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Dirty Duck, Stratford Upon Avon

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user reviews of the Dirty Duck, Stratford Upon Avon

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

Nice pub in a great location. Beer quality suspect - all from Greene King.

I stuck with the theme and went for a Dirty Mallard. I wish I hadn't.

Still, lovely place.

Photos at my walking blog -
Mappiman - 28 May 2016 20:55
Very good riverside setting and a really nice pub. Friendly and attentive staff and beer in good nick. We visited on the way to the theatre and again afterwards expecting to find it packed to the rafters but it wasn't. I expect this is due to it being the second closest pub to the theatre so if you are not local you would perhaps not see it. Worth knowing for theatregoers.
rinfav - 4 Apr 2016 13:25
Obviously busy last night with its pre-theatre crowd but service was quick and efficient and at least the pub has some character in contrast to the pub on Sheep Street we had visited before. I had a pint of the house brew, the 3.9% Mucky Duck which was good.
paul_d102 - 12 Dec 2015 10:30
We go to stratford every July, have always given this pub a miss as We expected it to be a bit poncey for us, but don't be fooled, this is a great little pub, the beer was really well kept, service was excellent, not sure I can find any faults, will be back again next July,
AnchormanMike - 26 Dec 2014 11:04
Good food, well kept beers nice place to spend a sunny sunday afternoon
alewhale - 23 Mar 2014 13:16
Sorry about the double-post ... but we Thesps do tend to go over the top ...
Ditchcrawler - 12 Aug 2013 21:45
Hang on a minute ... this pub is WORLD FAMOUS as Stratford's Actor-Luvvies' bar: that's what makes it what it is! 99.9 per cent of its clientele surely know this before they cross the threshold. My dear old drama tutor used to hang out with Olivier and Gielgood here back in the 40s for heavens' sake! As an "Associate Luvvie" ( thanks to the RSC's wonderful Open Stages scheme) I'm more than happy to hold court here at least once a year!

That said: there is better beer available elsewhere in town ... but that's not why one patronizes the Mucky Duck, is it darlings?
Ditchcrawler - 12 Aug 2013 21:42
Hang on a minute ... this pub is WORLD FAMOUS as Stratford's Actor-Luvvies' bar: that's what makes it what it is! 99.9 per cent of its clientele surely know this before they cross the threshold. My dear old drama tutor used to hang out with Olivier and Gielgood here back in the 40s for heavens' sake! As an "Associate Luvvie" ( thanks to the RSC's wonderful Open Stages scheme) I'm more than happy to hold court here at least once a year!

That said: there is better beer available elsewhere in town ... but that's not why one patronizes the Mucky Duck, is it darlings?
Ditchcrawler - 12 Aug 2013 21:42
A definite thumbs up from me for this pub. Two pleasant 'old fashioned' bars at the front, with an eating/drinking terrace overlooking the river. At the back there is a more modern eating area.

Rather limited choice of beer, only Green King IPA and Morlands Golden Hen on offer when I called in.

I made the mistake of ordering beer from the bar on the right, I'd missed the sign on the bar saying that it was closed and to order from the 'front bar'. However the barman did serve me, and everyone else who arrived later, as 'there's no-one at the other bar at the moment'. Slightly bizarre as he just had to turn round to serve from either bar!

Nevertheless a good pub, not over priced, one to revisit.
ferend - 21 Jun 2013 20:34
Was a decent enough pint of IPA when I went in, and the pub obviously thinks it is an extension of the RSC, or the theatre bar, up the lane. This spoils it somewhat.

Lots of pictures of thespians on the walls. Decent pub though, having said what I have, and the food selection was good.
wbafc_beer - 16 Sep 2011 23:34
Visited July 2011 and seems to have hade a bit of a renovation inside. Good service but didn't try the food. Great to sit outside but watch the falling mulberries if you sit under the tree - they will stain anything.
No luvvies spotted and seemed better-run so will visit again.
lobster56 - 20 Jul 2011 03:30
If you're obsessed by the RSC, this is the pub for you.
If you are a spoilt, over privileged local girl who wants an actor boyfriend for the season, this is the pub for you.
If you are any one else and would like the wannabe actor barman to address you as "geezer"
this is the pub for you.
anonymous - 9 May 2011 15:28
Lovely food
canoerapist - 11 Mar 2011 19:48
This is pretty much a restaurant with a bit of pub attached. Its wood panelled all around but doesn’t give the feel of being old compared to e.g. The Falcon or The White Swan Hotel. There are dining tables and chairs all around the place. The menu is exactly the same as The Garrick and The Pen and Parchment, but the beer is worse. 4 handpumps on the bar but only 2 beers on, the others didn’t even have pumpclips on so these may not be used. GK IPA and Olde Trip available, the Trip was just about OK. There’s a patio area out front which is probably nice in summer but we won’t be bothering to come here again.
ROBCamra - 6 Nov 2009 14:40
A simply fantastic pub let down by some serious issues. Firstly the beer is an abomination and rarly do I get a pint worth speaking of. This however is the norm for town centre bozers in Stratford.

