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BITE user comments - keystone

Comments by keystone

The Crab and Lobster Tap, Ventnor

Extremely friendly town pub with very friendly locals. Excellent pint of Tim Taylor Landlord for a highly affordable £3.30. Lovely (enormous) Sunday roast with loads of yorkies and thick gravy.
Thoroughly recommend.

9 Nov 2014 20:50

The Red Lion, Sturminster Marshall

Popped in for lunch today. Beers the usual H and W offering.
Pleasant village pub with attentive staff. Quite a tempting looking menu slightly different from the average HW.

Pretty disappointed with my prawn baguette and fries for nearly £6. Mean handful of fries in a silly little fryer basket thing and half a salad baguette with a prawn garnish. Soup salty and Ok ish. Quite disappointing really. Could be so much better if not so grudging with the food.

Every time anyone got up or came in there was a growling of dogs and calling of their owners.

Pub is quite difficult enough to find from Wimborne so I would have thought they would do everything possible to make your visit memorable in a good way. As it is, it is not worth the effort to find.

11 Dec 2013 15:56

The Horns Inn, Ferndown

Stopped in for a quick pint while passing on Sunday afternoon and found the place very busy, mostly with diners. 4 or 5 brews on the go including DBC's Durdle Door which was well kept and served by helpful staff and attentive manager. Children well catered for and the is a huge conservatory area and gardens. Menu appears a bit Spoons-ish from what I saw. Will use again when in the area.

11 Nov 2013 09:22

The Smugglers, Milford on Sea

Very friendly local pub where nothing is too much trouble. We sampled their very good evening menu and ales on two nights recently and could not really fault the place. 4 beers on offer and my Abbot was in fine form.

Handy large car park and nice garden. Dog friendly, but don't hold that against them too much as it's a roomy place and you could probably find a table away from the whiny critters..

Finished our trip with Sunday lunch there which again was very good value and delicious, though we were just a bit surprised to be charged an extra 75p each for an extra Yorkshire pud.

Thoroughly recommend.

11 Nov 2013 09:15

The Cricketers Arms, Wimborne

Friendly welcome and a good pint of TT's Landlord at the Cricketers Arms in Wimborne, whilst whiling away half an hour with the i crossword.

Middle-sized, clean and tidy town pub with lively, chatty locals, I can't find too much to say about the place, but as an aside, I was quite impressed they offer the full range of Walkers excellent crisps - including the ever rarer Smokey Bacon flavour !


4 Aug 2013 13:35

The Brewhouse, Poole

An unspoilt town pub. Sometimes a bit sweary sometimes a bit sexist and blokey but always a friendly barman/maid and a cracking pint of your Milk St. ale of choice. All the ales I have tried here have been very well kept, so I sampled the excellent 'Beer', which is served for a relatively reasonable £3.10/pint. The area at the back of the pub contains juke box and pool tables.

If you are a visitor with your girlfriend or you are unaccustomed to raised voices and swearing then perhaps you should avoid the Brewhouse, but if you like a boisterous town pub with real locals with real locals' outspoken views, you will love this little beauty.

4 Aug 2013 13:29

The Dolphin, Blandford Forum

Certainly the best pub we have found after two visits to Blandford and as far as I can tell the only non-Hall&Woodhouse house in the town centre (Nothing particularly against H&W, but it does get a little samey after a while ?)

Small and quirky, the Dolphin offers a large range of the Piddle ales which is not surprising as it is owned by the Piddle Brewery. Also on offer were three or four non-Piddle brews including a very well kept TT's Landlord. The decor is pleasantly woody/shabby/comfy, the staff cheerful, pleasant and knowledgeable, the food is good value and the bogs clean.

The locals I met were very friendly and we soon got chatting. This will certainly be my pub of choice next time we're in Blandford - recommend.

4 Aug 2013 13:14

Red Lion, Winfrith Newburgh

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT (as of this week).
Report to follow...

8 Feb 2013 11:33

The Pudding and Pye, Wimborne

This is now a self styled "restaurant with rooms" and should be removed from BITE as it is no longer a pub.

28 Jan 2013 14:37

The Bell Hotel, Wimborne

What a total dump. Maybe it has changed hands. Dropped in one rainy Monday afternoon for a quick pint having seen relatively high score in BITE.
No beer pumps visible, no one serving except a surly and rude bloke on his phone.
Avoid this place - there are several really friendly pubs in Wimborne to spend your money in instead.

