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BITE user comments - Gamboozler

Comments by Gamboozler

The Plough, Earlswood

Still on recent form a worthy place for a filling lunch or dinner, from a menu that embraces both bar meals and more substantial fare, at relatively competitive prices. Cask-wise, The Plough has finally started to become something of a local contender, serving four offerings, two of them more adventurous guests (the Surrey Hills, Pilgrim and other loc-ale options remain very-well-kept on my visits), and as everywhere else around has caught-up with (and frequently exceeds) the £4 pint ceiling, this pub no longer looks like one of the most expensive in the area.

The interior matches expectations from without and still brings that 'country' feel, despite being in a suburb of a sizeable commuter dormitory town. The garden is a pleasure, with plenty of space and events do run in the warmer months which prove popular with punters. More 'pubby' than The Joshua Tree, more trad than The Old Chestnut, and serving a wider food and beer choice than The Pendleton, I would say this pub's future is assured.

The only qualm: the service is very efficient, but can be a little brusque, depending on whom one is received by. A bit more of a smile and customer engagement beyond the functional basics would be the icing on the cake!

10 Oct 2018 13:46

The Joshua Tree, Redhill

I suppose the lack of comments on this pub is nowadays less-reflective of the interest in it, or in pubs per se, but more-so in the lack of engagement with this website?! Every dog has its day and it's been clear for a while that BITE's probably had his, but still once in a blue moon I'll bother providing an update, for the few stragglers left who might find it useful, and also as a vital distraction from the rigours of work....

So, the Josh remains a free house. The food continues to be a pleasing straddle between classic pub grub and more bistro-esque dishes, in my experience still well-cooked. Ale-wise, cask choice has perhaps become less adventurous since I last dropped a comment 4.5 years ago; a few too many Greene King-affiliated options for real beer fans, and seldom do I find the full four on. But what remains is still well-cellared on recent visits. The crowd is consistent too; a mix of civilised local folks, young and old, singles and families, drinkers and eaters. Although perhaps not a megahit on each measure, in this vicinity at least it feels like the JT is still managing that restaurant/bar balance about as well as one could given such a small space.

The landlord felt the need to close for lunches in June '17, owing to parking space being needed by Earlswood station commuter overspill (whose dedicated spaces at the station are often used by residents of the excessive number of flats they've allowed to be built adjacent to it). I am very sorry about this, especially as I am one of them, and am a keen supporter of pubs, but there it is - an intractable conundrum I suspect. Happily though it doesn't seem to have dented the business to the extent where there's been any gossip indicating closure, and one has to wonder how much trade this pub would get on an average typical weekday lunchtime.

Keep doing what you're doing folks.

10 Oct 2018 13:39

The Garland, Redhill

Although only seven weeks since Lynx's last post, it's all-change yet-again at The Garland, which frustratingly continues to find no takers as long-term tenants, and remains in the uncertain and sadly often indifferent hands of a caretaker holding company. Harvey's are apparently insisting that they're simply holding out for suitable newbies to take the reins, although even if the present approach is not a deliberate strategy to wear it down with a view to a flash sale as a residential prospect, it is without doubt having an attritional effect, as many locals begin to desert in favour of more welcoming and stable alternatives.

For now, the latest incumbents are Tina and Dave, who have experience in the industry over 25 years and if they seem familiar, you're most likely to have last seen them at The White Lion at the other end of the road in the last three months. Greene King have closed that pub and sold it on, although it remains unclear as to whether the new owners are to reopen it as a going concern, or convert it to other use. In any event, for the interim it has at least given the G a default boost in custom beyond the die-hard regulars wishing to keep the faith while it's in the doldrums, as it has inherited several refugees from the WL, which is no bad thing. At least they've got somewhere they can use as an alternative.

While the cosmetic state of the place inside and out is clearly evident, there have been some moves to make changes - not all appropriate or necessary but that's the nature of holding companies who apply a catch-all template to pubs with no nuances. The overarching observation in my (albeit restricted) experience of late has been consistency in cask ale quality - the Lewes Castle Brown I enjoyed last Friday was on cracking form, and so at least whoever is doing the cellaring seems to know what's needed. If the G loses its beer quality reputation, it really could be the road to ruin as it's primarily traded on this for 26 years.

I can't help but harbour doubts and worries, but so far, all is not lost, and it's still a decent watering hole, just without the heart it had and so sorely needs back. We can but hope.

20 Sep 2018 16:30

The Garibaldi, Redhill

Happier-still, the community have run The Gari successfully now for over one year, basically on a simple but effective formula of good beer and convivial conversation. Formal recognition of its 1st birthday will take place on Saturday 6th October, when there will be street food, live music in the garden during the afternoon, and a disco/karaoke in the evening, alongside the usual good stuff! All who like the sound of it but haven't been in to sample it would be more than welcome.

20 Sep 2018 16:20

The Home Cottage, Redhill

The Cottage remains a popular destination for those seeking a smarter environment in which to eat decent food, yet do so in a predominantly pub-led place and preferably outside of the immediate town centre.

I recently ate here and found the food to still be in fine fettle; we ordered both fish and meat bar 'snacks' - arguably starters really given the generous portions - and enjoyed every mouthful. The wider mains menu carried some appealing options and whilst there isn't exactly an arsenal of competition for foodie venues in town, this one does hold its own consistently, despite frequent moans about how expensive Young's Pub Co outlets are nowadays.

To drink we sampled both Young's (Wells!) 'Bitter' (Ordinary!) and a guest - Surrey Hills 'Shere Drop'. Both were in decent nick, though arguably not exceptional. There isn't much positive to say about Young's since their sly but determined exit from actual brewing in the 2000s, but at least nowadays in their pubs one can find a slightly-more varied range of beers on cask, and increasingly, keg.

Although this always feels like a primarily-younger, and mostly couple-or-group-led venue now, there is patently still a place for the modern interpretation of the Home Cottage locally, and it's never a bad experience. Drinkers' pub it ain't really, but if in the market for meals, you could do worse than drop by here.

16 Feb 2018 16:04

The Garibaldi, Redhill

Happily, trading has been steady through the first quarter or so of trading as a community pub, and feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. The Garibaldi provides an unoriginal and simple offer - a comfortable meeting place for a diverse but agreeable collective of local people, with an accent on good beer and cheer - but one which more people actively treasure now in an era when such features are getting rarer. I genuinely believe those who have tried the pub tend to revisit it as they are the kind of people who value that tradition and realise how close we can come to losing it.