The actors that mince in at about 10 - 11 pm on a Friday and Saturday can become very anoying as they arrogantly think the place is run solely for them. Most of them should be in a mental asylum and so the atmosphere plummets when they flounce in. I have heard good reports of the food but I have never tried it myself.

Still I keep going back when im in town so I love it really. Shame about the acidic beer as it leaves me belching and reaching for the rennie on most occasions.
blowhound - 22 Sep 2009 07:56
Riverside pub with an inevitable thespian theme. Apparently American GIs christened it the Dirty Duck during the war, hence its double name today. It's got two rooms, the left one with pictures of all the actors who've been the more interesting. The tiny beer garden at the front is brilliant, with a tree in the middle dominating and providing shade, and also good views of the river. Beer range not great but OK- Greene King so you know what to expect. I had Dallaglios' which was fine. Food looked reasonable and good value. Strictly for the tourists but not plasticky. Would return
Carlurmston - 2 Jul 2009 12:46
Availability a big problem they ran out of everthing will not be going back !
tiger10 - 17 Jan 2009 12:59
On our last night in Stratford we popped in for a pint. Choice was between Greene King IPA and Speckled Hen, so no great range of ales. The whole Dirty Duck/White Swan thing confused me. It was interesting seeing all of the actors signed photos. Obviously a tourist place, so full of confused punters jumping in at the bar etc..Not a great place, but not bad.
HornchurchJohn - 19 Oct 2008 19:19
i liked it. but then I was a tourist and I'm an actor, so I was bound to.
Stout - 4 Sep 2008 14:34
Really nice location by the riverside looking over the recreation area. Greene King beers and guest ales,which were very nice.
This is a definite 'yes' for visitors and locals alike. Children and dogs ok.
flagship - 21 Jul 2008 13:57
A pub with atmosphere especially the actor's bar. Not the cleanest or best organised but the beer was good. Between the Swan Theatre (currently being restored) and the Courtyard Theatre very much a theatre pub and busy before and after performances. Outside tables overlook the theatre gardens and the Avon.
Well worth a visit just for the theatre atmosphere.
catador - 30 May 2008 12:34
I would imagine the smoking band don't get to play many gigs these days.
Pubbing_Billy - 15 Apr 2008 16:52
Been to this pub a few times over the last couple of years when visiting Stratford. Sadly it didn't cope with the smoking band too well, as the smoke must have masked the strong smell of cleaning products used in the mens toilets. The smell was enough to put you off your drink.

It was a lovely surprise on this visit to see that it's overcome that problem and it's back to being a great place to enjoy a pint or two. Very good bar staff, wide selection of beers and other drinks. Can get busy just before and after theatre performances at the nearby RSC, though well worth a visit.
dribbs - 15 Apr 2008 16:41
"Probably a better bet for those who prefer to stay out of the yuppie/tourist hostelries."

This is 100% a tourist/theatre pub and anyone local will tell you the same.

A nice place but quite pricey, lots of interesting characters in there on a busy night and it has Hoegaarden on tap and several decent ales.
descubrio - 11 Dec 2007 15:10
Pretty 'earthy' for a Stratford pub. Flowers and Hen were nice enough. Probably a better bet for those who prefer to stay out of the yuppie/tourist hostelries.

*** Ramblers Tip *** On no account should you get trashed here and then get a cab to Henley-in-Arden to pick up your car. £40! Daylight robbery. I still wake up in a cold sweat about it some nights.
cardinalChunder - 14 Nov 2007 20:37
I visited this pub over the week end, great atmosphere, really friendly staff, a more than passable pint of Flowers and Old Speckled Hen, the food was good though a little pricey and the toilets were clean.
pongo45 - 9 Jul 2007 09:05
Very nice with lovely food and within easy reach of the RST.
David_Smith - 26 Mar 2007 19:31
Used to be a good pub when Pam was landlady and kept the standards up. She was a proper old style landlady who ran a proper pub. Now corporatised and bland.
ricorazzo - 13 Jan 2007 13:00
Had a couple of good pints of Flowers in here a couple of weeks ago. Nice atmosphere. Good fun trying to recognise all the luvvies on the wall.
therivierakid - 26 Oct 2006 13:16
Weird pub. Has 2 names. The Dirty Duck or The Black Swan (Contrary to what the title on this page says). Used to be the old actors bar for the darlings-lovees types coming out of the theatre. Had a late licence if you got in there early enough. Tiny bar areas and often crap staff. Did go through a massive upturn in popularity once Pam the fat old landlady left the place. Gone off the boil a bit now. Food is overpriced but tastes good. In the summer you can sit over the road in the gardens although you will have to have a plastic cup which collapses as soon as you grab it.
anonymous - 3 Oct 2006 16:39
Tricky one this - the "Actors Bar" has a great atmos, all dark and cozy with a wood-burning stove and signed photos of RSC lovies adorning the walls. And a decent pint to boot.

