty of trophies in, suggesting that the pub teams have some success in the local leagues.

The only beer on tap was Theakston’s Best although there was a second pump that had a Courage clip reversed. The solitary cider was Blackthorn, although they were also pouring pints of Natch from plastic bottles – always the sign of a proper Bristol boozer!

14 Jun 2013 09:58

The Chequers, North Crawley

A no frills, street corner boozer in the centre of this small village, it consists of two rooms in an L-shape configuration. It appears very much a local’s pub, and was very male dominated with some colourful language and a somewhat sweaty aroma when I visited, although that is of course no doubt a reflection of the clientele on that particular occasion rather than the pub in general.

The larger of the two rooms runs across the front of the pub and is largely devoid of any furniture, with just a small bench seat at one end and a couple of small tables and chairs at the other. Flooring is wood strip, and there was a large brick fire-place at one end which looked well used along with a TV up in the corner and a darts board. The other smaller room to the side was described as a lounge, but other than some carpet on the floor it had a similar rough and ready appearance to the main bar. There was another small TV in here although this was not in use, and a couple of photo’s depicting pub sports teams and the village from years gone by. All of the punters in the pub subsequently came in here and engaged in some type of casino style game on a folding table.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and London Pride. I tried the latter, and whilst I’m no expert it struck me as being past it’s best with a slight whiff of vinegar. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

12 Jun 2013 10:59

The Cock, North Crawley

A good sized pub in the centre of the village, it consists of a couple of rooms and appears to be a local’s pub that does food rather than a destination dining venue as is the case with so many country pubs these days. Bar staff were friendly and many of the punters seemed to be well known.

The main room to the left is quite long and divided in to two halves. The front half has the bar counter on one side and a very large stone fire-place on the other that housed a wood burning stove and the usual assortment of copper pots and pans. The flooring was attractive tiles that looked a little like flagstones. Seating was a little limited with a mixture of small, circular tables in front of the fire, a large table and chairs in the bay window and a few bar stools.

To the rear was an area perhaps intended a little more for dining, with conventional tables and chairs and a wood laminate floor. Doors at the back led out on to a patio area with some wooden decking. A smaller room was off to the right which looked broadly similar decor wise, although there were a few more beams on the ceiling as well as a TV and a darts board.

The menu was fairly succinct and offered a few “pub grub” options such as breaded chicken or fish & chips, mostly priced somewhere around the £10 mark. On Tuesdays, which was when I visited, they also run a pie night where several pies are available and can be combined with a pint for £9.95. My Chicken & Ham pie was a generous portion with plenty of filling, but the pastry was very hard and the chips were overcooked. Overall it wasn’t bad for the price, but not somewhere where I’d make a special effort to return and try something else.

Beers on tap were Courage Directors, Young’s Special and Eagle IPA. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

11 Jun 2013 22:00

The Fox Inn, Farthinghoe

An old, attractive pub just off the main road through the village, this cannot get much in the way of passing trade but it seemed busy enough on a recent Tuesday evening visit, perhaps helped by the curry night and the war weather. It’s clearly had a makeover at some point, but seems to have nonetheless managed to retain much of it’s charm and character. There is a small but pleasant garden and patio at the rear.

It’s essentially a U-shaped pub divided in to three or four rooms clustered around a central bar. Whilst the décor is similar throughout, they each had their own identity, and all were quite pleasant. The first room when coming in from the rear garden has a bit of a farmhouse kitchen feel to it with chunky pine furniture, and this leads through to an area that is perhaps more geared up for dining with wood boards on the floor, some rustic exposed stone wall and khaki green paintwork elsewhere.

The next bar is perhaps marginally larger and is presumably more aimed at the drinkers, although there is of course no reason why you couldn’t eat here, as I did. There are some attractive mottled tiles on the floor, as well as some green carpet nearer the rear. There is a large brick built fire-place at one end, and this looks as though it is used to burn logs in the colder weather. Walls were a mixture of exposed stone and a combination of wood panelling and plasterwork. The bar counter looked to be solidly made from planks of wood too. Seating was a mixture of tables and chairs and a few leather armchairs, many of them clustered around the fire-place. There were a few board games on a shelf, as well as an old clock and a few black and white photos of the local area. A small TV was on the wall opposite the bar which perhaps looked slightly out of place, but fortunately this was not in use.

The menu managed to strike a good balance between traditional pub grub and the urge to go more upmarket. Most of the mains were around the £10 - £15 mark, so a cut above your usual pub prices, but not excessively so. Options included the usual suspects such as Ham Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips, Burger, etc., as well a few more adventurous dishes such as Duck stir fry with caramelised plums and a Trio of Pork. Since it was Tuesday, I took advantage of their curry night which consisted of a curry and pint for £8. The landlady described it as medium hot, creamy and very tasty. It turned out to be a decent dish, with a generous quantity of tender chicken, rice and poppadoms. I couldn’t really describe it as creamy or tasty though – don’t get me wrong, it was a decent quality dish and I’d no complaints, but it wasn’t the flavoursome option that I had anticipated.

Beer choices appeared to be just Young’s Bitter and the local Pit Stop from Silverstone, although a third pump was not in use so there may be another on occasions. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk. All in all I really liked this pub, with it’s sympathetic refurbishment, decent menu and friendly staff.

5 Jun 2013 08:12

Woolpack, Buckingham

A popular riverside pub just a short stroll from the town centre, this was pretty much full to capacity on a recent mid-week evening visit, although this was no doubt in part due to the pub quiz that was in progress.

It’s a good sized pub, essentially an L-shape and in addition to the inside there’s a pleasant covered patio area as well as the garden leading down to the river. The front bar has a parquet wood floor, a number of quite big circular tables and a couple of brick chimney breasts. One of these was free standing breaking up the interior space somewhat, and the other had a wood burning stove. Both had a few old leather arm chairs and a low table clustered around them.

The rear room was broadly similar with a strip wood floor, terracotta coloured wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and cream plasterwork up above. There were various pieces of artwork for sale on the walls, and a shelf around the top housed a collection of old whisky bottles. There was also a carvery counter down a couple of steps at the rear, although this was not in use.

Unfortunately due to a problem with the kitchen’s extractor fan, the food on offer was somewhat limited (or a “reduced menu” as the barman called it) which was a shame since that was the reason for my visit. Consequently my options consisted of a number of baguettes or a Chicken Ceaser Salad. I went for the latter option which was fine, nothing special, but it did what it said on the tin and it’s difficult to get too excited about a Ceaser Salad. If I were being critical I could say that the amount of parmesan used was negligible and it was perhaps a tad expensive at £7.95.

Beer choices were Black Sheep, Tribute and Doom Bar although there were another three pumps on the bar that were not in use so it may be more extensive than this at other times. Cider’s were a somewhat uninspiring Aspall’s Suffolk and Carlsberg’s Somersby.

30 May 2013 07:47

The Crown Inn, Twyford

A good sized pub in the centre of the village with a few picnic benches out at the front, this seems to be very much a local’s boozer and in many ways had more the look of a members club about it than your traditional pub.

It’s divided in to two rooms, a long room across the front and a larger squarish room at the rear. The front bar had a brick fire-place at each end, one of which was in use burning a few logs. The friendly pub dog was curled up in a basket next to it. Decor wise it is fairly unremarkable, with green carpet on the floor, metal chairs with red velvet upholstery and a brick built bar counter. There were plenty of beams on the ceiling, but these were quite insubstantial and clearly more decorative than functional. The rear bar was a large open space that looked rather like a function room in a village hall and from the sound of it there was a football match showing.

Unfortunately despite the sign outside to the contrary, there was no food available, although the landlady did say I could buy something from the Chinese opposite and bring it back to eat. There must be food on some occasions however as a notice was advertising a forthcoming Italian night.

Although there were a couple of pumps on the bar, regrettably neither were in use. There were a number of beer mats in a frame on the wall suggesting that perhaps the lamentable lack of beer is not always the case. They did however have Thatcher’s Gold cider which was a bit of a result.

29 May 2013 23:14

The White Hart, Preston Bissett

A quaint thatched pub that is somewhat off the beaten track and is hence unlikely to attract much in the way of passing trade. Not only is it in a quiet village, but it’s not even on the main road through the village, instead being up a small side road. As a consequence, it does not open Mondays or Tuesdays, and this was my second attempt at a visit. The landlord is a friendly and talkative Chinese guy called Kevin and since I was the only punter in there on a recent early evening visit, he engaged me in conversation to the extent that I couldn’t take any notes and had to scribble them down in the car once I’d left.

There’s a solitary picnic bench out the front which is a pleasant enough spot, and inside it’s divided in to several small, interconnected rooms with low, beamed ceilins. The main bar at the front has a red tiled floor, bench searing around the perimeter and a brick fire-place with a wood burning stove. There were a few pictures dotted around the wall, many of the local cricket team. The other rooms looked to be broadly similar decor wise, although perhaps slightly cosier with carpeted flooring.

The menu was chalked up on a large board next to the bar, and despite the owners previous experience with Chinese restaurants and takeaways looked to be a decent enough selection of traditional pub grub dishes, with options such as Chilli Con Carne, Thai Green Chicken Curry, Beef & Ale Pie, Ham Egg & Chips and Pan Fried Salmon. Prices were perhaps a tad above your usual pub prices though, with the main courses being in the £9 - £12 range. Unfortunately food is generally only served on a weekend and so I was unable to sample anything, although Kevin did offer to rustle me up a pie.

The solitary beer on tap was Hooky Bitter, although there was a second pump that appeared to have run out. A number of beer mats pinned to the ceiling suggested that they do perhaps have a wider range on occasions, or at least some variance. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

29 May 2013 22:32

The Black Castle, Arno's Vale

A very unusual pub, looking exactly like a black castle as it’s name suggests. I believe that it was built originally as a folly by the local Lord of the manor when this was still part of the countryside outside of Bristol. Unfortunately despite it’s interesting appearance from the outside, it is now located in the middle of a supermarket car park and inside it’s a very bland, corporate affair with no interesting features whatsoever other than a couple of arched doorways and windows.

It’s a large, U-shape building, and the courtyard in the centre of the “U” is still pleasant enough, although not quite as attractive as I remember it from my youth when there was a pond and fountains illuminated by coloured underwater lighting. Once you’re inside though, you might as well be in a Brewer’s Fayre, Premier Inn or any of the other bland chain pubs that blight our landscape. The left hand leg of the “U” is more the bar area and this had rather cheap looking laminate flooring, whilst most of the rest of the pub was carpeted and taken up by diners.

The bar area has a couple of (orange?) pool tables at one end as well as a pinball machine. Paintwork was a mixture of khaki green, cream and mustard which actually looked better than it sounds. A number of old black and white prints of Bristol were on the walls, as well as some arty black and white close-up photo’s of golf, darts and pool. There were also a couple of plasma’s dotted about which I think may have been showing sports of some sort.

Service at the bar was somewhat slow with only one person serving initially and a number of people ordering food and paying by card. A pile of at least a hundred empty glasses at the end of the bar indicated that they are either understaffed or disorganised. I didn’t inspect the menu, but it appeared to be very much the cheap and cheerful sizzling variety, and there were a number of meal deals on every single day of the week such a steak nights, burger night, great big combo nights and even pudding nights.

As might be expected, beer choice was not extensive with Bombardier being the sole offering. Ciders were Blackthorn and Strongbow.

24 May 2013 16:27

The Sandringham, Arno's Vale

A basic, no frills, Victorian boozer on a corner plot in Sandy Park Road, it is quite a large establishment and includes a skittle alley as well as a couple of good sized bars.

The main bar is a basic affair in a sort of staggered L-shape, with old green carpet on the floors, rough plasterwork on the walls and an old brick fire-place to one side. A notice board advertised a Sunday meat raffle which always strikes me as a sign of a proper local’s pub, and in addition to that there were a few local photos on the walls. There was some old bench seating around the perimeter and plenty of red chairs.

A few TV’s were dotted around, many showing sports channels, but the volume was off and this was not intrusive. A number of fairly light were strung up above the bar and there was a darts board at one end. I think there may also have been a few more darts boards in the above bar, although we did not investigate this.

Beer choice was a little disappointing with Courage Best being the only real ale on. Ciders were Thatcher’s Dry and Thatcher’s Traditional.

24 May 2013 13:08

The Chester Arms, Chicheley

Although this looks like a traditional pub from the outside with a few picnic benches in the front garden, in reality it is much more of a restaurant these days both in form and function. It's obviously been refurbished at some point (except for the loos) with the owners clearly going very firmly down the gastro route.

It’s divided in to three rooms, a main bar at the front with a smaller room off to one side and a small cellar bar at the rear. The main bar has the distinct feel of a casual bistro type restaurant, although it was difficult to pin down exactly why. It still had a good sized bar counter and a couple of wooden beams on the ceiling, but other than that there was no sign of any pub like features. The walls were all just plain white, with wood panelling on the lower part and plasterwork above whilst there was a red patterned carpet on the floor. There was an old tiled fireplace off to one side and a few watercolours on the walls of wildlife, and most of these were for sale at around the £150 mark. Seating consisted of a mixture of black and red upright leather chairs and all the tables were laid up for food.

The small room off to the left had tables that admittedly weren’t laid up, but there were only a couple of tables in here and it still had little in the way of atmosphere. The cellar bar that was down a couple of steps at the rear looked as though it may have been more promising with a tiled floor and whitewashed stone walls, but that was in darkness and apparently was available to hire for private dining functions.

The menu was very much restaurant like in both the choice of dishes and the prices, with most of the mains being around the £15 - £20 mark, although that said a subset of dishes were available as part of a “2 courses for £14.95” or “3 courses for £17.50” menu which was considerably better value. Steaks featured prominently, as well as a few fish dishes which were apparently fresh off a boat from Cornwall. My Smoked Haddock Risotto with chargrilled Asparagus and a poached egg was a pleasant enough dish, although I’ve had tastier and it wasn’t a particular generous portion, especially as far as the fish went. If I’d been paying the regular price of £16.50 instead of having it as part of a meal deal, I would have felt very hard done by. As it was, combined with a very nice Chocolate and Bailey’s Bread and Butter Pudding, I suppose it was reasonable value for the quality of the food served.

Beers selection was very disappointing with just Greene King IPA on tap. Even worse, there was no draught cider at all. This is a tricky one to mark. As a pub it fails to deliver on most fronts, and this is after all a pub review website, and hence my low mark. If you’re after a decent meal though, it may be worth giving it a go.

21 May 2013 22:38

The Red Lion, Little Tingewick

An attractive, thatched country pub in a pleasant spot with a small beer garden at the back, this is a bit of a mixture of a local’s boozer and a gastro-pub, but it seems to pull off the combination well enough. It looks as though it may have recently been refurbished in a more contemporary style, but still manages to retain many of it’s original features. The couple running it were pleasant and helpful and it was good to see plenty of people enjoying a pint on a recent mid-week evening. Having said that, the language from some of the locals was a little colourful which seemed somewhat at odds with the upmarket foodie image the pub is presumably trying to cultivate.

It’s divided in to two rooms, one of which is clearly more intended for dining with all the tables being laid up for food. There is wood flooring throughout and a low ceiling, which makes for a convivial and intimate setting. The bar to the right has wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and cream plasterwork above. There is a fire-place at each end and whilst the smaller of the two was completely stacked full of logs and looked to be more decorative than functional, the large one at the opposite end looks as though it may well be used on occasions although on a recent spring time visit all it had in it was three candles. The dining room to the left had a similar décor other than the wood panelling being painted a pale green colour and plenty more beams on the ceiling as well as a couple of old wooden support posts.

The food menu offers a decent selection of both your regular “pub grub” dishes as well as a few more adventurous options and there is also a small specials board. The prices however were somewhat higher than your usual pub offerings, with just one of the main courses (Ham, Egg & Chips) coming in at under a tenner. The Fish & Chips was an ambitious £13.95, although most were closer to the £12 mark. I had Salmon & Prawn fishcakes with a chilli sauce and Asian salad and I found this to be a generously proportioned and tasty dish. At £11.95 I was quite happy with it and would certainly return and try something else. Other diners appeared to be making similarly appreciative comments.

Beers on tap were all from the Fuller’s stable with their London Pride, HSB, Chiswick Bitter and Brewers Bragg. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk, and this seemed a little expensive at £3.95.

15 May 2013 08:33

The Robin Hood's Retreat, Bishopston

This is a pub that was very firmly in the gastro-pub genre until recently with renowned local chef Nathan Muir at the helm and there are still plenty of Michelin and other food guide stickers in the window. I understand that he may have recently moved elsewhere though and the blackboard menu now appears to offer a selection of tapas and lunch dishes. Whilst the rear of the pub looks to be more geared up for dining, the front area is very much for drinking.

It’s an L-shape pub with a curved, wood panelled bar counter in front of you as you go in and decor wise, it’s gastro-pub routes are clearly visible with the usual shades of green and cream paintwork, especially at the rear. Elsewhere though it’s a little more traditional, and there are even some old stained glass windows to one side. The flooring is a mixture of black and white chequered tiles to one side, parquet wood at the front and wood strip towards the rear. An old cast iron fire-place is off to one side and there are a couple of old leather sofa’s in front of the large windows which is a pleasant enough spot to sit and watch the world go by.

There was a good choice of beers on tap with Wickwar’s BOB, London Glory, London Gold, Bath Ales Special (which is a new one on me), Jail Ale, Caledonian Passion Fruit Beer and Brewer’s Boy. Ciders were Addlestones and Stowford Press.

7 May 2013 14:35

The Hobgoblin, Bristol

This pub has had a chequered history of late, being closed and boarded up for some months as well as undergoing various name changes over the years. It’s now back to The Hobgoblin though, and seemed a busy and popular spot on a recent Friday evening visit. A large coffee machine on one end of the bar hinted at a different target clientele at other times of the day.

It’s basically a U-shape pub with a couple of extra rooms tagged on to the ends. There are some large windows along the front which makes a good place for people watching on Gloucester Road and to make the most of this there was a row of bar stools in the window as well as a beer barrel to rest your pint on. Being a corner plot, there are also a few more windows along one side. The floor is mostly flagstones with some red tiling off to one side.

A small snug was at the rear and this had pale green and brown wood panelling on the walls, whilst at the other end was a slightly larger room with a mirror surrounded by coloured bulbs and a couple of plasmas on the wall. These were all showing tropical fish swimming around which seemed a bit of a cross between a screen saver and the TV on the ceiling at my dentist which is presumably designed to relax me while he drills in to my teeth. Either way, an odd choice for a pub. There is also apparently a beer garden at the rear, although we did not investigate this.

The menu consisted primarily of sharing platters, sandwiches and burgers. The latter were mostly priced at around the £8 mark, and besides the choices already on the menu, there were a number of extra toppings available which besides the usual options of fried egg, bacon, mushrooms, etc., also included peanut butter which I thought was unusual. Not that I’ve anything against peanut butter, it can be very pleasant in a Thai dish for example, but it would not have occurred to me to spread it on a burger.

Beers on tap were Brains SA, Tribute, Doom Bar, and, of course, Hobgoblin. Ciders were Strongbow, plus both Gold and Traditional from Thatcher’s.

7 May 2013 12:40

Royal Oak, Clevedon

This is a decent back street local that has been refurbished since my last visit which considering my only criticism previously would have been it's slightly down at heel appearance, this is now one of the best pubs in Clevedon without a doubt. Despite being only one road back from the sea front, the fact that it's not facing the beach means that it remains undiscovered by many of the area's day trippers who gravitate towards the bigger and brasher pubs that are somewhat more prominent.

The pub sits in amongst terraced houses in a quiet residential street and consists of two rooms. The main bar at the front has wood flooring, along with wood panelling on the right hand side along with a sturdy wooden bar counter. To the left is a large stone fireplace with a wood burning stove. The seating is mostly conventional tables and chairs with some black vinyl bench seating in front of the large window.

There is much nautical memorabilia around which is I suppose fitting given the pub's location even though it's not reflected in it's actual name. A ship's wheel, bell and part of a mast were on one wall, and there were several nautical pictures around as well as the obligatory display of different types of knot. The pub's notice board of community events was titled The Ship's Log. There is another, large open room down a few steps at the rear although we did not investigate this.

Beers on tap were McMullen County Bitter, Doom Bar, Butcombe and London Pride. Ciders were all from Thatcher's with their Dry, Gold and Traditional.

29 Apr 2013 11:22

The Grove Lock, Grove

As others have said, this is a pleasant canal and lock side pub that was at one time the lock keeper's cottage and has since been extended and refurbished. There is a good amount of outside seating, consisting of both garden alongside the canal as well as wooden decking elsewhere.

Inside it's on a couple of different levels. The lower part where the bar counter is has quite a contemporary look and is roughly an L-shape. The upright leg of the 'L' has a large and open arched roof with plenty of oak beams and maroon paintwork, and this colour scheme extends to the walls. The flooring here is a dark parquet wood with some large rugs and there are a number of old black and white pictures of the locality dotted around the walls. A prominent feature at the rear was a modern fire-place with a wood burning stove and a large steel chimney rising up to the apex of the roof. The "fire" itself is actually on two different levels, with the upper and smaller part being the functional half, whilst below that is a pile of brightly illuminated logs. Seating here is mostly conventional tables and chairs, although there were a couple of sofas in front of the fireplace. A small glass display cabinet at the corner of the 'L' housed a collection of wine bottles and Fuller's beer bottles.

Up a few steps to the rear are a couple more rooms, and this is the original part of the building. Consequently it's much narrower here as opposed to the large open plan space on the lower level. The paintwork here is a pale green and the flooring is a mixture of more wood and some attractive mottled tiling. These rooms run alongside the canal lock so offer a good view of the activities outside to any punters sat here. There are also a couple more fire-places, including a freestanding dual aspect chimney, but although they were stacked full of logs I suspect these are more decorative than functional. A couple of sofa's and leather armchairs at one end provided a more relaxed space to sit and sup your pint.

The food menu consisted of a reasonable selection of dishes, mostly of the typical pub grub genre with options such as Pie of the day, Fish & Chips, Chicken Kiev and a Burger. That said though, the prices were a step up from your usual pub fair, with most of the mains being around the £10 mark. My Salmon & Herb Fishcakes were ok, but I've had tastier ones and at £11 they seemed expensive, especially considering all they came with was a Beetroot & Cucumber Salad (that was singularly bereft of any cucumber) and a small pot of herby Crème fraîche. A waitress walked past my table several times empty handed but didn't clear my plate away or ask I if I wanted anything else.

Beer choice was a little disappointing considering the eight hand pumps on the bar, and consisted of just three offering from Fullers - ESB, London Pride and Chiswick. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk. Drink prices too seemed steep with a pint costing me £4.20, but I guess you're paying a premium for the location. Far enough on a pleasant summer's day perhaps when you can make the most of it, but do the prices drop at other times? I suspect not.

This is a slightly tricky one to mark. On one hand they've done a decent refurbishment of an old building, and it is of course a great location. On the other, beer choice was not brilliant, prices were high and service could have been better.

24 Apr 2013 07:38

The Fox Inn, Old Down

This is an attractive pub somewhat off the beaten track, and I don't imagine it really sees anything in terms of passing trade. In may ways it's the quintessential village local, and it was good to see it busy with a varied mix of clientele on a recent Sunday afternoon visit. Unusually the "front" of the pub (i.e.; the side facing the road) is in fact the back, having no doors and looking perhaps slightly drab. Around the other side it's much more pleasant though, with picnic tables on the lawn and wooden trellis work.

The pub is a slightly staggered U-shape, and divided in to a couple of different areas although they all flow in to one another. The bar counter is just inside the door, and here there are a couple of chunky pine farmhouse tables. There is a parquet wood floor and plenty of beams on the low ceiling as well as a brick fire-place off to one side, and this housed a wood burning stove. Various ornaments and pictures of foxes were dotted around as befits the pub's name and there was also a signed Bristol rugby shirt.

Around the corner is a carpeted area with green bench seating along the back wall, and smallish tables and chairs with wine bottle candles on. This is perhaps more intended for dining, although it appeared that the lunch service had finished by the time we were there. Beyond this is a small snug with a tiled floor and some exposed stone wall. There are no TV's in the pub which makes a pleasant change, although one of the punters was getting his football fix by having his Ipad perched on a bar stool!

Good choice of beers on tap with Doom Bar, Bass, Butcombe, Tribute, Dartmoor Best and Bath's Gem. Ciders were also well represented with Thatcher's Gold, Ashton Press and Moles Black Rat.

22 Apr 2013 15:20

O'Neill's, Bath

Now known as Molloy's, this is a fairly formulaic Irish pub just opposite the Theatre Royal. It is nonetheless not unpleasant and is in some ways quite cosy with it's low ceiling. Mrs. B. raised a valid point though in asking what made it an Irish pub - apart from the name, and the fact that they sell Guinness (which of course most pubs do), I couldn't really come up with much.

The flooring is mostly wood, although with some colourful inlaid tiles in places and the paintwork is a mixture of red, green and yellow. Fortunately these were in fairly pastel shades and so wasn't as lurid as you might expect. Dark wood panelling was on the lower part of the walls and a couple of plasmas were showing the football although the volume was off and instead there was piped music. Seating was mostly tables and stools, many of them quite high. There was also apparently further seating upstairs.

The menu was extensive and looked to be a fairly typical, low end, pub grub offering. Options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lasagne and "Chip Shop Style" Battered Sausages were joined by several grills, burgers and pies and most of the mains were around the £6 mark, although many were also available as a "2 for £6.95" deal.

Beer choice was better than might have been expected for an establishment such as this and consisted of Doom Bar, Dorset Brewing Company's Jurassic and Hobgoblin. A fourth pump had a clip for Bath's Spa, but this was apparently coming soon. Ciders were also well represented with Magner's Golden Draught, Stowford Press, Strongbow and Weston's Old Rosie, although it was somewhat disappointing that I had to drink the Stowford Press out of a Strongbow glass.

22 Apr 2013 13:19

The Crown, Gawcott

Although at first glance this appears to be a fairly typical, run of the mill village local, which in many ways it no doubt is, once you get inside you find that it has a somewhat more contemporary appearance than might be expected from looking at the outside.

There are two bars, but the one to the left was closed off on a recent Tuesday evening visit. The bar to the right had a good mix of locals at the bar, and whilst this does not appear to be a food led pub, there were nonetheless a few tables reserved for diners. The fresh plasterwork on the walls follows a two tone colour scheme with the end wall being a darkish shade of red and the others a pale khaki green. A beige carpet was on the floor and there were several black beams on the ceiling, as well as a couple of black wooden support posts.

A number of photos of the village, both old and modern were dotted around the walls. There was a brick fire-place at each end, one quite small that is probably not used and a larger one at the other end with a wood burning stove. A plasma was mounted above one of these, although this was not in use, and there was also a piano on the back wall. There is a good sized beer garden at the back, and this included both some children's swings and a barbeque.

The menu looked to by a decent selection of "pub grub" with options such as Chilli Con Carne, Burger, Ham Egg & Chips, Sausage & Mash, etc., and these were mostly priced at around the £7 - £8 mark. My lasagne with garlic bread was a pleasant and tasty dish, and whilst it wouldn't win any culinary awards I was quite happy with it given the price point. There was also a carvery counter, although this was not in use when I visited. A sign outside advertised a carvery deal on Wednesdays.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Hook Norton's Lion. The solitary cider was a very pleasant Thatcher's Gold.

17 Apr 2013 07:54

The Toad at 31 Corn Street, Bristol

One of the many bars in Corn Street to change it’s name every few months, this has previously been known as 31 Corn Street, The Frog & Toad and The Den among others and is now called Rehab. It’s a cavernous pub, with a very high ceiling and quite open. The walls are all a plain sandy stone, similar to Bath stone, and there are some very substantial stone pillars as well, some with quite ornate carvings on. The roof is also very impressive, having a number of glass domes, lots of intricate gold leaf and carved figures.

The first thing you see when you go in is an old red telephone box just inside the door, but other than that it’s a fairly empty space with some faux leather bench seating curving along the right hand side and a few high tables and stools in the middle. There is some more seating at the rear arranged in to pods, and on a mezzanine level floor is their “VIP Area”. Flooring is mostly parquet wood and at the rear this had blue up lighters recessed in to it. Elsewhere are some tiles. There is a long bar counter on the left with some heavy framed silver mirrors behind it.

It was very quiet on a recent Thursday evening visit, in fact there was nobody else in there so we were outnumbered by the bar staff. If that’s typical then clearly it’s not going to last long in it’s present guise either. The food menu appeared to consist of sharing platters, nachos, fries and burgers with most of the mains being around the £8 - £10 mark. A DJ booth was towards the back corner, although it was not in use when we were there. Perhaps it gets livelier later on or at weekends.

Unfortunately there were no ales on tap at all, real or otherwise, whilst the solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold. All in all, it’s unlikely to appeal to many of the regulars on this site, but if you’re interested in architecture, it might be worth popping in just to have a look at the impressive roof.

12 Apr 2013 15:04

Pranjs Bar, Bristol

Now known as Pranjs this is one of the many bars in Corn Street to change it’s name every few months.

In it’s current incarnation it has some wood boards on the floor with tiling nearer the bar and a colour scheme that uses shades of brown and cream normally found in a gastro-pub, although clearly that’s not what this is. There is a pool table at the front surround by a couple of tatty red sofas. The bar counter on the right had large illuminated green panels affixed to the front of it, and it looked as though there was another smaller bar at the back, perhaps more geared up for cocktails. This appeared to have some blue illumination as far as I could make out without inspecting it closely. The rear area is raised up a step or two and separated by some wooden balustrade.

At about 8:45 on a recent Thursday evening visit, the lights dropped a bit and the music was turned up a little too loud. There are several big speakers about as well as a glitter ball, other lighting effects and a DJ console, hinting that it may perhaps get considerably louder still as the evening wears on. Fortunately we did not hang around to find out. There were a few potted plants around, and what looked as though they may have been Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling.

Someone outside was enticing punters in with the offer of a free shot, and we had something called Apple Sour. It looked somewhat artificially green, but other than that was OK I suppose. The menu appeared to consist entirely of hot dogs and pizza. A number of plasma screens were dotted around showing the football.

The solitary beer on tap was Doom Bar, whilst ciders were Strongbow and Thatcher’s Gold.

12 Apr 2013 11:26

The Bell, Odell

This looks to be your quintessential country pub, set in an attractive village location, a friendly landlady, thatched roof and a riverside garden. What more could you ask? Well, firstly I think a but of artistic licence has been applied to the sign advertising the riverside garden. I walked down to the fence at the bottom of the garden which was some way back from the river bank. I could hear the river, see a bridge over it, but certainly not see the river itself. Probably not what most people have in mind when they visualise a pub's riverside garden.

Inside the cosy country look continues though. It's a traditional pub, mostly carpeted apart from a few cream tiles in the middle and with plenty of low ceilings, black beams, horse brasses and the other paraphernalia one would expect. It's also quite a large pub, being a L-shape and with several different areas, although not entirely separate rooms as such. To the right is a small snug which was very cosy with a massive stone fire-place that had a wood burning stove giving off plenty of warmth (I heard the landlady telling one of the locals that they'd now had the fires lit for seven months), plenty of copper pots and plates and a couple of miniature beer barrels in the window sill. Decor wise it is fairly similar throughout, with cream plasterwork on the upper part of the walls and wood panelling that has been painted maroon on the lower half.

The rest of the pub is largely given over to seating, although there doesn't seem to be any particular area set aside for dining which makes a pleasant change. A small section at the front of pub had bar stools around the perimeter and a ledge running around like a breakfast bar. Numerous papers were supplied, so this is clearly somewhere to just sit and read whilst supping your pint. There was a darts board in the rear bar and a sign advertised a regular quiz night. Elsewhere were a couple more stone fireplaces, although not on the scale of the one in the snug, and one of these too had a fire blazing away. The quiet background music was an eclectic collection and consisted of both Celine Dion and Black Sabbath among others.

The food menu was a typical "pub grub" affair and listed various options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Chilli Con Carne, Burger, Fish & Chips, Sausage & Mash, etc. Most of the mains were priced at around the £8 - £9 mark. My Chicken Kiev was a little disappointing - it was a generous portion and a decent enough piece of chicken, but there was virtually no garlic butter. In reality it was little more than chicken in breadcrumbs.

Beers on tap were slightly uninspiring, all being from the Greene King stable. These were London Glory, IPA and Abbott Ale. The solitary cider though was Stowford Press which makes a pleasant change from the crud you get in most of their pubs.

All in all I really wanted to like this pub, and in many ways I did. But the disappointing beer choice and food, plus the fact that both the soap dispenser and hand dryer were broken in the gents means that I cannot score it as highly as I would like.

10 Apr 2013 07:47

The Cock Inn, Wing

A very large pub in the centre of the village, this has a traditional white-washed appearance and looks as though it may have be made up of several cottages that have been knocked in to one.

It's divided up in to a few different areas, although primarily these consist of a large bar and a large restaurant. The restaurant area is to the right and is quite attractive, although it's a shame that the large brick fire-place has been partially panelled over and is clearly no longer used. Similarly a large wine rack in the entrance way is decorative only. The bar area is an L-shape with a small snug off to one side, and an open space at the rear. All in all the decor is quite inoffensive although nothing particularly remarkable. Carpet covers most of the floor, and there is plenty of wood around including a few oak beams on the ceiling and wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. Another brick fire-place was in one corner, but this too was unused as although it contained a wood burning stove, this was adorned with decorative fir cones. A plasma was mounted up above it.

I'm not quite sure of the purpose of the small open space at the rear other than a couple of sofa's providing good views of the car park. The snug to the left has a couple of leather arm-chairs in front of yet another unused fire-place but any potential cosiness was somewhat spoilt by another plasma up on the wall and a couple of fruit machines. There were a number of locals sat at the bar and some of the language was rather colourful.

The menu was a mass produced laminated affair and was extremely comprehensive, including various sections such as mains, burgers, curries, grills, pasta and salads and even Big 'n' Mighty. I counted in excess of 50 choices for main course alone, which can only lead me to conclude they have some very large freezers. Most of the mains were around the £8 - £9 range, although many were available as part of a "2 for £12" deal. My Char Siu Pork which consisted of marinated strips of pork in a spicy honey and ginger sauce was actually quite tasty, but I'm under no illusions about it being freshly prepared. Some of the desert options had tie-in's with chocolate manufactures, prominently listing various Cadbury & Nestle products amongst their ingredients.

The solitary beer on offer was Tring's Side Pocket for a Toad. There were a couple of other pumps on the bar, one with it's clip turned round and one with nothing on it. Perhaps Landlord is usually on going on the beer mats. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

4 Apr 2013 12:27

The Druids Head, Brighton

A traditional pub overlooking the small square in the centre of The Laines, this is a popular spot and was pretty much full to capacity on a recent Saturday evening visit. A freestanding staircase is right in the middle of the room, although we didn't investigate the upstairs area.

It's a long and narrow pub with old flagstones on the floor and some black beams on the ceiling, although these are quite thin and clearly more decorative than structural. The bar counter is on the right and this is unusual in having both a copper top and some red leather cushioning on the front. There is some exposed stone walling on the left and a plasma was mounted up here showing Sky Sports, although the volume was not on. Seating is a mixture of table and chairs at the back, brown leather pouffes at the front and a few armchairs. The toilet doors were unusual in that they were cunningly disguised as bookcases.

I didn't study the food menu, but noticed some starters chalked up on a board that had a decidedly retro feel - prawn cocktail and breaded mushrooms, for example. There were also several burger choices chalked up on another board. Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Greene King Yardbird. Ciders were Strongbow and Magner's Golden Draught.

4 Apr 2013 08:16

Seven Stars, Brighton

A large Young's pub that seems to be a popular spot, and we were lucky to get a seat on a recent Saturday evening visit.

There are large windows at the front which create a light and airy feel, although the pub extends back some way so this is less noticeable at the rear. It's all one open room, although the rear section is segmented by some balustrade and the fact that it is up a couple of steps. Flooring is mostly dark wood although with may rugs on top, and elsewhere there are a few tiles. The paintwork on both the upper part of the walls and the ceiling is maroon, while there is some cream wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. Some intricate black and gold cornices were an interesting feature, and there were a number of ornate brass lamps hanging from the ceiling. Seating is mostly tables and chairs, although there were also a few high stools and some suede chocolate sofa's at the rear.

Numerous black and white pictures were dotted around on the walls and there was a projector at the rear, although this was not in use on this occasion. Various notices advertised screenings of forthcoming football and F1 fixtures though, as well as "Movie Monday" nights. Several other events are hosted such as charity speed dating. The food menu looked to be a typical "pub grub" affair and there was also a good selection of sandwiches. Most of the mains were priced around the £9 mark.

Beers on tap were all from the Young's stable with their Bitter, Special, London Gold and Bombardier. Ciders were Aspall's Suffolk and Strongbow.

4 Apr 2013 07:57

The Eagle, Brighton

A popular street corner pub, we had not intended to visit here but as there was no room at The Basketmakers over the road, this seemed the next best alternative. It has a rustic feel to it, and was fairly full on a recent Saturday lunchtime.

It’s a single room pub with old boards on the floor, some pine wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and maroon paintwork up above, including the ceiling, although there was also some patterned wallpaper at the rear. There was an old cast iron fire-place to one side, although this was not in use which would have been a nice touch on a recent freezing cold visit. A plasma was mounted up on one wall, although this was not in use either and the furniture was mostly chunky farmhouse style wooden tables.

A wood clad bar counter was off to the right, and there was further pine cladding on the wall behind this. Several large speakers were dotted around which hinted at the fact that it may be considerably nosier at times than the lunchtime we visited. One wall had a number of pieces of artwork displayed which appeared to be for sale. The food seemed popular with a number of punters eating, although I did not inspect the menu.

As with many pubs, this suffered from the problem of one guy behind the bar who was both taking food orders and trying to serve drinks which meant service was somewhat slow. To be fair to him, he was doing his best and apologised when he got to me, but it was getting to the point where I was thinking of walking out. Another barmaid did subsequently turn up, but she seemed more of a hindrance than a help since the first guy had to show her how to work the till.

Beers on tap were Greene King Yardbird, Dark Star Hophead and Abbot Ale. There was a fourth pump for Trelawney but this had run out. Ciders were Aspall’s Suffolk and Strongbow. Prices seemed very expensive at £10.40 for two pints and two packets of crisps.

2 Apr 2013 22:28

The Pump House, Brighton

A popular Nicholson’s pub with large windows overlooking a small square in the heart of The Laines, it consists of several different areas although they are all adjoining rather than being entirely separate rooms. There is also a patio area at the rear.

Decor seems similar throughout with wood flooring and the walls being entirely clad in dark wood panelling, making it reminiscent of a hotel drawing room. A number of old pictures are dotted around, and in keeping with the pub’s name, an old brass pump was on a window sill in the front bar. A plasma was up on the wall although the volume was off and there was also a gas fire which was a pleasant touch on an unseasonably cold March evening.

Good choice of beer on tap with Harvey’s Best, Doom Bar, Long Man Brewery’s Old Man, Peerless American IPA, Rudgate’s Chocolate Stout and Andwell’s Spring Magic. Ciders were slightly less successful with just Aspall’s Suffolk and Strongbow.

2 Apr 2013 19:34

The Thomas Kemp, Brighton

A good sized and seemingly popular pub, it is a single room affair with large windows at the front that look as though they could be folded open in the warmer weather.

It’s quite a deep pub, with the flooring being mostly dark wood other than some black and white chequered tiles around the bar. The walls as predominantly clad in cream wood panelling, although there is some exposed brickwork at the rear. At the front there was a large selection of old maps on the walls, as well as a plasma although this was not in use. Underneath this was a piano with a selection of board games on top. Furniture was mostly was chunky farmhouse tables, and most of these were adorned with daffodils and candles, the latter of which were useful to supplement the low lighting. There was also a low leather sofa in the window at the front.

Beers on tap were Natural Blonde, Citra IPA and the very local Laines Best from the Laines Brewery. Ciders were Strongbow and Cheddar Valley.

2 Apr 2013 19:23

The Pig and Truffle, Weston Super Mare

A large, street corner pub that was surprisingly deserted on a recent Thursday evening visit. Going on previous experience, the opening hours can be somewhat erratic so perhaps that has led to a reduction in any regular clientele. It has had various names (The Pig & Truffle and The Three Queens are two that spring to mind) and colour schemes over the years which suggests that despite it’s prominent position in the town centre it is not a particularly successful venue.

Inside the decor is an odd mix of old and contemporary. There are a few very old oak beams and support posts for example, but also freshly plastered ceilings with recessed down lighters. There was some exposed brickwork around, although for the most part the walls were plastered and painted cream with dark brown wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. Although all one open space, it’s divided in to two halves by a couple of steps and some balustrade. The upper half at the front of the pub is carpeted and tightly packed with tables and chairs, plus a couple of red leather sofa’s in front of a small fireplace. Many of the tables had a (very tacky) ornament of some type on – imagine if you can someone trying to make a small display of flowers out of pink and silver foil and you’ll have an idea what it was like.

The lower half had wooden boards on the floor, little in the way of seating and was dominated by a pool table in the middle of the room. What may have been a small stage area was in one corner, and this had an extremely large speaker on it. There were also several more fixed to the walls, a few disco type lights around and what could have been a DJ console on the opposite side of the room, suggesting that at times it could be somewhat livelier than it was when we visited. There looked as though there may have been an upstairs area although this was in darkness, and presumably some type of terrace or patio as well since the smoking area was signposted as being upstairs.

Food options were limited to things with chips such as Cod, Scampi, Ham & Egg, Burger or Sausage. These were all priced at £5.50. Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Butcombe whilst the solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold.

22 Mar 2013 10:18

The Bell Hotel and Inn, Woburn

A large pub at the end of the High Street, it is apparently part of the hotel of the same name, although unusually this is opposite rather than adjoining. At least two thirds of the pub is given over to a restaurant, and from my quick glance this looked to be quite cosy with plenty of old beams on a rather uneven ceiling, wooden support posts, some exposed brickwork and a large brick fire-place although this was filled with a display of wine bottles rather than anything to generate any heat.

The bar area runs down the left hand side of the pub and is finished in the usual gastro-pub hues of green and brown. Although it's clearly had a makeover at some point, it was presumably a little while ago and is starting to look slightly tired in some places. A few wooden beams on a small section of wall hint at the more traditional character that the pub must have had at one time. Flooring is a mixture of black tiles at the front, wooden boards in the middle, and carpet at the rear. There is a covered patio area at the back.

The rear area is partially partitioned off to separate it a little from the main bar, and the partitioning housed a collection of spirit bottles although I'm not sure if there was any particular significance to this. There is a large brick fireplace at the front with a wood burning stove, although this was not in use, and some bench seating where the base appeared to be made out of old wine crates (although was probably chipboard printed to look like that). Other than that the decor was all fairly bland and generic, although there were some random photo's of bells, presumably in an attempt to incorporate something in to the pub that was vaguely meaningful. A small TV was at the rear showing some terrestrial TV.

The food menu was extensive and divided in to various sections such as mains, classics, gourmet burgers, steaks and grills, jackets, etc., as well as another half a dozen options on the specials board. Most of the mains were in the £8 - £10 range, and I found my Hunter's Chicken to be distinctly average. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, but it was clearly mass produced and not worth the £8.99 it cost. It arrived with a few salad leaves drenched in a rather strong vinaigrette, whereas personally I much prefer a vegetable selection with a hot meal like that. Many pubs offer you the choice, but not this one apparently. If it had been two or three pounds less I might have recommended it as a basic but good value meal. But it wasn't, so I wont. In retrospect, with such an extensive choice of food as well as a Greene King part number printed on the bottom of the menu, I should have expected nothing more.

Beer choice was the usual GK options of Abbott Ale and their IPA. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Despite it's apparent gastro pretensions, this pub falls well short in it's delivery and with a disappointing drinks range as well there would seem to be little reason to go out of your way to visit. On the plus side the staff were friendly and helpful, although it's the first pub I've eaten in for a while where I haven't been offered a tab.

20 Mar 2013 07:54

The Horns, Reading

An attractive pub in this small hamlet a pleasant stroll up from Wargrave, it has the traditional appearance of a country inn, but once inside it has perhaps had a bit of a gastro pub makeover at some point. It’s not at all unpleasant, but just not quite as quaint and traditional as you may be expecting going on the outside.

It’s a good sized pub with a number of different rooms, although they all flow in to one another rather than being entirely separate. The flooring is a mixture of carpet and wood boards as well as some flagstones at the front. What appeared to be a dining area was off to the left, with the main drinking part of the pub being an L-shape around the bar counter. This was packed to capacity on a recent Saturday afternoon visit due to the television in the front bar showing the six nations rugby. The locals all seemed a friendly crowd. A small brick fire-place was at the rear of the bar, and this led through in to a light and airy room with pleasant views over the large garden and patio.

Beers on tap were just Brakespear Bitter and Hobgoblin. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve.

19 Mar 2013 22:52

The Greyhound, Wargrave

A popular street corner local in the heart of Wargrave, this was full to capacity on a recent Friday evening visit which makes a refreshing change, especially for a pub that does not appear to offer any food. I think I may have seen a board advertising Sunday lunch, but there was certainly no evidence of anybody eating when we were there.

The main bar is quite small and compact. This was carpeted throughout and had a small brick fire-palace. There was a vast collection of old jugs hanging from the ceiling, as well as many more stacked up on shelves at the side of the room. Besides that there were a number of plates displayed in a cabinet, as well as a few of the more usual brass plates dotted around. There is an outside patio area and the loos too are outside and a little rustic, shall we say.

A second, equally small bar was up a couple of steps, and this had pale green paintwork on the walls with a darker green wood panelling down below. A plasma was up in one corner and there was a large brick fire-place stacked with plenty of logs, although this was not in use. The room seemed to have a bit of an aeronautical theme with several pictures of Spitfires as well as a wooden propeller mounted above the fireplace. There were also a number of old black and white photographs of the village and a number of copper kettles and pans.

Beer choice was a little disappointing with Marlow Rebellion IPA being the only offering. There was a tap for Doom Bar but this appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

19 Mar 2013 22:01

The Bull Hotel, Wargrave

A traditional street corner local in the heart of Wargrave, the pub is arranged on a couple of levels around a bar counter and despite offering a few food options has managed to retain the feel of a pub that is designed for drinking first and foremost.

There are two main bar areas, each sharing the same bar counter which had a number of stools around it. One bar is down a couple of steps from the other and this is a pleasant, if slightly spartan room with black wooden boards on the floor, a whitewashed ceiling with plenty of black beams and there were a few more black beams on the wall as well. An exposed stone wall was at one end a low stone wall along one side. There were numerous old black and white photo’s and the obligatory horse brasses dotted around, and a large brick fire-place with a log fire, although this was not list on a recent cold March evening which may have made it a little cosier.

A smaller room was up a couple of steps at the end and this had a more contemporary feel with lighter laminate flooring and a number of brown leather sofa’s and arm chairs. A couple of large flags were prominently displayed on one wall, and there was a small plasma up in the corner, although this was not in use. The menu offered a small selection of “pub grub” dishes such as lasagne, fish & chips, chilli con carne, etc., and these were mostly priced around the £10 mark. There was also a specials board that offered another half a dozen options. My curry of the day (Chicken Balti) was a decent enough dish and came with rice, naan bread and a poppadom as well as an enormous pot of mango chutney.

Beers on tap were Ringwood Boondoggle and Brakespear Bitter. There was also a pump for Fortyniner, although this appeared to have run out. Unfortunately the solitary cider was Strongbow. All in all this seems a decent village local with a friendly landlord and a decent food offering. If only they could sort out their appalling choice of cider, I’d say it was well worth a visit.

18 Mar 2013 22:43

The Beacon, Bletchley

Now known as The Inn on The Lake, being in Milton Keynes this is naturally quite a modern building, but is nonetheless an interesting design being almost circular in shape (it's actually got about 12 sides, but I've no idea what such a shape is called) with a glass turret roof and views along the lake, as it's name suggests. There are a few picnic benches outside which would no doubt be a pleasant spot in the warmer weather and this is adjacent to some parkland as well as lake.

Inside the front three quarters of the pub is one open space but divided in to dining and drinking areas with a roughly 2:1 ratio and is mostly carpeted other than some tiling around the bar area. Decor wise there is quite a bit of exposed brick, particularly the pillars between the windows which run pretty much all the way around to make the most of the outlook. Elsewhere there is some wood cladding on the walls in a very pale blue colour and this is also reflected in the front of the bar counter. Seating in the dining area was all tables and chairs as would be expected, with small leather armchairs in the drinking area along with a couple of brown leather sofa's in front of a large brick fireplace. This contained several copper pans and the like as well as what appeared to be a wood burning stove, although on closer inspection appeared to be burning only gas. A plasma was up in the corner although there was no sound on.

Various arty photo's of wine bottle and glasses are dotted around and there was also an illuminated stained glass portrait of a swan on the lake. A selection of pastries and cakes were on the bar reflecting the fact that they promote morning coffee and afternoon tea as well as alcoholic beverages. At the rear is a slightly more enclosed room which is again geared up for dining, although this was not in use on a recent Monday evening visit. This has a much higher roof and a back wall painted in a terracotta hue, along with a couple of old dressers and even a butter churn. There is also a smaller upstairs room in the glass dome of the roof which must give good views, although that looked as though it only had one or two tables.

The menu was quite extensive and offered a number of "pub grub" options such as Chilli Con Carne, Ham Egg & Chips, Lasagne, etc., along with a few more adventurous dishes, fish options and a "pie and pudding club". These were priced mostly in the £8 - £12 range. My Chicken & Mushroom Stroganoff in a brandy and cream sauce was a pleasant and tasty dish, although at £12.95 I felt that the portion size was a little on the small side. The tables also had flyers promoting the Christmas menu which seemed a bit premature until I read the small print and saw that it was available until the second week of January 2013. Doesn't anyone ever clear up here?

Beers on tap were a little disappointing, and despite three hand pumps on the bar the sole offering was Bombardier. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

12 Mar 2013 07:55

St James Wine Vaults, Bath

This is not, as you might infer from it’s name, some sort of trendy wine bar, or even in fact vaulted. Instead it’s very much a traditional pub, so where it’s name comes from I’m not entirely sure. There is I believe a cellar bar used for live music which may be vaulted, but we didn’t investigate this.

It consists of just one room, although this is divided in to two with more of a lounge feel to the left. This has carpet on the floor, which seems to be coming increasingly rare these days, and traditional red velvet bench seating along the walls with tables and red velvet stools elsewhere, low ones at the tables and high ones at the bar. The lower part of the walls has wood cladding on and above that is maroon paintwork. There were a couple of LCD TV’s on the wall, but the volume was off.

A selection of miniature string instruments were hung around the walls such as violins, guitars and banjos. Seemingly unrelated, a large space hopper was on a shelf above the door. The landlady seemed friendly, and the was a good mix of locals in on a recent early evening visit.

Beers on tap were a slightly uninspiring Doom Bar, London Pride and Butcombe, whilst ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Aspall’s Suffolk. In a slight nod to it’s name perhaps, a chalkboard listed half a dozen or so wines that were available by the glass.

5 Mar 2013 22:17

The Old Mill, Newton Blossomville

A traditional stone built pub in the middle of this quiet village, this looks to be quite small from the outside but is end on to the road and is somewhat bigger than expected when you get in. Parking can be a little awkward as there is no pub car park, so the only option is the "main" road outside which is unlit and rather narrow in places.

The interior is surprisingly contemporary given the traditional appearance outside. The friendly barman informed me that the pub had been closed for some time, but was rescued and refurbished by new owners a couple of years back. It's actually been done very well and has a pleasant ambience. It's just not the traditional cosy country inn that you may be expecting. A board above the fire-place advertised a forthcoming cinema night.

It's split mainly in to two rooms, although there is a smaller room up a couple of steps at the rear. Unusually there is red quarry tiling on the floor throughout the pub. The right hand room contains the bar counter and is presumably the drinking half of the pub. This has some exposed stone walling and cream plasterwork elsewhere. A few pictures are dotted around, many of the local village. A large fire-place was at one end, and a wood burning stove was kept well stocked. There was leather bench seating around the perimeter and a couple of brick pillars, along with a partition that contained some stained glass.

The other half was given over more to dining, but had a similar theme decor wise. All the chairs were upright leather affairs and there was also a fireplace here that was well stocked with logs, although not in use on this occasion. The menu itself was very much a "pub grub" affair with options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Lasagne, Sausage & Mash, Pie of the Day, etc., mostly priced at around the £8 mark. My Haddock and Chips with Mushy Peas was a decent dish with a generous portion of tender flaky fish with an unusual (pink!) tartar sauce, and was pretty good value for £9. My only slight criticism would be that it was perhaps a bit greasy.

Beers on tap were limited to just Fuller's Front Row and Ruddles Best. A third pump offered GK Olde Trip, but this appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk.

27 Feb 2013 08:07

The Salisbury, Leicester Square

A good sized traditional pub with plenty of original fixtures and fittings. The main bar is mostly one room arranged around an oval bar counter, although there are some divisions to make a small snug at one end.

The flooring is old wooden boards that have been worn down to a smooth finish over the years and there is maroon paintwork on the ceiling. There is some quite ornate etched and frosted glass around, as well as a number of etched mirrors. A wooden porch protrudes in to the pub and this also had etched glass. There were a number of black and white photo’s on the wall that may have been stars of the local theatres. The wood panelled bar apparently has a marbled counter top according to the fairly detailed history of the pub displayed on the wall, although that was not in evidence on the part of the bar that I could see. This was to keep your pint cool in the olden days.

There is red leather bench seating up the left hand side arranged in to small semi-circles, and behind these are some ornate brass lamp stands. The snug at the rear was quite cosy with an old brick fire-place, although this was not in use, green paintwork and more etched mirrors. An interesting collage of musical posters is on the walls as you go to the loo. A large vase of fresh flowers was at one end of the bar, and several jars of different nuts were on sale behind it.

Good choice of beers on tap with Tribute, London Pride, Black Sheep, Deuchars IPA and Timothy Taylor Landlord. The solitary cider was Magners Golden Draught.

22 Feb 2013 14:39

The Bunch of Grapes, London Bridge

A traditional pub near Borough Market and now in the shadow of the Shard, this was surprisingly quiet on a recent early lunchtime visit.

The main bar area is an open plan, square room, although there are a couple of wood partitions with frosted and etched glass to break up the space a little. The decor is mostly exposed brick that has been painted cream although there is also some cream wood panelling and the paintwork elsewhere is a dark brown to compliment the wood that is used. The flooring is bare wooden boards and there are a number of black and white pictures on the wall, many of the local market and a large Bass mirror at the rear. These have recently been joined by a mural of the Shard painted on to the wall. Large windows look out on to the street. Seating is mostly quite high tables and chairs which can be slightly difficult to manoeuvre in to position as your feet are nowhere near the ground.

There is a courtyard garden at the rear which unusually includes a lower level. Although this has brick walls and is somewhat overlooked by the neighbouring office blocks (one nearby office had a row of skittles in the window?), they’ve nonetheless made an effort to make it feel more homely with gilded mirrors around the walls and a number of heated awnings. Helpfully they also provide blankets to keep out the chilly weather.

The food menu looked to be a decent enough “pub grub” affair with options such as Chilli, Haddock & Chips and Bangers & Mash and these were mostly priced at around the £8 - £10 mark. They are also apparently famous for their burgers and pies (their words, not mine). Bar staff were efficient, quickly wiping down any tables as soon as they were vacated.

Beers on tap were Young’s Bitter, Young’s Special, London Gold and Bombardier. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk.

21 Feb 2013 19:35

The Blue Posts, Piccadilly

A popular pub just a short stroll from Leicester Square, it’s a traditional street corner boozer that was full to capacity on a recent Thursday evening visit, with little standing room never mind anywhere to sit. The barman was unusual being of Oriental extraction and having a Mohican haircut and lots of body piercings (not that any of those are especially unusual in themselves, but it’s an unusual combination).

The main bar area has old wooden boards on the floor and a continuous run of windows that run along two sides right around the corner. There are a few tables and chairs around the perimeter and some high stools at the bar, but otherwise seating options are fairly limited. Plenty of wooden shelves and an old brick arch formed a backdrop to the bar and there was a large mirror at one end. I believe there may have been further seating upstairs, although we did not investigate this.

The menu looked to be a typical “pub grub” affair with various jackets, omelettes and salads to choose from as well as a good selection of sandwiches. Most of the mains were around the £5 - £6 mark which seems reasonable given the location, but we didn’t sample anything so can’t comment on the quality.

Beers on tap were a little disappointing with just Summer Lightning and London Pride. A further two pumps were unused. Ciders fared slightly better, although the choice was still fairly uninspiring - Strongbow, Magners Golden Draught and Symonds Founders Reserve.

19 Feb 2013 22:46

The Royal Oak, Woburn

An attractive, thatched pub on the outskirts of the village, this is a fairly small pub albeit with several different rooms and a mixture inside of both old and more contemporary styles of decor.

The central bar is an L-shape around the bar counter and has old flagstones on the floor, as well as a few very old oak beams on the ceiling although in most places this has been re-plastered. A brick fire-place was off to one side and there were the usual obligatory horse brasses dotted around. Towards the rear is a small dining area with about four tables that were laid up for food. This has a slightly more modern ambience, with a carpeted floor, very floral wallpaper at the back, a large mirror, blinds on the windows and generic pictures of country scenes on the wall.

To the left is a small room with a couple of tables, a maroon and cream colour scheme, a few leather armchairs and a plasma stuck up on the wall, although not in use. A small area to the right of the bar counter has wooden boards on the floor and one more table, and this leads in to a carpeted snug with a large walk-in fire-place complete with wood burning stove and a copper chimney hood. All in all quite a mismatch of different styles in several different areas although the total area of the pub is not large.

A good selection of “pub grub” dishes were offered with options such as Haddock & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Chilli Con Carne, Steak & Ale Pie and a selection of burgers and jackets. Most of these were priced around the £7 mark, and my lasagne with garlic bread and salad was a decent enough dish given it’s price point. Some of the meals were available also available as a “2 for £10” deal during the week.

Beers on tap were a little disappointing with just Abbott Ale and Ruddles Best. The solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold which suited me just fine, although I was a little upset to find it served in a Strongbow glass.

19 Feb 2013 20:23

The Lamb and Flag, Covent Garden

A tucked away pub down a small side street, I initially wondered if I was going to find it. If you approach from the Floral Street end you seem to be wandering down a back alley full of large bins, but my perseverance paid off and it was well worth the effort. Alternatively of course, just approach from the other direction and it will be much more obvious.

Downstairs it’s mostly one single room with a long bar counter on the left, although there is a sort of snug area at the back. It’s quite an attractive place with leaded windows at the front and brown paintwork. The snug at the back has some wood panelling, and apart from in here the seating options are fairly limited with just a few stools in the window and a few more opposite the bar.

Upstairs is a further room that does have more seating, although this is probably used more by diners. Here there are dark wooden boards on the floor and the paintwork is a mixture of purple and cream. There was an old dresser and a marble fire-place, although I’m not sure if this is used. There is also a smaller bar counter with a more limited range of beers. An interesting mural of books is painted on the wall of the staircase to this upper bar.

A decent enough “pub grub” menu was offered, with dishes such as Burger, Fish & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips, Sea Bass, etc., and these were mostly priced around the £9 mark. My Sausage & Mash with a Red Wine Onion Gravy was tasty dish and a generous portion with three sausages and plenty of mash.

Beers on tap were nearly all from Fuller’s with their ESB, HSB, London Pride, Chiswick, Bengal Lancer and Seafarer’s Ale. The only guest appeared to be Butcombe, and the solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk.

18 Feb 2013 22:51

The Harp, Covent Garden

As others have mentioned this is a former Camra pub of the year, which consequently makes it a very popular spot, besides the fact that it is located between The Strand and Covent Garden which pretty much guarantees a brisk trade anyway.

The pub is a single room, quite long and narrow, with bare boards on the floor and limited seating, although I believe there may be more available upstairs. There are mirrors all along the right hand wall, and a number of portraits on the wall as well as Cask Marque certificates and other awards that they have won. There were hundreds, if not thousands of beer mats above the bar. Bar staff were quick and efficient, and were happy to provide samples to try.

Beer choice no doubt changes continually, but on this occasion consisted of Oakham Bishop’s Farewell, Dark Star Original Bitter, Dark Star Hophead, Palmer’s Dorset Gold, Sam Brooks Wandle, Sam Brooks Junction, Red Squirrel’s Red Dawn, Triple Brewery’s Winter Bourbon Stout, Dark Star Pale Ale and Harvey’s Sussex Best. The only cider on tap was Aspall’s Suffolk, although there were a few boxes in the ‘fridge who’s names I didn’t note, although I did spot a couple from Rich’s.

18 Feb 2013 19:49

The New Inn, West Town

Since my previous review, this has been closed for a few months and has now re-opened under new ownership. Decor wise it’s still pretty much the same, and is perhaps starting to look a little tired in places. The seating may have been re-arranged, but it still consists of one bar having just two tables with a number of leather armchairs around each, and the other bar with a few high tables and chairs. Consequently seating options are somewhat limited unless you’re dining. The smaller bar counter is now taken up almost entirely by a very large coffee machine.

The lease has now been taken on by an Indian guy, but rather than serving up curry as might be expected, there is apparently an Italian chef in the kitchen and this is clearly reflected in the menu. There were a reasonable choice of dishes such as lasagne, risotto, etc., which seemed well priced at around the £6 - £7 mark, although these were labelled as “first courses” which came in between “starters” and “main courses”, so I’m not sure what sort of portion size they would be. Main course options were considerably more expensive at around the £15 - £20 mark, and these too had an Italian influence. There was also a separate pizza menu, although we didn’t study this.

Landlord seemed friendly enough, although his habit of calling everyone Senor and Senorita at every opportunity got a bit monotonous after a while. A complimentary dish of olives arrived with our drinks and these were very pleasant.

Unfortunately, there were no ales on tap, real or otherwise. No beer at all, not even keg, so if you’re a bitter drinker you’re stuffed. There were three pumps on the bar, one that appeared unused and two with their labels turned round. Whether that’s policy, supply problems, or a busy weekend I’m not sure, but it’s clearly not a good sign. Ciders fared better with both Thatcher’s Gold and Stowford Press.

18 Feb 2013 19:34

The Lamb Inn, Stoke Goldington

A traditional village local that has resisted the temptation to go down the gastro-pub route, but nonetheless offers a decent selection of pub grub dishes alongside an unusual range of beers. A few locals (and dog) were stood at the bar, and the staff all seemed pleasant and polite.

It’s divided in to two halves with a lounge bar to the left and a public bar to the right. Unusually the public bar is carpeted, while the lounge has some type of lino on the floor. Although I generally opt for the lounge, especially if I’m eating, on this occasion I went for the bar as the lounge looked to be a little lacking in character, perhaps as there was on-one else in there. The walls have pale blue wood cladding on the lower part of the walls, with cream plasterwork above.

The bar itself is further divided in to a couple of sections with a low partition separating the two, and there is a further snug at the rear. The front half is mostly open space no doubt on account of the darts board. Besides this there was a small TV up in the corner, and I also spied a projector which is presumably pressed in to use for major sporting events. The rear half is slightly cosier with a brick fire-place that had a real fire blazing away along with piles of books and board games.

The menu initially looked to be very much of the snack variety with options such as a burger, beans on toast, fish finger butty (!) and a selection of jacket potatoes priced at around the £4 - £5 mark. I then spotted a chalkboard above the fire place, and this listed a decent enough selection of “pub grub” dishes such as Ham Egg & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Beef Stew, etc, priced between about £8 and £10. My Pie of the Day (Chicken & Bacon) was not as tasty as some and the pastry was a little soggy, but it was still decent enough and was a very generous portion covering the whole plate and came with two side dishes of chips and vegetables, which consisted of cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts and carrot. All in all, I felt this was very good value at £8.00.

Beers on tap were Brock Bitter and Death or Glory from Tring, Oakham’s Preacher and Yorkshire Terrier. Ciders were also well represented with Aspall’s Suffolk, Old Rosie and Stowford Press.

13 Feb 2013 20:27

The Punch Bowl, Mayfair

A compact and popular pub in the heart of Mayfair, this was pretty much full to capacity on a recent Friday evening visit with little space for standing never mind sitting, and several punters stood outside as well. Consequently the ambient noise level was quite high.

Most of the clientele seemed to be Hooray Henry types and struck me as being a bit up themselves. A case in point - a group of three guys were stood next to a table for eight. I assumed they were about to leave and politely asked if we could sit at the table, even though there was plenty of room for us even if they had been staying. He paused, looked down his nose at me, and wandered off to stand somewhere else. Why hog a table if you want to stand? Just so you've got somewhere to rest your pint? That said, if you can afford to live in an area where the local shop charges £20k for a set of plates (sorry, dinner service for eight) perhaps you're entitled to be up yourself.

The pub is essentially split in to two halves with the rear half appearing to be very much geared up for dining with all the tables in use by people eating and a wooden wine rack built in to the rear wall. The colour scheme was a shade of mustard and there were a number of black and white cartoon drawings on the wall. There were a few flagstones at the front of the pub, some dark wood partitioning around and a little etched glass, particularly above the bar, but this pub doesn't have the character of many of the Victorian gems in other parts of London. Bar service was a little on the slow side.

Beers on tap were Deuchars IPA, Bombardier and their own 1750. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve. We had just eaten in the adjacent Mount Street so it made a handy pit stop after our meal, but it's certainly not somewhere I'd go out of my way to visit.

13 Feb 2013 09:58

The Windmill, Mayfair

A good sized pub that seems to specialise in pie based food offerings, it doesn’t have quite the same charm that many other nearby establishments do, but is nonetheless pleasant enough. It looks as though it may have had a makeover at some point, and perhaps lost some of it’s traditional character in the process.

The pub is carpeted throughout which seems to be coming something of a rarity these days, has chocolate brown paintwork on the ceiling and is broadly one open room with a few partitions to break up the space a bit, and a separate room down a couple of steps at the rear. This is known as “Pie Room Too” and featured a large pie painting on one wall with dark wood panelling on another and another picture of an old windmill which is appropriate enough given the pub’s name.

As mentioned, the menu is very pie orientated with most of them priced around the £10 mark. A chalkboard listed another five or six “Today’s Pies” options but if that’s not your thing the menu also offered a good choice of burgers and other pub staples such as Ham Egg & Chips, Sausage & Mash, etc.

Good choice of beers on tap with Twickenham Naked Ladies, Doom Bar, Sambrooks Wandle, Young’s Bitter, Young’s Special, Directors and Bombardier. A specials board also listed Deuchars and Twickenham Grandstand, although I didn’t spot these on the bar. After such a good selection of ales, I was especially disappointed with the fact that they only had Strongbow on offer for the cider drinkers, unless you count a mulled option.

12 Feb 2013 23:17

The Coal Hole, Strand

A good sized pub immediately adjacent to The Savoy which of course makes for a handy pit stop if you’re staying at the hotel and don’t want to pay £15 for a cocktail in their American bar (or up to £5,000 incidentally if you opt for one made with very rare vintage spirits...). The windows at the front of the pub are etched with “SWL” and according to a London Pubs book I have this is rumoured to stand for Savoy Wine Lodge hinting at a history more closely associated with the hotel than is the case today. However, that contradicts other learned posters below, so it may not be accurate!

It’s essentially an upside down L-shape bar with a high ceiling and the addition of a further mezzanine floor at the rear. Chequered tiling is on the floor and there are plenty of beams on the ceiling, although these look reasonably modern. The windows at the front are leaded glass, and an interesting feature was a plaster frieze running around the top of the room that looked to be Roman influenced with maiden’s eating bunches of grapes. There is some wood panelling on the walls, and a plasma was stuck slightly incongruously in one corner although this was not in use. An old stone fireplace was at the back. The music was slightly louder than would be my personal preference, but then it was a Friday evening so I suppose that’s excusable.

Some unusual beers on tap which were Harviestoun Old Engine Oil, World Top Bitter, London Pride, Nicholson’s Pale Ale and Brain’s Captain Cat. The solitary cider was Aspall’s Suffolk, unless you count the mulled one that was available.

12 Feb 2013 19:45

The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross

An unusual pub in that it is split in to two completely separate halves which is apparently unique in London according to the sign outside. Not only that, but they are not even next to each other but opposite with an alleyway in between. Apparently one has always been a pub (the one on the left, as you approach the shopping arcade under the station) whilst the other was at one time a delicatessen which the pub expanded in to when it closed.

We went in the original half, which was quite attractive with hanging baskets outside. Inside it’s more or less a reverse L-shape with the base of the “L” having a pale wood floor and a plasma up in the corner which was showing a sporting fixture, although this was not too intrusive. The remainder of the pub was carpeted and the walls were mostly dark wood panelling with plenty of large patterned mirrors and a few black and white portrait photos on. There were large windows at the front with red drape curtains and some further wood partitioning with etched glass.

The menu was a fairly decent looking “pub grub” affair with options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips, a couple of curries, etc., mostly priced at around the £9 - £10 mark. There were also a number of bar snacks such as Scotch Eggs and a Pork Pie. My Chicken & Coconut Curry came with lemongrass, chilli, coriander and peanuts and seemed to be a Thai Green variety in all but name and was a decent and tasty dish with a generous portion of curry and an Indian Flatbread. Slightly less successful was a rather small portion of Mozzarella Bruschetta which seemed expensive at £6.50 considering the size.

Beers on tap were all from Hall & Woodhouse with their Firkin Fox, Tanglefoot, Sussex Draught and Badger. The solitary cider was Stowford Press which makes a pleasant change from the sweeter varieties that seem to be generally served around these parts.

12 Feb 2013 19:25

The Blue Boar, Longworth

An attractive thatched pub that looks very much the quintessential country inn, I had been looking forward to trying this since briefly stopping to photograph it a few months back. Although fairly quiet as might be expected on a midweek lunchtime, there were a few locals in propping up the bar and it struck me as an excellent local pub.

The rustic charm continues inside although it has perhaps had a bit of a makeover at some point. It’s a large pub divided in to two halves, and whilst some tables were laid up for food, there doesn’t obviously appear to be a “dining half”. The bar to the left is a cosy affair with a red tiled floor, a salmon colour scheme and a log fire blazing away which was a pleasant touch on a cold February lunchtime. The bar to the right was similarly cosy, but had large pale flag stones on the floor and a lemon colour scheme along with a wood burning stove. The front wall was exposed stone and there was a large collection of skis on the ceiling, including some that looked to be antiques.

There were plenty of old drawings on the wall, and many of these appeared to be old Guinness adverts, and continuing the beer theme there were hops strung from many of the ceiling beams. Appropriately enough given the pub’s name, there was a boar’s head mounted next to the bar, although it appeared to be from a black animal rather than a blue one. An extensive menu was chalked up on a board, although we didn’t sample the food on this occasion.

Beers on tap were Breakspear’s Bitter and Oxford Gold along with Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Thatcher’s Gold. Well worth the short detour off the A420 to check it out.

5 Feb 2013 16:42

Hogshead, Milton Keynes

Now a Slug & Lettuce, this pub is housed in a modern and unusual building being completely round and with a domed roof. It’s sandwiched between a Lloyds No. 1 and a TGI Friday’s which no doubt suits it’s target clientele but didn’t really do much to inspire me. It is however a convenient pit stop for the nearby theatre, cinema, shops, snow dome, etc.

Inside it appears smaller than might be expected, although it looks as though there may also be an upper floor which was closed off on a recent Tuesday evening visit. Seating is a mixture of tables and chairs towards the rear along with brown leather armchairs at the front, and a number of low sofa’s in front of the window. Decor wise there is little of any note, although the windows do cover most of the front wall which no doubt gives a light and airy feel in daylight hours. The ceiling was a pale lemon colour and the flooring was a mixture of slightly tatty looking dark wood strip and cream tiles around the bar. Numerous strings of fairy lights hung at the windows and adorned the air conditioning ducting, and there were a couple of plasmas up on the wall although all they were showing was Slug & Lettuce adverts.

The menu was extensive and divided in to numerous sections such as wraps, baguettes, salads, meat, fish, chicken, burgers, vegetarian, curries and so on. Main prices ranged between £6 - £10 or so, and there were also a couple of meals deals such as 2-4-1 curries on a Tuesday. My Open Chicken Pie with a Puff Pastry Case arrived alarmingly quickly and came with a sauce that was allegedly smoked applewood cheese and bacon although these flavours weren’t discernable. On the whole it was distinctly average – a generous portion I suppose, and there were bottles of branded sauce on the table which is better than those minuscule sachets or indeterminate makes of sauce served in small dishes, but it certainly wasn’t worth the £8.95 that it cost. If it had been about £3 less I’d have recommended it as a good value hearty meal. But it wasn’t, so I won’t.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and the local (from Olney) Hopping Mad Brainstorm, which to be fair, is much more than I expected in an establishment such as this. Ciders were a little disappointing with just Strongbow and Magners Golden Draught.

29 Jan 2013 21:54

Cross Keys, Milton Keynes

An attractive old thatched pub that no doubt at one time was in a pleasant village near the canal, but now unfortunately is surrounded by the concrete jungle. Inside it would appear that it’s recently been refurbished, and whilst this was pleasant enough, it has perhaps lost some of the character that it may have had previously. It’s quite a contemporary design, and certainly seemed a little out of kilter with the exterior.

It’s divided in to two rooms, with the “village bar” on the right and a lounge to the left. On a recent midweek evening visit, there was nobody in the lounge, but a few punters in the bar. This has a fairly small wooden bar counter in the corner, and this was quite tricky to get to due to a few locals (and their dog) propping it up, and none of them showed any propensity to move so that I could actually get there to order a pint. Bar staff seemed friendly enough once I had managed to get there.

The floor is red tiling, and the walls mostly pale green plasterwork with exposed stone along the front and a few beams on the ceiling. There is a fire place to one side, but all this had in it was a basket of logs and some fairy lights. A bit of a missed opportunity on a snowy January evening. As previously mentioned this looks as though it may have been recently done up, and the furniture in particular looked very new. The lounge to the left was perhaps more geared up for dining, and featured a wood laminate floor and some wood panelling on the walls.

The “bistro” menu offered a reasonable selection of pub grub dishes such as Fish & Chips, Burger, Beef Pie, Sausage of the day, etc., although with most of the main courses around the £10 mark, it is perhaps priced slightly above your usual bar food. My Thai Green Curry was decent enough, if slightly on the spicy side, and consisted of an unspecified fish rather than the more usual chicken, along with (as the menu was keen to point out), lemon rice and a braised spring onion.

Beer choice seems somewhat diminished since the previous reviews. As far as I could see there were only three pumps on the bar and these were all from the Young’s stable with their Bitter, Eagle IPA and Bombardier. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve.

23 Jan 2013 22:52

The Russell Arms, Lawrence Hill

A traditional street corner pub that has had a bit of a refurbishment since my previous visit many years ago. It's a fairly compact, L-shape affair with an additional small room down a couple of steps at the back which houses a pool table.

The decor is unremarkable, with rough cream plasterwork on the walls and some pale brown paintwork that would look more at home in a gastropub. There is bench seating around the perimeter and one end of the pub narrowed off to a point and this was stacked up with chairs. The music was a little too loud, and there were a couple of TV's dotted around which were not in use. A notice advertised a forthcoming meat raffle which always strikes me as one of the indicators of a proper local's pub.