Beer-wise, there tends to be three local offerings and one national on cask, although this can vary. Whilst it's always a challenge to keep sufficient range of styles, brewers, strengths and appearances across only four pumps, Chris does seek to keep a reasonable balance, with the emerging focus being on the 4-5% strength span, with as many dark ales as light appearing in recent months, mostly at the £4 mark - more than we'd like, but relatively normalised in Surrey now. If you have any beers or breweries you'd like to see featured here, always let the bar staff know and it can be considered.

Food is still only something that is in the pipeline prospectively, once the funds can be found to fit out the kitchen to a serviceable standard, but even then it will be a modest part of what happens here. The Gari never majored on grub even in less-lean times, and although it sounds dangerously old-hat, wet sales really do lead the way here comfortably. Chris will organise frequent street food vendors to occupy the forecourt during weekend events, sports matches and so on, and this is proving to be a friendly, workable synergy between one community business and several others. Laurent's Kitchen, Neishe, Fritto & Via, Monteforte and others may be found here in coming weeks - check the roster.

Live music and karaoke events occur every couple of months and these appear to be well-supported. All part of trying to broaden appeal and keep the place in people's minds when they're inclined to get out and about, and maybe wish to eschew the sometimes grimy and grizzly feel of the centre of Redhill!

Lots still to do, with a continuing focus amongst hardworking people to get the garden ready for warmer times ahead. For those reading this who have supported - and will continue to support - this new venture, I'm sure I speak on behalf of all when I thank you for your time (and money!). To those yet to try, hopefully you won't leave it too long.

16 Feb 2018 15:54

The Garland, Redhill

After a decidedly thin period of two weeks during which the management company Harvey's have drafted-in to run The Garland (and who are in fact now the signed tenants) initially employed someone entirely unsuited to managing pubs and who threatened to lose it what modest custom remained, things have been rectified considerably. This is mostly thanks to the appointment of Jon, who was known and liked prior to his arrival, and seems to have a far-better notion of how to run this kind of venue, and is receptive specifically to what 'Garlanders' prefer.

Drinks-wise, things remain as they were, although with a broader - and I am bound to say more-consistently-kept - range of Harvey's cask beers available. Usually one will find at least five served, rising to six plus a real cider (Cheddar Valley at present). I believe this will help to gradually lure back some of those who were disillusioned and restore the pub to one of its key strengths - provision of sound beer. For non-cask lovers, Jon has also reinstated Guinness, alongside a couple of lager options, which may well please some folk.

Food is being catered-for nicely and what looks to be a suitably-pitched menu is now operating - i.e. hearty and accessible pub meals offered at what I'd judge as competitive prices. I've yet to sample the solid wares myself, but it can't help but lend a hand to bringing back a more healthy balance sheet.

Décor is as it ever was - by that I mean suited to the Victorian shell it sits in, but in need of some tender loving care! The brewery have agreed to a refurbishment, apparently scheduled for April, so watch this space. The musty and virtually shagpile-free carpet may only have to be endured for another couple of months!

Jon and Co seem to be taking the best of the past while tweaking things to ensure a more sustainable future. The management company seem to allow him a reasonable degree of autonomy, and he is free to introduce ideas that customer feedback indicates may be popular - meat raffles, sporting events etc. It's a long road yet to travel if it is to return fully to its finest hour, especially in today's restrictive climate. But I have more faith that it'll come closer now than in its darkest days of October. Best of luck folks.

16 Feb 2018 15:41

The Hatch, Shaws Corner

The new owner, Anthony, has bedded-in now, along with his winsome beagle, Bertie, and although trade remains tricky - in the pub climate more widely but also at this time of the year - I have found what is being offered so far to be good quality.

The food is clearly what he is hoping will lead the pub back to viability, and there's an enticing spread of what many would consider more-restaurant-orientated meals available regularly. In the apparent absence of a regular chef, Anthony often gets his oven gloves on and cooks the dishes himself, and he appears to have a good touch. Prices are not the cheapest, but for the kind of food being served, it fairs well against many a local restaurant's pitch.

The drink is varied, with a flagship four (sometimes up to five) cask ales available, making the bar slightly more reminiscent of its freehouse '90s heyday when eight pumps were in use. Most beers are 'locales' and I have found them to be kept well. Pricing on these seems particularly keen, especially in an environment which clearly has had considerable money spent and is pitched at the higher-end of the market; one is all-too-used to the £4+ pint in such places but less-so here.

The rejuvenated décor is slightly quirky in places, but comfortable and individual; Anthony's evidently put his own stamp on it, but has done so in such a manner as to compliment and enhance the original building. The log fire is still roaring and is most welcome on colder evenings. One may not always realise it, but there is a large amount of capacity here, at the rear as well as what's immediately visible front-of-house.

The difficulty here is that one could do everything right, and yet still run the risk of failure when the takings are added-up though no real fault of one's own. The Hatch once benefited hugely from both passing trade from local business (primarily those from the Law Courts - both sides of the bench!) and a culture of acceptance (if not encouragement) among employers of lunchtime drinking, which helped prop things up even if evenings were a little thin. Alas, both those things have dried-up in recent years; a distinct lack of parking locally also prevents it from becoming the 'destination' pub it could be for eaters. These factors will make it so much harder to make the venue a sound economic proposition longer-term.

But I applaud the new team from attempting to bring back a characterful and cosy local pub from the brink. If nobody ever tries, then failure is inevitable - while it's still a possibility, it is now no longer the certainty it seemed to be this time a year ago. All the best for the future.

16 Feb 2018 15:30

The Garibaldi, Redhill

A more organised and dare we say grand, reopening event is being scheduled for Saturday 7th October! For those yet to come and enjoy what this revived local pub has to offer, do come and give it your onceover. Lots of fellow sociable drinkers have already, and seem not to be disappointed! Final event details still TBA, but be assured that there''ll be plenty to get stuck into.

19 Sep 2017 17:42

The Garland, Redhill

Alas, Pete and Anca have decided to call it a day early and hang up their beer towels. While I fully-appreciate they have reasons for this and they shall be much-missed, we must now hope that in a few months'' time, whoever is found to take over will be at least as good a custodian of this classic pub as its predecessors have in their different ways.