However, the food (part of a less than well-organised chain of fooderie pubs in the town) is nowt less than pantaloonies: bad and somewhat confused service, badly cooked (assuming it's even in stock despite being on the menu (all pubs in this chain repeatedly make that mistake)and a none-too-brilliant grasp of the English language from the staff. Great, perhaps, if you speak Polish. Less great for a Londoner. By the way, don't order the duck - it was so overdone that it was practically string and I can only assume I'd been served the reputed "Dirty Duck" the pub is named after. (I sent it back, got a refund and went to The Windmill instead - infintely better!)

So - all-in-all nice for a beer if you like to be start-struck and listen in to Thespian lingo. For God's sake eat before you get there.
BlueStringPudding - 18 Feb 2006 19:36
More wood than the New Forest. Beer sometimes tastes like it was brewed in 1979. Overpriced and underfun.
dantol - 5 Dec 2005 15:46
This is a cracking pub. It has a good layout, a decent atmosphere and the setting is very beautiful.

Unfortunately it is more of a 'theatre house' than a 'public house' and is spoiled somewhat when the actors stride in like royalty post-performance. But to be honest I'd probably be really arrogant if I read someone else's lines for a living! I'd probably start wearing a multi-colored scarf at the height of summer as well just to show how radical and bohemian I am!

The best room in the pub is the side bar, but the ceiling is quite low and it gets very smoky. The actors all have to smoke rather a lot to demonstrate that, despite their pampered upbringings, they still have an untameable, rebellious, creative streak. But I suppose when one is in the presence of posturing self-destructive genius, one shouldn't complain.

In conclusion - a genuinely great pub. If they outlawed 'theater' it would be even better!
anonymous - 2 Dec 2005 22:40
Well, I can't see what there is to rave about at the Dirty Duck. The outside seating area is tiny & you can't see the river for the road and gardens in between. The seating inside is uncomfortable and the last time I went in there the tables were all covered in dirty glasses and the table tops were sticky from spilt beer. Yuk!
anonymous - 4 Nov 2005 12:34
This brings back some wicked memories of a weekend in a cottage house for a long weekend back in '86. Can't believe it's here. Great pub. Had a lot of good laughs here with the family and still even have the classic pictures of us slowly getting pissed. Sounds like it's still holding up.
Joseph65 - 12 Oct 2005 19:54
A very unique pub... If this pub were a person it would have been knighted long ago. Its ability to attract the glitterati and the literati give it a well-heeled edge. The garden at the back is just ok, but the terrace on the front (which overlooks the river Avon) is a beautiful setting to sip a glass of wine. Faults: The queues are enormous post theatre, the food is overpriced (for the type of food you get) and the management seems to love every minute of their associated fame. A ‘Darling’ publican! Yuk, nothing worse.
roastchicken - 11 Aug 2005 14:35
Reasonable pint of Adnams with actors overlooking the river. It was fairly quiet even on a Friday evening with enough staff to serve plenty more but you could still read a Shakespeare play before getting your beer.
Menu is the same as the Pen and Parchment
lout_from_the_lane - 22 Mar 2004 13:02
One of the best pubs I've been to. It's beer and atmosphere are great. There's a similarly named pub in London.
Richard Hopley - 11 Nov 2003 13:59
The other evening i had a fantastic meal in your pub resturant, the food was delicious the english beer also great and i was particularly impressed by a young waitressed named sophie. it was a pleasure to be waited on by such a friendly but professional member of staff and it made are meal all the more enjoyable. i apologise for my english but i am a italian visitor to warwickshire. i truely enjoyed my stay and shall recomend your establishment to potential visitors to the area. my regards marco faretti
marco faretti - 9 Nov 2003 21:10
Very famous theatrical pub about 100 m from Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Regular haunt of theatregoers and actors, as well as many young people from town and surrounding area. Lovely river view terrace, good beer and food - well worth a visit especially at weekends and weekday mornings on sunny days.
Richard - 4 Jul 2003 15:15

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