There is a small outside courtyard which you have to walk through to get to the loos and this had some interesting murals on the wall of old steam engines. I particularly liked the fact that one of the tanks on the engine was painted to look like a can of Natch.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, just keg John Smiths and Courage. Ciders were well represented though with Thatcher's Traditional, Taunton Traditional, Blackthorn and Thatcher's Gold. These were very reasonably priced at £5.10 for two pints.

18 Jan 2013 15:53

The Lord Nelson, Bristol

A large, street corner boozer that has clearly seen better days. The entrance porch way is located between two bars, but the one to the left was locked up and had broken glass in the door. Thus I can only describe the bar to the right, which one assumes is the better of the two, as that was the one that was open.

It's surprisingly small given the apparent size of the outside of the building, and has a very basic, dated appearance. When it last had a lick of paint in the 1970's I daresay it was quite pleasant. The floor covering was presumably carpet at one time, but has now morphed in to a solid black mass with a curious rubber like quality. A battered portable gas fire was providing some heat. There was vinyl bench seating around the perimeter which had gaffer tape trying to hold it together, rather unsuccessfully. A plasma was mounted up in one corner, and below this, for some reason which I'm unable to fathom, was a sign that said "Operating Theatre". There were also a couple of old portable TV's, although these were not in use and a darts board. The ceiling was suspended polystyrene tiles similar to what you might get in an office, although it was brown rather than white, presumably thanks to years of smoking in the pub.

The only other punters in there were a group of half a dozen or so sat in the corner. I use the terms punters loosely, as one was a child of no more than about three, who was drinking lemonade, eating crisps, and generally making rather a lot of noise. At 10:00pm I would have thought it was long past his bedtime. The mother looked barely old enough to be in the pub herself.

Unusually, there were no ales on tap, real or otherwise. Of the other pumps that were on the bar, about 70% had sold out, judging by the plastic bags over the pump handles. The solitary cider was Thatcher's Dry, since the Cheddar Valley was also off, despite not having a bag over the pump. I was however offered Thatcher's Gold from a can, and one of the other punters was drinking Natch from a can. All in all a classy establishment.

This is a little tricky to mark. On the face of it, 2 seems to be a bit generous. But I suppose it could have been worse. It's not as though I got beaten up or anything.

18 Jan 2013 15:15

The Rhubarb Tavern, Bristol

A surprisingly decent pub in an unlikely part of town. It's a traditional Victorian red brick building located in a dark, dead end street next to an industrial estate, but once you actually venture in you find a pleasant and cosy pub.

Inside, the pub is a U-shape with the bar counter at the front. It's mostly carpeted, and there are a few old beams on the ceiling. To the right there is a pool table right at the back, and some DJ gear on a table at the front, suggesting that music features prominently on occasions. There were a few plasma's dotted around showing a selection of sports fixtures.

The left hand side is slightly cosier, and leads back in to two rooms, each with an old stone fire-place on one wall and some floor to ceiling dark wood panelling. The sports theme continues though, with a number of football scarves on the ceiling as well as other trophies and boxing gloves on display and a darts board on the wall. A stainless steel food counter at the rear looked slightly out of place though. There is also apparently a garden although we did not investigate this.

The food menu was a fairly typical "pub grub" affair with options such as Chilli Con Carne, Scampi & Chips, Ham Egg & Chips and Lasagne. These were all priced at £6.30.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Butcombe. Ciders faired slightly better with Thatcher's Gold, Natch and Magners Golden Draught.

18 Jan 2013 14:19

The Betsey Wynne, Swanbourne

This is an unusual pub in as much that it's quite a modern build (2006) but is not some bland identikit outfit from a national chain. From chatting to the landlady, it would appear that the village of Swanbourne is privately owned and the pub was built by the village owners for the residents, as there was no pub there previously. Appearance wise, whilst obviously modern it looks a little like a luxury country home with some timbered detailing on the exterior and inside too it's certainly one of the better examples of modern pub architecture that I've come across.

Inside it's essentially divided in to three, although there are no doors or walls between each area. The main bar area is cosy enough with a mainly red tiled floor although there was also some wood strip at one end. There are a few beams on the ceiling, a couple of pillars made of both wood and brick and a large, brick built dual aspect fire-place that had a wood burning stove blazing away which was a pleasant touch on snowy January evening. At one end were a few old leather armchairs and a small book shelf with some very old books on.

Off to one side is a restaurant area which had an impressive vaulted ceiling finished in a dark salmon colour. At the other end of the pub was a small snug with a flagstone floor, wood panelled ceiling and a large brick fire-place taking up almost one wall, although this was not lit. There was also a small TV up in one corner which looked a little out of place, but fortunately this was not in use.

Food wise, the menu was a cut above your usual "pub grub" with only one of the main courses coming in at under a tenner, and even then it was only 5p less and that was for a vegetarian pasta dish. Other options ranged mostly around the £14 - £16 price bracket, although some of the steaks were £20 plus. My Cod & Chips was a decent enough dish with plenty of firm, chunky flakes of fish, but then at £12.95 one could argue that it should be pretty decent. Some requested tomato ketchup came not in a small sachet or a manky old bottle, but in a small china dish that was itself on both a doily and a plate.

Beers on tap were the seasonal Rosey Nosey from Bateman's (although it's no longer very seasonal half way through January) and Tribute. The cider was Thatcher's Gold which makes a pleasant change from the ubiquitous Strongbow that you seem to get around these parts. My pint was served somewhat short, and whilst it was topped up when requested it was still not to the rim. The landlady didn't seem particularly cheerful, but the young waitress was pleasant and friendly.

16 Jan 2013 12:19

The Green Man, Mursley

This is a traditional, double fronted pub on the main road through the village. Inside it's one long room, although split in to two halves by the use of different flooring and seating arrangements, giving each end something of a separate identity. It was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening visit with only a couple of other punters sat up at the bar. This was quite early though, hopefully things improved later. Barmaid was friendly and helpful.

The left half of the room is more of a public bar with red tiled flooring and a small brick fire-place. This was not lit on a snowy January evening which was a bit of a shame, but I guess it's probably not worth lighting it for three customers. There was also a small TV up in one corner although this was not in use, and plenty of shields that have presumably been won by pub sports teams.

The right hand half is more intended for dining, and here there is a carpeted floor with plenty of tables and chairs. There was a small vase of flowers on each table, and some candles on the window sills. Unfortunately they don't do food on Tuesdays in January, so I can't comment on the quality or choice, although I did notice a specials board that had a Chilli Con Carne and a Beef Stroganoff listed at around the £9 mark. If you were hungry however, there was several jars behind the bar containing picked eggs and a selection of nuts.

Beers on tap were just Tribute and Doom Bar. There was a third pump that was not in use, and a specials board listed only bottled options although one of these was from the much more local Concrete Cow brewery. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk.

16 Jan 2013 08:15

The Bunch of Grapes, Bristol

Renamed to Smoke and Mirrors since my previous review, this is now a sister pub to the Illusions Magic Bar up on the triangle. Although the basic layout is unchanged since it’s Bunch of Grapes days, it’s had a bit of a makeover and what was the the rear band area is now curtained off when not in use for live magic acts, which are only a couple of times a month.

There’s a round bay window at the front, and a white grand piano has been installed here. The long wooden bar counter remains on the left, and some high tables and stools have been added opposite along with portraits of various magicians such as Houdini. Unfortunately whereas previously the whole wall was covered in a collage of posters showcasing many years of shows from the Hippodrome opposite, this has now been painted over in a rather depressing black paint. If the new owners want a new look, then fine, but why not just fix some plasterboard over the top so that the history of the place is at least preserved, if not on view, instead of just destroying part of Bristol’s theatrical heritage?

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Tribute and Flying Scotsman. Ciders were a slightly disappointing Strongbow and Scrumpy Jack. Unfortunately due to the cultural vandalism that has been perpetrated, I can do nothing other than award this the lowest possible mark, and I will not be visiting again.

14 Jan 2013 19:08

The Parish Pump, Weston Super Mare

A modern, purpose built pub in the corner of a retail centre’s car park, first impressions might suggest a bland and characterless chain pub and whilst this may be true to an extent the beer choice was surprisingly good.

Inside it’s all one large single room, although this is split in to two different areas by virtue of the fact that they are slightly offset from one another. The far end was dominated by a pool table, and there was also a darts board nearby and the noise from some of the players here made it very difficult to talk on occasions. A portable card table was also doing the rounds. Decor wise, there is little of any note as is often the case with modern pubs. There was some exposed brick wall, but being of the modern variety it doesn’t have quite the sane rustic charm that a brick wall would present in an older establishment.

Beer choice as mentioned was decent enough with Doom Bar, Moles Best, 6X and Otter. All but one of these were dispensed directly from barrels racked up behind the bar. Ciders were also well represented, albeit all from Thatcher’s, with their Gold, Heritage and Dry.

11 Jan 2013 11:16

The Nut Tree Inn, Weston Super Mare

A good sized pub on a corner plot, it has a certain rustic charm inside and manages to cater for both drinkers and diners.

The main bar is an L-shape room with a mixture of wood strip and tiling on the floor, some of it an attractive slate. Decor wise it’s quite traditional, with rough cream plasterwork on the walls and in some places some khaki green wood panelling down below. There were plenty of old black and white photos of the local area and a small bookshelf with some very old looking books. A plasma was up in one corner although this was not is use on our visit, and there were a couple of old brick fire-places with wood burning stoves and plenty of copper pans. One of these had several leather armchairs in front of it which looked to be a cosy spot, although this was somewhat marred by the stainless steel carvery counter right next to them.

An arched doorway led through to a restaurant area, and there were also a couple of arched windows looking in to this, which I suppose at one time would have been the outside wall of the pub. I didn’t check the menu but there were a number of people dining. Blackboards listed a lunchtime light snack menu as well as a Sunday roast for £7.95.

Beers on tap were Spitfire, Tribute, Courage Best and Bombardier. Ciders were Symonds Founders Reserve and Scrumpy Jack.

11 Jan 2013 11:00

Prince Albert, Milton Keynes

A good sized pub set slightly back from the road in the centre of what was once a village, but is now part of the Milton Keynes metropolis. Although the outside appearance is stone built and quite traditional, it has a somewhat more contemporary feel once you get inside.

It's an L-shape pub, and off to the left inside the door in a small area with a pool table and darts board. To the right is a fire-place with plenty of large logs stacked up, although this was not in use on a recent visit. Elsewhere is a smaller fire-place with a plasma mounted above it, which was turned off. Flooring is mostly wood strip, with patterned carpet at the rear and the walls were a mixture of pale white and gold wallpaper and a very neutral paint.

The food menu was a very basic "pub grub" affair with options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Chilli Con Carne, Fish & Chips and a Giant Yorkshire Pudding and most of these were priced around the £5 - £6 mark which seems very reasonable. There was also a small specials board, although the barmaid pointed out that it was actually an "additions" board rather than a specials board, presumably because the listed dishes weren't really that special, e.g.; Warwickshire Rarebit and a Cauliflower Cheese Tartlet. My Chicken Curry was a decent enough dish with generous chunks of tender chicken and came with a couple of mini naan breads, rice and mango chutney. If I was being critical I would say that it could have done with a bit more flavour, but for the price it was really very good. If you're making a special journey, be aware that food is only served on certain evenings and even then only at restricted times such as 5:00 - 7:00. Furthermore desserts are only available on a Sunday lunchtime.

Beers on tap were Fat Cat's Hell Cat, Oakham's Vagabond, Young's Bitter and Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

9 Jan 2013 07:47

The Victoria Inn, Milton Keynes

A traditional, stone built pub in the centre of the old village. There are a few benches on a patio area at the front and on a recent visit there was also a “To Let” sign up. Hopefully this is not a sign of imminent closure.

Inside it’s quite traditional and perhaps a little dated. A public bar is off to the right with a pool table, darts board and a plasma stuck up on the wall, although this was not in use. The flooring is predominantly carpet with some tiling around the bar counter. The lounge off to the left is split in to two, one part down a couple of steps. Decor wise it’s fairly similar, with red, leather button back bench seating around the perimeter and tables and chairs elsewhere. There were a few old bits and pieces around such as a candlestick telephone, and old wooden radio and a chest of drawers. Another plasma was stuck up on the wall here although this was not in use either. Instead background music was provided courtesy of the digital juke box. There were a couple more fire-places, one of which had a few coals burning away. A table video game was an unusual feature. There were a few old boys who were presumably locals sat around chatting, and they struck me as friendly enough, as was the landlord.

Beers on tap were Adnams Southwold, Marstons EPA and Doom Bar. Ciders were Stowford Press and Strongbow.

8 Jan 2013 20:30

The Crown Inn, Bath

A large and imposing pub with a splendid Georgian, even slightly Gothic exterior, one imagines that the inside must be similarly blessed with plentiful character and charm. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s clearly been renovated at some point and is now a bland, unremarkable pub with something of a hotel bar feel to it, even down to the chain grill that had been pulled down over one of the bar counters that was not in use.

The right hand lounge bar was the one that was out of use on our visit, with the room being in darkness. The public bar on the left is an oblong room with a blue/green carpet, gold flock wallpaper with cream wood panelling down below, some red bench seating, a large wooden pew at one end and some chunky tables. A plasma was up in one corner showing the football, although fortunately the volume was off and there was background music playing. A darts board was at one end, as well as a fruit machine and a quiz machine. There are a few tables outside, but there is little in the way of an outlook as the pub is located on a busy junction.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and the seasonal Rucking Rudolph. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Bee Sting Pear cider. Overall, this was a fairly average pub. There was nothing wrong with it, and the landlord was friendly enough, but after the impressive exterior I imagine most people will be fairly disappointed when they get inside.

7 Jan 2013 22:19

The Shoulder of Mutton, Little Horwood

A traditional pub on the main road through the village, this looks to be a very old building with it's slightly lopsided, half timbered frame and a thatched roof and looks very much the typical village inn.

Inside it's split in to two rooms with an L-shape bar going round the curved bar counter, and a slightly smaller room off to one side that looks as though it may perhaps be more intended for dining. It has a pleasant ambience with a red tiled floor, plenty of exposed brickwork, a low ceiling with plenty of black beams and a couple of large brick built fire-places, one being dual aspect dividing the two bars and the other at one end with a large wood burning stove. Various other paraphernalia was piled up here such as a selection of board games, a table top pool game and a glass display cabinet with various local craft items for sale.

A plasma was tucked in to a small recess in the wall, although this was not in use. Instead there was background music playing at just the right volume. There were a few locals sat on stools up at the bar and the landlord seemed a friendly chap. Various fairly lights adorned the beams, although these may well have been part of the Christmas decorations rather than a regular fixture. The gents were unusual in that both the walls and ceiling were fully carpeted, even extending in to the window recess. Fortunately the flooring was more conventional tiles.

The food choice was unusual in as much that the main menu consisted entirely of steaks and burgers. Price wise, the steaks were around the £15 - £20 mark, and the burgers around £9 - £12. These were apparently all home made with local ingredients and came in about a dozen different flavours, including a couple of chicken ones. If that's not your thing, there was a specials board above the fire-place listing another dozen or so dishes, although these were a cut above your usual "pub grub" with many of the options nudging the £15 mark. My "Old Smokey" burger with mature cheddar cheese, bacon and a BBQ sauce was one of the cheaper options at £9.75 and was indeed a decent burger with crunchy chips and a side salad that included a balsamic dressing.

Beers on tap were mostly of the festive variety with Firkin' Gold and Rocking Rudolph, although there was also Young's Bitter. Ciders were Symond's Founders Reserve and Aspall's Suffolk. All in all this seems a great village local, and well worth a visit if you're in the area.

4 Jan 2013 08:23

The Swan Inn, Stewkley

A good sized pub in the centre of this pleasant village, it has a traditional brick built appearance, beer garden and friendly bar staff.

The main lounge is a cosy room with a low wood beamed ceiling and a very large brick fire-place with a copper chimney hood and plenty of copper pans hanging from the mantle. The locals were keeping this well stocked with logs on a recent cold December evening. Off to the side is a smaller room with wooden boards on the floor that is perhaps more intended for dining, although the tables were not laid up. Another brick chimney breast is in here, although this was not in use. Black wood panelling was on the lower part of the walls and very pale pink paintwork above.

To the side of the pub was a small snug that looked as though it could have been someone’s sitting room with a couple of old leather sofas, a fireplace and a wooden cabinet stood in the corner. A small Father Christmas stood on a stool in front of the window so he could see out! The homely touches were slightly spoilt though by a very large plasma stuck up in one corner and a quiz machine in the other, although neither were in use.

The menu was unusual in as much that all the options were either seafood, steaks or burgers, so not necessarily something to suit everyone if that’s not your thing. In particular the vegetarian options were limited to just Quorn fillets or a spicy bean burger. The main courses were all priced at £8.95. My Fish of the day in a cheese and wine sauce was a generous portion and served with both a good choice of vegetables (peas, plus roasted beans, carrots and parsnips) as well as Dauphinoise potatoes and a decent side salad (mixed peppers, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a grain mustard vinaigrette) but if I was being critical I would say that it could have done with being a little tastier, particularly the sauce which had very little discernable cheese flavour.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Trelawney and Old Speckled Hen. There was a fourth pump that appeared to have run out and looked as though it was something from Courage. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

18 Dec 2012 22:53

The Shakespeare, Redland

A traditional, Victorian street corner local, this is a good example of a pub that has largely survived the passage of time intact but at the same time has been sympathetically refurbished and is kept clean, tidy and up together.

It consists of two bars with an oval bar counter serving both rooms. A porch inside one entrance is constructed out of dark wood panelling, as is the bar counter. The lounge bar to the left and this warps around the end of the bar and has carpeted flooring, leaded windows, a mustard colour wallpaper and paintwork in a couple of shades of burgundy and salmon. There were two small fire-places with a green Onyx type surround, although neither of these were in use. Seating was a mixture of padded benches around the perimeter and tables and chairs elsewhere. A darts board was located towards the rear.

The food menu was extensive, and was I suspect somewhat mass produced. It offered a good selection of "pub grub" dishes divided in to various sections such as mains, burgers and curries. These were mostly priced at around the £7.50 mark, and there were various deals available such as curry nights. There was also a small specials board.

Beers on tap were predominantly from Ringwood with their Forty-niner, Boondoggle and Best. These were joined by Jennings's Cumberland whilst the solitary cider was Blackthorn. The landlord seemed friendly enough and all in all I would say this was a decent local pub, and just a short stroll away from the somewhat more hectic scene on Whiteladies Road.

17 Dec 2012 19:17

The Greyhound, Haversham

A traditional, stone built country pub in a small village just outside Milton Keynes, first impressions were not good when I spotted a Greene King sign outside. I almost went on by, expecting to find the usual identikit menu and just Strongbow being served up on the cider front. I was glad I persevered though, as I found it much better than expected.

Inside it's a two room pub, with the lounge bar to the right. This was quite cosy, with a low, beamed ceiling and carpet on the floor. There was an exposed stone wall at one end as well as a fire-place with a wood burning stove. Elsewhere the walls were rough cream plasterwork with wood panelling on the lower part. A remarkably small TV was up in one corner, like you often see used as a CCTV monitor (perhaps it was?), although this was not in use. There were a few high chairs around the small, curved bar counter and seating elsewhere was mostly back to back bench seating creating separate booths. As it's nearly Christmas, there was a small tree in one corner, and plenty of fairly lights adoring the beams.

The bar to the left has wooden flooring and what looks as though it may be some type of stage area at one end. I couldn't see this as it was curtained off, but there was a lighting rig on the ceiling so presumably they host live music or other events. There is also a small outside garden. Landlord was friendly enough, although he had rather a propensity to call me "Sir" at every opportunity.

Food wise, the menu was fairly concise and offered a small selection of your normal "pub grub" dishes such as Haddock & Chips, Scampi & Chips, Burger, etc., as well as a couple of more unusual dishes such as Chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce and in addition to this there was a small specials board in the corner. Most of the mains were in the £8 - £10 range and my Salmon fillet in a creamy lemon sauce was ok - nothing special, but nothing wrong with it either. The sauce was rather runny and didn't have much flavour and the salmon was probably marginally undercooked, but on the other hand it came with a side dish of broccoli, green beans and carrot. Had it been a pound or two cheaper I'd have been quite happy, but I thought £8.50 was a little ambitious for what I got.

Drinks on tap were just Greene King IPA and Abbot Ale, and the solitary cider was Thatcher's Gold which was a very pleasant and unexpected find.

12 Dec 2012 08:04

The Brassmills, Keynsham

A large, extensive pub on the banks of the river, this was a former brass mill as it’s name suggests, and some of the old buildings are still evident. The main focus here seems to be on dining, and there were plenty of OAP’s in doing just that on a recent midweek lunch time visit.

Inside it’s divided in to several different areas, although they all flow from one in to another. They’re not separate rooms, just areas of the pub that have been portioned off with low balustrades or arched brickwork to break up the space a little. Decor wise, the theme is fairly consistent throughout with mostly carpeting on the floors although there are some old flagstones in the entrance way and some red tiling around the bar. Walls are a mixture of cream plasterwork and exposed brick or stone with a small section of wood panelling at one end that had a bit of a hotel drawing room feel to it. There were several fire-paces around, although I only noticed one that was in use. This had a plasma stuck above it which looked a little out of place, but fortunately this was not in use.

At the far end in the old mill building was an impressive arched roof with plenty of wooden beams supporting it. The windows here offered views of the river and overall for a modern makeover of an old building they haven’t done too bad a job, although it does lack any real character. There is also a small outside patio with some wicker furniture.

The menu was extensive and divided in to several different sections. Most of the mains seemed to be somewhere around the £9 - £12 range, although there were a number of options that fell outside of this price bracket. There was also a lunch/lite bites menu served until 5:00pm and these were priced at £6.50 for one course. I chose the Toad in the Hole with Mashed Potato and Caramelised Onion Gravy form here and whilst it was just about ok, it was certainly nothing special. Staff seemed friendly and helpful, although as is often the case with such places they could have done with some more behind the bar – three punters waiting whilst the solitary barman took about five minutes to key a food order in to the till is not good.

Beers on tap were Tribute, Butcombe and the seasonal Reinbeer from Ringwood. The solitary cider was Blackthorn, unless you include Aspall’s hot mulled cider.

6 Dec 2012 10:59

The Crown, Great Horwood

A traditional and attractive pub facing the pleasant village green, it's surprisingly small inside with just a couple of rooms at the front of the pub. There are also a couple of tables out the front and apparently some more seating in a courtyard around the side.

The main bar to the left has pale wood flooring and a very large brick fire-place on one side, with logs blazing away in an open fire. This was giving out plenty of heat on a recent December evening and was kept well stocked. Decor wise, there is little else of any note, with fairly plain cream plasterwork on the walls and ceilings and a couple of old photos dotted around. There is a similar sized room off to the right which may be perhaps more intended for dining, although on this occasion it had been taken over by the local dominoes team.

Food wise the menu was a fairly concise selection, with five or six "pub grub" dishes such as Fish & Chips, Gammon & Chips, etc., at around the £8 mark and another five or six more adventurous options with prices ranging anywhere from £12 up to £22 for the fillet steak. My Smoked Haddock Risotto was an excellent dish, generously proportioned and creamy, with plenty of chunks of tasty fish and topped with a runny poached egg. One of the best pub meals I've had for a long time, and good value at around £9.50.

Beers on tap were Courage Directors, St. Austell's Trelawney and Black Sheep. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk. All in all, I thought this was a great pub - friendly locals and staff, great food and a very pleasant spot. Just be aware if you're making a special journey that they do not open Tuesday or Wednesday.

4 Dec 2012 07:44

The Swan, Great Horwood

A traditional village inn, this pub consists of two rooms with a lounge bar at the front and a public bar at the rear. A small garden is off to one side. The lounge bar has green carpet on the floor and plenty of beams on the ceiling. The wall at one end was painted in a burgundy hue, but other than that the walls were all rough cream plasterwork with a couple of random pictures dotted around. There were two large brick fire-places, one in use and one not. The one in use had a large copper chimney hood and was kept well stoked by the friendly landlady. I rather felt that this bar had something of a dining room feel to it – it’s not that all the tables were laid up for food, because they weren’t. Only one was, and there was only one other punter eating. But somehow it just felt more like a dining room than a cosy lounge. Perhaps it was the fact that there was no bench seating or comfy sofa’s, but rather a selection of tables and chairs in two and fours.

The rear bar has a similar theme decor wise, but contained a pool table, darts board and a couple of plasmas, although these were not in use on a recent Tuesday evening visit. The food menu was very much a typical “pub grub” affair, with starters such as nachos and prawn cocktail and mains that included Steak & Ale Pie, Scampi & Chips, Hunter’s Chicken, a burger and a couple of steaks. Priced were in the £8 - £11 range, and whilst my beer battered fish & chips was pleasant enough, I felt perhaps that it’s £8.50 price tag was a little ambitious.

Beers on tap were Courage Best and Old Hooky. A third pump was on the bar but not in use. The solitary cider was Scrumpy Jack.

27 Nov 2012 20:21

The Folly Inn, Adstock

Although this pub is located on the main A413, it's on a dark stretch of road, set back on a bend and barely illuminated, so it's quite easy to miss it. In fact, I almost missed it even though I was actively looking for it. Whether it's worth the trouble of seeking out is another matter...

It's a fairly traditional pub with a large car park and a L-shape main bar. The flooring here is part cream tiles and part wood strip, whilst the walls are a mixture of cream wood panelling with cream, mustard or burgundy paintwork. There is a brick fire-place to one side and an unusual L-shape picture of a country scene that runs along the top of the bar counter and down one side. Unfortunately it's somewhat dated and there was very little atmosphere with no music and initially no other punters on a recent Tuesday evening visit, although one local did wander in later. It almost felt as though someone had just moved in, with one table containing a kettle and pint of milk, and old TV perched on another and a football on the floor. A further smaller and carpeted room was off to one side, although this was in darkness.

The friendly landlady explained that the pub had been closed for a while, re-opening a week ago. Prior to that it had a somewhat chequered history, being open as often as it was closed. It's currently for sale, and she works for a holding company who are just looking after it prior to it being sold. Whilst obviously not wanting to spend too much money on it, there are plans to put a pool table and darts board in the smaller room and start offering a basic food offering such as pies. One of the potential buyers apparently has plans to make it a ticketed venue with events such as live music, drag queens and lots of neon lights, consequently it's future as a pub is somewhat uncertain. With only about a dozen punters having been in since it re-opened it's clearly not sustainable in it's present form and is only kept going by the attached B&B business.

Beers on tap were Spitfire and Tring's Side Pocket for a Toad. The solitary cider was Strongbow unfortunately, which is no doubt the main reason for the complete lack of any clientele.

21 Nov 2012 07:48

The Albion, Clifton

Since my previous review this has been purchased by St. Austell Brewery. Little seems to have changed decor wise, and it was still very busy on a recent Saturday evening visit, which made service at the bar somewhat tricky. Despite three or four bar staff on, there were so many oblivious punters propping it up that there were only a couple of spaces to actually get served.

Beers on tap were predominantly from St. Austell as might be expected, with their Trelawney, Tribute and Dartmoor. The solitary guest was Otter Bitter. Ciders were Cheddar Valley, Thatcher’s Gold and Albion Hot Cider which I presume was a festive one.

19 Nov 2012 19:40

The Globe Inn, Wells

Since my previous review this has been refurbished and now sports a slightly more contemporary atmosphere, although still manages to retain much of it’s charm. The front bar has old flagstones towards the front, with some wood strip flooring behind. On the walls there is some khaki green wood panelling lower down with cream plasterwork above, and there was a birck fire-place off to one side.

Beers this time were Tribute, Cheddar’s Potholer and Butcombe. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold, Thatcher’s Heritage and Symonds Founder’s Reserve.

19 Nov 2012 19:33

bsb The Waterside, Bristol

This is not really your traditional pub, but a bit of a cross between a sports bar and a late night music venue, although there is some outside seating alongside the docks which would be a pleasant spot in the warmer weather.

It’s pretty much all one open plan space with an oval bar counter at it’s centre. Decor wise it’s fairly nondescript with white painted wood panelling on the ceiling, and a mixture of exposed brickwork and deep red paintwork on the walls. There was some mosaic tiling on the floor around the bar and globe lamps hanging from the ceiling. There is what might loosely be described as a small snug to one end with some armchairs, and a raised platform with wooden strip flooring at the other end. Three plasmas were on the wall at this end, along with three others dotted around elsewhere, all showing the darts.

A DJ booth was in one corner and there was a glitter ball on the ceiling as well as various lighting effects. One of these put out moving pinpricks of light that looked like glitter and it was a little off putting trying to concentrate on what your companion was saying when they had green spots jumping around all over their face. The loos were unusual in that there was an attendant in there with a wide array of lotions for you to use and he made a half hearted attempt to hand these to you although in reality he was more interested in chatting on his mobile phone.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on, just keg John Smiths. Ciders were Strongbow and Thatcher’s Gold, although the latter was well past it’s best.

16 Nov 2012 10:12

The Birch at Woburn, Woburn

The sign outside proclaims that this is a "bar and restaurant" and this, together with the fact that when you arrive you see neatly trimmed tress adorned with fairy lights and a car park full of prestige German vehicles immediately gives you a good idea of what to expect and the market that they are aiming for.

Within about five minutes of arriving, three different people had attended to me - a barmaid who kept calling me Sir, poured my pint and insisted that I take a seat and she would bring it over; a waitress who arrived with cutlery, serviette, complimentary olive bread and a tray of olives and a oil and balsamic dip; and a waiter to bring the menu and explain about the specials. My pint arrived on small paper napkin printed with the pub's name, although of course only a starched linen one was suitable for actually using as a serviette..

Decor is modern and contemporary with dark wooden flooring, deep red paintwork on the upper part of the walls and khaki green wood panelling below along with some modern artwork on the walls. The bar area at the front is a U-shape with most of seating being tables for two or four and upright chairs with chocolate brown leather upholstery. A brick fire-place and wood burning stove was off to the right, and although this was not in use on this occasion, a pile of logs stacked up next to it suggested that it may be more than just decorative. Recessed down lighters in the ceiling provided the lighting along with a few candles around the fire-place and there was an open glass shelf running around the top of the bar.

I didn't investigate the restaurant area, preferring to eat in the bar as I was dining alone. I got the impression that most people using the bar were in fact diners having a pre-dinner drink before going in to the restaurant, although there were three or four guys at one table who did not appear to be eating. The loos were similarly plush with smart tiling on the floor, more recessed down lighters and a choice of hand lotions.

The food menu was, as expected, a cut above your usual pub grub and included half a dozen or so dishes priced at around the £15 - £20 mark, along with a selection of steaks, many of which were available by the ounce which was unusual. My Gressingham Duck Breast with cider braised red cabbage, raisins, potato fondant and a honey and thyme glaze was a tasty enough dish, but for £17.95 I felt that perhaps the portion size could have been more generous.

Beers on tap were Adnams Southwold and Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk. A tricky one to mark - if you want to treat someone to a nice meal, I'd definitely recommend it, but this is of course a pub review website and it's really not very pubby.

14 Nov 2012 08:41

The Red Lion, Bletchley

A slightly down at heel boozer which when approached by car is in an uninspiring location down a dead end street in the middle of an industrial estate. Once you're there though, or if approaching by boat or along the towpath, you find an idyllic location alongside the canal, immediately adjacent to the lock, a small hand-operated swing bridge and opposite what was presumably at one time the lock-keepers cottage.

The main bar area is fairly non-descript with cream plasterwork on the walls, bench seating around the perimeter, old blue carpet on the floor, a small brick fire-place to one side with a plasma stuck on the wall above it, although this was not in use when I visited. Off to the right is a pool table and somewhat unusually a lighting rig and glitter ball on the ceiling, perhaps hinting at a slightly livelier atmosphere on occasions.

To the left is a smaller room with a darts board, another plasma and a fruit machine. A selection of 80's music was playing. Outside is a garden with several benches to make the most of the location, along with a small marquee for more inclement weather. It was fairly quiet on a recent early Tuesday evening visit, with just three or four locals sat at the bar using some rather colourful language.

Beers on tap were a little disappointing considering the Camra accolades that the pub has received, and were just Tribute and Wharf Bank Brewery's Best Bitter. A third pump clip advertised a Honey Blond beer that was apparently "coming Friday". Ciders were Strongbow and Weston's Old Rosie. The pub does not offer any food, which is somewhat unusual given it's location.

14 Nov 2012 07:41

The Rising Sun, West Town

Recently re-opened after a six week refurbishment, this has now been opened out in to a single U-shape pub and whilst it’s obviously clean and up together, it lacks much in the way of any character.

There are a few grey slate tiles on the floor as you enter, but elsewhere it’s all parquet wood flooring with what might be described as a lounge to your left and a public bar to the right, although I hesitate to use those terms when it’s all just one room. The curved and central wooden bar counter has a row of low hanging globe lamps above it, along with some grey tiling and wooden shelving behind. The lounge area has grey paintwork on the wall in many places and a couple of different wall papers elsewhere. A brick fire-place and wood burning stove was off to one side, and at the rear another area with plenty of tables and chairs which may be more intended for dining.

The bar half of the pub has another small fire-place, darts board and a pool table at the rear. A plasma up in the corner was showing the football and there is also a projector that can presumably be pressed in to use for major sporting fixtures. The laminated menu looked to be a fairly typical pub grub offering with choices such as a burger, lasagne, gammon and steak, mostly priced at around the £8 - £10 mark.

Unusually the pub is run by three ladies according to the welcome blackboard behind the bar, and at least two of these were wandering round in their slippers which seemed slightly.....chavvy, perhaps? The third had a young grandson who was running around swinging a pool queue in a somewhat alarming fashion.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Doom Bar. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatcher’s Gold.

13 Nov 2012 22:09

The Summerhouse, Worle

A large and modern, purpose built, multi-level pub near the railway station this has the mass-produced bland feel of many chain pubs, and whilst it’s not unpleasant there is little that inspires you to linger too long or make a return visit.

Decor wise it’s a mixture of wood cladding and exposed brick work, including a couple of brick arches, with carpeted flooring. Food features fairly prominently, and the upper mezzanine level is presumably restricted to diners only since you have to go past a “please wait here to be seated” lectern in order to access it. This has a wooden balustrade around the edge offering views of the lower part of the pub. The menu looked to be the usual chain pub offering with an extensive menu divided in to sections such as sharing platters, fish, pub favourites, spice selection, flame grills and burgers. Most of the mains appeared to be around the £8 - £10 mark. There were also several more dishes listed on a specials board.

There were a few sofas off to one side and a plasma screen stuck up on the wall, although this was not in use and a fruit machine or two opposite the bar. Despite five hand pumps on the bar, two of them were doubled up so the beers on offer were Oxford Gold, Pedigree and Hobgoblin. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Strongbow. Overall this no doubt suits punters who aren’t really interested in pubs but just want to come out for a meal with the family, and is I suppose a handing stopping point should you be waiting for a train. It’s also clean and tidy, but with little in the way of character and a fairly mundane beer selection, it’s not somewhere that a pub enthusiast is going to make a special effort to get to.

13 Nov 2012 21:52

The Woodspring, Worle

A good sized, street corner pub at the end of the High Street, which isn’t quite as cosy inside as might be inferred from the outside appearance, although the A-board advertising that they showed all premier league games live should I suppose be enough of an indication not to expect too much in the way of cosiness. Live music is also hosted on occasions, and apparently Luke Potter was playing there at the end of the month.

The main bar area runs along the front of the pub and has a tiled floor along with salmon paintwork. All the seating here was high stools, both along the wood panelled bar counter and elsewhere. To the left was an area that may well be more geared up for dining, but was hosting a popular quiz night on a recent Thursday evening visit. To the right was a pool table and a small TV, and a number of menu options were hung on small boards above the bar.

Beers on tap were RCH Pitchfork and Butcombe. A third pump for RCH PG Steam had apparently run out. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Stowford Press.

12 Nov 2012 23:06

The Old Kings Head, Worle

A basic, street corner boozer just off of the High Street, this appears to be quite a locals pub and no doubt has a number of pub sports teams going on the fact that there were numerous trophies and shields dotted around, besides photographs of the various sports teams on the wall.

The main bar is a large, open room with a no frills appearance, lino on the floor and both a pool table and a darts board. A plasma screen was showing a football match, and there was also a projector although this was not in use on this occasion. A green tiled fire-place also appeared to be unused. A smaller room off to the side housed a further pool table and another darts board and I got glared at by one of the players for having the audacity to wander in here to have a look around. Beyond this was a somewhat cosier lounge bar with leather bench seating.

Food didn’t appear to feature prominently here, although there were a couple of notices advertising Sunday Lunches as well as a “Big Boy’s Breakfast” at £4.50. The solitary beer on tap was Red Castle Cream, although ciders were well represented with Thatcher’s Gold, Thatcher’s Traditional, and, unusually on draught, Natch.

12 Nov 2012 22:45

The Golden Lion, Worle

A good sized pub towards the end of the High Street, with a few picnic benches at the front, this was quite busy on a recent Thursday evening visit, although this may be explained in part by the visiting darts team which the landlord enquired if were part of.

It’s a U-shape building with an extra room off to the right. Decor wise, it seems fairly contemporary with a mixture of carpet and wood strip on the floor. The top part of the right hand side looks as though it may be a skittle alley, although this was in darkness on our visit. To the left is a pool table and darts board. This means that seating in the bar is really very limited with only a couple of sofa’s and some bar stools, and as it’s not currently the weather for sitting outside our options were limited. In the end we elected to sitting in the dining area as there were only a couple of other punters in there, but clearly that would not be practical if it were full of people eating.

The dining room is a pleasant enough space, with lime green paintwork and a small wood burning stove although it did not look as though this was used. Some open shelving offered glimpses of the bar and housed a collection of tea pots. Food wise, the menu looked to be a fairly typical pub grub offering, with options such as Ham Egg & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Chilli Con Carne, etc., as well as a choice of Pasta, Salads, Burgers and Steaks. Most of the mains were around the £7 - £8 mark.

Beers on tap were Exmoor Ale and Otter Ale, whilst the ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Stowford Press.

12 Nov 2012 19:58

The Lamb Inn, Worle

A traditional old pub in the middle of the High Street, this is an L-shape building divided in to three different rooms, and has a somewhat dated feel, although it is by no means unpleasant.

The main lounge bar at the front of the pub is itself a smaller “L”, with other rooms off each leg. Decor is quite traditional, with cream plasterwork on the walls, red patterned carpet on the floor and numerous red upholstered chairs along with an old tiled fire place and various copper plates. Behind this is a smaller room which looks just like your grandmother’s sitting room, complete with a bookcase, armchairs, TV and a stone fire-place. This effect was emphasised by the fact that there was nobody in there – perhaps it is a private area and the door had inadvertently been left open.

To the right was a much more open bar area, and this had a fairly basic appearance with some type of lino on the floor, a TV and a darts board. Food did not appear to feature prominently here, in fact I’m not even sure if it’s offered, although I did spot a solitary cling-filmed roll perched on a shelf behind the bar. The barmaid was friendly and was joking with the locals, and a quiz night is run on certain nights.

The solitary beer on tap was Butcombe, whilst ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Thatcher’s Traditional. Overall I quite liked this, and whilst it is somewhat dated and certainly doesn’t have much in the way of a beer range, it is nonetheless a proper, unpretentious pub, no doubt much appreciated by the locals.

12 Nov 2012 19:38

White Horse, Silverstone

A surprisingly large pub, both inside and out, this was very popular on a recent early Tuesday evening visit, with little in the way of standing space at the bar and plenty of other punters milling around. Oddly though, the clientele was almost exclusively male. Initially I thought it was perhaps one of those pubs where people tend to stop for a pint after work, but as most of them were still there at 7:30, Im not sure that is actually the case.

The pub is divided in to three with a large central bar along the front and smaller rooms off to each side. Decor is similar throughout with a mixture of cream plasterwork, wood panelling, red burgundy paintwork and some exposed stone walling. Carpets covers the floor with the exception of a few tiles around the bar. A small TV was in an alcove between the main bar and the smaller room to the left, although this was not in use, whilst a larger plasma was on at the end of the bar. The small bar to the left had a stone fire-place and a wood burning stove, and whilst this was not lit on this occasion, a pile of nearby logs suggested that it is more than just a decorative feature. Outside was a good sized beer garden and patio, complete with various awnings, heaters and fairly lights.

F1 memorabilia features prominently as might be expected given the pubs proximity to the circuit and besides various pictures on the wall, these included a large aerial photograph and a glass display case housing a collection of components such as a brake pedal, brake discs and a shock absorber. There were even some racing related articles in the gents to read.

The menu offered a good selection of pub grub dishes such as Pie of the day, Ham egg & chips, Fish & Chips, Chilli Con Carne and several of burgers, jackets and various sizes of gammon or rump steaks. There was also a specials board listing another half dozen or so dishes. Most of the mains were priced in the 8 - 10 range, and I found my Sea Food Paella to be a pleasant enough dish, even if it could have done with being a bit tastier.

Beers on tap were all from the Everards stable with their Tiger, Beacon and the seasonal Pumpkin Ale. Ciders were Strongbow and Westons Traditional Scrumpy.

6 Nov 2012 20:40

Compton Inn, Compton Dando

A popular country pub that was pretty much full to capacity on a recent late Saturday afternoon visit, which is good to see, if somewhat surprising given it's slightly out of the way location. According to one of the friendly locals this is due to the local shoot meeting in the pub.

Inside, the pub is basically a single L-shape room, divided up in to a couple of different sections. The main area at the front of the pub is a traditional bar area with wood flooring, pale lemon paintwork on the upper part of the walls, and pale green wood panelling below as well as a community notice board. There was some exposed stonework at the rear, which was a nice touch although it was shame it had a plasma stuck on it which spoilt the look somewhat. Fortunately this was not in use. A large fire-place to the right housed a small wood burning stove, but this was not in use and looked as though it may be more of a decorative feature.

However, there was another large dual aspect stone fire-place to the left which also housed a roaring wood burning stove and this was kept well topped up whilst we were there from the pile of logs alongside. Next to this was a bookcase squeezed in to the gap between the chimney and the wall. A few armchairs and a leather sofa around the fire are a cosy spot and to the other side of the fire-place is an area that looks more geared up for dining with old black and white pictures of the village on the walls.

Another, carpeted dining area was at the rear of the pub complete with candles on all the tables. Despite this, I didn't get the impression that this was particularly a dining pub, but more of a village local that does food. That may have been just due to the nature of the clientele present at the time though.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Butcombe and Gem. Ciders were Blackthorn, Stowford Press and Thatcher's Traditional.

5 Nov 2012 16:22

The Cat and Wheel, Bristol

A traditional old pub just next to the arches, this has had a bit of a spruce up as far as I recall from my previous visit, although that was a few years ago. The pub is divided in to two with the lounge bar to the left and the public bar to the right. Both bars have doors out in to the garden which seemed to be a popular spot with its covered and heated seating.

The lounge bar is a long room with wood flooring and burgundy paintwork on the walls, along with several old black and white photographs of the local area. A curved, wood panelled bar counter is on the right and a large plasma is mounted up in the back corner, although this was not in use on our visit. Seating was some type of grey vinyl benches all around the perimeter with small bar stools elsewhere. An old tiled fire-place was opposite the bar, there were old beer bottles up on shelves and a number of disco type lights were on the ceiling. The public bar to the right is a little more sports orientated, with a couple more TVs that were in use, a pool table, darts board and table football game as well as the usual fruit and quiz machines. A large mural was painted on one wall.

Service at the bar was a bit hit and miss, on several occasions there was nobody about although this may have been because they were serving in the other bar. To start with, it all seemed very pleasant and much better than I recalled. Then someone approached with a large speaker and mounted it on a wall bracket just next to us, and proceeded to clamber around the seating trailing cables behind us. It soon became evident that was in preparation for karaoke, so we made our excuses and left at this point.

Beers on tap were Bombardier, Doom Bar, Tribute and Caledonian Autumn Red. Ciders were Stowford Press, Thatchers Gold, Blackthorn and Black Rat dispensed from a barrel sat on the end of the bar.

19 Oct 2012 10:54

Channings, Clifton

A large hotel conveniently situated midway between Whiteladies Road and Clifton village, this is a popular spot with students and on previous visits has always been quite busy, although on a recent Saturday evening was surprisingly quiet, especially as it was just at the start of the academic year. Although attached to a hotel, the pub has a quite separate identity, and does not feel like a typical hotel bar. There is a good sized garden at the front with plenty of tables, and this must be a prime spot in the warmer weather, especially in this part of town where outside seating is at a premium.

Inside its a single, L-shape room which is looking a little dated. Bizarrely a low false ceiling, or maybe even a mezzanine floor has been built. Once youre in there its not too bad, but looking in from outside with the full height windows clearly showing it, it all looks rather odd. The flooring is mostly carpet with some mosaic tiling in the centre, and the walls were oak panelling. There were some more oak beams on the ceiling, along with what looked to be painted wallpaper. A couple of plasmas were showing sports channels, and there was a good selection of board games piled on a shelf. Seating arrangements were several high stools at the front, tables and chairs up the side, and some brown leatherette sofas on the window, at least one of which had a large rip across the cushion.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Butcombe. A third pump was not in use, although on the mirror behind the bar someone had written more guest ales to come. When that would be, or what they were, it didnt say. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

15 Oct 2012 20:57

Ye Three Fyshes, Turvey

A traditional and attractive stone built inn on the main road through the village, this now has most of the floor space given over to the restaurant, but nonetheless maintains a separate bar area and there were several locals in enjoying a pint on a recent Thursday evening visit.

The bar area is an attractive room with a predominantly black tiled floor, although there are a few old flagstones around the bar. Its got a low ceiling with a couple of thick black beams and various paraphernalia on the walls relating to the coopers trade. Its not especially big, and there were only about half a dozen tables to sit at. To the right was a massive old stone fire-place with a wood burning stove and piles of logs ready for the winter. A small, semi-circular extension at the back had plenty of glazing and offered a good outlook to the pleasant looking garden. The restaurant area was off to the left and looked to be pleasant enough, with another small fireplace.

The menu was firmly in the gastro-pub genre with most of the mains being somewhere around the 10 - 15 mark, and offered a selection of unusual dishes. Certainly no curry or pie of the day to be seen here. There was however a separate bar menu, although many of these looked to be more of the snack variety than full blown meals. Unfortunately, despite high expectations, my Chilli, Crab & Basil Linguine was somewhat disappointing. There was little discernible flavour from any of the three ingredients and it was sat in a pool of liquid, so essentially was just soggy pasta. That said, I dont think it was a bad dish, just not quite what I had in mind. It wouldnt put me off returning and trying something else, and in contrast a desert of Banoffee Pie with Honeycomb Ice Cream was absolutely delicious, undoubtedly one of the best puddings Ive had for a while, although it was getting a little sweet by the end. And thats not something I say very often!

Beers on tap were Oldershaws Newtons Drop and Heavenly Blond, their own 1487 and Greene King IPA. The solitary cider was Stowford Press which makes a pleasant change from the ubiquitous Strongbow around these parts. Overall, despite a slight hiccup with my food, I really liked this pub. Its an attractive old building, retains a dedicated drinking area, has an unusual choice of beers and a pleasant and friendly barmaid.

11 Oct 2012 20:57

The Grapes, Bath

A traditional pub just off Baths main shopping street, that in spite of this seems to be bypassed by the hordes of tourists even on a busy Saturday afternoon, and was populated by a collection of locals who mostly seemed to know each other. Predominantly the clientele seemed to be old boys although there were a few others characters as well.

The interior is somewhat down at heel and quite traditional, with black beams on the ceiling, mostly carpeting on the floor with a little wood around the bar area, and the paintwork was a mixture of cream, salmon, mustard and burgundy. A section of exposed stone wall on the left appeared to contain the remnants of an old fire-place, with just part of the original mantelpiece being visible in amongst the stonework. Sport seems to feature predominantly here, and I counted no less than four plasma screens as well as an old TV dotted around what is a fairly small pub. Rugby appears to be the main theme here, and there were numerous notices displaying the months matches that would be screened. On previous occasions its been quite packed when walking past, but this time it was rather quiet. Perhaps there were no major fixtures on at that time.

The menu proclaimed that they did The best food in town but with prices for most of the main courses appearing to be somewhere in the 3 - 5 price bracket, Im inclined to treat that with a degree of scepticism. Choice wise, it looked to be extensive and was divided in to sections such as Pub favourites, Grills, Burgers, Wraps, etc. Tables were a little squashed in to the point that it was actually quite difficult to get in and out many of the chairs due to adjacent chairs and tables being in the way.

Beers on tap were an unusual choice with Stonehenge Autumn Envy, Okells Aile and Inveralmonds Lia Fail. The ciders were Blackthorn and Strongbow.

8 Oct 2012 08:50

Illusions Magic Bar, Bristol

A large single-room pub with a somewhat down at heel appearance. Clearly the major attraction here is the magic bar, as its name suggests. This is a small bar in the corner of the room where a magician does a number of card tricks. Theres limited seating in front of the bar and so its a little difficult to see whats going on if theres a few punters in front of you. As such, I didnt take too much notice of proceedings, but the tricks that were being done seemed to be appreciated. The action was also relayed to a plasma screen, but that didnt have enough detail to really see what was happening, and, rather oddly, was only in black and white.

There are lots of sofas around the place, some large windows at the front to watch the world go by, and a grand piano in one corner. As well as the more usual open mic night, they also have an open magic night. There were a number of pictures on one wall showing various illusionists and performers Houdini, Barnum, etc. All in all it could really do with a bit of tidying up, but it scores a few points for being unusual.

Unfortunately there was no beer on tap at all. The solitary cider was Strongbow, which was very disappointing.

4 Oct 2012 12:10

The Wavendon Arms, Wavendon

As other reviewers have said, this is now called The Wavendon Arms. Whilst this is no doubt a traditional old village pub, its clearly had a makeover at some point, possibly quite recently, and now has a very contemporary feel to it. Theyve actually done it quite well though, and retained one or two original features. Whether or not its an improvement on what it was like before I couldnt say, but as modern pub interiors go, I thought it was pretty good.

The drinking area is at the front of the pub, and this has dark brown paintwork on the walls which can sometimes make places feel a little gloomy, but that doesnt seem to be the case here. Perhaps the judicious placement of hanging spotlights, or the colourful old artwork on the walls made from old spirits adverts brightened it up. Flooring was a mixture of straw matting, wood strip, and some attractive granite type tiling. The wall behind the bar was made up entirely of small pieces of pale grey slate, as was the front of the bar counter. A couple of illuminated shelves behind the bar highlighted the range of spirits on offer.

A dual aspect fireplace made from some type of natural stone housed a metal rack containing a pile of logs, although I suspect these may have been more decorative than functional. A couple of large baskets housed further piles of logs. Indeed, wood seems to be a central theme here, and there were beams on the ceiling that appeared to made of old driftwood, and well as a sofa made out of something similar. The cushions on here were made from old sacks of coffee beans. Seating in the bar was small tables with soft leather armchairs, and whilst these were comfy for drinking, they were a little low and laid back if you wanted to eat in the bar as opposed to the restaurant.

The restaurant area itself was at the rear of the pub, and this had a similar open, contemporary feel with lampshades apparently fashioned from bits of old twig, and a large wooden free-hanging chimney in the centre. One or two brick pillars remained, although these had been whitewashed. The food menu was extensive and consisted of various sections such as pizzas, fish, leaves (salads), pasta and regular. Prices are difficult to pigeon hole as they varied considerably depending on what you chose, but I supposed averaged somewhere around the 12 - 15 mark, but with some dishes such as the lobster being considerably more at 24.95. That said, my Chorizo and Tiger Prawn Linguine was a decent and very tasty dish, and good value at 8.95 for the smaller portion, even though it could perhaps have done with a little more prawn and chorizo and a little less linguine.

Beers on tap were a little limited with just Doom Bar and Ubu Purity. Ciders were both from Aspalls with their Suffolk and Harrow Sparrow. Staff were pleasant and helpful, although as is often the case in such establishments they spent rather too long making coffee for diners in the restaurant which could lead to some delays at the bar. This is a tricky one to mark I actually quite liked it, it had decent food and the staff were friendly. But its not really that pubby, and beer choice was limited, so it really depends on what youre after.

2 Oct 2012 22:29

The Green Man, Lavendon

This is an attractive old thatched building with whitewashed stone walls that has presumably been extensively extended at some point. Inside its quite enormous with a number of different areas, although many of these appear to cater more for diners than drinkers. Its clearly had a contemporary makeover and is now a mixture of modern and more traditional, but they have nonetheless managed to retain many of the pubs original features and I felt they had made a better job of the renovation than many so called refurbishments.

There is a small patio area at the front of the pub which looks as though it would be a nicer spot in the warmer weather, and this leads in to the main part of the pub with the bar counter. This has dark laminate wood flooring, plenty of beams on the ceiling and much exposed stonework on the walls, although this has been painted in contrasting shades of off white and burgundy. To the left is a dual sided open stone built chimney breast that housed a wood burning stove, and beyond this a small tiled area that housed a further three tables and a cash point.

Decor elsewhere was much the same although some areas were carpeted. To the rear was a large room with more laminate flooring and a cosy alcove off to one side. To the right of the bar was more of a restaurant area complete with glass viewing doors in to the wine cellar (ok, cupboard) and this led in to an open function room with a vaulted ceiling. Dotted around the walls were a mixture of old black and white photos, and colourful, modern artwork.

The food menu was as extensive as the pub and offered around fifteen classics which were priced in the 8 - 10 range, as well as various other options such as steaks, burgers, light bites and baguettes and a few more options chalked up on a board above the fire-place. It is however exactly the same offering as can be found in any the Old English Inns chain as was evidenced by the lack of the pub name on the menu and even a GK stock code at the bottom.

Beers on tap were all from the Greene King stable with their IPA, Abbot Ale and St. Edmunds Fresh Golden Beer. The solitary cider was Stowford Press which makes a pleasant change around these parts, although unfortunately that was just a temporary replacement for the cloyingly sweet Aspalls Suffolk.

Overall, for a chain pub I didnt think this was too bad. Its managed to retain some of its character, and is a pleasant enough place, although clearly there is a strong emphasis on food.

25 Sep 2012 22:49

The Armoury, Shrewsbury

A vast shed of a pub on the attractive Victoria Quay, this is a very popular destination despite the fact that it is located somewhat out of the town centre. It is I suppose in the noisier end of town, with a Lloyds being located just behind it and a Vodka bar also nearby. Despite a decent array of beers on tap, the emphasis here seems to be mainly on food and it was full to capacity on a recent Saturday evening visit with all tables in use by diners except for a couple just inside the door, although there were also a few more along the quay outside which looks as if it would be a pleasant spot in the warmer weather.

Its all one big, open-plan room with the entire left hand wail being taken up with a floor to ceiling bookcase as well as a second extensive bookcase in the opposite corner. The long front wall of the pub is all exposed brickwork with a row of large arched windows. Elsewhere is cream plasterwork and a burgundy ceiling, and wood flooring. Various old pictures and photos were dotted around, there was a pile of board games on a shelf and a glass display case housed a collection of explosives and fuses which makes a change from the usual rope knots, and is, I suppose, appropriate given the pubs name. Dont let any of this infer that it is in some way a cosy pub though with its high ceilings, harsh acoustics and large number of punters it was anything but quiet and relaxed.

The food menu was extensive with around twenty main courses to choose from, most of them priced somewhere in the region of 12.50. The staff all seemed friendly and service was on the whole quick and efficient, but clearly something was amiss somewhere we were initially brought the wrong starter; no big deal, mistakes happen, but when a second waitress brought us the same wrong starter five minutes later we did start to wonder what was going on in the kitchen. Fortunately a third waitress managed to bring the correct dish after that. Whether it was worth the wait is another matter though. A starter of Goats Cheese & Sweet Potato Terrine sounded intriguing, but was nothing more than a slab of goats cheese wrapped in thinly sliced layers of sweet potato, and was served far too cold. Similarly a main course of Smoked Haddock & Salmon Fishcakes were predominantly mashed potato, with very little discernable fish. Side courses were extra, and a bottle of Pino Grigio was disappointing, so all in all I really couldnt recommend the food here, although judging on its popularity Im clearly in a minority.

Beer choice was unusually good for any pub, never mind one that concentrates so much on food and doesnt obviously seem to encourage drinkers. On this occasion they were Woods Shropshire Lad, Shropshire Gold, Three Tuns XXX, Backyard Bitter, Adnams Southwold, Hobsons Twisted Spire, Brunning & Pride Original Bitter and Shires Dabley Gold. After such an extensive range of beers, the cider choice was disappointing with just Aspalls Suffolk.

21 Sep 2012 12:03

The Coach and Horses, Shrewsbury

A street corner pub a little way of the main thoroughfare that means it probably gets something less in the way of passing trade than many nearby establishments, but is well worth seeking out.

The main bar at the front has much wood panelling on the walls, as well as matching woodwork around the bar. Elsewhere the wall is exposed brick, and there are red quarry tiles on the floor. Dotted around the walls were various comedy sketches relating to Guinness that were presumably used as adverts at some point. At one end was a brick chimney with a log fire and off to the other side is a hexagonal snug area made with more wood panelling.

To the rear is another smaller bar counter but this area looks to be predominantly used for dining. It looked to be an attractive, cosy spot and had we been staying another night in Shrewsbury I would have tried it for something to eat. I didnt check the menu but did notice a couple of boards that were advertising Sunday Roasts and Thursday Fish nights.

Beers on tap were Purple Moose Snowdonia Ale, Stonehouse Station Bitter, Shropshire Gold and Oracle from Salopian and Three Tuns XXX. Note that these beers on split between the front and rear bars, although a board at the end of the bar lists them all. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Cheddar valley.

21 Sep 2012 10:49

Boat House, Shrewsbury

A popular pub on the banks of the river, the main draw here is undoubtedly the large outside seating, and a notice outside proudly proclaimed that it was Shropshires Best Beer Garden although it didnt specify who has decided that. The outside area consists of both wooden decking and a patio area, with much of it having some good cover as well in case of any inclement weather, and this offered good views of the river, the park opposite and the nearby footbridge.

The pub itself is U-shape with a fairly traditional interior, dark wood flooring, low beamed ceiling, etc., although its not perhaps quite as cosy as many places. Lots of windows along the back also make the most of the river views. A brick chimney with a wood burning stove were at one end of the bar, and around the corner to the left was a carvery counter. The lower part of the walls were clad in burgundy painted wood panelling, with either lemon or lime paintwork above.

Although we didnt try the food, the menu looked to be extensive and offered a good selection of pub grub dishes at around the 8.50 mark, as well as a good selection of burgers.

Beers on tap were Bombardier, Salopians Darwins Origin and Stonehouse Station Bitter. Ciders were Strongbow and Stowford Press.

20 Sep 2012 11:43

The Old Post Office, Shrewsbury

This is an attractive old building not immediately visible from the road, but set back up a small alleyway that leads in to a courtyard that doubles up as a beer garden. This extends around the side of the pub offering a choice of several tables. Somewhat surprisingly the building was never a Post Office, instead the name refers to the posting of coach horses, whatever that is, according to a blackboard next to the bar.

Unfortunately the interior has clearly been the subject of a corporate makeover at some point, and now has the kind of bland, mass produced look that afflicts fat to many pubs. Only a couple of old wooden support posts hint at what was probably a much more attractive pub at one time. The pub is all one room, although divided in to a couple of different areas. The rear part is up a couple of steps and seems more geared up for diners, whilst there is a small snug at the front of the pub with a wood strip floor and a couple of leather sofas, along with a small fire-place, wood burning stove and a plasma. I didnt check the menu, although noticed a few posters advertising a 2 for 10 deal.

Beers on tap were Marstons Pedigree, Marstons EPA and Hobgoblin. There was also a pump for a Banks beer, but this appeared to have run out. Ciders were Strongbow and Thatchers Gold.

18 Sep 2012 22:53

The Nags Head, Great Linford

An attractive whitewashed stone pub with a thatched roof in what Great Linford rather euphemistically calls its High Street (the only other amenity there appeared to be an infants school).

The pub consists of a lounge bar off to the right, and a public bar to the left. The lounge bar is a very cosy, traditional country pub bar room with a low ceiling and plenty of black beams, a large brick fire-place at the back that housed a wood burning stove and had a couple of leather armchairs in front of it and there were plenty of copper pots and pans hanging around. Decor wise, there was a carpeted floor with dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls, and red flock wallpaper above. A fish tank sat in an alcove with a very large orange fish in it. This was predominantly occupied by diners on a recent Tuesday evening visit, but this certainly isnt a pub where food dominates.

The public bar to the left is a slightly more basic affair but still looked pleasant enough. There were two plasmas showing a football match, plus another at the other end that was not in use. There were several fruit machines, a darts board and several trophy cabinets suggesting that the pub teams enjoy some degree of success. A friendly pub dog was also wandering round in here.

The food menu was extensive and offered a good selection of pub grub dishes such as ham, egg & chips, Chilli con carne, lasagne, pie of the day, fish & chips, curry, etc. Most of the mains were around the 6.50 mark which seemed very reasonable and I enjoyed my salmon fillet with a lemon butter sauce that was chosen from the small specials board.

There were a good choice of beers on tap with Adnams Broadside, Doom Bar, Timothy Taylor Landlord, London Pride, Greene King IPA and their own Nags Head Ale. On the downside, the only cider on tap was Strongbow, unfortunately.

18 Sep 2012 22:25

Cromwells Bar, Shrewsbury

This has much more of a restaurant / wine bar like feel to it than your traditional pub, but nonetheless seems a popular spot and we only just managed to squeeze on to a table on a recent Friday evening visit. The right hand half of the pub appears to be more geared up for dining, with the bar area to the left. There is also a pleasant looking courtyard to the side of the pub, which was still busy even quite late on a September evening.

Its still got some traditional features such as beams on the ceilings, but has clearly had something of a contemporary makeover with a tiled black floor and rough, pale brown plasterwork on the walls. Seating was mostly wicker type chairs which are cropping up in many refurbished pubs these days, and all the tables had candles on them. There were also fairy lights adorning some of the ceiling beams, which may or may not add atmosphere depending on your point of view.

Beer choice was disappointing with just Three Tuns Rantipole on tap. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold. This was served somewhat short, and was topped up rather begrudgingly, but even then still fell some way short of the rim.

17 Sep 2012 23:06

The Loggerheads, Shrewsbury

A traditional old pub with four rooms, this has remained unchanged for many years I would imagine which makes a pleasant change when so called makeovers have destroyed so much of our pub heritage. The bar counter is located in the centre of the pub, although it is only directly accessible from two of the rooms. The main room at the front of the pub includes the bulk of the bar counter, and a small serving hatch to one side gives access to one of the side rooms.

The front bar is furnished with some type of lino on the floor, dark red wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and pale brown paintwork above. There was an old black fire-place and a plasma that was perhaps a little out of place, but at least it did not have the sound on. Various old black and white photos were dotted around the walls.

At one point someone in one of the rooms off to the side starting strumming a guitar and singing. Whether this was part of some official pub entertainment or simply a punter who fancied a sing along, Im not sure. The food offering was very much of the basic pub snack variety, with Pork Pie and mustard or pickle available for 2, a Sunday Roast for a fiver or create your own sausage & mash for 6.50.

Several beers on tap, although perhaps a little uninspiring choice - Nelson Sauvin New Zealand Single Hop, Jennings Dark Mild, Marstons Pedigree, Banks Bitter, Marstons 5 Hops and Jennings Sneck Lifter. Ciders were Strongbow & Thatchers Gold. Overall, Id say this is a great, unspoilt pub and well worth a visit. On the other hand, it was very male dominated, and most of the clientele was in the 50+ range. Consequently, Mrs B. felt a little out of place, so it may not be to everyones taste.

17 Sep 2012 22:55

Golden Cross Hotel, Shrewsbury

This really is very much a restaurant these days, and I mean that in every sense its not just a pub that has been gastrocised and concentrates on food. It looks very much like a restaurant, and the room at the front was fully occupied by diners; there is a very small bar counter with just one hand pump on it; and a waitress approached us as soon as we entered and when we had ordered our drinks we were asked to take a seat and they were brought to our table.

The room at the back was much quieter with just one other couple dining. This is a very busy room in terms of decor, with all sorts of clutter around the place. The seating was mostly tables and chairs that looked as though they would also be used for diners, although there were also a couple of sofas. Decor wise there was pale blue wood panelling on the lower part of the walls, some rough artex type plasterwork above it and straw matting on the floor. The sofas had plenty of cushions and throws over them, a model ship was on the window sill and a picture of the Mona Lisa hung next to the bar.

The solitary beer on tap was Hobsons Twisted Spire, although a couple of other hand pumps hinted at a pubbier history. There was no draft cider unfortunately. This is a tricky one to mark as a restaurant, it looked nice, seemed popular, the staff were friendly and I would be tempted to return to eat. But this is after all a pub review website, and its just not a pub anymore.

17 Sep 2012 21:19

The Kensington Arms, Cotham

A few years ago this was a dingy back street boozer with sticky carpets. It was then rescued and given a full gastro makeover and now seems to be very popular with both diners and drinkers. Its one of those places that probably has different clientele at different times of the day and with its free wi-fi, selection of papers and a brunch menu is no doubt popular with the local mums during the day. Its an attractive pub with plenty of colourful hanging baskets, and there is a small patio area with heaters around the side which seems a popular spot.

The front bar is the main drinking part of the pub, and this consists of a L-shape room around the bar counter with wood flooring, pale blue paintwork on the walls and a burgundy ceiling. There is some stained glass above the windows and some gilded mirrors on the walls. A large number of wine glasses hung from a rack above the bar. There was a plasma on the side wall but this was not in use. The rear room is more geared up for dining as I recall with a view in to the open kitchen although I didnt investigate it on this occasion. When we have eaten here previously we found that the number of punters and harsh acoustics made for a somewhat noisy atmosphere, and that together with the rather large tables meant you had to shout to make yourself heard.

Food wise the menu is very much of the gastro variety with main courses starting at 12.95 and going up to almost 20 for a whole crab, and thats before youve added any side orders such as chips or a salad (another 3 each). There was a very small menu of bar snacks according to a board at the end of the bar and whilst these were more conventional pub grub, they were still at the top end of the pub food price range with Fish & Chips being 12 and a Burger and Triple Cooked Chips coming in at 10.

After so much consideration and thought being given to the food, it was somewhat disappointing to find that all the beers on offer were from Greene King with their IPA, IPA Gold, Old Speckled Hen and Morland Original. Ciders were Stowford Press and Thatchers Gold. A couple of boards next to the bar offered a good choice of wines by the glass.

17 Sep 2012 20:56

The Fox and Hounds, Whittlebury

A good sized village pub that has resisted the temptation to go down the gastro route, and instead serves up decent honest pub grub which makes a welcome change. The friendly landlord had apparently only been there a couple of months, and being the only pub in a reasonably big village I hope they can make a go of it in these difficult times.

First impressions on entering the pub from the front was wheres the bar? Somewhat unusually you couldnt see it as you walk in. I persevered though and found it towards the back of the pub. The pub is divided in to two rooms at the front, and a more open plan area at the back. The paintwork on the walls is a mixture of maroon, lemon and a pale khaki green, which might sound an odd combination but seems to work well enough. The two rooms at the front were both carpeted and had brick fire-places with wood burning stoves. They both had plenty of tables and chairs, with the ones on the left all being laid up for food. The area at the rear has a similar colour scheme, but with its sanded boards on the floor has a rather more contemporary feel. Further back again is a small outside patio area.

As previously mentioned, the menu is your traditional pub grub with all the usual suspects such as Chilli Con Carne, Ham Egg & Chips, Pie of the day, Scampi & Chips, etc. Most of the main courses were in the 8 to 10 range, and my Beer Battered Haddock was a generous portion that I struggled to finish. A couple of slices of baguette were provided while I was waiting which is unusual in a pub.

Beers on tap were the local Foxy Hound from Silverstone and London Pride. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold which makes a welcome change from the ubiquitous Strongbow around these parts.

11 Sep 2012 22:44

The Olde Green Man, Little Brickhill

Recently re-opened, refurbished and under new management, this now describes itself as a Country pub and Restaurant which gives you a clue as to what its priorities are. It consists of a L-shaped bar area along with a restaurant section down a couple of steps to the left. It was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening visit with no other punters in the bar the whole time I was there, although there were a few eating in the restaurant.

Although I didnt visit prior to the refurbishment, its obviously that it has had something of a makeover and now has a very contemporary appearance with Farrow & Ball pale green paintwork and a mixture of flagstones and strip wood flooring. Seating in the bar area is very limited, although its not a bad size most of the space seemed to be just that space. The seating that was there consisted of a few leather armchairs clustered around low tables and one circular table to seat five or six. I didnt even notice any bar stools. An old fireplace was off to one side that housed a wood burning stove, although it looked as though it may have been more decorative than functional. As is popular these days, a selection of artwork for sale was dotted around the walls.

The restaurant area was off to one side, and appeared to be split in to two with a partition wall between them. This too looked very contemporary, and the end wall in one half was made up of log ends, perhaps supposed to look like a stack of logs ready for the fire. The menu itself was fairly concise with four or five pub classics such as Fish & Chips, Ham & Chips, etc, a similar number of Thai dishes along with a few salads and such like. Prices for the main courses started at around 9 and went upwards my shredded duck breast with stir-fry noodles and a spicy sauce was a pleasant and tasty dish, and there was a decent amount of it. Whether it was worth 12 though, Im slightly unsure.

Beer choice was disappointing with just Greene King IPA being available, although I did see pumps for Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale which appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk. Overall this is a decent enough place for what it is, but its difficult to score it highly as a pub either in terms of ambience or beer choice.

4 Sep 2012 22:59

The Barley Mow, Paulerpury

A traditional white-washed stone pub in the centre of the village, this is currently to let but still trading fortunately. There are a couple of tables out the front and a surprisingly large car park at the rear.

Inside its a single L-shape room of quite traditional appearance, with the wood panelled bar counter at the corner of the L. To the right is an area with floor to ceiling wood panelling on the walls making is somewhat reminiscent of an old hotel drawing room. Its carpeted throughout with the same kind of generic red patterned carpet that you find in many pubs, and there is a low ceiling with a few beams on it, although I suspect these are decorative rather than structural. To the right is a massive old stone built fireplace with a blank lintel above it, although at this time of year the only things actually in the fire were a couple of potted plants. Various old black and white photos of the local area were hung on the walls.

The walls are mostly white plasterwork, although there is exposed brick work in some places. A plasma was hung on the wall at the back showing some type of music channel, although the volume was down low and this wasnt too obtrusive. A dart board was tucked away around the corner. I enquired if they were doing food, and was told not at the moment. Whether that meant they dont do it on Mondays, or whether its a longer moment, Im not sure. The barmaid didnt seem to have much in the way of any personality, but then if the pubs to let thats perhaps understandable.

Beers on tap were Youngs Bitter, Abbot Ale and London Pride. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

3 Sep 2012 22:50

The Grapes Tavern, Bristol

Since my previous review, this had been closed, refurbished and re-opened under new management. Its still got quite a contemporary feel to it with wooden flooring and a mixture of cream and maroon paintwork. A couple of plasmas were showing the rugby but the volume was down so this wasnt intrusive and instead there was a decent mix of 80s music being played although there was also a wall mounted juke box if thats not your thing.

There was a small menu of just half a dozen dishes along with a few specials on a board by the bar. Prices for main courses ranged from 7.50 to 14 and apparently fresh fish is delivered daily, and the steak is from the US where its wet aged to make it meltingly tender as I was informed by the friendly landlord. Hes just back from a stint abroad and keen to try and build trade back up following the pubs recent, slightly chequered, history.

Beers on tap were all from Wadworths with their 6X, Henrys IPA and Horizon. Ciders were Stowford Press and Thatchers Gold.

28 Aug 2012 22:46

The Bristol Fringe Cafe Bar, Bristol

Now known as the Bristol Fringe Cafe Bar for some bizarre reason, I decided to check this out to see what had changed since my previous review. In short, nothing much. The landlady and decor are the same, the crepes have apparently been replaced by pies and Bath Ales Gem has been added to the line-up on the bar. Other than that, I did not notice any discernable difference , and the name even lives on as The Greyhound sign is now a fixture on the inside of the pub.

In addition to my previous notes, I would also add that there is a pile of board games on the window sill, a baby grand piano in the front part of the bar, a table football game in the rear, and there is an outside area which is unusual in this part of town. This consists of a small courtyard with decking, an old sofa besides the metal tables and chairs, and a barbeque. Being surrounded by tall buildings its not going to get too much in the way of sun, but does nonetheless offer the chance of some fresh air, unless the front part of the pub which was somewhat smoky thanks to the smokers huddled in the doorway.

There were a number of posters up for the Edinburgh Fringe, so perhaps this has influenced the pubs name in some way. There are also piano nights on Thursdays and live music nights on Saturdays.

28 Aug 2012 22:19

The Old Crown, Ashton

An attractive white-washed stone built pub with plenty of hanging baskets outside, this has clearly had a contemporary makeover at some point and doesnt have quite the olde worlde charm that you might expect. That said, its a pleasant enough place and with a small beer garden at the front as well as a larger one at the rear, offers a choice of inside or outside drinking. Although not quite as foody as some pubs perhaps, with no more than 50% of the tables laid up for food, it does nonetheless seem to convey the impression that food is the primary focus here, perhaps because it doesnt seem that pubby. There were a couple of punters sat on high stools at the bar having a pint, but other than that all the clientele appeared to be dining. Service at the bar was a little slow whilst the lone barmaid was pleasant enough, helpful, and doing her best, she was trying to serve drinks (coffee as well as beer!), take food orders and even deliver the food to the tables which inevitably led to something of a delay.

Inside the pub is essentially one single room with a bar counter in the middle, although its divided in to two halves by the bar itself and some partition walling either side. Flooring is a mixture of red patterned carpet and wood strip, along with some red quarry tiles around the bar. The walls are mostly plain white plasterwork with some wood panelling lower down, and the bar counter itself also has modern, wood panel cladding. The front half has a very low ceiling which is mostly more white plasterwork, whilst the rear is slightly higher and has plenty of beams but very modern beams, not old ones.

The menu offered a decent selection of dishes, although these were a step a from your normal pub grub, and may not suit all tastes if youre looking for something a little more traditional. There was the option of Fish & Chips or Sausages with Bubble & Squeak, but other than that the options were somewhat more adventurous, with the main courses priced at anything from 8 to 15. My marinated salmon fillet with crab stir-fry noodles & coriander was a decent enough dish and generously proportioned, although also one of the more expensive options at 13. It would seem that they had run out of plates since it arrived at the table still in its saucepan.

Beers on tap were a little disappointing, with just Youngs Bitter and Eagle IPA. Even worse, the solitary cider was Strongbow. This is a tricky one to mark its a pleasant enough place if slightly lacking in character, and the food was decent enough. But as a pub its not really got that much going for it with an emphasis on food and a limited range of beers.

28 Aug 2012 22:02

Alterego, Clifton

A trendy bar on the Whiteladies road strip. Not a lot to really distinguish it from many of the other places nearby it attracts a lot of students, sells little or no real ale, plays loud music and stays open late. If thats your thing then great, but Im getting a little too old for that!

Having said all that, theres a reasonably decent upstairs area with a few comfy sofas and an all together more chilled ambience. There is a small bar upstairs as well, although with a much reduced range of drinks compared to downstairs. The barman seemed quite switched on which makes a change.