The difficulty is that from most sources I hear from, the direction that Harvey''s Brewery seem to be taking is far from one which most would like to see, and increasingly they are marginalising tenanted arrangements in favour of managed houses, which does not in my book bode well for the future. It will take someone very tolerant and in love with the industry to want to work with them now. As always, only time will tell.

1 Sep 2017 16:04

The Garibaldi, Redhill

Well, I shan''t seek to dispute what you say as there is some truth in it of course for many people. But that doesn''t mean a bright, friendly local boozer is entirely irrelevant, and so far the feedback received has been positive, and trade has been pretty steady too, despite our still nascent offering.

Thanks for the good wishes, and if ever you feel like an evening of old-fashioned simple enjoyment free of the tedium of stuff like supermarkets and Wetherspoon''s (in particular, The Sun), then you shall always be welcome in the Gari.

1 Sep 2017 16:00

The Garibaldi, Redhill

The Garibaldi did indeed reopen on Thursday 17 August, and the community interest company operating it on behalf of the owner were hugely pleased with the response we received, not just on the opening night, but in the days since. For the first time in a long while the pub was full, and alive to the happy buzz of jolly conversation and enjoyment once again. Fingers-crossed this wasn''t just novelty value, as numbers been healthy each day since, and the comments and suggestions we''ve had have also been very encouraging. We genuinely hope to be able to maintain this pub as a much-needed part of the mix of local hostelries for the coming few years and - all being well - beyond.

I should say that it is very much early days, and we do not pretend to have everything in place or to be a "finished article". Owing to limited funding, and the need to prove the pub''s worth to the community all over again following its unavoidable four-month closure, it may be some months or even a year or two before we achieve what we''d ideally like with it. All we ask in the interim is that for those who appreciate a simple but honest local gathering-place, majoring on good beer and good cheer that puts drinkers first (and doesn''t purport to be a restaurant in pub''s clothing), please keep popping by, however infrequently, to check how we''re doing and enjoy what we think we can offer to a good standard. If you believe you''ve found otherwise, let us know! We are not in any way complacent in this competitive and difficult industry and would prefer to be advised of any fixable problems early so we can get them sorted.

To demonstrate this pub''s continued relevance and economic viability, there just needs to be a steady trade, built on regular visits from what seems to be a goodly number of people who appreciate what we''re about. In return, we will look to do what we can to improve and enhance things, and keep both the events and drinks side of the operation varied and changing to retain vitality and interest, while always having an eye on those who just want the security of knowing they will get their preferred tipple, in a familiar and friendly environment, that isn''t threatened by over-ambitious or unnecessary alteration.

Besides the first phase of redecoration, which should be self-evident when you visit, so far, on draught we have a decent conventional range of well-known and popular keg brands - lagers, stout and we hope shortly a cider - while on cask we already have up to four ales available, mostly locally-sourced and at prices only Wetherspoon''s are likely to significantly undercut! We are keen to expand and enhance this side of the business, now we have modern cooling equipment that has rescued the beers from there once over-warm fate. CamRA visitors have given positive feedback and Chris and the committee will use the knowledge and interest in this sector to ensure handpumped product is kept properly and showcases a range of different breweries'' fine efforts. We also offer a decent spread of wines and spirits, as well as bottled options, and again we are alive to changing and possibly expanding brand range should customer demand suggest it.

Otherwise, charities and other organisations may wish to bear in mind the pub''s space as a meeting place or venue for fundraising events - we aim to be a pub first but very much a community facility second. Please feel free to contact the committee via the Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/SaveTheGari/?locale2=en_GB. We can''t promise we can cater for every event or individual, but will honestly endeavour to do what we can as we bed-in and develop.

On behalf of the people who''ve worked so genuinely hard to get the pub this far, may I thank everyone who has so-far shown support, and in advance, those who intend to do so in future.

PS: We''re not anti-food! But it''ll be a while before our facilities are sufficient to make a good-enough offer. When we do begin serving solids (beyond bar snacks of course), they are likely to be basic and unpretentious, but hopefully using decent local ingredients. Watch this space.

23 Aug 2017 16:34

The White Lion, Redhill

While not perhaps ticking everyone's boxes - which pub ever can realistically - I would say The White Lion is getting back to potential form, under the pleasant and seemingly more dynamic management of Al and Sophie. Besides their welcoming temperaments, they have maintained the core character of the venue, whilst being innovative enough to introduce some new elements - most obviously the monthly street food wagon appearing in the car park offering a different style of cuisine for hungry punters, at least in the interim as a valid alternative to operating their own kitchen. This seems to be popular and it's a great example of how a pub that struggles - often through no real fault in itself - to cut a dash and make a point of difference to customers that might keep them returning regularly.

The interior and exterior condition is decent and facilities are much-improved on what they were a few years back.

Drinks-wise, a similar range of beers, wines, spirits and non-alcoholics appears to be available, which is fine as it caters for many mainstream tastes. Being tied to Greene King makes the cask ale situation limited and although only the 'White Lion' bitter and guest St Austell 'Tribute' tend to appear frequently, they are at least served well and one can only hope if more interest were shown locally, that more diversity would be seen in this regard (or at least as much as GK will ever allow). Even prices seem to be stable; they've never been 'cheap' at the WL for a long while, but every other surviving pub is now catching up and so their tags don't look so cheeky.

Best of luck folks; the place seems to get busier each time I've dropped in, and some of the old hands are making a comeback, especially on themed evenings. Keep moving in that direction and in theory you shouldn't go far-wrong.

10 May 2017 15:00

Royal Oak Inn, Staffhurst Wood

Things went on satisfactorily for a while, but after the freeholder failed to get what he wanted (i.e. planning for a large extension on the side of the pub), he seems to have taken his bat home and sold the business on to an apparently on-the-up but food-driven company trading under the rather gimmicky (and in my view rather dated) name of 'Grumpy Mole'.

I haven't eaten here since the old regime and I fear it won't match up, although in fairness to the GM brand I ate at their Brockham 'branch' (the former Duke's Head) last August and found the food very acceptable, so one hopes that the standard is uniformly reasonable across each outlet.