28 Jan 2013 14:34

The Sandacres Free House, Sandbanks

Still closed and boarded up. Looks like its being redeveloped.

25 Jan 2013 13:50

The Cliff, Canford Cliffs

No longer a pub as such, more a mid/pricy restaurant with bar aimed at the 'beautiful people' of Canford. Nice outside tables. An ok pint of Doom Bar was only beer on offer.

25 Jan 2013 13:46

The Railway Tavern, Wareham

This pub no longer exists and should be removed from the list.

1 Nov 2012 14:37

The Cuckoo Inn, Hamptworth

Sadly, as previously mentioned, the pub is 'between landlords' at the moment. A stand-in crew are trying to keep the place afloat while the estate owners decide what to do. In the summer I can imagine this could be a lovely place, but when we visited last week the place was not particularly inviting. A rather strong smell of 'damp dog' hung in the air and the lack of any heating made for a fairly unpleasant experience. We'd hoped for lunch, but due to circumstances nothing was available (though charmingly, the fish and chip van turns up on Friday evenings to provide a weekly service of grub).

All that said, the barmaid was friendly, the single local who was present was very chatty and my pint of Marston's Pedro was extremely good, served straight from the cask on stillage round the back somewhere.

I truly do hope this place picks up again as I can see it is an unspoilt, gem of a place in a very pretty location with a large garden and tons of character. All it needs is a good landlord.

1 Nov 2012 14:35

Monsoon, Wareham

Not really a pub, more a small bar attached to an Indian Restaurant, serving only a limited range of fizzy lager and beer.
Don't bother.

1 Nov 2012 14:14

The George, Poole

Friendly town centre boozer about 5min walk from Poole Bus and Rail Stations on the huge roundabout at the back of the Dolphin Centre. Good pint of Marstons Pedigree at fair price, also 'Sneck Lifter' and Ringwood Best untried. Food looked ok, various deals etc.

21 Sep 2012 14:30

The Red Lion, Swanage

Enjoyed an excellent pint of Tim Taylor's Landlord there yesterday. Seems a friendly, well run place. Recommend.

17 Aug 2012 09:16

The Red Lion Inn, Axminster

Enjoyed a cracking pint of Marsons Pedigree here recently and at 2/pint you wouldnt expect much, but thats not a happy hour deal its the current price. It seems Enterprise Inns are having a go at breaking into the Axminster pub scene (not difficult). Food limited to basic pizza, burgers or sarnies at the moment but manager says he wants to expand this offering shortly.

After a mixed past few years, the pub is clean and tidy and
friendly if a little quiet and lacking in atmosphere. Gents needs a bit of a sort out, but ok. Big screen telly (but no prem sports due to excessively greedy Sky pub pricing).

Given the standard of the other seriously dismal pubs in Axminster (which deserves better being a fairly busy westcountry market town with mainline railway connections), the Lion is worth supporting in the hope it will flourish.

8 Jul 2012 20:08

Ship Inn, Axmouth

Now under new ownership and after a complete refit is clean and smart, but hardly a traditional pub anymore. We sometimes pop in for the odd pint, but are often made to feel that diners take priority (I have known drinkers to be asked by staff to give up their table for diners). That said, we have tried the food on occasion and have been impressed.
Beers include Otter Bitter and Ale, both well served by attentive, polite staff.
Maybe best left until the warmer months when you can sit outside in the very pleasant garden and quaff your pint without fear of eviction !

8 Dec 2011 12:41

The Bell, Salisbury

Rather soulless and unfriendly pub with unsmiling portly barman who seems inexplicably protective of his pub toilets. I would have thought that a fairly isolated pub like this would welcome people stopping and coming in to use the toilet and almost certainly buy lunch or something, but several official looking signs warn against this.

Beers on pump were a (pretty ropy) Wychwood Hobgoblin, Sambrooks Wandle (?) and Thatchers Heratage cider.

Food is reasonable pub grub, served up by a very friendly and helpful young chap (quite the opposite of grumpy barman). Prices seem about average.

So to sum up, nice pub, ok food, poor welcome. What does a smile cost ? Unlikely to return.

18 Aug 2011 17:55

Horse and Jockey, Rutland

Pretty much agree with Paul. very freindly staff, very quick turnaround on food which is a tad pricy but quite food. limited choice of beers, two at 3.6% and one at 5%. The latter being the !ocal 'fell at the first', a decent brew.