The only beer that they appeared to serve was Bombadier, although even this was off on our visit. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

(review from October 2010 - pub only just added by admin)

24 Aug 2012 13:46

Mud Dock, Bristol

In many ways this is more of a caf/bar than a pub, but nonetheless you can go in and get a pint and its a great spot on a summers evening. Theres a fantastic view from the top floor balcony looking all the way along the river from Ostrich Inn and the general hospital to down past the old Industrial Museum and the Lloyds building with all the boats in between.

Somewhat unusually, as well as being a bar/caf, the ground floor of the building houses a very upmarket bike shop, and this theme continues up to the bar with a number of specimens hanging from the roof. Food is popular here as you would expect, and features an unusual selection of dishes a bit trendier than your usual pub grub, shall we say. Service was a little slow with just one person serving at the bar, although there were various other staff wandering around.

The only beer was their own 3.7% ABV Mud Dock Bitter although they had several bottled beers chalked up on a board, and the solitary cider was a rather warm Thatchers Gold.

(review from October 2010 - pub only just added by Admin)

24 Aug 2012 13:45

Queen Victoria Inn, Northampton

The legend Country Pub & Dining prominently displayed on the outside of this pub didnt inspire me with confidence all too often this type of marketing means over-priced gastro fodder with little consideration for drinkers. Happily though, in this case I was to be proved wrong. Its an accurate description in as much that this is a pub in the country, and you can eat there. Nothing more than that, which makes a pleasant change. Its quite difficult to pigeon hole this pub in to any particular category they seem to cater equally for diners, drinkers or punters who want a game of pool.

Its a good sized, O shaped pub with the bar being in the centre. Essentially its all one big room, although divided off in to different areas with some wood partitions and decor changes. The largest section is at the front, and this has tables in the large bay windows along with a massive old fire place that houses a bread oven, wood burning stove and a large pile of logs. The front part of the pub has an old beamed ceiling, although the pale green paintwork in between the black beams was an unusual choice. Flooring here is red patterned carpet with some red floor tiles around the bar counter, which is clad with what looks like drawer and door fronts from kitchen cupboards.

Around to the right is another, smaller area with tables and chairs, and a smaller fireplace, again with a wood burning stove. A tropical fish tank separates this from the pool table, and this was in constant use on a recent Wednesday evening visit. Beyond this was some pale green wood cladding on the walls and some old wooden pews that had a bit of a country kitchen air to it. The one remaining area is a small snug just as you enter the pub from the car park with a couple of old leather sofas and a slate tiled floor. Decor wise, the paintwork is a mixture of pale green and canary yellow with plenty of pictures on the walls, many of generic country scenes. A collection of large jugs was hung around the bar, and there were various other pub paraphernalia such as brass pans and the like dotted around on the wall and shelves.

The food menu was extensive and consisted of a good selection of steaks, regular pub dishes such as fish & chips, pie, etc., and unusually, an extensive oriental section as well. This was reminiscent of a take-away menu where you firstly chose the type of dish, e.g.; Chow Mein, Spicy Stir Fry, Oyster Sauce, etc, and then the primary ingredient such as prawns, chicken or vegetables. In addition to this, you also choose the heat level, from one to three chillies, so there should be something to suit all tastes. Most of the regular pub meals were around the 10 mark, with the oriental options a pound or so cheaper. In case this wasnt enough, there is a further Thai menu available on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, again with a choice of primary ingredient and heat level for each dish. I went for a medium Thai Green Chicken Curry and this was a decent, home cooked dish with just the right amount of spiciness, plenty of flavour and a good selection of vegetables in with the chicken, and was good value at 8.45.

After all that, beer choice was perhaps a little disappointing with just Eagle IPA and 6X and the solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Overall, I really liked this pub. It hasnt got quite the olde worlde charm of some places, but its pleasant enough and has got something for everyone; honest home cooked food, a friendly couple running it and good value food & drink.

21 Aug 2012 22:54

The Trinity, Bath

Refurbished since my previous review, this now has a slightly more contemporary feel but nonetheless is still very much a traditional pub. Its split in to three areas and there are usually a few tables and chairs on the pavement outside which is a pleasant enough spot overlooking the square.

The front area of the pub houses the bar counter, and two areas at the rear are given over to a pool table on the upper level and next to this a more traditional room with the air of an old drawing room thanks to its dark wooden bookshelves, flock wallpaper and old fireplace. Flooring is a mixture of light wood at the front and tartan carpet whilst the walls are a mixture of cream paintwork with khaki green painted wood panelling below. A number of old local photos were on the walls.

There were a couple of plasmas around, one next to the pool table which was fair enough, but the one in the drawing room seemed a little out of place. They were playing a music channel, and whilst the volume at the front of the pub was quite reasonable, we initially made the mistake of sitting right under one as this was the only free table. This was far too loud, especially considering there was a nappy advert on at the time which wasnt really conducive to me drinking my pint.

The two beers on tap were both from Abbey Ales with their Bellringer and White Friar. There was a third pump for Doom Bar but this appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

20 Aug 2012 21:54

Gascoyne Place, Bath

A good sized pub in an old Georgian building opposite Baths Theatre Royal, this is a handy spot for a pint or snack and they capitalise on this by offering a pre-theatre menu option. It doesnt feel much like a pub in the traditional sense, more of a bar / restaurant type place, but its nonetheless pleasant enough and Id happily return.

Its split in to several different areas, some of which are clearly more geared up for dining. The central room which houses the bar is fairly narrow and has little, if any, seating. To the left was a room with dark wooden flooring and plenty of tables and chairs which looked as though it could equally be used for dining or drinking. At the other end of the bar was some green tiling of a hue that always reminds me of public lavatories, but seems to be somewhat in vogue these days.

To the right of this it splits in to two levels. Up a few steps was a small landing with flock wall paper, pale wood panelling and a few pictures on the walls. Down a few steps was a subterranean area used as a restaurant, and this was where we were shown to as we were dining on this occasion. Its quite attractive with exposed stone walling down one side, khaki green paintwork on the other red boards on the ceiling. A beer barrel sat in an alcove at one end with some illuminated twig lights on top of it.

The food menu was short and concise, but offered a few interesting sounding dishes. These were a cut above your normal pub grub and the main courses were mostly priced in the 10 - 15 range, although they did still offer more traditional dishes such as Fish & Chips or a Burger if thats more your thing. I had the Pan-Fried Chicken Breast, Confit Leg & Chestnut Fritter, Fondant Potato, Shallot Puree & Baby Carrots and whilst not the cheapest option at 15, I nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed it and would certainly recommended it. A desert of toffee mousse with caramel crisps was equally impressive.

The two beers on tap were both from the Plain Ales brewery with their Arty Farty and Intrigue. The solitary cider was Stowford Press. All in all, I quite liked this friendly young waitresses, decent food and a pleasant ambience but if youre after something a bit more pubby then you may not be quite so keen.

20 Aug 2012 21:38

The Boat Inn, Chepstow

This pub appears to be formed from two buildings that have been knocked in to one, with the right hand part having a traditional whitewashed appearance and the next door half having a more contemporary look. There is also a good sized patio area alongside the river which is a pleasant enough spot on a sunny afternoon.

Inside too, the right half is more traditional with a very low, beamed ceiling, flagstone floor and several low chairs gathered around the fireplace. Only the very large rear projection TV sat somewhat incongruously in the corner and the various kids running around spoilt what would otherwise be a cosy old hostelry. Off to one side was another area with extensive wood panelling on the walls reminiscent of a ship's cabin.

Walking through to the other half, you find yourself in a quite different pub. It's still quiet traditional in many ways, but here the room is double height with a galleried landing running around the edge. Two staircases forming a V-shape on the back wall run up to this upper level and there is an exposed stone wall in between them with cream plasterwork elsewhere. The wooden balustrade along the edge of the landing is adorned with rope lights. Flooring is predominantly carpet, with a raised area in one corner having wooden flooring and a piano. The seating at the front of the pub offers pleasant views of the river and the cliffs opposite, especially those in the upstairs dining area. All sorts of nautical artefacts were festooned around and included a ship's wheel, technical diagrams showing ship's construction, pictures of ships, lobster pots, cargo nets complete with sacks of cargo and even a ship's figurehead and a rowing boat suspended from the ceiling.

The menu was extensive and offered a good selection of "pub grub" dishes such as Ham, Egg & Chips, Burgers, Lasagne, Fish & Chips, etc., and these were mostly priced at around the 10 mark. There was also a specials board and at least on a Sunday afternoon, a carvery option. Food was a little disappointing though, whilst my Thai Green Chicken Curry was tasty enough, it had the appearance of something fresh out of a packet and the chicken was somewhat chewy. It certainly wasn't worth the 9.95 that it cost.

Beers on tap were London Pride, Wadworth's 6X, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Rev. James. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

14 Aug 2012 16:31

Man of Ross Inn, Ross-on-Wye

A smallish pub at the top of a hill and tucked slightly away from the centre of town, it nonetheless seems a popular spot and there were several punters enjoying the outside pavement seating on a recent, unusually warm, evening. Plenty of hanging baskets created an attractive appearance and the barman seemed friendly enough.

The pub is split in to two rooms, with the one on the right being more geared up for dining. The left hand room contains a small bar counter with a large black lintel above which has the name of the pub engraved in to it in gold lettering. Other than that it's all fairly traditional with a carpeted floor, wooden bench seating around the perimeter, a small black fireplace, a darts board and a plasma that was showing the Olympics. There is a bay window with some carved wooden window frames, reminiscent of the type you may expect to see in a church.

We didn't check the menu but the dining area looked to be full and an A-board outside advertised fresh fish arriving from Brixham several days a week.

The only beer on tap was Doom Bar, unless you count keg John Smith's Extra Smooth or Tetley Smooth Flow. Ciders faired slightly better with Stowford Press and Strongbow.

14 Aug 2012 15:44

The Royal Hotel, Ross-on-Wye

A large and prominent pub / hotel with great views from the terrace, this really should be a prime spot for a pub to thrive. Unfortunately as is so often the case in such situation, the owners know that they don't have to try too hard, and it shows with service at the bar being somewhat chaotic, mass produced expensive food and a poor choice of drinks.

It's divided in to three rooms inside, all spread out along the front of the pub to make the most of the views. The middle bar is the largest and this is where the bar counter is. This room has wooden boards on the floor, a marble fireplace at one end and a cream and chocolate colour scheme. Seating here is limited with just a few stools along the front by the window. Artwork on the wall consisted of a few black and white photographs, but most of the "pictures" on the walls were actually promoting various aspects of the pub such as Sunday Roast menus, a Golden Years menu and Wedding Packages. Either side were slightly smaller rooms with stripy carpet and a more hotel like feel to them, with the one on the right being more geared up for dining.

Outside is a pleasant terrace with wooden decking and great views, plenty of potted plants and a beer garden alongside, although this is somewhat less successful as the views are obscured and you are overlooked by the modern accommodation block attached to the pub. There were also rather a lot of kids running around.

The food menu was extensive and was divided in to sections such as steaks, burgers, classics, etc., with most of the mains being around the 8 - 10 range, although a limited selection were available as part of a "2 for 9.95" deal. Quality was disappointing though with lukewarm chips and a "dressed salad garnish" that had no dressing on it and consisted of, literally, one cherry tomato, one slice of cucumber and a few limp shreds of lettuce. Very poor, especially for somewhere that classes itself as a hotel and promotes wedding packages.

Beers on tap were just Old Speckled Hen and Landlord's Choice Royal Ale. I've seen beers called Landlord's Choice with a name appropriate to the pub tacked on to it in a few places recently - presumably some identikit brew trying to make out it's individual? The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

14 Aug 2012 13:23

Peartree Bridge Inn, Milton Keynes

A cavernous pub alongside the canal, this is a modern brick built affair on the edge of a housing estate, and unfortunately lacks the rustic charm of some of its more rural neighbours.

It is split in to two distinct halves inside joined by a meandering corridor. One half is very much a restaurant and featured a large carvery counter and some type of help yourself ice cream machine. The drinkers half is a L-shape room at the other end of the pub. One leg of the L has a pool table, darts board and a plasma mounted up in the corner. The other leg is just tables and chairs. Decor wise, its the usual bland, corporate style with paintwork being a mixture of maroon and green, lots of carved wood including a wood panelled bar and wood panelling on the ceiling up above , along with various nautical artefacts such as a ships wheel, oars and pictures identifying several species of fish.

Its a shame that the canal side location wasnt factored in to the design a bit more. The pub runs lengthways along the edge of, and quite close to the canal, so although there are views from some of the tables inside the pub, there is no room for any outside seating. There are some benches adjacent to it, but instead of a nice beer garden its just a tarmacd area with a view of the car park.

Food seems to be very much of the cheap and cheerful, mass produced variety and the focus was very much on the all day 3.99 carvery which seemed very popular, although I believe other options were available. A poster near the door advertised puddings from 1.99 which rather suggests that theyre not freshly prepared by a top chef. The solitary barman was doing his best, but it was apparently his first day at the pub and as he had to cope with punters both ordering drinks and food, there was inevitably something of a wait.

The solitary beer on tap was London Pride (unless you count keg John Smiths) although there was also a pump for Youngs Bitter but this appeared to have run out. Ciders fared little better with just Strongbow and Bulmers Original.

13 Aug 2012 23:02

The Olde Ferrie Inne, Symonds Yat West

This is a traditional pub in a very pleasant spot alongside the river that has somehow managed to resist the temptation to turn itself in to a tourist magnet and has instead retained much of it's character. The only concession to tourists seems to be an old dresser just inside the door with an extensive selection of picked vegetables and preserves for sale!

The main bar area has an old flagstone floor, black beams on the ceiling and much exposed stonework on the wall, including the backdrop to the small corner bar counter. An old fire-place off to the left housed a wood burning stove, although the plasma stuck up above it looked a little out of place. Another fire-place at the rear had piles of logs alongside, old soda fountains on a shelf up above and various other earthenware vessels around. Both fireplaces had comfy old armchairs in front of them which must be a pleasant spot on a cold winter's evening. To the right was a smaller room with a tiled floor, pool table, darts board and quiz machine.

There are a couple of patio areas outside along by the river, and these are a pleasant spot to sit and watch the boats go past and the old rope drawn ferry where the pilot has to pull the boat across by stretching his arms up to the suspended rope. It all looked a bit hard work to me, and I worked up quite a thirst just watching.

Beers on tap were Butty Bach and Hop, Skip & Jump. Ciders were Ferryman's Cider, Stowford Press and Ross-on-Wye Farmhouse cider.

13 Aug 2012 16:47

The White Lion, Ross-on-wye

From the front this is an attractive and traditional old coaching inn with plenty of colourful hanging baskets to brighten it up. Around the rear there is a good sized garden and patio area alongside the river with very pleasant views across to the old 16th century bridge.

The interior is slightly dated decor wise, with an old blue floral carpet covering much of the floor with just a few strips of wood alongside the windows at the rear. A small room off to the left has exposed stone walls and a tall vertical tropical fish tank along the chimney breast which was completely obscured by a projector screen. It's a shame it couldn't be retracted out of sight when not in use, as this rather spoilt what is otherwise a pleasant enough room.

The main room runs from front to back and is split in two by a stone wall. There is a large brick fire-place at the front, and a bar counter clad with pale blue wooden panels at the rear. Numerous bunches of hops are hung from beams on the ceiling and around the bar. There is also apparently the "Old Gaol" restaurant upstairs, although we did not investigate this.

The main draw for many people will be the large outside seating area alongside the river, and this was divided in to three areas. The first part on exiting the rear of the pub is what could be a converted cow shed, but was perhaps stables in a former life. It looks to have been refurbished and is a pleasant, covered space with wood panelling on the back wall and wooden arches in the roof space. Beyond this is some elevated decking and a pleasant beer garden with plenty more hanging baskets alongside.

The menu offered an extensive selection of dishes divided in to sections such as fish, burgers, classics, etc., and most of the mains appeared to be in the 8 - 10 range. Beers on tap were Wye Valley Bitter, Butty Bach and Dave's Blond Beer. Ciders were well represented with Magner's Golden Draught, Stowford Press, Strongbow, Ross-on-Wye Traditional Cider and Ross-on-Wye Traditional Perry.

13 Aug 2012 16:23

The Royal Standard, Lyme Regis

In spite of its prominent position on the cob, this seems to be quite a locals pub at heart although it obviously does get a good selection of visitors popping in.

Theres a good sized patio area at the front to make the most of the sea views. Once you get in you immediately have to navigate around a pool table in order to get to the bar, which is rather unusual. Once past that, you find yourself in a fairly traditional, carpeted pub with black beams on the ceiling, a darts board and a trophy cabinet. The walls were a mixture of white painted plasterwork, wood panelling and exposed stone walling. Another room is off to the right with unpainted oak beams on the ceiling, mostly exposed stone walling, chunky wooden tables and a large glass frieze of the Duke of Monmouth.

I didnt check out the menu, but noticed several specials listed on a board by the bar with most of the mains being around the 10 - 11 mark. Food doesnt seem to be a major focus here though, and I didnt notice anybody eating on a recent Friday evening visit, although its possible that they had stopped serving by the time we were in there. Music policy seemed to be predominantly 80s, and there was a good selection of locals in enjoying a pint.

Beers on tap were all from Palmers with their Dorset Gold, Copper Ale, Best Bitter and 200. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Old Rascal.

9 Aug 2012 13:08

The Crooked Billet, Newton Longueville

An attractive, thatched pub in this small village outside Milton Keynes, food is clearly a major focus here although there were nonetheless a couple of locals sat up at the bar and none of the tables in the main bar area were laid up for food, which is more than can be said of many so called pubs. A supplement in The Telegraph last weekend listed 150 of the countrys best restaurants and alongside the usual suspects from Gordon & Heston was this one which gives you an idea of how seriously they take the food. Chef Emma Gilchrist is clearly one to watch.

The main bar area has several traditional features, and is cosy enough but perhaps lacks something in terms of real olde worlde charm. Just inside the door are a couple of ancient support timbers which are an attractive feature, but a large plate glass screen etched with the pubs name and fixed between them seems to jar somewhat. Besides that, there is plain red carpeting on the floor, plenty of joists on the sagging ceiling, and rough cream plasterwork on the walls with wood panelling lower down. There were a couple of fire-places in here, a small brick one to the right with a wood burning stove and a large open one to the left with a massive wooden lintel across it and piles of logs stacked up on either side. This too had an etched glass screen in front of it though, which seemed a little odd, and a couple of low leather sofas in front.

To the rear is the bar counter and a wood panelled ceiling. This is presumably the main area for drinkers, and it some ways looked a little dated, although there was nothing at all wrong with it. There are two dining rooms off to the left, and although I didnt investigate these, the decor looked to be very similar although obviously all the tables were laid up for food. Some attractive gardens at the front and side of the pub completed the seating arrangements.

As previously mentioned, food is the emphasis here and the menu concentrated on quality rather than quantity with a fairly concise selection. Main courses ran to eight or nine options plus another two or three on the specials board, and every dish had a suggested wine accompaniment printed on the menu. Prices were certainly at the top end of pub dining with the cheapest (vegetarian) option being only a few pence short of 15. Alternatively you could opt for a seven course tasting menu at 65, or 95 with wine! That said, the small specials board offered two courses for 18.75. Once I had ordered I was brought complimentary bread, one of which was a tomato and herb flavour as well as an amuse bouche of mushroom soup and truffle oil. I opted for the Poached and garlic roasted chicken with crispy bacon, puy lentils, baby onions tarragon and jus, and this was a generous and very tasty dish. Many of the puddings were just one word, and I went for Strawberry which consisted of strawberry mousse, strawberry compote, strawberry ice cream, jelly, meringue and honeycomb and this too was an excellent dish. By picking my main course from the specials board I managed two courses for 20 which I thought was good value considering what I had which I thoroughly enjoyed and I would happily return to sample something else.

Beers were a bit disappointing for a pub that puts so much effort in to its food and consisted entirely of Greene King offerings with their Abbot Ale, Old Speckled Hen and IPA Gold. There was also a pump for Ruddles Best, but this appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk. This is a tricky one to mark as a restaurant Id give it a 9 or 10, but the beer choice was limited, the emphasis is on food and this is, after all, a pub review website.

7 Aug 2012 23:23

The Volunteer Inn, Lyme Regis

A traditional pub just up the hill from the centre of town, this seems to be a decent boozer with a more traditional feel than many of the nearby options which on the whole seem to be rather down at heel or overly touristy. Only a wet dog smell subtracted slightly from the ambience.

The main bar to the right is a long, carpeted room with the walls being a mixture of exposed stone work and black wood panelling. The ceiling was a mustard colour and had plenty of black beams which were all adorned with blue and white fairly lights. A stone fire-place was on the right and the bar counter was opposite this, clad in what appeared to be some sort of wood effect Formica. A large mirror and a few old black and white pictures of the local area completed the decor and the seating was wooden benches with green cushions and green padded stools. The other bar to the left was an entirely different, contemporary affair with more of a bistro like feel to it. I assume this is for dining, although nobody was in here on a recent visit. The floor here is sanded wood, there is a white-washed brick fire-place with a wood burning stove, pale blue/green wood panelling on the walls and chunky pine tables.

Beers on tap were Adam Hensons Rare Breed from Butcombe, Tribute and Dartmoor Best. Ciders were Ashton Press, Cornish Rattler, Thatchers Dry and Thatchers Copper Press which was a new one on me slightly embarrassing that I have to come all the way to the south coast to find it when I only live about ten miles from the brewery (cidery?).

6 Aug 2012 20:35

Shooters, Weston Super Mare

A somewhat down at heal bar in the centre of Weston, its a long, narrow pub divided in to two rooms, one behind the other. The front bar has old wooden flooring, a long bar counter on the right with bar stools all along the front, a plasma showing the Olympics and a large selection of framed football shirts on the wall. A band were in the process of setting up their gear on a recent Thursday evening visit.

To the rear is another bar with a sports emphasis containing a pool table, quiz machine, darts board, pinball machine and a table football game. Its a little gloomy with dark brown paintwork on the ceilings, whilst the wails had wood panelling on the lower part and rough cream paintwork above. The flooring was of indiscriminate nature having been worn away to a smooth black finish over the years, but may at one time have been some type of matting. There were plenty of posters on the walls advertising forthcoming bands, and something that looked like a condom machine, although on closer inspection we found that it dispensed disposable cameras. A couple of very old, and very low, black leather sofas and a couple of plasmas completed the furniture. A dark and dingy corridor led further back to the loos where the gents door was clad with metal plate like you might find covering trenches and suchlike, whilst inside I found a cubicle built out of bare breeze blocks.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, just John Smiths Extra Smooth. Ciders were well represented though with Blackthorn, Strongbow, Thatchers Gold and Broadoak.

3 Aug 2012 11:22

The Old Colonial, Weston Super Mare

A good sized Marstons pub in a prominent position on the seafront and with good views of the pier, this has had an extensive refurbishment since the last time I was in here and now has a quite different character. In many ways it reminds me of a Wetherspoons, and that is perhaps their intention to provide some effective competition for the recently opened Cabot Court a few doors up. First impressions were not good with service at the bar being particularly slow. There were two barmaids serving with about half a dozen punters waiting, many ordering food. Inexplicably, one of the barmaids then wandered off to refill the fridge making the situation even worse.

Decor wise, it has a somewhat bland, corporate feel with laminate flooring in the central area and various carpeted areas around the perimeter. Walls were a mixture of cream paintwork and flock wallpaper with the pillars and other detailing painted in contrasting burgundy or khaki green. There was a plasma tucked down in one corner and a couple of fruit machines, but little else of any note. There is a small terrace at the front with offers pleasant views of the sea and has wooden decking, wicker furniture and plenty of small trees adorned with fairy lights.

The menu was extensive and was divided in to sections such as classics, burgers, grills and pies. Most of the mains looked to be around the 10 mark. There was also a specials board offering another twenty odd choices, and whilst these were priced similarly they are apparently available all day as a 2 for 1 deal, which rather suggests that they wouldnt be that special, IMHO.

Beers on tap were Marstons Joggers Tipple, Hobgoblin and Pedigree. The cider was Thatchers Gold.

3 Aug 2012 11:03

Ship Inn, Lyme Regis

A basic, no frills boozer a short stroll away from the town centre. First impressions were not good, with a noisy young toddler running around and nearly colliding with us as we entered. We should have taken that as a sign to leave, but as I find it very difficult to leave a pub without having a pint, we persevered.

The pub is a sideways U-shape in layout, with the front bar having rough boards on the floor, a curved, wooden bar counter, wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and some old painted wallpaper up above. Wooden bench chairs with red upholstery were arranged around the perimeter of the room, and there were numerous pictures on the wall, many of old ships from the White Star Line and old photographs of the town. A piano was in one corner along with a plasma, although this was turned off and there was also a fruit machine.

It could really have done with a little background music, either from the plasma or something else. Besides the toddlers parents, there was only one other punter in there which made it all too easy to hear the landlord swearing down the phone. Later on a large horde of cackling females arrived so it went from one extreme to the other.

The only beers on tap were both from Palmers, with their Best Bitter and Copper Ale. It looks as though 200 may usually be on, but the pump clip was turned round on this occasion. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

2 Aug 2012 15:26

Ye Olde Swan, Woughton

A large and attractive pub in a pleasant location a few minutes walk from the canal, this seems a popular spot and was almost full on a recent mid-week evening visit, albeit predominantly with diners. First impressions were not that encouraging with a sign in the car park proclaiming that they were "proud to serve Costa coffee" and Christmas menu leaflets just inside the door. In July.

The pub is split in to several different areas, and many of these are clearly aimed more at eating than drinking. It's had a contemporary makeover at some point which may have removed some of it's original charm, but it's not at all unpleasant. The main bar area has an attractive farmhouse tiled floor, and there is cream wood panelling on much of the walls. To the left is a small snug with green wood panelling on the lower part of the walls, maroon paintwork up above, several old black and white photo's on the walls and some comfy looking leather armchairs. The pub then extends on in to numerous different areas with either dark laminate on the floors or carpet. Many of these are quite cosy with low beamed ceiling, suitably sagging in places, and some of the lower beams having had padding applied. Obviously the Health & Safety police felt that the "Mind your head" signs were insufficient. Candles adorned many of the tables, and many of the rooms offered views out to the gardens. A free standing, dual aspect brick chimney breast separated two of the rooms and was an attractive feature, although whether it's still used I'm not sure.

Outside there is a beer garden with picnic benches as well as a patio with modern wicker chairs and high tables and this looked to be a pleasant spot. The food menu s extensive and split in to different sections such as Salads &Vegetarian, Meat/Poultry, Fish, Pies, Burgers and Grills. Prices were slightly above the budget end of the scale, with main courses starting at around 9 and going up to 15 or so. I had the Oven baked salmon wrapped in pancetta with a cheesy mash, green beans and a white wine and pesto sauce, which was a decent enough and attractively presented dish, although the pancetta was noticeable only by it's absence. At 13.29 it wasn't the cheapest option, but I was quite happy with it.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA, Marston's Single Hop Styrian and one which the barman described as Young's Gold, although I didn't see a pump clip for that and can't see it listed on the Young's website. Ciders were Aspall's Suffolk and Weston's Traditional Scrumpy which makes a very pleasant change when the rest of Milton Keynes is drowning in a sea of Strongbow. This is a tricky one to mark - it's a pleasant pub, staff were friendly and there was good food. On the downside, the choice of beer wasn't great and it's not really that "pubby" although having said that they do hold Tuesday's quiz nights, which is not perhaps what you might expect. Overall I'd say give it a go if you're passing, but it's probably not worth making a special effort to get there - unless of course you're in Milton Keynes itself and want to avoid all the dross that is there.

1 Aug 2012 08:08

The Pilot Boat Inn, Lyme Regis

A fair sized pub right in the heart of Lyme Regis, this was surprisingly quiet on a recent midweek evening in July, when I would have thought there would be plenty of tourists around. Besides a few locals propping up the bar, we were pretty much the only people in there.

The main bar is carpeted throughout, has natural wood beams on the ceiling and a mixture of cream and maroon paintwork on the walls, with wood panelling lower down, but somehow doesnt actually feel that pubby, perhaps due to the seating which was high backed upright leather chocolate coloured chairs like you might get in a trendy restaurant along with light wood tables. There were several photographs on the wall, many of the local coastguard helicopter and some water colours of local scenes that were for sale.

We didnt eat, although the food menu looked to be a fairly typical pub grub affair and was divided in to sections such as jacket potatoes, sandwiches, platters, etc., as well as a few meat and fish dishes with most of the mains being around the 9 mark.

Ciders were all from Palmers, with their 200, Best and Copper Ale. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold. Overall I was a bit disappointed with this pub, feeling it lacked much in the way of any atmosphere and preferred some of the other nearby options.

30 Jul 2012 20:29

The Harbour Inn, Lyme Regis

This pub is in a prime spot overlooking the harbour and makes the most of its views with a small terrace at the front of the pub. Inside there are two rooms, although neither really feel that pubby in many ways its got more of a cafe feel to it, although its by no means unpleasant.

The front bar has black slate tiles on the floor and chunky wooden furniture as well as the bar counter. Up a couple of steps at the rear and you find the other room which looks to be more intended for diners than drinkers. This has rough wooden flooring and bench pine seating around the perimeter with plenty of cushions. There was some exposed stonework on the walls that had been painted cream and elsewhere the plasterwork was a mixture of dark blue and maroon. Various pieces of artwork were dotted around the walls, much of it for sale. I use the term artwork loosely one particularly large piece opposite where I was sitting consisted merely of light blue paint across the top gradually fading to dark blue paint at the bottom. Other than that, the only thing on there was a couple of smudges that could perhaps have been interpreted as someone walking a dog on the beach. At 860 it didnt really strike me as much of a bargain.

Food wise, the menu tended very much towards fish dishes as might be expected going on its location. I had the Creamy smoked haddock, prawn and salmon fish pie while Mrs. B had Crab fish cakes with a chilli sauce. Both were decent dishes, and although not cheap at around 12 each, you get what you pay for and we were both quite happy with them.

Beers on tap were Otter Ale, Otter Bitter and Tribute. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Cornish Rattler. Overall, I quite liked this place decent food, good location and friendly staff. But if youre after a more traditional pub, it may not be for you.

30 Jul 2012 20:12

The Cobb Arms, Lyme Regis

A large pub in a prominent position at the end of the Cobb, this cant help but attract a large number of visitors simply because of its location, although there looks to be fairly limited outside seating.

Its a good sized, U-shape pub with wood flooring which is clearly trying to orientate itself very much towards food rather than wet sales on a recent visit we found every table in the main bar to be laid up for food, even a very low coffee table by some sofas which would have been very uncomfortable to try and eat at. Next to these was an old brick fire-place and there were a couple of plasmas around the place, although these were just showing notices about the pub, e.g.; food served all day and accommodation offered. In a concession to anyone who didnt want to eat there was at least a pool table in the lower part of the bar. Decor wise, there was a rather vibrant turquoise paintwork on the upper part of the walls with a straw type matting lower down.

Food menu was extensive and was divided in to sections such as baguettes, sandwiches, jackets, etc., with most of the main course options being around the 9 - 10 mark. A board above the fire-place advertised morning coffee and muffins. Service at the bar was poor with nobody there for several minutes, and I was ignored by a couple of staff on their way to or from the kitchen even a be with you in a minute would have been better than no acknowledgement at all. Eventually a barmaid turned up and went straight over to serve a punter who had just arrived - to be fair, she hadnt walked past before so probably didnt know that, and she was apologetic when I pointed it out. But she could have asked, and if the other punter had any manners he would have said something.

Beers on tap were all from Palmers with their Dorset Gold, 200, Copper Ale and Best Bitter. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

27 Jul 2012 16:38

The Fortescue Inn, Salcombe

An extensive pub at the end of the high street, this has a traditional feel to it and is somewhat less food focussed than some of the other pubs around.

There are two bars, each with their own separate entrance. The right hand bar which is known as the Ships Bar has parquet wood flooring and is designed to attract a younger clientele with rather loud music and a pool table. The Lounge Bar to the left is all together much cosier with carpeting on the floor, beams on the ceiling, white plasterwork on the walls and some wood panelling lower down. There was a brick fireplace off to the left and plenty of horse brasses around as well as old black and white pictures of the pub and the town in days gone by and some more modern artwork that was for sale. A restaurant area was further off to the left although we didnt investigate this.

There is a small patio area next to the pub on the right, although it doesnt have quite the same outlook to the estuary as some of the other venues nearby. Usefully there is a serving hatch from here directly in to the bar, although on the afternoon of our visit this was unfortunately not in use.

Beers on tap were Youngs Special, Otter Ale, Otter Bitter and Courage Best. Ciders were Symonds Founders Reserve and Westons Old Rosie.

27 Jul 2012 13:20

Dicks and Wills, Salcombe

Im surprised to see this on here as its really much more of a restaurant than a pub. Whether you can just pop in for a pint Im not sure, but certainly food is its focus.

First impressions dont do that much, sending you down endless corridors and stair cases, but when you eventually get to the restaurant you find yourself in a light and airy contemporary room with light painted wood panelling on the walls, a wood strip floor and great views over the estuary. There is an outside decking area, but it wasnt that warm so we elected to stay inside and even though we were one row back from the window we still had a good view of the river and the passing boats.

Waitresses were pleasant and helpful, and as you would expect from the location, fish featured prominently on the menu. For starters I had the Pan seared Local Hand Dived Scallops with a Butternut Squash and Nut Butter Puree with Garlic, Ginger and Chilli, Crispy local ham, toasted hazelnuts and sea fennel and for the main course I had the Battered Monkfish with Salcombe Crab Pad Thai Rice Noodles, Hand Picked Salcombe Crab, Tamarind, Dried Shrimps, Peanuts and Coriander .

Price wise its not cheap with a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine costing just a few pence short of 100, but you get what you pay for this was one of the best meals Ive had for a long time. Highly recommended, and I will no doubt return next time I am in Salcombe.

27 Jul 2012 12:26

Victoria Inn, Salcombe

An attractive pub in the heart of Salcombe, it offers extensive, terraced gardens and a pleasant ambience although there does seem to be quite an emphasis on food to the detriment of punters who may just want a pint.

The main bar at the front has some attractive giant flagstones on the floor, mustard colour paintwork and dark red/maroon wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. There was a brick fire-place at each end, one with black painted bricks, and each containing a wood burning stove. A number of black beans on the ceiling and a couple of red leather sofas completed the cosy feel and there were various nautical pictures on the wall as well as other nautical artefacts such as a ships lantern and wheel. A small bar off to the right was perhaps slightly less food focused, but there were still a number of people eating here. There was also a separate dining room off to the left.

The gardens at the back are on three levels and extend back a considerable distance, much further than would be expected from looking at the front of the pub and the topmost level offers glimpses of the sea. There is also a kids climbing frame. The menu was extensive and most of the mains were priced at around the 10 - 12 mark. There was also a fish specials board. We had Beer battered cod with chips, minted mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce and a Double baked pork belly, both of which were very good. Staff were helpful and friendly.

Beers on tap were all from St. Austells, with their Trelawney, Proper Job, Tribute and Dartmoor Best. Ciders were Strongbow and Cornish Rattler, along with a couple of other Rattler derivatives such as pear and berry.

27 Jul 2012 12:20

The Kings Arms, Salcombe

A good sized pub right in the heart of Salcombe High Street, this should be a prime location packed with tourists, and although that may be the case during the day with people looking for something to eat, we found it surprisingly quiet later on with few drinkers in there, in spite of the fact that the front part of the pub looks quite traditional and is more geared towards wet sales.

The main bar at the front is carpeted and has a fireplace to the right with a wooden mantle and wood burning stove in the hearth and a small trophy cabinet. A wood panelled bar is opposite you as you walk in, as there is a wooden entrance porch that protrudes in to the pub space, presumably a later addition rather than an original part of the building. A smaller bar off to the left has more of a sports feel with a tiled floor, darts board, quiz machine and a large brick fire-place with a wood burning stove and a plasma mounted above it . Any charm that the brick chimney breast may have once had was ruined by a couple of very brightly backlit drinks advertisements set in to the brickwork either side of the plasma. It would also be somewhat distracting if you were trying to watch it I would have thought.

Up a couple of steps on the right was a longer room with a much more open, contemporary feel and this looked to me more geared up for dining. This had a bit of a nautical theme as befits its location with a pale blue and white colour scheme, a canoe hanging up in the arched roof and various other boat related items around such as ropes, oars and anchors. This area was carpeted and there were candles on all the tables. There is some outside seating consisting of a patio to the right and a wooden terrace/sun deck up a few steps to make the most of the estuary views.

Beers on tap were Bass, Courage Best and Greene King IPA. Ciders were Strongbow, Bulmers and Heron Valley Devon cider, which is a new one on me. The friendly barman offered a sample, and it wasnt at all bad. Certainly better than the other two offerings as I pointed out to him. Overall, I was slightly disappointed with this, although its difficult to pin down exactly why. Perhaps it felt a bit tired, maybe it was too quiet, Im not sure, but personally I prefer some of the other pubs nearby.

26 Jul 2012 15:10

The Black Horse, Great Linford

A large and attractive old canal side pub, its clearly had a contemporary makeover but has nonetheless managed to retain some, although perhaps not all, of its olde worlde charm.

There are several different areas, both inside and outside. Starting with the outside, there is a patio at the front of the pub, a garden shaded with trees adjacent to this, beyond this again a larger open area (no food service here apparently), a small garden with just a couple of tables right next to the canal, and what I assume is a fairly modern terrace built up level with the top of the pub to make the most of the canal view. Certainly theres plenty of space, although even so in the nice weather it inevitably attracts the crowds and I only just managed to procure a table as someone was leaving.

Inside its a bit of a mixture of the old and the new. The main bar at the front has an old flagstone floor which is an attractive feature, a low and slightly sagging beamed ceiling and a mixture of exposed stone walls and khaki green paintwork. A slightly more modern looking fire-place is at one end, various old black and white photos adorn the walls, and there were a couple of sofas in the window. Off to the left is a relaxed area with a part tiled, part wooden floor with a rug or two, sofas and a fire-place with a wood burning stove. This seems a relaxed place to chill out. Beyond this again was an area more geared up for dining and all together more contemporary with straw coloured matting on the floor and a pile of log ends attached to one wall to make a bit of a feature.

Going right from the main bar, you go up what appears to be a small staircase to the loos, but this then opens out in to another two or three rooms, again with a modern feel to them but retaining a number of old oak beams and supports. This also leads out to the small canal side garden. Service at the bar was a little chaotic as others have mentioned, but they were extremely busy and seemed to be doing their best to cope.

Food wise, I chose from the bar and terrace menu which I suppose suggests that there is a separate restaurant menu. This offered a decent selection of dishes, not your usual pub staples, and perhaps with a slight bias towards fish which may not suit everyone. Choices included Sticky BBQ ribs, Haddock & chips and Garlic prawns. Most of the mains seemed to be somewhere around the 10 mark, and I thought that my salmon fish cakes with a herb dip and mixed salad was a decent enough dish, and at 7.95 was the cheapest option on the menu. It may not have suited someone with a particularly hearty appetite however.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Broughtons Merlin Ale. There was a third pump with the clip turned round. Ciders were both from Aspalls with their Suffolk and Harrow Sparrow which is a new one on me I had hoped for something a little more traditional, or at least not as cloyingly sweet as their Suffolk, but to be honest I thought it tasted pretty much the same.

24 Jul 2012 23:18

The Swan Inn, Swineford

As Rex has pointed out below, this is an attractive Bath Ales pub on the main A431 between Bristol and Bath. Its a good sized pub being divided in to three separate areas, and there is also a decent sized beer garden alongside as well as a couple of tables out the front.

The central part of the pub has old farmhouse kitchen style red tiles on the floor, cream wood panelling on the ceiling and mustard colour paintwork on the walls with some green wood panelling lower down and a few old pictures of the local area. Up a couple of steps to the right is a wood floored area with otherwise similar decor, and to the left an area perhaps more geared up for dining. Again, the decor was similar but this time there was carpet on the floor and there were chunky wooden tables. Beyond this up a couple of steps was a slightly cosier room with wood flooring and a sloping roof.

I didnt check the menu, although the specials board looked to have a few tempting options chalked up on it, and I may well return to check out the food. The barmaid was friendly and helpful, and as is often the case in Bath Ales pubs, there was plenty of their merchandise around for you to buy bottles in gift packs, mini beer barrels, even a Bath Ales branded hat.

Beers on tap were all from the Bath stable with their Summers Hare, Gem and Spa. Ciders were again their own Bounders and Bounders Traditional.

23 Jul 2012 22:45

The Ferry Inn, Salcombe

A large pub on three levels in the heart of Salcombe and with a good sized terrace offering great views across the estuary, this pub should be an absolute gem. Unfortunately as can often be the case with pubs in such prime locations, service levels seem to have slipped, perhaps because they know that in the decent weather at least, they really dont have to try too hard to attract the punters in.

The main bar area of the pub is the upper of the three levels and this is a long room with a cosy enough ambience being carpeted throughout and having various nautical artefacts around such as a ships barometer and an oar. Numerous flags were covering the ceiling, and there were brick fire-places at each end with wood burning stoves. The paintwork was a khaki shade of green with wood panelling lower down, and some exposed stonework elsewhere, particularly at the far end. A large glass case displayed a number of giant crustaceans and there was bench seating all along the front wall of the pub with plenty of windows giving good views across the water.

On the middle floor was a dining area that had a much more contemporary feel to it, and on the ground floor a much smaller and more basic bar with blue and white paintwork again giving it a somewhat nautical feel and whose primary function was, I suspect, to act as a serving area for the large patio.

We were waiting to be served at the top floor bar for some time as there were no staff members present. Eventually someone turned up, the same guy that I had noticed whist I was waiting collecting glasses out on the patio. One member of staff to cover a three story pub? When he did get to us he seemed somewhat disinterested, and was easily distracted such as stopping to take a phone message from another member of staff (OK, so there was more than one. Shame she wasnt serving while he was collecting the glasses).

The pub was very quiet on what should be their peak time of the year with only half a dozen or so punters on the patio, another two or three in the top bar and nobody in the dining room. Admittedly it wasnt the weekend, and the schools had yet to break up, but it was still July and a rare sunny day in amongst lots of rain should have seen them much busier. Perhaps the prices may be a contributory factor - 8.40 for a Thatchers Gold and a G&T seems a little steep, and although I didnt check the menu, I noticed a small specials board that listed a Chicken Curry and a Chilli Con Carne, both over 11.

Beers on tap were Palmers Copper Ale and Palmers Best. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Gaymers Pear.

23 Jul 2012 22:26

The Hoops Inn, Horns Cross

An attractive and extensive thatched pub, this has a number of different bars as well as an attractive courtyard garden at the rear.

The main bar area has a very dark, almost black, parquet wood floor, plenty of beams on the low ceiling and canary yellow paintwork on the plastered walls, as well as some exposed stone walls. There are old brick fire-places at either end with wood burning stoves, and there were plenty of jugs, horse brasses and pictures dotted about. A small cubicle off of this bar housed just one four-seater table and this had a curtain on it to screen it off from the rest of the pub for some privacy!

Beyond this and up a couple of steps was a slightly more formal room, perhaps more geared up for dining with carpeting and several shelves full of books. At the rear was another cosy and smaller bar with wood panelling on the walls, wooden pews, a tiled floor and its own small bar counter. This was completely full of dogs on a recent visit three extremely large ones, and its not a very big room!

There were extensive menus, both bar and restaurant versions with the mains being around the 9 - 13 mark if you dined from the bar option, or 15+ otherwise. We had the Thai Green Chicken Curry and found this to be a pleasant and enjoyable dish, and reasonable enough value at 10.95. There were also 2 for 10 early bird options available, although this was a very limited menu.

Beers on tap were all their own and appeared to be keg rather than cask Hoops Best, Hoops Bitter and Hoops Light. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold. The staff were friendly and helpful, and all in all I felt this was a decent enough pub although it is perhaps somewhat more geared towards food than drinking.

20 Jul 2012 16:42

The Beaver Inn, Appledore

An attractive pub in a great location overlooking the estuary. The outside patio which faces directly on to the estuary is not especially big, and I imagine soon fills up in the sunny weather. There are about half a dozen picnic benches here, and some blue mosaic tiling as a backdrop.

The pub itself consists of a central, carpeted bar that has a long bar counter at the back with an impressive, highly polished wooden top. A plasma was just inside the door showing the Grand Prix, although there was no discernable sound. To the right is a stone fire-place with a stags head mounted up above it. Up a few steps to the left is a long narrow bar with plenty of windows offering further views of the estuary. To the right, again up a couple of stairs is a bar with laminate flooring, a pool table, darts board and a small fire-place with a wood burning stove.

Beers on tap were Dartmoor Best, Doombar, Tribute and Bays Devon Dumpling. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Cornish Rattler.

20 Jul 2012 15:26

Bull and Butcher, Akeley

A good-sized pub on the main road in the heart of this small village, its seems to be a popular spot with the locals and it was good to see the bar surprisingly busy on a recent early mid-week evening.

The pub is essentially divided in to three the main bar runs along the front of the building, and is a cosy space with a low beamed ceiling, bay windows, some exposed stone walling and a large brick fire-place at one end and a floor that was partly carpeted and partly wood strip. There were lots of tankards hung up above the bar, a notice board on the wall and a TV up in one corner, but this was tuned to a radio station and had no discernable volume that I noticed. Behind this room to the left is a small snug with a red tiled floor, and a couple of leather black sofas pushed together into a L-shape.

To the right, beyond a free-standing brick chimney breast with a wood burning stove in each side is a restaurant area. This has a similarly cosy ambience with plenty more beams on the ceiling and a pillar or two to support them. The outside wall was all exposed brickwork, and elsewhere there was a mixture of rough cream plaster and maroon paintwork. At the back of the pub is a very large garden with a goal net at one end, although surprisingly it only contained half a dozen tables.

There was a decent looking menu, with an emphasis on steaks and fish dishes. On top of this there were a selection of pub grub dishes such as Burger & Chips, Gammon & Chips, Lasagne, etc., that were all priced at 7.95 or two for 12 if you ordered before 7:00pm. In addition to this there were a few specials chalked up on a board offering another four or five options. For me, the food was a little disappointing there was nothing at all wrong with my Cajun Salmon with new potatoes and salad but it did nothing to justify its 11.95 price tag. Had it been the same cost as the other pub grub dishes, I would have been much happier.

Beer on tap were all from the Fullers stable with their London Pride, Chiswick Bitter and Gayles Seafarers. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. This is a tricky one to mark; the landlord was friendly and helpful, but Im inclined to deduct a point for the poor value food and the disappointing cider selection. But that would probably leave it with a six which seems unfairly low for what is essentially a decent pub, so Ill settle for a seven.

18 Jul 2012 21:53

Arnolfini Cafe Bar, Bristol

This is a fairly small bar housed in a large old warehouse that also contains an arts complex and cinema. The interior has a somewhat utilitarian feel to it, and I would have thought that the main draw for most people would be the large cobbled area outside that has great views over the docks. It seems odd therefore that there were only two tables here to sit at, which strikes me as a bit of a wasted opportunity.

The bar lacks much in the way of atmosphere with a screed floor, plain white walls and industrial style light fittings. A long metal topped bar counter runs along one side of the room and this had a menu chalked up on some boards up above, although I didnt inspect this. A few scones and some artisan breads were at one end of the bar. Seating was perhaps slightly out of kilter with everything else, being red leather benches and stools. A small TV was on the wall at on end. There are a few windows along one side, but unfortunately theyre too high to be able to get a view out of them.

The solitary beer on tap was Brass Knocker, and the only cider Stowford Press. We were served our drinks in flimsy plastic glasses, perhaps on the assumption that we were going outside, but it would have been nice to have been asked, since we werent as there was nowhere to sit.

6 Jul 2012 11:51

Oceana, Bristol

Oceana itself is a nightclub, although it does have an attached bar called WooWoo which operates independently of the club with it's own entrance and opening hours. There are a few seats out the front that are a pleasant enough spot to sit and look over the square.

Unfortunately on getting to the bar we found that the only drinks on offer were Becks or Stella. We enquired if they served anything other than lager, but apparently not. Consequently I am unable to leave a more detailed review as we swiftly departed and went elsewhere.

6 Jul 2012 11:33

The Swan Inn and Bistro, Olney

Despite describing itself as a bar and bistro this in fact a friendly and popular pub that seems to welcome drinkers just as much as diners. Located towards one end of Olney town centre, it has quite a pubby feel to it, and was fairly full on a recent mid week visit.

Its divided in to three sections with the main room at the front being set up for a mixture of drinkers and eating. This has a cosy ambience with a low, mustard ceiling, a wooden beam or two as well as some wooden upright supports and some low wooden partitions to break up the space a little. There is a brick fire-place at one end, and various old prints on the walls. The part nearest the bar is largely open space with a just couple of tables in the window. To the right its more geared up for dining with the tables all laid up for food and quite tightly packed in.

A separate, wood panelled room off to the left is the main dining area, and this too looked pleasant enough with more pictures on the walls and another brick fireplace. At the rear of the pub is the main drinking area with wooden boards on the floor and some exposed stone walls. Many of the locals seemed to be gathered around the bar which served both the front and rear rooms. Beyond this is a good sized courtyard garden.

The food is a step up from your basic pub grub, and there was an extensive selection of a dozen or so dishes chalked up on boards in the bar. Vegetarians were well catered for with a separate board for them and there were also a couple of fish specials. Prices ranged from around 8 - 15 for a main course. My choice of Beef, Mushroom & Guinness Pie was a decent dish, and whilst not cheap at 11.95 I had no complaints for what I got. Puddings were slightly less successful, with a Toffee Apple Pie having rather soggy pastry but these were reasonably priced at 4.

Beers on tap were McMullen Country Bitter, Spitfire, London Pride, Youngs Bitter and Adnams Southwold. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. All in all, this seems a decent pub and well worth a visit. They lose a point for a slightly disappointing pudding and poor cider choice, and whilst the barmaid was pleasant enough, the two ladies serving the food could have done with smiling occasionally.

3 Jul 2012 22:09

The Black Horse, Woburn

A surprisingly large pub in the centre of the village, it looks fairly unprepossessing from the outside, but extends back a long way both inside and out.

The main drinking area is at the front of the pub and consists of an L-shaped area wrapped around the leather clad bar counter. There is smooth, very dark wood on the floor, pale cream paintwork and various photographs of pub clientele on the walls. A small brick fire-place to the right houses a wood burning stove, and a plasma in the corner was showing the football, although the volume was off so this was not too intrusive. There is a mixture of seating including a few old leather armchairs.

Beyond this the pub extends back a long way in to a restaurant area, with all tables laid up for food and bench seating with a plethora of red cushions. Outside is an attractive courtyard garden, and this too is surprisingly extensive, going on almost for ever it seems before finally tapering off to a point.

The food menu was a notch above your normal "pub grub" with the even the cheapest main course option costing over a tenner and going up to almost 20. It wasn't as extensive as some places with only six or seven main courses offered, although there were another half dozen options that could be ordered either as starters or mains and several sharing platters such as Cheese, Fish or Veggie. My Lime & Chilli Fish Cakes were decent enough, although at 11.75 you could well argue that they ought to be, despite them being the cheapest option available.

Beers were a little disappointing with just Greene King IPA and Old Golden Hen. There was also a Orange Wheat Beer. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk.

28 Jun 2012 08:20

The Globe Inn, Linslade

This is an old pub in an idyllic setting alongside the canal, and has apparently been licensed premises since 1830 according to a short history of the pub chalked up on a blackboard. Unlike many pubs whose gardens run down to the water, this fronts on to the canal with just a narrow road separating the two. The "road" incidentally is the access to the pub - try and squeeze past another car and you'll end up in the water!

It's an attractive looking thatched building, and once inside the traditional look continues in the front bar with an old flagstone floor, plenty of black beams on the ceiling and wooden supports, an old leather sofa and various old black and white photographs dotted around. Beyond this though, it loses some of it's old charm. It's obviously had a refurbishment at some point, and with it's maroon paintwork, pastel wallpaper and contemporary artwork it reminds me more of a Premier Inn than an old canal side tavern. That's not to say there's anything wrong with it, it's all pleasant enough. It just doesn't have quite the character that it might.

Beyond the aforementioned main bar at the front, the pub extends a good deal further on with a mixture of small snugs and a large, open restaurant at the rear, although the only view from here is of the car park. Flooring elsewhere is a mixture of carpet and modern laminate and there were plenty of old oil lamps around with church candles burning away inside. Staff all seemed friendly enough, although I'm always slightly suspicious of pubs which have a selection of sponges available on the bar.

Besides the sponges, the food menu was extensive and was split in to sections such as sharing platters, steaks, classics, burgers and salads. There was also a chalkboard menu with a few specials on it. Most of the mains were around the 8/9 mark, and whilst this obviously isn't out of the way, I found it perhaps a little expensive for what I got. My Chicken Tikka Masala was pleasant enough, but didn't strike me as being significantly better than something I could have got elsewhere for half the price. I guess you're paying a premium for the location. That said, I was intrigued by the desert option of Sticky Toffee Pudding Cheesecake since it combined two of my favourite puddings in to one dish, and I wasn't disappointed!

Beers on tap were predominantly from Greene King with their IPA, Abbott Ale, Old Golden Hen and Hardy's and Hanson's Olde Trip. The only other beer option was their own Landlord's Choice. The solitary cider was Aspall's Suffolk.

22 Jun 2012 08:28

The Queens Head, Chackmore

This is an attractive, white-washed pub in the heart of this small village just outside Buckingham. There are quite a few picnic benches at the front of the pub, and on a recent visit there was plenty of bunting strung around, presumably in respect of the jubilee celebrations.

Inside, the main room is a cosy affair, with a low beamed ceiling and mustard paintwork, numerous pictures and mirrors on the walls and a mixture of tables, chairs, bench seating and high chairs at the wood panelled bar. Paintwork is a mixture of terracotta tiles and carpet. There is an old brick fire-place to the left and a small TV perched up in the corner, although this was not in use. There are various nic-nacs dotted around such as a selection of copper jugs hanging from the ceiling, an old horn gramophone and even a guitar tucked away in one corner. The jubilee theme continues inside with more flags and even a life-size cardboard cut-out of Her Majesty.

To the right is an open, dual aspect chimney breast, and beyond this a small room that looks to be more geared up for dining, all the tables being laid up with red and white chequered table cloths. The menu itself is a decent enough selection of pub grub dishes such as Scampi & Chips, Ham, Egg & Chips, Beef & Guinness Pie, etc, with most of the main courses priced around the 9 - 10 mark. There was also a small specials menu. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

Beers on tap were Old Hooky, 6X and Black Sheep. The solitary cider was Stowford Press which makes a very pleasant change from the ubiquitous Strongbow you seem to get around these parts. All in all this seems a great pub and is no doubt the heart of village life.

14 Jun 2012 20:13

Cowpers Oak, Weston Underwood

An attractive ivy covered pub in the middle of this pretty village, this seems to be a popular meeting place for the locals and whilst the food was definitely a level or two above your standard pub grub they have resisted the urge to go down the gastro route like so many of their contemporaries.

It is perhaps a little smaller inside that you might expect, with the main part of the pub being a long, but not very deep room running along the front, although this does have some partitions to break it up a little. There is however also a dining room at the rear although I didnt investigate this, as well as a function room that looks as though it may have been a skittle alley in a former life (assuming pubs around here had skittle alleys?). There is also a beer garden at the back adjacent to the car park.

The middle section of the pub has an old stone floor which complements the stone bar counter, and there were just a couple of small tables in the window providing the very limited seating. An open, double chimney breast leads to another area off to the left and this had a couple of old leather sofas and a couple of small, high tables and chairs. Most of the seating is to be found in a red tiled room to the right, although even here there were only four, admittedly larger, tables. The decor in here is probably the most interesting with dark wood panelling covering the front and rear walls and an exposed brick wall to the right, along with an old fireplace and some shelving with a few books for you to peruse.

The menu was a decent enough selection of home cooked food, and consisted of several pub classics such as Burger and Fish & Chips, along with a couple of more adventurous dishes. Prices were not unreasonable with most of the mains being around the 9 - 12 mark and I enjoyed what I had. Staff all seemed pleasant and helpful and a notice advertised a forthcoming beer festival.

Beers on tap were the local (from Olney) Hopiness Hopping Mad, Woodfordes Wherry, Doom Bar and Pedigree. The only cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

7 Jun 2012 21:06

The Pump House, Hotwells

As the reviews below have adequately covered off the main drinking part of the pub, I will restrict myself to a few notes about the upstairs restaurant

Its a fairly small room compared with the expansive downstairs, and has a contemporary, open feel to it. It isnt a complete separate floor, but rather a mezzanine type meaning that the row of tables along the front overlooks the pub below. The flooring is all wooden boards and the walls a mixture of fresh white plasterwork and old exposed brickwork. Various art was dotted around the walls, all of it for sale, although with some of the prices being the best part of 4,000 its unlikely to be a spur of the moment purchase. A small glass atrium in the roof let in some natural light, but also unfortunately some water when it started pouring down.

Food is firmly in the gastro-pub territory with renowned local chef Toby Gritten at the helm. We enjoyed what we had, and would happily return, but, and its a big but, a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine cost us over 100, so if youre expecting some basic pub grub, this isnt the place for you. To be fair though, there were a couple of choices available from each course as part of a three courses for 20 deal.

It was full to capacity on a recent Saturday evening visit, so clearly theyre doing something right, but this is of course very much a top end restaurant in all but name.

5 Jun 2012 15:22

The Lounge, Southville

A popular cafe/bar in the heart of North Street, this is one of the original establishments along with the Tobacco Factory that kick started the regeneration of the whole area. It is, I think, the original branch in the Lounge chain and has now expanded in to three units over the years.

Its a busy spot all day, with yummy mummies drinking coffee during the day before it morphs in to a popular spot with the areas young professionals later on. Dark wooden boards cover the floor and the paintwork is a mixture of mustard and terracotta. Seating is chunky wooden tables and chairs, and there was a pile of papers as well as a few games to keep people entertained. Various black and white photos adorned the walls and notices advertised Monday quiz nights, Tuesday tapas nights, etc. At the front are full size windows with some stained glass sections along the top.

The menu was all listed on blackboards and looked to be extensive with sections on burgers, tapas, paninis and all day brunch. As is the vogue in many places these days, a selection of cakes and sponges was on the end of the bar. Beers on tap were the very local Toga Man and Baths Dark Side. The cider was Stowford Press.

3 Jun 2012 19:20

The White Hart, Weston Super Mare

A traditional, tucked away, back-street boozer, and not one that youre likely to stumble across by accident. That said, if youre after a proper pub in contrast to the many trashy bars in the vicinity, its worth seeking out and the couple running it seemed friendly enough.

The pub is split in to two rooms, identified as a bar and a lounge. The bar area has a dart board, a trophy cabinet in one corner and a plasma mounted on the brick chimney breast. A very small TV is also mounted up in one corner, although neither were in use on a recent visit.

The lounge area is a smaller room, and somewhat unusually has a pool table in it. Besides this, there are a few tables and chairs and a very earnest card game was in progress on all of them on a recent Thursday evening visit. The decor in here is similar with a few black beams on the ceiling and walls and pale yellow plasterwork along with some red wood panelling on the lower part of the walls.

The solitary beer on tap was Bass, although it looks as though they also usually have London Pride. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Dry.

1 Jun 2012 12:47

The London Inn, Weston Super Mare

This pub has been split in to two distinctly different venues, each with their own style and entrance. As such, it should perhaps merit two separate listings, although they are clearly related as they both have London in the name and the screens around the pavement seating outside both venues have the same London Inn branding.

The venue to the right, which is known as The London or The London Inn depending on where you look, has a much more contemporary bar like feel to it and is presumably designed to attract a younger crowd. A band was playing in there on a recent Thursday evening.

We opted for the London Oak however, and this is an all together more traditional pub with a low ceiling and plenty of (oak?) beams around, both on parts of the walls as well as the ceiling. Carpet covers the floor and there is a wood panelled bar in one corner which all the punters were gathered leaving the tables and chairs elsewhere deserted. A plasma was mounted on a wall in the corner, but the volume was not on. Instead background pop music was playing. A number of mirrors adorned the walls, many being beer branded including one from the now defunct Bristol brewery Smiles.

Menus were out on all the tables at 9:45, even though a sign said that food was served until 8:00. From a quick glance it looked to be a mass produced laminated affair with the usual pub staples such as Chicken Curry. The chef was drinking in the bar and appeared somewhat the worse for wear, so its just as well that they had stopped serving. There is also a Mexican restaurant upstairs which is accessed from inside the pub.

Despite the "extensive range of good beers" advertised on their website, the solitary one on offer was Gem. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold. This has got the potential to be a decent and cosy pub, but the rather boisterous clientele that were there on a recent visit created a less then relaxing atmosphere and they really need to do something with the choice of beer.

1 Jun 2012 12:16

The Imperial, Weston Super Mare

Unfortunately it would seem that the previous incumbents didnt manage to make a success of the place despite its extensive makeover and it has now been bought by Butcombe. Decor wise its pretty much unchanged, the only differences that I noticed was a bar menu hanging on a blackboard above the fireplace and railings outside enclosing a few tables and chairs.

Beer choice was naturally more extensive, although also exclusively Butcombe with their Bitter, Rare Breed and Blond. The Ashton Press has been joined by Thatchers Gold.

1 Jun 2012 10:35

The Cannon, Newport Pagnell

A traditional high-street pub in the heart of Newport Pagnell, and is, I believe, family owned which makes a nice change from the ubiquitous PubCo chains.

Inside it's not quite as big as you might expect it to be from at the outside, but is nonetheless still a reasonable size. Light wood panelling covers the lower part of the walls and there are numerous pictures dotted around up above, many of old soldiers in various different uniforms. To the left is a smallish room which might be described as the public bar, having a darts board, plasma and a large alloy wheel (an Aston Martin one presumably, given the pub's close proximity to the original factory) although there are still a couple tables and chairs.

This is separated from the main pub area by a free standing, brick chimney breast. The decor here is much the same, and it continues around the bar counter in an L-shape. A glass display case houses a full size soldier's uniform as well as various other military paraphernalia. There is a small courtyard with a couple of benches at the rear of the pub. Other than that it was difficult to really get a feel for the place as it was absolutely rammed on a recent Wednesday evening visit due to the popularity of their quiz night.

Beers on tap were Bank's Bitter, Great Oakley Gobble, GK IPA and Pedigree Diamond. The solitary cider was the splendid Thatcher's Gold, which makes a pleasant change from the Strongbow that seems to be served up in most other pubs around these parts.

30 May 2012 11:04

The Carrington Arms, Moulsoe

A imposing, red brick pub with a somewhat medieval look from the outside, whilst the inside manages to retain one or two original features despite having had a contemporary makeover at some point.

The interior of the pub is smaller than you might expect from the outside and is divided in to two sections. The lounge area to the left is carpeted throughout and the original exposed brick wall remains at one end and includes a large fireplace. There are a few old beams on the ceiling and the original arched wooden doors make an interesting features set in to the roughly plastered front wall alongside the leaded windows. Other than that it has a much more modern feel with a mixture of upright chocolate dining chairs and numerous small armchairs.

The pub continues along towards a dining area which is down a couple of steps and has a dark grey tiled floor. The old ceiling beams continue through to here, and regular readers will be pleased to know they are adorned with fairly lights. Adjacent to this is an open kitchen area which includes the pub's "famous meat counter" (their words, not mine).

Outside is a good sized beer garden with a patio area and several picnic benches as well as a giant chess board. It appears that they also offer accommodation, and these rooms run alongside the beer garden. The young barmaids were all pleasant, helpful and efficient..

There are two menus offered, a restaurant and bar option. The restaurant version was obviously the pricier of the two and included a number of steak dishes and sharing platters. The bar menu consisted primarily of burgers with a dozen or more choices available as well as a few sandwiches. There were some "pub classics" offered, but these were limited to just two or three choices such as Fish & Chips and Ham, Egg & Chips. I had the former (or Beer Battered Cod Fillet as it was described on the menu) which was a decent and tasty portion of fish along with a small pot of tartar sauce, some chunky had cut chips and mushy peas. It wasn't cheap at 9.50 and the portion size could have been a bit more generous, but I enjoyed it and have no complaints.

Beers on tap were Cottage's Malt Tezer and Bateman's Hop Bines Bitter. Ciders were Aspall's Suffolk and Weston's Traditional Scrumpy, which makes a pleasant change from the ubiquitous Strongbow around these parts. All in all this was a decent pub with good food and friendly staff, although perhaps it's not quite "pubby" enough for some.

30 May 2012 10:42

The New Inn, Cross

A good sized, prominent pub adjacent to the A38 this seems to be much improved from my previous visit a few years back when it appeared somewhat down market and rough around the edges.

The main lounge has a traditional and cosy country pub feel with carpeting throughout, black beams on the ceiling, stone fire-places at either end and a mustard and salmon colour scheme. We visited on a Sunday lunchtime and main bar area was full to capacity with diners and there was an extensive black board menu hanging above one of the fire-places. The fireplace at the other end had a large leather sofa manoeuvred in to it and a plasma hanging above, which was showing the Grand Prix.

Up a few steps is what appears to be some sort of function room, and there were a couple more tables squeezed in under the stairs. There is a good sized beer garden to the side of the pub which includes a couple of kid's climbing frames and is a pleasant spot with good views of the hills towards Cheddar, although the noise from the road is a little intrusive.

Beers on tap were Moles Landlord's Choice, Cornish Coaster, Otter Ale and Box Steam Brewery's Royal Box. The solitary cider was Thatcher's Gold. There was also a good choice of wines displayed on blackboards hanging above the bar.

28 May 2012 12:48

The Albion, Clifton

Rescued from obscurity a few years ago, this has been done up and refurbished and is now very much in the gastro pub genre. That said, its still a popular drinking spot, and was packed to capacity on a recent Friday evening visit with many of the punters spilling out in to the courtyard area at the front of the pub.

The main bar area in a L-shape affair with the bar counter in front of you and the pub continuing on round to the left, although this appears predominantly to be used for dining. There is a lectern in front of you as you go in where a waitress will take note of your restaurant reservations, reminding you that there is a strong emphasis on food here. As previously mentioned though, its still a popular spot with drinkers and there was barely standing room at the bar, never mind anywhere to sit. Decor is the usual gastro pub mix of bare boards and Farrow & Ball paintwork.

We were dining on this occasion and so were shown to an upstairs area that is purely for eating. This is a pleasant enough space with more bare boards on the floor, pale green paintwork, paintings on the wall to remind you of where you food had come from (i.e.; dead animals) and a couple of old brick fire-places, one of which housed a wood burning stove and the other a pile of old wine bottles. The food menu was a decent enough and fairly concise selection, although with a meal for two and a bottle of wine setting us back over 100, its clearly not your basic pub grub offering.

Beers on tap were Wye Valley HBA, Doom Bar, Gem and another whose name unfortunately escapes me. Ciders were Stowford Press and Cheddar Valley.

19 May 2012 22:32

The Lebeq Tavern, Bristol

Despite its somewhat shabby appearance, this is a surprisingly decent pub with an interior that almost makes you feel as though you could be in a country inn somewhere, rather than one of the less salubrious areas of inner city Bristol.

Its a fair sized pub on a couple of different levels. Its split in to three areas across the front, with the right hand end housing a pool table and a table football game. There is an exposed stone running along the left hand wall up to the back of the pub, and plenty of old black beams on the ceiling with the obligatory horse brasses tacked on to them. There were a number of quiz and fruit machines dotted around and a notice advertised Sunday karaoke nights. The bar to the left had a plasma on showing the football, although the volume was down low and this wasnt too intrusive.

The rear part of the pub is up a few steps, and there was a dart board here with a match in progress. There was a large trophy cabinet in one corner and various photos on the wall showed the pubs football team in action. Form a previous visit I seem to recall there is also a small garden, although we did not check this out on this occasion. Barmaid was pleasant and friendly.

Unfortunately its one let down is that there were no real ales on tap, which seems to be a recurring theme in this part of town. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold, the latter being priced at an exceptionally reasonable 2.10 a pint.

18 May 2012 12:04

The Coach House, Bristol

A basic, no frills boozer adjacent to Stapleton Road railway station, everything inside it a vibrant red or green giving the impression that you are perhaps sitting in the middle of a Christmas tree. Other than that, there is little of any note to mention.

The front bar is an L-shape room with that red paint on the top half of the walls and green wood panelling on the lower part. Even the vinyl bench seating follows the theme with red seats and black back rests with red buttons. Flooring is mostly old carpet with a little strip wood in places. There was a plasma showing a football match on one wall, and a large fish tank nearby. The seating in one corner had a wooden gazebo like cover over it, creating a kind of booth.

The pub looked to extend some way backwards and I spotted a pool table in the rear bar but didnt investigate this any further. Music policy seemed to be predominantly reggae which no doubt suited most of the clientele. Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap although a blackboard next to the bar which was headed Real Ales listed choices such as Peas & White Rice, Boiled Dumplings and other Jamaican sounding ingredients. Despite the boards heading, I assume these were probably food choices rather than some unusual brewing theyve been doing. The solitary cider was Blackthorn.

18 May 2012 09:43

The Three Locks, Stoke Hammond

A good sized pub in a prime spot next to the canal and the three locks, it does unfortunately lack a little in the way of authentic charm and instead, I suspect, relies largely on its location to pull the punters in. It appears as though it has recently been refurbished and has a slightly mass-produced corporate feel to it, as though its been designed by someone sat in an office with a suitable qualification in pub design. In particular the old beams and the ceiling have all be painted over in a pale shade of coffee brown, which to my mind is a great shame especially looking at the earlier photograph taken by John McGraw.

The main bar area has old wooden boards on the floor, a slightly curious shade of dark blue paint on the upper part of the walls with cream wood panelling down below. Various gilt framed pictures with country scenes on are dotted around and there was a plasma mounted up in one corner above an old fireplace, although neither were in use. A small area off to the left housed some leather button sofas and this led on to a restaurant area (complete with Please wait here to be seated sign) with black slate tiles on the floor and an open kitchen beyond this.

The pub naturally makes the most of its setting, and there were several tables along the lock edge as well as a patio beer garden at one end which even had music piped out to it from the pub. Slightly unnecessary I felt, but maybe some people appreciate it. Food wise there was a decent enough looking selection of pub grub dishes such as burgers and fish & chips as well as a few slightly more adventurous dishes, and a number of boards on the bar counter detailed the Pie of the Day, Risotto of the Day and even Scallops of the Day. Most of the mains were somewhere around the 10 mark and whilst my Spicy Crab Linguine was ok, I felt it was a little heavy on the chilli and a little light on the crab and certainly wasnt worth the 13.95 I paid for it.

Despite six pumps on the bar, only three were in use dispensing Doom Bar, Tribute and this months guest Waggle Dance. The solitary cider was Bulmers Original. In summary, this is a great location and Im sure it gets packed on sunny afternoons, but I can see little reason to make a special detour to visit.

15 May 2012 21:08

The Larkhall Inn, Larkhall

A good sized, street corner pub in the heart of Larkhall, this looks fairly uninviting from the out side being draped with Sky Sports banners, but once onside you find a surprisingly "olde worlde" pub with much of it's original features intact and a large beer garden as well.

The main bar area has an old parquet wooden floor, salmon paintwork and several old beer barrels that have been pressed in to service as tables for vertical drinking. A number of old pictures of the local area adorned the walls. There were two or three TV's around as to be expected from the advertising outside, but these had the volume turned down low so as not to be too obtrusive and the punters who were watching seemed to be just sat there quietly.

To the left was a snug area that had a very old stone fireplace and some wood panelling on the walls as well as the usual brass adornments and a table with some local magazines on. To the right was a small room dominated by a pool table. There is a big garden at the rear, mostly laid to grass with plenty of picnic benches and even an aviary with a owl in as well as some old garages or stables that have been pressed in to use as smoking shelters. This is a pleasant spot to soak up the afternoon sun, although on this occasion it was somewhat spoiled by a group of middle aged men who had no volume control and at least one of whom couldn't string a sentence together without the f-word. Now I'm not a prude, but when I'm out for a quite beer with the wife, I don't really want to listen to someone on the other side of the garden going f-ing this and f-ing that. Whether they were regulars or not I don't know, but they appeared to know the barmaid so I guess they may well have been.

Beers on tap were just London Pride and Courage Best. Ciders were Thatcher's Traditional & Blackthorn. I've mixed feelings about this - on one hand it's a surprisingly quaint old pub with a great garden and a friendly barmaid. On the other, some of the clientele let it down and the beer choice was a little uninspiring to say the least. Perhaps worth a visit if you're passing by, but not worth making a special effort.

14 May 2012 17:28

The Rose and Crown, Larkhall

A street corner local owned by Wadworth's, this is a two room pub in the heart of Larkhall with a (very) small courtyard garden at the rear.

The larger of the two bars is an L-shaped affair with some stained glass in the outside windows and in the wooden partitions within the pub. The bar counter dominates the front part, whilst around the corner is an old fireplace with glazed tiling and a dart board. A pile of paperback books was in front of the bar, presumably for punters to swap as well as a few board games next to the bar. The flooring is old wooden boards. Off to the right is a smaller room which has a slightly more contemporary feel with some modern artwork on the walls and cream panelling on the lower part of the walls, but this lacked much atmosphere, perhaps due to the lack of natural light.

The courtyard at the back has wooden decking and housed a couple of tables and some flower pots and troughs, and whilst not unpleasant is, I suspect, primarily used as a smoking area. The pub was very quiet when we visited with only two or three punters propping up the bar, but then it was a Saturday afternoon so may well be busier at other times. Various notices advertised forthcoming events such as music, comedy and quiz nights. A menu chalked up on a board offered a selection of "pub grub" dishes as well as a few specials, although we didn't eat on this occasion so cannot comment on the quality.

Beers on tap were all from the Wadworth's stable with their 6X, Henry's IPA and Swordfish. Ciders were Blackthorn, Thatcher's Gold and Weston's Traditional Scrumpy. Overall this seems a decent enough local, and I would happily return if in the area, although it's probably not worth a special trip if you're not.

14 May 2012 17:06

The Pony and Trap, Knowle Hill

Although I've not been here for a while, I hope that Josh Eggleton who runs it makes a better job of it than he did at the Eat Drink Bristol Fashion pop-up restaurants that have been in Queen's Square for the last couple of weeks, and of which he is a director and the Pony & Trap were doing much of the food, including, I believe, the tapas menu.

We turned up at about 6:00pm on Saturday evening. The place was busy, but not packed, and most punters appeared to be drinking rather than eating. After perusing the tapas menu that was on a board above one of the bars, we queued up for some time only to be told when we got to the front that we couldn't order at the bar, we had to order at the next one, where there wasn't a menu.

We must have then queued for about twenty minutes at that bar, due to only two people serving and trying to serve drinks as well as take food orders. When we were one place away from being served, a message was apparently passed out from the chef that they weren't taking any more food orders. That would be bad enough anyway, but to refuse to take orders from people who've already been queueing for twenty minutes is completely unacceptable. Myself and another customer asked to see a manager, but after waiting a further five minutes for him to appear we gave up and went elsewhere.

Could be a good concept, but as it was a complete waste of time.

