skip nav  

BITE user comments - sfocata

Comments by sfocata

The Kings Head, Holmbury St Mary

I hadn't been here for a couple of years at least (country walks just hadn't happened to pass through Holmbury at the right time for a pint) so it's a shame to see things went wrong under recent management.

I've been visiting recently, though, having expanded my list of favourite cycling routes, and I've been very impressed. It's still quite quiet, but I'm only seeing it on weekday lunchtimes. The landlady is very friendly and food service is quick. I haven't tried the full meals, but the baguettes (while rather expensive) are excellent; tasty and nicely garnished. The beer range doesn't seem to be as broad as I remember it, but there's usually three good ales on, and they're well kept. We're often spoiled these days with vast ranges of niche craft ales, but still... a good pint of Hophead takes some beating (especially when you've just cycled up Holmbury HIll).

29 Oct 2015 14:19

The Rifleman Inn, Epsom

Further to my previous review, three months ago, I've been in several times since and what a great selection of local counties beer... Kissingate, Tillingbourne, Surrey Hills, Triple F, Sambrooks, London Beer Factory...

Also, now the weather's warming up, a very pleasant beer garden.

11 Apr 2015 00:11

The Rifleman Inn, Epsom

In 5 years of living in Epsom, I never thought to try this place, seeing the Greene King sign. Sometime last year the local free rag mentioned that they'd had a refit and would be selling local guest beers, but I just never got round to trying it until today...

What a pleasant surprise! Two good local breweries (By the Horns and Twickenham) a new brewery from Devon (gah, name escapes me now) and decent cider in the shape of Weston's Rosie's Pig. And the only hint of GK was the unused (ha!) Speckled Hen pump. Didn't try any food, but the ambience was friendly and pleasant. Being picky, I thought the two local ales didn't taste quite as good as I'd expect, but this is a huge step in the right direction... I'll be visiting again.

14 Jan 2015 21:53

The Rising Sun, Epsom

Lovely food, decent selection of beer, if rather conservative... but then there are much worse places, and this isn't atypical of the old Youngs places. Friendly service, and it's well-kept inside. Nice mix of tasteful gastro pub and cosy Victorian tavern.

Only downside... pleasant outside seating area (the covered patio before the garden) ruined by hideous piped music. Don't really want to spend my lunchtime listening to cheesy 90s pop hits (or, for that matter, any music that's forced on me).

3 Jul 2014 22:05

Queen's Hotel, Ambleside

An old Lakeland legend... I've been visiting the Lakes pretty regularly for nearly 20 years, and usually find an excuse to pop into the Queen's Hotel for a couple of pints. I was there a couple of weeks ago, and sadly, it's not looking great.

Good news first... the beer is excellent. A good selection of Jennings, Hawkshead and one other (the ones who do Loweswater Gold, etc... always forget their name). All kept perfectly, although it's a shame they no longer do standard Jennings Bitter, which is very underrated.

Bad stuff... I'm not going to lecture a business on how to run their business, but seriously... on a lovely Saturday lunchtime in June, in the Lake District, when there are busloads of tourists and thirsty walkers everywhere... if you have three people in your entire lounge and bar area at 1pm, something is wrong.

Service was friendly, if a little "bored student". Music was loud. We all have different tastes, but when you're running a pub, you have to consider the appropriate ambience. This is a grand old Victorian marketplace hotel... Magic FM (or whatever) at above-conversation level really doesn't fit. I asked if they'd turn it down, as one of the nasty cheapo speakers was pointing right at my central nervous system. They did, infinitesimally, for a couple of songs.

The food was cheap. CHEAP. And plentiful. But that was it. "Roasted vegetables" were practically raw and clearly microwaved. The cottage pie was huge, but I'd rather have smaller portions, higher prices and FLAVOUR. Someone take this place over and restore it to its former glory.

3 Jul 2014 22:00

The White Horse, Epsom

Hmm... can anyone vouch for the improved selection of ales?