What lets these down - and I know I am biased but part of an increasingly-discerning and similarly-biased group - is the lack of attention to beer. I would contend that notwithstanding that dry sales are now king in terms of revenue contributions, any pub pushing itself as a higher-end eaterie should nowadays also ensure it majors on a range of decent drinks in general, and particularly quality cask ales. Most pubs of this ilk - even the chain-led venues such as the proliferation of B & P pubs in this area of late - have a reasonable stock and moreover seldom found in bad condition, even if one has to fork out rather more than in some less-restaurant-orientated places. Both the Brockham version and the Royal Oak had a very unimaginative and narrow range on, and I spoke to the bar staff about this in the hope they might feed it back to their superiors and wake them up.

This pub has lost much in this takeover: it was once a happy combination of drinkers' bar and eaters' restaurant where rural working class and urban professional types could mix freely under the same roof, but in distinctly separate areas with different characters. Now the entire place is a restaurant with only the immediate bar area as an 'obvious' place to lurk if one isn't hungry. Nevertheless, it is at least still trading as a kind of pub, and hasn't lost all potential as somewhere still worthy to drink as well as have a meal. If they broaden their bar spectrum, especially on the cask side, it can only help deliver what I think many gastro-ish customers now expect. Keep it local, but most importantly, keep it well!

25 Apr 2017 15:45

The Fox Revived, Horley

Ventured in here a couple of times for a quick drink since it reopened. Only a fleeting visit to sample the cask beer on offer, so I can't pass comment on the food range or quality - other than to say it is usually reasonable, if rather pricey, based on the fayre offered at the nearby B & P hostelries operated on the same model.

On the first occasion I found the beer to be lacking (Dark Star Partridge), but resolved it was likely just bad luck end-of-the-barrel. My visit last night would seem to confirm this supposition, as my ale was fresh as a daisy and full of the joys of spring (Crafty Brewing Co Heady Steady Go). I can only trust the others were in similar form - all five of them and mostly local.

Although a quiet period, the pub felt homely, with log fires, and a superb professionally-planted terrace and garden to enjoy on a fine day.

Service-wise, all seemed to be in order. The manager served me and was both polite and efficient. Numerous youngsters were also on hand to help when things busied-up.

Although perhaps a little lacking in character and a tad too open now for some, this place is looking promising. The Fox does indeed seem to have been Revived.

20 Apr 2017 15:58

The Garibaldi, Redhill

I can appreciate some observers being negative about this pub's prospects, and nobody involved with the community group seeking to reopen the place and render it viable can provide any guarantees. It could of course end up with a stalemate whereby a lease agreement suitable to both sides cannot be struck, and there isn't sufficient funding to make a winning bid on the freehold under the ACV process. It would then become subject of a fresh housing plan and quite probably succeed. Nevertheless, there is genuine room for some positivity and the story really isn't over just yet. A revised lease offer is to be considered and failing that it isn't entirely unthinkable that we - or perhaps another interested party - will launch a successful bid to buy.

If we lose another local pub, then at least we can't say we didn't do what we could collectively. If we succeed in cutting a deal, there will be a considerable amount of work to be done to gradually build the business back up; debt will be incurred until a stage can be reached where we have various initiatives in place and maintained well, in order to yield a wider and more loyal base of customers both locally and perhaps from further afield. If there are enough draws they will come, however disadvantaged the pub might seem to some punters at this low point. If we get to the chance, then the next three years will be crucial; we either have to admit defeat with too weighty a debt, or we will've built enough of a foundation to bring the pub back to its best, which will act as a platform on which to make it more profitable thereafter.

And that will please locals as much as it will please the owner, who I might add never intended to sell or cash-in originally and is still open to it remaining a pub.

20 Apr 2017 15:15

The Garibaldi, Redhill

Frustratingly, the pub's owner has declined an interim offer made by the community that could've kept the pub trading and looked-after while reaping ongoing monthly rent. As it is not yet possible to complete an agreement to take over the lease, unfortunately the pub will now be closed as of Tuesday 4th April.

If anyone happens to read the entry on this site, please be assured much work is still ongoing behind the scenes to establish a mutually-conducive lease arrangement, which will allow the pub to reopen and be steadily-improved, so that it can once again yield greater value both to locals and its owner.

Watch this space. The story is far from over yet!

31 Mar 2017 14:13

The Garland, Redhill

The Garland is this year's recipient of the coveted East & Mid Surrey CamRA 'Pub of the Year' Award, which is arguably a long-overdue recognition of its primacy as a local hostelry built on decent cask beer. Well done Pete for securing this accolade.

I should just add for anyone still using this site for information on pubs is that food-wise things are developing too; Anca is utilising her heritage to provide a range of Romanian dishes, served tapas-style, on the first Thursday of every month.

21 Mar 2017 12:50

The Garibaldi, Redhill

Well, we hope so. There remains much work to do in order to ensure the pub stays open and is allowed to operate under a suitable lease that can give locals a real chance to gradually develop the place and bring in greater trade and thus render it viable. This will take sustained effort, time and money by the community so passionate about retaining The Gari.

Moreover, although the owner didn't originally buy it as a cash-cow development prospect, he is presently wavering over whether he will countenance the locals - any other interested independent party - to take it over. He has now decided to appeal the planning decision. Locals can't afford to buy the freehold at the moment, so we can only trust that a fair deal is struck soon before the present incumbents leave in a few weeks.

Watch this space, but there is room for hope.

9 Mar 2017 07:16

The Garibaldi, Redhill

The dark clouds are once again circling the dear old Gari. The current owner is apparently unimpressed with its modest returns as a local pub, and, inevitably perhaps, is now keen to sell it to developers for demolition and planned construction of a row of town houses. A sadly familiar tale that will chime with many drinkers around the country, but especially in the south-east of England, where the pressure to create more housing stock to accommodate its burgeoning population is ceaseless, and when brownfield opportunities arise in already residential areas, it is hard to conceive of the local council rejecting an application of this ilk in this climate, even though they have done in past years when the previous owner made repeat attempts to close and sell this fine pub.

A lot more could - and really should - be done to keep this local resource going and to render it more profitable than it presently is, notwithstanding the current lessees' efforts which have seen the pub become a comfortable, homely local community resource that has a potentially wide appeal, at least to predominantly drinking clientele. The difficulty of course is that its location is off the beaten track, and - crucially - it does not have a food offer. So clearly if someone were to seek to save it from its doomladen fate, considerable time, effort and money would be needed to enhance its viability and return enough to hold its own in the local market, albeit that realistically it may always be tempting for the owner to sell given what he could realise from a developer.