8 May 2012 22:15

The Bishops Tavern, Bristol

A large and spacious pub near the arches, this was a Hogshead in a former life and bizarrely there is still a blackboard sat up on a shelf that says Welcome to the Hogshead. Its got quite a contemporary feel to it with its chocolate brown and cream paintwork and has the appearance of being part of a big chain, presumably Greene King going on the beer selection.

The central area has wood flooring, and there is a smaller carpeted area up a couple of steps to the left and this has some cream wood panelling on the walls. Elsewhere is some exposed brick work and there is a pool table at the rear. Various plasma screens are dotted around.

Food menu looked to be extensive, and appears to be your typical mass produced pub grub. A curry smell permutated the pub on a recent Thursday evening visit, no doubt due to their Curry and a pint deal for 4.99. Most of the mains were around the 6 mark, and a blackboard listed various Pub classics such as Chicken Tikka Masala, Gammon & Egg, Fish & Chips, Roast Beef, lasagne, etc.

Beers on tap were Abbott Ale, Ruddles County, Baths Barnsey, GK IPA and GK Libertine. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Stowford Press and Lilleys Apple & Pear.

20 Apr 2012 16:23

The Gallimaufry, Bristol

Now known as The Gallimaufry, this is an unusual and somewhat quirky pub. In many ways it has more of a cafe/bar feel to it, not only in terms of decor but also the plate of carrot cake that was sat on the end of the bar and the large coffee machine. Having said that, there didnt appear to be anyone eating, at least not in the main downstairs bar.

Its quite light and airy with good sized windows facing out on to the road, and some pine parquet wood flooring. There were a mismatch of tables and chairs, most sporting a candle and a tiny vase of flowers. A montage of band posters covered an overhead beam, and the wall at the far end of the pub was covered in what can only be described as a picture of a zoological orchestra. Besides that there were various miscellaneous items about such as an old film projector and sewing machines.

Upstairs was a smaller, snug like area with some comfy seating, and off to the right a mezzanine level that overlooked the main bar area. This looked as though it may have been more geared up for eating, although we didnt venture in here. Lamp fittings were a particular oddity especially behind the bar counter. One was an open violin case containing a small doll, the body of the doll being lit.

Beers on tap were Baths Gem, Brains Milkwood and Battledowns Sunbeam. Ciders were Addlestones and Symonds Founders Reserve.

20 Apr 2012 14:43

Rising Sun, Bishopston

Formerly The Rising Sun, this has recently been rebranded as The Cider Press, although its still part of the same Scream chain. Its a good sized pub on two different levels and also has a beer garden out at the back, although it wasnt the weather to check this out when we visited.

The main bar at the front has large windows out on to Gloucester Road along with a few leather chairs to sit and watch the world go by. There is wooden flooring and a lot of black paintwork both on much of the walls and the ceiling. This, together with the visible ducting for the ventilation, gives it a somewhat industrial feel although the end wall did have an appley themed mural on the wall showing various barrels at harvest time. There were also a few other apple related pictures dotted around. Up a few steps to the rear was another bar, and this looked to extend some way back and also had a pool table. A couple of plasmas were dotted around, although they were not too intrusive. The food offering looked to be your standard mass produced pub grub, and the menu was divided in to sections such as Pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, etc. Barman was friendly and helpful.

Cider choice was extensive as you would expect and on this occasion was Magners Golden Draught, Blackthorn, Old Rosie, Westons Wyld Wood, Brothers Pear, Westons Bounds Scrumpy, Baths Bounders and Orchard Pig Explorer. If beer is more your thing, there was a small, but unusual choice Slap and Tickle, Marstons Me Duck and Wychwoods Wychmist.

20 Apr 2012 12:39

The Barge, Woolstone

A decent enough old pub, and a pleasant find being only a mile or two away from MK town centre. These days its surrounded by modern housing, but at least the pub building itself has kept a little of its historic charm. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful, although they could have done with more than one barmaid trying to cope with the drinkers as well as the diners. To be fair to them though, the place was packed at 5:30pm on a Tuesday evening, so they may well have been caught off guard. There is a small garden to the side of the pub, and it looks as though there is probably usually something at the rear, but this was fenced off on my visit due to some work going on.

Inside the main bar area is an L-shape with old flag stones at the front and red tiling on the floor around the side. Its a low ceilinged pub and there are plenty of old beams on the ceiling. To the right is a brick fire-place, although Im not sure if this is still in use. A TV was up in the corner showing a news programme, but the volume was off and so it wasnt too intrusive and there were various black and white photos dotted around the walls. The rest of the pub is more geared up for dining, and this probably represents a good three quarters of the available seating, if not more. But then, seeing as at least three quarters of the punters were dining, thats fair enough. At the rear is a conservatory, and off to the left a carpeted area split in to two by a freestanding brick built chimney with a wood burning stove, although again Im not sure if this was in use.

The menu was extensive and offered a good selection of pub grub dishes as well as a few more adventurous options. Most of the mains were in the 8 - 10 range, although some of the seasonal specials were nearer 15. My Smoked Haddock Risotto was a pleasant and tasty dish, although perhaps a little on the small side for something priced at 9.95. A blackboard behind the bar detailed the Soup of the Day, Vegetables of the Day and even the Beer Batter of the Day Doom Bar in case you were wondering.

Beers on tap were Ubu Purity, Adnams Sole Star and Doom Bar. A notice above the bar invited customers to suggest options for the forthcoming Spring ales range. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Overall, I quite liked this pub. OK, its a bit food orientated and its part of a chain, so might not have quite the character of a genuine old free house, but as chains go I reckon its pretty good.

17 Apr 2012 22:04

The Old Lock and Weir, Hanham Mills

A pleasant and rustic pub in an idyllic spot alongside the River Avon, this has an all together more traditional feel than its somewhat brasher neighbour and is a great spot to while away a few hours on a sunny afternoon.

There are old flagstones throughout the pub and a mixture of exposed stone walls and plasterwork. There are a couple of bars at the front and a long narrow room up a few steps at the back. The front bar to the right is the larger of the two and is split in to two by a freestanding chimney with an old wood burning stove in. Some of the tables in here were laid up for food, and there were some pleasant coloured pencil drawings of the local scenery on the walls, much of it for sale.

At the rear is a long wood panelled bar and a smallish TV at each end. One of these was off and the other was showing the Grand Prix, but it didnt seem too intrusive. Various photos of pub events were pinned up above the bar. We didnt check the menu, but there seemed to be various Sunday lunch options at around the 8 mark. Outside is an extensive terrace alongside the river, much of it covered. There is some more seating immediately outside the pub.

Beers on tap were 6X, Otter Ale and Gem. Ciders were Blackthorn, Thatchers Gold and Addlestones.

16 Apr 2012 20:24

The White Bear, Bristol

A good sized bar in the heart of Kingsdown, this has had something of a makeover since my previous visit and is now a funky and bohemian pub with three or four separate areas.

There is rough wooden flooring throughout and the central room where the green, wood panelled bar counter is has a black ceiling making it a little dark, but not gloomy. To the rear is a smaller room with a couple of big leather armchairs and some exposed stone walling. This continues around the corner and opens out in to an area that is apparently used by bands as there was various musical equipment about. In contrast, the front bar is light and airy with a large window, chandelier, chunky wooden tables and some rather busy wallpaper. There was also a small bookcase up on one wall and a couple of potted plants.

Besides the bands which appear to be a regular fixture, there were also various posters advertising something called the Wardrobe Theatre as well as quiz nights. The food menu looked to be a decent enough pub grub affair, divided in to various sections such as burgers, paninis, light meals and salads and there was also a small specials board.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Bristol Beer Factory Independence. There was also a pump for Tribute but this appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

16 Apr 2012 19:55

The Coronation Tap, Clifton

This is Bristols original cider house and is something of a local institution. This is no doubt helped by their Exhibition cider, which is proudly advertised outside and is apparently so strong its only served in half pint measures! They sell a lot of it, and theres generally a couple of dozen ready poured behind the bar.

The pub has entrances at both the front and rear, although quite often the front door is locked and not in use. Once youve managed to get in, which appeared to be baffling quite a few people, you find a surprisingly cosy pub, with wood panelling covering the walls from floor to ceiling giving it a sort of log cabin ambience, along with wood flooring and some inset wood benches. Its not what youd describe as light and airy, due to only one or two very small windows. One wall had numerous photos of bands that have appeared in the pub, and these are a regular occurrence on two or three evenings a week. The pub is very popular with students and frequently gets rammed, although at 7:00pm on a recent Saturday evening visit it was surprisingly quiet.

Ciders on tap at the bar were Stowford Press, Thatchers Gold and their own Exhibition. These were joined by barrels racked up behind the bar dispensing Thatchers Traditional, Cheddar Valley, Addlestones, Old Rosie and Thatchers Dry. For the beer drinkers, Doom Bar and Gem were available.

10 Apr 2012 19:44

The Glass House, Nailsea

As beatles38 has pointed out, this has recently purchased by Wetherspoons and has now re-opened as The Glassmaker. Its been much extended and renovated after a reported 1.3 million refurbishment. The name of the pub is reflected in much of the interior decoration, and there are various notices on the walls outlining Nailseas glass making history, as well as a poster chronicling a short history of The Wurzels Adge Cutler.

Its effectively divided in to two halves with a large, open wooden bookcase dividing the two parts. To the left is the glass topped bar counter and a seating area with plenty of tables and chairs. A mosaic tile pattern behind the bar spells out the pubs name. To the right is a light and airy room with large windows, patio doors and a glass atrium. The paintwork is a darkish shade of green with dark wood tiles on the lower part of the walls. Vertical sections between the windows are covered in a mixture of orange, brown and red glazed tiles, and this strip of tiles continues on across the ceiling. A circular column in the centre of the room is covered in tiny, dark, glazed tiles, and this also has a couple of inset bookshelves. Outside is a patio area with a selection of brightly coloured furniture as well as some low circular walls with old bottles laid in to them. The bottle theme continues inside with a lampshade made out of hanging wine bottles.

Beers on tap were Otter Ale, Butcombe Bitter, Butcombes dam Hensons Rare Breed, Abbot Ale, Pitchfork, Ruddles County and Gem. Ciders were Strongbow, Stowford Press and Thatchers Gold.

7 Apr 2012 12:35

The New Inn at Coln, Coln St Aldwyns

An attractive, ivy covered pub in an idyllic Cotswold village, this has many of the ingredients to be the archetypical English country inn. In practice though, it somehow doesnt quite make the mark. Theres nothing wrong with it, but it doesnt have quite the relaxed rural charm and appeal that one might hope for.

The main bar has a red tiled floor and a beamed ceiling, although unusually all the beams are painted white, as is the ceiling, so you dont particularly notice them. A large central chimney breast splits this room in two, and this had a wood burning stove in it. The rear half has an exposed stone wall on the left and another fireplace at the rear with a large coat of arms above it. This was mostly filled with tables and chairs, compared to a number of leather armchairs in the front half. The bar counter was fairly small and seemed to be the spot for locals to congregate. This made it pretty much impossible to actually get there for service, and this was not helped by the fact that there were bar stools provided for them to sit on.

Two smaller rooms at the front are more geared up for dining with wood strip flooring, burgundy and cream paintwork and upright cream and brown leather chairs. A pleasant looking beer garden completes the seating arrangements. Staff all seemed friendly and efficient, and we got a complimentary Elderflower Vodka and some fizzy chocolate truffles which was a nice touch.

The food menu is separate for the restaurant area and the bar, and priced accordingly. We ate in the restaurant where most of the mains were definitely restaurant prices at around the 15 - 20 mark, and offered a succinct, and unusual, selection of dishes Ive never come across a Peanut Butter Crme Brle before! What we had was pretty decent though, if thats what youre looking for. I saw one punter in the bar being served Ham, Egg & Chips but didnt check out what else was available on the bar menu.

Beers on tap were Old Hookey, Dorothy Goodbodys Golden Ale and the somewhat off-putting Piddle although that turned out to be a decent enough pint, if somewhat on the warm side. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

3 Apr 2012 22:15

The Royal Oak, Bath

A prominent, stone built pub on the main road towards Bristol, but a little way from the centre, this is popular with the Camra types due to its wide range of beers, although on this occasion it didnt have quite as many as I was expecting. Nonetheless, the ones that they did have were quite unusual.

Its a fairly basic pub, with a large central room, and a smaller room down a couple of steps to one side. The main room has black wooden boards on the floor, a mustard colour paint scheme, a small fireplace, piano, juke box and a book shelf in one corner. The ceiling was covered in beer mats, presumably ones that have been previously served in the pub. Music seems to feature prominently here and there was some sound equipment off to one side as well as numerous posters detailing upcoming bands.

The smaller room also has a piano, and is perhaps a little cosier. The flooring here is part natural stone and part wooden boards and it also has a fireplace. Outside is a smallish, and slightly shabby, courtyard garden with an unusual mural covering the wall behind the smoking shelter. There is also a barbeque, although whether Id actually want to eat anything that had been cooked on it is another matter.

There were three Beers from Butts on tap with their Barbus Barbus, Organic Jester and Blackguard Porter. These were joined by Smart Brewerys Wild Thing and Red Cuillin from the Isle of Skye. Ciders were Kingston Press, Bee Sting Pear and Lilleys Fire Dancer.

3 Apr 2012 19:42

Keepers Arms, Quenington

An old stone built pub in the centre of this quaint Cotswold village, this has a surprisingly contemporary interior, perhaps recently refurbished. A large pile of logs was stacked just inside the porch door which is a sure sign of a proper fire, and there is a small beer garden at the front of the pub with views across the rolling hills.

The main bar area is a pleasant enough spot, with wooden boards on the floor, a big, stone fireplace for all those logs and a few beams on the ceiling. The paintwork was a pale shade of green, with some cream painted wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. To the left is a larger room divided in to two parts. This had another smaller fireplace, some black and white photos on the walls and an exposed stone wall at the back, which would have been an attractive feature but for the plasma stuck in the middle of it. Some illuminated twigs completed the interior decorations. Landlord was friendly and efficient, managing to serve two punters at once on an unexpectedly busy Friday evening.

The food menu was a decent selection of pub grub, with most of the mains being in the 8 - 12 range. We had Bangers & Mash that came with three large, decent quality sausages and was good value at around 8. A Fish Pie from the specials board was a similarly decent dish with plenty of chunky pieces of fish. The accompanying veg was an interesting selection of roasted root vegetables rather than the usual carrots and peas.

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Tribute and Betty Stoggs. The solitary cider was the excellent Ashton Press. All in all, well worth checking out.

2 Apr 2012 21:26

The Trouble House, Tetbury

A well known gastro-pub on the main road north of Tetbury, its an attractive old Cotswold stone building and I suppose may have been a row of old cottages at one point. Given the fact that appeared to be no houses nearby, its inevitable that food will be the main draw here, and there were a number of restaurant guide stickers on the front door.

The main bar is in the middle and this had wooden strip flooring, a sagging old ceiling with a couple of beams keeping it up, a fireplace and lemon paintwork with wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. To the left was a slightly smaller room, with a parquet wooden floor, large stone fireplace with a great pile of logs and an unusual semi-circular glass fronted cupboard recessed in to the walls that was displaying a selection of old wine glasses and decanters. To the right is a slightly more formal dining room with whitewashed stone walls and a number of formal drawings. There is also a small beer garden at the rear which looked to be a pleasant spot.

As previously mentioned, food is of the gastro-pub genre, so if youre after Bangers & Mash or Scampi & Chips, then this isnt the place for you. We called in on a lunchtime and were only after a sandwich the nearest thing to that on the menu was Smoked Sardines with Chorizo on Bruschetta. That said though, it was a pleasant enough dish and not unreasonable value at just under six quid, although that was for the smaller portion size.

Beers on tap were a somewhat unadventurous Wadworths 6X and Henrys IPA. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

2 Apr 2012 20:46

The Wheatsheaf, Maids Moreton

Sorry, that should be Buckingham bitter, not Butcombe!

21 Mar 2012 22:59

The Wheatsheaf, Maids Moreton

A cosy an attractive thatched pub just outside of Buckingham, it consists of a couple of bars plus a conservatory extension on the side and a few tables and chairs outside on a patio.

The main drinking bar is to the left, and this is a cosy old place with a low ceiling, massive walk in fire-place at one end (although these days in just contains a small wood burning stove), a mixture of carpet and boards on the floor, and a pale yellow colour scheme with some old black woodwork. The woodwork also extends to a couple of partitions containing some old leaded glass. Seating is a mixture of wooden benches, chairs and stools, all with red velvet cushions. There is also a small, tiled fireplace at the other end of the bar.

To the right is a smaller room with vivid green paintwork, and this looks as though it perhaps be used more for dining. Beyond this is a conservatory. The menu was a decent enough selection of pub grub dishes, with most of the mains being around the 8 - 10 mark. My Chicken Curry was a decent enough dish with generous chunks of chicken, although personally I would have preferred a little more flavour. The landlord was a very genial and friendly chap, as were the other waiting staff. I even noticed that he changed a punters pint, completely unprompted and after the punter had gone and sat down, since he apparently wasnt happy with it in some way.

Beers on tap were Brains SA, Trings Side Pocket, Oxfords Blenheim and Butcombe Bitter, the latter of which was apparently being launched that night according to a notice behind the bar, and consequently the local Camra branch were out in force to check it out. The solitary cider was Thatchers Dry which was an unusual and very pleasant find in these parts. All in all, well worth checking out.

21 Mar 2012 22:57

The White Hart, Bath

Going on the postcode, I suspect this should be the Ring o'Bells. There is a separate entry for The White Hart, which is just around the corner. Anyhow, this review relates to the Ring o'Bells since there isn't an entry for that.

I daresay at one time this may have been a traditional high street boozer, but these days its much more of a bistro/restaurant than your typical pub. All tables except a very small circular one squashed in the back were laid up for food on a recent Saturday evening visit, and all were fully occupied. There were however a few high chairs up at the bar, and these too were fully utilised by punters who were just after a drink.

Its got a contemporary appearance, with a great flagstone floor, some exposed stone walling and plasterwork elsewhere with cream paintwork with some pale green detailing. A number of pieces of artwork adorned the walls, much of it for sale if youve got a spare 300 knocking around. There is also a function room upstairs which appeared to be booked out to a private party. A notice advertised Sunday jazz nights, which I guess may also be in the function room. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

As befits its restaurant aspirations, the menu was very much of the gastro-pub variety with most of the mains around the 15 mark or more. My Lamb Shank in a rich sauce and herby mash was a very pleasant dish, but by the time Id added a side order of veg it had breached the 20 barrier, so Id expect it to be good. A Shropshire Blue Cheese & Raisin tart was an unusual starter, and also very pleasant so Id certainly recommend it food wise, but its no good if youre expecting pub grub, and in any case youd be unlikely to get a table if you hadnt booked. A number of punters were turned away whilst we were there. Having said that, there was a tapas menu chalked up on a board next to the bar, so that may be another option if youre not after a full blown meal.

The solitary beer on tap was Moles Best, and the only cider Black Rat. This is a tricky one to mark. What it does, it does well, and Id happily return. But its not really a pub in the strictest sense of the word, and this is, after all, a pub review website. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it so will mark it accordingly. Just bear in mind my comments if youre after more of a proper pub.

19 Mar 2012 20:46

The Huntsman Inn, Bath

An extensive pub on many different levels, conveniently located just around the corner from the abbey. Its had an extensive refurbishment since I was in here last, and now has a much more contemporary feel and open and was packed to capacity on a recent Saturday afternoon visit, although the fact that it was St. Patricks Day and Ireland were playing England at the rugby no doubt contributed to that.

Downstairs is the more contemporary bar with striped wooden flooring and that pale brown paintwork that is very much in vogue with pub makeovers these days. There were a couple of plasmas around showing the rugby. In the basement is a pleasant cellar bar that mostly seems to be used for hosting live music and a band were in the process of setting up their gear when I poked my head around the door. A mid level floor at the back is an all together plusher space with carpeted flooring and some exposed stone work on the rear wall. Finally at the top is another large room with its own bar counter and a somewhat darker, more formal appearance with flock wallpaper, ornate gilded mirrors, some elaborate hanging lights and some photographic artwork on the walls. The few seats in the window gave pleasant views of the hills beyond the city. There was also another plasma which seemed a little out of place here.

Food menu was an extensive pub grub affair, with various sections such as burgers, pasta and nibbles. Most of the mains were around the 6 - 7 mark although we didnt eat so I cant comment on the quality.

Beers on tap were Breakspears Oxford Gold, Abbeys Bellringer and Whychwoods Hobgoblin and Dirty Tackle. Ciders were a somewhat unadventurous Blackthorn and Strongbow.

19 Mar 2012 20:25

The Merchants Arms, Hotwells

A small but popular Bath Ales pub on the one-way system approaching the Cumberland Basin, this is also a useful waiting point for the bus stops opposite. Its divided in to two rooms, with a narrowish bar along the front of the pub, and a smaller square room at the rear.

The front bar has quite a dark feel with dark wood paint on the ceilings and a mustard colour elsewhere. There are a few wooden booths, wood panelling on the bar, and dark wooden boards on the floor. A large number of beer mats adorn the walls, presumably showcasing ales that have been served in the past. A small TV was showing some sport, but there was no volume.

The rear bar is quite tiny, with only room for four or five tables. There is a fire-place here and a selection of games, including a Connect 4 which Mrs. B always seems to beat me at. Quiz nights seem to be a popular feature, and a notice board documented other pub events such as brewery tours.

Beers on tap were all from the owners stable, namely Gem, Spa and Barnsey, although a fourth pump for McMullan IPA had apparently run out. The solitary cider was Baths Bounders.

9 Mar 2012 12:43

The Bristol Fringe Cafe Bar, Bristol

Having been closed for a few months, its good to see this Clifton local re-open again at last. Its had an extensive refurbishment, and feels quite different to how it did before. Whereas formerly there were separate rooms at the front and rear with a corridor joining the two, the corridor has gone and the front bar now extends right back to the rear bar, with now just a wall separating the two. This is at the expense of the loos which were off the corridor, and consequently the new ones are quite tiny, but they serve their purpose.

The front bar has an almost wine bar like feel to it rather than your traditional pub, and this is perhaps unsurprising as the new landlady is French. Flooring is rough wood boards and paintwork is mostly cream with some maroon detailing, and there is wooden cladding on the lower part of the walls, as well as some rough wood panels on the bar counter. An old beer barrel acts as a convenient place to rest your pint just inside the door, and elsewhere there are a few leather sofas. The rear bar is somewhat smaller and has a quite different character. At the back is a stage area with various drums and lights and consequently it would seem that music is to be a key feature here. The ceiling is black and the lighting is dozens of small yellow globe lights hanging from the ceiling at various heights.

Reflecting the landladys nationality perhaps, the menu consists of a selection of crepes, both savoury and sweet. These looked tempting, and whilst we didnt indulge on this occasion, Im sure well pay a return visit. Beers on tap were Butcombe and Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

9 Mar 2012 11:04

Lowndes Arms, Whaddon

Recently under new ownership, this is a friendly village local that also appears to do accommodation in several rooms in a separate block at the rear. The pub is Tudor style with white washed stone work and black wooden beams, and there is a smallish beer garden at the rear with views across the fields.

Inside its split in to two with a dining area at the rear and a cosier lounge at the front. Its carpeted throughout and the lounge has an massive stone built fireplace at one end with a wood burning stove that was kept topped up by the friendly barman. Decor wise its fairly traditional with whitewashed plaster walls, a few black beams on the ceiling, a wood panelled bar and some pictures of the local area dotted around. Seating was a mixture of tables and chairs, stools at the bar and red velvet bench style seating, although arranged in a circular fashion rather than the usual straight lengths.

The food offering was very much your traditional pub grub with dishes such as lasagne, fish & chips, ham egg & chips, etc., although there was also a selection of steaks. Most of the mains were around the 7 - 8 mark, and my Scampi & Chips was pleasant enough, if somewhat unexciting. But then, theres a limit as to how exciting Scampi & Chips can be.

Beers on tap were Marco Pierre Whites The Guvnor, London Pride and Tribute. The solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk.

7 Mar 2012 20:20

All Bar One, Milton Keynes

A modern, purpose built pub adjacent to a Lloyds No. 1 outlet, this has the usual identikit feel of many of the companies pubs and there is All Bar One branding everywhere you look from the patio umbrellas to the windows to the clock and even the doormat.

Inside its a single, high ceiling room having a slightly industrial feel with all the air conditioning ducting on display. Windows take up the entire front wall and this offers an excellent view over to the office blocks opposite. The usual shelves of wine bottles are arranged as a backdrop to the bar with a couple of ladders at each end for reaching the higher ones. Decor wise the paintwork is mostly an inoffensive, pale creamy brown although the left hand wall is painted in a contrasting dark green and contains a wide selection of cog wheels arranged in to some artwork. There is a small patio area with a few tables and chairs at the front of the pub.

Flooring is pine strip work and this theme extends to the wood clad bar. Although probably geared towards the food side of things, there are a number of high tables and chairs at the bar end of the pub where youd presumably be welcome to sit and have a pint. Food wise, the menu looked reasonably extensive and was divided in to section such as tapas, sharing, burgers, in a bowl and classics. The latter consisted of pub staples such as Fish & Chips, Gammon & Egg, Sausage & Mash, etc., with most of the mains being priced around the 8 - 9 mark. A chalk board offered a small selection of deserts and I thought the Banoffee Trifle sounded appealing.

Beer choice was very disappointing with just keg London Pride and the solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk.

6 Mar 2012 21:44

The Airport Tavern, Lulsgate Bottom

A traditional old boozer located, as it's name suggests, adjacent to Bristol Airport, I would suspect that these days most of it's revenue comes from the extensive airport parking operation run from the pub rather than the sale of beer.

That said, it's still a traditional, if slightly down at heel pub and there were a couple of locals and their dog enjoying a pint in the bar. The pub is divided in to two rooms, with the lounge being to the left. This had a well worn carpet on the floor, a few beams on the ceiling, cream and maroon painted wallpaper and a plasma stuck on the wall that had Last of the Summer Wine on far too loudly. This made it uncomfortable to sit in the front part of the pub if you wanted a quiet chat, but all the tables at the rear were laid up for food. Fortunately there was only one couple eating, so we squeezed in on one of these. In a nod to it's name and location, there's a large propeller mounted on one wall, although I seem to recall from a previous visit there were also a number of pictures of old airplanes, but these are no longer present.

The public bar to the right is somewhat smaller, with a large stone fire-place, another plasma that was not in use, a fruit machine, pool table and darts board. There is also a beer garden at the rear, although we did not check this out. Menu was a typical "pub grub" affair with a selection of dishes such as Ham, Egg & Chips, Fish & Chips, Lasagne, Curry, etc., as well as a few retro starters such as Prawn Cocktail and Garlic Breaded Mushrooms. Most of the mains were around the 8 mark. Barmaid seemed friendly enough.

Despite three pumps on the bar, only one was in use dispensing Butcombe. Another had a Courage Nest clip on but this appeared to have run out, and the third was unused. The cider was Thatcher's Gold.

5 Mar 2012 14:48

The Old Thatched Inn, Adstock

The pub sign outside proclaims this to be The Old Thatched Inn and Restaurant and Id say thats a fairly good description of where its emphasis is. Thats not to say theres anything wrong with it, just that it seems to be somewhat food orientated rather than your traditional village boozer.

As its name suggests, it is thatched and consequently a very pleasant looking old building. Its a good sized pub, roughly divided in to three different areas. At the front are a couple of bars which is probably the cosiest part of the pub with a flagstone floor and logs smouldering away in the fireplace. There are a couple of chunky wooden tables here, and these were in use by diners on a recent visit. I enquired about the food, and was invited to take a seat on the sofa whilst a menu was brought over for my perusal. This was in the middle part of the pub where the seating consists of a few sofas clustered around low tables and this may well be the best place for supping a pint, assuming of course that all the seats arent all taken by menu perusing punters. Piles of logs abounded and the general feeling was a rather arty, contemporary ambience.

The main restaurant area is at the rear in a large, and modern looking, conservatory. The tables are surprisingly well spaced out and ceiling blinds covered the glazed area of the roof giving it a slightly warmer feel on a dark winters night. The rest of the ceiling consisted of white wooden boards and hanging fans giving a somewhat colonial feel. The log theme continued, with piles of fake log ends stuck to the walls. The menu was clearly very much of the gastro-pub genre with most of the mains approaching the 15 mark, and even Sausage & Mash being 12.95. That said, you get what you pay for and I thoroughly enjoyed my Sea Bass Fillet from the small specials menu.

There was a surprisingly good selection of beers on tap with Black Sheep, Doom Bar, Marco Pierre Whites Guvnor, Pedigree and Greene King IPA. The solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk. This is a tricky one to mark on one hand, its got a decent enough range of beers, pleasant ambience, good (if pricey) food and genuinely friendly and helpful staff. On the downside, it doesnt have quite the pubiness and quaint charm that some might be looking for in an old, thatched village pub. What it does, it does very well though, so Im going to mark it generously.

29 Feb 2012 21:26

The Two Brewers, Thornborough

A pleasant and attractive looking thatched pub directly opposite the village green, I wondered at first whether this was still a pub or if it had been converted to a house. It still had the sign up, but the plain wooden door looked to be firmly shut, and all the curtains drawn. Fortunately though it is still a pub, and a very pleasant one at that.

Its divided in to two halves. The bar top the right is probably the cosier of the two, with a low beamed ceiling, exposed stone walls and a massive stone built fireplace taking up almost the whole of one wall. An unusual, black brick, circular chimney with a copper skirt was above the fire, and there were various accoutrements about such as horse brasses, a saw and what looked to be several old fashioned brass blow lamps hanging from the lintel. Flooring was a mixture of carpet and wooden boards near the brick panelled bar counter. There was some white wood panelling in the bay window, a few pictures of the village on the walls and a TV recessed in to an alcve which fortunately was not in use. An old leather sofa with a low table was opposite the fire, along with a couple of other tables and chairs and a few stools at the bar.

The bar to the left had a flagstone floor and a few logs burning away on the fire. To the rear was a pool table. Landlord was a friendly chap, and the locals congregating at the bar seemed friendly enough as well. No food is offered here.

Beers on tap were Silverstones Pit Stop and St. Austells Trelawny. The solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk. All in all a great village pub.

29 Feb 2012 21:04

Royal Oak, Nailsea

A good sized, town centre pub from the John Barras chain, this has recently been closed for a couple of weeks to undergo a refurbishment, perhaps in anticipation of the competition from the forthcoming Wetherspoons around the corner.

The layout is unchanged, but its clearly had some redecoration and new furniture, which is no bad thing as it was previously looking a little tired. The new colour scheme is the usual cream with light brown woodwork although there was also some maroon painted brickwork. There is now laminate flooring as you go in, and off to the left is a small bar area where the seating that was here has been replaced with a pool table and darts board. A plasma was stuck on the wall, although not in use on a recent visit. The rest of the pub consists of a large open area in the middle with a flagstone floor and a larger, raised and carpeted area off to the right with a mixture of bench seating and chairs. A couple of chimney breasts at each end contained a decorative electric fire. A few black and white pictures of old Nailsea completed the decorations, along with a picture of the Wurzels behind the bar commemorating the fact that their debut album was recorded in the pub back in the 60s.

The menu was very much of the mass produced, sizzling variety consisting of numerous burgers and steaks along with lasagne, Sausage & Mash, Fish & Chips, All Day Breakfast, etc. Most of the mains were around the 5 mark, although I didnt sample anything so cant comment on the quality. There were also various Grill nights, Curry nights, etc. Theyre clearly trying to put things on to attract punters in, with an A-board outside advertising karaoke and other music events, and a further board inside listing forthcoming attractions. For the warmer weather, the pub has a very extensive beer garden and a useful serving hatch directly in to the bar.

Beers on tap were Old Golden Hen, Butcombe and Bombardier. Ciders were Blackthorn and Strongbow.

27 Feb 2012 20:18

The Vaults Bar, Stony Stratford

This is a long, narrowish pub, divided in to three areas. The flooring is large flagstones, and much of the wall is covered in wood panelling and dotted in old black and white photos. Theres a traditional, curved wooden bar counter in the middle and this is where many of the locals seemed to congregate. In spite of being a more mature (middle aged) clientele, a number of them seemed unable to complete a sentence without using the f word. At the front was a large brick chimney which had a fire was burning away on a recent visit. A double sided chimney breast separates the middle bar from a small rear bar, although the fire here was not in use. This small room at the back houses a darts board, and as you go in an old sign on the wall proclaims that you are now entering the British sector.

Seating is a mixture of tables and chairs, with many of the tables being made out of old beer barrels, and a wooden pew or two. There were a couple of plasmas showing the football which seemed a little intrusive and out of character with the rest of the pub. There is some limited outside seating in the alleyway to the side of the pub, and this is where you enter the pub from as the front door is not in use. A sign on the doors states no dogs allowed, but as a mutt was the first thing I saw when I got in, clearly nobody takes too much notice of this.

Beers on tap were Adnams Broadside and Bitter, Black Sheep, Bass and London Pride. Ciders were a very pleasant, (and rare for these parts) Old Rosie, along with the seemingly obligatory (for these parts) Strongbow.

23 Feb 2012 23:03

The Swan, Milton Keynes

A traditional old boozer and the only one in Old Stratford compared to the dozen or so just down the road in Stony Stratford. To be quite honest it looks a bit run down and really doesnt appeal that much from the outside. Things dont get much better when you first go in the original door at the centre of the bar has been boarded up, and you now enter through a rather dilapidated wooden door in to a hallway area, with the toilets off to one side and a portable gas fire on the other. If you persevere though, youll be pleasantly surprised when you do get in to the actual bar. There is also a patio and a beer garden around the back.

Its a single room, L-shape pub with a traditional feel to it and red patterned carpet on the floor which is a pleasant change in these days of ubiquitous bare boards. The paintwork on the walls is a deep red colour, and there is some wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. There are dozens of old china mugs hanging from the ceiling and various pictures and framed bank notes dotted around the walls. A dart board was around the corner at one end and there was a plasma screen showing the football which I felt rather dominated in an otherwise rather quiet pub. A large brick built chimney was in one corner, and the bar counter was clad with unusual red leather panelling.

Beers on tap were just Greene King IPA and Bombardier and there was no cider at all. Despite its shortcomings, I actually quite liked this pub. Its a traditional old boozer but cosier than many other rough and ready places and the landlord was a congenial chap. They just need to get some (decent) cider on!

16 Feb 2012 20:00

First Base, Milton Keynes

This is not a particularly easy pub to find. For starters, its within the Xscape centre, and unlike some of the other nearby venues like The Moon Under Water, it has no outside entrance. Furthermore, even walking up the arcade you will not see the pub sign. There is a small door marked City Limits go through here in to a lobby area and then beyond that are several doors, one of which is the pub.

Once youve managed to find it, you discover that its quite a cavernous affair with high ceilings and two separate wings. One wing is entirely given over to snooker, with no less than seven tables. The rest of the pub has a rather industrial feel to it with large ventilation ducts and other services clearly visible in the ceiling. There is some exposed brickwork and a few pictures dotted around, but little in the way of creature comforts. Rather oddly, all the pillars had what can only be described as splintered wood towards the top, and there was also splintered wood at the same height around much of the perimeter. I can only assume at one time there was a suspended ceiling, but for some reason this has been ripped out.

Sport seem to feature fairly prominently, and from just the one spot I was sat in I counted seven Plasmas or Projector screens and no doubt there were more that I couldnt see. A board highlighted forthcoming sporting fixtures and there were numerous flags draped around the pub as well as several fruit machines. At one end was a small stage area along with a number of rather large speakers, lighting rigs and a glitter ball.

Outside (ie; not in the pub, but still inside) was a courtyard area that seemed to be straight out of a theme park. A large New Orleans paddle steamer took up one wall, there was a large central tree with a circular bench around it, an elaborate old wooden building facade, old fashioned street lamps and even a starry night sky!

There were no real ales on tap unfortunately, the only bitter being John Smiths Extra Smooth. Even worse, the solitary cider was Strongbow. A blackboard behind the bar was advertising four pint pitchers for 10 with the strapline Can I tempt you? errr, no, not unless you get some decent drinks to put in there you cant.

14 Feb 2012 22:14

The Rose of Denmark, Bristol

Despite its somewhat busy location right opposite the exit of the Cumberland Basin flyover, this is a pleasant establishment that has the air of a traditional country pub about it with its rustic interior, wood panelled bar and candles on all the tables and window sills creating a cosy ambience.

It consists of a single L-shape bar with rough wooden boards on the floor, chunky wooden tables and a mixture of rough salmon coloured plasterwork and exposed brickwork on the walls. At one end is a large brick chimney breast, and this had a very inviting looking log fire blazing away with a few old leather sofas in front of it. Unsurprisingly, this was a prized spot on a freezing February evening. Next to this was a TV up in the corner, but the sound was down low and this didnt dominate. Apparently there is live music on Thursdays.

The food menu appeared to be a basic pub grub affair, with dishes such as Ham, Egg & Chips, Burgers and Ploughmans. The menu also listed a selection of snacks such as Picked Eggs and Scratchings! Most of the mains were around the 8 - 10 mark. A specials board offered a few more choices such as Chilli and Cod & Chips. There was also a separate restaurant downstairs, although whether this offered the same menu, Im not sure.

Beers on tap were Brains SA, 6X and Gem all dispensed from barrels racked up behind the bar. A hand-pump also offered Doom Bar, although this appeared to have run out on our visit. Ciders were Blackthorn, Thatchers Traditional and a very pleasant Thatchers Gold. All in all, a great pub in a surprising location, and well worth a visit.

13 Feb 2012 20:42

The Hophouse, Clifton

A busy and popular pub in the heart of Clifton village, this used to be owned by Wadworth's but has recently been refurbished and presumably sold on going on the complete lack of any of their beers on the bar. Although the layout is unchanged, it has a more contemporary feel to the place and is looking somewhat fresher than it was.

The main bar is an open plan affair, with large folding windows at the front that open up in the summer. Paintwork is a pale shade of green, with some painted wood panelling around the lower part of the wall, and the flooring is mostly bare boards with some black tiles around the bar. There was a trendy, modern fire with a glass front sunk in to one wall. Lighting was mostly from several large hanging silver domes above the bar, and there was a plasma in one corner showing the rugby. The commentary was piped throughout the pub and this was somewhat intrusive if you just wanted a quiet pint. There were several dishes of complimentary nuts on the bar and stools all along it for punters to sit.

Upstairs it has quite a different feel to it, being fully carpeted and having a deep maroon paintwork with some large black and white photos. There was a corniced plaster ceiling, and some rather old fashioned lamp shades. There were many stools around the perimeter, and elsewhere there were partitioned bench seats as well as tables and chairs. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

There was an unusual choice of beers on tap with Mystery Tor and Hedge Monkey from Glastonbury, Yeovils Star Gazer and Moors So Hop. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk and Orchard Pig.

5 Feb 2012 17:24

The Barge Inn, Seend Cleeve

A good sized Wadworths pub in a great location right on the edge of the canal. Theres quite a few tables and chairs outside and I imagine it would get packed in the summer.

The pub is divided in to several different areas, although they are not separate rooms. The main bar area in the middle is a pleasant enough spot with dark wooden boards on the floor and a low, beamed ceiling. Paintwork is predominantly cream with some pale green detailing and there were several milk churns at the bar which had been colourfully painted and had leather seats fitted to turn them in to bar stools. To the left is a smaller bar area with a parquet wooden floor, a fish tank and an old cast iron fireplace. This had a few logs smouldering away which the bar staff kept topped up and this was a nice touch on a freezing February afternoon.

To the right of the bar are a few old flagstones and some tables with good views out the window to the canal. This leads in to a carpeted area that looks to be more of a restaurant. There was another brick fireplace here and a few black and white pictures on the walls. At the front of the pub was another room, again probably more used for dining, with French doors out on to the patio. I didnt see a menu, but a chalk board was offering a pie and pint deal for a tenner.

Beers on tap were all from the Wadworths stable with their 6X, Swordfish, Old Timer and Henrys IPA. The solitary cider was Stowford Press. Prices seemed somewhat steep at 7.90 for a pint and a G&T.

3 Feb 2012 23:59

George and Dragon, Rowde

A quite unprepossessing pub in the small village of Rowde, this doesnt look anything special from the outside but does in fact have quite a reputation for its food, and therefore fits squarely in the gastro-pub category. Its also a short stroll from the Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon canal, so could be a good spot for lunch whilst out walking. There is a small beer garden at the back of the pub, although this only had a couple of tables. Loos were outside and rather basic which seemed somewhat at odds with the rest of the pub.

The pub is divided in to two rooms, the main bar at the front still retaining the character of a village local giving the impression that drinkers would be quite welcome and another, slightly larger room off to the side, that although still retaining the same rustic charm was clearly intended as a dining room with all tables being fully laid with silvery cutlery, wine glasses and freshly starched napkins. Decor wise there were old boards on the floor along with a few rugs, and the paintwork was mostly a pale shade of green. There was green painted wood panelling on the lower part of the walls, and some full wood panelling elsewhere as well as plenty of beams on the ceiling. There was a large stone fire-place with a couple of logs smouldering away which was a nice touch on a cold February afternoon. The two guys who seemed to be running it were genuinely friendly and helpful.

Food wise it is very much restaurant quality, with no sign of any traditional pub grub. The menu changes daily and most of the mains hovered around the 15 mark. There were several more fish specials chalked up above the bar, with many of these nudging 20. That said, you get what you pay for and if thats what youre after Id certainly recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed my Smoked Haddock with a Horseradish Cream, Fried Egg and Crispy Bacon. There was also a set menu available at certain times where you could get a main course for under a tenner, and a selection of the pubs own jams and preserves displayed on a shelf which presumably were available to purchase.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Cottage Brewerys Tornado. There were a couple more pumps on the bar which appeared to have run out. One of these was Doom Bar, I couldnt see what the other one was. The solitary cider was Ashton Press. All in all I would highly recommend this, but if youre just after some basic pub grub its probably not for you.

3 Feb 2012 23:46

The Boat House, Bath

A good sized Banks pub in a great location on the River Avon just outside of Bath. To make the most of its surroundings there is a beer garden off to one side as well as a terrace at the front of the pub, and its possible to wander right down to the water.

Inside its got a contemporary feel to it and has clearly had a recent refurbishment. It is perhaps lacking much in the way of any real character, but its a pleasant enough space and is obviously intended to appeal to families as much as dedicated drinkers. On a recent midweek lunchtime visit there were a couple of mums with their toddlers on the comfy sofas in front the fireplace, but fortunately these were well behaved and no trouble at all.

The flooring is all wood, a mixture of parquet and larger, polished dark boards. The main part of the pub offers good views across the river with large windows along one side, and has cream paintwork on the walls with dark wood panelling below. A number of black and white pictures are dotted around, many showing old scenes from the river. Besides the wood panelling on the walls, a number of pillars were clad in pale beige painted wood. There was a slightly odd looking extension jutting out on to the terrace, and this shares a dual aspect fireplace with the main bar. This housed a wood burning stove, and the barman struggled back in with a fresh basket of logs whilst we were there. In one corner is floor to ceiling shelving filled with books, and a few high tables and chairs along one wall. There was a basket full of bags of crisps, and a few jars of nuts on the end of the bar.

Elsewhere is a smaller room having a slightly more formal feel with pale, patterned wallpaper and this too had another fireplace and wood burning stove. The food menu was a mixture of your more traditional pub dishes such as gammon, fish & chips, burgers, etc., as well as several more adventurous dishes. Prices started at around the 8 for mains and went up to about 15 depending on what you had. We chose from the cheaper end of the menu and found food to be decent enough and generous portions. Staff all seemed pleasant and helpful, even noticing that our table was wobbly and wedging some beer mats underneath.

Beers on tap were Rev. James, Skinners Best, Butcombe and Gem. Ciders were Stowford Press and Addlestones.

2 Feb 2012 18:46

The Royal Hotel, Bath

Conveniently located directly opposite the station, this consists of two bars with quite different characters. The smaller bar along to the right has more of a public bar feel to it, with a plasma on the wall showing the football and a group of guys whose language left something to be desired. By 9:00pm it seemed to have closed as the shutters were down on the bar.

The larger and more prominent bar on the corner has more of a hotel lounge feel to it, and offers little in the way of any character but its not unpleasant and would no doubt suit some people. Its quite contemporary, and I daresay recently refurbished with pine wooden flooring, suede armchairs, beige paintwork, pictures on the walls and a trendy backdrop to the bar with a display of wine bottles and coloured down-lighters. Behind this is a dining room.

Beers on tap were Abbeys Bellringer and Greene King IPA. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk and Thatchers Gold.

30 Jan 2012 20:34

The Garricks Head, Bath

Located right next to the theatre this is a two-roomed pub that has a suitably arty feel to it, perhaps at the expense of its pubiness. In many ways it has more of a wine bar feel to it. Ceilings are high, and there are large dual aspect windows with black and white tie-back curtains. A fire was roaring away on a recent January afternoon visit which was very pleasant. It was also very busy, with barely any standing room. This made it very difficult to get to the bar as there was a group of punters stood at one end and another group sat up on stools at the other, leaving one small gap in the middle. Fortunately the barmaid was able to see beyond the front row and service was prompt enough.

Paintwork is a rather plain cream with some black woodwork. Four large silver serving platter covers were stuck on the wall above the fireplace. There was a large board listing some menu choices, but in spite of the size of the board there were only about half a dozen choices. Whether this was just a specials board Im not sure. Other boards listed the wines that were available and a dozen or so beers available by the bottle, although many of these appeared to be lagers. There were a couple of leather sofas at the front, and candles on all the tables. A smaller room to the right looked as though it may have been more geared up for dining, although we didnt investigate this.

An unusual selection of beers on tap with Palmers Best, Redemption Ale and Green Laner. Ciders on tap were Pheasant Plucker and Orchard Pig, although a board also listed Kingston Black and Broadoak Perry. Im not sure if this was draught or not. In addition to this, hot mulled cider was available from a barrel at the end of the bar.

30 Jan 2012 20:08

Porter, Bath

A decent sized pub just a few yards away from the top of Baths premier shopping street, its nonetheless sufficiently away from the main tourist drag that it doesnt get quite as rammed on a Saturday afternoon as many of its city centre compatriots. Its a little tricky to get in two with the two most prominent doors being closed off instead you have to walk around the corner and up and alleyway before you manage to find the entrance.

The main part of the pub is split in to three area two rooms down a few steps and facing out on to the high pavement, whilst a smaller room at the other end houses the bar counter. Decor is predominantly wood, with rough bare boards and several partitions to break up the front rooms in to booths. Paintwork is a very pale shade of green, and there were a plethora of small wooden stools around far more than would have fitted at the available tables I would have thought. There was also some wooden bench seating around the perimeter as well as a few metal tables and chairs outside, although on a recent January afternoon it was to mind a few degrees to cold inside the pub, never mind sitting outside.

Downstairs is apparently a cellar bar, although we did not investigate this. Numerous posters on the walls advertised up and coming bands, and it would seem that this is something of a music venue, as well as having an open mic night on Tuesdays. There was a projector and screen in one corner, but this was retracted out of sight on a recent visit. This is apparently Baths only vegetarian pub, although we didnt check the menu to see what it consisted of. There were a few tapas dishes chalked up on a board above the bar.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Spa. There was a third pump at the bar, but this appeared to have recently run out. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

30 Jan 2012 18:58

Wetherspoons, Milton Keynes

A modern, purpose built Wetherspoons in the centre of Milton Keynes. Its got a contemporary appearance with floor to ceiling windows on three sides offering a fantastic 270 panoramic view of the surrounding office blocks, and one wall even had a small counter running along it so you could sit and admire the outlook . The curved ceiling appears to be some type of painted steelwork with black iron girders, and in rather start contrast to this is some full height wood panelling on the walls that arent glass which almost lends a hotel drawing room feel to the place.

Flooring is a mixture of wood and red patterned carpet, and as usual in a JDW there are plenty of tables and chairs as well as a few circular pods with leather bench seating. A couple of plasmas were dotted around, but these were unobtrusive with no sound and there were a few quiz machines and a quiz machine opposite the bar. Service at the bar was prompt, as was the food service in fact the waiter must have left the kitchen around the same time that I left the bar.

Besides the usual offerings of Abbott Ale and Ruddles, beers on tap were Oakham JHB, Hoggleys Pump Fiction, Hopping Mad Amazing Grace, Hook Norton Double Stout and Trings Mansion Mild. The exclusive to Wetherspoons Veto Ale is apparently coming soon. Ciders were Westons Much Marcle, Strongbow and Thatchers Gold. Say what you like about Wetherspoons, but any pub that does Thatchers Gold when the rest of Milton Keynes is drowning in a sea of Strongbow is all right in my book.

26 Jan 2012 19:57

The Long Bar, Bristol

A long and narrow pub just off the Old Market roundabout, this seems a popular spot and attracted a wide variety of punters of all ages on a recent visit, although they all seemed to be male apart from the friendly barmaid its not often you get a glass changed because its too warm. Colour scheme is unusual with all the woodwork being brown (even the sensor for the alarm next to the door hadnt escaped) and there was even brown wooden boards on the ceiling. Much of the walls were exposed stone and had been painted yellow. Black beams interspersed the stonework.

The bar counter is half way up on the right, and to the left are a number of wooden partitions. At the rear there is a high, vaulted ceiling again all yellow and black which is an unusual, but not unattractive, feature, although the music was a little loud back here to have an easy conversation. Toilets were surprisingly plush with new dark grey tiles and recessed blue down-lighters. There was a plasma at the front showing the football which was somewhat annoyingly located right next to one of the tables. There was also another one at the rear. The only food offering appeared to be a solitary Ginsters pie sat in a warming rack.

Ciders are clearly the main focus here and there was Blackthorn, Thatchers Traditional, Cheddar Valley and Natch to choose from. The latter was offered draught or canned! The solitary beer was Courage Best.

24 Jan 2012 18:28

The Bridge Inn, Bristol

There is little that I can add that hasnt already been said, so I will just document the beer selection that was offered on a recent visit Jem, Dark Stars Hophead, Skinners Spriggan ale and Wyrepiddles Frosty Piddle. Ciders were Bounders and Blackthorn.

24 Jan 2012 18:16

The Old Market Tavern, Bristol

A cosy and traditional bar whose decor would make it seem quite at home in a country village rather than a busy main road in to Bristol. At the front is a carpeted area with wood panelling covering the walls from floor to ceiling, making is reminiscent of a hotel drawing room.

Elsewhere there are bare boards on the floor and much wood elsewhere, with a wood panelled bar counter, wooden shelf around the top and many wooden beams on the ceiling, some adorned with fairly lights. There was even an arched section of roof at one point in the middle of the pub. At the rear is a conservatory with a large, L-shaped white leather sofa which must be a pleasant spot on a sunny day, and this leads in to a garden. Elsewhere was a DJ console and some disco lights on the ceiling hinting at what it might be like on a weekend, a projector and screen (turned off) as well as a food server counter although I suspect thats only in use on a lunchtime. There was also a selection of minority interest magazines on top of an old beer barrel.

Presumably its a Wadworths pub as theirs was the only beer available 6X, Henrys IPA and Swordfish. The cider was Thatchers Gold.

24 Jan 2012 18:10

The Punch Bowl, Bristol

A long, narrow pub that looks as though it may have been recently refurbished. Its got quite a dark feel to it with dark wooden boards on the floor and black paintwork, although in spite of that it doesnt feel too gloomy.

Its a single room affair, with the bar counter about half way up on the left. There are some large windows out on to the street at the front, and this is a pleasant enough spot to sit. There was a plasma mounted up on the wall showing a football match, and a few old adverts hung on the walls, along with some wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. There were a few characters around as you might expect, but overall it seems a decent enough pub.

Beers on tap were a slightly unadventurous Courage, Butcombe and Doom Bar. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold, the latter being priced at a very reasonable 2.25 a pint.

24 Jan 2012 18:02

The Old England, Montpelier

A traditional old Wadworths pub located in a small cul-de-sac just next to Montpelier health centre. Its a good size pub, divided in to three rooms as well as an adjacent beer garden which looked to include a covered smoking area. It has a slightly bohemian feel to it and whilst there were a few characters around as might be expected in this area, there was nothing that made me, or Mrs. B., feel uncomfortable.

The main bar is an L-shape at the front of the pub and has a traditional pub ambience with wooden boards on the floor, some wood panelling on the walls, green paintwork, candles on all the tables, a selection of books on the window sill and an illuminated trophy cabinet. There were plenty of tables and chairs, a real log fire roaring away in a cast iron fire place and numerous old pictures on the walls. Background music was playing through some speakers which was perhaps slightly too loud, or at least too boomy. A combination perhaps of the music being played and the speaker being right up in the corner of the room.

To the rear is another room which had a plasma TV showing the football and a number of punters were gathered around watching. Hanging below the TV were a selection of colourful football shirts. Beyond this is a raised area with some wooden railing around it. There were some large floor standing speakers here as well that looked as though they may get pressed in to use for live music, and there were a number of posters on the walls advertising forthcoming bands. Up a few stairs to the right was another room with a pool table. Food offering seemed restricted to a few filled rolls behind the bar, but then this looks to be a pub that concentrates on drinking. Barmaid seemed friendly enough.

Beers were all from the Wadworths stable with their 6X, Henrys IPA and Old Timer. Ciders were Stowford Press and Taunton Traditional.

22 Jan 2012 13:24

The Barley Mow, Cosgrove

An attractive, stone built country pub just a short stroll away from the canal and there are a couple of beers gardens on either side of the pub. Inside, the main bar is a large, mainly open plan affair, although it still manages to feel quite cosy with its low, beamed ceiling. It has a traditional appearance with red patterned carpet on the floor, plenty of wooden tables and chairs, a couple of fabric covered benches around the perimeter, plenty of country pictures on the wall, lots of bottles dotted around on various ledges and window sills and even a grandfather clock. There is a small fireplace with a stone chimney breast and this had a fire blazing away, although it looked to be of the gas variety rather than anything more authentic.

A smaller bar to the right has a flagstone floor, and an impressive large stone fireplace taking up pretty much the whole of one wall, although Im not sure if this is still in use. There is another bar counter here, although this has a much smaller range of drinks and was unmanned on a recent visit. Off of this room is a very tiny snug, with just one table and four chairs completely filling the available space.

There was a decent selection of food chalked up on a board with probably fifteen or twenty choices, as well as a small specials board with a couple more. On the whole its a cut above your usual pub grub with most of the dishes being around the 9 - 10 mark, but its not too gastro-pubby. That said, there was still a burger, chicken Jalfrezi or ham, egg & chips if thats more your thing. My smoked haddock kedigree was a decent enough dish and a very generous portion, although personally I found it somewhat lacking in flavour.

Barman seemed friendly enough and there were a few locals gathered at the bar. One rather rotund gentleman though was unable to speak at anything like a reasonable volume and had an opinion on everything. I soon got fed up of this even though I was sat at the other end of the pub. However, hes probably in there every night and this was my first visit, so Im not really in a position to complain.

Beers on tap were predominantly from the Everards stable with their Original, Tiger and Sunchaser. There was also Wadworths 6X. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

18 Jan 2012 20:37

The White Horse, Stony Stratford

A traditional, no frills boozer located in the heart of Stonys historic High Street. Its a single room affair, and seems to cater primarily for groups of young men interested in watching football.

The area at the front of the pub is probably the most attractive part, with an old fireplace over to the left and an impressive large wooden lintel above it. Any potential cosiness was somewhat spoilt though by the plasma on one side and the projection screen on the other, both showing the football. This was clearly the main point of interest, with all the punters gathered around watching.

The pub continues on past the bar and opens out at the rear, where there is a dart board, fruit machine and quiz machine, along with another projector screen although fortunately this was not in use on a recent visit. The flooring is mostly old boards, although with some carpet at the front, and the paintwork is mustard with dark wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. There were a few miscellaneous sporting pictures on the walls, but overall there was little of any note.

There were a couple of pumps on the bar, but only one was in use dispensing Brains SA. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

11 Jan 2012 22:23

The Barn, Milton Keynes

In spite of being attached to a Premier Inn and having a large Beefeater Grill sign outside, this actually appears to be a pub with somewhat more character than most of the nearby establishments. The building to the right looks to be the original barn from which the pub takes its name, and next to this is a beer garden. Light wood cladding adorns the front of the pub.

Inside, the main bar is a good size, and a pleasant enough place in a bland, corporate sort of way. There are some attractive tiles on the floor as you walk in, but elsewhere the colour scheme is the usual pastel gastro-pub shades. There are however one or two black wooden supports around that presumably remain from the original building, and the rear of the bar had a slightly sloping roof. Flooring is mostly carpet, with some light wooden boards at the rear giving a more contemporary feel, along with a black painted wall and some type of fire-place, although this didnt look to be used.

To the left is a restaurant area, complete with a welcome desk to deter any causal drinkers. Again, this looked pleasant enough with high ceilings and a large brick built chimney being a prominent feature. The fire-place below was stacked high with logs, although I suspect these were more decorative than functional. The menu looked to be the standard, mass produced Beefeater fayre with an emphasis on sizzlers. Barman was a friendly chap.

Beer taps on the bar were Woodfordes Wherry, Bankss Bitter, Hobgoblin and Jennings Sneck Lifter, although disappointingly two of these were off. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

10 Jan 2012 22:54

The Druids Arms, Stanton Drew

A traditional country pub located at the end of a small row of terraced stone cottages, and near to the famous Stanton Drew stone circle (similar to Stonehenge, but maybe a bit smaller).

Inside its divided in to two rooms. Theres a smaller room off to the left with a few tables and chairs and plenty of pictures on the walls as well as some painted wood panelling lower down. This could well be used for dining, although the pub doesnt appear to concentrate on food. On a recent Sunday lunchtime visit, there were one or two people eating, but it was mostly friendly locals having a pint at the bar and groups of walkers stopping by for refreshment. I didnt inspect the menu, but there was a small board with a couple of specials chalked up at around the 7 - 8 mark.

The main bar area is pleasant enough, although it could perhaps do with a new carpet. Walls are a mixture of whitewashed paint and some exposed stone walls with a selection of pictures and mirrors. The bar counter is at the back, and there was a log fire roaring away. To the right is a smaller bar area with somewhat less ambience, although there was a darts board, trophy cabinet and a plasma showing the football. There is also a beer garden for use in the warmer weather.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Butcombe. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Ashton Press.

9 Jan 2012 20:09

Plough, Stony Stratford

A pub that appears to be a modern addition to Stony Stratford in contrast with the towns other historic hostelries, although it does have a traditional and attractive stone built appearance. Inside its a little disappointing unless youre after a sports bar.

The main bar area is a good size with a high ceiling, and a few wooden beams that are presumably decorative but bizarrely have been painted the same colour as the ceiling so that you can hardly see them. Paintwork elsewhere is a mix of cream, maroon and a rather vibrant turquoise, and there are several large pictures above the bar. To the right is a raised area with some wood railings and a few tables and chairs. The bar off to the left is an odd mix, with a stone built chimney obscured by a plasma, a dart board at one end but pictures on the wall of farm animals showing the various cuts of meat like you get in some restaurants. It seemed an odd combination to me.

Televised sport obviously features prominently, and with a total of five screens in the pub showing a combination of football matches, it was hard to escape if you werent interested. The landlord seemed to spend most of his tome wandering around with a remote control rather than serving the punters (although to be fair there were other bar staff to do that). Some of the punters seemed to be rather too keen on swearing, and unsurprisingly the pub was very male dominated.

Beers on tap were just Bombardier and Eagle. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

4 Jan 2012 21:44

The Foresters Arms, Stony Stratford

From the outside, this looks to be a traditional old boozer at the end of Stonys traditional High Street. Inside, it seems as though someone started a gastro-pub makeover, but didnt quite finish it. Theyve painted the walls in the obligatory shades of brown and cream, and theres plenty of pine wood around the bar, and a curious pine counter in one corner with a refrigerated display unit on top full of bottles of water. Seating is round tables and leather armchairs.

Other than that its rather more basic, with rough wooden boards on the floor and a few stools around the bar, where the only punters were gathered. The menu is decidedly un-gastropub like and besides a selection of burgers and an all day breakfast served until 7:00pm offered such delights as a chip bap and a fish finger sandwich. But I guess with most of the mains being around the 3 - 4 mark, you cant expect too much.

There are a couple of tables out at the front, and a plasma up on the wall, although this was just playing a radio station. A large blackboard advertised a forthcoming quiz night. Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, and even worse, the only cider was Strongbow. Against my better judgment I was coaxed in to having a pint of this as it was on offer at 2.75, compared to 2.10 for a half. I overheard the barman discussing with the locals what could be done to attract more customers in, and he came up with a fancy cocktail bar in the corner with some jazzy lights on it. Errr...., how about selling some beer? You are a pub, arent you?

21 Dec 2011 21:34

The Bag O' Nails, Bristol

Its good to see this Bristol institution re-open again after several months of closure, now with Luke Daniels (from The Cornubia) at the helm. Layout inside its pretty much unchanged, but then its a small pub so options are limited. Its certainly had a spruce-up and a change of colour scheme though.

The change of colour scheme is salmon. An unusual choice perhaps, but it works well enough. Thats complimented by some red wallpaper depicting drawings of dressed up ladies. Difficult to describe, but youll see what I mean. As before there is some bench seating along the right hand side, with the bar counter on the left. There were a few black and white photos of jazz artists on the walls, and the music was provided courtesy of a turntable with a collection of vinyl stacked nearby.

The illuminated holes in the floor also remain which is an interesting feature, and there were a few board games around as well as a book on Bristols pubs, which, I guess, dated from somewhere around the 70s. It made an interesting read to see how many were still around, although thankfully those that are with us are no longer owned by Watneys. A large blackboard sign on a pillar at the end of the bar documented the pub rules (or pub statements in many cases) such as Tom Cruise is a t**t, No Scientology (obviously a theme there), Babies and Toddlers to be put in the cellar, No Beards, No C**ts and No C word, although obviously youre allowed to write the C word since it was one of the previous rules. Landlord seemed friendly enough though in spite of all his rules, and it was good to see it packed to capacity on a recent Friday evening visit.

An unusual, and fairly local choice of beers on tap with Bitter and Butty Bach from Wye Valley, Ruby and Star Gazer from Yeovil Ales, plus Cheddars Totty Pot. Ciders were also slightly more esoteric with Wilkins Dry and a very pleasant Richs Sweet.

20 Dec 2011 21:48

The Fox and Hounds, Stony Stratford

A decent enough and friendly pub located in the heart of Stonys historic High Street. The right hand bar is a basic affair with rough wooden flooring, a curious mustard and burgundy paint scheme as well as some exposed stone walls. There were a few high tables and chairs, and a raised area at the front for use by bands, and there was a pile of sound equipment stacked up ready for the next event. At the rear was a Northamptonshire skittles game, and there was a match in progress on a recent Wednesday evening visit.

The left hand lounge bar is somewhat cosier, with plenty of tables and chairs, salmon paintwork on the ceiling and fairly lights adoring the beams. Beyond this is an area designated as a restaurant, although nobody was eating in there on this occasion and I got the impression youd be quite welcome to just have a pint. This looks as though it may have recently been refurbished, and was an attractive area with exposed stone walls, some fresh plaster lower down, a few beams, and a massive brick fireplace that took up almost an entire wall, although unfortunately all it had it in was some twigs and fir cones. There were some decent colour photographs on the wall, and these were for sale at 17 which struck me as a reasonable price, and they were accompanied by a note saying that proceeds would go towards funding the photographers studies which I thought was a nice touch.

The menu was fairly limited and consisted of half a dozen or so pub grub dishes such as Scampi and Chips, Ham, Egg & Chips, Steak and Ale Pie, etc., priced at around the 6 - 7 mark. There was also a specials board offering Stuffed Cabbage or a Cheese Toastie, neither of which struck me as that special if Im honest. Food was pleasant enough though as long as your expectations werent too high, but then at that price they shouldnt be. The condiments were brought to the table in a miniature beer barrel, which was unusual. Bar staff seemed friendly enough.

Beers on tap were Tribute, Timothy Taylor Landlord, London Pride and Adnams. Cider choice was a little disappointing, with just Aspalls Suffolk.

14 Dec 2011 21:55

The Lamb and Lion, Bath

A good sized pub just off the main shopping street, but lacking much in the way of any individual character or personality. It looks to have been recently refurbished and was tidy enough, but thats about all I can really say in its favour.

There are several different rooms all full of tables and chairs, and food is clearly a major draw here. We didnt try it ourselves so I cant comment on it, but it certainly seemed popular with barely a free table in the pub. Then again, perhaps thats inevitable given its proximity to the shops, the time of year and the time of day (early evening) that we visited. A sign advertised curry and steak nights, and a board listed a selection of pies that were available. These are apparently available as part of a pie and pint deal for 5.50.

Decor is unremarkable with flock wallpaper and carpet throughout, except for a tiled area around the bar and numerous black and white photos on the walls. There were also a couple of plasma screens on the wall and a notice advertised a regular quiz night. A sign on the bar proclaimed real ales sold here but since they only had one on, that seemed somewhat misleading. Clearly somebody should have removed it.

The solitary beer offering was Doom Bar. There were pumps for EPA and London Pride, but these had both apparently run out. Not a good sign at 6:00pm on a Friday evening. Who on earth does their stock control? Ciders faired no better with just Strongbow available, unfortunately.

12 Dec 2011 21:39

The Hobgoblin, Bath

An unusual shaped pub, narrow at the entrance but opening out towards the bar due to the roads running either side of it. Whilst in the centre of Bath, its probably far enough off the tourist trails that most of the punters are local, and I suspect it may not appeal to many tourists anyway. Theres nothing wrong with it, but its definitely got a slightly alternative feel to it which wont be for everyone.

Its clearly some time since its had a refurbishment, but some might argue that just adds to its character. However the loos were covered in graffiti and in dire need of some refurbishment. The paintwork on the ceiling is maroon and elsewhere there is still the curious shade of dirty brown that you used to find in many pubs before the smoking ban. It could also be described as dark and gloomy the walls are mostly black wood panelling, and there was only fairly limited lighting. There is a downstairs area that I presume is used by the many bands that visit, going on the various posters around the walls. The pub makes much of the goblin theme with a large mural above the bar and numerous cobwebs, skulls, etc. dotted around. The barman seemed friendly enough.

Beers on tap were Gem, Barnstormer and the seasonal Satan Claus from the Devilfish brewery. Ciders were Blackthorn and Bee Sting Pear cider along with Star Gazer and Fire Dancer from Lilleys.

12 Dec 2011 21:28

The Albion, Portishead

A large, recently refurbished pub which I understand re-opened just a few weeks ago. Its a pleasant enough place, but in a somewhat bland, corporate, mass produced sort of way and is no doubt indistinguishable from numerous other GK pubs up and down the country. It will no doubt appeal to the many local families in Portishead, but whether the discerning drinker will make a beeline for it is another matter.

Its divided in to several different areas, with various different decor styles. Much of the pub is carpeted, but there are tiles around the bar and one of the rooms at the rear which is up a couple of steps has a wooden floor. Walls are a mixture of exposed stone work and various shades of paintwork I spotted maroon, cream and gastro-pub brown. There was a scattering of small colour photos, and a partition made out of glass fronted racking full of wine bottles.

Beers on tap were a slightly disappointing Abbott Reserve and Greene King IPA. My drinking companion was singularly unimpressed and queried if that was all they had. The barmaid looked somewhat perplexed and replied Errr, ales? Errr, yeah. He decided to opt for a Guinness. Ciders were somewhat better represented with Blackthorn, Thatchers Gold and Stowford Press, as well as a hot mulled one.

12 Dec 2011 21:05

Shoulder of Mutton, Calverton

I don't know what Joohno's problem is, but as this is the only pub he's bothered to review I don't think we need to take him too seriously. His "experience" was quite the opposite of mine, and it would seem most other posters on here.

A traditional old whitewashed stone walled pub just outside Stony Stratford. There are two buildings off of the car park, one is the main pub and the other is a small B&B operation. The pub has a few wooden benches out at the front which looks a pleasant enough spot and this was enhanced on a recent visit by the Christmas lights draped around the eaves. There also looks to be a good sized beer garden out the back.

Inside its a single, L-shape room, with carpeted flooring and a mixture of cream paintwork and wood panelling painted in a pleasant shade of green. There were a few black beams on the ceiling, and these were also adorned with fairly lights and a number of small black and white photos. A plasma screen was at either end of the L, both showing a football match, although the volume was down and this did not seem intrusive. A couple of stone fire-places were either side at the front, and these were both stacked full of logs although not in use which would have been a nice touch on a cold December evening. A dart board was in one corner, although this didnt look as though it had much use with tables and leather arm chairs right in front of it.

Seating was mostly conventional tables and chairs, with a few bar stools dotted around and some fabric covered bench seating around the perimeter. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful. I dont know when it was refurbished, but looking at a photo montage on the wall showing the pub with garish maroon paint on the walls and orange carpet, it seems to be a great improvement. The food offering was a decent enough pub grub menu, with most of the dishes being around the 8 mark. There was also a small specials board, and what we had was decent food and good value.

Although there were four pumps on the bar, only two were in use dispensing Doom Bar and Old Speckled Hen. Ciders were Stowford Press and a very pleasant Old Rosie.

7 Dec 2011 23:30

The Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford

A large and prominent pub/hotel in the middle of the attractive High Street. Its got a slight chainy feel to the place though, and seems to be lacking a certain something in terms of atmosphere.

The main bar at the front has black and red chequered tiles around the bar, and old wood boards elsewhere. Paintwork is canary yellow, with wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. There were a couple of fruit machines next to the bar, and another one opposite. A wood panelled archway leads through to a smaller rear room, which as well as the canary yellow paintwork from the front mixes this with burgundy and more wood panelling. There were a couple of old leather sofas and a large black and white print of the pub from many years ago, and this had a somewhat more relaxing feel than the main part of the pub. Beyond this was a good sized courtyard.

To the right was a larger open room, that looked to be slightly more geared up for dining with menus and cruets on all the tables, but not to the extent that you felt youd be unwelcome just having a pint. Here the wood panelling reached almost to the ceiling, there was an unused fire-place at one end and a few leaded windows with drapes and a number of old black and white photos on the walls. The age group of the clientele in here was noticeably older, almost as though they were doing some sort of meal deal for pensioners.

I didnt eat myself, but the menu looked to be a fairly typical mass produced PubCo affair, with most of the mains being around the 7 - 8 mark, and there were also a few specials chalked up on a board. The barmaid seemed somewhat disinterested in serving, preferring to chat to her tattooed friend.

Beers on tap were just Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

30 Nov 2011 22:04

The Swan Inn, Milton Keynes Village

This is a quaint looking thatched roof pub that was apparently in the original village of Milton Keynes, long before it was surrounded by the concrete metropolis. Consequently its one of the few pubs in the area that looks as though it might have some character, although if youre expecting it to be located in a quaint old village youll be disappointed. It seems to have been pretty much swallowed up, and is largely surrounded by cheap looking housing, although there is still an old church just behind it.

Inside the country pub theme continues, with the main bar at the front having a pleasant and cosy ambience. The floor is partly attractive flagstones and partly some pine boards. Theres a low ceiling with plenty of black beams, and a large, brick built fireplace that had some logs burning away. To the left is a snug with some bench seating with plenty of scattered cushions, and a few pictures of swans on the wall as befits its name. There was also a fireplace here with a wood burning stove, and a small bar counter, although neither were in use on a recent visit. The lighting might be described as atmospheric or dark depending on your point of view; suffice to say that if it hadnt been for the lights from the Christmas tree I would have been unable to read my menu.

The main bar seemed to be busy, with mixed groups stood around chatting. At the rear is a larger area that looks to be more geared up for dining, although I didnt check this out. Staff were all friendly enough, although service was somewhat haphazard I was waiting at the bar for some time with numerous staff walking passed and ignoring me, and when I did get served they didnt seem to have much of a clue, like not knowing if theyd started serving food yet, or what the pie of the day was. As I said, pleasant and friendly enough though.

Food tended more towards the gastro-pub side of things rather than your traditional pub fayre, and most of the main courses were in the 12 - 15 bracket. Whilst there were a few more traditional dishes such as Sausage & Mash, Pie of the Day and a Burger, even these were all priced at over a tenner. Some of the dishes were really off the wall I spotted a desert of Lemon Possett with a Raspberry Compote and Popping Candy! What on earth is that? That said, what I had was pleasant enough though.

Beers on tap were Brains SA Gold, Bombardier, Youngs Bitter and Hydes Owd Oak. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve.

30 Nov 2011 21:49

Red Lion, Clifton

Now known as the Red Lion Wine House, it is as its name suggests, very much more of a wine bar now as opposed to your traditional pub, and this is clearly reflected both in the ambience and the drinks selection (or lack of). At one time it was a bit of a cider house, so it would have been nice to see at least one choice of cider available in a nod to its past, but alas not. Then again, I can remember when there was a gentlemans club further up the road (now an apartment block), so clearly the area is moving up market.

The front bar is slightly larger and has whitewashed walls, an old flagstone floor, low ceilings and large windows at the front. There were various old advertising signs on the walls and all the tables had candles in old wine bottles, which created a pleasant ambience. The smaller rear bar seemed a little cosier with its black walls, old prints on the walls, a brick fireplace and some old leather sofas. There was glass viewing window in to the wine cellar, and this also had a couple of hams hanging from the ceiling.

Food choice appeared to be limited to just a platter of charcuterie and cheeses. These were available to select from a deli style counter in the rear bar, and I believe came with a few hunks of bread and olives. Although I didnt try it myself, it seemed a little pricy at 11.50 for a choice of three, or 20 for six.

No ales on tap unfortunately, real or otherwise. In fact, nothing on draft at all. There was a barrel on the end of the bar, but this is apparently not in use yet and in any case is destined to hold wine, not beer. A large blackboard listed a good choice of wines, many available by the glass, but these too seemed a little on the steep side with a small 125ml glass costing 3 - 4. There was a very limited selection of bottles available, on this visit it was just Hop Back Summer Lightning and a Samuel Smiths organic lager, although the friendly barman did say that theyd had a busy night the night before. A bottle of each cost me 8.50, so I dont think Ill be in any rush to return.

On balance, its nicely done out, and it is of course nice to see it re-open, but unless youre after a glass of wine and a plate of charcuterie, and dont mind what you pay for it, Id suggest that there are other far more appropriate places nearby.

28 Nov 2011 21:34

The Crown, Stony Stratford

An extensive pub in the middle of the market square, this is a strange mix of old and new and different styles of decor, but is nonetheless a pleasant enough place and seems to be a popular spot.

The main bar at the front is a traditional affair, but doesnt have a particularly pubby a feel to it, although its difficult to pin down exactly why. Theres a rough wooden floor, and a real log burning fire which was a nice touch, along with some exposed stone walls. Elsewhere there was maroon paintwork on the walls, with wood panelling below, and there were candles on all the tables, so they were clearly trying to create a homely ambience. Seating was mostly tables and chairs, although there was a wooden bench type of seat in the window with old leather cushions on. A smaller bar on the left had a slightly more formal feel, and was empty on a recent Wednesday evening. An unusual glass counter next to the bar would have looked more at home in a deli.

Beyond this was a whole warren of rooms. The pub is quite Tardis like, and extends back far further than you would imagine. The decor here is a mix match of different styles. In some places there is fresh plaster painted in a pale beige colour, with plenty of accessories such as large pewter bowls, paintings and candlesticks like a trendy modern dining pub. Elsewhere was dark red painted brick work and an attractive old flagstone floor. On the ceiling there were painted boards in some places, and some curious drapes in others. Many of the walls were covered in old wooden slatted doors which was unusual. At the back it opened out in to an area that looked like an old pantry, complete with wine rack and a large plate rack. Next to this was a larger room with a vaulted ceiling, and some elaborate hanging candelabra. As I said, a real mix match of styles.