This pub is almost exactly half way round the circular bike track of Rutland Water, so makes a good spot to rest and let your saddle cool.


16 Aug 2011 19:20

The Junction Hotel, Dorchester

Dirty glasses surly staff. Gone downhill.

29 Jul 2011 13:04

The Nags Head, Lyme Regis

A jolly good bloke's boozer with a good range of Otter ales at very reasonable prices. Well run by Rob, the genial landlord, it's the only pub in Lyme to regularly have live music, hence the Nag's popularity with the locals. Football and rugby are screened whenever there is a big match on and the pub tends to get packed with loud (but well behaved) supporters, making for a great atmosphere.

17 May 2011 08:28

The Volunteer Inn, Lyme Regis

The Volly has certainly improved over the last year. Helpful attentive staff, good range of beers at very reasonable prices. The 'Donegal' on stillage behind the bar is an excellent quaffing beer. There is also Branoc and a guest ale that is changed regularly. Also ciders and a rage of fizzy lager etc. As previously reported by others, the gents is not great and really could do with sorting out.

The pub is now offering food again and hopefully over the Summer will manage to regain the great reputation for good food that it had previously.

17 May 2011 08:20

The Rashleigh Inn, Polkerris

Stunning location - the pub's claim to be the 'Pub on the Beach' is not exaggerated. Lovely spot to sit with a pint and watch your kids play in the sand. Friendly family-run place with good food. A decent range of beers well kept - these included Doom Bar, Tribute and Tim Taylor's Landlord last time I was there.

17 May 2011 08:07

The Fountain Head, Branscombe

A tiny, traditional Devon country pub serving Branscombe Vale beers. Consitently high in local CAMRA ratings this truly is a gem not to be missed.

17 May 2011 07:57

The Fat Pig, Exeter

Having read the other comments on BITE and having walked past several times and liked the look of the menu, we decided to try The Fat Pig last Saturday lunchtime. The initial impression of this recently refurbished now self-styled 'gastropub' was good.

A limited range of ales was on offer, including Exeter Brewing's Avocet which was acceptable but unremarkable. The soft drinks, were wallet-wiltingly expensive, (example: 3 for an orange juice from a carton). How can any landlord justify charging beer prices for carton orange juice ? This is a trend that increasingly winds me up - it's like the barman is holding up a great red and yellow sign saying "If you don't drink - SOD RIGHT OFF - and don't bring your kids here ever again !". Greedy greedy greedy.

The pub has an odd policy of reserving tables even on a quiet Saturday lunchtime - is this actually a pub or a wannabe restaurant ? Well the prices would indicate the latter with lunchtime mains at around 13+ and no lighter meals (ie. sandwiches etc) available.

Still, price isn't everything and we all know that good food is worth waiting and paying for. Unfortunately when the food arrived it was not good at all. Overseasoned sausages, pheasant and fish both dry and overcooked, vegetables tasteless and the ribs looked just horrible.

It wasn't a complete disaster, just expensive and badly cooked. Maybe we were unlucky, maybe it is usually better than this, but at these prices, we can't afford the gamble. There are plenty of good places to eat and drink in Exeter.

24 Feb 2011 11:23

The Bridge, Topsham

Unspoilt, original and incredibly friendly, The Bridge has been owned by the same family for generations. Offering excellent ales and local pasties, this is quite possibly the best pub in England.

If you are in the area do not fail to experience this amazing place.

11 Jan 2011 14:24

The Old Inn, Kilmington

A fine old, traditional thatched coaching Inn on the main A35 near Axminster (which is pretty much devoid of a decent pub at the time of writing). The Old Inn has a large carpark and the pub interior is thankfully pretty much unspoilt with a seperate locals bar and a restaurant bar. The staff are helpful, friendly and efficient.

A good range of well-kept beers including Otter Bitter and Ale and Butcombe Blonde a 'premium' bitter served fizzy - like lager, but tasty. There is also Monterey which is brewed especially for the pub and was named after a specimen tree in the village by straw poll of the locals. I thought it was fairly unremarkable personally.

The pub runs various specials nights (curry/italian/moules/burger/steak etc) and the occasional beer festival, all of which are very popular.

The garden outside is a nice suntrap in summer and large enough to avoid the smokers. There is a lawn with picnic tables and also a gravel boules court.