It's not my end of town, so I don't go past very often. However, when I walked past during the summer, the place looked awful... dirty, dingy and I could only see something like Youngs Ordinary and London Pride on the pumps (superb beers, but I'd go to a Youngs or Fullers house to drink them... free houses always make a pigs ear of them).

This was once a nice little place serving interesting local ales... be great to see that sort of thing return.

2 Nov 2011 18:00

The Jolly Coopers, Epsom

Oh, ages since I wrote my review, and I missed bacardigirl's comment. I saw the area with the marquee for the world cup. That isn't a beer garden. It really isn't!

2 Nov 2011 17:46

The King William IV, Mickleham

Yeah, that's much too early isn't it Trev? Mind you, I wouldn't have minded that the other day... just being open would have been a start!

29 Sep 2011 17:16

The Running Horses, Mickleham

Lovely building, great location in a pretty village. The beer we had was well kept, but such a dull, conservative selection. There's much, much more to the area that Fullers, Youngs and Shepherd Neame (as fine as they are). Hideously overpriced, and unfriendly stuck-up staff. Mate, when I'm paying your wages, you might want to make eye contact at the very least.

Oh, and one of the finest pieces of Hyacinth Bucket pretentious stupidity I've seen recently. When you buy a bag of crisps, they put it in a bowl (presumably to justify the ludicrous price). However, when that bowl hasn't been dried properly from the dishwasher, you get a soggy mess. Style over substance... never a great way to run a pub.

26 Sep 2011 12:27

The King William IV, Mickleham

This is a real gem in a lovely location. Well, it's a lovely location once you get away from the A24... for best results, approach from the steep hills on the east side (you'll see snakes in the summer).

Food isn't cheap, but not bad for the area, and they do a lot to support local breweries... I've had Surrey Hills, FFF, Dark Star and several other cracking local beers here. You don't have to just drink Youngs or Fullers when you're in Surrey (the other Mickleham pub, please take note).

HOWEVER (and this is a big "however" that takes my rating from an 8/9 to a 6)...

When a pub is closed at 3.30pm on a Saturday afternoon in this day and age, you can't really complain when people decide not to bother popping in again. On the past four occasions I've been to the William IV (stopping off after walks in the Surrey Hills) they've been closed twice. That's mid-afternoon at weekends, often with friends, intending to buy lunch and several pints. Far be it from me to question someone's business model, but y'know... tourist location, summer weather, big garden, thirsty walkers... DURRRR!

26 Sep 2011 12:21

The Sportsman 'Time Well Spent', Mogador

I'd heard of the Sportsman and figured it'd make a nice focal point for a country walk (I live in Epsom). After coming over the Downs in the snow and ice, it was certainly a welcome patch of warmth!

While the layout means that the main bar is somewhat upstaged by the restaurant area, the Sportsman is a lovely pub. Its age isn't really reflected in the decor, which is pleasant "contemporary country pub", but that's no problem... it's a comfortable, friendly place for a drink. Four real ales, and I was happy to miss my first choice of Harvey's Sussex in favour of Wychwood Hobgoblin, which was in perfect condition.

Must try the restaurant next time - this is going to be a regular haunt for Sunday country walks!

7 Dec 2010 18:26

The Packhorse Inn, Crowdicote

Lovely pub, and a much better bet than either of the pubs in Crowdicote's larger neighbour, Longnor (which is actually across the border in Staffordshire, but only a ten-minute walk away).

The decision to close on Monday and Tuesdays is truly baffling and risky from a business perspective. We very nearly decided not to make the effort to come back, but I'm so glad we did (on both of our two remaining evenings in the area). Three excellent ales (two from nearby, in Hartington and Macclesfield) and good tasty food, a bit above your average pub grub. Not at all expensive and with the added entertainment of Max the black dog, who'll gladly clean up your leftovers in return for a game of fetch-the-plastic-bone.