Services was friendly enough, if a little slow at times, although my food arrived alarmingly quickly. There was a decent looking menu with a reasonable choice for all courses. Dishes were mostly of the more traditional variety, with burgers, a Thai green curry and even fish fingers available. Prices were perhaps slightly ambitious though, with the mains ranging from 8 12 or so, and I felt that my Duck & Pepper Stir Fry was a little overpriced at 10.40. Much of the duck was fatty and gristly, and the portion size wasnt exactly generous.

Beers on tap were Spitfire and Doom bar. The solitary cider was Scrumpy Jack.

23 Nov 2011 21:22

Bell and Bear, Emberton

The bar area is a long narrow room, with the wood panelled bar counter on the left. Flooring is rough wood, and there is limited seating with a solitary table in the window alcove underneath the TV and a few bar stools elsewhere. The wall on the left is liberally plastered with beer mats, presumably from brews that they have served up in the past. On the right is a narrow ledge, just right for resting your pint on, and a few random prints up above, along with a selection of awards that the pub has won. There were also a couple of pots of marmalade and chutney for sale. At the rear is a small sports area with a couple more tables and a table skittles game.

This is very much a friendly community local, and apparently you can even bring along your own home grown veg in exchange for beer and food! I was making a point of visiting the pub for two reasons, but unfortunately it failed on both counts. Firstly I wanted to try a local cider, Hard Core from Virtual Orchard in Wolverton which has recently won a Camra gold award, and I understand that this is the only regular stockist. Unfortunately though, it had run out and there wouldnt be any more until they produced another batch next year! My second quest was simply something to eat, but I failed here too as the chef was off due to having a tooth out!

Nonetheless, this is clearly a great village local and I would happily return. The landlady and the locals all seemed friendly and it had a great atmosphere. Beers on tap are all from micro or obscure breweries (their words, not mine) and on this occasion were Mordue Five Bridges plus HMS Neptune and November, both from Buntingford. The solitary cider was Kingston Press.

23 Nov 2011 20:58

Zero Degrees, Bristol

A large, modern, purpose built pub and micro brewery, conveniently situated a few minutes walk away from the centre.

The on-site brewery is very much made in to a central feature, with the large stainless steel brewing vessels being clearly visible behind the circular bar and elsewhere through large glass walls. There is even pipe work running through a glass covered trench in the floor which you walk over as you come in, and large stainless steel pipes running from the bar taps to the brew vessels up above. The remainder of the decor is suitably industrial, with bare screed floors, metal girders and all the ventilation ducting and other services on display. The downside of this is that the acoustics are very harsh, and it can be quite noisy in there even when there are relatively few punters in.

There are a few black and white prints on the walls along with a plasma or two, and a few leather sofas around, but other than that the furnishings are minimalist. Its a big pub on two levels, with the upstairs area tending to be used more for dining. We didnt eat on this occasion, but from memory pizzas feature heavily, although a rather more unusual selection than the ubiquitous Meat Feast or Spicy Pepperoni. An outside balcony is a pleasant enough spot, although can soon fill up in the warmer weather. There is also a small patio area up on a higher level.

Service seemed a bit haphazard and we were ignored for some time, but when the barman actually got around to serving us he was pleasant enough, and was happy to provide a sample of the cider (I initially asked what it was like, but after some head scratching all he could come up with was appley, so he probably felt obligated to let me try it). At least theyve started to do cider now, when they first opened it clearly wasnt on their agenda being a London company and so I didnt go in here for many years.

Beers are all their own brew, and all have generic descriptions rather than names Pale Ale, Pilsner, Cider, Wheat Ale, Black Ale and Fruit Beer. The fruit beer rotates regularly I believe, and on this occasion was Mango.

21 Nov 2011 21:45

Secklow Hundred, Milton Keynes

A modern, purpose built Wetherspoons in the centre of Milton Keynes. Inevitably it doesnt have much in the way of character, but its a tidy and up together sort of place, perhaps recently refurbished. There is a patio area at the front if you fancy some fresh air.

Its a surprisingly small venue for JDW, with just one downstairs bar and a few seats on a balcony upstairs. Unlike many of the companys Lloyds establishments, there is no sign of a dance floor or DJ console. The downstairs area consists of a double height entrance foyer with floor to ceiling glass windows, and there are modern glass partitions elsewhere. Beyond this is a bar counter running the full length of the right hand side, and a raised area off to the left. Decor was the usual bland, corporate affair, this time with mustard colour paintwork, and there were a couple of plasmas dotted around showing a news channel. The only feature of any note was a gas effect fire with a conical chimney hood and a flue running up to the ceiling.

Beers on tap were the usual Ruddles Best and Abbot Ale, plus Pedigree, Holders Golden Ale and Hopping Mad Fruitcase. Adnams IPA was apparently coming soon. Less successful was the cider offering pumps on the bar were Strongbow and Thatchers Gold, but the latter was off due to a frozen line which I was told would not be defrosted anytime soon. A drinks list displayed prominently on the bar also listed Stowford Press, but this was apparently not stocked at that particular pub!

16 Nov 2011 22:05

The Green Park Tavern, Bath

A slightly down at heel boozer located a short stroll away from the centre. Easy enough to get to if youre inclined to make the effort, but no doubt its sufficiently out on a limb that it doesnt get much in the way of the tourist trade.

The main room is an L-shape affair with a pool table at the back. Elsewhere were a couple of plasma screens showing the football, and the commentary was piped to other speakers around the pub, so if youre not a footy fan it was somewhat difficult to avoid it. The ceiling was covered in wood panelling and the seating was mostly tables and chairs, several of which were split and had the stuffing spilling out. Teal painted wood cladding covered the lower part of the walls. The bar counter was constructed of white washed bricks which was unusual. There is also a patio area at the front, and I believe there may be a beer garden at the rear, although we did not check this out.

Various posters advertised up and coming events such as Quiz nights on a Wednesday, Karaoke nights on Monday as well as some bands that Id never heard of. There was some type of food offering, although I didnt spot any menus. The only thing that I saw coming out of the kitchen was bowls of cheesy chips. There was also another room off to the left, although this was not in use on our visit.

Beers on tap were Bob, 6X and Glastonburys Hedge Monkey. Ciders were well represented with Stowford Press, Cheddar Valley, Strongbow and Symonds Founders Reserve, plus another being dispensed directly from a barrel behind the bar.

14 Nov 2011 21:45

The Ring O Bells, Nailsea

A friendly traditional pub towards the outskirts of Nailsea, but nonetheless a relatively short stroll from the central area. It has been shut for a few weeks after the previous landlord left, allegedly due to unsustainable rent increases, but it has now re-opened with someone new running it.

The majority of the pub is one good sized room with a wooden partition running down the middle. There is also a small snug off to the left. Its got a traditional pub feel to the place, with carpeted flooring, wood cladding on the lower part of the walls and some exposed stonework elsewhere. Blue bench seating is around the perimeter, with conventional tables and chairs elsewhere. There was a small TV in the corner near the bar that was showing the motor racing, and this is a popular spot for the locals to stand and chat.

There is a beer garden at the back with a patio area, covered smoking house and a decent looking kids play area with wooden climbing frames, a slider and a rope slide. There is also a piquant pitch at the back, and the pub has in the past fielded a couple of teams, although whether they are still running Im not sure. Food is offered lunch times as well as Friday and Saturday evenings. There was a popular carvery being served on a recent Sunday lunch time visit, and the friendly landlord said he was planning a curry night in a couple of weeks.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Gem and Butcombe. Ciders were Addlestones, Gaymers Original and Stowford Press. All in all one of the better pubs in Nailsea, and well worth a visit. I wish the new landlord luck and hope he makes a success of it.

14 Nov 2011 21:08

The White Hart, Grafton Regis

An attractive, thatched Inn on the main A509 a few miles north of Milton Keynes. In many ways its more of a restaurant than a proper pub, and in fact the first thing that greets you as you come in through the door from the car park is a big sign advising you that the door in front of you is for the restaurant only and that the lounge is to the right.

Once in the lounge, this view is reinforced by the fact that every single table was laid up for food with a full complement of place mats, cutlery and cruet. Having said that, there was however a group of local old boys stood at the bar. Its a cosy enough sort of place, with carpet throughout, low beamed ceilings with a few black beams, wood panelling on the lower part of the walls and comfy leather, upright chairs in a coffee colour. There was a small brick built fireplace at one end, although these days all that it contained was an electric fire. There were a few pictures dotted around the walls, mostly nature ones but also a boat on the nearby canal. Unusually there was a large cage in one corner housing a parrot. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

As befits its foodie aspirations, there was an extensive menu plus several more choices on a large specials board. The dishes appeared to be a notch above your usual pub grub, along with the prices. Even a Beef & Mushroom Balti wouldnt have left you much change from 12. That said, my Smoked Haddock and Broccoli Bake was a decent enough dish and a generous portion as well as being one of the cheaper choices at just under a tenner.

The pub states on its website that its a free house but chooses to get its beer from Greene King. How odd. Consequently the somewhat uninspiring choice at the bar was just GK IPA and Abbott Ale. The solitary cider was Aspalls Suffolk.

9 Nov 2011 20:37

The Boat Inn, Stoke Bruerne

This seems to be very much a pub of two halves. At the back are a couple of great old snugs, with a frontage that is right on the canal. At the front is a much more open, contemporary lounge with perhaps slightly less appeal for the traditional pub aficionado.

The entrance way from the front car park is unusual in that you first enter in to a sort of hallway with a couple of sofas, but little in the way of character. Its difficult to imagine anybody sitting there and having a pint. To the left, is a large open room with a modern looking wood vaulted ceiling, a wood strip floor and a stone built bar counter that has a couple of large wooden ships keels built in to it. Decor wise there is wood panelling on the lower part of the walls with cream paintwork above, a few pictures of the canal and other nautical scenes and a mixture of tables, chairs and a few cosy looking low leather sofas. A fruit machine was in the corner and a plasma was stuck on the wall which perhaps seemed a little out of place, but the only thing that it was showing was a message saying no input signal. Beyond this is another room with exposed stone walls that looks as though it may be more geared up for dining, although there was another room beyond this again marked up as a restaurant.

The real character of the pub is undoubtedly at the back. Besides the pleasant outlook on to the canal (as opposed to the car park) the popular and cosy snug was bursting at the seams on a recent early Wednesday evening, whereas the front bar was deserted. It has an old flagstone floor, real fire and wood backed pews around the perimeter. This is a really small room, and was full to capacity with only a dozen or so people in there. These were a mix of friendly locals and boaters who all seemed to mingling and chatting amiably. Beyond this is another small room with a red tiled floor and next to this something that I initially took to be a skittle alley, but then found that it was only about eight foot long. There was some sort of table skittles game at one end, and a sign saying something about under arm shots. Clearly skittles in these parts is very different to what Im used to at home.

Food was a bit of a mixed bag. The menu looked to be a decent enough selection of pub grub, with a good choice of burgers, as well as jackets and a (very) small specials board. Most of the mains were around the 8-9 mark, and whilst my chicken breast with bacon, caramelised onions and goats cheese had some interesting flavours, the chicken was somewhat tough and stringy. Similarly, desert which was a concoction of ice cream, caramel sauce, mars bar pieces, chocolate buttons and cream was ok but had a somewhat artificial taste to it.

There was a good selection of beers on tap with Banks Bitter, Pedigree, EPA, Frog Island, Marstons Old Empire, Hobgoblin and Jennings Cumberland. Ciders were also well represented with Scrumpy Jack, Strongbow and Thatchers Heritage. In spite of a slight disappointment on the food front, this is still a cracking pub and in a completely different league to the other one in the village and I would happily return.

2 Nov 2011 21:27

Lloyds No. 1 Cafe Bar, Milton Keynes

A modern and fairly typical Lloyds Number One bar in the heart of what Milton Keynes rather euphemistically calls its Theatre District. Sandwiched between a Zizzi and a Slug & Lettuce, that immediately gives you a fair idea of the type of establishment and its target clientele.

Architecturally it does at least have some interesting curves. The main bar area has a highly polished wood floor, with a long, wood panelled bar counter on the left, some further wood panelling on the lower part of the walls with reddish brown paintwork above. The exposed joists and rafters of the floor above make up the ceiling. At the back is a small snug, although this only has room for four leather arm chairs and a low table. Next to this is a large, circular room which looks to be primarily the dance floor, with a small DJ booth on one side. There is a giant glitter ball on the ceiling, surrounded by an equally large lighting rig. The walls here are entirely wood clad, and there are also full height, dual aspect windows. Upstairs is another carpeted bar, this time with mustard yellow paintwork, and plenty of seating.

There are a few plasmas dotted throughout the pub, and some fairly chunky looking speakers, although thankfully the volume was no more than background level on a recent (early) evening visit. Food is typical Wetherspoon fayre, although with their curry deal at 4.59 you cant really go wrong. Less successful was a Sticky Toffee Pudding (made to a genuine Cumbrian recipe, apparently), although at 1.99 it would be churlish to complain. Bar staff seemed friendly and helpful.

Beer choice was a little disappointing for a Wetherspoons, with just Ruddles Best, Adam Hensons Rare Breed from Butcombe (thats a new one on me) and something called Kalamuzoo Black Silk which is apparently a oatmeal porter brewed exclusively for JDW in the US. Ciders fared no better, with Strongbow being the solitary offering. There was a tap for Thatchers Gold, but unfortunately this had sold out. Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of Strongbow left.

27 Oct 2011 19:19

The Duke Of Wellington, Stony Stratford

A traditional old boozer located a short distance away from the popular High Street, and consequently rather quiet. On a recent Wednesday evening visit, it was empty of other than a handful of punters sat up at the bar, who seemed to be swearing rather a lot. Not somewhere to bring the missus.

Its a two room pub, with the public bar being on the right and the lounge bar on the left. The lounge is smaller and carpeted, but has little in the way of character. The public bar has an old wooden floor, wood panelled bar, a plasma up in the corner and a couple of fruit/quiz machines and a juke box. Besides the aforementioned bar chairs, the seating is mostly stools with big old beer barrels filling in as tables. In a separate area to the rear are a few tables and chairs plus a darts board and beyond this a pool table. Paintwork is a slightly drab two tone cream and chocolate brown. It was decd out ready for Halloween which plenty of ghouls, skeletons and cobwebs around.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, and to make matters even worse the only cider was Strongbow. As such, its unlikely to appeal to many of the regulars on this site.

26 Oct 2011 21:57

The Clyde Arms, Redland

A traditional, street corner boozer in the heart of Redland. Its a good sized open plan affair, with the pub wrapping almost entirely around the central bar counter. Presumably it must have been separate rooms at one time, but somebody in their wisdom has decided to open it all out. In fact I thought it was separate rooms last time I was in here, but that was many years ago so I may be mistaken.

Decor is quite traditional, other than the dark green paint on the ceiling, consisting of green patterned carpet with a few tiles around the bar, red drape curtains and some wood panelling. There were several shelves of books and quite a bit of stained glass, which was an unusual, and interesting, feature.

There was a pool table at each end of the pub, a darts board, a sign advertising a pool tournament each Thursday as well as a projector screen, although this was folded up out of sight. It was very busy with a good mix of ages on a recent visit.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Wickwars BOB. Ciders were Blackthorn, Stowford Press and Thatchers Traditional. A number of punters were also drinking cans of Natch.

24 Oct 2011 22:38

The Navigation, Stoke Bruerne

An attractive, stone built pub in an idyllic setting alongside the canal. The pub takes full advantage of this, and there is plenty of outside tables and chairs in the terraced beer garden, and even on the towpath itself. Signs advertise jazz nights on alternate Fridays, and Quiz and Spice nights on Wednesday.

Inside, its something of a surprise to find it has the kind of mass produced corporate feel where they try and make a new pub appear old. Understandably perhaps in a modern, characterless pub, but why on earth give a pseudo olde worlde makeover to a pub that is genuinely old in the first place? The only original bits appear to be a few flagstones that havent been carpeted over and a few wooden support posts and rafters. Besides that, its a cavernous affair, seeming to go on for ever, in all different directions. There is even a mezzanine floor at one end.

Decor wise its a bit of a mixture, with quite a bit of exposed brickwork and wooden partitions. Besides that theres a whitewashed stone wall as well as some wallpaper. Most of the seating is geared up for diners, although there is a small area opposite the bar that has a few high tables and chairs clustered around a plasma screen showing a news channel, and a couple of leather sofas in the corner. There were a couple of impressive, brick built fireplaces which are presumably an original feature, although these days all they contain is a wood burning stove. A wooden roof was probably the most interesting feature.

The menu looks to be a mass-produced PubCo affair, with most of the main courses being around the 8-10 mark. There was also a few extra choices on a specials board above the bar. Unfortunately the quality didnt seem to be up to much; my beef and ale pie was a pile of fatty beef encased in a pastry crust that was so soggy it was indistinguishable from the accompanying mash. Bizarrely I was asked if I had finished when I was still half way through and had my fork poised for another mouthful. Perhaps he could tell I was none too impressed.

Beers on tap were Hobgoblin, Marstons Pedigree and EPA. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. In summary, this would be a great spot for a beer on a sunny afternoon, but other than that I can see little reason to visit.

19 Oct 2011 20:55

The Old George, Stony Stratford

A pleasant traditional, old high street pub in the middle of village. Its an L-shaped main bar furnished with green carpet and has an unusual conical brick-built chimney over the fireplace as well as a brick built bar. There is also an old bread oven built in to the wall as well as a selection of tables and chairs, fruit and quiz machines, an old cart wheel on the ceiling, a couple of large mirrors and a few pencilled drawings. Its clearly a very old building, and there is a definite tilt and unevenness to some of the flooring upstairs as you go to the loos.

At the rear is a small room that looks to be more geared up for dining, and there is also a courtyard out the back. Food offering was a small selection of pub grub, with most of the main courses being around the 8 mark. There was also a specials board, although with this listing dishes such as a couple of curries, Chilli con carne and Gammon, Egg & Chips, I would suggest that the dishes on the regular menu were in fact more special. Landlady seemed friendly enough.

Beers on tap were Jennings Laughing Gravy, Ringwood Best and Wychwood Hobgoblin. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

17 Oct 2011 21:58

The Bird in Hand, Long Ashton

Ive tried to review this pub on several occasions, but it always seemed to have rather restricted opening hours and I never managed to find it open, even at 4:00pm on a Saturday or 6:30pm on a Thursday. Somewhat unsurprisingly therefore it closed, and has now reinvented itself. Whilst there is definitely more of an emphasis on good food, I would hesitate to call it a gastro-pub as they are still encouraging drinkers and indeed, by the time we left at 10:30pm on a Saturday evening the bar was packed full of locals enjoying a pint.

The pub is split in to three rooms, with the main bar area being in the middle. This has parquet wood flooring and cream paintwork, although much of the pain elsewhere is black. Seating here is limited, although there were a few stools and a couple of tables. The main dining area is to the right, and the paintwork here is predominantly black and there was an old Colmans mustard sign on the wall. The small room to the left doubles up as a dining area, but could equally well be used just for drinking. This had a black slate tiled floor and a double sided brick fireplace with a copper chimney hood. There were a few nature drawings on the walls, as well as on old and very battered Frys chocolate sign. Unusually one wall was covered in a montage of pages torn from a Mrs. Beatons cookbook.

There is a decent selection of food and this is of good quality. Prices were perhaps slightly above your normal pub grub, but were certainly not out the way with most of the mains being around the 10 mark, and this was more than justified by the dishes that were served up and we thoroughly enjoyed our smoked haddock and salmon fish cakes. There were also a couple of cakes on the bar as seems to be the trend in many places these days. Staff were helpful and efficient.

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Doom Bar, Gem and Tribute. The solitary cider was Ashton Press, but then theres not really any need for anything else if youve got this on. All in all, well worth a visit.

17 Oct 2011 21:43

The Moon Under Water, Milton Keynes

A modern, purpose built Wetherspoons pub located within the Xscape centre. Curves seem to be the central theme of the pub, with everything from the building itself, the bar, plates on the ceiling, rails on a partition and even some of the tables being curved to some degree or another.

Decor wise its all a bit of a mismatch, with at least four different hues of paint being used Turquoise, Pale Blue, Mustard and Maroon. Most of the flooring is carpet, although there are some big areas of wooden flooring as well. One area at the rear is up a couple of steps and partitioned off to break up the space a little, and the front area has full floor to ceiling windows looking out on to the patio, as well as portholes painted on to the walls and wood panelling on the lower part of the walls giving a slightly nautical feel. Besides the usual tables and chairs, there was also a leather sofa or two. There was a bank of fruit machines opposite the bar, and a few plasmas showing a news channel, although there was no sound.

Bar staff seemed friendly enough, if a little dopey. The barmaid who took my food order seemed to have no idea what a Chicken Bhuna was, and I had to spell it twice. Then I flummoxed her completely by giving her 10.59 for a 5.59 bill. Overall though, this isnt too bad a place, although obviously it doesnt have the architectural interest of some of the companys other outlets. But being in Milton Keynes, it would be somewhat out of place if it did have any architectural significance.

Good choice of beers on tap, although they are currently running a beer festival, so I dont know what the usual choice is like. On this occasion besides the usual Abbott Ale and Ruddles Best, there was Whitstable Bay Organic Ale from Shepherd Neame, Batemans XB, Hook Norton Flagship, Titanic Fit Out, Everards Whakatu, Brains Dark and Thwaites Daniels Hammer. Ciders were also well represented with Strongbow and Thatchers Gold being joined by Two Trees Perry and Black Dragon, both from Gwynt y Ddraig and Westons Twist with ginger.

13 Oct 2011 22:04

The Old Beams, Shenley Lodge

A strange mix of old and modern, this is apparently the result of a large fire a few years ago that destroyed much of the original building. That being the case, theyve done a sympathetic job of restoring it, and whilst it inevitably doesnt have quite the character that it must have had before, its nonetheless a pleasant enough place.

Its a good sized pub with a decent patio area on one side with plenty of tables, many of them covered. Inside, the main room is a cavernous affair with a large vaulted ceiling and plenty of wooden rafters and beams. Whilst these are presumably not original, theyre attractive enough, and there are one or two upright support columns that certainly do look to be original. The flooring here is polished wood, and there is also a small amount of wood panelling on one of the walls. Its an L-shape room that leads on round to another area with a large fireplace and a huge stack of logs.

In the other direction, past a slate tiled area with several low leather sofas and arm chairs, you come to a separate bar with a much cosier character. The ceiling here is quite low, there are wooden beams supporting it that are suitably sagging, pine flooring, another fireplace and canary yellow paint along with a few black and white pictures on the walls. All the tables were laid up for food though. The landlord could have been a bit more cheerful, and an acknowledgment or apology while I was waiting wouldnt have gone amiss.

Food features prominently here and there was an extensive menu divided in to sections such as Char Grills, Fish & Salads, Main Courses, etc., with most of the mains being around the 8 - 10 mark. What I had was ok, although nothing special, and arrived suspiciously quickly. Couldnt they at least try and pretend that its not straight out the micro-wave?

Only two beers on tap, both from the McCullen brewery, the rather unimaginatively named Cask Ale and Country Bitter. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

12 Oct 2011 21:44

The Burnt Oak, Shenley Brook End

First impressions suggest this is a modern, estate pub although with its brick facade and round room with an unusual conical roof on the left it perhaps seems to have a bit more character than many.

Inside though, its in many ways more of a sports bar. There was a plasma screen at each end, both showing football matches. The conical roofed room on the left had a couple of card tables in, and there were some games in progress. There was a darts board on the right and a couple of quiz machines. Decor wise its suitably bland as is to be expected from modern, chain pubs with burnt cream paintwork, some wood panelling, a few stone slabs around the bar and carpet elsewhere. A number of non-descript drawings were on the wall, such as one of the Statue of Liberty. Quite what the connection with Milton Keynes is, Im not sure.

A typical mass produced menu was on the tables and proudly proclaimed that main courses started at 2.95. Quite what that says about the quality Im not sure, but then I didnt try the food so perhaps Im judging it unfairly. However, I did attempt to try the food ordering at about 8:10pm in a chain pub such as this with menus still on all the tables, I would have expected to be able to get something, but apparently the kitchen shut at 8:00pm. The menus were still on the tables when I left three-quarters of an hour later though, so clearly thats not an indication that theyre actually serving. Perhaps if the barmaid had spent a little less time chatting to her mates she could have attended to this.

Although there were four hand pumps on the bar, only two were in use dispensing Wizards Staff and Brakespear Bitter. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. All in all, a pub best avoided. And what on earth are they doing with a Christmas Tree up at the beginning of October?

11 Oct 2011 22:12

The Constitution, Pimlico

A traditional, high street boozer in the middle of Pimlico. There's a few benches and chairs outside, and the troughs of flowers make for an attractive appearance.

Inside, it's a single room, square bar with carpet on the floor and much wood panelling on the walls, a mustard colour paint on the ceiling and plenty of jugs, plates, etc., on a shelf around the perimeter. The pub has a somewhat nautical theme, with a ship on the pub's sign, various drawings of ships hung on the walls and a few model ships displayed by the leaded windows at the back. Seating was a mixture of tables and chairs, with a number of high stools at the bar.

There was a plasma at the back of the pub as well as an old TV perched up on a shelf near the door. Neither of these were in use on a recent visit, but there was a Sky Sports fixture list on the wall, so clearly they do get regular use. We didn't eat on this occasion, but a specials board chalked up next to the bar listed various dishes such as Ham, Egg & Chips and Macaroni Cheese. I'm not sure what was on the regular menu if this was the specials, but they looked reasonably priced at around the 6/7 mark.

Beers on tap were Sambrook's Wandle, Courage Best and Directors, and Spitfire. A surprisingly good choice of cider for pubs in these parts with Strongbow, Magner's Golden Draught and Weston's Traditional Scrumpy.

9 Oct 2011 23:30

Founders Arms, Bankside

A large, popular pub on the Thames path. It's main draw is undoubtedly the good sized terrace at the rear that is crammed full of tables and chairs as well as plenty of infra-red heaters to help make the most of the views along the river.

Inside, it's a little less inspiring being a pretty much unremarkable place. Again, the best feature is the floor to ceiling wrap around windows that offer views of the river in the more inclement weather. Besides that there is little to say. There's plenty of tables and chairs, the flooring is mostly carpet except for some dark parquet wood around the bar, and there is a plasma stuck on the wall at the far end, although this was not in use on a recent visit.

An unusual feature is a small counter in one corner for coffee and cakes, although with thin slices of sponge being sold at 3.95, I'd be surprised if this does much business. Other than that, food seemed quite popular although I didn't check the menu.

Beers on tap were Young's Bitter, Special and Bombardier along with Black Sheep and Hogs Back TEA. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

9 Oct 2011 19:24

The Barley Mow, Westminster

An attractive, street corner pub with plenty of flower troughs outside, and happily one of the very few establishments around these parts that seems to bother opening on a Saturday night.

Inside, it's a single room, L-shaped pub, that in some ways has the appearance of a sports bar there are numerous flags hanging from the ceiling, both small ones around the bar and full size ones elsewhere. There is a projector in the corner (although the screen was rolled up on our visit) and a fixtures list for forthcoming tournaments. Besides that, it's a little more traditional. A raised area in one corner is full of leather sofas and chairs, and there are large windows to look out of. There is wood panelling on the lower part of the walls with cream paint-work above and the flooring is a mixture of carpet and wood. A small TV was on in the corner.

Beers on tap were Nelson's Jammin' Jack, Harvey's Sussex Best, Doom Bar, Spitfire and Deuchar's IPA. Ciders were Strongbow and Thatcher's Gold.

9 Oct 2011 00:39

The White Swan, Pimlico

An attractive, street corner pub with plenty of window flower troughs and hanging baskets outside as well as a few benches to sit and watch the world go by. Inside it's a perhaps a little disappointing; nothing at all wrong with it, but it's clearly had a makeover at some point, and doesn't have quite the character that you might expect.

It's effectively a single room bar, although divided in to a front and rear section. Dcor wise they're fairly similar with a the paintork being mostly maroon with a few splashes of dark green to break up the monotony. At the front are a number of leather, button backed benches around the perimeter, and some high tables and chairs elsewhere, along with a tiled fireplace. At the rear there's a more conventional selection of tables and chairs. Flooring is a mixture of carpet and wood with a few flagstones around the bar and there is a plasma screen at the rear, although this was not in use on a recent visit. Service was very slow at the bar with just one barmaid serving on a Saturday evening. It would have helped a bit if the guy whose job it was to bring the food out could have helped out behind the bar when he had no work to do, instead of sitting at a table playing with his phone.

Food menu looked to be a decent enough selection of pub grub dishes which was divided in to sections such as mains, burgers, pies and sharing platters. Most of the mains were priced around the 8 mark, and we found the food to be rather disappointing. A Chicken Tikka Masala was pleasant enough, but tasted mass produced rather than home made, could done with being a more generous portion and they had run out of naan bread. At 8 it was overpriced by at least 2 or 3. Similarly a pasta dish with pesto and chicken had little discernible pesto taste abd the chicken was rather rubbery.

Beers on tap were Young's London Gold, Old Golden Hen (is that Old Speckled Hen renamed?), Adnams Broadside and Timothy Taylor Landlord. Tribute and London Pride were apparently being conditioned. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

9 Oct 2011 00:32

Morpeth Arms, London

A traditional, street corner pub alongside the Thames path. It's a slightly unusual in that it's something of a wedge shape rather than completely square owing to the geography of the roads that it is on. It's a two room pub with the main bar being at the front and a smaller room behind. Apparently the pub's cellars form part of an old tunnel network that was used to transport convicts on to Thames barges prior to deportation to Australia.

The dcor is a rather sombre shade of burgundy paint-work, although with somewhat lighter ceilings where there are two very large, candelabra type light fittings. There is brown carpet at the front with old wooden flooring at the rear. The wood panelled bar counter is unusual in having a curved brass plate running around the bottom. Whether this is decorative, or to prevent it from getting kicked, I'm not sure. A few locals pictures hung on the walls and there was a pile of board games on a shelf. Staff were friendly and helpful. The rear room was smaller and had a few high tables with some red, velvet covered bench seating and a small domed window in the ceiling.

The food menu was a decent pub grub offering, with a good choice of mains including some with smaller portion sizes available at lunch time, jackets, sandwiches and a few tapas style dishes. Most of the mains were around the 8 - 10 mark, and we enjoyed the dishes that we had.

Young's dominated the beer line-up, with their Bitter, Special, London Gold and Bombardier. The guest on this occasion was Rucking Mole. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Prices seemed a little step at 8.45 for two pints.

8 Oct 2011 19:21

The Morpeth Arms, Pimlico

A traditional, street corner pub alongside the Thames path. It's a slightly unusual in that it's something of a wedge shape rather than completely square owing to the geography of the roads that it is on. It's a two room pub with the main bar being at the front and a smaller room behind. Apparently the pub's cellars form part of an old tunnel network that was used to transport convicts on to Thames barges prior to deportation to Australia.

The dcor is a rather sombre shade of burgundy paint-work, although with somewhat lighter ceilings where there are two very large, candelabra type light fittings. There is brown carpet at the front with old wooden flooring at the rear. The wood panelled bar counter is unusual in having a curved brass plate running around the bottom. Whether this is decorative, or to prevent it from getting kicked, I'm not sure. A few locals pictures hung on the walls and there was a pile of board games on a shelf. Staff were friendly and helpful. The rear room was smaller and had a few high tables with some red, velvet covered bench seating and a small domed window in the ceiling.

The food menu was a decent pub grub offering, with a good choice of mains including some with smaller portion sizes available at lunch time, jackets, sandwiches and a few tapas style dishes. Most of the mains were around the 8 - 10 mark, and we enjoyed the dishes that we had.

Young's dominated the beer line-up, with their Bitter, Special, London Gold and Bombardier. The guest on this occasion was Rucking Mole. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. Prices seemed a little step at 8.45 for two pints.

8 Oct 2011 19:20

The Shenley Church Inn, Shenley Church End

Yet another pub that has a modern, mass produced, characterless interior, which seems to be the norm around these parts. Theres nothing particularly wrong with it, but its certainly nothing to get excited about.

It is in fact a Toby Carvery, and is attached to a Travel Lodge. Its a good sized pub and also has a beer garden and outside patio area. Inside the decor is the usual mix of red patterned carpet, wood partitioning, cream and brown paintwork, gold flocked wallpaper and a couple of leather sofas. The only feature of any note was perhaps the vaulted ceiling at the entrance, although even this wasnt an especially interesting vaulted ceiling. There was some exposed brickwork, and a fireplace contained a wood burning stove. Bizarrely there is also one of those machines like you get in amusement arcades filled with soft toys where you operate a remote grabber to try and get one out. What on earth is that doing in a pub?

The food emphasis seems to be very much on the carvery, and the bar menu was extremely limited with just four main courses priced at around the 4 mark and a couple of salads. Drink choice was equally disappointing despite three hand pumps on the bar, one appeared unused and two had their clips turned round, so no real ale at all. The solitary cider was Bulmers.

5 Oct 2011 22:00

The Richmond Arms, Bath

This is a little out the way being at the top of a long hill, but its a pleasant enough place. Unusually the pub is nestled in the middle of a rank of terraced houses, and with plenty of seating out in the large front beer garden they must have tolerant neighbours. This is attractively illuminated with a number of lights.

Formerly it had a reputation as a bit of a gastro-pub, but its now under new ownership and currently offers no food at all other than a couple of filled rolls on the bar, although the friendly barman explained that they were planning on introducing some in the next couple of weeks but it wont be Lamb in Aspec at 25 he said, presumably in reference to the type of food offered previously.

Inside its reasonably small, and has rather a wine bar like feel rather than your traditional pub with its reclaimed wooden boards, cream and grey paintwork, pictures and mirrors.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

4 Oct 2011 22:51

Ye Old Farm House, Bath

A traditional old boozer located close enough to the city centre, but its up a bit of a hill and with mostly residential streets beyond it is unlikely to attract many of Baths visitors. Jazz seems to feature heavily here, with numerous black and white photos on the walls and a band area at the rear that had some suitable large speakers and a DJ console. There was even an old trumpet hanging on the wall next to the bar.

The colour scheme is an odd mix of purple and orange which might not be to everyones taste, but there is also plenty of stained glass, in the lower half of the exterior windows, in the porch and above the bar. Its a L-shape bar with the rear area being up a few steps. The front part has traditional wood bench seating around the perimeter with a liberal sprinkling of brightly coloured cushions. Potted plants on the window sill, a brick fireplace and a pile of board games complete the interior furnishings. The rear bar had a pool table and a plasma, and this led out to a small terrace.

Beers on tap were all from the Wadworths stable, with their Malt & Hops, Horizon, 6X and Henrys IPA. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Westons Traditional Scrumpy.

4 Oct 2011 22:11

The Pig and Fiddle, Bath

A large pub right in the centre of Bath that has recently been bought by Butcombe, it has a good sized patio area out the back surrounded by troughs of flowers, and this was packed to capacity on an unseasonably hot Friday afternoon recently. Hanging baskets adorned the front of the pub.

Inside its a rustic sort of place with rough wood flooring split over two levels. The longer and lower section leading to the front of the pub has a relaxed ambience with a few sofas in the window in addition to the chunky wooden tables. A number of signed rugby shirts hung on the walls along with other sporting memorabilia. At the top of the steps is a large fish tank and a big stone fireplace. There is also a part glass roof, adding a sort of conservatory feel to the interior.

On the higher level is the bar counter and in a small room off in the corner a table football game and dart board. I didnt check out the menu, although a few specials chalked up on a board sounded tasty enough.

Beers on tap were Yeovils Star Gazer, Cottage Triumph Spitfire and London Pride along with Butcombes Bitter and Gold. Good choice of ciders with Ashton Press, Ashton Still and Symonds Founders Reserve.

4 Oct 2011 21:49

The Talbot, Milton Keynes

This looks to be a traditional old country pub from the outside, but has clearly been extended and renovated and doesnt have quite the cosy charm that you might expect. That said, its a decent enough place if slightly lacking in any character.

Its a large pub divided in to several areas. The restaurant section is off to the right (or the front, depending on how you look at it) and I didnt investigate this. The central area which is where the bar counter is located is a L-shape room with dark stained wooden boards on the floor. The bar counter itself is fairly small, and the fact that there were three punters sat up there on stools made it difficult to get there to be served. At the back of this room is an area with dark wood panelling on the walls covered in black and white photos, reminiscent of a old hotel drawing room.

Off to the right is a more open plan area, with tartan carpet on the floors as well as tartan wallpaper on the back wall. There is a large fire place stacked full with logs that I suspect will never be burnt, and above this a plasma that was showing Sky Sports. Fortunately the sound was down, and instead there was background music to listen to. Whilst not obviously being a pub that focuses on sport, there was nonetheless a fixtures list on each table, and this indicated that a couple of football matches would be shown on most days. There was a certain amount of exposed brick work in evidence, and the seating was a mixture of tables and chairs, leather sofas and arm chairs.

Going on the sign outside, the pub bills itself as a Restaurant, Pub and Carvery and consequently the food offering included a large carvery counter. The rest of the menu was traditional pub fayre with most of the mains being around the 8 mark, and my Chicken Tikka Masala seemed a decent enough dish, although perhaps a little over-priced for the quality and quantity provided.

The only beers on tap were Old Speckled Hen and London Pride. There was a third pump on the bar but this appeared to be unused. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

4 Oct 2011 20:58

Fountain Harvester, Loughton

No doubt at one time this was a quaint old country inn, and whilst it still retains some of those characteristics such as whitewashed stone walls and a thatched roof, it is now part of the Harvester chain and has the rather bland corporate identity that you would expect.

Its a large pub divided in to several different areas. Theres nothing really wrong with the interior, its pleasant enough in a mass produced, identikit sort of way and there are a few retained features such as some black ceiling beams and exposed stone walling. Other than that its very much the usual patterned carpet along with some slate floor tiling, wood tables, a few leather sofas, etc. There are a couple of old fireplaces around though, including an extremely big one just inside the entrance door. The restaurant area was off to the right, with the pub rooms to the left, including a snug area by one of the fireplaces. There looked to be a good sized beer garden out the back.

I wished to eat in the bar, but unfortunately the menu here is very much diminished from that which is available in the restaurant for some reason. It consisted of a few basic pub grub dishes such as burger, fish & chips and a pasta for around the 6 mark. Why you cant choose from the restaurant menu and eat in the bar Im not sure. Bar staff were pleasant enough in a rather impersonal sort of way (I ordered a drink and asked for a receipt. A few minutes later, whilst I was still the same barmaids next customer as it was quiet, I ordered some food. I would have expected that she would have given me a receipt, or at least asked if I wanted one, but I had to ask at which point she looked somewhat surprised. Maybe Im just being pedantic).

No real ales on tap unfortunately, just keg Bombardier. Equally unfortunately, the solitary cider was Strongbow. There was a tap for Bulmers, but this appeared to have run out.

3 Oct 2011 22:09

Bath Arms Hotel, Cheddar

A large, stone built pub on the main road through Cheddar that looks as though it must have been a hotel or a coaching inn at one time. Theres a good sized patio out the front with plenty of benches and a smaller beer garden at the rear with a couple of climbing frames for the kids. A bare chested guy ordering at the bar was slightly off putting, although whether this is typical of their normal clientele Im not sure.

Inside, the main bar is an L-shaped affair, mostly carpeted although with some laminate flooring as well. There is some wood panelling on the walls, a fireplace at each end and a couple of plasma screens. A darts board was in one corner. Beyond this is another room that must have been a skittle alley in a former life but now houses a couple of leather sofas, a few more tables and a pool table. Off to the left is a room that is very reminiscent of an old hotel drawing room with wood panelling on all the walls. All the tables here were laid up for food, although nobody was actually eating in here on a recent Thursday lunch time visit. Beyond this is a lounge, although this was closed off.

There was an extensive pub grub menu, with all the usual suspects such as lasagne, Chilli con carne, Chicken Tikka Masala and Ham, Egg & Chips along with sections for sandwiches, jackets, etc. Most of the mains were around the 8 mark, and there was also a specials board with another half dozen or so dishes on. Service at the bar was a little slow, with the guy who served me taking at least twice as long to key everything in to the till as he did to actually pour the drinks.

Beers on tap were Old Speckled Hen, Tribute, Doom Bar, Courage and the very local Potholer. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

29 Sep 2011 21:16

The Stag & Hounds, Bristol

Another pub that has been shut for a while, but now re-opened. Hopefully it will have better luck this time, although it was quite quiet on a recent Thursday evening visit. Its a few years since Ive been in here so Im unsure how much has changed, but it doesnt obviously appear to have been refurbished.

Inside its one long open room, although wood partitioning does break up the space somewhat to give the feel of different bars. The colour scheme is somewhat gloomy with dark green paint on the walls and black paint on the ceiling. A single matching green sofa was in front the large fire-place, other than that the furniture was mostly conventional tables and chairs. There was also some wood cladding on the wall at the far end, and a couple of stuffed animal heads (a stag and a fox, appropriately) on the wall. A raised area in one corner looked as though it got used by bands on occasions as there was some equipment dotted around.

There is a small roof terrace which is an unusual feature, and I imagine this would be a bit of a sun trap. No views unfortunately though, other than a small railing through which you can see the Temple Way roundabout! There is also an open mic night on Tuesdays.

Beers on offer were Doom Bar and Black Sheep, both of which were reasonably priced at 2.80. Ciders were Addlestones, Magners and Thatchers Gold.

29 Sep 2011 10:45

The Volunteer, Bristol

Closed, sold and refurbished since my previous review, this is now a completely different pub both in looks and character. Its still a smallish, single room affair, but the bar counter has been moved from the back to the left hand side and its been extensively decorated.

The paintwork is a mixture of dark grey on the lower part of the walls, and a light coffee colour up above. Other than that, the walls are mostly bare at present but that may change over time as it has only been re-open for about a week. The floors and reclaimed sanded boards and there is a courtyard garden out the back. Unusually the cubicle door in the gents loo had a frosted pane of glass in it.

There were a couple of boards with a basic food offering chalked up, and this is apparently served until 10:00 at night. There was a selection of Paninis and sandwiches, plus a few specials such as Burgers and Bangers & Mash at around the 6 mark. Barman seemed friendly enough.

Wickwar beers dominated the bar with their Autumn Ale, Cotswold Way and BOB although this is not a Wickwar pub. In addition to this there was Potholer from Cheddar. The solitary cider was Magners Golden Draught.

29 Sep 2011 10:34

Ship Inn, Portishead

A good sized pub on the outskirts of Portishead, it has a somewhat unusual interior which Quinno ably sums up by saying its like your Nans lounge, even to the extent of having a slightly musty smell.

The left hand bar is a square room with red, velvet button bench seating around the perimeter, red velvet chairs and red tie-back curtains. One wall is covered in dark wood panelling, an old patterned carpet covers the floor and there are various nautically themed pictures about along with a collection of jugs on the window sill. There is a large picture window giving glimpses of views across the channel. A rectangular room off of this looked as though it may be more geared up for dining, although we didnt investigate this. Topping off the 70s feel behind the bar were those star-shaped day-glow signs like you get in the windows of tacky shops; one stuck to the Stella Cidr bottles proudly proclaimed as seen on TV!

Another bar off to the right was more geared up for sports with a bar billiards game, giant Jenga and a plasma screen, although oddly this was showing Countrywise rather than a sports channel. There is also some limited seating outside. It was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening visit, both in terms of the number of punters and the general ambience; some background music wouldnt have gone amiss.

Beers on tap were Youngs London Gold, Butcombe, Bass and Otter Ale. Ciders were Thathers Dry and Thatchers Gold.

27 Sep 2011 22:22

The Windmill Inn, Portishead

An extensive, split level pub with fantastic views across the channel, it gives the impression of being part of a large corporate chain but is in fact privately owned which makes a pleasant change. Its had a recent makeover which besides giving it a bit of a spruce up has relocated the bar to just inside the entrance.

As you walk in the front of the pub, youre actually on an intermediate floor, with further levels up a few steps as well as down. This is the only part of the pub that really seems designed to entice drinkers, with a couple of small tables and a few sofas. The bar is surprisingly small given the size of the pub, but there is a separate food order point which perhaps gives a clue as to where its priorities lie. The flooring is here is a polished wood. Elsewhere in the pub this gives way to carpeted areas as you get in to the dining areas. Paintwork is a mixture of chocolate brown, maroon and peach and there are a few arty black and white photos dotted around as well as some friezes showing various sailing boats. Theres a good selection of seating, with many of the chairs being comfy leather affairs.

The best feature of the pub in many ways is the newly installed floor to ceiling windows covering the whole of the back wall and giving a 270 panoramic view of the channel and adjacent golf course. Beyond this are two levels of terraced decking giving further opportunities to enjoy the views in the warmer weather.

Food features prominently here, and virtually all punters were eating on a recent Tuesday evening visit. The menu is extensive and is complimented by another dozen or so dishes chalked up on to a specials board. In reality though, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Portion sizes were undoubtedly generous, but the dishes gave the impression of being mass produced, and the accompanying veg was bland and disappointing. With most of the main courses being in the 8-10 range I had hoped for a little more, but then if youve got a particularly hearty appetite you may consider it good value. Theres a meal deal if you order before 7:00pm during the week where you get a free pudding, but my Strawberry Cheesecake was clearly out of a packet and I would have felt somewhat aggrieved if I had been paying for it.

Surprisingly for somewhere so food led, there was a good choice of beers on tap with Butcombe, Butcombe Gold, Courage and Bass being the regulars and joined on this occasion by RCH Firey Liz and Festival Pride from Cheltenham. Ciders were Ashton Press, Blackthorn and Thatchers Traditional.

27 Sep 2011 22:05

The Horse and Groom, Bristol

This pub has recently re-opened after being shut for some time, which is great to see. As yet though, it closes at 7:00pm during the week (Monday Thursday) so bear this in mind if youre making a special trip. Its quite a small pub, being split in to a bar area at the front, and an even tinier snug at the rear.

Its a while since I have been in here, so Im not sure how much has changed, but its still pretty much the same as far as I recall, although the loos have clearly been retiled and tidied up. The main bar at the front has a carpeted floor with lino around the bar, some wood panelling on the lower part of the wall with plenty of photographs and paintings up above, a small fire place and a small wood panelled bar. There is a brick backdrop behind the bat that looks as though it may have been a chimney breast at one time. A solitary black beam runs across the ceiling and this was adorned with horse brasses.

Theres a couple of tables outside to watch the world go by, and a basic food menu is offered. This was chalked on boards above the bar and consisted of Lasagne, Bangers & Mash, Burgers, Ham Egg & Chips, etc, with most dishes being around the 6 mark. There was also a selection of rolls in a basket on the bar counter. Barmaid seemed friendly enough, and most drinks were 2.50 a pint on Saturdays which suited me just fine as thats when I was there.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and London Pride. There was a third pump on the bar although this was not in use. Good choice of ciders with four from Thatchers Gold, Heritage, Traditional and Cheddar Valley as well as Happy Daze from Gwynt y Ddraig and a pump for Black Rat which was apparently coming soon. All in all a great little pub and well worth a visit.

25 Sep 2011 18:33

The Charles Dickins Inn, Weston Super Mare

A small and non-descript looking boozer from the outside, it nonetheless extends back a long way and is more spacious that you might imagine. Size apart though, it is still a traditional, no frills boozer with no airs or graces.

Its a single room pub with the rear section being given over to housing a pool table. The floor is mostly carpeted with some wooden boards around the bar. Pine cladding covered the lower third of the walls and there are a number of beer barrels around including one that was a base for a supporting post. A small TV was up in the corner, but this was not in use on our visit.

There was a tray of sandwiches near the bar which I asked if I could help myself to as I was feeling rather peckish. Apparently I could, which was a nice touch. Whether they were left over from a function, or whether this is a regular feature, Im not sure. Happy Hour apparently runs from 11:00am 5:00pm which seems very generous.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap. Ciders faired slightly better with both Thatchers Gold and Blackthorn being available.

25 Sep 2011 18:19

The Imperial, Weston Super Mare

Now known as The Imperial Brasserie, the name sums it up fairly well. It was shut for some time, and has undergone an extensive refurbishment before re-opening as a Bistro/Wine Bar type establishment rather than your traditional pub.

Its split in to two rooms, with the bar counter in between. The rear room seems to be more geared up for dining, with plenty of tables and chairs all laid up for eating along with maroon paintwork and venetian blinds at the window. The front area is more drinker friendly, although the cocktail and wine list on each table hints at the type of clientele they are looking to attract. The decor here is not dissimilar to the rear, but the paintwork is more of a mocha brown with wood panelling on the lower third of the walls. A number of arty black and white photos are dotted around, there is a fireplace and a mixture of wood and leather backed chairs plus a few leather sofas. The flooring is mostly carpet apart from some wooden boards around the bar.

Clearly its had some considerable investment, and I hope that this pays off. The loos in particular are very plush, with blue down lighters below the sinks. Although it wasnt particularly busy on a recent Thursday evening visit, there were a few people eating. They apparently host jazz evenings on Wednesdays.

The solitary beer on offer was Butcombe Gold, and the only cider Aston Press.

25 Sep 2011 17:53

The Claremont, Weston Super Mare

The name of this pub infers that it may be a trendy wine bar, but in fact has the appearance of a strange cross between a somewhat dated pub and a Berni Inn from the 1970s. Its a good sized, L-shape pub with a pool table at the front, but otherwise its packed full of tables and chairs suggesting they do a lot of food.

The decor is somewhat dated, with plenty of dark wood around, and even varnished wooden boards on the ceiling which look as though theyd be more at home on the floor. The flooring is all patterned carpet, and there are red velvet drapes at each window along with a copper chimney hood above the fireplace. Fish tanks feature prominently, with two large conventional tanks, plus a couple of six foot tall vertical ones. Dual aspect windows afford good views of the channel I would imagine (it was dark when we visited). We didnt check the menu, but noted several dishes chalked up on a board.

The solitary beer on tap was Exmoor Wild Cat. There were two other pumps on the bar, one for Bass and one unlabelled, but these were not in use. Ciders faired somewhat better with Thatchers Gold, Blackthorn and Magners Golden Draught.

24 Sep 2011 12:16

The Captains Cabin, Weston Super Mare

A traditional old pub located at the far end of Weston near to Burnbeck pier. The pub is unusual looking with large, frosted glass windows filling almost the whole front wall. Although it doesnt look especially big from the outside, it extends back a long way and there is also an outside terrace at the back offering great views across the channel.

Its a long, single room pub with the front half being put to use as a sports bar with a pool table in the centre of the room, a giant Guinness Jenga game and a projector, although I couldnt see any sign of the screen. An old ships wheel converted in to a light fitting was above the pool table. There is dark wood panelling on the lower third of the walls, with a Tudor effect cream plaster and black beams above. The flooring is mostly carpet with some wood boards around the wood panelled bar which continued the nautical theme with some stencilled drawings of ships. There was a shelf up above the bar with all manner of bits and pieces.

At the rear of the pub is what might be described as a dining area, with several tables and chairs as well as menus chalked up on a board and a refrigerated display cabinet that looked to have a number of desserts in. This seemed an odd contrast with the rest of the pub. We didnt check the menu, but they were advertising steak nights on Thursdays and Cider & Cheese nights on a Friday. Clearly nobody was partaking on a recent Thursday evening visit though, as apart from one other punter who seemed to be a friend of the barmaid, we were the only people in there.

Beers on tap were Courage Best and Rucking Mole, although there was a third hand pump for Bass that appeared to have run out. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Blackthorn.

24 Sep 2011 12:06

The Major from Glengarry, Weston Super Mare

As my learned friend fat_beer_badger has said, this is now Sam's Bar & Grill. It was shut for some considerable time and has now had an extensive makeover. Its a good sized pub split in to three different areas, with the bar counter on the back wall of the centre room. There is also a terrace and decking at the front of the pub.

The central bar area has a varnished wood floor whereas there is carpet elsewhere, but other than that the decor is broadly similar. The colour scheme is a very pale shade of brown and there is painted wood panelling on the lower part of the walls. To the left is a room with a pool table and darts board. There was also a plasma on the wall, although this was not in use. A number of mirrors branded with spirit logos adorn the walls. To the right is an area that looks to me more geared up for dining, with a good array of tables and chairs. There is a large photo of an old car filling one wall, and some flock wallpaper elsewhere. There was some white tiling around the bar that was reminiscent of a public lavatory.

The food menu looked to be cheap and cheerful, and was divided in to sections such as salads, burgers, grills and classics. Most of the main courses seemed to be around the 6 mark. Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Directors and Gem. Ciders were Blackthorn, Strongbow, Thatchers Dry and Thatchers Gold.

Its good to see this place re-open again at long last, although it doesnt really have anything in the way of character thats going to draw you back. And the change of name is a little disappointing, I always thought the Major had a nice historical ring to it.

23 Sep 2011 09:46

The Yew Tree Inn, Chew Stoke

A traditional country pub located in the back streets of Chew Stoke. Not somewhere that youre going to stumble across by accident, but worth searching out if you value unspoilt, unpretentious local pubs.

Its a two room affair, with a public bar and a lounge, both on the small side. The public bar has a screed floor, red velvet seating around the perimeter and a few high bar stools, a table skittles game (a match against The Blue Flame was in progress on a recent Wednesday evening visit), a darts board and a TV up in the corner, although this was not turned on. The walls are a mixture of exposed stone and white painted wallpaper, there is an old brick fireplace and a wood panelled bar. Decor in the lounge is very similar, although this is carpeted and there are a few more tables and chairs.

Outside there was a gazebo which seemed popular with the smokers. Years ago the garden used to have rabbits in a pen which was popular with the younger clientele, but whether thats still the case Im not sure. This doesnt look to be the type of place that does much in the way of food, although there was a range of the excellent, local Pie Minister pies chalked up on a board, and these were reasonably priced at 6.50 which mash, peas and gravy. Bar staff seemed friendly enough.

The solitary been on tap was Courage Best. Ciders were better represented with Blackthorn, Thatchers Dry and Thatchers Gold.

22 Sep 2011 11:34

Crown, Bristol

A decent enough, if slightly down at heel pub tucked away in the back lanes around St. Nicholas Market, but just a short stroll from Corn Street and the centre. Its a good sized pub with the main bar being up a few steps and surprisingly big, whilst there is what might loosely be described as a lounge area at street level.

Music policy seems to lean towards various metal genres and it consequently attracts a few alternative types, but it always seems friendly enough. Decor is basic floor boards and shabby paintwork. There are a few benches outside which is a pleasant enough spot to watch the world going by.

Unfortunately I thought I had reviewed this pub before and so didnt note the beers that they had on. Ciders however were Addlestones, Strongbow and Aspalls Suffolk.

16 Sep 2011 11:47

The Bank, Bristol

A decent, traditional boozer in a small back alleyway in stark contrast to most of the other establishments nearby. Theres some outside seating which is a pleasant enough spot despite the 60s office block towering over you. There was some bunting stretched from the corner of the pub to a tree and back again to the other corner which was draped with fairy lights.

Inside its a smallish, single L-shape room with some black , rather threadbare, vinyl bench seating around the perimeter and a few chunky wooden tables. The shorter leg of the L is more open and used as a stage area for various bands. There was a solo guitarist there on a recent Thursday night which made conversation difficult and we retreated outside. Decor wise there is dark wood panelling covering most of the walls, with some flock wallpaper up above. There are a number of pictures dotted around including a couple of prints of enlarged bank notes which seems appropriate given the pubs name. The flooring is old and well worn boards and there is a fireplace at one end which although it contained a burner full of logs this was festooned with fairly lights. Maybe it gets lit in the winter.

Up above the bar was a selection of board games, and various chalk boards displayed information regarding Phobia of the Month, Universal True of the Month, Chemical Reaction of the Month and even more bizarrely Kitchen Utensil of the Month.

Some unusual beers on tap which on this occasion were Bath Ales Dark Hare, Otley, Illusion and Auburn. Good choice of ciders as well with Janets Jungle Juice, Thatchers Gold, Thatchers Dry and Cheddar Valley.

16 Sep 2011 11:41

The Market Inn, Yatton

A pleasant and traditional pub, handily located just around the corner from the railway station. Decor wise it has a bit of a 70s feel to it, with plenty of (fake?) wood panelling, even the hearth around the fire is wood panelled as well as the lower half of all the walls.

Its split in to two bars, with the cosier lounge bar being on the left. Besides the aforementioned wood panelling, there is rough plasterwork on the top half of the walls and a few local pictures. The right hand bar is a larger L-shape affair and is a little more sports orientated, with a laminate wood floor, pool table and darts board although there is still a carpeted section at the front with a row of tables and chairs in front of the window. There is also an attractive stone fireplace. Landlord seemed to be a friendly chap.

There is a surprisingly large beer garden at the back, although it is somewhat featureless and actually looks more like a big field than a garden. There is a climbing frame to keep the kids amused, and a massive apple tree, although unfortunately much of the fruit goes to waste and was all over the floor. A perfect opportunity for the pub to make their own cider I would have thought. There is also a small patio area, partly covered, and a pond.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and Otter Ale. There was also a pump for Tribute but this appeared to be off. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Stowford Press.

3 Sep 2011 11:57

The Golden Lion, Bishopston

A reasonable size, U-shape pub with a somewhat unusual appearance being complete covered outside by murals. The larger part of the pub to the left has a stage area at the rear and this was in use by a female vocalist and her band on a recent Tuesday night visit. This permeated throughout the pub which made conversation difficult, and perhaps accounted for the large number of people sat outside on the pavement benches.

Decor is fairly old and traditional, with an old parquet wood floor in the right hand bar, which also had a small fireplace, and strip wood flooring elsewhere. Paintwork is a mixture of mustard yellow and burgundy, and this gives a slightly gloomy air to the place. Live music seems to be a regular feature here and the pub lends itself well to this type of entertainment.

Beers on tap were Butcombe Gold and Gem. It looks as though Doom Bar is usually on as well, but this had run out on our visit. Ciders were well represented with Aspalls Suffolk, Thatchers Traditional, Westons Old Rosie and Stowford Press.

31 Aug 2011 21:20

Anchor, Bishopston

A large pub with adjacent car park, this can best be described as a modern sports bar. It looks as though its had a recent makeover and on some levels seems to be a plush and cosy chain type establishment but on the other hand has a plethora of plasma screens showing various sports channels.

Its a good sized pub, and the front part facing the road is perhaps the most traditional. In front of you is a large L-shape bar with an open brick backdrop. Shiny wooden flooring leads you around the bar and to a raised area at the rear where there are a couple of pool tables. Elsewhere there is carpet underfoot and a number of low leather sofas around. To me this cosiness jars somewhat with all the plasmas I could see eight just from where I was sat. At least the sound was muted and there was instead a suitable level of background music. Several quiz machines were dotted around and the grey paintwork was enhanced with multi-coloured LED uplighters.

Food offering seemed to be a typical mass produced chain menu. It was divided in to various sections such as Mains, Sandwiches, Jackets, Salads, etc., and many dishes were available as part of a 2 for 8 deal. It would appear that live music is a regular feature here, which again seems somewhat at odds with the decor. Bar staff seemed friendly enough.

Beers on tap were BBF No. 7 and Doom Bar, the latter of which I was assured was a very good example. Ciders were Strongbow, Symonds Founders Reserve and Moonshine, the latter dispensed from a polybin behind the bar.

31 Aug 2011 21:11

The John Cabot, Horfield

A good sized, street corner pub that looks as though it has had a recent makeover. From the outside its got a bit of a gastropub look about it, but thankfully thats not actually the case. Whilst there is food available, it certainly doesnt dominate and most punters were drinking rather than eating on a recent Tuesday evening visit.

The pub is split in to two halves. The left hand bar is on two levels, with a raised area up a couple of steps. There is dark wooden flooring and the ceiling paint is almost black which gives it a slightly gloomy feel. That said, there is cream paint elsewhere, and dual aspect windows so that makes up for it a little. Most of the lighting is simple downlighters, but there was also a chandelier in the rear corner and small candles on all the tables. The cubicle doors in the gents loos were painted to look like an old phone box which was an unusual touch.

A brick chimney with a wood burning stove separates the two bars. The bar to the right also has part wooden flooring, although with some slate tiles as well. This feels a little cosier with a few leather sofas clustered around a fireplace. This leads out in to a large beer garden/patio area. That patio is partly covered to keep out any inclement weather, and the garden has a colourful mural on one wall as well as a kids play area with a couple of small cars to ride around in. The only letdown was really the service, since I really dont like being ignored when Im stood waiting at a bar, especially when Im the only punter waiting and the barmaid cant fail to notice me.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Gem, Butcombe Gold and Timothy Taylor Landlord. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Thatchers Heritage, Addlestones and Stowford Press.

31 Aug 2011 11:00

The Ram, Bath

A traditional local pub situated in the Widcome area of Bath just a couple of minutes walk away from the railway station. Its a decent sized, L-shape pub with a predominance of wood the floors were reclaimed boards, there was some wood cladding on the walls, the bar was wood panelled, there were wooden church pews to sit on or chunky wood tables and chairs; a bit monotonous, but pleasant enough.

To break thinks up a bit, there was some tiling on the floor at the rear, and much of the wall was exposed stone, including some bath stone at the front. A plasma screen sat up in one corner, although this was not in use on a recent visit. It looked as though there was also a projector screen that could be lowered when required. There appeared to be a patio area at the back, although we did not check this out, and there were a couple of small tables on the pavement at the front. A few drawings of the nearby river were on the walls, along with some interesting old carved wooden company adverts for businesses such as solicitors, photographer, fishmonger, etc.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Otter Ale and Bass. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Traditional, plus Blackthorn.

28 Aug 2011 23:08

Royal Oak, Widcombe

With its plethora of sporting memorabilia and a packed crowd enjoying the football on a multitude of plasma screens, it would be easy to dismiss this as just another sports bar. But its actually much more than that it strikes me as a proper, traditional pub that just happens to have a strong sports emphasis.

Its a long, single room bar, although with areas to both the left and right that are up a couple of steps and separated by low partitions, so they have the feeling of being somewhat separate. The flooring is painted boards and the walls a shade of mustard yellow, with a burgundy red colour on the woodwork. At the rear is a covered patio area, and also a function room that had a projector screen showing the football on a recent Sunday afternoon visit. As previously mentioned, there is plenty of sporting memorabilia around with a shelf full of rugby balls, cricketing photographs and football shirts adorning the walls and various national flags around the bar.

Food is apparently offered, although the only evidence we saw on our visit was a jar of pickled eggs behind the bar. Besides the numerous screens dotted around, the commentary was also piped to additional speakers around the pub just to ensure you didnt miss out. A little over the top for my taste, but then Im not a sports fan. Tables were a mix match of different styles, round, square, high and low.

Beers on offer were Gem, Doom Bar and Butcombe Gold. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Stowford Press and Blackthorn.

28 Aug 2011 23:00

The Britiannia Inn, Weston Super Mare

Extensively renovated and renamed to The Brit Bar since my previous review, it now has a contemporary layout in the lounge bar style. Theres a good sized patio at the rear with some covered seating, which was a popular spot with the smokers even on a very wet evening. Barmaid seemed friendly enough and there was a board listing upcoming events, including a music festival over the bank holiday weekend.

Inside, the pub is a U-shape with the bar counter in between. The colour scheme is mostly white and a maroon shade, with some chocolate brown around the bar. Flooring is predominantly wood, although theres a curious patch of lino in between the two halves, and white venetian blinds hang at the windows. Stylish vertical wall lights provide illumination. The left hand half has a few high tables and chairs whilst the right hand side has low burgundy leather sofas. This side also had a pastry counter which was unusual, but I can imagine it being a type of coffee shop during the day.

Beers on tap were Gem (although this appeared to be keg?) and the rather pleasant Golden Bolt from the Box Steam Brewery which Ive not come across before outside of their own pubs. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold. There was also a good choice of bottled beer.

25 Aug 2011 09:45

The Blackboy Inn, Bristol

Yet another traditional, street corner boozer that has re-invented itself as a gastro-pub. Its a shame that every pub seems to have to go down this route in order to survive, but clearly its better than the place closing. That said, there is a small bar here that is clearly set aside for drinkers rather than diners, which is more than can be said in many so called pubs.

Its been a few years since I was last in here, but its certainly had a bit of a transformation as far as I can remember. The smaller bar at the front is the one that lends itself more to drinking, and this was a pleasant enough space with a slate tiled floor, white wood panelling on the lower half of the walls and canary yellow paint above. Various artistic drawings were on the walls, and there was a small fireplace at one end. The bar is immediately in front of you, and a small passageway at the side leads to the rear dining room.

The decor here is similar, with the addition of various wine box ends on the wall, candles on the tables and drawback curtains. All the tables here were laid up for food, and is soon filled up on a recent Friday evening visit. Overall, the food was very good and I would recommend it. There menu was short and to the point, and was complimented by a few more dishes on the specials board. A starter of Leek & Shropshire Blue tart certainly hit the spot, as did a main course of Bacon & Smoked Haddock Fishcake. Prices were not unreasonable for a venue such as this, with the main course being around the 10 mark. A very small and disappointing vegetable side dish was over priced at 2.50 however. Staff were friendly and helpful, although not as switched on as they might have been. On ordering a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, the waitress enquired is that the white one?

Beers on tap were Timothy Taylor Landlord and Otter Ale. The solitary cider was Taunton Traditional.

23 Aug 2011 09:43

The Old Duke, Bristol

An old street corner pub in the historic heart of Bristol, which is renowned for its live jazz music and has live bands playing on the small corner stage most nights. Entry is usually, if not always, free and frequently attracts big crowds. The chance of getting a seat is nil, and often even standing space is in short supply. If its nice though, theres some pleasant seating in the cobbled street outside, with the timbered Llandoger Trow opposite providing a pleasant backdrop.

The pub itself is a U-shape affair with a central bar area, and the aforementioned stage in one corner. Decor wise its quite traditional with that sandy brown paint on the ceilings that many pubs have to hide the nicotine. Various jazz posters highlight bands that have played here over the years. In spite of being packed, service at the bar was quick and efficient.

Beers on tap were Otter, Doom Bar, Gem and Courage Best. Good choice of ciders with Thatchers Cheddar Valley, Stowford Press and Thatchers Gold.

19 Aug 2011 12:22

The Navigation Inn, Lapworth

This has got the potential to be a fantastic pub with its traditional interior and picturesque canal side setting. Unfortunately though, on a recent visit it didnt quite live up to expectations. There were no real ales on and the loos are clearly in need of some TLC there was no soap in the ladies, no hot tap in the gents, and the windows were wedged open with knives as the handles had broken.

Its a pleasant looking pub from the outside with visible timbering, and the olde worlde theme continues inside. The main bar has enormous flagstones on the floor, and wood panelling on the lower part of the walls with whitewashed brickwork above. There was a fireplace at one end with an unusual curved brick chimney. A very large pike (maybe, Im not a fish expert) was mounted in a glass case above the fireplace. Adjoining this was a slightly smaller bar again with a fireplace and wood flooring. We didnt try the food on this occasion, but there was a decent looking menu chalked up on a board.

At the rear is what looks like a restaurant area, although this wasnt in use on our visit, which seemed odd as it was a Sunday lunchtime. The main draw for many people will be the large canal side garden at the rear of the pub which also has attractive flower boarders. The canal runs immediately next to the pub, so offers a great view of the narrow boats going past, and if youre on a boat yourself there is a convenient gate leading directly in to the garden. There is also a patio area with an unusual straw roof covering.

Despite four hand pumps on the bar, unfortunately none of these were in use. The chalkboard listed Holdens and Timothy Taylor Landlord, but it would seem that both of these had run out (along with the San Miguel, which Mrs B. Was none too pleased about). To make matters worse, the only cider on offer was Strongbow.

15 Aug 2011 10:04

Hole in the Wall, Bristol

A good sized pub at the edge of Queens Square, with good views across to Redcliffe Church. Its been re-modelled many times over the years, and now has a slightly chain feel to it, but its a pleasant enough place even if it hasnt got much in the way of genuine character.

The main bar area has wood laminate flooring, a couple of sofas and some unusual tables made out of old beer barrels with a copper top. To the left was another bar, this one with slate flooring and a stone fireplace. To the right, a narrow carpeted room runs along the front of the pub with a sofa at the far end, and behind this, a larger open room more geared up for dining. The decor was the usual shade of gastropub green paint, and there were some exposed stone walls. Upstairs is more seating and another bar, although this had the feel more of a restaurant and was apparently not in use on a recent Monday night visit. A table by the large windows gives good views of the river and church. There also a decent amount of outside seating, although you get the feeling of being stuck in the middle of a traffic island with cars whizzing around in all directions.

Beers on tap were Fullers Summer Ale, Butcombe and 6X. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk, Strongbow and (fortunately) Ashton Press. A black board listed the coming soon beers.

11 Aug 2011 11:00

The George Inn, Abbots Leigh

This used to be a traditional country pub on the main A369 through Abbots Leigh. Unfortunately it closed a year or two back and was empty for a while. Now its reinvented itself, like so many other places, as a gastro-pub. Whilst one does inevitably have misgivings about all our country inns turning in to restaurants, if thats what it takes to keep it open, then thats obviously better than nothing.

On arriving at the small bar, we were immediately asked if we were dining. We were as it happens, so werent even allowed to order drinks at the bar, but got shuffled off to a table where a waitress took our drinks orders. Thats not necessarily a negative thing, its just the way it is. The pub is split in to two rooms, with a low partition with etched glass above separating the two. The larger room to the left is very much geared up for dining, with all tables laid up and several reserved. The smaller room to the right had half a dozen or so tables and chairs and could be used as a drinking area, but was empty on our visit. The decor is the same throughout, with polished wooden flooring, a mixture of cream and brown paintwork, an old stone fireplace at each end, and a few artistic photos of the local area on the walls.

The food was actually very decent, and I would highly recommend it if thats your thing. OK, its certainly not your traditional pub grub (although there was a curry and faggots on the menu), but what we had we thoroughly enjoyed and it seemed good value for the quality of the food served. Starters were typically around the 6 mark, and mains 10 - 12 or so. Complimentary bread was served before our starters, which seems a sure sign of a restaurant rather than a pub. Staff were helpful and efficient, although perhaps slightly impersonal.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Butcombe, Gem and Timothy Taylor Landlord. Ciders were Stowford Press and Thatchers Gold.

This is a tricky one to mark. For food, its at least 8/10 as long as youre not expecting pub grub. A traditional pub its not though, in spite of the decent range of beers. But then that business model clearly didnt work or it wouldnt have closed. I wish them success and hope they do well. I will certainly be returning to sample more of the menu, but perhaps not pop in for a pint.

11 Aug 2011 10:24

The Failand Inn, Failand

A large pub on the main road through Failand that looks as though it has probably been extended at both ends at some point. This has resulted in a remarkably long pub, essentially split in to two bar areas.

On entering through the main door, you can turn right in to what appears to be an area more geared up for dining. We didnt investigate this, but it seems to extend down through the original part of the pub and on in to a lighter area at the end with high ceilings and a large glass frontage. Perhaps this was some sort of barn at one point. To the left of the entrance door is a smaller, more traditional bar although this again leads on in to a larger room where many punters were dining. Leaded windows looked out on to a small outside patio area.

First impressions were not good as the young barman completely ignored us for a couple of minutes whilst he was pouring drinks for somebody in the restaurant. This is bad enough when theres a whole bar full of punters waiting to be served, but when its just us and were stood directly opposite him, theres really no excuse. The pub itself has a traditional country inn decor with red patterned carpet on the floor, red velvet cushions on the wooden seats, red velvet drape curtains and even red wallpaper on the lower third of the walls below a wooden rail. Besides this there were plenty of ornaments around the place such as old jugs hanging from the beams and numerous plates over the walls. It doesnt feel nearly as cosy as some pubs though perhaps its a little tired and dated, and the relatively high ceilings probably dont help.

The food offering seemed popular, although we didnt try it ourselves, or inspect the menu. There was a specials board, but this was listing fairly traditional food such as baked salmon, steaks, curry and roast chicken, mostly at around the 9/10 mark. There were also steak and curry nights advertised.

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Butcombe Blond, Doom Bar and Courage Best. The solitary cider was Ashton Press.

11 Aug 2011 10:04

The Windsor Castle, Weston Super Mare

A decent and traditional pub located on the outskirts of Weston, it makes a welcome change from all the rather trashy bars in the centre.

Its a good sized pub, with a long, single bar at the front. To the left is a pool table, with a small LCD TV on the wall. Opposite the bar there are a couple of fruit machines and a larger plasma, and in the right hand corner is a dart board. Decor consists of a dark green painted wallpaper on the lower half of the walls, with unpainted wallpaper above. The ceiling is that curious sandy colour you get in pubs, presumably designed to hide the nicotine stains. Flooring was mostly carpet, with a few tiles around the wood panelled bar.

At the rear was a far more contemporary area that looked to be more geared up for dining, with freshly painted maroon walls, a whitewashed ceiling and large doors opening out on to the patio. There looked to be further seating upstairs, although I did not investigate this. There was an attractive beer garden at the back which was a very pleasant spot on a recent sunny afternoon.

Beers on tap were 6X, Butcombe and Doom Bar. Ciders were Blackthorn, Bulmers and Thatchers Gold.

31 Jul 2011 20:33

The Cabot Hotel, Weston Super Mare

A cavernous pub on four different levels and although in many ways it has the identikit feel of any other JDW pub, in many ways theyve made a good job of trying to give a bit of a local feel to the place, and I actually felt it had a lot more character than many of the companys pubs.

The colour scheme is a mixture of cream, maroon and battleship grey which perhaps sounds slightly depressing but works well enough. There is numerous outside seating including a few benches along the front on the pavement, a small balcony to the left, and a larger terrace on the right which is a pleasant spot overlooking the Winter Gardens. There are various black and white pictures of old Weston on the walls, and there is various other seaside memorabilia such as an old fashioned bathing costume in a display case and a swimming pool depth marker (4, 46, 5, etc.) on the wall. I particularly liked the old swimming pool warning signs, No Running, No Bombing, No Petting, etc. In addition to this there was a small area done up to look like a ships cabin, with floor to ceiling wood panelling and views through the windows showing surfers on the beach (this was quite effective presumably some type of projection TV, but a nice touch). Beyond this was an area more like a hotel dining room, with an unusual bird cage surrounding one set of tables.

Unusually for a Wetherspoons, there is an area at the back of a top floor that doubles as a dance floor and an adjacent DJ booth along with some magic mirrors like you might get at a funfair. Apparently there is a regular house DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, and guest DJs on Thursdays. Staff were friendly enough, but could do with being a bit more switched on. One was clearly more interested in emptying the dishwasher than serving customers, but Ill give them the benefit of the doubt since theyve only been open a few days, and a manager soon put him right.

Good choice of beers on tap Cairngorm Trade Winds, Abbot Ale, GWB Maiden Voyage, Ruddles County, Vale Brewery Gravitas, Bishops Finger, GWB Summer Nights and Butcombe Blond. Ciders were Strongbow and Thatchers Gold.