The food at lunchtimes is slightly pricy, but hearty, fresh and delicious and without doubt good value for money. Sunday lunch is always very popular and almost always fully booked. We have tried the evening food, but sadly were actually quite disappointed. All 'locally sourced', nicely decorated and so on, but just not really very good. Perhaps we were unlucky, but at those prices you really expect a hit every time. Unfortunate because the landlord tries hard to please and deserves to succede.

5 Jan 2011 17:00

The Rock Point Inn, Lyme Regis

Unremarkable, scruffy, fairly unfriendly.

5 Jan 2011 16:02

The Pilot Boat Inn, Lyme Regis

Good location just opposite the bus stop in the square, so extremely handy for a swift 'arf when waiting for a bus. Friendly and efficient staff serve you mainly Palmers ales including 200 and Copper - both fine if you like Palmers beer (one of my spies told me the other day that the head brewer at Palmers doesn't even like real ales - this could explain quite a lot if true IMHO).

The premium lager (Once Staropramen, now Heineken) at the Pilot Boat is rapidly heading for 4/pint and is therefore unaffordable to the normal drinking man.

Pub grub is slightly on the expensive side, but probably good value for what you get. Even when the place is busy the food seldom takes more than 10 mins.

5 Jan 2011 16:00

The Peacock, Market Harborough

For the record its now a chain pizza outlet.

26 Nov 2010 14:31

The Red Cow, Market Harborough

Friendly town pub on main street. A bright, pint of Abbott for 2.76 was efficiently served by the polite barman. Wooden floor, original fireplace, nice and warm. Basic but clean and welcoming with friendly locals.

26 Nov 2010 14:27

The Cobb Arms, Lyme Regis

An obviously highly commercially focussed pub, catering specifically for the tourist trade in Lyme Regis. The pub is generally decorated in a nautical style, not unsurprising given its commanding position in a very pretty part of Lyme Regis, overlooking the harbour and the world famous 'Cobb' breakwater.

There are two main bars, though one is set up more for dining than drinking. A pool table is wedged into a side bar, but the place generally feels roomy. Staff just a little slow at times but friendly.

Apart from nautical nick-nacks, the dcor was rather spoiled by walls covered in blackboards announcing rather expensive food, and a multitude of flatscreen TVs intrusively and unrelentingly advertising numerous other opportunities for buying something or other.

We didn't get time to eat, but what I saw was not appetising. I saw someone dismantle a steak baguette that came to a nearby table and it certainly seemed far more bread than steak. The lady did not look like she was enjoying her meal.

Cask ales were the usual Palmers offerings, a pint of Copper Ale seemed fair at 2.80 and was well kept and drinkable if you like that odd 'Palmersy' taste (I don't know how they do it - pretty much the same wholesome hops, barley, yeast, water etc as other brewers, yet somehow all Palmers beers taste just slightly unpleasant to me - a purely personal thing as I know some people who seem to actually enjoy that taste).

It was when we ordered some other drinks however, that it all went so horribly wrong. A pint of Guinness was a hefty 3.65 and Heineken an unbelievable 3.75. Without doubt the most I have ever paid for a pint anywhere - including London with heavy pub overheads.

As we spluttered our way through our expensive fluids we were told by a lady (who had heard my incredulous questioning of the barman over the price), the incredible news that she'd just been asked 3.15 for a pint of postmix coke - that's 40p more than their draught beer !

This is the kind of seedy exploitation that gets the pub trade a bad name. It is commonplace to hear industry representatives on the radio complaining about how many pubs are going bust each week because of cheaper supermarket sales. At prices like these, are they really surprised ?

I always enjoyed the TV series 'Two pints of lager and a bag of crips', but in reality its less amusing when you don't get much change from a tenner for that little meal deal.

I suspect the reason that the Cobb Arms is able to charge such huge markups on its beer is because tourists are not repeat trade, and thus will wander off (as we did) muttering 'never again'. The next week, will bring a fresh crop of tourists to rip off.

Avoid - unless you have a good overdraft in place.

19 Oct 2010 13:21

The Digby Tap, Sherborne

This rare gem of a pub is only a stones throw from Sherborne railway station and would make an excellent finale for a Sherborne pubcrawl before getting back on the train home.

The Digby Tap retains many period features including a flagstone floor and various wooden fixtures and fittings. A range of 4 ales were offered when we visited and I tried two of them. Oakwood's Quercus, though well kept was a little astringent for my taste, but the Keystone Ales 'Large One' was absolutely delicious - well balanced with just a slight chocolate note.