(The landlord told us he was soon moving back to the Isle of Wight, so I really hope the next boss keeps the Packhorse on the same great course).

19 Jun 2010 18:43

Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, Longnor

Haven't tried the food, but the ale choice is almost as uninspiring as the Horseshoe. Bit of a dingy place, too... very little atmosphere.

19 Jun 2010 18:36

The Horseshoe, Longnor

I almost feel guilty for giving it such a bad review, as the staff are lovely. Really friendly welcome.

However... with a nice old pub like this, it's a shame when so little effort goes into the product. The beer choice is pretty uninspired (it's Marston's) and the food was disappointing. I had a rock-hard overcooked chicken breast in (admittedly delicious) stilton sauce, served with undercooked chips. Could do a lot better for a tenner. If you're staying in Longnor, take a nice evening stroll to the Packhorse in Crowdecote.

19 Jun 2010 18:34

The Crewe and Harpur Arms, Longnor

Now turned into self-catering holiday accommodation, by the look of it. Shame, but I wonder if a village the size of Longnor could really support three or four pubs?

19 Jun 2010 18:27

Charles Cotton Hotel, Hartington

Probably experienced more as a restaurant by most daytrippers, but this is an absolutely SUPERB pub. Five ales, two of which are from the Whim brewery in the village (and last time I visited, the other three were all from nearby in Staffordshire and Derbyshire) and very good restaurant-quality food. The decor is a bit hotel-like and the only specific "bar" area is very small, but there's loads of outside space for sunny days. A real gem, and something worth supporting.

19 Jun 2010 18:24

The Derby Arms, Epsom Downs

Some of the comments (and the low score) are a bit unfair. This is a perfectly nice place, with decent ale (some of the best-kept Taylor Landlord I've tasted in the south) and good quality, if rather expensive, food. It's never going to be a cosy backstreet boozer, simply because of its location... even when there's no racing on, it's still a popular family pub because of the great walking areas up on the Downs.

19 Jun 2010 18:21

Ye Olde Kings Head, Epsom

I love this place, but it seems more of a cosy winter pub to me, so I've been neglecting it since the weather's been good. It's a proper no-frills old pub, but with a nice respectable feel... decent ales and roast dinners, rather than Stella and ugly dogs!

19 Jun 2010 18:15

The White Horse, Epsom

cokedrinker - you need to be a bit better at your own spelling before you correct others ;)

"Families, is "ies" not "ilys" - glad their paying attention to their job then!"

19 Jun 2010 18:09

The Marquis of Granby, Epsom

I've honestly tried, but I just can't see the attraction of this place. The reports of huge numbers of draught beers are misleading... these are not draught ales, and there was actually only one available last time I went (admittedly it was damn good). I usually like a bit of quirky atmosphere, but this is more of a dingy student bar with pretensions.

19 Jun 2010 18:02

The Jolly Coopers, Epsom

The range of ales they get here is really impressive. As far as I'm aware, this is the only place in Epsom where you can find Surrey Hills beer (they had Ranmore last time I visited, along with Hopback Summer Lightning).

I just wish there was some money to give the place a lick of paint and create a beer garden out the back... it deserves to be preserved as a borough treasure. There's outdoor seating at the front, but it's a bit grim sitting in the car park surrounded by thick blokes with their thick dogs.

19 Jun 2010 17:58

The Cricketers, Epsom

Beautiful setting, but the building could do with a bit of TLC. It's an Ember Inn, but the company's admirable real ale policy could do with a bit of a push here... it's frequently nothing more than Adnams and Greene King. Perfectly decent ales, but easily available in just about any unimaginative free house. There are plenty of breweries within a 50-mile radius of Epsom - support them!