31 Jul 2011 20:20

Sublime, Bristol

For many years this was known as The Bunch of Grapes. Since then it has had various incarnations including Dr. Thirstys Surgery and Indigo before ending up as Sublime. It seems to be closed as often as its open, and even in its current guise I have been past on several evenings and its all been shuttered up. Eventually though I found it open on a Saturday afternoon, and ventured in.

The left hand bar, which is also where the bar counter is, is a smallish, square dual aspect room, with some large, arched windows to the left. Both bars have rough wooden flooring and an old fireplace, with the larger bar on the right having a few flagstones at the front. This bar stretches back further, and here the seating is mostly low leather sofas. The paintwork is a cream with chocolate brown detailing to match the sofas, and there are a couple of wooden pillars for support. There is a further room upstairs, although this appears to be work in progress at the moment.

The solitary beer on offer was Doom Bar, although unfortunately even this had run out on a recent visit. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Stowford Press.

31 Jul 2011 19:55

The Little Harp Inn, Clevedon

Recently re-opened after an extensive refurbishment, this is a good sized pub in a great position, conveniently located about half way along the sea front. Theres a fair bit of outside seating on the brick-laid patio to make the most of the views across the channel, with a mixture of wooden seats, stools attached to the tables and that wicker furniture that seems to be popular in trendy pubs these days.

Inside its split in to several different areas, with the main bar area being in the centre of the pub and having a flagstone effect floor. Towards the front is a wood floored area that has an interesting bench seat apparently made out of wine boxes. The paintwork is that khaki shade of green that you get in most pub renovations these days, with rough white plasterwork elsewhere. The bulk of the pub is given over to the restaurant area though, and it is this that affords the best views with a conservatory on two sides. This is clearly not for drinkers due to a Please wait here to be seated sign as you enter this part of the pub. Elsewhere are two smaller rooms, one on a mezzanine level and one down a few steps below it which almost have the feel of a private dining room.

There was an extensive pub grub menu with most of the dishes being around the 8 mark, although we didnt sample the food on this occasion. There was also a small specials board, although to be honest the dishes didnt look that special Chilli Con Carne, Plaice & Chips and Chicken Balti strike me as run of the mill pub fare.

Beers on tap were all from the Greene King stable, with their IPA, Abbott Ale and Old Speckled Hen. Ciders were Blackthorn and Stowford Press.

26 Jul 2011 17:37

Owain Glyndwr, Cardiff

A street corner pub in the main shopping area, that capitalises on its location is a pedestrianised street with a decent amount of outside seating. Although traditional looking from the outside, its got a somewhat more contemporary interior than might be expected.

Its essentially a single room bar, but divided in to different sections with low level partitions and a couple of steps here and there. Theres wood flooring and the paintwork is mostly maroon, although there is also some heavy flock wallpaper, and one small corner feels almost like a hotel lounge with its floor to ceiling wood panelling and a large chandelier. Elsewhere recessed spots sit in the plain white ceiling, which seems an odd combination. Theres a large curved corner bar with wood panelling, and blue lighting behind. A couple of plasmas were tuned to a sports channel.

There was an extensive pub grub menu, divided in to several sections such as Sandwiches & Ciabattas, Pub Favourites, Burgers & Grills, etc. Most of the mains were priced around the 6/7 mark, but we didnt sample anything so cannot comment on the quality.

An A-board outside advertised a Great selection of cask ales but this should be perhaps qualified with the fact that they all come from the same brewery (Felinfoel). These were Best, Celtic Pride and Double Dragon. Ciders were Gwynt y Ddraig Farmhouse Scrumpy, Strongbow and Magners Golden.

26 Jul 2011 17:14

Prince Of Wales, Cardiff

A large Wetherspoons pub, handily situated for the shopping, Millennium stadium and the train station. The building was a theatre in a former life, and many of the previous architectural features have been kept in place, which makes for a somewhat more interesting building than many other JDW pubs.

The decor has the is the usual corporate, bland feel that you get in any other mass produced pub, but reminders of the theatre include the stalls, large red velvet drapes, some reproduction stonework and pillars, some private boxes on each side and even a couple of lighting rigs. Theres a great view down from the upper balconies to the lower level of the pub and there are some large arched windows at the front which is a good spot and look down on the hustle and bustle outside.

Beers on this occasion were Brains SA, Ruddles County, Abbot Ale, Deuchars IPA and Jennings Sneck Lifter. Good choice of ciders on this occasion, no doubt due to the cider festival that they have on Strongbow, Thatchers Gold, Addlestones, Mr Whitheads Festival cider, Green Valley Strong cider, Sandford Orchards Devon Scrumpy and Westons Cider Twist Raspberry.

26 Jul 2011 16:55

Terra Nova, Cardiff

A cavernous pub right on the waterfront in Cardiff Bay that seems to go on for ever. Every time you think youve finished exploring, there is yet another room further on again.

Its split over two levels, and in addition to this there is outside seating on some decking at ground level, and two balconies offering great views across the bay. The downstairs bar has a part tiled, part wooden floor and various painted arches that seem intended to remind you of a castle. Two sweeping wooden staircases lead to the wood floored upper bar, and here the castle theme continues with some fake stonework. Further stairs lead to a crows nest which looks to be a reasonably decent seating area with an attractive painted ceiling. Various nautical memorabilia is scattered around. Unusually, a Costa coffee is attached to the pub, and is effectively another room off of it.

There was a decent enough pub grub menu at reasonable prices. This was divided in to sections such as Light Bites, Burgers, Favourites, etc. A Ham, Egg & Chips was decent enough value at 6.95, especially bearing in mind the location, and came with a thick wedge of ham and a couple of eggs. Service at the bar was a bit slow, but other than that Ive got no complaints.

Beers on tap were all from the Brains stable, with their Bitter, Dark, SA and SA Gold. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

25 Jul 2011 21:36

The Fox and Badger, Wellow

A fantastic, unspoilt country pub in the middle of an attractive village. Clientele seems to be pretty much all locals who knew each other, but this is only to be expected in such an out of the way location, and they all seemed friendly enough.

Its a single room, U-shape bar with old wooden boards on the floor, some painted plasterwork and exposed stone walls elsewhere, plenty of horse brasses, plates, etc., and several black and white pictures of the pub and village from years ago. There was a big stone fireplace at one end, a wood panelled bar and several specimens of stuffed birds and animal heads.

We didnt try the food on this occasion, but there was a reasonable looking specials list chalked up on a board. On a recent Friday evening visit, the main attraction was what I can only describe as a mad organ player. Even the friendly landlady warned us about him before we went in! He was an old guy, playing tunes on an old electronic organ, extremely badly and out of tune, and with various different instruments selected. The punters all seemed to enjoy trying to guess what he was playing though, and singing along once they had worked it out. All in all, a great atmosphere and clearly the social hub of the village.

Beers on tap were London Pride, Butcombe, Doom Bar and Titania Golden Ale, which Ive not come across before. Ciders were also well represented with Blackthorn, Thatchers Gold and Cheddar Valley.

24 Jul 2011 17:02

The Wheatsheaf, Combe Hay

An attractive stone built pub in an idyllic country setting. Sitting on the terrace at the front of the pub, there is not another building to be seen, just rolling fields and trees. Certainly well worth stopping for a pint on a sunny afternoon. There is also further seating on two garden terraces below the patio.

Once inside though, you find that its very much a gastro-pub with limited seating for those wanting just a pint. There were a couple of stools at the bar, and a small snug at the front with two leather sofas. That aside, the place is very much geared up for diners and I suspect youd be unwelcome sitting at any of the tables without eating. First impressions of the service were not good I was stood at the bar for several minutes without any acknowledgement from the two barmaids. This, despite the fact that there was only one other punter at the bar - the second barmaid was presumably getting drinks for somebody at a table. After that things looked up though, and they were all helpful enough. The landlord in particular seemed friendly, and was interested in what we thought at the end of the evening. There was also a friendly dog wandering around, and whilst this might be fine in a pub, it seemed slightly less appropriate in what is effectively a restaurant, especially when he rests his head on your knee hoping for some titbits.

The main bar has striped pine flooring and whitewashed stone walls and white painted roof beams. A number of tables are arranged in front of the bar, on inlaid matting. A small dining room is off to the left as you come in, and a larger one round to the right. This had parquet wooden flooring, some large black wooden beams, aqua blue plasterwork, an unusual upright floor standing clock, a large collection of wooden bird houses in the window and some photographic art on the walls, much of it for sale. The harsh acoustics made it somewhat noisy as it started to fill up. The small snug at the front with the sofas had a flagstone floor and a large fireplace that had a few little candles at this time of the year, but plenty of logs were stacked up ready for the winter.

Food was very much of the gastro variety as expected, with starters being anything up to a tenner and mains in the 15 - 20 range. On top of this a small pot of greens was another 2.95. Overall the food was decent enough, but Ive had better for less. Beers on tap were Butcombe and Butcombe Blond. Good choice of ciders though with Ashton Press, Cheddar Valley and the local Honeys Midford Cider served straight from a barrel at the end of the bar.

A tricky one to mark this. Location would be 10/10, food maybe 7/10 but as a proper pub only about 4/10.

24 Jul 2011 16:50

The White Hart Inn, Bristol

This has far more character than most of the identikit bars nearby, but is now looking a little tired in places. Its got some outside seating which is rare in these parts and is very convenient for the bus station.

Inside its a traditional bar with wood boards on the floor, a wood panelled bar, some wood cladding on the walls and rough white plasterwork above. Elsewhere the colour scheme is a mixture of red and white and there are a few black wooden beams on the ceiling, although these appear decorative rather than structural. There are further bar areas up a few steps to the left, and a couple of leather sofas and a plasma at one end.

Beers on offer were Abbott Ale and Old Speckled Hen, although there were a further two pumps that appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Blackthorn.

22 Jul 2011 11:48

The Bell, Bristol

A decent enough Butcombe pub, being unusual for them in an inner city location rather than a country one.

Its divided in to two, with the larger bar on the left, and a slightly smaller narrow bar to the right. The larger bar has more atmosphere, but was full on a recent Thursday evening visit so we headed for the smaller one. This has reclaimed boards on the floor, some large speakers a small LCD TV in the corner (although this was not in use) and a dart board. Wood cladding covered the lower half of the walls with painted wallpaper above. It looked rather messy behind the bar, with bags, paperwork, till rolls and other stuff being in full view rather than just a range of drinks. There is apparently a garden at the rear, although we did not investigate this.

Beers on offer were predominantly from Butcombe as you would expect, with their Bitter, Gold and Blond. The solitary guest was BBF Sunrise. Ciders were Ashton Press and Ashton Still.

22 Jul 2011 11:40

Mackies Bar, Bristol

Now called The Bank, this is a large, airy pub with high ceilings and large windows facing out to the road. Housed, as its name suggests, in a former bank, there is still a safe mounted on the floor in a nod to its former life.

The colour scheme is very monotone with the walls painted either black or white, and dark wooden flooring. On one wall is a black and white montage of old music posters, and music seems to feature prominently here with a small stage area and a poster advertising tonights band that were apparently going to be on until 2:00am.

The food option seemed to mostly resolve around pizzas, with a dozen or so being available and what was coming out looked pretty good. There were a few other dishes available, but not an extensive choice. There was however a decent looking brunch menu.

The solitary beer on tap was Bath Ales Gem, although there was another pump that appeared to have run out. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Westons Old Rosie.

22 Jul 2011 11:09

The Canteen, Bristol

A large, non-descript sort of pub in what appears to be the ground floor of an office block. Unusually, there is no sign of the pub name from outside. The only clue as to the venue name is on the stencilled spray paint on the back of all the plastic chairs, presumably in an attempt to prevent them from being stolen. It was full to capacity on a recent Thursday evening visit, and quite noisy due to the harsh acoustics.

Its all one large, open space with the bar counter running most of the length of the back wall and a semi-open kitchen to the right. At the left hand end is a small stage area, and a band looked to be in the process of setting up. Its got a rather industrial feel to it with black floor, white walls and visible cable trays on the ceiling. The only sign of any cosiness is a small area in the front right corner which has a couple of old leather sofas, some artwork on the walls, a piano and several rows of bookshelves. The front of the pub is almost entirely glass, and this leads out on to a patio area with several tables and chairs.

Beers on tap were Glastonburys Golden Chalice, Baths seasonal Summer Hare, Butcombe Blond and Sunrise and No. 7 from Bristol Beer Factory. Ciders were Ashton Press, Ashton Still, Bounders and Gaymers Pear.

22 Jul 2011 10:55

The Wheatsheaf, Corston

A traditional stone built pub on a country road a couple of miles outside Bath. Its certainly changed a bit since I was last in here, but to be fair that was a good few years ago.

There are two bars, one either side of the front door, as well as a decent sized beer garden adjacent to the car park. To the left is a smallish room with three or four wooden tables, exposed stone walls and an old fireplace. The bar to the right is somewhat bigger, and has plastered walls in two-tone paint, cream and gastro-pub brown. The floors are all reclaimed boards, and the upright, plain wooden chairs remind me of dining chairs which perhaps give it the impression of a pub more geared up for food. However, Im not sure this is actually the case; although most of the tables had menus on, they were not laid for food in any other way, and there were a few punters in there who were just having a drink. There was a small LCD TV in one corner, but this was not on when we visited. Another old fireplace was at the back of the room, and a couple of pictures adorned the walls along with a stuffed bird of some sort in a glass case. The tables all had a vase of fresh carnations, and there were even some twigs in a vase. 

The menu looked to be a decent enough pub grub affair, with a short selection of dishes such as pie of the day, scampi & chips, etc. and whilst we didnt eat, and thus cant comment in too much detail, first impressions were that it was perhaps a bit pricey most of the dishes were around the 10 mark - even the Ham, Egg & Chips was 10.50. There were also a couple of chalkboards on the wall listing a few specials and the pudding selection.

The solitary beer on offer was Doom Bar, although there were another three pumps on the bar that appeared to have run out these were Best, Deuchars IPA and Butcombe. The ciders were Blackthorn and Taunton Traditional.

20 Jul 2011 22:37

Telfords Warehouse, Chester

A large barn like conversion of a former warehouse in a pleasant spot next to the canal. Its a good sized pub over three floors, with a different feel to each level.

The ground floor is the biggest area with large floor to ceiling windows completely covering one wall and offering views down the canal. There is also some outside seating here. The walls are all exposed brick, big rafters in the open vaulted ceiling and in a nod to its industrial past, a large crane in the centre of the room. The upstairs area is a little cosier and more geared up for dining, while the lowest level is through some brick arches and has low ceilings, perhaps a little more rough and ready, and is split in to two. One half has a table football game and a few leather sofas, and the other side is open with a stage at one end. Bands feature prominently here with something on most weekend nights. Forthcoming acts were chalked up on a board above the bar.

Good choice of beers on tap with Thwaites Original and IPA, Weetwood Cheshire Cat, Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted and the local (for me, that is) RCH East Street Cream. Ciders were Kingston Press and a Stowford Press Export, which Ive not seen before.

17 Jul 2011 16:47

Red Lion, Chester

This is now a Nicholsons pub, although Im not sure how long that has been the case. It looks as though it may have been recently renovated, and the friendly barman said that they were expanding rapidly northwards. Its certainly the first one I have come across outside of London.

The flooring in the main part of the bar is polished wood, with some tiling around the bar. The pub has a few wooden partitions to break up the space a little, and these are painted a khaki green colour. The paintwork is a green/brown shade and there are various black and white photos on the wall. To the rear is a carpeted restaurant area. There was a solitary plasma stuck up in a corner, but this was off on a recent Friday night visit.

Food was probably the standard Nicholsons fayre, but was decent enough, if perhaps a tad on the expensive side. We enjoyed our Salmon en croute and Cod wrapped in Parma Ham. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful, especially the young fair haired barman who remembered from a casual conversation when ordering food, who was having each dish when he bought it to the table.

Beers on tap were Brew Dog Alice Potter, Salopian Darwins Origin, Brains Young Reverend and Oakleaf Brewerys Hole Hearted. There were a further three pump handles on the bar, but these were not in use. Ciders were Strongbow and Kingston Press.

17 Jul 2011 16:36

The Falcon, Chester

Originally a 13th century building, it apparently fell in to disrepair and was renovated by the Samuel Smiths Brewery among others back in the 70s. Theyve done a good job and this is now a decent pub just on the edge of one of the main shopping areas.

The main bar feels suitably olde worlde with a burnt cream colour scheme, polished wood floor, plenty of thick beams on the ceiling, stone support pillars, leaded windows and an old fireplace. The other bar is similar decor and has a bigger fireplace with a massive wooden lintel across it. There is also a carpeted area off of this.

Being a Samuel Smiths pub, as usual the only cask beer was their own Old Brewery Bitter. The solitary cider was their Cider Reserve. Service was rather slow on a recent busy lunchtime, with just one barmaid trying to serve all the punters at both bars.

15 Jul 2011 19:25

The Albion Inn, Chester

A back street boozer just a couple of minutes walk from one of the main strips, but due to its location on the corner of a row of terraced houses and some old alms houses it feels a million miles away from the noisy bars nearby. Its not obviously a pub from the outside, with no pub sign other than the name etched in to the window glass.

There are three rooms inside the largest on the left might be described as a lounge, and there is a small snug to the right. Behind this, a slightly larger room. Both the lounge and the snug have pianos, which made a change from the omnipresent plasma. The decor in the lounge gives it quite a busy feel, with red patterned carpet and green leafy wallpaper. There was some bench seating around the perimeter and plenty of small bar tables and stools plus a couple of old standard lamps. On the wall were numerous old product signs, such as those for Colmans Starch, Wills Star Cigarettes, Frys Chocolate and Rowntrees Chocolates and Pastilles. There were even a couple of illuminated Shell signs above the bar. In the snug I spotted a couple of vinyl records in a glass case.

There looked to be a decent selection of food chalked up on a board, although we didnt sample it ourselves. The beers on tap were Mardue Brewerys Radgie Gadgie and Black Sheep. The solitary cider was Scrumpy Jack.

15 Jul 2011 00:08

The Holy Loch Inn, Sandbank

A decent sized, two room pub on the main road a couple of miles outside Dunoon.

The two bars share similar decor, with green patterned carpet, small wooden beams on the ceiling, rather garish orange painted walls, a few booths around the perimeter with button back bench seating and plenty of tables and chairs. The bar on the left had a small TV up on a shelf although this was not on, a decent looking stone built fireplace and chimney and there were several locals sat up on stools at the bar. The bar on the right was set up for dining, with all tables being laid up for food. This had a few local photos on the wall and some watercolour artwork for sale, although this seemed expensive at 150 and upwards. A small brick fireplace at one end had a stags head mounted on the wall above and there were numerous strings of (unlit) fairly lights stretched across the ceiling. Barmaid was pleasant and helpful, albeit a little rushed as she seemed to be the only member of staff on, trying to cover the restaurant as well as serve behind the bar.

Food choice was a little strange, shall we say. Nothing wrong with it, but having a heading Curries that just listed Beef, Chicken or Prawn with no indication as to what they were was unusual. Similarly a section headed Meats listed Lasagne, Steak Pie and Haggis. Most of the main courses were around the 9 mark, although I had a very pleasant omelette and chips for a little over a fiver.

Beer choice was disappointing, with no real ales on, just keg Ember 80/ and Belhaven Best. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

14 Jul 2011 19:32

The Plockton Hotel, Plockton

In spite of its name and the fact that accommodation is also on offer here, this nonetheless manages to provide a surprisingly pubby feel. Its an unusual looking building built out of shiny black brick, and there is a small beer garden opposite with great views over the water.

Inside there is further exposed black brickwork, and wood cladding elsewhere. The wood cladding extends to the ceiling in the front half of the bar. Tartan carpet graces the floor, there is a small wood burning stove, and plenty of brassware around, plus rather unusually, several coins stuck to the wall. There is red leather button back bench seating around the perimiter, with adjacent tables and chairs. It is very food orientated however, and on a recent Monday night visit, every single table was reserved. The only place to sit for a drink was at one of the bar stools or in the garden.

Beers on tap were Hebrideans Clansman Ale and Cairngorms Trade Winds. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. There was also a Malt of the Month advertised.

11 Jul 2011 22:52

Argyll Hotel, Ullapool

Although part of a hotel, this is very much a pub with its own identity. Theres a few tables stretched along the front, and an interior that whilst slightly reminiscent of a hotel drawing room with its extensive wood panelling, still seems reasonably pubby.

Inside its a single roomed, T-shape bar, which in spite of the aforementioned panelling is let down by a rough artex ceiling, sliding doors in to the main bar area and tacky fairly lights through the archway to the upright leg of the T. There is plenty of bench seating around the perimeter, lots of squashed in tables and a tartan carpet and an exposed stone wall at the far end. Opposite the bar counter are a couple of fruit machines.

Presumably as its part of a hotel there is a decent food menu, but by the time we arrived the only dishes available were mass produced pizzas that they do right up until closing time. There seems to be some form of entertainment on most nights during the week, with regular live music as well as quiz and poker nights. Barman seemed a bit grumpy.

Beers on tap were Sail Mhor, Edinburgh Gold and Ringwoods Old Thumper. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately (although I later spotted a board listing Westons Traditional and Old Rosie this was on the floor next to the fireplace. Whether it was still current Im not sure as there was no sign of these on the bar, but if so it would have been a good idea to place it somewhere a little more prominent).

9 Jul 2011 23:28

The Seaforth, Ullapool

A popular street corner pub opposite the terminal. Although not a virtual restaurant like many pubs, it is clear that food dominates with all tables being laid up with menus and cruet, even very low ones which personally I would not want to have eaten at. Signs outside advertised the various accolades that the pub has received, such as Seafood Pub of the Year.

Outside theres a decent semi-covered seating area, with great views across the loch. Inside there are dual aspect windows to make the most of the outlook, reclaimed wooden flooring, a wood panelled bar and plenty of seating. There were two small TVs mounted up in the corner and a larger plasma at one end although the sound was off they were displaying subtitles so you could easily follow the Saturday night quiz show. Im not entirely convinced by this seemingly Scottish obsession with watching TV in every pub. At the rear was a brick built fire place with a large wood burning stove.

The menu offered a good choice of pub grub dishes, with various sections such as jacket potatoes, burgers, etc. and a decent selection of tapas dishes as well as a Shellfish Platter (for two) at 75! A specials board listed a further eight fish dishes.

The only real ale on tap was An Tealloch Ale, although there was keg stuff from Tennants and Belhaven. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately. There were however getting on for a hundred different whiskies, if thats your thing.

9 Jul 2011 23:14

The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool

On first impressions this isnt obviously a pub as there is no pub sign outside, it just looks like a couple of whitewashed cottages. Inside the walls too are whitewashed stonework, giving the impression that it was perhaps an outside space at one time which has been converted.

The flooring is screed and there is unusual wood cladding on the ceiling. There is a free standing wood burning stove off to one side, and unusually, a book shop off to the right. At the back is a small conservatory area. There are a few seats out the front which is a pleasant enough spot, with good views of the mountains and glimpses of the loch. Stone troughs built in to the front walls are filled with plants providing a decent splash of colour.

The menu is more snack like, perhaps like youd expect in a cafe rather than a pub. Its also only served up until 6:00pm. Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, just keg Belhaven. There was no draught cider available either.

9 Jul 2011 18:58

The Broom Bar, Ullapool

A strange pub this. From the outside it looks more like a fairly modern village hall rather than your traditional boozer, although it does have etched glass windows saying Beers and such like. It advertises itself as being family run, and although its a little out of town off the tourist trail, we thought wed give it a go.

Inside its a little more pubby, but its not really to my taste. The flooring is all brown tiles and all the tables were laid up with menus and place mats, even though they had stopped doing food a couple of hours previously. There was a TV up in one corner showing Sky News, and a darts board at the rear of the pub. It seems to be very much for locals rather than the tourists, and they were all sat on stools around the bar.

The walls have wood cladding lower down, with maroon wallpaper above. The bar counter is wood panelled, and there is extensive wood panelling both behind it and on the ceiling above. There are a few black and white photos on the wall, along with what I presume is local artwork. There was some sports memorabilia to the right.

No real ales on tap unfortunately, just keg stuff such as McEwans and Belhaven. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

8 Jul 2011 23:14

The Ferry Boat Inn, Ullapool

From the outside this looks to be a traditional waterfront tavern, but unfortunately inside it doesnt live up to these high expectations. The right hand bar seems to be very much a restaurant complete with open kitchen, whilst the left has more of a cafe/bar feel to it with its chunky pine tables and light wooden flooring.

It looks as though there may be some renovation work underway at one end theres a modern hearth with grey slate tiles behind, fresh maroon paintwork and recessed shelving in the wall that was storing logs for the wood burning stove. Elsewhere theres a patchy ceiling that looks to be work in progress, and rough plasterwork. Theres a relatively small corner bar at one end, and the window seats offer great views across the loch.

The food menu was fairly succinct, although didnt offer much in the way of pub grub dishes. Most of the mains were around the 11 mark, going up to as much as 21 for the lobster. There was also a small specials board that added another two or three choices. Portion sizes were very generous however.

Beers on tap were Caledonian 80, Deuchars IPA and Crofters Pale Ale. Cider choice was disappointing with just Strongbow and Magners.

8 Jul 2011 23:02

The Arch Inn, Ullapool

A whitewashed, contemporary looking pub down a dead end road overlooking the loch. Inside its a single room affair, with the front half being very much reserved for diners not only were all tables laid up for food, but there was a please wait here to be seated sign as you entered.

The rear half has in some ways a village club feel to it with its brown/orange tiled floor and U-shaped seating pods around the perimeter with black leatherette bench seating. The back part of this half is given over to various sports, such as a pool table and darts. There is also a plasma on the wall and a couple of fruit machines.

The walls are white plasterwork, and there are various black and white photos. The highlight of the pub, on a nice day at least, is the outside benches just over the road that have a fantastic view over the loch to the mountains at the far end. There are separate pub grub and restaurant menus available.

The only real ale on tap was the local Suilven, and the solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

8 Jul 2011 22:50

The Blackfriars, Inverness

A good size, traditional pub located just off the main shopping street. Its a single room, U-shape bar, with the left hand side geared up for bands, open mic nights, etc. with speakers and an open area in front.

The flooring is rough wood, and there is wood panelling to waist height around the walls. Theres a plethora of beer mats on the wall, presumably showcasing beers that have been served up here in the past. The wood panelled bar counter is at the back on the right. Adjacent to this is a fruit machine and a small fireplace with a wood burning stove. A solitary plasma was showing Sky News, but this was not obtrusive.

Music seems to feature quite prominently, with regular Saturday night band slots. These forthcoming acts were all detailed in the front of the menu which was unusual. Thursdays are also regular music nights, and often feature traditional accordions and bagpipes. This was the case on our visit, and the two guys on were very good, although they could do with improving their geographical knowledge if theyre going to converse with the audience (they thought Bristol was near East Anglia!).

There was a short pub grub menu, which was reasonable value with most of the mains being around the 7/8 mark. There was also a small specials board. We both had the haggis, and this was a decent, enjoyable dish, and very generous portions.

Good choice of beers on tap with Thrappledouser, Deeside Pale Ale No. 3, Orkney Raven, Crofters Pale Ale and Caledonians Deuchars IPA and Nectar. These were all listed on a board, along with a coming soon listing. Ciders were Westons 1st Quality and Strongbow.

7 Jul 2011 23:19

The Phoenix Inn / Morgans Bar, Inverness

A traditional old boozer that has successfully resisted any pretentious makeovers and has probably changed little in decades. Its a single room bar with a large oval bar counter in the middle. Around the foot of the bar runs what appears to be a drainage channel which is an unusual feature, but may just be decoration I suppose.

There was wood cladding on the lower half of the walls, and rough plasterwork above. To the right were some windows just below the ceiling adjacent to a corridor running alongside. This also led in to the restaurant next door which is presumably related to the pub, although appeared to be a separate entity. There was a TV up in the corner showing a sports channel, and a fruit machine opposite the bar. There did not appear to be any food offering in the pub itself, other than chip butties for a pound!

Excellent choice of ales on tap, which seems to be something of a rarity in these parts. These were also available in third pint sizes, and two pint takeaway versions. There were six pumps on the bar although one appeared to have run out the remainder were Summer Glow, Ginger Jock, Deesides Macbeth and Talorcan and Orkneys Red MacGregor. Ciders were Strongbow and Symonds Founders Reserve.

6 Jul 2011 23:14

Glenalbyn Bar, Inverness

From the outside this looks to be a great traditional pub, and I was expecting a fine selection of cask ales. Unfortunately inside doesnt quite live up to its promise nothing particularly wrong with it, but not as good as I had expected.

The larger lounge bar to the left has green leather bench seating around the perimeter, and a selection of small bar tables and stools elsewhere. The walls are wood panelled lower down, with green painted plasterwork above. Several artistic type photos adorn the walls (sun setting over a lake, that sort of thing). There is a small fire place off to one side, and an ornate wood carved mirror above this. Wedged in between this and the ceiling is a particularly large plasma. Although this was off, there was a smaller TV in another corner that was on. There are some decent illuminated paintings above the bar, that I assume are of the local area.

The smaller right hand bar is given over predominantly to a pool table. This has a slate tiled floor, and another plasma up on the wall, although this was also off. There is some decent wood panelling in here, and another old fireplace.

As previously mentioned, beer choice was disappointing, with no real ales on, just keg John Smiths and McEwans. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

5 Jul 2011 23:54

The Castle Tavern, Inverness

An attractive looking stone-built pub right at the top of Castle Street, and with great views across to the castle. At the front is a decent sized patio with plenty of bench tables and chairs, a wrought ironwork gazebo at the rear and an attractive selection of hanging baskets and plant troughs. There is even a small bar counter here, although this was not in use on our visit. A blackboard listed not only the current beer offerings, but also those that were coming soon.

The pub itself is remarkably small, with a single bar. There are plenty of pictures on the walls, a plasma mounted high up, a fruit machine and an attractive wood panelled bar. Upstairs is a separate restaurant area with some wood panelling, red drape curtains and plenty of squashed in tables and chairs. There is an extensive pub grub menu and a small specials board. What we had was decent enough and generous portions, but perhaps a little on the expensive side a Scampi & chips was over 9.

Beers on this occasion were Atlas Nimbus, Orkney Best, Midsummer Madness, Sun Dance and Dark Munro. The solitary cider was Olde English.

5 Jul 2011 23:41

Ritz, Lincoln

A large Wetherspoons pub on the main road in to Lincoln. The long front part of the bar facing on to the street has some fold back windows, which whilst giving plenty of fresh air doesnt offer much in the way of an attractive outlook. Up a few steps to the main part of the pub, and the long bar counter running almost the entire length of the back wall.

It looks as though its been here for a few years, and is starting to look a little tatty around the edges. Nothing too serious, but some of the upholstery is looking a little threadbare. Theres plenty of wood panelling on the walls, and several book cases around. There are also some art deco touches around the place which presumably hark back to its former life as a theatre. In a further nod to this, there is a listing of the acts that appeared here in 1985, and a number of black and white photographs of the actors adorn the walls.

There were a few plasmas dotted around and several fruit machines. The condom machine in the gents loo also dispensed tic-tacs which I thought was an odd combination. A barrel perched on a table and a couple of hay bales advertised a forthcoming cider festival. There is a small courtyard off to the right for the smokers.

Beers were a fairly predictable JDW range Abbot Ale, Ruddles County, Directors, Everards Tiger, Hobgoblin and Midsummer Madness. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Strongbow.

3 Jul 2011 23:27

The Shakespeare, Lincoln

A traditional looking, white stone-washed pub on the main road in to Lincoln. Inside however, its clearly had a contemporary makeover, which may well have detracted from some of its character.

There are two bars, with the lounge on the left and the public bar on the right. The lounge has had some work done, with a remarkably shiny, almost mirror like wooden floor, new curtains and new furniture. Up a couple of steps at the rear is a separate carpeted area. The walls however remain artexed, and the ceiling too is fairly rough and ready. There was a plasma on the rear wall with regular Sunday night TV being screened with the volume up rather too loudly. The only other couple in here were glued to the TV, which didnt create much in the way of atmosphere. There was a dart board on the floor below the plasma that looked as though it could be hooked over the top of it when required.

The public bar also had two plasmas on showing the same TV channel, and again with the volume up too loudly. If I want to watch TV Ill stay at home and do it, thanks all the same. Here there is also a wood stripped floor, albeit it not quite as shiny as in the lounge, a few leather high backed chairs, a selection of fruit machines and some unusual table top quiz machines as well as a couple of signed football shirts in display cases. The tables were all very high with correspondingly high chairs which made manoeuvring them difficult. The walls had been re-plastered in this bar giving a more up to date appearance, but the Formica fake wood front to the bar counter let the decor down somewhat. The barmaid was friendly and chatty, but this couldnt compensate for the lack of atmosphere. The two punters watching TV in the lounge soon left, and it was only us left.

The only beer offering was keg John Smiths and Old Speckled Hen. There was a cask pump, but apparently this had run out earlier in the day. The solitary cider was Strongbow, which would have been bad enough if they were actually serving it, but this was also off as the lines were being cleaned.

3 Jul 2011 23:17

The Golden Eagle, Lincoln

A small, traditional boozer on the main road in to Lincoln that looks quite unprepossessing from the outside. The small front bar is a cosy affair with several tables and chairs filling all the available space. The slightly larger rear bar has a slightly more open feel, a fruit machine and a dart board in the back corner.

Outside there is a small covered patio area on the left, and a good sized beer garden behind the car park. This is a pleasant enough spot, and on a recent Sunday night visit there was a barbeque on, although nobody seemed to be partaking of the food that was being cooked. With no menu, and a few packs of sausages and burgers in Asda carrier bags scattered about, it almost seemed to be a BYO. Perhaps that was indeed the case.

Despite five hand pumps on the bar, only two were in use. However, I suspect this may have been due to it being the tail end of the weekend the remainder all had pump clips turned round, and there were several beers chalked up on a board, suggesting an ever changing selection. The two that survived were Batemans XB and Magpie Brewerys Fledgling. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

3 Jul 2011 23:02

The Royal William IV, Lincoln

A pleasant enough pub on the quayside alongside many mass market chain restaurants, such as Nandos, Ask, Prezzo, etc. The building seems to be made up of two halves, the end part being an old stone built traditional affair, joined on to a more modern looking brick built building with the top half covered in wood cladding. Theyve made an effort to brighten it up with a few hanging baskets, window boxes and such like.

Inside its not unpleasant by any means, but has a little bit of a bland, identikit feel to it. Much of the walls are clad in white painted woodwork, covered with several old pictures. There are some dark wood strips of wood on the ceiling that seem to be more decorative than structural. The flooring in the front bar is tiles, with carpet elsewhere and some wood stripwork around the bar. Theres a decent looking brick built fireplace at the front, but thats probably the only feature of any interest.

Food is apparently offered all day, although I didnt inspect the menu, and there was a very 1970s style vertical desert cabinet from which you were invited to select your dish. The best feature of the pub is the outside table and chairs alongside the river. Whilst not especially picturesque, its nonetheless a pleasant spot to sit and sup your beer.

Beers on tap are still Ruddles Best and Directors, so these are presumably unchanging. Ciders were Bulmers and Strongbow.

3 Jul 2011 19:18

Kings Arms, Easton In Gordano

A fair sized pub just off the main A369, this is a pleasant enough pub with plenty of decking out the front to sit and watch the world go by. Its very much a pub of two halves, with a sports type bar at the front, and an all together more upmarket feel to the lounge at the rear.

The front bar has a pool table, two very large plasma at either side, a juke box, a couple of fruit machines and a quiz machine. No real ales in evidence here either, presumably the clientele who frequent this part of the pub dont drink it. The flooring appears to be wood laminate and there are various black and white photos of the old village on the walls, an old church pew and a few stools at the bar. The decking area at the front has some rather cheap long metal tables and chairs, which slightly spoils what is otherwise a pleasant spot. With a few LED uplighters, wood and iron railing around the perimeter and large umbrellas with infra-red heaters, theyve clearly spent a bit of money here. There is also a small patio area at the rear with just a couple of benches.

The rear bar has a flagstone floor, and this leads in to another wood panelled, carpeted room which feels a bit like an old hotel drawing room with an old fireplace, big gilded mirror and paintings on the wall. Quite a contrast to the main bar at the front. We didnt eat on this occasion, but spotted a small specials board which had some interesting looking dishes at reasonable prices.

Beers on tap were Courage Best, Butcombe Blond and Butcombe Mendip Spring, and these were all dispensed from barrels racked up behind the bar. Ciders were well represented with four all from Thatchers Cheddar Valley, Dry, Gold and Traditional.

29 Jun 2011 09:41

The Rudgleigh Inn, Easton In Gordano

A good sized pub on the main A369 and just a couple of minutes drive from J19 of the M5. The sign outside proudly proclaims chef prepared food whatever that means, and food certainly seems to be the major focus of the pub with every single table both in the restaurant and bar area laid up for food. This seems a little unnecessary, especially as there were only two or three other tables occupied on a recent Tuesday evening.

It looks as though it may have been recently refurbished, with carpet throughout, cream plastered walls with some wood detailing and various generic pubby pictures on the wall such as drawings of wine bottles as well as pictures of flowers and a few plates. There was a brick fireplace with a wood burning stove and some readers will be pleased to know there were even some twigs in vases.

Theres a pleasant garden area out at the back which overlooks the adjacent sports pitch. Ive spent a pleasant afternoon here in the past supping a pint and watching a cricket match. Staff all seemed friendly.

The menu was extensive and consisted of several sections such as Old Favourites (ham, egg & chips, chilli con carne, all day brunch, etc.), Omelettes, Salads, Baguettes, Steaks, Pasta and so on. In addition to this there was a large specials board, and a separate specials board devoted to fish dishes. So far, so good you might think. Unfortunately the food that was delivered didnt live up to expectations. We both chose from the specials board which made it all the more disappointing as they certainly werent special. My Chicken Madras was bland with no particular flavour, and not even hot. Mrs. Bs Chicken Enchiladas were similarly tasteless and disappointing. On the plus side, the portions were very generous, over generous in fact, but its definitely a case of quantity not quality.

Beers on tap were Gem and Doom Bar. Ciders were Addlestones, Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

29 Jun 2011 09:29

The Greenbank, Easton

A large, single-room street corner pub that looks to have been recently refurbished, or perhaps even converted from something else as it was not previously listed here as a pub. Music features heavily with a large band area at the rear of the pub and a board advertising forthcoming acts.

Much of the wall is exposed brick which gives an industrial sort of feel to the place, although there is some decent wood strip flooring and some unusual pieces of art hung on the walls. There is a large central bar area which sports a large coffee machine in addition to the usual range of alcoholic beverages. Most of the seating is long wooden benches with kitchen style light wooden chairs along with some high stools around the bar. One corner had a few leather sofas along with a low glass table and a table football game. A plasma on the wall was showing the tennis, but the volume was off. Apparently there is table tennis available upstairs, which is an unusual activity for a pub. Barmaid seemed friendly enough, as did the punters around the bar.

Beers on tap were Gem, London Pride and Butcombe. There was also a pump for BBF Sunrise, although this speared to have run out. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Aspalls Suffolk.

25 Jun 2011 11:17

The Seven Stars Inn, Timsbury

An attractive, stone built local pub in the heart of the village. At the back is a car park and a decent looking beer garden. Its a fair sized pub, being split in to several different areas such as main bar, pool room and dining areas.

The main bar is a cosy and attractive sort of place, with some exposed stone walls and rather Christmassy shades of red and green paint elsewhere. Green carpet is on the floor along with some grey slate tiles around the wood panelled bar and a few strings of fairy lights adorn the ceiling beams and window frames. The pool room at the front has more exposed stonework, and a plasma mounted above a large fire place. The rest of the pub looked to be more geared up for dining with all the tables laid up for food. My only criticism would perhaps be the lack of seating in the main bar besides a few leather sofas and a number of stools, there were only two tables and chairs.

The food offering was a straightforward selection of pub grub dishes at reasonable prices, with the menu being split in to sections such as salads, Paninis, jacket potatoes and Pie Minister pies. This was however a dedicated lunch time menu, I dont know what is available on an evening. In addition to this there was a pizza and pint deal advertised for 6.50, a small specials board and a selection of tapas dishes. There was also a summer barbeque planned for the bank holiday weekend. Barmaid was friendly and helpful.

Beers on tap were Bass, Butcombe and Gem. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Blackthorn.

22 Jun 2011 15:55

The Yeoman, Whitchurch

A popular community estate pub on the main A37 on the southern outskirts of Bristol. The appearance is typical of many pubs built in the 60s or thereabouts and is not particularly inspiring, but serves its purpose well enough. Theres a good size car park to one side and a few benches out the front, although being on the main road its not a particularly pleasant spot.

Inside it appears as though it may have had a recent refurbishment. As with the exterior, its all a little bland and generic, but again serves its purpose. The main bar area is a L-shape, with the rear part being down a few steps. To the left is another room with a pool table. The walls were painted in a mustard tone and the flooring was mostly red patterned carpet, with some grey lino tiles around the wood panelled bar counter. Seating was a mix of red bench seating around the perimeter, and lots of small tables and chairs. The rear area down the steps had a more contemporary feel to it with shelving built in to the walls holding vases and the like, and a trendy sort of wall mounted fire. There were a couple of plasmas at the front of the bar showing the tennis, although the sound was off.

I didnt inspect the menu but most of the food offering seemed to be of the sizzling variety. There were various meal deals advertised such as a Mexican and a pint for 6.49 on Thursdays, along with burger, grill and curry nights on other days.

Beers on tap were 6X, Marstons EPA and Bass and these were all being offered at the very reasonable 1 a pint as they apparently had too many barrels. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

21 Jun 2011 08:54

The Pitcher and Piano, Bristol

One of the original bars along the waterfront, its been here for a good few years now and has recently re-opened after a makeover. The basic layout is unchanged, but theyve opened it out by getting rid of the various partitions that were there previously, leaving a much more flexible arrangement of tables and chairs. Its a big pub on three levels, with a bar on both the bottom and top level. The mid level is little more than a wide corridor between the two, but does have a number of red leather button-back chairs and sofas and always seems a popular spot.

The ground floor has all wood flooring as seems to be the vogue these days, and a long bar counter running almost the entire length of the back wall. Service was a little slow with the staff seeming to be more interested in mixing cocktails than pulling pints. There are large windows on two sides and some covered outside seating which is a pleasant enough spot to sit and look at the boats in the harbour. A number of pillars are the only thing that breaks up the interior space, some with a pine type cladding, others covered with tiles in a curious green hue reminiscent of a public lavatory. Many of the others had pictures on, one of which was made at right angles and hung on two sides of the pillar! A large, colour illuminated P&P sign hung on the rear wall adjacent to the bar. At the far left of the lower level beyond a dual sided chimney is a wood panelled area that reminded me of an old hotel drawing room which is quite a contrast from the rest of the pub. I also spotted a large projection screen rolled up out of sight, which presumably gets pressed in to use for major sporting fixtures. A few trees illuminated with white fairly lights completed the furnishings.

The top level has a light and airy feel to it with further windows looking over the harbour. There is a smaller bar here, although I didnt check to see how the range compares with downstairs. The wall coverings here are a very busy wallpaper and a number of old maps on the wall. This is a pub that in many ways tries to be all things to all people, and with its food menu and pleasant harbour side setting is going to have a completely different feel during the day to how it did on a Friday evening with bouncers on the door and the music getting progressively louder.

There was a surprisingly good range of real ales on for an establishment of this type, even if none of it was particularly inspiring or local. The line up consisted of Hobgoblin, Pedigree and Marstons EPA. Ciders were Strongbow and the Swedish Rekorderlig. There was also a decent selection of continental lagers.

20 Jun 2011 10:05

Shore Cafe, Bristol

Known for many years as The Waterfront Tavern, this had a makeover a year or so back and has now been rebranded as Shore. Although the basic layout remains unchanged, its got a much more contemporary feel to it now.

The pub is on two levels the lower level as you walk in has a nice airy feel with double height, dual aspect windows that over look the harbour and Peros Bridge. Upstairs is a little darker and gloomier, without any natural light. There is also a patio out at the front, partly covered and heated which would be a pleasant spot on a sunny day.

The lower bar has dark wood flooring and some grey slate tiles. To the left is a fireplace boxed in with some sort of stainless steel fabrication which looks odd. Mounted in this is a trendy type of gas fire that looks to be more decorative than heat producing. A large plasma sits above this. To the right on this occasion was a DJ Deck, and a sign advertised the house DJ that was there on Friday and Saturday evenings. Presumably at other times this may not be there. The ceiling lights are unusual in that they appear to be made from upturned, metal garden bins with a number of extra holes drilled in the sides. The tables are also made from metal dustbins with a wooden top mounted on them and wicker chairs alongside. The paint scheme is a mixture of cream and grey, with a number of generic black-and-white photos on the walls, most depicting a beach scene of some sort.

The upper bar is a little gloomier as previously mentioned, but you have to go up here to get your pint. This is a longer, narrower space with unusual stripy wallpaper along the long right hand wall that has metallic stripes on it enhanced by red LED lighting. Completing the furnishings are a few scattered pot plants. The establishment seems to have a bit of a pink theme for some reason, with a very vivid hue covering the menus, barmans shirt and a few feathers that were dotted around. The menu itself looked to be a short selection of pub grub dishes, although from what I could see it looked to be a little on the pricy side.

The solitary beer on tap was Bath Ales Gem, although this appeared to be keg rather than cask which Ive not seen before. Ciders were Baths Bounders and Westons Premium which was a slush version, i.e.; crushed ice is dispensed along with the liquid.

20 Jun 2011 09:40

The Black Cat, Bedminster

A busy and popular bar unlike many of its neighbours, at least on a recent Thursday evening visit. Its a good size, single room pub and the decor is pleasant and a little olde worlde, in many ways being more like a country inn than an inner city pub. There was plenty of wood panelling around, some on the walls, parts of the ceiling, and the bar counter. Elsewhere there were beams on the ceiling, supported by red pillars in a number of places.

There was an old cast iron fireplace, although this appeared to be not in use and a number of copper pots hanging from the beams. There was more wood on the floors, together with some red carpet at the far end. There was also a plasma down at this end although this was not in use, as well as a fruit machine and juke box.

The main draw on this evening appeared to be the karaoke which is apparently a regular Thursday and Sunday fixture. Unusually though, pretty much all the punters seemed to be 50+, and the standard of the singers was much higher than you would normally expect to encounter.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, just keg Flowers Best and John Smiths Extra Smooth. Ciders were Blackthorn and Stowford Press.

17 Jun 2011 12:30

The Princess Of Wales, Bedminster

A popular pub tucked away in a side street just off of West Street, but far busier than many of the pubs on the main road. There is a patio area at the front of the pub which has an awning covering the right hand part of it to keep out any inclement weather.

Inside, its a single room U-shape bar and in keeping with its name is adorned with several photographs of Lady Diana. There were several thin black beams on the ceiling, although this is not a traditional olde worlde pub, and they looked a little out of place. There was red velvet bench seating on the left hand leg of the U together with a selection of chairs and tables elsewhere and some high stools at the bar. A notice listed all the forthcoming bands that were appearing and this appears to be a regular Saturday night fixture.

There was another small courtyard at the back of the pub, although Im not sure if this was in use. There were a couple of small TVs on the wall at the front of the pub, and a plasma on the rear wall. A large Alsatian was wandering around, and whilst he seemed friendly enough, may put off some people who are not keen on dogs.

Beers on tap were Courage Best and Cheddar Gorge Best. This was served in a Bath Ales glass, so presumably they also carry some of their range at times. The solitary cider was Blackthorn.

17 Jun 2011 12:18

The Jolly Collier, Bedminster

A traditional unpretentious single-room boozer that has probably remained unchanged for years. Its a good sized, L-shape bar, with a wood panelled bar counter and some very dated globe lights hanging over it. A number of signed Bristol City photos adorned the walls.

I t seems to be a decent community pub, and there was a cabinet filled with trophies from the pub sports team as well as a picture of a cheque for 5,000 that had been raised for St. Peters Hospice. The smaller leg of the L housed a juke box, fruit machine, pool table and three dart boards. There was a small TV at the front of the bar, and a wall mounted plasma at the rear, although this was not in use. There were a selection (well, two anyway) of filled rolls behind the bar which is always a good indication of a pub that concentrates more on wet sales.

There were no real ales on tap unfortunately, just keg Bass, Courage Best and Toby Bitter. Ciders were Blackthorn and Stowford Press.

17 Jun 2011 12:01

The Plough and Windmill, Bedminster

A timeless old boozer located midway between two other nearby hostelries. As you walk in youre confronted opposite you with a long dark wood bar counter, with some detailed carving. The pub itself is quite long with a pool table down at the right hand end and a smaller room at the rear. There were a couple of plasmas above the bar, one switched off and the other showing some golf. Most punters were gathered at the bar, presumably watching the action. A jar of pickled eggs behind the bar caught my eye which always signifies a proper pub as far as Im concerned.

The rear room is quite dated without much atmosphere, although there was a darts board and a small TV set. This leads out to a patio area with some colourful murals on the back wall. It looked as though there may also be a small garden. The pub has a maroon and cream colour scheme throughout and there is also a skittle alley. Barman seemed friendly enough.

The solitary beer on tap was Courage Best, although there were two further pumps that were not in use. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

17 Jun 2011 11:28

The Three Lions, Bedminster

This is a traditional old pub that probably hasnt changed much for decades. Its essentially a single room affair, although there is a new extension up a few steps at the back that houses a pool table. This leads out in to a sloping beer garden with a haphazard arrangement of tables and views towards the city ground and Ashton Court. There is also a decrepit old barbeque that Im not sure anyone would want to risk using and a Kwik Move sponsored Cider Hut with a stained Bristol City Football Club window.

In keeping with its location, the pub itself is adorned with much BCFC paraphernalia such as numerous team photos, scarves and shirts. There was a large projection screen at the front showing some sport as well as a couple of dart boards. There were old lino tiles on the floor and red bench seating around the perimeter.

Unfortunately there were no real ales on tap, just keg John Smiths and Courage Best. Ciders were better represented with Blackthorn, Pheasant Plucker and Thatchers Traditional. Prices were reasonable at 5.40 for two pints.

17 Jun 2011 11:17

The Marlborough Tavern, Bath

Quite when an establishment crosses the line between gastro-pub and restaurant Im not sure, but this place must be perilously close to the latter. On a recent Saturday evening visit, every single table was reserved for diners, so if you just wanted a beer your only option was to sit at the bar or go outside in to the attractive courtyard. That said, it may well of course be different at other times. Its a little walk from the city centre, but in a pleasant spot just around the corner from the Royal Crescent and opposite the golf course.

Now that Ive set the scene, I shall just add that it was decked out in fairly typical gastro-pub fashion, with reclaimed wooden boards on the floor, green painted wooden panels on the lower half of the walls with white plasterwork above, candles on all the tables and various artwork on the walls, much of it for sale. You get the picture Im sure. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

We were looking to eat, but hadnt reserved a table (it is a pub after all). However, as we were quite early, they managed to fit us in with the proviso that we were finished by 8:30 which was fair enough. Food was very good and we enjoyed what we had, but its clearly not your usual pub grub. With most of the starters being around 7.50 and main courses 15 or so, the bill soon adds up. But if thats what youre after, Id recommend it.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Brakespears. There was also a pump for Timothy Taylor Landlord, although this appeared to have run out. The solitary cider was Addlestones.

13 Jun 2011 11:02

The Cork, Bath

A good sized city centre pub that looks as though it has recently had a makeover. The main bar counter is on the left as you walk in, with a raised area in the rear right corner. This is carpeted with a few mirrors built in to the walls and some floral wallpaper. The flooring elsewhere is mostly reclaimed wood boards and a few slate tiles.

Theres nothing really wrong with it, but like so many places that have had a makeover, and also try to attract different people at different time of the day, its all a bit generic and lacking in any real personality (the barmaid thus fitted in well the only words I got out of her the whole time were Five pounds eight-five). There were a couple of leather sofas in the window at the front which was a pleasant enough spot to watch the world go by. I noticed a projector screen here, although it was rolled up out of sight. Presumably it comes in to use to show major sporting fixtures. Decor is the usual shade of gastro-pub green painted on wood panelling, with cream plaster above.

There is a pleasant enough patio area at the back, with a large umbrella covering and infra-red heaters. The food menu looks to be a decent enough pub grub offering, with most of the mains being around the 8 - 12 mark, and there was also a small specials board. The pub is open until 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays, so presumably has quite a different feel then to how it was mid afternoon.

Beers on tap were all from the Box Stem Brewery with their Cork Red Handed, Chuffin Ale and Derail Ale. Ciders were Strongbow and the excellent Orchard Pig from Glastonbury.

13 Jun 2011 10:44

The Kings Arms, Bath

A slightly alternative pub just a couple of minutes stroll away from the centre, but nonetheless a decent enough place. At the front is a small courtyard which you have to walk through to get to the bar, and behind this a pool room. The bar itself looks to be stuck in a bit of a time warp, and probably hasnt changed much since the 70s. Certainly the curtains look to be at least 30 years old! Its clearly a bit of a music venue with various posters on the window advertising up and coming bands as well as numerous instruments adorning the interior several violins and a large bass drum hanging from the ceiling, trumpets and an accordion above the bar, etc.

The band/stage area is at the rear of the pub, along with a dart board. At the front is an old TV in one corner, a disused fireplace and a fruit machine adjacent to it. There are numerous photographs, old beer posters, etc. on the walls and interestingly a Jack Daniels pane of glass in the entrance door which Ive not seen anywhere else. There was also a very retro computer game which must also be from the 70s, although whether this was still working Im not sure.

There was a good mixture of age ranges present, and punters and landlady all seemed friendly enough. There was a very basic bar snack menu offered on lunchtimes only a few omelettes, baguettes, and several variations on chips and beans Cheesy Chips & Bacon; Double egg, chips & beans; Cheesy Chips, beans & bread etc.

Beers on tap were Courage Best and London Pride. There was also a pump clip for Otter Ale although it appeared that this had run out. Ciders were Blackthorn, Strongbow & Thatchers Gold.

13 Jun 2011 10:24

The New Inn, Bath

A traditional Wadworths pub situated a couple of minutes stroll from the centre. As you enter in to the entrance vestibule, you can go right in to the snug or left in to the public bar. Whilst the snug was undoubtedly small, it wasnt as cosy as might be expected and we found the public bar to have considerably more atmosphere. The snug was a triangular shape, with a helpful sign saying to ring bell for service, which was just as well as all the punters, and barman, were in the other bar.

As mentioned, the main bar is an attractive room with some thick, heavy beams on the ceiling as well as a small stained glass window that looks as though it may have come from a church. The floor is mostly slate tiles, although with some carpet as well and the walls had wood panelling lower down with a sandy wallpaper up above.

Numerous tankards, jugs and beer pump clips were hung from the ceiling and there was an impressive collection of beer mats stuck above the bar, although in contrast to this the only beers on offer were from Wadworths. The average age of the punters seemed to be well over fifty, and it was one of those pubs where everyone seemed to congregate at the bar, although at least you didnt have to push through to try and get served like some places.

Beers were all from Wadworths as previously noted, with Bishops Tipple being dispensed at the bar plus 6X and Henrys IPA coming from barrels racked up on the stillage behind. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

13 Jun 2011 10:13

The Lord Raglan, St George

A surprisingly small, street corner pub which extends in almost (but not quite) a complete circle around the central bar. Decor is quite dated with artex on much of the walls, some white and some a sandy colour, black and white photos of various stars such as Elvis, blue velvet bench seating with red velvet curtains and a faded old carpet.

There is a (very) small stage area in one corner with a large rear projection TV and two smaller TVs mounted up on a bracket, Christmas type gold and red foil strips covering one wall and a zimmer frame! Next to this is an open area with a dart board and another rear projection TV. There were two further TVs across the other side of the pub, although these were the only two that were on and they didnt dominate. I got the impression that they are maybe used more for karaoke or some such similar activities, but this was not in evidence on a recent Thursday night visit.

This seems to be very much a community local with plenty of activities going on. Besides the aforementioned darts board, there was a cabinet sporting a good selection of trophies, and two minibuses outside which appear to be used for transporting punters to away fixtures. It was just a shame that some of the locals seemed to be swearing rather excessively, which perhaps accounted for why there were no ladies present, other than the barmaid.

Beers on tap were Gem which seemed to be past its best and Courage Best. Ciders were better represented with Blackthorn, Strongbow and Bath Ales Bounders.

10 Jun 2011 10:53

The Jolly Sailor, Hanham

This is a recent addition to the Wetherspoons stable. Its a traditional Victorian red-brick public house that was somewhat down at heel previously, and has now been given a new lease of life with a JDW makeover.

Its perhaps a little smaller than many of their pubs, although there were signs pointing to more seating and another bar area upstairs, which I didnt investigate. There is also a small courtyard garden/smoking area at the back. Decor is inevitably much the same as any Wetherspoons, with some wood panelling on the walls along with freshly painted plaster in mellow tones, and a dark patterned carpet. The only feature of any interest is the fireplace with a large mirror up above. There are also plenty of pictures and other information on the walls about the local area.

There was a plasma screen showing a news channel, although this had the volume down and was tucked out the way around the corner. There were also a couple of fruit machines opposite the bar and several A-boards promoting the various meal deals available.

Beers on tap were Milk Streets Amarillo, GWB Maiden Voyage, Hydes Ship Shape, Abbott Ale and Ruddles Best. Ciders were Blackthorn, Strongbow and Thatchers Gold.

10 Jun 2011 10:38

The George Inn, Farleigh

Since my last review, the pub has closed yet again and been boarded up for about six months. In contrast to previous re-openings where not much has changed with the pub, this time it has undergone a 300k refurbishment and has Malvern Inns at the helm. The main entrance is now around the back, where you walk up a slate tiled path illuminated on either side by recessed LED uplighters. To the left is an attractive gravelled courtyard garden with several tables and chairs.

The layout of the pub is unchanged, but it has undergone significant refurbishment. The main bar area has a predominantly wood floor with some black and white chequered tiles immediately in front of the bar and slate tiles elsewhere. The colour scheme is a mixture of cream and chocolate brown. Down a small slope to the right is a lounge area with several tables and chairs, plenty of cushions and some black and white prints of old Bristol on the walls. Separating the two is a dual aspect open chimney, and I understand they are plans to install a stone fireplace here. Beyond this is an impressive stone walled room with a high vaulted ceiling, a large table and high backed leather chairs reminiscent of a medieval dining room. I believe this is planned to be used as a function room.

To the left of the bar area is another room more geared up for dining, with an exposed stone wall and fireplace at the far end. The menu looks to be a good selection of dishes, slightly above your usual pub grub, but nonetheless reasonable looking value with most of the main courses around the 9 mark. There is also a bar menu with a selection of light bites and tapas style dishes. Drink prices seemed expensive at 8 for two pints, although this was primarily due to the Peroni being 4.25 a pint. Enjoy your drinks said the friendly barman. I would bl**dy well hope so at that pricecommented Mrs. B.

Beers on tap were Old Hookey, Tribute, Butcombe and Bass. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Stowford Press. There was also a good selection of continental lagers no Fosters or Carling here.

4 Jun 2011 23:49

Mama Liz's Soul Food Shack, Stamford

This is an unusual establishment. Not a pub in the traditional sense, but a bar on the ground floor with I believe more of a nightclub in the basement and a restaurant up above. The ground floor bar area which is where we stayed has a high ceiling with black tiles, a black brick backdrop to the bar and wooden flooring. There are plenty of black and white photos pinned up above the bar that look like they are from New Orleans, in keeping with the Creole theme of the pub.

The furniture was all made from some extremely large bamboo sticks, there was a large sheeps head (or similar) stuck on the wall, a good sized palm tree and a DJ console in the corner with a couple of large but good quality speakers perched on the adjacent mantelpiece. There were three large lizards pinned to the wall in between the speakers.

The menu was in keeping with the Creole theme of the establishment, and although it looked tempting we didnt sample it on this occasion. There was also a good sized outside decking area which must be a nice spot when its not pouring with rain.

Beers on tape were Potbelly Best, Marie Celeste and Oakham Helter Skelter. There were also a couple of American beers which seemed fitting. Ciders were Addlestones and Westons Traditional Scrumpy.

26 May 2011 23:43

The Cotham Porter Stores, Cotham

To my mind this has completely lost its character during its recent refurbishment. In spite of the fact that its had some work done, it still manages to look somewhat tatty, but not in a good way.

If I recall correctly, the front bar has been opened out a little. There used to be a miniscule snug right at the front of the bar that you could just about squeeze in to. Thats now all open, so youre just left with a L-shape bar counter. I found the music from the juke box to be a bit loud, especially as it was only about 7:30 on a Tuesday evening, and I didnt really appreciate being served by a barmaid who couldnt be bothered to take her lollipop out of her mouth.

The paint scheme is a shade of gastropub brown, although clearly thats not what this place is. There are dark boards on the floor, some bench seating with green cushions around the edge, and a few tables and chairs dotted around. There is a tiny courtyard at the back, although it was rather noisy thanks to the chiller unit that was also out there, and it got quite packed with smokers. There is an interesting mural on the wall by the gents loos. The rear bar has a fireplace and a plasma up above, although this was not in use on a recent visit. A scoreboard for the pub cricket team is also on the wall and a framed cricket bat.

Despite the pubs name, there was no porter available at the bar. It really should rename itself to the Cotham Cider Stores, as they had five from Thatchers Dry, Gold, Heritage, Traditional and Cheddar Valley as well as Natch and Westons Traditional Scrumpy. The solitary beer was Doom Bar.

25 May 2011 13:43

The Bunch of Grapes, Bristol

Beers on a recent visit were Caledonian Chocolate Drop, London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, Doom Bar and Hobgoblin. Ciders were slightly disappointing with just Symonds Founders Reserve and Scrumpy Jack.

25 May 2011 13:18

The Ring O Bells, Wookey

An attractive, stone-built and whitewashed country pub in the centre of this small village. Inside its a single room bar with a suitably olde worlde charm with exposed stone walls, beams on the ceiling and a carpeted floor to give a cosy ambience rather than reclaimed boards which seem to be the rage everywhere these days. Theres a decent selection of seating with a number of wooden pews as well as tables and chairs.

Theres a large fireplace at one end with a few copper pans hanging up above. At the other end of the pub is a dartboard, and there are also a couple of plasmas hung in between, which seemed a bit out of place for a cosy old pub. These were showing the football on a recent Saturday afternoon visit.

There are a few outside tables at the front of the pub, and this is a pleasant spot with some colourful rose bushes and plenty of pot plants. There looked to be a decent pub grub menu chalked up on a board, and there was also a range of pizzas on another board which are also available to take away.

Beers on tap were Wadworths Horizon, Henrys IPA and Marstons Pedigree. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

22 May 2011 13:22

The Bull and Swan Inn, St Martins

This has undergone an extensive refurbishment and re-opened about six months ago. I didnt go in here previously so cannot make a direct comparison, but I understand it was pretty poor. Now with its makeover it feels like a cross between a pub and a hotel lounge, perhaps unsurprisingly as they also have rooms available. Whilst it might not have that traditional pub feel, its nonetheless a pleasant enough place.

The two doors in to the establishment are either side of a small drive that leads to a car park at the rear. To the left is the restaurant area, with the main bar area being to the right. This is divided in to three sections, with laminate wood flooring and a rug or two, some exposed stone walls and a few beams on the ceiling. There were a couple of fireplaces in two of the bars, although whether these are in use or not I am not sure. Each table had a candle burning away which added a sort of homely ambience. There is also a pleasant looking patio area at the rear. Bar staff seemed helpful and efficient.

There was an extensive menu covering platters to share, sandwiches, etc. as well as your usual starters and mains. It wasnt your usual pub grub with no sign of a chilli or lasagne, although there was fish and chips. Other than that it was slightly more adventurous dishes, but nothing too pretentious. There was also a few specials chalked up on a board, with a disturbingly lifelike mannequin sat reading a book right next to one of them. My linguine with pesto, pine nuts, parmesan and rocket was a decent enough dish, although it was a little heavy on the rocket. There were also a few scotch eggs at the end of the bar. The A-board outside advertising a burger and a pint deal for 10 didnt strike me as a particularly enticing offer.

Beers on tap were Adnams Bitter, Oakham JHB, Bull (brewed by Molson Coors, not sure if thats exclusive to them) and Ruperts War Dog from Ufford Ales. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

18 May 2011 09:49

The King William, Bath

In many ways this is very much a gastro-pub, although fortunately not one that alienates drinkers. Whilst there was a copy of the daily changing menu on each table, that was as far as it went. The tables were not fully laid up for food like many other so called pubs that are in reality little more than restaurants.

Both the front and rear bars are quite small with only three of four tables in each. I assume there was probably a separate dining area elsewhere, otherwise the amount of space available seems to be somewhat out of kilter with the venues foodie aspirations. The floors are all reclaimed boards as is the vogue these days, there were good sized windows at the front of the bar, a selection of board games available and some art on the walls, much of it for sale.

Other indicators to the fact that its still a proper pub included an up and coming quiz night as well as details on the board about a wine club and a book club. Bar staff all seemed friendly, numerous candles around the place created a pleasant ambience and there was an extensive wine list chalked up on a board.

The menu was clearly of the gastro-pub genre as previously mentioned, although there was also a bar snack menu chalked up on a board. However, even though this included pub classics such as burgers and fish & chips, these were still mostly priced at around the 11 - 12 mark which I think is more than most people would expect to pay for bar snack. Some of the dishes such as a steak were nearer 20, and that was before you get on to the proper menu. This consisted of a reasonable selection of dishes, with most of the starters being around the 6.50 mark and the mains around 15. Whilst we enjoyed what we had, I couldnt help feeling that they were perhaps trying a little too hard. Concentrating on the basics like lamb that wasnt so fatty and avoiding fads like serving some of the dishes on wooden boards instead of plates would help Jamie Oliver does this and it works well enough for a mixed platter of cold meat and cheese but when your pudding comes on one and the ice cream melts and dribbles off its not quite so effective.

Beers on tap were Keystone Large One, Dorset Gold, BBF No. 7 and Butcombe Gold. The solitary cider was Pheasant Plucker.

8 May 2011 18:50

The Curfew, Bath

A Wadworths street corner pub a ten minute walk from the town centre. First impressions werent good with a couple of youths stood outside spitting and swearing. Hopefully theyre not regular clientele so I wont hold that against it.

The next problem was getting to the bar. Although there were only about half a dozen people in the pub, they were all clustered at the small bar, many of them sat on the high chairs that were there and seemed reluctant to move even a few inches so I could get there to order. This is a pet hate of mine, especially when the rest of the pub is empty and it really doesnt create a very welcoming atmosphere.

After wed got our drinks and sat down, things started to look up. The pub itself is a pleasant enough space with plenty of thick wooden beams on the ceiling, although how genuine these are Im not sure (sat at the very front of the pub and looking up, this in fact seems to be a false ceiling, a couple of feet below the real one). The floor is mostly wooden boards, although a small area on the left is carpeted and also has floor to ceiling wood panelling and a large mirror. To the right is a brick fireplace with a wood burning stove and a number of local pictures adorn the walls. A couple of boards advertised the fact that a new menu was coming soon.

The bar counter itself is a wood panelled affair with a couple of spiral wooden pillars at each end. Whether the building was at one time a chemists Im not sure, but there were some old wooden drawers behind the bar labelled as Throat Lozenges, Stomach Pills, Tooth Powders, etc. Down a few steps there is a small landing with a solitary table and chairs, and another flight of steps leads to a patio area with some wooden decking.

Beers on tap were Wadworths 6X and Henrys IPA. Ciders were Westons Old Rosie and Stowford Press.

8 May 2011 17:22

Montagu Arms, Oundle

An attractive country pub in an idyllic village, just in front of a small bridge over a stream. Inside its not quite as quaint as you might expect, but its nonetheless very pleasant. The main bar area at the front is divided into two. To the left is a smaller area with a flagstone floor. To the right, a larger area with a mix of flagstones and red tiles on the floor immediately in front of the stone built bar counter.

The ceiling is quite low with plenty of beams and it sags considerably in places adding to the olde worlde feel. Fortunately there are a number of stone pillars and timber supports to keep it up. At the end of the bar is a fireplace with a stone surround and a sofa. A number of country life drawing adorn the walls.

The rear of the pub is more geared up for dining, and this area leads out in to a conservatory. The food menu looked to be a decent selection of dishes all priced at 8.95 for one course. There was also a board offering a selection of baps and jackets, and I my prawn bap with chunky chips and homemade coleslaw was a decent dish for 5.50. They were also advertising a twist on the usual curry and a pint deal, with a forthcoming curry evening consisting of an all you can eat deal for 10.

There is a good sized patio and beer garden at the rear of the pub, and a small kids play area. In keeping with the village, all the play things are made from wood rather than the garish plastic that you get in many places. Staff seemed friendly, and it was very busy with a large group of walkers on a recent mid-week lunchtime.

Beers on tap were Milton Dionysus, Digfield Fools Nook, Adnams Bitter and Tribute. Ciders were Westons Scrumpy and Aspalls Suffolk.

5 May 2011 13:26

Maes Knoll Toby Carvery, Bristol

This pub is actually a Toby carvery, so that straight away gives you some idea what to expect. For many years it was known as The Black Lion. Quite why it needed to change its name is not clear, but at least its changed it to something with a local connection (Maes Knoll is the name of an Iron Age hill fort a few miles to the south) rather than something entirely spurious as is so often the case.

Theres nothing an all wrong with it, but then again theres nothing particularly right with it either. Its bland but inoffensive, no character but clean and tidy. Theyve tried to make a bit of an effort but ultimately theres only so much you can do once youve ripped out the original interior and are starting afresh. Its carpeted throughout, with some exposed brickwork, flock wallpaper elsewhere, a pastel blue painted plaster in yet another area and some whitewashed wood panelling. A bit of everything it seems. A snug area off to the right is reminiscent of a hotel drawing room with its dark wood panelling, green button backed leather bench seating and drawings of old Bristol on the walls.

I didnt check the menu, but there was a dominant carvery counter off to the left as you come in. How many of these they sell on sunny afternoons Im not sure, but I guess if thats what your brand is about, you have to persevere. There is another room at the rear with a couple of sofas and a plasma on the wall, although this had the volume tuned off.

There is also a small beer garden, although this is rather uninspiring being tucked away around the back of the pub, with just a blank wall and the car park for a view. That, together with the constant drone of the kitchen extractor fans, makes for a somewhat unappealing ambience.

Beers on this occasion were Butcombe and Marstons Royal Union. There was a third pump that was in the process of being changed. This may have been Theakstons going on one of the meal deal promotions I saw chalked up. Ciders were disappointing, with just Bulmers and Strongbow, unfortunately.

3 May 2011 15:08

Racks Wine Bar, Clifton

Whilst technically part of a hotel, this is a bar that has very much got its own identify and is a popular spot for many local people, much like Channings around the corner. Its a good size place, presumably occupying the entire basement of the hotel and there is also an outside patio/terrace with several more tables.

Being in a basement, much of the architecture is arched brickwork as you might expect in a cellar. This is particularly noticeable behind the bar counter, where arched tunnels disappear in to the distance. This, together with the fairly lights around the bar area, make for an attractive setting. Apart from that, besides a couple of stone archways that lead to this rear, the rest of the decor is quite contemporary. There are three smallish bars that look to be multi-purpose drinking or eating areas. All have reclaimed wooden floor boards and cream painted wood panelling half way up the walls. The main bar by the bar counter is finished in a curious salmon colour above this, with a similar hue on the ceiling. The bar opposite has a floral wallpaper instead.

Most of the furniture is large wooden tables with chairs or benches. Tables for just a couple of people seem to be in short supply. There are also some leather sofas around. There was a larger room at the rear that may be more geared up for dining, although this was deserted on a recent Sunday afternoon visit so we didnt investigate this further. I did notice however some more sofas out here and several shelves filled with books. Unfortunately all three of the main bars had plasmas on showing the football with rather spoilt what is otherwise a decent enough place.

We didnt try it on this occasion, but there is certainly some sort of food offering here. I noticed a board detailing several pies available during the day, and there were roasts available on Sunday. A number of bottled beers were listed on a board next to the bar, along with a choice of eight different champagnes, some at 130 a bottle!

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Butcombe and Gem. Ciders were Ashton Press and Addlestones. Drinks seemed expensive though at over 8 for two pints.

2 May 2011 00:23

The Railway Inn, Clutton

In many ways this is a pub of two halves. Whilst many establishments have a separate lounge bar and public bar, here they are two wings of an L-shape building each presenting a different facade and with their own entrance. From the outside the lounge bar looks to be the quintessential attractive country pub with a few tables in the garden outside. The public bar looks to be more utilitarian facing on to the car park.

Inside the separate themes continue. The public bar looks perhaps a little drab, but its not unpleasant. The floors carpeted, theres drape curtains by the large dual aspect windows and the wood panelled bar has plenty of hops adjoining the facade above. Theres several sports photographs on the wall, a dart board in one corner, a wood burning stove, a plasma discreetly tucked away that was not in use, and a quiz machine and a juke box and a mixture of seating, much of it a mixture of high and low bar stools. It had a lively atmosphere and was busy with lots of locals on a recent Friday evening.

The lounge bar is a much cosier affair with lower ceilings and sandy coloured walls with some light wood panelling, and a fireplace at one end. I didnt try the food on this occasion, but a friend who lives in the village tells me its middle of the road, neither cheap nor expensive and good quality. They also have a small take-away menu and have live music occasionally. The landlady seemed friendly.

Beers on this occasion were Butcombe, Doom Bar and Gem. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Stowford Press.

29 Apr 2011 11:06

The Hen and Chicken, Bedminster

A few years ago this was a dark and dingy pub with an emphasis on sports and a slightly unsavoury reputation. Since then, in common with much of the surrounding area, its had a makeover and now has a completely different feel to it, and no doubt, a completely different set of clientele.

Its really more of a caf/bar type of establishment now rather than your traditional pub and this is emphasised by a selection of cakes displayed on the bar counter. It probably caters to lots of yummy mummies during the day and at other times theres a mix of people reading papers, surfing on their laptops, couples eating meals, and maybe one or two drinking beer as well.

Its got a light and airy feel with good sized windows on two sides, a U-shape bar with lots of open space around it, and a selection of chairs and tables dotted around the perimeter. There are lots of community leaflets and magazines around for you to peruse if you dont feel like talking to anyone.

Beers on this occasion were Otter Ale, Doom Bar, Bath Ales Spa and Butcombe Gold. The solitary and very un-local cider was Aspalls Suffolk and unfortunately this had run out by the end of the evening. I only wanted a half as I could only stay a few more minutes, but this was not possible. In the interests of good customer relations I would have thought that they could have perhaps opened a bottle and served me a half, but apparently not. Instead I went thirsty, and wont be in any rush to return.

28 Apr 2011 13:46

The Sheppey Inn, Lower Godney

A traditional, un-spoilt pub in a rather out of the way village on the Somerset levels. Its not somewhere youre likely to stumble across by accident, but its well worth checking out being only a few miles outside of Wells. Punters seemed to be a mix of cyclists and locals, but were all friendly enough.

Its a good sized pub with flagstone flooring and exposed stone walls throughout and whilst it doesnt have much in the way of home comforts, it nevertheless has considerable character and charm. It feels exactly like what a traditional village inn, untouched by the passage of time, should be.