Prices were very reasonable ranging from just 2 to 2.60 per pint and by 6:00pm the place was packed with drinkers. Friendly locals and a cheerful landlord make this a pub not to be missed. I thoroughly recommend a visit.

19 Sep 2010 11:29

Docherty's Bar, Sherborne

Wanted to visit this pub after reading the rave reviews, but was very disappointed to find it closed except for takeaway F&C on a September Friday lunchtime ?

Suggest you check it's open if you are going out of your way to visit :(

17 Sep 2010 12:17

The Sandacres Free House, Sandbanks

Don't let the somewhat scruffy outward appearance of the place deceive you. This is a good honest pub with good beers and pub grub at fair prices. Patrons can park for free whilst in the pub - quite a bonus in an area where parking can be a problem. The outside tables are literally the width of a road from the beach and a great spot to sit and watch the world fall off windsurfing boards.

We stayed in Sandbanks for a week and visited the Sandacres several times. The staff were always friendly with the jovial landlord usually about somewhere. The inside is larger than it seems fom the outside. Kids are provided with a Playstation and screen, there are also three pool tables.

Menu pretty much as you would expect but all the food we has was good value for money and was enjoyed by all.

Small range of well kept ales obviously rotated often, usual bottled lagers etc, all at reasonable prices for Sandbanks - some of the most expensive real estate in the UK.

Oddly, the pub closes in the afternoons from 3 to 6, I can only think this is a licencing restriction given the large number of thursty kite-surfers and general beach-dwellers there always seem to be outside on the beach. The landlord is very strict about last orders (when do you here the bell rung these days ?) and closes promptly at 11, but as long as you know that before you begin then fair enough. They are also really hot on ID'ing anyone who seems to be under 21 and under 18s are not allowed after 9pm.

Overall well worth a visit - recommend.

28 Jul 2010 10:25

The Jolly Sailor, West Looe

A locals pub seemingly frequented mainly by the fishermen, nevertheless a warm welcome was found here. Likewise an excellent pint of Tim Taylor Landlord. Also available was Abbot and HSB (refreshing to find a Looe pub that doesn't just do Doom and Betty Stogs). The salty tales being swapped amongst the fisherfolk was very endearing and we really took to the place. Certainly seems to be the best pub in West Looe.

17 May 2010 22:49

The Ship Inn, East Looe

Busy town pub. Beers on offer were Tinners, HSB and Tribute, the latter well kept and served by polite and friendly staff. On the day of my visit the FA Cup final was showing on 2 large screen TVs and the place was packed with (well behaved) footie fans.

17 May 2010 22:35

The Globe, East Looe

Very friendly pub with freindly pub dog. Good pint of Tribute. Several friendly locals drinking. Food currently only seems to be Pukka pies on the bar at a fair price.

14 May 2010 15:21

The Salutation Inn, East Looe

Friendly welcome. Only beer was Doom, but well served and good. On a dampish day the log fire dried us out nicely. Popular with the locals.

14 May 2010 15:14

The Tuckers Arms, Axminster

When we moved to the area in the mid-1980s the Tuckers was one of THE local places to eat and drink, so on an important anniversary we visited the pub again. The experience was mixed.

Firstly the good...

Ancient building. Log fire in the lounge on colder nights.
Excellent, well served pint of Otter Amber.
Lovely unspoiled village setting, opposite the parish church, birds singing, lawnmowers mowing etc.
Friendly, well informed and attentive waitress
Nice bottle of Aussie Chiraz with meal for 13

Then the not so good...
Porky starter with leathery, chewy crackling (at 7)
Chicken and asparagus main with oversalted potato, overcooked chicken and strange wilted watercress.
Lambs liver with gloopy weird 'gravy'

Overall impression...
Considering we had made the effort to go off the beaten track to try Dalwood again and spent nearly 60 we were really disappointed and will continue our search elsewhere for a reliable eat-out venue within 5 miles of Lyme Regis.

I was offered a free drink when I complained about my starter, but big deal. I really do wonder whether there is any real point in raising problems with a restaurant at the time (given that you went out to celebrate a special occasion, not for an awkward conflict resolution situation). You are there to enjoy yourself, not to get a discount of a couple of quid.

In my opinion there is too much harping about 'local sourcing' and freshness and not enough good cooking and simply tasting the dishes you are serving for not inexpensive prices.

Recommend for a pint especially in the garden in the Summer, but avoid the restaurant.

