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The Chequers Inn, Fingest

Ah, choice. The watchword of our post-Thatcher era. Patients now choose their hospitals, parents choose schools for their children. Giant supermarkets offer myriad choices on their shelves whilst simultaneously limiting our choices in other ways, as corner shops go under and the High Street slowly dies around us. But even with circumscription, choice is generally deemed to be a Good Thing, and its benefits have apparently spread far and wide. Everywhere, apparently, apart from the Chequers in Fingest, once a standard - albeit slightly upmarket - village boozer that prospered under a landlord with a passing resemblance to an extra out of a Richard Curtis comedy; now under the control of a young and slightly nervous couple who transformed the Chequers into a restaurant that serves beer. But not chips however - in a bowl, with salt and ketchup - as desired by three children and three adults who had finished a walk up and down a hill and were famished wanted a little something to accompany their drinks and keep them going until dinner proper. It is not as if the pub does not sell chips - it does and apparently in abundance, but only as an accompaniment to rather pricey main courses. "We don't sell chips by themselves" is the line. Sandwiches are on offer, but at £7 a pop for the cheapest (egg and cress) sustaining the troops snack-wise would have set the family back a cool £60 (including a v.cheap round of drinks) so we paid and departed, chip-less and still hungry.

Who can guess the motives for sustaining a business model that so blatantly denies customer choice? Perhaps our nervous twosome wanted to steer us all towards fillet steak, halibut and chateaubriand. Perhaps they simply hate and despise the kind of folk who fancy a bowl of chips after a morning walk as not the sort of customers they want to attract. Who can say? But whatever the reasons, the strategy didn't appear to be paying off. It was a Saturday lunchtime in the middle of August with the surrounding woods of dog walkers and cyclists enjoying the English summer. But in the pub, just a single gloomy red faced regular propped up the bar and a lone couple complained about the amount of chicken in their (£14) Cesar salad. And us, leaving, with a mental reservation to avoid an establishment that brazenly eschews its clientele by denying them the choice of something which is on the menu, but simultaneously is not.

17 Aug 2013 17:02

The George Inn, Chideock

This pub provides a classic example of how to ruin a decent local.
We first visited the George about five years ago when it was in the hands of the old owners. It was busy, noisy (no jukebox, just people having a good time); the beer was excellent and the food outstandingly good value. I remember paying about 6 for a huge cod and chips. The front room (public bar) had a roaring log fire as did the saloon. There were pub tables, comfy chairs and the sort of atmosphere you'd expect in a busy popular local. There was also good live music played to an appreciative audience.
Then the pub was sold on and over the years we've been back to Chideock we've seen a slow and steady decline. There's a massive mobile home holiday park down the road and the new owners apparently made the business decision to screw the local trade and provide an eating establishment for trippers who won't come back anyway. It's a pity - the pub is in the centre of the village and could provide - and has in the past provided - a social heart to the village.
So the comfy chairs in the saloon were ripped out and replaced with Little Chef-style dining banquets. There's now nowhere to sit and just have a pint unless you go in the public bar. Despite this, food is not the George's strong point. If you want to eat, my advice is to choose wisely from the over-priced menu (last night we went for simple steaks - 19 for a ribeye!), because in our experience (we've visited the George several times over the years) the kitchen is likely to get it wrong with anything more complicated. Just last night we watched a couple complain to the waitress and then walk out because they didn't like what they had been given.
On the plus side, the staff are friendly and welcoming (and apologetic to unhappy customers!). And the beer (I had Palmers Best) was well kept.
But on leaving we had one last look through the front window and what an unhappy sight - a deserted pub on a Saturday night with no fire in the front room (and on the coldest night of the year). Sorry to sound so harsh, but hopefully the landlord of this potential goldmine - lovely building, well situated and with a captive clientle - will one day see sense and turn the clock back to what this pub once was. Not holding my breath though.

28 Nov 2010 18:56

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jayjay500 has been registered on this site since 28th November 2010