All this is possible with the right people on the case, and the first step would be an ACV listing. There are those keen to ensure that yet another Redhill boozer doesn't go the way of so many others down the years.

Best of luck; it'll be interesting to see what could be done in the coming months to construct a more rosy future for The Garibaldi.

21 Dec 2016 11:58

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Incidentally under a new manager, Carl having left in September to work some magic at a pub in Islington. Sue is now at the helm, who from what little exposure thus far seems to run a reasonable ship. Certainly at first glance there is little if any difference; decor, layout, drinks and food all seem to be very similar to under Carl's steerage. Which should be a positive, as the GD still manages to sell its wares to a variety of different clientele - usually the more civilised sorts I'm happy to report - depending on the time of day and day of the week. Sometimes good management is about changing little and maintaining prior good standards.

My only minor criticism is perhaps that the cask beer choice isn't quite as diverse as it was before; a few more adventurous options wouldn't go amiss for those of us who find this the key attraction of the pub. We don't need a surfeit of Marstons-related offerings when we could have more interesting "locales" from local businesses.

Food remains of the Mediterranean flavour, and very tasty it is. Apparently it'll be moving from Spain towards Italy as home-prepared pizzas are due to be introduced shortly.

9 Nov 2016 11:05

Three Horseshoes Inn, Sidlow Bridge

The previous incumbent left in February 2015 after six generally successful years at the helm. I heard repeated rumours of things having slipped significantly since, as the actual owner of the pub had elected to take back management of it, despite seemingly having little notion of, or interest in, how to do it. Happily however, a well-informed local source told me recently that she appears to have relented, and has brought in someone to manage the 'Shoes who actually seems to know how to run a boozer effectively. Following receipt of this good news, I paid it my first visit in a year and a half last week.

I found the place to be in generally decent order - a respectable range of cask beers had been restored to the bar (a mix of more ubiquitous offerings for the less adventurous and some more interesting fare for the more seasoned), and the two I tried were served nicely - the Surrey Hills Ranmore in particular was very well conditioned. Otherwise, a familiar set of other big brand keg fonts were in play for those whose palates have yet to catch on to cask!

The pub did seem much more focused on being a drinkers' venue, and I am bound to say that bar the staff, all the punters in at that point were chaps. That doesn't mean that's representative of all times of course, or that it is in any way an anti-female place. Also, it was clear from the blackboard that food is still served, and menus were on the sidelines for the sessions when the kitchen is open. Having not eaten yet however I can't pass judgement on the quality or range of the solid wares.

Decor-wise the pub had been spruced up since my last emergence, which shows willing, although for my preferences, it was a touch too bright and front roomy. Still, a minor point that certainly shouldn't put a potential punter off. In more clement weather the garden remains a draw, especially for larger family-orientated groups.

All-told, I think the TH seems to be back on the up, provided it is managed by a person who knows the ropes and responds to local demand - and who can get on with the landlady, who really just needs to sit back and let a pro do the work and she can take her money. Best of luck folks.

2 Nov 2016 12:50

The Frog And Nightgown, Faygate

A worthy review below and one which actually captures essentially everything I felt needed saying about the rejuvenated Frog & Nightgown.

It is so rewarding to see a pub return from the brink after the previous private owner left, with the outlook seemingly predictably set on conversion to a residential dwelling. Just goes to show what a vigorous campaign of action to revive a pub can do, along with a bit of luck that the right person comes along to be able to make that revival work, which fortunately was the case here. Now a thriving tea room in the summer months as well as a fine, cosy pub throughout the year, the F & N is increasingly popular, despite its remote location. The two sides of the business seem to peacefully co-exist, with neither unduly impinging on the other's atmosphere or viability. On the local grapevine, I haven't heard a word said against it - quite the reverse, so all signs are positive for the next few years at this valued - and saved - hostelry.

Keep up the excellent work folks. I just wish I could drop in more frequently.

20 Oct 2016 17:36

The Plough, Earlswood

Having not happened to have ventured in here since David left almost a year ago, I popped in for the briefest of halves. I found a very voluble local chappie holding court at the bar with a local punter, and overhearing their conversation suggested that this man was firstly the new licensee, and secondly rather proud of his cask beer knowledge. Happily, this interest extedned to his cellarmanship, as the half of Surrey Hills 'Shere Drop' was authentically some of the finest I've sampled in a long while - crisp, tasty, aromatic, and a long finish. It wasn't the cheapest at £4 a pint, but then The Plough has never been nor will ever be the most value hostelry in this vicinity!

I can't really comment as yet on the food and other supporting aspects of the "new" regime, but I have a modest confidence that the new man has the correct ideas about what the community want from their pub, and the relevant determination to see through what it needs for the greater good. Apparently sales of many things increase when Shere Drop is on, and it's shifting by the barrel-load. I might've dismissed this as tall talk, but for the fact that the quality did speak for itself. I think he'd prefer to stock only more unusual or adventurous products cask-wise, but alas still tied to Punch there is only limited scope for that. But I have good vibes and as a beer drinker and traditional pub lover at least, I think this bloke might have the right approach.

I should say after a year he's altered nothing of the interior, which is a blessing. Okay it is a cliche with hundreds of horsebrasses on beams etc, but it suits the historical building well and there's no doubt the pub remains a cosy and welcoming local venue, be it in summer or winter.

Apparently there is a modest beer festival being held here on Sat 24 Sep if anyone is interested.

22 Sep 2016 18:03

The Junction, Redhill

Passable and perfectly pleasant pub, theoretically benefiting from much passing trade bang in the centre of Redhill. However, I fear it doesn't quite yield the custom it perhaps should or could despite its competititve position. Part of t his is because certain improvements could arguably be made to their offer, but whether local clientele would appreciate that enough to start using the place more, I don't know.

On the plus side though, there are a couple of acceptably-kept cask beers, albeit pretty standard choices (St Austell's Tribute has been sampled lately on decent form and not too shabby price-wise at £3.60), with the predictable range of most other global keg beers, ciders and so forth. The real lure here is live music nights, and while the quality of the acts may vary, the pub does a good job in trying to expand their appeal by having regular - and well-attended - events.