The front bar is an L-shaped affair and this leads through to what is described as a restaurant area at the back, although in reality apart from maybe a couple of extra tables and chairs there is little difference between this and the rest of the pub. There are a few shelves piled up with books and a small room with a dart board off to one side and a skittle alley beyond that.

At the back is a reasonable sized patio area with some wooden decking adjacent to the river from which the pub takes its name. This is a great spot on a sunny day with views of the river and the fields opposite. There was music playing which in the normal course of events I would say was slightly too loud, but somehow it didnt feel it and instead just added a mellow vibe to the atmosphere. I would guess the friendly landlord was keen on music as I noticed an old turntable behind the bar. The food offering on a recent visit appeared to be just a selection of pasties lined up on the bar, although this was Easter Sunday they may well do more at other times.

Although there were several hand pumps on the bar, these seemed not to be in use with the beer being served directly from a couple of barrels perched on the end of the bar. On this occasion they were both from the Milk Street Brewery in Frome Mermaid and Funky Monkey. They also had their own cider and perry, also straight from the barrel, which was very pleasant. I queried the percentage and was told that it varied, but was guaranteed to be at least 6%!

All in all this is a fantastic, traditional old pub, and well worth getting your map out to try and track it down.

26 Apr 2011 16:36

The Tram Shed, Bath

Now called The Tramshed, this In many ways this seems more of a restaurant than a pub. For example, there is a desk just inside the door to check your reservation, and having stood there for a few seconds (we were planning to eat) someone comes up to serve you. That said, there is a long bar on the left with a surprisingly good range of drinks, and Im sure that youd be welcome to just pop in for a pint. Just dont expect a particularly pubby feel to the place.

Although its all one big, open room, theyve divided it up in to a few different areas. To the right there are very rough, rustic wooden tables with bench seats covered in what appears to be cow hides. The parquet wooden flooring contrasts with the ceiling which has industrial metal lamps and visible ventilation ducting. At the back are some full height wine racks and glimpses of the kitchen can be seen off in one corner. There are full size windows at the front leading out on to a patio area.

Staff all seemed friendly, although one got the impression that was perhaps in hopefulness of a decent tip or due to corporate strategy rather than being entirely genuine. The waitress who brought our bill even gave us a card with details of an online survey that we could fill out, and had scribbled her name on in, just in case we wanted to mention her!

Food menu was extensive as would be expected, with an emphasis on pizza and pasta, as well as several sharing dishes. What we had seemed decent enough and reasonable value, although it amused me that one of the dishes on the specials menu was exactly the same as the one served up to a local hack in their sister pub in Bristol, who pointed out that the they were in fact listed on page 26 of the Brake Brothers party brochure, item code F33004.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar and the local Gem. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk, and impressively, Thatchers Heritage. Its not often you see that in a pub, never mind a restaurant/bar.

26 Apr 2011 15:48

The Barley, Bath

This is actually The Barley Mow, not the Barley...

A pleasant enough pub that looks as though it may have recently had a makeover. There is rather a preponderance of gastro-pub green paint, although it doesnt appear to fall in to that particular genre.

Its essentially a single room affair, although it is partitioned off to an extent to create a couple of separate areas. The bar has wooden flooring and theres a small pub grub menu chalked up on a board next to the bar. The landlord seemed friendly enough, and was happy to do food even though I dont think it was their normal serving time.

There is a small courtyard at the back which is quite sheltered by the tall buildings nearby. Its a reasonably attractive spot, with chippings stuck to the floor, a couple of pot plants and a small awning to keep the rain off.

Beers on this occasion were 6X, Old Speckled Hen and Otter Ale. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Addlestones and Gaymers Pear.

26 Apr 2011 14:51

The Pulteney Arms, Bath

Although it doesnt look much from the outside, this is a decent pub tucked a little way away from the central area at the other side of Henrietta Park. Well worth the short stroll to get here though.

The main bar is an attractive affair with a mixture of exposed stone walls, plaster and some wood panelling. There was a fireplace in one wall and a decent looking and extensive menu chalked on a board up above. There was also another bar at the rear where I spied a plasma showing a sports match, but I didnt investigate this.

There is some limited seating outside, and although its facing on to the road there was very little traffic and this was a pleasant spot to while away an hour or two on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I believe there is also a small courtyard although I didnt see this.

Beers on this occasion were Timothy Taylor Landlord, Sheep Dip, London Pride, Tribute and Youngs Bitter. Ciders were well represented with Thatchers Heritage, Symonds Founders Reserve and Stowford Press.

26 Apr 2011 14:32

The Boater, Bath

On first impressions when entering from street level off Pultney Bridge, this seems to be a traditional and pleasant but unremarkable pub. Investigate the narrow staircase near the entrance however, and you come first to a cellar bar before going on further to what Im sure is Baths biggest beer garden.

The top bar as mentioned is a fairly traditional affair, with a long bar on the left, carpet on the floors and plenty of Bath Rugby photos on the walls. There were three plasmas dotted around showing the rugby, although somehow this didnt seem too intrusive.

The downstairs cellar bar has quite a different feel with an unusual tiled brick floor and an arched brick vaulted ceiling. There is a further bar counter here. Down a few steps at the other end and you come to a large terraced beer garden that leads down to a walkway adjacent to the weir. Its a pleasant spot when the suns out, although unfortunately the view of the river and weir isnt quite as good as it could be. It gets packed on sunny days and there is a projector screen which shows big sporting matches. This covered area in the corner looks as though it could also be used for bands on occasions, although whether this is actually the case Im not sure.

Beers on this occasion were Courage Best, 6X, Gem and Bombadier. Ciders were Blackthorn and Gaymers Pear.

26 Apr 2011 14:14

The Blue Flame Inn, Nailsea

A completely timeless, unspoilt country pub. Its quite difficult to describe, but if you imagine the sort of house that a ninety year old might live in, having not touched anything for the last 50 years, you probably wouldnt be too far out.

It was presumably a residential house at one time (makes a pleasant change for a house to convert to a pub) and the layout is pretty much unchanged since. You go in through a small porch to a hallway. Theres a small snug off to the left which has a table skittles game and a couple of old benches and tables. To the right is a similarly sized room, but with the addition of a small bar counter. There are numerous old photos on the walls and an old fireplace, although Ive never seen this in use.

Beyond this is another room that tends not to get much use, although I once saw it being used as a barbers shop! This leads down a few steps to an extensive beer garden, with an old caravan in one corner, plenty of picnic tables and a BBQ area. They usually have a big fireworks party in November which is quite spectacular; not only fireworks, but a large bonfire burning an impressive and appropriate model, e.g.; the House of Commons.

This pub wont be to everyones taste. It takes being unspoilt to the extreme, and some might describe it as ramshackle. It hasnt had a coat of paint for decades and the loos are very basic and outside. But its a popular place in spite of being rather remote, and there is usually a crowd of friendly regulars sat out on the benches at the front. Besides crisps, the only food offering might be a couple of filled rolls on the bar and pickled eggs. The landlord Mick is a friendly chap and quite a character.
Theres an ever changing selection of beers served directly from barrels racked up behind the bar. They usually include something from RCH and on a recent visit there was their Pitchfork in addition to Skinners Ginger Tosser and Butcombe. Ciders are well represented with Thatchers Dry, Thatchers Traditional, Mendip Magic and Stowford Press.

All in all a great pub, and well worth seeking out.

22 Apr 2011 22:35

The Ostrich, Bristol

The main attraction of this pub is definitely the large outside seating area. It has a square footage probably about ten times as much as the pub itself, and being adjacent to the river and a lock gets packed on warm sunny evenings. Its also one of the stopping off points for the various booze cruises that sail around the docks. Unfortunately though it loses the sun quite early due to the tall buildings nearby, so it can get a little chilly unless its a really warm day. There is a good view across the water to The Thekla, Mud Dock, etc.

In spite of it being extremely busy on a recent Thursday evening with an orderly queue of about a dozen people at the bar, there were four people serving and they seemed quick and efficient.

The pub itself is a traditional affair and not unpleasant, although I didnt note anything of particular interest the short time that I was in there. From memory there is an old cave entrance in one corner which they had made a bit of a feature of, in fact I recall there was an old skeleton in there at one time.

Beers on tap were Robinsons Ginger Tom, Hobgoblin and Tribute. Ciders were Blackthorn and Scrumpy Jack.

22 Apr 2011 15:42

The Baccy Jar, Whitchurch

A fairly non-descript estate pub, typical of the type of building that was chucked up in the 1970s or thereabouts. In used to have a rather unsavoury reputation but has since had a makeover which has included a changing its name to The Court Farm Tavern. Obviously no point in letting BITE admin know about this, they wont bother to change it. On first impressions I wasnt even sure if it was still open as there was not a single car in the car park. The pub is currently up to let, and I overheard the friendly barman saying that he would be leaving at the beginning of May, so I guess the future is currently a little uncertain.

The lounge bar is called the Marie Celeste, and this seemed appropriate seeing as it was completely deserted on a recent Thursday lunchtime. The area around the bar sports a flagstone floor, and there is a larger raised area with pine flooring, a couple of leatherette sofas, a handful of tables and quite a bit of empty space. The walls are a curious red and white colour scheme.

The other bar is more sports orientated with a pool table, projector screen and a rather drab brown colour scheme. The food offering seemed to be predominantly pizzas, either to eat in or take away and some of these were available as part of a meal deal with a pint for 5.99 which seems reasonable value. There was also a small specials board with some of the more usual pub grub dishes such as a chilli and ham, egg & chips.

Unfortunately there is no outside seating, and in fact the pub doesnt have a license to serve drinks outside which is obviously a major drawback during the current unseasonably hot weather. That, together with the 2.55 charged for an orange juice and lemonade may account for why I was the only punter in there, although a small group of old boys did turn up later on.

The solitary beer on tap was Courage Best. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

21 Apr 2011 15:22

The Old Farmhouse, Nailsea

This is a very extensive pub with several different areas as well as a good sized patio at the front and a small, adjacent kids play area. As you go in to the main door youre now faced with a carvery counter which I always find slightly off-putting in a pub. This used to be the main bar with the carvery counter further down towards the restaurant which seemed entirely logical, but for some reason these have now swapped places. This bar is reasonably attractive with a flagstone floor. To the left past the smaller bar counter is the restaurant area in a converted barn which is a decent enough spot with a high vaulted ceiling. To the right is a cosier, carpeted room with a large stone built fireplace at one end, the main bar counter and a TV perched on the window sill that looked a little out of place. Beyond this there is a further seating area up a few steps.

The service at the bar was unfortunately pretty much non-existent on a recent Wednesday evening. The first time I went to the bar there were two punters in front of me and nobody serving. After a couple of minutes someone tuned up, but it was some time before I got served due to an apparent problem with the whisky. The conversation went something like this
Punter Can I have a house double whisky please.
Barmaid Sorry, theres only enough left in the bottle for a single
Punter OK, Ill have a single then please
Barmaid You cant have a single, that one is priced as a double.
Punter (shrugs in exasperation) OK, just give me a single and Ill pay for a double.
The next time I went to the bar there were three people waiting and nobody serving. At this point I gave up and went elsewhere.

Having said that, the barmaid was pleasant enough, and undeniably attractive. Whether she was dressed appropriately or not is another matter a tight black dress that barely covered her arse might be OK in a trendy city centre venue, but for somewhere in the middle of a residential area that bills itself as a great family pub, it looked a little out of place. But then maybe Im just getting old.

Beers on this occasion were Hopping Hare, Sussex Bitter, Badger and Tanglefoot. Ciders were Blackthorn and Stowford Press.

21 Apr 2011 11:47

The Ship Inn, Keynsham

A pleasant, olde worlde pub just a short walk away from the High Street. On going in to the small entrance vestibule, youre presented with two doors, one to the left marked The Cuddy (which is a cabin on a small boat) and one to the right marked The Focsle (which is the forward part of the upper deck).

The Focsle is effectively the public bar, being a long room containing the bulk of the bar counter with a plasma and dart board down at the far end. The Cuddy is a smaller, cosier affair with carpeted floors and the walls being a mixture of wood panelling and exposed stonework, a smaller wood panelled corner bar and a large stone fireplace which has an inscription dating the pub to 1636. On from this again is a smaller room used more for dining and private functions.

There is also a small but pleasant garden at the back, and below this something that looks as though it may perhaps be a boules pitch, or something similar. From here there are good views of the adjacent park and river. There was some sort of food offering, although I didnt inspect the menu.

Beers on offer were mostly from Marstons, with their Burton, Pedigree and Dragons Tale. In addition to this was Wychwood Paddys Tout, Jennings Stickle Pike and Ringwood Best. Ciders were Blackthorn & Thatchers Gold.

20 Apr 2011 15:09

The Black Horse, Redfield

A basic, no frills boozer located towards the top of Church Road. It a single room, U-shape pub with the bar in the middle. To the left of the bar is some old bench seating and a scattering of tables and chairs elsewhere.

There were several fruit machines, quiz machines, etc. dotted around, and a plasma in one corner near the door although the volume was turned down on this. There was a further area at the back of the pub, although this was in darkness so I didnt explore it.

It was very quiet on a recent Saturday evening, with only about half a dozen other punters in there at 9:00pm. The solitary barmaid was busy texting but stopped promptly enough to serve us. A little background music would probably have added to the atmosphere, it was mostly either too quiet or too noisy (when something had been put on the jukebox).

The only beer on offer was keg Courage Best unfortunately. Ciders were Blackthorn and Symonds Founders Reserve.

19 Apr 2011 10:43

Old Stillage, Redfield

A pleasant Arbor Ales pub on the main strip through Redfield. Inside you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a traditional country pub with it beams on the ceiling, dark wooden flooring, wood partitions and an ornate carved wooden bar with hops around the top. Sit in the cosy area at the front of the bar with its wood panelling, lots of black and white photos on the wall and a couple of button back leather sofas and you could almost imagine you were in an old hotel drawing room.

On the left of the pub is an old stone fireplace with a large curved metal chimney and beyond that a pool table. The flooring here was tatty lino which spoilt the look a bit. There were a couple of plasma dotted around which were initially showing the football. When this had finished it was unfortunately left on to show some mindless Saturday night TV talent show with the volume up rather too loudly.

There is a band area at the front of the pub, and it looked as though something was being set up ready for later on in the evening. There is also a small courtyard at the back of the pub. The menu was a basic offering chalked up on the board with just a few snack type dishes to keep the hunger at bay.

Beers on tap were all from the Arbor Ales stable with their Old Knobbley, Brigstow, Artisan and Metahop. There was also a pump for Hunny Beer although this had run out on our visit. Ciders were Stowford Press and Pheasant Plucker.

19 Apr 2011 10:32

The Shakespeare, Bristol

This is one of the few proper, traditional pubs left in the central Bristol area, and all the better for it. There is a small patio area at the front, which is a pleasant enough spot although being opposite a busy junction it doesnt have much of an outlook.

Inside, theres a front and rear bar. Both are fairly small and it can get quite busy in here, so youre often unable to get a seat. Both bars are similar in style, with some wood panelling on the walls, old floorboards and a few nautical items on the wall such as old black and white photos of ships and the obligatory display of various knots in a glass case. Although the pub does not have a nautical name, it is just a few yards away from the docks, so its appropriate enough. The rear bar has a couple of interesting leaded, stained glass windows.

Theres a good choice of food on the pub grub menu, with the usual suspects such as chilli, lasagne, ham, egg & chips, etc., mostly priced in the 5.50 - 7.50 price bracket. There were other sections on the menu such as burgers, sandwiches, jackets, etc, and a board proclaimed that Pie Minister pies were also available, although these did not appear to be listed. Other boards gave information on the Sunday lunches and Tuesday quiz nights.

Beers on tap were the regulars from the Greene King stable IPA, Abbot Ale and Speckled Hen. There was also Okells Old Skipper and Thwaites Wainwright. Ciders were well represented with Blackthorn, Thatchers Gold and Aspalls Suffolk.

15 Apr 2011 14:59

The Crown, Saltford

A prominent pub on the main road in the centre of Saltford. Unusually the pub sign is a two dimensional model of a gold crown, rather than the usual oblong board with a picture on it. Theres a good sized beer garden out the back in addition to a small patio area. Inside, it all seems to be a bit of a mismatch of different styles.

The main bar area has limited seating and looks a little shabby, with some old parquet wooden flooring around the bar counter and carpet elsewhere. The walls are mostly finished in a rough, painted plaster and the wood panelled bar has also been painted, a long time ago. You get the feeling that maybe at one time this was a decent place with exposed stonework and natural wood, but sadly no more.

To the left is a room dominated by a pool table, although oddly the few tables that were in here were laid up for food which seems an strange mix. At the other end of the pub is a large, attractive stone built fireplace and flagstone hearth, which is probably the pubs best feature. There are a couple of old leather sofas just in front of it which is a pleasant enough spot. The plasma screen tacked on to the edge of the fireplace ruins the look somewhat though.

At the back is a large conservatory/restaurant area overlooking the garden. The menu appears to be of the usual mass-produced pub grub type, with various dishes such as chilli, lasagne, ham, egg & chips, etc, all offered at around the 6/7 mark, although many were also available as a 2 for 10 deal. Other sections on the menu included baguettes, burgers, salads, jackets, grills, etc.

It was fairly quiet on a recent mid-week lunch-time, possibly on account of the prices being charged. 2.55 for an Orange Juice and Lemonade seems excessive. I paid over a pound less just a mile away in The Riverside Inn last week, which is in a prime location next to the river. A couple of the punters that were at the bar were using some rather course language, and the odd barman and heavily tattooed chef seemed happy to join in an animated discussion about hard-ons.

Beers on tap were Gem and Courage Best. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold. Overall, I can see little reason why anyone would stop here unless youre just passing through and dont know any better. The three pubs down by the river are all far better establishments in much nicer locations.

13 Apr 2011 15:29

The Hope and Anchor, Bristol

A popular pub usefully located midway between Clifton and Hotwells. Its a single room, L-shaped pub with the bar counter immediately in front of you as you enter. The floor is stripped back to the boards and the rest of the dcor is in a similar vein with chunky wooden tables and wood backed bench seating around the perimeter.

Theirs is a pleasant terraced garden out the back which is unusual in this area, and not at all obvious, either from the outside, or indeed inside. This is quite a good size with plenty of tables and benches, although its quite shaded so doesnt get too much in the way of sun.

Theres a decent looking pub grub menu and a few specials chalked up on a board as well. Weve eaten here previously and the food was ok as far as I recall. This time we ordered the major chilli beef burger which at 6.95 seemed good value, turning up with two massive beef patties sandwiched in a bun. It had a home made look about it, and you could clearly see the pieces of chilli mixed in with it, so we had high expectations. Unfortunately there was far more gristle than meat, several indigestible pieces in every single mouthful. We struggled through about half of it and then gave up. To be fair though, burgers seemed the most popular dish on the menu and most plates were going back empty. Either we were unlucky, or nobody else minded, Im not sure.

There was a good range of beers on tap with Butcombe Gold, Exmoor Gold, Otter Ale, Cotleigh Tawny Owl, Wickwar Premium Spring Ale and Palmers Dorset Gold. The solitary cider was Ashton Press.

In spite of my experience with the food, I still like this pub and will mark it accordingly. Ill just make sure I dont have the burgers next time.

11 Apr 2011 10:45

The Cartwheel, Hengrove

A fairly typical 70s estate pub without much in the way of character but serving its purpose well enough. Its not an unpleasant building, and the current owners seem to take a great deal of care with the gardens which surround it on three sides. Besides a well manicured lawn, theres a selection of shrubs and potted plants including some in old beer barrels which seems appropriate. There is also a good sized patio area at the front which is a bit of a sun trap, and a similarly good sized smoking shelter at the rear, complete with a few picnic benches.

This used to be my local a few years ago, but its had a fairly major refurbishment since I was in here last. In fact, Id suspect that its only recently been completed as it still had a bit of a new smell about it. The front bar which used to be the lounge now seems to be more of a public bar having a pool table, darts board, plasma and a couple of fruit/quiz machines. The flooring is made up of some attractive stone tiles, there is some wood stripwork around the bar and some bench seating around the perimeter with green painted wood backing.

There is also a sectioned off raised area which is carpeted and thus creates a bit of a cosier ambience. This looks to be more geared up for dining. At the other side of the pub is what used to be the public bar and also had a skittle alley. However, there was a private function in here on a recent visit, so I was unable to investigate further.

The food menu was fairly extensive, and looked to be your typical pub grub selection with dishes such as lasagne, chilli, ham, egg & chips, etc. mostly somewhere around the 5 mark. The sign outside proclaims that good food is served seven days a week, but I didnt eat on this occasion so am unable to put that to the test.

No real ales on unfortunately, just keg John Smiths. However, its good to see that theyve gone from no cider many years ago, and then to having just Olde English (which is almost as bad as having nothing) to now having three on Stowford Press, Blackthorn and Natch.

8 Apr 2011 15:43

Inn On The Green, Horfield

Lets get one thing straight first of all. This pub is not on the green as you might infer from its name. In fact theres no green anywhere to be seen. True, there are some playing fields opposite, but they are separated from the pub by the A38, a high hedge and an even higher fence. Maybe there was a green at one time, but if you turn up expecting to see one today, youre going to be disappointed.

The pub itself is very long, having a main bar area, an intermediate lobby, and then another long narrow room that may well have been a skittle alley in a former life. Starting with the main bar, this is an L-shape running along in front of the bar counter and around the end where there are a couple of sofas and a fireplace. The flooring here is a mixture of carpet, wood strip and stone tiles. The bar counter itself has an exceptionally good selection of hand pumps all along it see the end of this review for the beers that were available on this occasion.

At the end of this bar it opens out in to a lobby area with a few leather sofas on one side and an open space with a dart board on the other. The dcor here seems to consist mostly of hundreds of beer mats adorning the walls. The floor is stone tiling and leads in to a long room with a high ceiling going right up in to the apex of the roof and some exposed brickwork at the far end. There is some wood panelling on the walls and large dual aspect windows looking out to the road on one side and the small beer garden on the other.

The regular printed menu seems to have slightly gastropub pretensions, with just half a dozen or so main courses, mostly around the 12 mark. Unusually the specials board is cheaper and seems to consist of slightly more regular pub food. There is also a selection of tapas style light bites chalked up above the bar, priced at three for 9. We chose a Thai Green Chicken Curry from the specials board, and although it was a reasonable 7.75, we were slightly disappointed especially after the long wait for it to arrive. The sauce was very runny, and there wasnt much in the way of flavour, just plenty of heat which is not what I would generally expect from a green curry.

As previously mentioned, there was an extensive selection of beer available. On this occasion it was St. Austells Proper Job, Baths Barnstormer and Festivity, Woods Twist Grip and Quaff, Butts Barbus barbus, Wolfs Woild Moild and Wolf in Sheeps Clothing, Wylam Northern Kite, Black Sheep, Butcombe, Bass and finally Firefly. I believe the last three are the regulars.

Ciders were also well represented with Stowford Press, Addlestones, Thatchers Heritage and a trio from Westons Old Rosie, Country Perry and Bounds Scrumpy.

Overall, a bit of a mixed bag then. It was good to see it busy on a mid-week evening and on the plus side, they clearly take their beer seriously with a great choice on the bar and a festival planned for the end of the month, a good sized layout catering to different audiences, a beer garden, some reasonably priced food and some friendly staff. On the down side, Ive had to prefix many of the above points with some as opposed to all, there was a long wait for the food (although we may have been unlucky, others seemed to get served quickly enough), most of the crockery it was served on was chipped, the gardens a little tatty and the loos need a refurb.

7 Apr 2011 09:18

The Riverside, Saltford

A Wadworths pub in a picturesque setting next to the River Avon. Its an extensive place, with several different rooms, both upstairs and downstairs.

Downstairs has had a refurbishment since my last visit and is now a pleasant enough space, albeit in a slightly wine bar sort of way perhaps rather than your traditional pub. The floor is mostly an attractive stone tile, with some pine boards nearer the bar. Theres a good selection of tables with leather high backed chairs, and some leather sofas as well. This opens out on to a patio area at the rear adjacent to the river.

Upstairs the main bar is slightly more traditional, although still doesnt feel especially pubby. A large mast in the centre of the room gives a nod to its waterside setting, and there was a piano in one corner. Apparently a pianist has been coming in to play, but this has now stopped for some reason. This area is carpeted throughout and there are again plenty of tables that look as though they may be intended more for use by diners. From here you can go on to a restaurant area with good views across the river and a carvery counter that seemed to be popular on a recent mid-week lunchtime. I understand that senior citizens having a carvery qualify for a free pudding, with would account for the fact that most of the punters seemed to be OAPs.

From the other end of the bar you can go on in to a tiled conservatory, again with plenty of tables and chairs and this then leads out to another patio area with great views of the marina on one side and the river and weir on the other. This is a terrific spot, and whilst it was surprisingly quiet when I visited, I imagine it would get packed on a sunny weekend.

Besides the aforementioned carvery, the menu consisted of a good selection of pub grub dishes, and was divided in to sections such as a bar menu, all day dining, sandwiches, jackets, etc. Some of these seemed slightly pricey (e.g.; ham, egg & chips was 8.50), but I didnt eat myself so cant comment on the quality. There is also a good selection of pizzas and a few specials chalked up on a board next to the bar.

Possibly they could do with some more staff on, as I was stood at the bar for a few minutes before anyone arrived since it appeared she also had restaurant duties to attend to. That said, when the barmaid did materialise she was friendly and helpful, and apologised for the wait.

Beers on tap were all from the Wadworths stable, with their 6X, Swordfish and Henrys IPA. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

6 Apr 2011 15:08

The Plume of Feathers, Bristol

This pub has had a bit of a chequered history recently, being closed and re-opened on numerous occasions, including one spell where it was shut for two years. So its good to see it finally re-open again, and hopefully this time it will be more successful.

Its a good size, single room bar, with a traditional, curved wooden bar counter on the right which includes some stained glass windows above the bar counter which is an unusual feature. At the back there is a raised area used for bands, and on the night we visited tribute band The Twurzels were due to play. There is also a regular jazz evening on Tuesdays. Next to the stage is an old piano, although whether this gets any use Im not sure.

The dcor is a little gloomy with a predominance of brown paintwork and brown curtains, although I understand there are plans afoot to change this. There are a few illuminated black and white photographs along one wall and a fruit machine next to the bar.

The landlady seemed friendly and was clearly trying to do her best to build business back up. After long spells of closure, inevitable regulars have all gone elsewhere. The two beers on tap were both from Arbor Ales with their Brigstow and Hunny Beer. Ciders were better represented with Thatchers Gold, Blackthorn and Thatchers Traditional dispensed directly from a barrel on the end of the bar.

4 Apr 2011 09:39

The Princess Louise, Holborn

As others have said, this must be one of the most impressive pub interiors in the capital if not the country. One of the many unusual features is the two entrance porches on each corner, each with two doors. One from each leads in to the front bar, which is probably the best place to appreciate the whole pub. The other doors lead to a corridor at each side of the pub, that goes up past the bar and opens out to a room at the rear. On the way past the bar are a couple of booths made of carved wood and etched glass. The edge of these booths runs right down to the bar counter, effectively creating your own small, private room with direct access to the bar.

The side corridors have mosaic tiling on the floor, and some painted tiling on the walls. The central bar area is also made of detailed wood carving, and has a built in clock as its centre piece. Several columns rise to the ornate ceiling, topped with gold leaf paint.

The only downside is really the choice of beer. Being a Samuel Smiths pub, the only beer on offer appeared to be their own Old Brewery Bitter. Similarly the solitary cider was their own Cider Reserve. Even the spirits and soft drinks appeared to be from the Samuel Smiths range.

28 Mar 2011 13:42

Windsor Castle, Marylebone

Where do I start with this one? There is stuff absolutely everywhere, not only on the walls but the ceilings as well. In many cases you cant even tell what the dcor is, as there is literally not a spare square inch of space.

The first thing you notice is a full size model soldier stood on guard in a glass case outside the front door. Before you even step foot inside, youll probably also notice the rows and rows of jugs lined up in shelves just inside the window. I cant even begin to document everything thats there, but I did notice plates in glass cases covering one ceiling, photos of various stars such as Anita Dobson, and numerous photos and drawings of royalty, from a painting of Queen Victoria and her extended family to photos of Diana and a very young William and Harry.

Upstairs is a small restaurant area that has a slightly odd appearance with a narrow staircase to get to it and green plastic tablecloths, but youll probably be more interested in the royal pictures plastering the walls or the piano in the corner. The restaurant is a Thai and has friendly Thai waitresses serving. The menu was extensive, with most of the dishes being priced at little more than you would expect to pay in a takeaway. The two dishes of Pad Thai and Green Curry were both very good and we would certainly recommend the food here.

The barman seemed slightly indifferent when he served us, but waved a friendly goodbye as we left, so perhaps he was just a little perturbed about me questioning his selection of cider and then deciding to go with the one that was right in front of me. One bar counter had a copper tap, fed by a shiny copper pipe about 12 inches above the bar. Whether this was just an unusual feature, or for customers to help themselves to water, Im not sure.

Beers on tap were 6X, Bombadier, Youngs Bitter and Adnams Bitter. The solitary cider was Addlestones which was a pleasant change from the sweet fizzy stuff you seem to get in most pubs round these parts.

28 Mar 2011 12:44

The Carpenters Arms, Marble Arch

A popular and friendly pub thats a little off the beaten track, even though its just a stones throw from Edgeware Road. Its essentially a single room affair with a U-shape bar counter, although there is also a protrusion to the rear that can be curtained off for semi-private events.

There are large, dual aspect windows, with leather bench seating arranged in rows perpendicular to the windows at the front. The flooring is dark reclaimed boards and there are a number of old photographs of the pub on the wall along with a large selection of beer mats.

There were three plasmas dotted around showing the cricket, although the sound was off. There was also a board detailing some upcoming premiership matches. All the barmaids seemed friendly.

Beers on this occasion were Jimmy Riddle, Cottage Evening Star and Slaters Craic. There was also a fourth pump on the bar, although this was not in use on our visit. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

28 Mar 2011 12:21

The Duke Of Wellington, Marylebone

In may ways this really seems to be more of a trendy wine bar than your traditional pub, with its chunky wooden tables, each with a candle on as well as some small candelabras in the window and reclaimed wooden floorboards but its a pleasant enough place I suppose, although it was very noisy on a recent Friday evening visit.

Its a light and airy place with large, dual aspect windows, a dark maroon ceiling and leather bench seating around the perimeter. There is also a small amount of outside seating. There was an extensive wine list chalked up on a board next to the bar, which unusually listed the vintage as well as the grape and the vineyard. These were all available by the glass and there was a further wine list available in addition to this.

Beers on tap were London Pride, Doom Bar and Black Sheep. They also had Addlestones cider which made a pleasant change from most of the sweet, fizzy concoctions that you get around these parts.

28 Mar 2011 11:34

The Masons Arms, Marylebone

A smallish street corner pub just a stones throw from Edgeware Road. Theres a surprisingly large (in relation to the overall size of the pub) central bar area, with seating around the perimeter. In common with many of the pubs around here, the dcor is mostly wood.

Unfortunately Im able to leave much in the way of a detailed review, as on our first visit we were after something to eat and there was nowhere to eat in the downstairs bar. We therefore went upstairs to the restaurant which is quite a contrast. It looks recently renovated and has a fine dining appearance to it although the actual menu is shared with the pub downstairs. From perusing the menu outside there seemed to be a good selection of dishes, although with most main courses being in the 10 - 12 range, its a step up from your normal pub grub. By the time youve added a vegetable side dish, a couple of glasses of wine and been hit with a 12% service charge, the bill soon adds up (whether the service charge is payable downstairs Im not sure). The food was decent enough though, and the waitress pleasant and friendly, even if she did have the rather annoying habit of incorporating No problem in to every single sentence.

Our second attempt at a visit just to enjoy a pint was at around 10:40pm on a Saturday evening. On this occasion they seemed to be just about shut, with all the chairs stacked on to the tables, and just three people stood watching the TV. I assume these were all staff, as one had a bag of rubbish in his hand, so we decided to go just down the road to the all together more welcoming Carpenters Arms.

28 Mar 2011 11:11

The Golden Eagle, Bond Street

A small, traditional street corner boozer in the heart of Marylebone. The interior dcor is unremarkable and perhaps a little past its best, but its a pleasant enough, no frills sort of pub.

The dual aspect leaded windows have some squares of stained glass and the floor is carpeted. There is green velvet bench seating around the walls together with a few round tables and chairs, and more green velvet on the bar stools. There was little decoration on the walls another than a couple of paintings of a sunny Mediterranean scene and a royal portrait. Some other notices on the walls seem to suggest regular music nights, although these may have been just for decoration. There was a small TV up in the corner, but this was not on when we visited. Barman seemed friendly enough.

Beers on tap were Wychwood Paddys Tout, St. Austell Tribute and York Brewerys First Light. There was also a pump for London Pride, although this was off on our visit. The solitary cider was Strongbow unfortunately.

28 Mar 2011 10:54

The Dover Castle, Marylebone

A small and cosy pub tucked away down a quiet side street. It took me a little while to find as I hadnt realised that Weymouth Mews is effectively an H shape and I was initially in the wrong half, but it was worth persevering.

The main bar area runs along the front of the pub with the curved and wood panelled bar counter on the left. To the left of this is a glass display case built in to the wall containing various items of silverware. The floor is carpeted and there are tied back curtains at the windows which create a cosy and relaxed ambience. There was a small fireplace at one end and a few pictures dotted around the wood panelled walls. The seating is mostly green leather button backed benches around the perimeter, and a few leather topped bar stools. There is a small courtyard area at the back and also a small wood panelled snug.

There was no sign of any food being offered, although the brewerys own Chilli Nuts were pretty good. Unfortunately being a Samuel Smiths pub, the beer choice was very limited with just their own Old Brewery Bitter, and the solitary cider was again their own Reserve Cider. A board listed a few more beers that were available by the bottle however.

28 Mar 2011 10:42

The Pontefract Castle, Marylebone

A pleasant enough and good sized corner pub from the Nicholsons stable. Theres limited seating in the downstairs bar although plenty of space for vertical drinking. There was a spiral staircase leading to an upstairs bar and restaurant area, although we didnt check this out. There were also three or four small tables in the pedestrianised street outside.

Being a corner pub there were large, dual aspect windows and this gave a reasonably light and airy feel to the place. The wood panelled bar had an impressive carved wooden backdrop and a good range of pumps, all sporting a notice outlining a brief description of the beer and an invitation to try before you buy.

There was a decent looking pub grub menu at what appeared to be quite reasonable prices, although we didnt eat on this occasion. Staff all seemed friendly and helpful.

A blackboard listed around 25 beers, with the current offerings being ticked. Presumably these are rotated around regularly, although there may well be other guests as well, as not all the ones currently on appeared to be on here. On this occasion they were Adnams Lighthouse and Broadside, Doombar, London Pride, Leeds Best and York Brewerys First Light. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk and Strongbow. There were also about seven lagers to choose from, if thats your thing.

28 Mar 2011 10:25

The Horniman at Hays, Southwark

A large and expansive Nicholsons pub alongside the Thames. There is limited seating around the perimeter at entrance level with the main bar area down a few steps, although this is a pleasant elevated position to sit and watch the rest of the pub. There are four large pillars at the front of the pub which makes negotiating the seating here slightly tricky.

This main bar area is a large open space with four big chandeliers, an ornate plastered ceiling and an impressive wood panelled back drop to the bar with an integral clock built in to the top. There is a strip painting on the wall above the bar, and this continues around the side. The floor of the bar is tiled, with a couple of large inlaid brass plaques bearing an HH motif. I only spotted one plasma which was turned off, and discretely disguised with a brown leather surround to it!

At the left hand end is an upper area with a good view of the bar, and below this another bar area that was crammed full of small square tables and chairs. There is also a good amount of outside seating adjacent to the river.

Food offering seems to be a standard Nicholsons affair, which nonetheless offers a good selection of pub grub at reasonable prices, although here the prices seemed to be a pound or so higher than some of their other outlets. I guess thats the price you pay for a riverside setting. A queuing system seemed to have developed at the bar, with all punters waiting patiently to order at one of the two till points at the end. Im not sure if this is always the case as I didnt see any signs to this effect, but it worked well enough.

There was an excellent choice of beers on tap as follows Doom Bar, London Pride, Jaipur, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Butcombe Old Vic, Brains Milkwood, Coach House Gunpowder Mild, Caledonian Flying Dutchman, St. Austell Proper Job, Adnams Lighthouse and finally Honey Blond which is apparently brewed exclusively for them by Thornbridge. After this, the choice of ciders was slightly disappointing with just Aspalls Suffolk.

28 Mar 2011 10:08

The Greenhouse, Bristol

A large pub aimed at a young crowd just opposite College Green. Its fairly nondescript and consequently difficult to find anything interesting to say about it. The best part is I suppose the large area at the back which opens up in to a two story high space with an interesting circular glass panel in the roof (illuminated in changing colours) and some tall black columns against the rear wall.

Possibly if it was tidied up a bit it might all be quite impressive, but the dcor is clearly passed its best with the paint shabby and the carpet threadbare in places. The central area at the back is raised up a couple of steps, presumably morphing in to a dance floor at the weekend, judging by the various disco lights around the place. Apparently there is a resident DJ on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is also a mezzanine floor overlooking this that has a small bar counter, although the whole area was shut off on a recent Monday night visit.

At the front there are large folding windows, which completely open up the front of the pub. This can be a pleasant enough spot in the summer, with the view across the green opposite. Several ornate gilded mirrors complete the dcor, and there are numerous plasmas dotted around showing a mixture of sports and news channels.

The solitary beer on tap was Bombadier. Ciders fared slightly better, although they were all of the mass produced, bland, fizzy, nitro-keg variety Bulmers, Strongbow and Magners Golden Draft.

22 Mar 2011 12:59

Start the Bus, Bristol

Despite its odd name, this seems to be a chilled out and relaxed bar, certainly a great improvement from when it was Edwards. The outside has all been painted in a dark green colour and there are various murals on the walls. Inside there are various bold colours, with many of the walls being a lighter shade of green interspersed with red pillars. The drawings continue inside as well with all sorts of odd artwork painted on the walls.

Although all open plan, its divided in to several different areas. The lowest level is where the most colourful artwork is, and this is filled with lots of leather sofas and low tables. The main bar area has pine flooring and leather bench seating along one wall and a good selection of tables and chairs. Finally there was a curtained off area at one end that was being used by a band on this occasion who were apparently called Wu Lyf. To me he sounded as though he was in agony, but I guess some people may have enjoyed it. This spoilt the ambience slightly, as the music was quite loud in the rest of the pub. Music seems to feature prominently, with flyers on the tables detailing the bands coming up over the next few months, three or four most weeks.

There was a basic menu with a good selection of burgers and several sharing platters. The barman seemed more interested in chatting to his mate than bothering to serve anyone, but the barmaid was efficient and helpful.

Beers on tap were Deuchars IPA, Black Sheep and Adnams Broadside. Good selection of ciders with Westons Traditional Scrumpy, Aspalls Suffolk, Addlestones, Strongbow and Gaymers Pear.

22 Mar 2011 10:43

The Castle Tavern, Weston Super Mare

Having changed its name from The Castle Tavern to The New Castle, it has I suspect, also had a makeover that has pretty much removed any semblance of it ever being a pub. True, there was a couple of fonts on the bar, but that aside this is very much more a caf than a pub. In fact it describes itself as a Coffee Lounge and Wine Bar which seems a reasonable description.

Its an impressive old building, looking very much like a castle, and has full length windows and a patio area to take in the great views across Sand Bay. The main room is light wooden flooring, red Formica topped tables and light wooden chairs. There's a bar counter with a selection of cakes for sale, and a small freezer for ice cream. On the walls is a minimal amount of artwork and a couple of blackboards, one advertising lunchtime specials and the other forthcoming events such as a Curry Night, Mothers Day, etc.

The food on a recent lunchtime visit was primarily baguettes and jackets, with half a dozen or so specials from the board, such as a Thai Curry, Lasagne, etc. It seems popular and was surprisingly busy on a midweek lunchtime.

There is also a very small lounge area with a couple of leather chairs and some low tables, but overall this seems very much a place for light meals, not drinking. Having said that, the guy running it was very friendly and if a caf is what youre after Id recommend it. Certainly all the punters who were there seemed to be enjoying themselves and the food was receiving positive comments. But I cant honestly say its a pub anymore, so Im going to refrain from marking it.

There were no beers on tap, just San Miguel lager and Thatchers Gold cider (which suited me fine!).

17 Mar 2011 19:17

The Bear, Crickhowell

A large and imposing pub/restaurant/hotel at the top of the High Street. Inside theres three different bars areas as well as a separate restaurant. The left hand bar also looked to be geared up mostly for eating, and there was a plusher snug beyond this. The two main, adjoining bars contained a mixture of diners and drinkers. There was a reserved table right in front the bar, but this seemed to be just for local drinkers. I thought this was a nice touch, I can imagine some of the locals may get fed up with not being able to get a seat thanks to all the tourists.

Although quite sizable, it still manages to retain a certain charm. Theres a parquet wood floor with a number of rugs, some exposed stone walls, a couple of old fireplaces, one of which had a fire going, an old grandfather clock, a unusual wood panelled back to the bar and plenty of old pewter jugs hung on the wall.

Although very busy on a recent Friday evening, there were plenty of staff and the service was quick and efficient. Food was a notch above your usual pub grub, but 10 got me a pleasant enough curry with some decent, tender pieces of chicken, a poppadom and some pickles.

Beers on tap were Rhymneys Bitter, Henrys IPA, Rev. James and Bass. The solitary cider was Kingston Press.

14 Mar 2011 12:40

The Coach and Horses, Llangynidr

An attractive whitewashed stone pub adjacent to the canal. The main bar is off to the right, which then leads to a long restaurant area. The walls are mostly exposed brickwork, and it is carpeted throughout giving a plush appearance. There are beams on the ceiling, some comfy padded armchairs and some leather bench seating around the perimeter. The bar itself is stone built which is an unusual feature.

The smaller bar off to the left is dominated by a pool table. The landlady was very friendly, and said that they were planning a beer festival for July. There is also a pleasant and good sized beer garden immediately adjacent to the canal.

Beers on tap were Dorothy Goodbodys and Rhymneys Scrum V. Ciders were Stowford Press and Strongbow.

14 Mar 2011 12:36

The Britannia Inn, Crickhowell

A no frills boozer that seems to be trying to cater more for the youth market. There was karaoke in progress on a recent Saturday evening visit, and lots of shrieking females who seemed to be enjoying it.

The bar itself is a L-shape affair, and has fairly limited seating. Theres some exposed stone walls and a wood stripped floor, so the place has some redeeming features. There is also a fireplace, although this was not in use.

The solitary beer on tap was Adnams Southwold. Ciders were Strongbow and Stowford Press. There were also various posters on the walls advertising a selection of shooters and Jugs for Fun, whatever they are.

14 Mar 2011 12:22

The Vine Tree, Llangattock

A pleasant enough pub in a nice spot just over the road from the river. The main bar is suitably olde worlde, with a flagstone floor, open fire, copper topped bar, beams on the ceiling, exposed stone walls and some chairs made out of old beer barrels.

The right hand bar is more geared up for dining, and theres a smaller area adjoining the two with a selection of tables and a smaller rear area with some bench seating. Overall you feel that this could perhaps to with a bit of TLC, but theres nothing particularly wrong with it. The landlord, although not unpleasant, seemed somewhat indifferent. The barmaids/waitresses were all friendly enough though.

There was a very extensive menu with the main courses alone running to several pages, as well as a small specials board. This of course suggests that the food is mostly bought in rather than freshly prepared onsite, and what we had bore this out. The chicken pie had some decent, tender chunks of chicken, but wasnt especially tasty and had a very soggy pastry topping. Portion sizes were equally extensive, and between the two of us we had no less then four vegetable side dishes a massive bowl of chips, peas/carrots, dauphinoise potatoes and cauliflower cheese. It was far too much, and personally Id have preferred a little less quantity and a little more quality but I suppose if youve got a very hearty appetite it may be just the job.

The solitary beer on tap was Rhymneys Hobby Horse. Ciders were Strongbow and Kingston Press.

14 Mar 2011 11:53

The Bridge End Inn, Crickhowell

An attractive white stonewashed pub at the bottom of town next to the river. Inside its quite olde worlde, with a flagstone floor around the bar, beams on the ceiling and plenty of wood panelling on the walls and the bar counter.

Theres a large selection of jugs and pots hanging from the ceiling as well as on the shelves. There was a plasma on the wall at one end which looked out of place, but fortunately this was off when we visited. There is also a log burning stove or similar in the fireplace at the end of the bar and even a pillar right through one of the tables which was an unusual feature. A blackboard listed a small selection of bar snacks that were available.

The bulk of the pub however seems to be given over to more of a restaurant area which is off to the left. At the entrance to this was a reception desk and a lady with a big open diary presumably to check your booking. The inference from this was that casual drinkers would not be welcome, so we didnt venture in here.

There is a small beer garden next to the river with a great view of the bridge. Lots of signs warned that this was a strictly private beer garden for pub customers only, so dont consider venturing in here if you havent bought a pint!

There were several beers to choose from, although possibly nothing that inspiring - Rev. James, HB, Bass, Old Speckled Hen and Hobgoblin. Ciders were Strongbow and Stowford Press.

14 Mar 2011 11:23

The Corn Exchange, Crickhowell

A friendly, locals pub situated at the top of the High Street. The right and room is more geared up for dining and was empty on a recent lunchtime visit. The left hand bar is a basic affair with a blue and white colour scheme, some leaded windows looking out on to the street, some green bench seating around the perimeter and a striped wooden floor.

There was a plasma on the wall opposite the bar showing a news programme, and a fruit machine. The rest of the wall space was taken up with mirrors and chalk boards. The menu was a basic pub grub affair offering Scampi, Ploughmans, Lasagne, etc. Beer prices seemed reasonable at 3.90 for a pint and a half.

The solitary beer on tap were Rhymneys Bevans Bitter. Ciders were Strongbow and Kingston Press.

14 Mar 2011 11:06

The Phoenix, Bristol

As TalbotHill has mentioned below, this is certainly a transformation from its previous incarnation. Its quite dark, although not gloomy, with much black paint on the walls and ceiling as well as a dark wooden floor.

Theres a long bar on the right with a few wines chalked up on a board. The furniture is a mix of different styles, with some leather sofas, an old leather bench car seat from a Jaguar and an interesting table with a comic book set in to the top. The bar is illuminated with some unusual bird cage lamps, complete with a small model bird inside. The remainder of the lighting is pendant lights with over-sized orange shades. A rather jazzy mirror made up of small mirror sections all set at different angles completes the interior. There is also a few tables outside, overlooking a tiled square, which seems to have been much improved since my previous visit.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Butcombe and Arbors Citra, the latter being priced at a very reasonable 2.50. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

14 Mar 2011 10:46

The White Lion, Weston Super Mare

A good sized pub with a lounge area at one end and a sports bar at the other. The lounge is cosy enough in a dated sort of way, with lightly patterned wall paper and some rather floral upholstery on the seating. It seems reasonably tidy and up together though, so its probably been refurbished more recently than you might expect going on the style.

There were three small gas fireplaces, each with a tiled surround, although none were in use on our visit and a large mirror. There was a plasma opposite the bar which seemed a little out of place, and the barmaid seemed interested in the Heston Blumenthal programme that was on which was a little distracting. The bar at the other end is a larger, open space dominated by a pool table. There is also a darts board.

The solitary beer on tap was Doom Bar. Ciders were Blackthorn, Scrumpy Jack and Bulmers Original. The pub was very quiet on a recent Tuesday evening. By the time we left at about 10:00, there was nobody else in there, so we left the barmaid to her TV programme.

9 Mar 2011 10:36

Scallys, Weston Super Mare

A good sized and popular bikers pub located just opposite Dolphin Square. The interior dcor is basic and a little dated with predominantly cream paint, red detailing and rough wooden flooring. There are murals of various bikes below the bar, and further drawings up above.

Its one big open L-shape inside with a raised area at one end used for various band nights, a pool table and a couple of other smaller, raised areas offering some comfier seating. The music policy seems to be predominantly metal there were various flyers on the wall detailing upcoming bands from this genre, and that was also predominantly the music that was playing in the background. Most of the punters, and the landlord, looked to be of the biker / metal variety.

The solitary cask ale on offer was Directors, although there was also Courage Best on keg. There were several ciders on offer, although they were all broadly similar - Strongbow, Blackthorn, Scrumpy Jack and Natch.

9 Mar 2011 10:17

The Bristol Hotel, Weston Super Mare

A good sized corner pub that seems to be quite sports orientated. To the right is what could be a cosy looking lounge area, with a carpeted floor, low lighting and a tropical fish tank in the corner. On a recent Tuesday night visit though, the two plasmas were showing a football match and it was packed full of guys stood watching, even spilling out in to the bar area.

Having got through the scrum to order a pint, we went on through to the left hand bar. This has limited seating, and most of the tables that were there were reserved for the ladies darts team that turned up shortly after we arrived. Besides the two dart boards there is also a pool table towards the back and another plasma, again showing the football and a cupboard full of trophies that have presumably been won by some of the pub teams. The dcor is reasonably up together, if a little dated.

The only cask ale was Butcombe, although there were also some nondescript keg offerings. The solitary cider was Ashton Press.

9 Mar 2011 09:56

Off The Rails, Weston Super Mare

This is very much a pub of two halves one half has a reasonably traditional pub appearance and has a frontage out on to the street. The other half has the appearance of a station caf (which is what it is) and fronts on to the platform.

Starting with the caf half, this has a basic run-down appearance, with plastic chairs, a sandwich counter, ice-cream cabinet and a rack of newspapers for sale. Through the stone archway we come to the proper part of the pub. This too has a fairly basic and dated appearance, with some fetching red tile-effect lino around the floor near the bar, some rather worn carpet elsewhere and polystyrene tiles on the ceiling.

The L-shaped bar counter itself is of a traditional dark wood design, with a shelf around the top for storing glasses. There are a number of bar stools here which seemed to be where most of the locals congregated. Some of their language was a little colourful.

Id always perceived this as being a bit of a real ale Mecca in spite of its unusual location, but there didnt seem to be that extensive a range on when I visited. The only two beers on tap were Rucking Mole and Baths Golden Hare. The board at the end of the bar also had Bombadier listed, but I think this had run out. Ciders were better represented with Thatchers Gold, Richs Farmhouse, Taunton Traditional and Blackthorn.

9 Mar 2011 09:41

The Temple Inn, Temple Cloud

A basic, no frills boozer on the main A37. The sign outside proclaims New Owner New Attitude which seems a strange slogan. Ive not been here for many years, so cant really comment on the attitude of the previous incumbent.

Its a single room L-shape pub, and has very much the feel of a public bar to it. Theres a darts board and one end, and a pool table at the other, along with a shelf full of trophies that have presumably been won by some of the pubs teams in the past.

There was a real fire blazing away which was a nice touch, but that was about the only concession to any homely comforts. There was an eclectic mix of clientele, ranging from a bald guy with about fifty different tattoos on his head to a couple of young kids running around. Food is apparently offered, although no-one was eating on our visit.

The solitary beer on tap was Doom Bar, although there was also a pump for Theakstons Best that was not in use. Ciders were Blackthorn, Bulmers Original and Taunton Traditional. The only wine offering that I could see was a few miniature bottles of Stowells stacked up behind the bar, but I guess its not really that sort of a place.

5 Mar 2011 23:21

Old Station Inn, Hallatrow

A busy and popular pub just a stones throw from the main A37. It seems to be very much food orientated, the barmaid asking us while we were ordering our drinks if we had reserved a table (we hadnt even said we were eating) and most tables being laid up for food, many of them reserved. Space for drinkers seemed to be somewhat limited. That said, we visited on a Saturday evening, it may well be different at other times.

The pub is certainly quirky, and worth popping in if youre nearby. As befits its name there is much railway memorabilia around, such as old station signs and a model railway track suspended from the ceiling, although unfortunately the train was not running on our visit. There is also a plethora of other stuff around, with every square inch of the walls and ceilings covered. There are many photos on the walls, a large selection of hats hanging from the ceiling, an old post box, a set of post office scales, old radio sets, a cello and even the front half of an old Citroen sticking out of the wall.

The most interesting feature of the pub though is probably the genuine old railway carriage that forms an extension at the rear of the pub. Its still on a set of rails but has been attached to the rear of the pub for a rather unique dining experience. Although Ive eaten here on a few occasions, Ive never managed to get in here as its always booked up well in advance.

The food was pretty decent on the whole, but not somewhere Id rush back to. Most of the mains were around the 10 - 12 mark, so a step up from your usual pub grub. We mostly enjoyed what we had, but if I were to be picky I could find faults with most of the dishes the starter of goats cheese tart came with far too much lettuce; the starter of smoked salmon stuffed with prawns and crab seemed over-priced at 6.75, and the chicken pie was not really a pie at all but chicken in a very runny sauce with a pastry topping give me a PieMinister any day! As I said though, Im picking faults, Ive had far worse meals. The bar staff all seemed friendly, especially the Welsh lady that I assume was the landlady.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Rev. James which I believe are the regulars, and on this occasion the guest was Wychwoods Paddys Tout. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

5 Mar 2011 23:12

The Slug and Lettuce, Bristol

Id hardly set foot in this pub when the barmaid accosted me to see if we were eating. Why, Im not sure. Perhaps the chef was keen to get home. Its a difficult pub to describe as it seems to be very much lacking in character or indeed anything else notable to say about it. Its a long pub with a central area running parallel to the bar and a couple of other areas that are up a few steps. Some of the tables here were laid up with red tablecloths presumably in readiness for any diners.

The bar counter has a large display of bottles behind it with red back lighting which creates a pleasant enough sort of effect in a wine bar like way and theres a terrace out the front which is probably a decent enough spot in the summer (assuming its not full of chavs of course). There were a few random pictures on the wall, many of anonymous buildings. I didnt study the menu, but there seemed to be several meal deals available, such as curry nights on a Tuesday and 50% off all food on Mondays.

The only beer on tap was Doom Bar, which is perhaps slightly better than I expected to find in a venue such as this. Its a bit of a shame it was served in a chunky Coke-like glass though that was fresh out the dishwasher and still warm. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

Mrs. B. was very reluctant to go in here, but I explained that as a dedicated BITE reviewer we had to make at least one visit. She then looked at me rather smugly when I realised just how bad the place was and was adamant that we wouldnt be coming back for a 2nd visit!

2 Mar 2011 11:43

The Elephant, Bristol

A pleasant enough pub situated a short stroll away from the hustle and bustle of Corn Street and the centre. The colour scheme is an unusual sandy shade, which in some ways gives it more of a Moroccan restaurant feel than your traditional pub. Besides that there is plenty of wood with a stripped floor and some chunky wood tables and heavy benches.

There was a plasma up in the corner but this was not on when we visited although it looks as though they are showing all the Six Nations matches. There was a fire roaring away which was a nice touch on a cold evening. Staff seemed friendly and helpful and the barmaid could easily get a job as a model.

There was an extensive menu with a good selection of light bites, mains, burgers and pizzas, although the service seemed a little slow. The main courses are a step up from your basic pub grub, with most of them being somewhere around the 10 mark. The Lamb Rump with Sauted Potatoes was very good and the accompanying salad with Bacon Lardons was unusual. The African curry was slightly less successful good, decent chunks of chicken, but a very runny sauce and not a great deal in the way of flavour. There was also an optional 10% service charge added to the bill which I dont really expect in a pub.

Beers on tap were Timothy Taylor Landlord and two from Cottage Brewing which Ive not come across before - Champflower Ale and Golden Arrow. There was also a pump for Otter Ale, although this was off when we visited. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk and Stowford Press.

2 Mar 2011 11:09

Seamus O'Donnells, Bristol

A traditional street corner boozer that seems to have remained relatively unaffected by the trendy bars nearby and remains all the better for it. Its a single room pub with dark wooden flooring, a fire roaring away at one end and some good sized windows to sit and watch the world passing by. There was a plasma up above the door, but fortunately the volume was muted and this was not at all obtrusive.

As far as I know, this was the original Irish pub in Bristol, and remains the best. Certainly the Irishness seems more genuine than many of the mass produced bars that have sprung up since, even though the friendly barman was clearly not from the Emerald Isle. The dcor includes a rather sombre shade of maroon on the ceilings and green paint on the woodwork which closely matches the upholstery on the chairs. Theres some old fashioned wooden shelving above the bar with some interesting stained glass windows. The walls are liberally covered with various Irish memorabilia such as pictures, mirrors, street signs and some old Guinness adverts. Theres a display of old bottles in the window, a selection of board games and even an old violin hanging on the wall just inside the door.

The only beer on tap was Courage Best, although there was a second hand-pump that was not in use so there may on occasions be others. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold. However, there was also a shot of the month which on this occasion was Blueberry Vodka!

2 Mar 2011 10:02

The Poacher, Portishead

I'm sorry Reagan was disappointed with the re-opened Poacher, but I found it much as before and quite welcoming. Decor wise it hasn't changed, the fire was still blazing away, and the barmaid was attractive and friendly.

Food is not currently offered, but is apparently coming soon. I'd say the only downside was the fact that there are now plasma's at either end of the bar, and last night they had The Gadget Show on with the volume up rather too loudly.

Beers on this occasion were 6X, Butcombe Gold, Doom Bar and GWB's Maiden Voyage. Cider's remain Blackthorn & Stowford Press. Still a 7/10 from me.

1 Mar 2011 15:19

The Star Inn, Star

A large pub on the main A38, although one that seems to concentrate on the food side of things more than the drinks. We went in the side door from the car park and youre immediately confronted by a large L-shape stainless steel carvery counter which I always find slightly off-putting in a pub, especially when its not in use. To the right the pub extends some way back but this is very much a restaurant area, seating about 80 according to some of the blurb that I read.

Other than the carvery counter, the entrance vestibule is pleasant enough with a slate tiled floor and a small bar, although it seemed to have a slightly musty smell to it. The landlady was friendly and suggested if we were just drinking we might like to go the front of the pub where there were some comfy sofas. This we duly did, passing another snug with some diners in on the way.

The front bar is definitely more atmospheric, with a low ceiling, white paint on the walls with black wooden beams, and an impressive fireplace at one end. However, there were two problems to my mind all the tables in this bar were laid up for food, even though there was nobody in there. True, there were some sofas as mentioned, but right next to this was a large plasma with the volume up far too loudly. It wasnt even showing any sport as you might expect, just whatever rubbish was on ITV. I turned this off and we sat on the sofas which was then a pleasant enough spot. Next to this is a smaller bar with a pool table.

We didnt check the menu, but it seems to concentrate on 2 for 1 deals judging on all the flyers around, which in my experience does not usually bode too well in terms of the quality of the food on offer.

The solitary beer on tap was Butcombe, although there were two more pumps not in use. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Blackthorn.

Unfortunately by the time we left at about 9:30 on a Saturday evening, there was not a single customer left in the pub. Obviously this cannot bode well for the future of the pub and I fear it may not be long before this goes the way of so many others.

27 Feb 2011 13:36

The Woodborough, Winscombe

A large popular pub in the centre of the village. Essentially its a big U shape, although the right hand leg looks to be currently used more of a function room whereas in a former life it was probably a skittle alley.

The main drinking bar is at the front, with another bar off to the left that seems to be reserved for diners. Beyond this again is a good sized restaurant area with table service. The pub dcor is tidy and up together, but doesnt have much in the way of character. It all seems a bit identikit, as though they bought all the furnishings off the shelf somewhere. You could be in any number of chain pubs up and down the country with dark polished wooden beams, some exposed brickwork, red checked carpet, brass fans on the ceiling and the obligatory black and white photos on the wall.

It was very busy on a recent Saturday evening though, with most tables taken both in the bar and the restaurant which is good to see in the current climate. Having said that, its the only pub in a sizeable village, so theres not really any competition. The front drinking bar and "dining" bar had a mixed age group, but the actual restaurant area seemed more popular with the older generation. I think the youngest punter in there was about 60.

The menu was extensive and offered something for most palettes, from pub staples such as curry, ham, egg & chips, etc. to more adventurous dishes. There was also a specials board with another ten or so choices. Most of the mains were around the 8 mark, and seemed decent enough value for what we got. My Thai Smoked Mackerel fishcakes from the specials board were certainly very tasty. Staff were all helpful and friendly.

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Courage Best, Doom Bar and London Pride. Ciders were all from the Thatchers stable, with their Gold, Pear and Hobgoblin.

27 Feb 2011 13:22

The Old Inn, Congresbury

As its name suggests, a delightful old inn, tucked away down a quiet cul-de-sac. Its certainly not one thats going to attract much in the way of passing trade, but nonetheless seems to keep quite busy. Whenever we go in the main bar is invariably packed, presumably with locals who all know each other, and the other bar off to the right completely deserted. We usually end up in here as its the only place to get a seat, but if youre in there on your own it inevitably lacks a little atmosphere.

The main bar has a flagstone floor, plenty of wooden beams and rather unusually lots of leather straps hanging from the ceiling to grab hold of, like you get on some railway carriages. Useful if youve had one too many and are swaying a bit, perhaps? Theres a slightly cosier snug off to the left, and although this had a plasma on showing the football, it didnt intrude in to the rest of the pub. To the right is a tiled bar with some wood panelling on the walls and several tables and chairs that looks as though it may be more suited to dining, although there was no evidence of the pub serving food. They used to do a Sunday roast, although Im not sure if this is still the case.

Theres plenty of pictures on the walls and some big old fireplaces, although Im not sure if these are actually used or not. Theres a double sided fireplace separating the main bar from the one on the right that looks as though it may have been a bread oven at one time, and now houses some type of wood burner. There is a beer garden out the back, and usefully a serving hatch directly in to the bar.

Beers on tap were Youngs Bitter and Special, St. Austells Tribute and Butcombe. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

20 Feb 2011 11:30

Colston Yard, Bristol

A trendy and modern type of establishment with reclaimed floorboards, plenty of leather bench seating and an interesting colour scheme with olive green walls and red ceilings. Its a pleasant enough place though, and whilst it may have lost some of the character that it had when it was the Smiles Brewery Tap, that was entirely out of Butcombes hands as the former venue was unfortunately destroyed prior to their buying it. In the circumstances I think theyve done a great job and in a nod to the former owners theres an interesting history of Smiles at the top of the stairs leading down to the loos.

The rear bar has some large windows running almost the entire length of the back wall and plenty of tables and chairs. From memory theres a decent menu, although we didnt eat on this occasion. Loos are very smart, more like youd expect in a posh hotel than a city centre pub and there are some interesting photos of bands whove appeared at the nearby Colston Hall adorning the walls.

Beers on tap were mostly from Butcombe with their Bitter, Gold and Blond plus the seasonal Old Vic porter. There was also Fullers London Pride. The cider was Ashton Press, in both regular and still varieties.

16 Feb 2011 11:31

Colston Arms, Bristol

This seems to be a bit of a cross between a traditional old boozer and a sports bar. Dcor wise its more your conventional pub, but there is clearly a strong emphasis on sports with large advertising hoardings outside, plenty of football photos on the wall, a plasma in the smaller front bar and a large projection screen in the side bar. The fixtures list for up and coming sporting events listed no less then 32 in February alone, and included football, rugby cricket and even American football. Fair enough if thats your thing, but the football rather dominated on a recent visit and a quiz night was in full swing in the back bar, so it made it tricky to find somewhere to sit for a quiet pint.

Seating in the two front bars was limited, with some bench seating around the perimeter and several bar stools. The side bar has a pool table and some exposed brickwork which may be an attractive feature, but was largely obscured by the large projector screen. There was a basic pub grub menu, although nobody was eating on this occasion that I could see.

Beers on tap were Brains SA, Rev. James and Butcombe. Ciders were Blackthorn and Stowford Press.

16 Feb 2011 11:01

The Robin Hood, Bristol

As others have said, this was refurbished a year or so back and now has a bit of a gastro-pub feel to it, although thats just from the decor its not a food dominated pub by any means and in fact I only spotted one portion of food coming out, which was a rather appetising looking pie and mash.

The pub itself is divided in two to bars, one at the front and one at the back. The bar counter runs between the two. The floors are reclaimed boards which seem to be rather in vogue at the moment and the walls are all a plain olive green with minimal decorations. Some trendy looking hanging lamps dominate the bar area. A plasma was on in both bars showing the football and the pub was fairly packed with people watching, which spoilt the ambience somewhat if you were just out for a quiet pint. The only place to avoid the sport was squeezing on to one of the bar stools.

Beers on tap were Yeovils Posh IPA, Brewdogs Rip Tide and Moor Revival. There were a couple of pumps out of use, but the chalked up list of guests next to the bar suggested that these were Moles Rucking Mole and Cotleighs Old Hooker. There were also a couple of keg Brew Dogs, Punk IPA and 5AM Saint. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Heritage, plus Aspalls Suffolk.

16 Feb 2011 09:56

The Bird In Hand, Saltford

A popular, traditional pub in the heart of the old village. Theres a single, good size U shape bar, and a pleasant conservatory with views over to the Kelston hills, although this is more geared up for dining.

The main bar is a reasonably cosy affair, with carpet throughout, bench seating around the perimeter and a selection of tables and chairs. Around the far side of the bar is a small fish tank, and another window to take in the views. There is also a fruit machine and a plasma which looked a bit out of place being tacked to the edge of the fireplace, although this was not in use on our visit. The walls are a mixture of exposed stone work and white plaster liberally decorated with pictures, plates, etc. The ceiling includes a few beams to complete the cosy pub feel.

Outside theres a small terrace and a fair size beer garden. Although its not in view of the river like the other two nearby pubs, it is only a two minute walk away. The Bristol / Bath cycle path goes by the end of the car park, and there is also an entrance on to it. A convenient half-way point to stop for a pint if youre out for a bike ride. There is also a Ptanque pitch and there are regular club meetings apparently.

There is a decent looking pub grub menu, and a couple of specials chalked up on a board. There was a good choice of food from light bites to more substantial main meals. I tried a cheese and ham omelette which was substantial and very pleasant. There was also a good selection of deserts chalked up on boards, as well as a selection of wines by the glass. Staff seemed friendly and helpful.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Butcombe, Courage Best and London Pride. I also spotted an Otter delivery van in the car park, so I guess thats coming soon. Ciders were all from the Thatchers stable with their Ashton Press, Gold and Dry.

All in all this is a decent pub, and it was good to see it busy on a wet midweek lunchtime. My only criticism would really be the fact that whilst I was waiting to be served, the staff all seemed busy dealing with food orders and making coffee. Not a problem in itself, as I said its good to see them busy, but some form of acknowledgement rather than just leaving me standing at the bar would have been good. Thats a miner gripe though, this pub is well worth a visit.

15 Feb 2011 16:53

The Clifton, Clifton

A good sized, traditional pub just on the outskirts of Clifton village. Its managed to retain some of its original character intact which is a welcome change from many of the pubs nearby that have had makeovers. On first entering youre in a corridor which takes you alongside the smaller front bar, and leads on to a much larger bar at the back. I didnt visit the rear bar on this occasion, but from memory its slightly gloomy, lacking much in the way of natural light as I recall.

The front bar is a pleasant enough space with a very large window out on to the street decorated with some hanging coloured lights. The predominant colour is brown, with extensive use of this shade on the walls and ceilings. The floor is reclaimed floorboards with a large rug in the middle. There is bench seating around the window and a few chunky wood tables and chairs.

There was a decent looking menu chalked up on a large board, although it tended more towards the gastro-pub style of cooking rather than your traditional pub grub. That said, there was Bangers & Mash and Fish & Chips included, plus a selection of burgers, so there should be something to suit most tastes and prices seemed to be a not unreasonable 9/10 for most of the main courses. Staff seemed friendly enough, although some acknowledgement while I was waiting would have been good.

The beers available on this occasion were Tribute, Doom Bar and Lancaster Red. Ciders on tap were Hogans and Aspalls Suffolk although there were also three boxes of Westons racked up behind the bar Organic, Old Rosie and Cider Twist Winter Spice.

13 Feb 2011 16:46

The Ship Inn, Uphill

A traditional, surprisingly spacious pub located just a couple of minutes walk from the beach. The interior has a very maroon feel to it, with maroon carpets, maroon bench seating, rather dated maroon wallpaper and maroon ceilings! Besides that there is some exposed brickwork which is a nice contrast.

Its a U shape on a couple of different levels. The main bar is pleasant enough albeit with quite a few TVs showing the rugby as well as a large projection screen. The commentary from this was piped at a rather loud volume throughout the pub, which made it difficult to escape if you werent interested. Theres a few fruit machines and the like opposite the bar, and several model ships around as befits a pub of this name.

To the left, you can go up a few steps in to a plusher lounge area with some leather sofas, or on again past this in to a decent looking restaurant area. Or you can go down a few steps to another bar with a pool table and darts board. Barman seemed friendly, and all in all it seems to be a decent local pub, albeit one that could maybe do with a little TLC some of the seats were ripped with the foam spilling out and the carpet on the stairs was held together with duct tape. I am perhaps being a little harsh though, overall its fine, I dont want to give the impression that its a tatty pub.

There was a good selection of basic pub grub such as baguettes, light bites, jacket potatoes and burgers which seemed to be something of a speciality, including a 12oz cheese burger for a reasonable sounding 4.75. There was also a board with a small selection of special chalked up.

Beers on tap were Otter Ale and Wickwars BOB. Ciders were well represented with Thatchers Gold, Blackthorn and Broadoak.

12 Feb 2011 17:19

The Post Office Tavern, Bristol

A curiously named and good sized pub on three levels. The main bar is the largest, with smaller rooms at each end, one slightly higher and one slightly lower.

Its got a decent cosy pub ambience to it in spite of its size, with carpeting throughout, chunky wood beams on the ceiling and a real looking fire (I think it was gas, but it was better than some!). Its known locally as the POT at WOT and appropriately there is plenty of Post Office paraphernalia around, such as a genuine full size old red telephone kiosk in the corner that has now been put in to use as a coat cupboard! There is also an old post box inset in to the wall and a very old fashioned telephone mounted on the wall behind the bar. All a bit quirky, but it certainly adds to the atmosphere.

Interior dcor is completed with plenty of mirrors and pictures, some again Post Office related such as drawings of old pillar boxes along with some black and white photos of the local area in bygone times. I didnt check the full menu, but noticed a couple of chalkboards up detailing a selection of baguettes and pizzas. The latter are, I believe, a speciality. There is also a small outside patio area at the back with a warming heater. There was a plasma on in the main bar, but the volume was down fairly low and it didnt seem to intrusive. Staff all seemed friendly.

The regular beers on tap appeared to be Bass, Courage Best, Doom Bar and Otter Bitter. The guest on this occasion was Caledonian Over The Bar. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

All in all this seems to be a great, friendly local pub and well worth a visit if youre in the area.

11 Feb 2011 23:41

Ye Olde Black Bear, Tewkesbury

A historic old pub, allegedly the oldest in Gloucestershire dating from the 13th century. The outside is suitably timbered as you would expect, and its a warren of rooms inside.

Overall the interior is reasonably quaint, although it doesnt have quite the genuine olde worlde feeling that you might expect from a pub of that age. That said, the snug at one end is interesting with an ornate and painted carved plaster ceiling depicting roses, fish and various other patterns. Theres a couple of fireplaces in here, and some old leather sofas that look as though they may have been new when the pub first opened. There are a number of boards around the pub documenting its history, some of which may well be more fanciful than accurate (e.g.; the obligatory story about it being haunted make your own mind up).

There seems to be a plasma stuck in the corner of each room which rather spoils the charm, although fortunately most of these were off on our visit. Sport seems to feature prominently, with a large board outside details all the up and coming rugby fixtures that will be shown. There is also a large beer garden next to the river, which I imagine would get packed on a sunny day. Staff seemed friendly enough.

The menu is a mass produced laminated affair, which proudly boasts that main meals start from 2.99. Obviously majoring on price rather than quality then. In fact theres no mention of the pub name on here, just the PubCo (Punch) in the small print at the bottom. The small print also contained a reference to the drinkaware website for those ordering the Baileys Ice Cream which struck me as rather amusing. There are also a number of food deals, such as curry nights, burger nights and grill nights.

A reasonable choice of beers on tap with Brains SA, Adnams Broadside and Bombadier appearing to be the regulars. Guests on this occasion were Batemans Hooker and Seafarer. I imagine these are staples from the Punch list, as there was a poster featuring tasting notes for the thirty or so rotating guests that are stocked. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

8 Feb 2011 20:08

The Richmond Public House and Kitchen, Clifton

After a number of name changes over the last few years, this is almost back to its original name. Its now just The Richmond, having dropped the Springs. Its a good sized pub and has an almost Victorian feel to it, with its parquet wood floor and plenty of dark wood panelling.

There were a couple of big old fireplaces, although only one of these appeared to be in use. The large leaded windows give a good view on to the street outside and there was a pool table in one of the rear bars. Landlord seemed friendly enough.

Menu is rather unusual with dishes such as eel pie and venison burger. Apparently if you get the remnants of any shot in your game birds you can claim a free drink!

Beers on tap were Courage Directors, Deuchars IPA and Hobgoblin. The solitary cider was Symonds Founders Reserve, and this seemed rather pricey at 3.60 a pint.

7 Feb 2011 21:20

The Three Tuns, Hotwells

I can only really echo what others have said a massively improved pub and now part of the Arbor Ales stable. The interior has had a bit of a makeover as far as I recall, and with its reclaimed wooden flooring and a chunky wood tables has a suitably rustic feel to it. The paint scheme is mostly (gastro-pub?) grey, and theres even a little exposed brickwork at the rear along with some comfy leather sofas.

Landlord was friendly and chatty, and volunteered a couple of samples of the cider without any prompting. Im not sure they do much in the way of food, although there were a couple of notices up regarding Sunday lunch.

I didnt note all the beers, but then I suspect most of them were guests and would be totally different by next week anyway. There were half a dozen of them to choose from, and rather surprisingly, none from Arbor. The landlord said that theyd sold out of their stock over the weekend. I did spot one from Teignworthy and another from Oakham, which is a rarity in these parts. The regular cider on tap was Thatchers Gold, but there were no less than five boxes stacked up in the end of the bar to choose from.

All in all a great pub, well worth a visit.

7 Feb 2011 21:07

The Bath Tap, Bath

As fat_beer_badger has pointed out, this is now known as The Nineteenth House. No point in bothering to e-mail BITE admin, they'll never bother to update it. It re-opened in April 2010, but has only been doing food since October due to a delay in getting the kitchen ready. Its really more of a wine bar than your typical pub, but its a pleasant enough place.

Its a small and cosy single room bar with low level lighting and lots of candles around the place. Theres a wood striped floor as seems to be the vogue everywhere these days, wood panelling half way up the walls painted in a gastro-pub hue of green, and some unusual wallpaper above. Staff seemed friendly and helpful. Seating was fairly limited, with a few wooden tables and a couple of comfy looking armchairs. There was also a fire roaring away, although this looked to be a gas affair rather than anything more authentic.

The food offering befits its gastro-pub pretensions, although prices were not unreasonable with most of the mains ere around the 10 mark. Dont expect to find a burger and chips or curry of the day though. We enjoyed what we had however, and would happily return. There is also an upstairs dining area with waitress service, although the menu is the same as in the bar downstairs.

The solitary beer on tap was Doom Bar, and the only cider was Thatchers Gold.