19 Jun 2010 17:53

The Barley Mow, Epsom

Quite simply the best pub in Epsom by a long shot. Friendly service, a good range of Fullers ales and occasional non-Fullers guest ales, and quality food (costs a bit more than bog-standard pie&chips pub grub, but it's much better quality). It's also a lovely, well-kept old building and although the large garden is a bit spartan, it's a real sun-trap in the summer.

They have two largish TV screens, but they're not overwhelming... the landlord hits a good balance between providing a range of services and maintaining the proper old-style atmosphere. It's not just Premiership-or-nothing, either... if your favourite team's on telly, just ask!

19 Jun 2010 17:49

The Assembly Rooms, Epsom

To describe this as "the only place in epsom to get a decent pint of real ale" is like describing Stamford Bridge as the only place in London to watch a game of football. That said, this is one of the better examples of Wetherspoons... a bit like the Moon on the Hill in Sutton for quality of food and ale, but without the desperate need for a good bit of renovation!

19 Jun 2010 17:44

The White Horse, Epsom

Hot damn, yes... this is quite a find. Not only is the amazing Surrey Hills Brewery represented, but also Reigate's Pilgrim Brewery. I've only been on a summer afternoon, and sat in the garden, so can't really comment on the indoor atmosphere, but the staff were very friendly and the place seemed clean and well cared for. Looking forward to more visits.

22 Aug 2009 18:46

The Rising Sun, Epsom

Very nice pub, quite unusual for a residential back street. A little expensive for beer (although it's nice to see Tribute on offer) and they need to stock up on the full range of Youngs bottled ales, but good nonetheless. Excellent food and friendly staff. I'm moving to Epsom from Sutton, and while the Rising Sun isn't quite Robin Hood standard, it'll make a very pleasant local.

22 Aug 2009 18:42

The Moon on the Hill, Sutton

First of all, it's a Wetherspoons. You have to take the rough with the smooth in most of their pubs... sure, you might have to share bar space with a group of teenagers drinking their alcopops and bottled fizz, or a gang of pensioners dithering for ages before buying a sweet sherry, but that's because Wetherspoons buy and sell in bulk in order to pass on the savings to us all. They also have a fantastic company attitude to real ale, selling beers from lots of local breweries and microbreweries and sponsoring the "Bar Nouveau" at the Great British Beer Festival. A this particular branch, they take requests for future guest beers and will give you a free sample of anything you want to try.

That's the general picture, but looking more closely... the Moon on the Hill has seen better days. The carpets are sticky and stained, and the furniture all smells appalling. As far as I'm aware, it's only had one refit since it opened (1994?) and this really shows. The staff varies, because they're mostly (it seems) students... that's fine, I don't expect to know the staff by name in a large city centre chain pub, but Wetherspoons really need to be more selective. The good ones are great, but the bad ones are barely functioning lifeforms.

Overall... there's a lot to recommend (as long as you don't go after 9pm any night of the week, when it's like a disorderly creche) but the management could do *so* much more with this space. It's a sad example of neglect.

3 Aug 2006 09:06

All Bar One, Sutton

Well, it's an All Bar One... the Wetherspoons for people who shop at the Pier. Unlike Wetherspoons, though, the All Bar One chain has none of the worthy principles and is simply another "leisure" enterprise.

The food is always good and there's a wide range of wine. The beer tends towards the lifestyle lagers rather than ale, that's not really what the place is all about. Ultimately, though, it's hugely expensive and, like all All Bar Ones, fitted out in the worst example of post-90s urban sophisticate decor... lots of rugged bare wood and exposed pipework. You can't fault the quality of the refreshments, but there's that niggling feeling that you're paying a premium for a corporate identity.

3 Aug 2006 08:50

The Blackfriar, Blackfriars

Agree with Henners... this is a fine pub, although it seems to be filled with either tourists or suits. It's also the *only* pub I've found in London where the Taylor Landlord tastes pretty much how it's supposed to taste. There are just so many pubs in the city where they just don't have a clue how to keep it.

10 May 2006 22:15

Back to sfocata's profile