22 Sep 2016 17:55

The Garland, Redhill

Pete's second beer fest went ahead last weekend, I would surmise to even greater audiences than his first, as although around the same number of additional cask ales were available (12), he laid on live music, which is always a draw here, to the point where it can get somewhat claustrophobic! Not always my cup o' tea, as I like to have some bullish banter and chirpy chat in my local, which can be rendered difficult or impossible when a band is playing and their entourage tend to takeover for the evening.

But it undeniably keeps tills ringing, and I'm hugely pleased that this formula, which besides the extra beers is now used every three weeks with a regular live act performing either Fri or Sat eve, puts the place in the pink.

A national range of beers were represented for 2016, and the six I sampled were found in generally good form, though particularly so earlier doors on the Saturday, as at that point fewer folk were in as the band were yet to begin. Friday late doors saw slightly warmer and flatter ale, but then with that number of people about, as well as humid conditions, it's no wonder.

Keep on doing the fests folks, and keep on improving.

28 Jun 2016 17:47

The Surrey Oaks, Newdigate

Indeed so.... Except that we may not enjoy that tradition much longer if rumours are to be believed that Tracey and Nick are selling the pub....

If this is correct, I have been made aware of the reasoning behind the decision, which needn't be discussed here. But suffice to say that I earnestly hope that they reconsider their position before they throw away all the excellent work they and the team have done to not only to keep the SOaks going, but enhance and improve upon what they inherited in the last two years. There may be other pubs that they can go and run, but there may not be such diligent and engaging publicans waiting in the wings to carry on the much-loved quality service provided by both current and the last landlords of this one. Surely there must be a workable alternative whereby all could be kept happy?

If it does come to a departure, they will be much-missed, and we can only hope someone as suited to running this classic venue comes along to keep it in the manner to which we've all become accustomed.

11 Jun 2016 17:23

The Lamb, Rusper

Visited after some while away, due to The Royal Oak's more sporadic hours as they focus more on their golf club venture. Excellent experience - very tasty cask beer in the form of Downlands Hop Contract, which helped wash down a lovely ploughman's - splendid local ham, Stilton, and just enough salad. Perfect for a summery Saturday stop-off.

Very efficient and friendly service, along with pleasant locals and a welcoming, warm interior. I've been dropping in here on-and-off for almost 20 years now, and I'd say The Lamb is as good as it's ever been. Keep the hard work up folks, and despite your remote location, you should continue to prosper.

11 Jun 2016 17:04

The Pembroke, Coulsdon

Average typical boozer supposedly. Yet for all the by-numbers Stonegate-run stuff, there's still something for the cask beer drinker here. Up to nine beers on pump, and although pretty 'obvious' choices such as Fuller's London Pride, Wells Courage, Marstons Pedigree New World and Sharp's Doom Bar feature, there are some offerings for the more adventurous quaffer, such as a range of more local Westerham ales. The principal thing to note is that whatever is available, it'll be found in perfect form - cellarmanship seems excellent here with all beers kept well and at the correct temperature - and at a locally competitive price: from £2.50 to £3.45. So for those that way inclined, this pub may not be such a poor choice.

Besides all this, service was good from all, but Lauren was the loveliest! Fabulous eyebrows, amongst other things.

3 Jun 2016 21:39

The Jolly Farmers, Betchworth

More phoenix-like than pheasant, this pub, which we all worried may be destined for chain pub 'by-numbers' management under Brunning & Price, has really risen from the ashes of its previous incarnation, and although is plainly pitched at a similar market as the Jolly Farmers was, it endeavours to go a little wider than that. It does so not just through its provision of excellent local and well-cooked food, which competes at restaurant level, but also of a range of high-quality drinks to suit a variety of tastes, including a renewed cask beer offer of up to six options (locales and further-afield, although tending so far towards the more recognisable brands). So far, so good for the bar-propper as well as the table-booker.

In addition to ensuring a good-quality beverage and victuals offer is laid out for the predominantly-affluent and gastro-savvy local clientele, the decor, which was not exactly dowdy under the previous regime, has been considerably-overhauled and is something of a triumph. It matches the exterior of the building, which hasn't been so altered, and really fits the kind of hostelry one would expect The Pheasant to be upon first glance, assuming one has not read a review such as this of course. Its atmosphere is a little more rarefied than before and I think cosier, but then this is more of a serious pub-cum-diner than under Paula & Jon; the deli-ish element is no longer to the fore.

I shall reserve any further judgement until I've visited more comprehensively, and it is still very early days for the new regime.

But I'm confident in saying that while this clearly won't be to everyone's taste, or for every occasion, you must come and find out for yourself as the chances of leaving seriously disappointed seem quite slender as things stand today.

20 Jan 2016 17:57

The Sun, Redhill

Tom does a decent job all things considered. Beer range variable but what is on is kept well. Adnams Ghost Ship and King Red River for example just now.

Spent most of the night marvelling at the wonderful Sadie, who served impeccably and also looked superb. Cheekbones like geometry. A much-needed touch of class to this otherwise ordinary venue.

12 Dec 2015 02:17

The Tower, Redhill

After not having set foot in the premises since the early days of its incarnation as The Dog & Duck, I got persuaded to try the dubious delights of The Tower last Friday by some friends - I hadn't seen much of them lately so felt the sacrifice was due! However, as much as it surprises me to say it, I actually found the experience to be perfectly adequate. I mean, it was never going to win any prizes for quality beer, fine wine, cheffy food or subtle ambience - it was essentially branded fizz, alocpops, crisps and loud chart music. But it serves its purpose well and as it is now far-more strictly-policed given its limited licence conditions, on the whole folk were quaffing convivially and the atmos was quite friendly. My chums couldn't resist the lure of dancefloor for all its corniness, and even I couldn't complain about a pint of Strongbow when it is being sold at a mere £1.75! Also, perfectly pleasant service from the barmaid.

There is a mix of punters here, and I daresay there's still plenty of propensity for problems, however many doormen are employed. And it isn't for every occasion. But in fairness, one should speak as one finds, and all-told, The Tower is on reasonable form for what it offers of an evening. Weird, but true.

20 Oct 2015 13:32

Radius Arms, Whyteleafe

Weeell well well. After six months of dithering I got my inflated carcass over to the Radius with a mate of mine who needed some cheering, and as envisaged, disappointed I was not, and it proved to be just the therapy needed.