4 Feb 2011 21:35

The Assembly Inn, Bath

A recently refurbished Abbey Ales pub just north of the main shopping district. Youre presented with a choice of two bars as you walk in, the City Bar and the Sports Bar. In practise the dcor and ambience in both seemed quite similar, the only sports concession being the addition of a pool table and a couple of quiz machines.

Its an attractive enough place, although not in a traditional pubby sort of way. Theres newish looking wood stripped flooring, a couple of large sofas in front the fire place and various rugby photos dotted around the wall. There were a couple of plasma screens around, although these were not in use on our visit. The food offering was very basic, with just four or five pub grub dishes to choose from. The music seemed slightly too loud for the character of the pub.

Beers on tap were predominantly from Abbey, with their Bellringer, Hells Bells and Winter Warmer. There was also BFG from Black Country Ales. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

4 Feb 2011 21:12

The Chequers, Bath

This is apparently a very old hostelry since the sign outside says its been here since 1776. Its not quite as traditional as you might expect though, and appears to have had a bit of a gastropub makeover.

Theres a couple of picnic tables outside under an awning to sit and watch the world go by. Inside theres a U shape bar with a counter serving both halves. Theres an attractive parquet wood floor and the walls are finished in a delicate shade of pastel blue with white architrave. Seating is a mixture of benches around the edge and chunky wood tables.

There were a couple of chalkboards on the all advertising the food offering. One board was a fairly conventional selection of pub grub such as Ham, Egg & Chips; Fish & Chips; Burger, etc. These were mostly priced around the 9/10 mark, and there was also another board with a more gastropubby selection of dishes approaching the 15 mark. There was also an extensive selection of wines chalked up on a board, the majority available by the glass.

Beers on tap were Gem and Butcombe. Ciders were Addlestones and Stowford Press.

4 Feb 2011 21:00

Coach House Inn, Locking

This is an absolutely massive pub, its like walking in to the TARDIS. Whilst it might not be out of place in a busy city centre, it is in fact located in a quiet residential cul-de-sac in a small village. Most odd, although fair play to them if they can generate enough business to keep it going. That said, there were no more than about ten punters rattling around in there in a recent mid-week evening.

From the outside it looks conventional enough, probably fairly modern but reasonably welcoming and not unattractive. Walking in the rear entrance from the car park, youre confronted with an attractive slated-tiled bar with a plush looking restaurant area off to the left. The main bar counter is to the right. Walk down a few steps to the central area of the pub which has an almost medieval feel to it. Here there are exposed stone walls, a flagstone floor, plenty of thick beams on the ceiling, an old tapestry and large mirrors on the wall, a couple of sofas in front an enormous fireplace and an elaborate black iron light fitting reminiscent of something you might get in an old castle. The effect is spoilt slightly though by the bar continuing on past this where there are lots of tables laid up with cruets and cheap looking laminated menus.

Theres a recess off to the left, and a larger bar at the front with striped wooden flooring and a dart board. To the right is a further room with a separate bar counter, pool table and a quiz machine. Further on again is a large skittle alley. As I said, enormous. Landlady seemed friendly enough and proffered a cheery goodbye as we left.

The menu as previously mentioned was a cheap looking laminated affair that folded out in to three sections like youd get in a Hungry Horse or somewhere similar. Whilst it had the pub name on the front it was clearly the sort of thing that was mass produced by the PubCo (Greene King in this case) for many of their outlets. Food choice was extensive as you would expect with a particularly good choice of burgers and sizzlers. It appeared reasonable value with most of the mains being around the 6/7 mark. We didnt sample it though, so cant comment on the quality. There were a couple of deals such as two courses for 9 on selected dishes and a curry and a pint for 6.99.

Beers on tap were just Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles County, although there was also keg Ruddles Best and John Smiths. Ciders were Thatchers Gold (regular and slush) and Strongbow.

2 Feb 2011 22:50

The Old Inn, Hutton

A large and prominent stone built pub on the main road through the village. Inside its a large L-shaped bar, mostly open plan with a couple of segmented areas off to the side.

Inside it seems to be a slightly curious mix of chain pub and country inn. Its pleasant enough, but somehow doesnt quite gel together in the way youd expect. The large central area has a big fire place, cream plastered walls, some exposed brickwork and a wood strip floor and ceiling with a few red tiles around the bar area. It was a little noisy in spite of not being too busy, probably due to the somewhat harsh acoustics and some rather loud guys stood at the bar. At the back was a smaller, tiled bar area which had a projection screen showing a football match.

There was a small room off to one side and another raised area at the end of the L that were more geared up for dining. These were carpeted and a little cosier, and one also had a big fireplace, although not in use on this visit. That said, we felt that it was rather harshly lit and due to the relatively open plan nature of the pub did suffer from some noise intrusion from the bar. The landlady and the waitresses all seemed friendly enough. There is a quiz night on Sundays.

The menu was quite extensive, although it did have a slight mass produced feel to it. Most of the mains were reasonably priced at around the 6/7 mark and there were a good selection of sizzlers featured. There were also a few specials chalked up on a board, and a good choice of puddings. The food we had was pleasant enough, and generous portions, and whilst Im sure it wasnt all home cooked and freshly prepared, at 12.50 for two main courses you cant really complain. Ive paid that for one meal in some pubs and been far less satisfied.

Beers on tap were London Pride, Butcombe Gold and their own Old Inn Centenary beer, brewed for them by RCH. There was also an IPA although I didnt spot which one. The solitary cider was Ashton Press.

2 Feb 2011 22:26

The Swan Inn, Hanham

From the outside this appears to be a fairly non-descript pub in a residential street. There was a max exodus of youths in baseball caps as we arrived, so we werent quite sure what to expect. Inside it was a complete contrast though - busy and popular with a friendly ambience and a good mix of age groups.

The pub is essentially all one room, except for the skittle alley, although its segregated by a few partitions, alcoves, etc. This works well, creating a few distinct areas but keeping the jovial atmosphere of a busy pub. The walls are a sandy colour plaster, somewhat reminiscent of a Moroccan restaurant and there are a few old beams on the ceiling.

The first alcove as you get in is more of a public bar, with a plasma screen showing the football. Fortunately the volume was on at a low level and did not intrude on the rest of the pub, despite the semi open plan nature. The rest of the pub is a mixture of bench seating around the perimeter and regular tables and chairs. There is what appears to be a wood burning stove, but on closer inspection this appears to be an electric unit for visual effect only. The pub is mostly carpeted, with some curiously shiny floor tiles adjoining the bar area.

Food was advertised outside the pub, but the only evidence was a few filled rolls behind the bar. There seems to be a good selection of sports teams in residence, with boards up advertising skittles and pontoon fixtures among others. The landlady was friendly and helpful.

Beers on tap were Doom Bar, Gem, and Courage Best. Ciders were Blackthorn and Stowford Press.

This seems to be a great community local, and it was great to see it packed with drinkers, even on a Sunday lunchtime with no food being offered.

31 Jan 2011 11:02

The Moon and Sixpence, Clevedon

A good sized pub on the seafront just opposite the pier. The pub is a curious mix of old and modern it doesnt look particularly olde worlde but there are nonetheless a few wooden beams on the ceiling and some wood panelling reminiscent of an old hotel lounge.

The pub is split over three levels with the ground floor lounge being a traditional affair with a selection of tables, chairs and comfy sofas. A few steps brings you to a sort of intermediate level which has the bar counter and a few seats along one wall. This probably has the most character of all the areas in the pub, with some exposed stonework, old wooden floorboards and even a glimpse of an old stone wall behind the bar fixtures. A little bit of TLC wouldnt go amiss; on the whole its fine, but fixing the tears in the leather bench seating would be an improvement. More steps take you to an upper lounge with great views across the channel and even a small balcony which must be a great spot in warmer weather (not shown in above photo).

The food offering seems popular, probably as much to do with the pubs location as anything else, although we didnt try it ourselves on this occasion. From memory its fairly standard pub grub although there was also a large specials board. Bar staff seemed friendly enough. The only letdown was really some rather noisy kids running around, although to be fair it was a Saturday afternoon. Hopefully you wouldnt get this problem on an evening.

Beers on tap were all from Greene King, with their IPA, Abbot Ale, Old Speckled Hen and Hardys Hanson. Ciders were Blackthorn, Stowford Press and Aspalls Suffolk.

31 Jan 2011 10:44

The Shield and Dagger, Bristol

A fairly typical 1970s estate pub. There are a few bench seats out the front which is a pleasant enough spot to watch the world go by with views of the Dundry hills in the distance. Inside its divided in to two with a lounge bar on the left and a public bar on the right.

From memory the public bar used to have a pool table, although I didnt go in there on this visit so cannot confirm if its still there. The lounge bar could do with a bit of TLC but it does the job reasonably enough. Theres a rather worn carpet leading to a bar counter at the back, and a selection of tables, chairs and some brown leather bench seating around the perimeter, including a raised section in one corner. Various non-descript artwork adorns the walls.

Food is very much of the cheap and cheerful variety, and seems to concentrate on sizzlers and burgers. Most of the mains are less than 5 so expectations should not be too high, but at these prices you cant really complain. My BBQ Chicken sizzler with bacon, cheese and fries was good value at 3.99, although the iron skillet it was served on was so hot that the sauce was virtually incinerated and the chicken had stuck fast to the dish. They also do a curry deal on a couple of nights.

The only real ale on tap was a pleasant pint of Bass. There was also a pump for EPA, although this was unavailable on a recent visit, and there was keg Worthington Creamflow, whatever that is. Ciders faired slightly better with Blackthorn, Thatchers Gold and Bulmers.

28 Jan 2011 16:06

The Mall, Clifton

A good sized pub on a corner plot at the top of The Mall in the heart of Clifton village. The main upper bar has very large windows giving good views of the street outside and the green opposite. At the left hand end it opens out in to a room with a very high, ornate ceiling and this, together with the dual aspect windows (covered in floor to ceiling red velvet drapes) give it a very open, airy feel.

Down at the other end of the long bar is a staircase leading down to a lower bar. This has much lower ceilings and less in the way of notable features, and can appear a little gloomy, although its a good size and can get very busy on a weekend. As beatles38 has mentioned, there is also a courtyard garden.

There is a good selection of wines chalked up on a board, and the beers on offer were Lancaster Red, Doom Bar and Tribute. Good choice of ciders with Aspalls Suffolk, Hogans (thats a new one on me), Addlestones and Westons Organic straight from the barrel.

20 Jan 2011 09:50

The Adam and Eve, Bristol

Decent pub tucked a little out the way up a narrow hill, although literally just a minutes walk from the main Hotwells Road. Essentially its just all one big room, although there are a couple of segregated areas at the rear. The open bar at the front has a pleasant feel with old wooden floorboards, strings of fairly lights around the place and a candle on each table creating a pleasant ambience. There was a real (gas) fire blazing away which was a nice touch on a cold winters evening, although they could have done with a bit more heating on generally the rear of the pub had a distinctly chilly feel to it.

Look a bit closer and it starts to seem a bit tatty screws stuck out the wall where pictures used to be, that sort of thing. But its still a decent pub with friendly enough staff. Food is generally quite good and all chalked up on a blackboard although we didn't eat on this occasion.

Beers on tap were Wye Valley HPA, Doombar and Gem. Ciders were Addlestones and Stowford Press.

20 Jan 2011 09:35

The Boars Head, Aust

A quaint old pub conveniently situated just a few hundred yards from junction 1 of the M48. I assume it one time it was a row of cottages, but has now been put to much better use.

Its surprisingly big inside with several different bars and a traditional olde worlde design, although perhaps not as quaint as some other examples around. There are exposed stone walls, a big old fireplace and a few copper pans and the like hanging around, but the rather tatty red (lino?) floor in the front bar spoils the look somewhat, and the modern quiz machine looks out of place. Similarly the small left hand bar could be described as a cosy snug, but the pile of high chairs stacked in the corner spoilt the effect. A selection of chunky wooden tables, including one made out of an old beer barrel completed the interior furnishings.

There was a decent looking pub grub menu with most of the mains being around the 8 mark, and a couple of specials chalked up on the board above the fireplace. There were also several different meals deals available, such as free deserts on Tuesdays, a free bottle of wine on Thursdays and selected mains being offered in a 2 for 12 deal. We didnt try the food however, so cant comment on the quality, or the length of time it took to arrive.

Staff seemed friendly enough, although an acknowledgement while I was stood at the bar waiting would have been good. There looked to be a good sized beer garden, although it was far too wet to try it on our visit. There is also a small patio area with a well.

Beers on tap were Ringwood Best, Pedigree and Hobgoblin. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

17 Jan 2011 11:14

The Crown Inn, Axbridge

A traditional old boozer located just off the main town square. Its located in the middle of what seems to be a row of terraced cottages, so I was surprised to hear that were open until 2:00am. They must have very tolerant neighbours! It was a very friendly establishment, with most of the locals being greeted by name.

We were in there somewhat earlier than that on a Friday evening, and it was very quiet, just a few old boys having an animated game of dominoes. The friendly landlady assured us that it livened up later on though.

The front bar is a basic setup with red velvet bench seating around the perimeter and plenty of local drawings on the wall and photos from various pub activities. An old table skittles game also features prominently in the middle of the bar and there was a lovely big old fire which the landlady was helpfully keeping topped up with logs. The rear bar looks to be somewhat bigger and had a pool table and small TV.

Beers on tap were Glastonburys Leyline and Doom Bar. Ciders were Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Traditional.

15 Jan 2011 20:27

The Lamb Hotel, Axbridge

A popular Butcombe pub located in the picturesque village square. Once youre through the throng of smokers congregating outside, its suitably olde worlde inside as befits the area, with a sagging, beamed ceiling, plenty of exposed stonework and lots of old fireplaces around, some no longer in use but others with wood burners in.

The front bar seems to be the one thats popular with the locals and was pretty rammed early on a recent Friday evening. The bar counter itself is an L-shape, but the layout is not ideal and service can be tricky. The bottom leg of the L is in the aforementioned public bar, but quite close to the tables and chairs, so theres only a limited amount of room to squeeze in to. That combined with many of the locals who seem to like taking up space at the bar can make it difficult to get yourself noticed. The upright leg of the L is pretty much in a corridor, so this too is not ideally positioned to get your drinks in.

The front bar also has a table skittles game which you dont see too often these days, and the bar counter itself is an interesting feature, the base being made out of dozens of bottles set in to the plaster. Above the bar is more old timber, with plenty of horse brasses around and glass tankards hanging from the ceiling. Staff all seemed pleasant and helpful.

At the back youve got a couple of rooms that are again laid out with tables and chairs, but although the food seems popular it doesnt dominate. Only the small snug at the very back had tables laid up for eating. The menu was a decent selection of pub grub, with your usual chilli, lasagne, ham egg & chips, etc, plus a few more adventurous dishes and a few specials chalked up on a board, along with an appetising selection of deserts. Most of the mains were around the 9 mark and this seemed reasonable value with our Butcombe Pie and curry of the day being pleasant enough (although nothing spectacular) and generous portions.

Beers on tap were predominantly Butcombe, with their bitter, Gold and Blond. There was also Fullers London Pride. Ciders were Ashton Press and Thatchers Dry.

All in all, well worth a visit. Note that parking in the square is very limited, and most of the nearby streets have double yellow lines. There are however a couple of public car parks within about two minutes walk, and these are free after 6:00pm.

15 Jan 2011 18:02

Tobacco Factory, Southville

A large and somewhat impersonal venue, it does nonetheless seem very popular and was the original bar in this area that kick-started the whole regeneration of this end of North Street.

Its essentially just one very large, industrial looking room crammed full of tables and chairs with a couple of odd sofas scattered around. The harsh acoustics means it can be quite noisy when its busy, which it invariably seems to be. There is a small raised section at one end which has a few bean bags on it. Unusual, but again this seems a popular spot for people to chill out and survey the rest of the pub.

The dcor is very industrial as previously mentioned, with a concrete ceiling and all pipes and other services on display, plus a solitary disco glitter ball which looked a little out of place. Wails are plain brick although witch a selection of artwork dotted around. There is a long bar at the back running almost the length of the room, with a food servery down at one end, plus a selection of cupcakes and the like displayed on the bar counter. There is a smaller room off to the rear, and a small courtyard area out the back.

Food is of the trendy variety rather than your traditional pub grub. Think lentils, halloumi and roasted red peppers and youll get the general idea, with most of the mains being around the 9 mark and a selection of light bites at around 6.50. Beers on tap were all from the Bristol Beer Factory, with their Acer, Sunrise and No. 7. Ciders were Ashton Press and Bath Ales Bounders.

I didnt come across the problem that some other posters have experienced with their being loads of kids around, but then it was a Friday evening. Im sure it may well be very different on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

10 Jan 2011 10:39

New Inn, Priddy

An attractive stone-built pub right in the centre of Priddy and just around the corner from the Queen Vic. The stone clad bar is directly in front of you as you go in, with a lounge area off to the right and a snug to the left. The snug has a flagstone floor and there is another, much smaller bar behind this. Its a curious shape, almost a U with bench seating going right the way around.

The lounge of to the left is carpeted with a selection of seating set in to the stone walls and a few freestanding tables and chairs. There was a real fire burning away down at one end which was a nice touch, and several photos on the walls depicting local scenes such as the hunt and pub events such as the folk festivals held in the summer.

Food seems to be served most of the time, even up until 9:00pm on a Sunday which is unusual for such an out of the way pub. We didnt try it though, or even see a menu, so I cant comment further. Landlady seemed friendly enough.

This seems to be more of a cider pub than a real ale one with a tremendous choice on. The board above the bar said that there were 20+ available which seems quite incredible for a quiet country pub. The ones I spotted on the bar were Fosseway Somerset Glory, Westons Old Rosie, Westons 1st Quality, Thatchers Traditional, their own InnCider, Pheasant Plucker, Thatchers Dry, Thatchers Gold, Addlestones, Orchard Pig and Bath Ales Bounders. There was even hot mulled cider. As I said, amazing.

After that, beers were a little under represented, with only Cheddars Potholer seemingly available. There was a pump clip for Bath Ales Gem although this was turned round, and the menu also listed Exmoor Ale.

This seems to be a great community pub and well worth popping in. The residents of Priddy are very lucky to have three splendid pubs right on their doorstep.

10 Jan 2011 09:44

The White Hart, Cross

A cosy old country pub nestled in amongst a row of terraced cottages, it must lose a lot of passing trade to its somewhat brasher neighbour a few doors down which is clearly visible from the main A38. This is well worth taking the short detour for though.

Inside its mostly exposed stone walls with a low, beamed ceiling and plenty of pub ornaments around the place. On a recent visit in early January they still had all the Christmas decorations up which added a pleasant ambience to the pub, with strings of fairly lights in the windows and a large Father Christmas in the fire place.

The central bar has some unusual copper cladding running around the top, and plenty of glass tankards hanging up above. The other bar, to the right as you go in, has a pool table, darts board and a TV up in the corner.

There was a shove hapenny game in progress when we visited, and from the sound of it a skittles match going on elsewhere in the pub. The couple behind the bar were very friendly and although we didnt eat on this occasion we have done previously and found it to be good value and pleasant as far as I recall.

The only letdown was perhaps the choice of beers on offer. In spite of four hand pumps on the bar, only one was in use dispensing Doom Bar. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold. Overall though, this is a proper old country pub and well worth a visit.

6 Jan 2011 09:48

Lamb Inn, Lower Weare

An attractive stone built pub that looks as though it would be more at home in The Cotswolds than the middle of Somerset. As you walk through the front door you come in to a very small hallway / lobby area with wood panelling and dark wooden doors. This theme continues in to the front bar which has an unusual appearance with plenty of dark wood panelling and architrave on light cream walls, and the sombre red velvet bench seating almost merges in to the carpet which is an identical colour. The whole room is reminiscent of an old fashioned hotel lounge, and could do with a bit more colour in it. Not unpleasant, but definitely different. There were however a couple of small pictures dotted around, and a real log fire which was a nice touch on a cold January evening.

At the rear of the pub there were a few different areas a small slated tiled section with three low leather sofas all facing each other, a skittle alley which had a game in progress and a dated looking restaurant area with artexed walls.

There was a good choice of food on the menu and a few specials chalked up on boards above the bar with most of the pub classics you would expect such as ham, egg & chips, lasagne, curry of the day, etc., as well as a few more adventurous dishes. Food seemed good value with most of the mains being around the 8/9 mark and very generous portions. My Chicken, Bacon & Ham Pasta was a substantial dish and came with some tasty garlic bread and a decent side salad. Mrs. Bs Thai Green Chicken Curry was still tasty enough, but perhaps slightly less successful overall. It had a very bland appearance with the rice, chicken and curry sauce all being a virtually identical colour, and the sauce was far too runny.

Beers on tap were Cheddars Potholer, Butcombe and Wadworths Henrys Bitter. The solitary cider was Thatchers Gold.

6 Jan 2011 09:32

The White Horse, Westbury on Trym

In many ways this is a pub of two halves with each end having a totally different character and feel. Coming in from the High Street youre met with a couple of great little snugs, each with a low, beamed ceiling, real (gas) fires and old serving hatches with views of the stillage. The walls are mostly exposed brickwork, although they have a curiously shiny appearance to them as though they have been treated with some sort of varnish.

Moving on through the pub you get to an attractive wood panelled bar with a view of eight or nine casks racked up stretching away in to the distance. There was an interesting cart wheel opposite the bar, and a number of chairs made out of old beer barrels. The flooring here is flagstones compared to the striped wood flooring in the snugs.

Next to this, and with a separate entrance out in to the side road, is what I suppose you might call the public bar. Its in complete contrast to the two snugs, having a high ceiling, not a great deal in the way of character and seems to attract a somewhat younger crowd. There was also a dartboard and a large TV projector.

It was good to see them operating an open door policy on New Years Eve, in contrast to many of the pubs nearby who insisted you had a ticket, even the Harvester a few doors up. Who on earth would go to the trouble of getting a ticket so they could spend New Years Eve in a Harvester?

Beers on offer were slightly disappointing bearing in mind the number of barrels on view, and appeared to be just Butcombe, Bass and 6X although this was not clearly advertised so there may have been one or two others. The solitary cider on tap was Blackthorn, although many of the punters appeared to be drinking Thatchers Gold from cans.

In summary Id say this is well worth popping in two, and seems to be one of the better pubs in the village, although personally Id stick to the snugs.

1 Jan 2011 16:41

The Woods, Bristol

A small and trendy bar just between Park Row and Park Street. Whilst it is undoubtedly a bar rather than a traditional pub, it nonetheless manages to convey a slightly more sophisticated air than many of the places nearby that get rammed with students.

Its a small, single-room establishment, although there is also a pleasant enough courtyard garden with a couple of palm trees and a very large umbrella. Seating is quite limited inside, so we found ourselves out in the garden by default. Fortunately the electric patio heaters were very effective.

The bar area is stocked with a good selection of spirits, and they seem to do an extensive line of cocktails. The backdrop to the bar is an interesting mural depicting tree branches, with seems appropriate given the establishments name. Rather bizarrely, on ordering two pints of cider, it was dispensed in to a jug and then we were given two empty tumblers to go with it. I thought maybe this was a promotional deal at a reduced price, but at 6.75 that seems unlikely.

The solitary beer on tap was keg Theakstons Best, and the cider was Symonds Founders Reserve. There were several bottled beers available though, including a couple from Bath Ales and an extensive line up from the local (Somerset) Moor Beer Company. There also looked to be several continental lagers available.

17 Dec 2010 11:00

The White Hart, Bristol

Unfortunately I am unable to review this pub as the doorman wanted a pound to let me in. Fair enough maybe if it was late on a Friday or Saturday, but at 9:30pm on a Thursday evening? No thank-you.

17 Dec 2010 10:46

Bristol Ram, Bristol

A popular Youngs pub half way up Park Street. Its about the only place in the street that still resembles a proper pub, all the rest being some type of trendy bar affair or nightclub. Very useful for stopping to quench the first when on a long walk up the hill to Clifton!

Its a good sized bar with several different areas. The main bar has large windows out on to the pavement that fold back in the summer. Theres a smaller room at the back with a vaulted glass roof, another seating area down a few steps to the right, and a downstairs bar although this was closed off for a private function on a recent visit. Although it can get quite busy, most punters seem to stick to the main bar and you can usually find a seat if youre prepared to venture a little further in to the depths of the pub.

The floor is traditional old floor boards and there is some painted wood panelling around the lower part of the walls. Mostly its fairly traditional, although there are some trendy glass lights hanging above the bar. Theres a large plasma stuck on the wall at the back, although this was off on our visit. The music was a tad loud to make conversation easy, but it was probably appropriate for the time of year, the pub being filled with office workers on Christmas nights out.

Beers on tap were Youngs Bitter and Youngs Special, Butcombe and Tribute. Ciders were Addlestones and Stowford Press. This seemed slightly expensive at 3.50 a pint, but is, I suppose, par for the course around these parts.

17 Dec 2010 10:44

The Bristol Ram, Bristol

A popular Youngs pub half way up Park Street. Its about the only place in the street that still resembles a proper pub, all the rest being some type of trendy bar affair or nightclub. Very useful for stopping to quench the first when on a long walk up the hill to Clifton!

Its a good sized bar with several different areas. The main bar has large windows out on to the pavement that fold back in the summer. Theres a smaller room at the back with a vaulted glass roof, another seating area down a few steps to the right, and a downstairs bar although this was closed off for a private function on a recent visit. Although it can get quite busy, most punters seem to stick to the main bar and you can usually find a seat if youre prepared to venture a little further in to the depths of the pub.

The floor is traditional old floor boards and there is some painted wood panelling around the lower part of the walls. Mostly its fairly traditional, although there are some trendy glass lights hanging above the bar. Theres a large plasma stuck on the wall at the back, although this was off on our visit. The music was a tad loud to make conversation easy, but it was probably appropriate for the time of year, the pub being filled with office workers on Christmas nights out.

Beers on tap were Youngs Bitter and Youngs Special, Butcombe and Tribute. Ciders were Addlestones and Stowford Press. This seemed slightly expensive at 3.50 a pint, but is, I suppose, par for the course around these parts.

17 Dec 2010 10:26

The Ship, Bristol

A good-sized pub, which although popular with students has a much more traditional pub feel to it than many of the trendy bars on nearby Park Street.

There are several different areas to the pub separated by partitioning, and on a few different levels. Theres a comfy corner with a few old leather sofas, and even a small bar downstairs although this never seems to get much use. I think at one time the pool table was down here, but its now at the front of the main bar. There is also a garden area which keeps the smokers happy.

Each table had a lighted candle on it which created a pleasant ambience and although there was a large plasma on the wall this had the sound turned off. There was a short menu chalked up on a board, consisting of pub staples such as Scampi & Chips, Bangers & mash, etc., and a selection of baguettes and light bites.

Beers on tap were Jem, Doom Bar and Teignworthy Gun Dog. Ciders were a slightly disappointing Scrumpy Jack, Bulmers and Symonds Founders Reserve.

17 Dec 2010 10:12

The Salamander, Bath

As Driking_Bull has said, this has recently had a refurb although apart from a lick of paint giving it a lighter, airier feel I didnt really notice too much difference. Its a pleasant enough pub, even though from the outside it looks more like a shop with a selection of items from Bath Ales displayed in the window. It was quite quiet on a recent Monday evening with only a couple of other punters in there, besides a few who had gone upstairs to eat.

Its a single room bar with two smaller areas at the rear and opening out to a larger room at the from with some big windows out on to the street. Theres a mixture of bench seating with green wood panelling behind, and a few tables and chairs scattered around. There was a fireplace at the rear, but unfortunately this was not lit. That would have made the whole place a lot cosier seeing as it was well below freezing outside. There is also another room upstairs, although I believe this may be more geared up for eating. Barman seemed friendly enough.

Beers on tap were all from the Bath Ales stable with their Ginger Hare, Jem, Festivity, Spa and Barnstormer. The solitary cider was (naturally their own) Bounders.

7 Dec 2010 17:44

The Alehouse, Bath

A tiny single room bar on a street corner near the abbey, although there is also a downstairs bar which is open in the evenings. The pub itself is a traditional layout with a bar in one corner, bench seating around the edge, some wood panelling and large windows on two sides.

A real (gas) fire was blazing away which was a nice touch on a freezing December afternoon. There are a couple of fruit machines in one corner with a plasma mounted up above, although this was not in use on our visit. The back of the bar is a very ornate wooden carving and there was some Bath Rugby memorabilia dotted around such as signed team photos and shirts. This is one of the nearest pubs to their ground, and gets packed on match days I would imagine.

The one downside was really the barman who unfortunately seemed to have some sort of skin condition. The whole time we were there he was continually scratching his head, arms, legs and even dabbing his face with a blood spotted tissue. I hope the guy gets better soon, but this was a little off putting, and hardly seems appropriate for someone working in catering.

Despite the name of the pub, the beer selection was fairly pedestrian with Jem, Courage Best and London Pride behind the bar. Ciders were Blackthorn and Gaymers Pear.

7 Dec 2010 17:01

The Raven, Bath

A decent tucked away little pub just off the main shopping street. Its on two levels, although we didnt venture upstairs on this occasion. Downstairs its one fairly smallish room with reclaimed wooden floorboards and bench seating around the perimeter, with some high backed wood panelling. The bar is also wood panelled above and below, and a similar colour orange / brown paintwork elsewhere gives the pub a rather monotone, but relaxing, feel.

There was a large chalkboard menu at one end, which seemed to feature predominantly PieMinister pies. Barman seemed friendly enough, and there was a good crowd of locals enjoying some respite from the cold December afternoon. A couple of notices proclaimed that this was Bath Camras Pub of the Year in 2006 and 2010.

Beers on tap were their own Raven, Raven Gold and Stark Raven (apparently brewed exclusively for them by Blindmans Brewery), plus Hopback Winter Lightning, Cotswold Winter Solstice and Keystones Large One. Ciders were Stowford Press and Orchard Pig. There was also a rather high-tech mulled wine dispenser that seemed popular with the Christmas shoppers.

7 Dec 2010 16:43

The Coopers Arms, Bristol

A traditional pub located directly opposite the park. The layout is a U-shape wrapped around the L-shape bar. Most of the bar is a conventional mix of red velvet bench seating, tables and chairs although this gives way to a space with a pool table right at the back of the pub.

The dcor is a bit 70s with a deep red ceiling, the red velvet seating and some very stripy wallpaper. All in all its a pleasant enough place though. Theres a small courtyard off to the right, although this appeared to be packed up for the winter and not in use on our visit. There are a couple of plasmas dotted around that were showing the darts, and a fruit machine and juke box. The locals all seemed friendly, although it was very male orientated.

The whole pub was decked out in a tremendous variety of Christmas decorations, with rope lights along every surface, tinsel round all the doorways and several Father Christmass above the bar. All very festive.

Beers on tape were Butcombe and Courage Best, whilst the solitary cider was Blackthorn.

5 Dec 2010 18:12

The Lock Keeper, Keynsham

A decent old pub in a pleasant location with a garden stretching down to the river, which must be a great spot on a summers day even if your are immediately next to a main road. Inside, the original part of the pub is essentially two adjoining rooms, although with plenty of wood partitioning it somehow feels like several different areas. The floor is reclaimed boards and there is wood cladding on the lower half of the walls, whilst there are plenty of old pictures dotted around elsewhere. In one area the ceiling seemed to need a bit of attention with plasterboards just tacked up that werent even skimmed, never mind painted. Possibly work in progress, although they didnt look particularly new. Other than that, its got a pleasant olde worlde charm to it, although its shame that the fire was for visual effect only and gave out no heat. Several punters commented on this and seemed disappointed.

A conservatory extension was added a few years back, which has pretty much doubled the size of the pub. This is in contrast to the rest of the pub, being of a very modern, frameless design. Being pretty much 100% glass, this can get unpleasantly hot in the summer, and conversely, is not exactly cosy on a snowy December evening. Its a pleasant enough spot though, and looked suitably festive decked out for Christmas. There is also some outside decking overlooking the garden for warmer weather.

Theres a decent looking pub grub menu, with your usual dishes such as lasagne, ham, egg & chips, pies, etc., plus a few slightly more adventurous choices. Most of the mains seemed start around the 8 mark which seemed reasonable value, but having sampled a couple of dishes we felt they were perhaps slightly overpriced for what we got. The battered fish and chips was more batter than fish, and the accompanying mushy peas were served in a tiny little ramekin the same size as the tartar sauce. Similarly, the chilli was a little light on the chilli and a little heavy on the rice. Not bad, but a tad expensive we felt. The Aussie landlady seemed pleasant and helpful.

Being a Youngs pub, their beers dominated the bar with their Bitter, Special and Winter Warmer. There was also Baths Gem. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Addlestones and Strongbow.

2 Dec 2010 07:50

The Berkeley, Clifton

A large Wetherspoons pub located right opposite the university, so its clientele tends more towards students than the OAPs you often get in a these establishments. Its a good sized pub with a large, full height windows in the front bar and a selection of leather sofas to relax in and watch the world go by. A narrower area leads up the side of the bar and it then opens out again at the rear to an area full of tables and chairs and consequently more used for dining.

There are a couple of interesting ceiling features including a giant, illuminated, pink W as soon as you get in the pub, just to remind you where you are, and a interesting stained glass dome at the rear of the pub. Its been open a few years now and its starting to look a little shabby in places, but its still a decent enough pub if JDWs are your thing. There were the usual flyers advertising meal deals, including a Christmas Dinner and a pint option for 6.99.

Many of the beers on tap also had a festive theme and included Otter Claus, Butcombe Christmas Steps and Rocking Rudolph, complete with flashing red LEDs on the pump clip. Other beers were Holdens Blaster, Abbot Ale, Ruddles Best, Butcombe and Bath Ales Ginger Hare. Good choice of ciders as well with Blackthorn, Strongbow, Thatchers Gold, Stowford Press, Old Rosie and Marcle Hill.

1 Dec 2010 09:51

The Farrington Inn, Farrington Gurney

The first impression when walking in to this pub is that youre in the public bar. I generally tend towards the lounge bar, but this was not in evidence. There was an adjacent room that may well have been a lounge bar, or more of a restaurant area, but this was clearly not in use on our visit as it was all in darkness. From what little I could glimpse it had exposed stone walls and may well have had more character than the bar that was in use.

Its a large and fairly featureless space with lots of small round tables scattered around. The dcor is good condition and looks as though it may well have been recently refurbished with new carpet covering the bulk of the floor and a few tiles around the bar area. There were lots of public bar accruements such as a plasma and dart board on the wall, a pool table, quiz and fruit machines, a juke box and even a couple of sets of disco lights up on the wall. There was a large fireplace with a wood burning stove in it, but unfortunately this was not is use on our visit, even though it had started to snow outside. There was also a leather sofa in one corner, but this looked a little out of place in a decidedly un-cosy room. There were a couple of posters advertising live bands which are presumably a regular feature.

Rather oddly, around 50% of the drinks seemed to be off. Two of the three hand pumps had their clips turned round, at least three of the other taps had out of stock notices on them, and I was informed that the Blackthorn had sold out when I tried to order that, even though that didnt have a notice on it. This would be bad enough on a Sunday or a Monday, but at 6:00pm on a Friday evening? The landlady seemed friendly enough, but wasnt forthcoming when I mentioned this.

The solitary beer that was (apparently) in stock was Butcombe, and the ciders were an out of stock Blackthorn as mentioned, plus Thatchers Gold.

28 Nov 2010 13:41

Grain Barge, Bristol

This is a terrific spot on a sunny day to sit and look at the harbour, the dockyards opposite and all the activity on the water. On a cold Novembers evening its slightly less appealing. Unfortunately a boat is never going to be exactly cosy, but it could have definitely done with being a few degrees warmer. The radiators were doing there best, but seemed to be fighting a losing battle. 270 panoramic windows are great when its warm, but not so great when the temperature is hovering around the freezing mark.

That said, I still like it here and found the barman to be efficient and helpful, in contrast to some of the other comments on here. Inevitably a boat is going to be long and narrow which limits the seating options somewhat, and it can on occasions be difficult to get anywhere to sit. The dcor is what you would expect from an old barge with plenty of wood paneling and some interesting fish related murals on the walls. The main bar area is on the upper deck offering great views as mentioned previously. The lower deck is available for private functions and hosts regular live music nights on Fridays.

Theres a decent food menu chalked up on a couple of boards consisting of some unusual dishes at reasonable (but not cheap) prices, including an interesting range of sandwiches. Wednesday night is pie night where they do a pie and a BBF pint deal for 8.50. Probably not the cheapest offer around, but the two pies we sampled (Beef & caramelized onion with horseradish mash and a Smoked haddock and prawn) were both very good, and I would have happily paid 8.50 without the beer. As it was a most enjoyable pint of No. 7 was a bonus. There was also a selection of cakes at the end of the bar which seemed unusual, although something thats cropping up in more and more pubs these days The Battle Axes at Wraxall and The Star & Dove in Totterdown are two more that immediately spring to mind.

Beers on tap were primarily from Bristol Beer Factory, with their Sunrise, Acer, No. 7 and Stout. The guest was On The Rails from Ascot Ales. Ciders were Ashton Press and Lilleys Apple & Pear.

25 Nov 2010 11:13

The Lion, Clifton

As nobody else has posted anything since my previous review, I will expand upon it a little...

This is a great pub situated in the back streets of Clifton Wood, but only a few minutes walk from Hotwells Road. Its a typical street corner local, being surrounded on all sides by houses. Inside it looks to have had a recent refurbishment, and has got that typical gastro-pub look of striped pine flooring, brown paint work and chunky wooden tables. That said though, its still very much a drinkers pub and whilst there were a few punters tucking in to meals, the majority were just there for a pint.

Its not a big pub and the seating is fairly limited, so it can be tricky to get a seat. The fact that one of the biggest tables was reserved didnt help either. Theres a fireplace in one corner, although unfortunately it wasnt in use on our visit. A roaring fire on a cold Novembers evening would have been very welcome. There was also a plasma stuck up on the wall which looked a little out of place, although fortunately it was not in use on this occasion. There are also a few pictures dotted around the walls, including a drawing of a lion which seemed appropriate. Barmaid seemed friendly.

Theres a decent looking menu chalked up on a few boards opposite the bar, divided in to various sections such as nibbles, mains, etc. It looks to be slightly less pub grub than on my previous visit, with no sign of any pies or burgers, but still offers a good choice at reasonable prices. Confusingly there was a different selection of main courses on two separate boards, one priced and one not. Possibly one was part of some meal deal offer, but this was not clear. Of the mains that were priced the majority were 7.75, although the steaks on offer were obviously more than this.

Beers on tap were Barnstormer, Jem and Tribute. The cider was Thatchers Gold. There was also the biggest bottle of ros wine Ive ever seen behind the bar.

25 Nov 2010 10:35

The Somerset House, Bristol

As the memory of the previous incarnation of this pub fades, I am warming to the new one. Its a pleasant enough place in the heart of Clifton village. Its reasonably small and on two levels with a sandy colour scheme reminiscent of a Moroccan restaurant, and a few chunky wooden tables. Finding somewhere to sit can be difficult though, with only a fairly limited amount of seating available.

Beers were all dispensed from barrels racked up behind the bar, although the choice is not as inspiring as you might expect. On this occasion they were Courage Best, Doom Bar and London Pride. Ciders were Blackthorn and Scrumpy Jack.

23 Nov 2010 10:32

The Avon Gorge Hotel, Clifton

Although this pub is titled The Avon Gorge Hotel, it does have its own identity and is known as The White Lion. Although it is the hotel bar, its got its own entrance and many punters would probably be unaware of the fact that it is attached to a hotel. The main draw is undoubtedly the very large patio area at the back with a fantastic, uninterrupted view Brunels Suspension Bridge as well as much of the gorge from which the hotel takes its name. This is a popular spot and gets packed on a nice summers day when it can be tricky to find a seat. I have on occasions seen a BBQ going as well. An Australian relative was rather bemused by the plastic shrubbery however.

Inside its a little less appealing. The walls are painted in a slightly depressing shade of maroon, and there are many blackboards advertising forthcoming sporting fixtures that are being shown. On this occasion there was a very large projection screen in one corner showing the football, as well as a couple of plasmas dotted around. A sports bar in an upmarket hotel seems an odd combination. The floor is striped wood and there are lots of pine tables and chairs around as well as a few sofas by the large windows. The bar area itself is an island in the middle of the room and is a trendy sort of affair with marble counter top and chrome pillars.

I didnt check the menu, but food was always quite popular as I recall from previous visits. Last night they appeared to be doing some sort of a curry deal that certainly smelt good. Service was ok, although the barman didnt appear to have much in the way of personality. However, they were quite quiet on a recent Monday evening visit so there shouldnt be any problems. In the summer it can be a frustrating experience with the numbers of bar staff being far short of what is required, and the staff seeming to have little idea of whose turn it is to be served next or even how to work efficiently. A ten minute scrum at the bar is not unusual. Similarly my recollection of prices from previous visits is that theyre quite expensive, although last nights 7.70 for a couple of pints and a bottle of Corona didnt seem too bad. Either theyve had a change of policy of they jack their prices up in the summer to take advantage of the good weather.

The beer and cider choice was disappointing, with Butcombe being the solitary beer offering, and Bulmers the only cider. In summary I would have to say the only reason to really visit here is for the patio in the summer which is a fantastic spot. Otherwise there are plenty of far better pubs just a very short walk away.

23 Nov 2010 10:10

Goose At The Flyer, Horfield

A good sized pub divided in to several different areas, although they all lead in to one another. Its on a few different levels and has a good selection of seating with a few leather sofas, round bar tables and cosy alcoves. Theres old wooden flooring throughout and the walls are a mixture of exposed brickwork and painted plaster. One wall is plastered in flyers advertising local bands. The lighting was fairly low, and this created a pleasant ambience.

There was an extensive pub grub menu with most of the dishes around the 8/9 mark. We didnt try the food ourselves, but the kitchen seemed to be keeping busy. Unusually for a pub, this was an open plan affair, visible behind the bar. There was also a good choice of wines chalked up on a board above the bar. Service seemed to be quick and efficient.

Beers on tap were Sharps Cornish Coaster and Doom Bar, plus Thornbridge Jaipur. Ciders were Aspalls Suffolk, Addlestones and Gaymers Pear. There was also a good choice of continental lagers on tap.

17 Nov 2010 09:43

The Stag and Hounds, Churchill

The first thing that I noticed when I walked in to this pub was a lectern with a sign attached saying Please wait here to be seated. I think that gives you some idea about the sort of establishment that this is, and its not likely to be somewhere that any of the regulars on this site are going to pop into for a decent ale, not least because every table in there seemed to be laid up for food. Not exactly welcoming if you're just popping in for a pint.

Im struggling a bit as to how to describe this pub. Its just got that bland, corporate feel to it that must be replicated in dozens of other similar chain pubs up and down the country. Theres nothing at all offensive about it, theres plenty of wood around, its all nicely carpeted and it was clean and tidy. Its just got no character whatsoever. Unsurprisingly, it seemed very quiet on a recent Saturday evening visit.

The food is on a permanent 2 for 1 offer, all day every day. This immediately alienates me as clearly you know that the food is only going to be worth, at best, half the marked price. I didnt study the menu, but did notice a large selection on a board just by the entrance, that you could peruse while you were waiting to be seated.

Beers on offer were Brakspears Oxford Gold and Pedigree. The solitary cider was Strongbow, unfortunately.

8 Nov 2010 10:23

The Churchill Inn, Churchill

A fair sized pub divided in to a public bar at the front and an area more geared up for dining at the rear. Theres an old flagstone floor throughout, with the exception of a couple of raised, carpeted areas. Theres a few black timber beams about, and some wooden cladding on parts of the ceiling. The dining area right at the back has a wooden arched roof which is a nice feature. Old beer barrels feature prominently in the dcor, with a number of them suspended from timbers, set in to the walls or simply used as tables.

The bar area has a pool table, fruit machine and a small TV perched up in a corner. This seems to attract a few locals. The dining area at the rear feels slightly plusher, although the large stainless steel carvery counter wastes a lot of space. This wasnt in use on our visit, so is presumably reserved for Sunday lunchtimes. There was also a vertical display cabinet for the desserts which seems a bit 70s.

Service at the bar was chaotic and disorganised. On both occasions I had to wait far longer than I should have. That said, the staff were friendly and helpful, and had the good grace to apologise for keeping me waiting which is more than you get in a lot of pubs. One lady in particular insisted on calling everyone sweetheart or darling.

There was an extensive choice of food on the menu, and a large specials board as well. Confusingly though, some of the specials were not actually specials at all as they were also printed on the main menu. Similarly the menu listed various dishes that were available as a 2 for 12 deal, and this too was also chalked up on a board. But again, the listing on the board didnt quite correspond with what was printed on the menu, with some dishes being the same and others different. Food was very tasty and a generous portion, but seemed expensive. 12 for a bowl of pasta in a pub is a lot whichever way you look at it.

Beers on tap were GWBs Maiden Voyage, Butcombe and Doom Bar. The latter two were served straight from barrels racked up behind the bar. Ciders were Blackthorn, Natch and Thatchers Gold.

8 Nov 2010 09:56

George Inn, Knowle

A large high ceiling pub with the main room wrapped in an L-shape around the bar. The various pub signs outside promise a very warm welcome but this didnt seem to be the case on our visit. Nothing particularly wrong with the barmaids attitude, but Ive had far better in other pubs that dont make an issue of it. Why have a pointless strap line like that and make no effort to live up to it?

Theres a few tables out the front to watch the world go by, but its not a particularly pleasant spot being right on the main A37. The main bar has a couple of plasmas that were showing the football, numerous fruit machines dotted around and some unusual gas style globe lamps above the bar.

The rear bar is down a few steps and contains a pool table and a dart board. There is also a projector screen here although this was not in use on our visit.

Beers on tap were Courage Best and Bombadier. Ciders were Symonds Founders Reserve and Blackthorn.

5 Nov 2010 10:35

Bush, Totterdown

A large and relatively modern pub, the front and rear bars have a distinctly different feel to them. The front area is very much the public bar with very limited seating, a tiled floor, fruit machine and a plasma showing a football match that had the volume up far too loudly. There is also a table football game in an adjacent room.

The rear bar is all together much more pleasant being carpeted throughout with plenty of seating, mostly wooden tables and chairs but a couple of leather sofas as well. Its just a shame that the football commentary from the plasma in the front was still a little intrusive. There are also a couple of pool tables in a sectioned off area at one end. A supposedly old advert for Bridgewater Canal Carriers with a picture of an old canal barge on it made me chuckle since the marketing person who came up with it clearly doesnt know the correct spelling of Bridgwater.

The best part of the pub though is the wooden decking at the rear with fantastic views across the city. This covered and sheltered and so was a pleasant spot even on a wet winters evening, although unfortunately this closes at 9:00pm, presumably to cut down on any noise disturbance to local residents.

The only beer on offer was keg Pedigree. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

5 Nov 2010 10:20

The Fox, Bristol

Unfortunately I am unable to leave a review on this occasion as the pub was closing just as we arrived at 8:00pm on a Thursday evening. The opening times on the window say that they are open until 9:00pm during the week, but with the caveat that they may close earlier if there is no passing trade. Allegedly they are open to 11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

5 Nov 2010 09:55

Bocabar, Bristol

A large, barn-like place that is really more of a caf/bar than your traditional pub. Its one large open space with a big table full of community event leaflets as you go in. Theres a big arched roof with the electrical services on view and most of the rafters are strung with fairy lights which creates a reasonably pleasant effect, although the fact that the pretty much the only lighting seemed to be from them and candles on the tables made it slightly dark. Most of the seating is leather sofas and low level tables although there is also an area at the rear billed as a dining room.

The design is in a similar vein to the Tobacco Factory and it too looks the sort of place that would attract plenty of yummy mummies during the day and this was emphasised by a stack of high chairs at the side of the room. Unusually for a pub theres a display counter full of food reminiscent of the type of thing you might expect in an upmarket deli, containing a selection of cheeses, olives and such like. There was also a printed menu with a good selection of pizzas and a few specials chalked up on a board. Some of the prices seemed a bit steep though, e.g.; 9.25 for a cheese board.

Beers on offer were Gem, Spa and Wickwars Bob. Ciders were Westons, Bounders and Stowford Press. Drink prices also seemed high at 6.75 for two pints.

5 Nov 2010 09:52

The Bowl Inn, Lower Almondsbury

A traditional stone built pub in a pleasant village setting with a particularly attractive church next door. Inside the olde worlde theme continues with exposed stone walls and plenty of black timbers, although personally I felt the rather bright lighting detracted from the ambience somewhat. If theyd dimmed the lights a bit and lit the fire there would have been an all-together much cosier feel to the place.

Theres one long, carpeted bar with bench seating in the windows and several tables and chairs, some of which felt a little squashed in. Theres another room off to the right separated from the main bar by a wood burning stove. This has whitewashed walls, leather armchairs and a few pictures dotted around. Behind this is a wood panelled room reminiscent of an old fashioned hotel. There is an interesting curved stone built fireplace in the corner.

Barmaid seemed friendly enough, and there was a decent looking menu with a small selection of specials chalked up on a board. This seems to be quite a food led pub, and most punters appeared to be eating on our visit. This is not your usual pub grub though, with no sign of a chilli, curry or lasagne. Most of the mains were between the 8 and 12 mark, although some dishes such as steak were considerably more than this. Ultimately the food was quite disappointing though. My guinea fowl with sweet potato mash and spicy red cabbage was tasty enough, but not particularly well cooked and certainly not worth the 12 it cost. Similarly Mrs. Bs lamb was well over-cooked making it not exactly tough, but certainly nowhere near as tender as was expected. This was also 12 and for this sort of price in a pub I would expect real top quality nosh, which unfortunately this was not.

Good range of beers on tap with Abbot Ale, Old Speckled Hen, Butcombe, Rev. James, Buckleys Best and Everards Tiger (by the time we left the last one had been replaced by Wadworths Swordfish). The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

Note that the pub car park opposite is a pay and display. If you tear off the refund part of the ticket, you will get the cost refunded when you make a purchase.

4 Nov 2010 08:20

The Lazy Dog, Bristol

This is a sister pub to The Windmill in Bedminster and The Pipe & Slippers in Montpelier. In many ways it feels more like a caf/bar than your traditional pub, in spite of a good array of hand pumps facing you as soon as you walk in, and the majority of punters appeared to be eating on our visit. It looks like the sort of place that would attract plenty of yummy mummies during the day, although they do have a stated policy of no kids after 7:30pm which makes a nice change.

Its a U-shaped pub with a dominant marble bar across the middle. Theres colour scheme is mostly a slightly depressing shade of dark green, and there is also much wooden cladding both on the walls and making features such as individual booths on the right hand side of the bar as well as an attractive parquet wooden floor. The left hand side is of a more open design, with a fresher white-washed wall covered in a large variety of different mirrors. There are a few benches on a small decking area at the front of the pub to watch the world go by as well as a beer garden apparently, although we didnt check this out on our visit. Staff seemed friendly enough.

Theres a reasonably succinct menu consisting of Toms Pies (from Devon) and a selection of snacks, tapas, etc. There was also a special board with a few additional starters, mains and deserts. The pies were very pleasant, and good value at 4.40. That said, by the time youve added the obligatory mash, peas and gravy the price had crept up to 7.50 but we still thought it reasonable value for a decent dish.

Beers on tap were BBF Sunrise and No. 7, Baths Barnstormer and Goff Brewerys Jouster from the Cotswolds. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Orchard Pig and a welsh Farmhouse Cider. The menu also mentioned Addlestones, although I didnt spot this on the bar.

28 Oct 2010 07:46

The Apple Tree, Bedminster

A tiny, back street boozer located just off the main shopping area of Bedminster Parade. Its a small single room pub, with barely enough room to swing the proverbial cat. Its a bit rough and ready, and probably hasnt changed in decades. In fact theres still a very ancient looking one armed bandit machine in one corner, although unfortunately this didnt seem to be working.

Theres three or four tables and some rather threadbare bench seating around the perimeter. A digital jukebox and a LCD TV are the only concessions to modernity. Theres a few photos dotted around the wall and the pub certainly had a few characters in whod probably had one pint too many of the Cheddar Valley, but they all seemed friendly enough. It was quite quiet on a recent Tuesday evening, in fact when we left at about 8:30 there was nobody left in the pub although there were a few punters in the outside courtyard (or should that be the dilapidated garage?).

Foods probably not a big thing here, but there were a few pub classics such as Spag Bol, Chilli, Lasagne, Curry, etc. chalked up on a board next to the bar, and these were all priced at around the 1.50 mark which seems exceptionally reasonable.

No beers on tap unless you count John Smiths Extra Smooth. Good choice of ciders though, with Blackthorn, Natch, Taunton Traditional and Cheddar Valley. Drink prices seemed very reasonable, with the CV being just 2 a pint.

27 Oct 2010 09:55

Courtyard Wine Bar, Nailsea

Not quite as trendy as you might infer from the name, but nonetheless a pleasant enough place even if it is slightly lacking in character. In may ways it seems more like a private members club, with dull red carpet, dull red bench seating and a wooden bar area that just seems a little bit old fashioned.

Being a wine bar, you may expect to see a good selection of wines chalked up on a board, but although there used to be just such a board to the left of the bar that has now been replaced with a plasma. There was a selection of wine visible in the fridge, but presumably you have to squint at it to try and make it out, or enquire of the bar staff. No such problems if youre after a coffee though, there were plenty of mugs hanging from the bar and a selection of different cuppas chalked up on a board above the bar. Is this a wine bar or a coffee shop we ask ourselves?

Besides the aforementioned dull red colour scheme, theres a number of marble topped tables scattered around which all came with some fresh carnations and a lighted candle. The wall is regular painted plaster on one side and exposed brickwork on the other, although the brick is of a quite modern variety so doesnt have quite the visual appeal that you get in some pubs. Theres a curious wood stripwork on the ceiling that really looks as though it would be more at home cladding the floor. A few pictures are dotted around and there are some large windows overlooking the courtyard from whence this bar takes its name. Outside there are a couple of tables and benches.

The menu is mostly baguettes, sandwiches, jackets, omelettes, etc., although there were also a few regular meals, all with chips, and a few specials which were all fish. Barmaid seemed pleasant enough, and it soon filled up with a crowd of locals early on a Friday evening.

The solitary beer on tap was Doom Bar. Ciders were Blackthorn and Thatchers Gold.

22 Oct 2010 23:01

The Battleaxes, Wraxhall

Its great to see this historic old pub being given a new lease of life and re-opening. Years ago it was renowned for its Sunday carvery, but since then has been on a long, slow decline. It was rescued a couple of years ago by an Indian couple who also ran a supermarket in Totterdown. Unfortunately it would seem that their business expertise didnt extend to running country pubs, and the inexorable decline continued, followed by its inevitable closure. Its now been bought by the guys behind the Lounge chain, plus the Castle at Bradford-on-Avon and another one that I havent visited in Frome.

Its a big old pub, mostly open plan but with several different areas. The main bar area is a good size and extends around the L-shape bar. Theres dark wooden strip flooring, with a few areas of a natural slate type tile. Its been painted in the (inevitable) gastro-pub green, and theres plenty of mirrors and old photographs on the walls. Most of the seating is chunky tables and chairs giving a sort of farmhouse kitchen feel to the place, but theres also a few comfy sofas dotted around as well and a selection of board games. The lighting could either be described as atmospheric or dark, depending on your point of view. With no ceiling lights, the only illumination was from a few wall lights and the church candles on each table. Whilst this created a pleasant effect, I saw at least two punters who had to go and stand in the doorway to read their menu!

Theres also a separate bar up a few steps which seems to be more geared up for eating. This has its own bar area, although this did not appear to be open on our visit. The menu itself is a decent mixture of main courses, sandwiches, tapas and breakfasts (they are open from 10:00). If youre familiar with the Lounge bars, youre certainly recognise the tapas menu. On the whole we thought that the food was pleasant enough, although nothing special. My Chicken & Ham pie could have been a slightly more generous portion, and Mrs. Blackthorns curry could have been a little tastier. At around 9 each, we felt it perhaps a tad expensive for what we got, but not enough to put us off returning and trying something else.

Besides the food from the menu there were a few snacks behind the bar such as picked eggs, onions, gherkins and shallots. Even piccalilli. Im used to the concept of pickled eggs in a pub as you just pop it in your packet of crisps, but what are you supposed to do with piccalilli? There were also a couple of sponges on the bar, and even packets of home made fudge! Future plans apparently include re-opening the downstairs bar, which will be solely for drinking (i.e.; no food served) and developing B&B accommodation upstairs.

Unusual choice of beers on offer, namely their own Flatcappers Ale, Barbury Castle, Bristol Beer Factorys Acer, Cheddars Bitter Bully and Yeovils Star Gazer. Ciders were Stowford Press and Orchard Pig.

18 Oct 2010 08:25

The West Gate, Bath

This has recently been refurbished and seems to have a bit of a gastropub look to it from the outside. Inside its a large pub with a central bar, and a wood panelled room at the rear which is reminiscent of a old hotel lounge. We found ourselves in here simply because that was the only place to get a seat, and were surprised to get table service. All the staff seemed friendly and helpful, although the barmaid only listed two ciders when I enquired what was available. These were the two regulars on tap at the bar by the look of it, but I subsequently saw three others chalked up on a specials board which it would have been nice to be told about.

Theres a decent looking pub grub menu, although in the event what we had was a bit of a mixed bag. Its certainly got potential, but we didnt feel that the execution was quite there. My burger was very pleasant, although a little rare from my taste and it seemed odd to get the chips served in a miniature silver bucket. Mrs. Bs Beef & Stout pie was very tasty and had no doubt once been a great dish, but by the time we got it the pastry was soggy and the vegetables chewy.

Beers on tap were Bankers Draft, Rear and Shagweaver. Ciders on tap were Symonds Founders Reserve and Strongbow, although as previously noted there was also Cheddar Valley, Janets Jungle Juice and Pig Swill advertised on a board.

18 Oct 2010 08:01

The Bell, Bath

A pleasant and surprisingly spacious pub. Its a little scruffy around the edges, but that just adds to the atmosphere. I particularly liked all the bunches of hops hanging from every rafter. Music seems to be a big thing here with bands on three nights a week, and a large DJ console, although this was not in use on our visit.

Theres a small and cosy bar area up near the bar, with a real fire (real flames that is, it was gas, but still creates a pleasant ambience and gave off a good bit of warmth). The pub then stretches down someway, and beyond this is a good sized courtyard garden with a couple of table football games in an outbuilding. You get a few characters in here by the looks of things, but they all seemed pleasant enough and the place had a good vibe.

They do a range of local organic sandwiches apparently, although we didnt eat on this occasion. There was a friendly dog curled up by the fire, who looked very much at home, so we initially concluded it was the pub dog. He subsequently left with a punter though, but its obviously a regular spot for him.

Good choice of beers on tap all chalked up on a board above the bar Otter Ale, Summer Lightning, Old Buzzard, Bellringer, Pitchfork, Durdle Door, Jem, Butcombe and Danish Dynamite. Similarly good choice of ciders with Ashton Press, Stowford Press and Bath Cyders Rough Diamond.

18 Oct 2010 07:37

The Saracens Head, Bath

A surprisingly large pub with entrances at both the front and the rear on to Walcott Street. Theres several different areas inside with a large central bar and a smaller lounge of to the rear, and a large room at the back with a pool table and darts board as well as a large projection screen although this was not in use on our visit. One wall here is built of Bath stone which is a change from the rest of the pub.

There are a few other TVs dotted around, and a few of the punters seemed to be enjoying the football that was on. Mrs. B was none to keen on having to squeeze through a group of these blokes to get to the loo, and when she did get there found that one of them was blocked, no doubt due to the fact that the hand dryer was broken and everyone was throwing paper towels down the pan. The gents was no better being dark and dingy, and this was also blocked. The staff seemed pleasant enough, although seemed a bit distracted.

The food offering is fairly typical of what youd expect with a large laminated menu divided in to several sections such as Lite Bites, Grills Pub Classics, Burgers, Mains, etc., and offering all sorts of price led promotions, such as curry nights, burger nights and grill nights. However, with the only drinks on offer as part of these deals being John Smiths Extra Smooth or Fosters, theyre unlikely to tempt too many people I would have thought. Breakfasts are available from 1.99 or 2.99 if you want an extra sausage and chips (!).

Beers on tap were Buckleys Best, Greene King IPA and 6X. There was a fourth pump on the bar but this did not appear to be in use. Ciders were Blackthorn and Strongbow.

18 Oct 2010 07:22

The Commercial Rooms, Bristol

As others have said, this is an very impressive building with a high ceiling topped off with a glass dome surrounded by statues. The colours are a bit garish, but overall its a pleasant enough pub, although this was the first Spoons to open in Bristol and it is starting to show its age a bit.

Theres one very large central room, plus a smaller bar off to the rear. This is pretty nondescript and doesnt really have much in the way of an ambience. Theres also a small rectangular room behind the bar, but its quite narrow and is used as a corridor for people on their way to the loos.

Usual impressive selection of beers on tap, which on this occasion were Headless Huntsman, Rudgate Brewerys Battle Axe, Ruddles Best, Yachtsman, Wickwars BOB, Directors, Abbot and Otters Head. Ciders were Old Rascal, Thatchers Gold, Blackthorn and Strongbow.

15 Oct 2010 11:58

Horts, Bristol

A large pub situated just around the corner from Corn Street. Inside it seems to struggle a bit with its identity being a mix of different areas a fairly non-descript bar area at the front, another area that looks like a hotel lounge, yet another that looks like a gentlemans club with rows of books lining the shelves, and then a games area at the rear with a couple of pool tables and even a pinball machine.

It was very quiet on a recent Thursday evening visit, no doubt due to the extremely bad (and loud) singing from the punters trying their hand at the karaoke. Then again it may have been the prices putting people off - 7.25 for one of their own beers and a Vodka & Orange seems a bit steep.

Theres a covered outside area which is handy for the smokers, and several fake fireplaces, i.e.; fire places that were once real, but have been filled with a selection of twigs and fairy lights. What is that about? Food wise there was a board listing a good selection of burgers which seem to be something of a speciality. Im not sure what else was on offer.

There seemed to be a good choice of beers on tap, and the Ram Rod that I had seemed pleasant enough, although Im no expert on these things. Besides that, the other beers on tap were Bombadier, Youngs Bitter, Bristol Beer Factorys Acer and Black Sheep. It looks as though they usually have Doom Bar as well, although that was off on our visit. Ciders were Thatchers Gold, Blackthorn, Strongbow and Thatchers Pear.

15 Oct 2010 11:27

The Surrey Wine Vaults, Bristol

As beatles38 has said, this is now The Bristol Cider House. Interior wise nothing much has changed, its still a pleasant and attractive pub albeit with a fairly limited amount of seating in the main bar. Upstairs theres another room with some more seating and a cosy looking snug (this may actually be their conservatory it was dark when we visited, so this was not obvious).

There was an open mic night on a recent Thursday evening visit, and they run a cider festival every Saturday. This looks like a good deal, with free entry, a hog roast and 20 local ciders on offer. Landlord is pleasant and friendly. My only criticism would be the smell from the gents loos which was still noticeable when sat half way down the pub.

The solitary beer on tap was Moles Best. Regular ciders on tap were Thatchers Pear, Thatchers Gold, Stowford Press and Black Rat. Ciders straight from the barrel on this occasion were (deep breath) Janets Jungle Juice, Moonshine, Black Rat, Cheddar Valley, Thatchers Heritage, Old Bristolian, Bristol Port Cider, Legbender Farmhouse, Richs Farmhouse, Hecks Farmhouse, Broadoak, Kingston Black and Thatchers Draft. I cant ever remember seeing such an impressive collection as that, even in The Orchard.

15 Oct 2010 10:58

R n B Ultimate Sports Bar, Torquay

The title says it all really, this is a sports bar, not a pub. There are seven plasmas around the place, and a projection screen, so theres no chance of missing any action.

On the plus side, its conveniently located just off the main shopping street, and its got some nice windows that fold right back, so its a good spot to sit and watch the world go by.

Unfortunately, thats about all I can really say in its favour. Everything was served in plastic bottles, not only draft beer, but even bottled drinks were decanted. Asking for a bottle of Corona and getting it served in a plastic half pint glass with a wedge of lime floating in the top isnt quite the same somehow. Even more bizarre was the Guinness it came from a can, was poured in to a (plastic) glass, and was then placed on a device that looked like nothing more than a metal plate, which was apparently supposed to release the gas and turn it in to a proper draft pint!. This was particularly sneaky as the metal plate was attached to what appeared to be a Guinness font only close inspection revealed that there was no tap.

The only beer on offer was a Bass creamflow or similar concoction. The cider was Thatchers Gold.

15 Oct 2010 10:30

The Hunters Rest, Clutton

This isnt somewhere youre likely to stumble across by accident, tucked out the way down some twisting country lanes, but it nonetheless always seems to be busy. Its a reasonably attractive stone-built pub that looks as though it was converted from a row of cottages at some point in the distant past.

Its a large pub with lots of different areas and but still manages to retain a suitably cosy country pub ambience, with a low beamed ceiling, red patterned carpeting and a mixture of chunky wood tables and small copper topped ones. The walls are mostly exposed stonework and there was a real fire burning away.

There was a very extensive menu, divided in to sections such as starters, mains, baguettes, oggies, from around here, from over there, kids, etc. There was also a small specials board. Something for everyone it would seem. Whilst the portions were extremely generous (over generous in fact) and were tasty enough, they had the appearance of something fresh out of the micro-wave.

Theres a pleasant beer garden out the back, and even a miniature train running through the grounds, which is popular with the kids. There is also a bridge over the railway to a kids play area which is an interesting feature.

Beers on tap were Jem, Butcombe and Otter. Good choice of ciders with the local Broadoak, Thatchers Dry, Pheasant Plucker and Blackthorn.

15 Oct 2010 10:18

Roo Bar, Clifton

A large and popular pub right next to Clifton Down railway station. I assume that it was at one time the station building and there are still glimpses of an impressive arched roof, although a mezzanine level floor that has been constructed has largely obscured this.

Its very much a sports bar, with at least a dozen TVs and plasmas dotted around the place (even a bank of three right next to each other which seems odd) as well as a large projection screen right opposite the bar. Several large notices advertise prominent football matches that are being screened, and a poster displaying a full listing showed that there were no less than 29 planned for October.

The pub itself is quite big, with a main central bar and smaller rooms off to each side. The left hand bar houses a couple of pool tables, and the two bars off to the right appear to be a bit cosier with lower level seating. The pumps on the bar are unusual in that they dispense from above, keeping the bar counter clear. I suppose that makes it easier for passing drinks across, but it must be hard work for the bar staff continually holding glasses up so high while they are filled. There is also a good sized outside decking area which was very popular. Bar service was quick with an efficient bunch of staff, although this may have been in anticipation of lots of punters coming in later to watch the England match.

As you might guess from the name, the pub has a bit of an Australian theme to it with much of the interior being made of wood to resemble beach huts and the like. There was also a large model alligator attached to the wall, and an equally large sharks head protruding from the wall in the pool room. Theres an impressive large fireplace down at one end, although unfortunately its clear that this is no longer in use. The place seems popular with students, and there were a large number dressed up as farm animals on a recent visit.

The food offering seems to be very much at the budget end of the scale with main meals from 3.49, and different promotions on most nights of the week such as curry nights, grill nights and burger nights. There is also a quiz night on Sundays.

The solitary beer on offer was Greene King IPA, although there was another hand pump displaying a notice that said the beer was settling and would be ready shortly. The ciders were a rather disappointing Bulmers and Strongbow.

13 Oct 2010 10:13

The Globe Inn, Wells

A traditional old pub located just a minutes walk from the main high street. Theres a long flagstone corridor running the whole length of the pub with a large bar off to the left. This had a tiled floor and a couple of plasmas showing sport of some description. Theres a smaller and cosier looking bar off to the right with wood flooring. Towards the back is a small room with a pool table.

Theres a courtyard garden at the rear complete with a smoking shed that also sported a plasma. This seems rather superfluous. It was initially off until one punter came out for his fag, turned it on, and then promptly returned to the pub leaving it switched on.

There is a selection of old maps and globes around the place which seems entirely appropriate considering the name of the pub. There was an interesting looking menu chalked up on a board with most of the dishes around the 9 mark, although we didnt eat on this occasion.

Beers on tap were Butcombe and Doom Bar. Ciders were Blackthorn, Bulmers and Symonds Founders Reserve.

11 Oct 2010 11:57

The Fountain Inn and Boxers Restaurant, Wells

A pleasant enough pub located a few minutes walk from the city centre, and a handy spot for anyone visiting the cathedral. The interior gave the impression of being more geared towards dining than a drinking pub, with most of the tables looking as though they were laid up for food.

Im unable to leave a detailed review as they apparently close at 2:30pm on a Saturday, which seems odd in a major tourist destination. I suppose that just backs up the assumption that they are more food orientated. The barman was friendly enough though, and sensing my disappointment at the poor choice of cider on offer (not that they were serving it anyway), suggested the Kings Head as a suitable alternative.

Beers on tap were 6X and Butcombe. The solitary cider was Olde English.

11 Oct 2010 11:30

The Sun Inn, Wells

A pleasant and traditional old pub just off the High Street. Inside theres a mixture of exposed stonework, wood panelling and painted plaster. Theres a small bar at the top with a pool table and dart board, plus a couple of TVs and a plasma dotted around, which seems a lot for a relatively small pub. Fortunately only one of them was on when we visited. There is also a juke box and fruit machine opposite the bar.

According to the sign outside, there is a courtyard garden, although this appeared not be in use on our visit. There is also a log burner which no doubts adds certain cosiness on a cold day. Locals were friendly and chatty.

The solitary beer on tap was 6X, although there was also a pump for Tribute which was not in use. The cider was Stowford Press.

11 Oct 2010 11:14

The Raymend Hotel, Bedminster

Now called the Victoria Park, this has had a bit of a gastro-pub makeover. Last time I went in here when it was called The Raymend was about 25 years ago, and it was a bit of a dump then. As far as I know it hadnt improved any in the intervening years, but I was keen to give it a go now that its been given a new lease of life.

Its a good sized pub with large windows both front and back. Theres a terraced patio out the back which looks to be a pleasant enough spot. In keeping with most pub make-overs these days, its all reclaimed wooden flooring, chunky wood tables, and a mixture of gastro-pub green paint and some trendy wallpaper. Theres a couple of sofas with a low coffee table between them, but other than that its all tables and chairs. Theres a small bar off to the left, and a larger one running down past the bar to the rear patio. The problem we found with the tables were that many of them were quite large, enough to sit eight or so people. This meant that there was a lot of wasted space, as you might get four people sat there and nobody else. Perhaps theyre keen to encourage more social interaction. The barman seemed friendly enough, and there is a selection of art on the walls, much of it for sale.

Theres a menu chalked up on a large blackboard which looked interesting enough but didnt actually have that much choice. There was only about half a dozen mains, plus a couple of other dishes that could be had as a starter or a main course. This isnt your typical pub grub, with most of the choices being pan-fried this or char grilled that. We were struggling to find something we fancied, but in the event we both thoroughly enjoyed what we had, and priced at around the 10 mark it seemed reasonable value for what we got.

Beers on tap were Jem and Butcombe Gold. These seem to be regulars as they were also printed on the menu, which says to check the bar for todays guest ale. On this occasion the third hand pump was not in use however. The solitary cider was Stowford Press.

11 Oct 2010 10:23

The Rising Sun, West Town

In spite of this being one of my nearest pubs, its not one that I go to often. It always sees to have a bit of an edge to it, and I have heard reports of there being trouble there on occasions. That said, theres now a new couple running it so I was keen to give it another go.

Inside it hasnt really changed at all, and whilst theres nothing particularly wrong with it, it could perhaps do with a bit of TLC. The lounge bar contains a plasma in the corner that was showing sport of some sort, and theres a large pool table as well which seems odd for a lounge bar. We didnt go in the public bar although I could see that this had a dart board in it. The landlady was friendly enough, and said that they are planning to start doing a basic food offering in the coming weeks.

Theres a large rear garden which is a nice spot on a sunny afternoon, although this isnt really utilised to the full at the moment as there are only three benches out there. There is also a covered patio area to keep the smokers happy, and there was a poster on the door advertising a band that are playing next weekend, which I may well check out. There was still groups of people loitering the doorway smoking and swearing though, which is rather off putting.

Beers on tap were Greene King IPA and Spitfire. Ciders were Blackthorn and Addlestones.

11 Oct 2010 10:02

The Battle Axes, Wraxall

Its great to see this historic old pub being given a new lease of life and re-opening. Years ago it was renowned for its Sunday carvery, but since then has been on a long, slow decline. It was rescued a couple of years ago by an Indian couple who also ran a supermarket in Totterdown. Unfortunately it would seem that their business expertise didnt extend to running country pubs, and the inexorable decline continued, followed by its inevitable closure. Its now been bought by the guys behind the Lounge chain, plus the Castle at Bradford-on-Avon and another one that I havent visited in Frome.

Its a big old pub, mostly open plan but with several different areas. The main bar area is a good size and extends around the L-shape bar. Theres dark wooden strip flooring, with a few areas of a natural slate type tile. Its been painted in the (inevitable) gastro-pub green, and theres plenty of mirrors and old photographs on the walls. Most of the seating is chunky tables and chairs giving a sort of farmhouse kitchen feel to the place, but theres also a few comfy sofas dotted around as well and a selection of board games. The lighting could either be described as atmospheric or dark, depending on your point of view. With no ceiling lights, the only illumination was from a few wall lights and the church candles on each table. Whilst this created a pleasant effect, I saw at least two punters who had to go and stand in the doorway to read their menu!

Theres also a separate bar up a few steps which seems to be more geared up for eating. This has its own bar area, although this did not appear to be open on our visit. The menu itself is a decent mixture of main courses, sandwiches, tapas and breakfasts (they are open from 10:00). If youre familiar with the Lounge bars, youre certainly recognise the tapas menu. On the whole we thought that although the food was pleasant enough, although nothing special. My Chicken & Ham pie could have been a slightly more generous portion, and Mrs. Blackthorns curry could have been a little tastier. At around 9 each, we felt it perhaps a tad expensive for what we got, but not enough to put us off returning and trying something else.

Besides the food from the menu there were a few snacks behind the bar such as picked eggs, onions, gherkins and shallots. Even piccalilli. Im used to the concept of pickled eggs in a pub as you just pop it in your packet of crisps, but what are you supposed to do with piccalilli? There were also a couple of sponges on the bar, and even packets of home made fudge! Future plans apparently include re-opening the downstairs bar, which will be solely for drinking (i.e.; no food served) and developing B&B accommodation upstairs.

Unusual choice of beers on offer, namely their own Flatcappers Ale, Barbury Castle, Bristol Beer Factorys Acer, Cheddars Bitter Bully and Yeovils Star Gazer. Ciders were Stowford Press and Orchard Pig.

30 Sep 2010 09:51

The Dolphin Inn, Lower Weston

This pub is a bit tucked out the way, but has the advantage of the river running right past which makes a pleasant place for a pint on a sunny afternoon. Inside its quite cavernous, far bigger than first impressions suggest. Besides the main bar area, theres a small sports room with a pool table, dart board, etc. and beyond that a large modern looking dining area which may well have been a skittle alley in a former life. Theres also a smaller, cosier dining area and a decent sized patio next to the river.

The main bar has a traditional feel with a patterned red carpet, red bench seating and a fireplace with some type of log burner in. There seemed to be several food offers available, although we didnt check the m