11 May 2010 23:32

Queens Arms, Market Harborough

A pub that nearly died, the Queen's Arms is now owned by its regulars who upon hearing that it was to close, bought it and did a complete refurb in 2002.

Now a thriving, popular local village pub again, the Queen's Arms also offers a good selection of tempting high quality food in generous portions. My garlic mushrooms were delicious and my fillet steak very good indeed. Served with a good selection of fresh veg. Others in the party tried other fishy and chickeny dishes which were all enjoyed apart from the rump steak which was a little heavy going.

We enjoyed several fine pints of Tim Taylor's Landlord and had a couple of decent bottles of house wine with the meal at a reasonable 12.50 a pop.

Apart from the rather chewy rump, the only other complaint was that on the night we visited, we were unable to talk to each other during the meal due to a rather loud duo who were playing in the dining area.

6 Apr 2010 22:10

Sondes Arms, Market Harborough

Don't understand why this pub comes under Market Harborough, Leics, as the village of Rockingham is much nearer to the larger town of Corby, Northants.

Unusually large pub for the village setting, though still friendly and down to earth. Seems popular with the locals. Menu on blackboard seemed rather pricy by comparison, but did not see or try anything as we had already eaten.

Decent pint of Bombardier served by friendly barmaid.

6 Apr 2010 21:31

The Peacock, Market Harborough

Was sad to discover when visiting the area in April 2010 that this pub is closed and empty - presumably for refurbishment as the outside was scaffolded.

Used to be a friendly town center boozer with a very decent pint of Marston's Peddy.

6 Apr 2010 21:13

The Junction Hotel, Dorchester

Reasonable pint of Peddy. Didn't try the Ringwood. Quite nice ambience at lunchtime, lots of comfy sofas, vintage brewing wotsits etc.

Heating control stuck on 'nuclear' with door open belching clouds hot air into the street through wadged open door. When barman asked why, said it's always been like that. Wasn't really in the mood for a discussion about saving the planet.

Nice enough spot to pass an hour waiting for a train at the station 100yds away, but little else to commend.

12 Mar 2010 16:30

Old Timers, Exeter

They say for a business to be successful you need three things - position, position and position. Well, if that were always true, Old Timers would be sunk. In fact without a map or directions you might never find this gem if you searched for a week, even though it is only about a minutes walk from the busy city High Street. Tucked away, off an alleyway, off a narrow lane, off a small square in the heart of Exeter, Old Timers is very much worth the slight effort.

Efficient and polite barstaff serve three real ales - the local Otter Bitter, London Pride and Abbot Ale. All well served at the correct temperature and without anything undue to report. Only once in several visits have I been served a duff pint at the start of a session and it was taken back with genuine apologies and replaced with one from the next tub without question. Various wines and fizzy lagers are also available.

Food is all prepared by chefs Paul and Caroline Staples on the premises as far as I can tell, being without the tell-tale sign of always being exactly the same. If you are a pizza lover, try the hot and spicy with some coleslaw and a side salad - the best I've had in the city. The daily specials often include dishes such as Lamb Tagine, Beef Chilli and Stew and Dumplings. There is also a range of sandwiches and ciabattas generously stuffed with the usual selection of fillings with salds, curly fries etc. There are various food deals available including Pizza and a Pint in the bar for 7.00 between 6pm and 8pm every night.

Having described Old Timers' thirst-quenching and tummy-filling capabilities it would be remiss of me to omit the extraordinary decor. Once the ancient tax offices for the city, the pub is decorated in a magnificently eclectic style. A 6-foot wingspan B-52 hangs from the ceiling, the walls are covered with ornaments, notices, signs, clocks and a multitude of memorabilia from all corners of the globe (and France). If you look up the word 'clutter' in any good English dictionary you will find Old Timers referred to, along with the phrase 'symptom of compulsive hoarding'.

Unusually for the city, there is also a quiet, enclosed, paved garden with huge sun brollies where you can quaff among the relocated gravestones of the neighbouring ex-chapel. A large function room is available upstairs which can be booked for parties and is decorated in a similar style to the bar, though perhaps less aeronautical sadly.

Maurice, the creator of Old Timers also owns the Three Little Pigs in Crediton and has obviously gone to great lengths to make the pub so remarkable. I thoroughly recommend a visit any time you are in Exeter.