As previously stated, this is a simple, no-frills micro-ub venue which inevitably follows a now well-entrenched formula over in east Kent, though unbelievably still something of a novelty next door in Surrey: an old shop unit converted to a beer-house, serving cask ale and cider only plus a few extras, no meals but nibbles, no music, no machinery, ad-hoc breweriana and assorted bric-a-brac for decor, a single toilet, benches facing each other to promote convivial chat among usually-like-minded punters, and a tap room at the rear. It isn't an original formula, being based fiaarly and squarely on the Martyn Hillier mould - but then if it works, why change it?!

And boy does it. Perfectly-kept range of up to five cask ales (one as local as Westherham, one as far-flung as Orkney) and many more ciders (not sampled but observations showed similar variety of origin. Vince was a jolly affable sort of governor and just the right chap for this project - I understand he persevered hard to secure this premises after rejecting about three earlier possibilities. Happily, it seems to be paying-off.

It's so close to convenient transport hubs too - two train stations (Whyteleafe and Upper Warlingham), and bus stops on either side of the main A22. Other stores are nearby for possible additional convenience, including the Pridmore bookies next door who happily furnished me with cash back in the absence of any ATMs.

Really good vibes, clearly based on genuinely hard graft and desire to fill a much-needed gap in the local pub scene, both in the village itself and beyond. Long may it reign - next time I visit I want to see half the ceiling covered with clips!

2 Oct 2015 15:24

The Dog and Bull, Croydon

Update: on Tueday I finally tried one of their 'steaks on a stone'. I must confess I had my doubts as this all seemed somwhat gimmicky, and I assumed pricing would be stratospheric as it is with most of their menu now (maybe to some it isn't that lofty by today's standards, but I remember the Dog before it was made over in the late '00s and it served a tasty and far-bigger and broader range of pub meals for far-less - this is just Young's Real Estate Co's Central London priocing strategy carelessly-applied to all its outlets regardless!). Anyway, I indulged in the steak option and was well-chuffed - the steak continues cooking on the stone so if you like it medium-rare, order it rare and after a few minutes you'll be enjoying some of the best steak you've had. Okay, perhaps the ritual of it is a little overblown, but it is novel, and at £11 for a decent-sized rump (ooer Mrs) along with salad and fries, the price-tag seemed astonishingly fair. Rib-eye is an alternative at £15, but to my palate, the rump had it all.

All enjoyed in the sun-trap garden over a well-kept pint of Wooden Spoon. Fair play. Forget your sausage bap at eight quid a throw or whatever - just pay a little more and grab a steak - so much more bump for your buck!

2 Oct 2015 15:14

The Bulls Head, Croydon

Nothing on here beer-wise of note on my unplanned visit today - the clement weather and the pub's sunny aspect were what drew me in when roaming around looking for some sun-trap at which to enjoy lunch (other than the ever-reliable Dog & Bull which I did earlier in the week - got to respect variety if poss).

Saying that, the landlord was an affable cove, the place was seemingly in good decorative nick, and moreover the single cask ale - Young's Bitter - was kept just as capably as at the Dog, and sold at a similar price to boot. My basic but tasty toastie went down well for a couple of quid, and all in all it was a pleasant little lunchtime in the backstreets of Banghole, as I believe the area was once known.

Cheaper than the Standard, and the seating is not under a flyover. Bonus.

2 Oct 2015 14:38

Half and Half, Croydon

Haven't ventured in here for years, but the first day in a long time I decided I would - today - I found it was closed! The venue's website's still up, and opening hours suggest it should be trading all day from 12 on a Friday. However, a quick scan of the last Twitter entry doesn't bode well: apparently they've sold the Half & Half, after eight years. It says some BS about looking forward excitedly to the changes afoot, but we've all seen this sort of thing before, and frankly I have my doubts as to whether this place will ever re-open as a bar; certainly one with the varied bottled/draught stock seen in the last eight years.

Unless/until it's definitely re-opened, anyone coming from the centre of town should save themselves the bother of schlepping down South End, as there's nothing else down there of note pub-wise - although there are still some decent eateries.

2 Oct 2015 14:32

The Jack Fairman, Horley

A further appearance in the latest CamRA Good Beer Guide, which deserves some credit I daresay. However, from personal experience this year I wouldn't rate this as an obvious destination for beer appreciaters, and not the best quality or range the chain can offer. The Jack has some character and history in tow, which is more than can be said for some of its nearby peers. But despite this, beer-wise and atmosphere-wise, I can't pretend it's somewhere I have a hankering to deliberately visit. Serves a purpose if in need of a quick 'alf after shopping at Waitrose!

22 Sep 2015 11:45

The Bell, Reigate

I shan't dispute the previous comments as I seldom bowl-up here nowadays, but The Bell does deserve some credit for at least gaining an entry in the recently-published Good Beer Guide for '16 - the first Reigate pub to succeed in this for some while I think. The range when last visited was broad and not too-GK-based; I sampled a very nice half of Brighton Bier Red Dog for example - a rare showing in these parts. Keep the quality going folks as (besides the Stores perhaps) you are currently the saving grace for cask ales in this town.

22 Sep 2015 11:31

The Sun, Redhill

I believe The Sun makes an appearance in the 2016 GBG too. For all the place's unattractive aspects, it at least maintains a reasonable slew of well-kept cask ales. Okay this is in accordance with general Wetherspoon policy, but as we know, not all their venues measure up as well as they might.

22 Sep 2015 11:26

The Garland, Redhill

Still supplying sound enough cask beer to be entered into the latest edition of the CamRA Good Beer Guide! Keep up the good work Pete.

22 Sep 2015 11:24

The Spread Eagle, Croydon

Now gaining an entry in the '16 edition of CamRA's Good Beer Guide - arguably overdue given that The Spread has always in my experience served consistently good beer, albeit at the dear end of the spectrum - but then that's to be expected at any Fuller's house now.

21 Sep 2015 17:47

The Skylark, Croydon

Consistent Good Beer Guide-listed pub that isn't the only JDW in town for decent ales, but perhaps is arguably a preferable option for atmosphere to its counterpart The George.