Directions: From Boots on the High Street, turn right and walk about 100m to a small square on your right just before McGahey's Tobacconists. Turn right into the square and head for Michael Spiers jewelers in front of you. Passing Spiers on your left, walk up the alley and take the next entrance on your right marked 'Timepiece'. You have arrived at your destination.

3 Mar 2010 10:10

Royal Oak, Dorchester

If you've seen one Wetherspoons you've seen them all. After quite a flourish when they first opened, the brand seems to have gone slowly downhill over the years. You have to give them credit for restoring back into use some lovely old urban buildings, but most of the JDWs I have used recently looked like a good lick of paint wouldn't go amiss and maybe a re-refurb might be in order.

We're now used to underpaid, but well-meaning staff struggling to cope at a crowded bar. Dirty glasses piling up on sticky tables. Lukewarm food gradually becoming less good value for money all the time. 'Spoons was always cheap and cheerful, now it's barely cheerful, though I suppose they do still offer afternoon specials like Fish & Chips with a cuppa for 2.99, presumably aimed at pensioners.

On the bright side, all the beers I tried (Abbott, Summer Lightning and Pedigree) were well kept and poured and obviously incredibly cheap though I did notice that bottled beers such as Leffe were not quite so cheap.

So, if it wasn't for the cheap beer would we really bother with JD Wetherspoons anymore ?

26 Jan 2010 17:03

The Blue Raddle, Dorchester

Having used the Raddle for a couple of years now, I truly do hope that this pub is not on the decline. Twice we have turned up at lunchtimes (having made an effort to get there) and been told that no food is available when normally it would be - which is a damn shame because when you can get it the food is home cooked, delicious and excellent value.

The ales are reasonably priced and well kept and served by very friendly and efficient staff, though I get the impression that they don't seem to change the beers round quite as often as perhaps they once did.

The 'no kids' rule is a knotty one. While no one wants to put up with disruptive children in pubs, it seems unecessarily heavy handed to just ban all under-14s, especially when they seem to happily welcome dogs ! Yappy whining dogs can be worse than yappy whining kids. This rule means that if I'm in Dorchester shopping with the family (only one is under 14) we aren't welcome in the place - unfortunate because my kids like nice pubs with a good atmosphere. The classic British radio comedy piped (electronically !) into the toilets demonstraters that the boss has a good sense of humour - I wonder why he is so down on the young. These are his customers of the future.

26 Jan 2010 16:21

The Volunteer Inn, Lyme Regis

For many years the Volly was one of the the best free houses in Lyme for either drinking the best Guinness in town or for great value-for-money, home-cooked lunches. The landlord was a cheerful irishman of local renoun and all in all it was a gem of a place, (especially after smoking was banned and you could breath inside the 'cosy' bar).

In recent times however, the chef has retired and not been replaced and the landlord has had to retire due to ill health, so the pub is now run by a manager and staff, most of whom try to do their best, with the exception of a sullen, disinterested barmaid who saps what little is left of the place's charm.

26 Jan 2010 15:31

The Volunteer, Honiton

With ripped seats and scruffy deco it would be easy to slam the Volunteer, but it has a rough diamond feel and the beer is cheap and drinkable. It is what it is - an old boozer full of old boozers.

26 Jan 2010 15:12

The Holt, Honiton

Since this is the brewery tap for the Otter Brewery, you should expect the highest of standards from the beers at the Holt. In my experience these expectations are always met - I have never had a pint there that wasn't absolutely 100% tip-top. Examples of four of the brewery's range are always on handpump.

The decor is quite modern, bright and wine-bar-ish, so not your usual traditional pub, but the landlord remembers you between visits and is always keen to please even when the bar is packed.

A range of home-smoked treats and tasty tapas are available if you are in a snacking mood and an impressive menu of modern/classic dishes are offered upstairs in the evenings. All food is prepared in the shiny downstairs kitchens by shiny chefs and you can watch them at work while you quaff a fruity pint of 'Head' from the comfort of a leather sofa.

Sadly there is an unhappy ending to my otherwise positive report. In all honesty, I have to say that I have eaten here in the evening and was somewhat dissappointed. The food we had was good but frankly not as good as I had been expecting. A triumph of style over substance, I would say it did not deliver value for money. Maybe I was unlucky and caught Chef on a bad day, but at those prices every day should be really good.

Best beers in Honiton.

26 Jan 2010 15:07

The Otter Inn, Weston

Really nice garden, great for kids on a Summers afternoon. Food ok.

26 Jan 2010 14:45

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