21 Sep 2015 17:46

The Oval Tavern, Croydon

In support of the last comment, The Oval has finally earned itself a place in the Good Beer Guide, issued this month by CamRA. It was only a matter of time until Esther brought it up to Green Dragon standards!

21 Sep 2015 17:44

The Green Dragon, Croydon

The Dragon continues to feature in the CamRA Good Beer Guide, hopefully indicating it is still holding its own as a destination for quality beers under the current management.

21 Sep 2015 17:43

The George, Croydon

Notwithstanding the unfortunate experience below, The George again makes it into the newest edition of The Good Beer Guide. Perhaps things have declined since the survey period ended six months ago, though in my humble opinion it remains - for all its faults - one of the most reliable boozers for beer in the town.

21 Sep 2015 17:41

The Dog and Bull, Croydon

For those keen on quaffing cask ales, note The Dog continues to feature in the new edition of The Good Beer Guide.

21 Sep 2015 17:39

The Builders Arms, Croydon

For those keen on quaffing cask ales, note The Builders made the cut for the 2016 Good Beer Guide.

21 Sep 2015 17:38

The Garland, Redhill

The beer festival went ahead as promised on 20-21 June, and went well. A range of ales, many of which wouldn't normally be seen in this vicinity, even in the nearby Wetherspoon's were featured, and were supped with predictable gusto by regulars and newbies alike. The prospects for a second similar event in 2016 seem promising.

A wine tasting was held on 6 August and although unable to attend myself, I gather it was a success.

Business-as-usual-wise, nothing to report other than beers continue to be kept well - the Lewes Castle being a particular winner right now - and all is generally hail-fellow-well-met at the G. Oh, and apparently there is a new 'resident' live band set to feature on Sundays from 27 September, alongside the once-every-few-weeks sets by the usual local acts which the punters know and love.

26 Aug 2015 17:51

Red Lion, Redhill

....Or not as the case turned out. After a very regrettable turn of events that led Rob to depart the Red Lion rather swiftly, the owner has now bought in a new manager. Well, not so new to some locally, as he formerly ran the White Lion (to differing opinions) a year or so back. Once more, the jury is very much out again as to what the longer-term fate of this potentially great place will be.

As things stand, I supped a couple of pleasant pints of a guest ale (Monty Python's Holy Grail I think), which were kept okay, and service at the bar was sound. Quiet for a Saturday night though. Only a couple of eaters in. Maybe about 15 drinkers. Oh dear; don't let it slip away folks....

10 Aug 2015 18:16

The Jolly Farmers, Betchworth

.... And very suddenly witihout warning, though we're now advised a Cheshire-based pubco has taken this (and its sister operation the Fox Revived at Norwood Hill) on and that both should be reopening following 'refurbishment'. Quite what either establishment needs given both received relatively recent makeovers in a fresh and contemporary style I don't know - stamping their 'brand' all over them I daresay. Judgement should be reserved for now of course, but they've a hard act to follow with these two pubs, which benefited from being a family-run local affair and one wonders whether a large remote company is best-suited.

For all their good work in the last decade building the pubs up, I thought it a shame that the previous incumbents sneaked off so sheepishly at the last minute. I assume they were given an offer they couldn't refuse - or perhaps this was their exit strategy all along?

20 Jul 2015 13:15

The Hatch, Shaws Corner

Sadly, after six years, Roy Peacock left The Hatch (and he tells me the pub trade altogether, though with longer-term plans to re-enter the fray at some point). I am yet to drop-in myself, but hopes for it as a 'proper pub' which is at least as welcoming to drinkers as eaters may be forlorn. A friend of mine told me he went in the other day only to be met by some aproned lackey who seemed to expect them to be dining - a rather heavy-handed tactic for a pub and even for a restaurant it can be a turn-off. I'll give it a go, as one must give any new licensee at least one chance, but given this anecdote one has to imagine they're ploughing the already-well-ploughed foodie furrow as they all do nowadays, which is fine, but not at the expense (or dismissal) of beer lovers and other quaffers. Hmmmm. Watch this space.

20 Jul 2015 13:06

Red Lion, Redhill

Well, under the new management of Rob Martinez (ex-Three Horseshoes for six years), the Lion finally looks set to start realising its potential. Food is now very much available, featuring a decent spread of unpretentious and tasty pub meals fitting for the venue. Happily, Rob has brought his ale knowledge and interest with him and nowup to six cask beers are offered at sensible prices alongside the usual font fare. Pilgrim, Surrey Hills and Dark Star all feature regularly showing a healthy accent towards the local brews. So far so good - all kept well on my few visits to date.

Decor and atmos vastly-improved IMHO, although arguably as-yet local folks have not bought-in as fully as they might; hopefully in time that will change.

Keep up the good work - and that includes the friendly and efficient staff; the barmaid who served me tonight was charming, and I'm bound to say easy on the eye.

30 May 2015 21:40

The Kings Arms, Dorking

I wish what I had to say here was all positive, but alas, that would not be a true reflection of my last visit.

Let's begin with the good stuff - the ales (pretty-much all Sheps now of course) were in decent order and since the pub reopened I have never had any cause for complaint on that score. I should say that the decor is reasonably sensitive to the traditional exterior and is in far-better shape than it was for many years. From what I gather, it attracts a broad base of clientele and the live music nights do well. Also, contrary to the last review, I found the staff helpful and pleasant and no obvious sign of mismanagement. So far so good...

...However, I had the gross misfortune to be hungry last Saturday at the Kings. Me and a mate were starving and so plumped for good old pub grub options - steak pie and fish 'n' chips. No need for gourmet cheffery here, but nowadays one at least expects an edible, freshly-assembled and tasty meal, especially for the prices. What we got was borderline inedible - my F 'n' C was rock-hard with barely any fish inside the concrete sarcophagus of batter. The 12 or so chips on the plate did nothing to compensate. My friend's pie looked none-too-savoury either (hard pastry, one big lump of glutenous meat within), but I think desperation led him to stick with it. My tolerance couldn't stretch that far and so I had to return it, mostly uneaten, leaving as peckish as I'd arrived. In fairness the barmaid was very decent about it and gave a full refund unquestioningly, as the problem was evident at first sight of my plate.

I really hope this isn't representative of the food here, but in any case I won't be dining here again to find out. In this day and age where food sales are king, that kind of microwaved mediocrity just won't do, and this really needs fixing folks if you're to offer a complete package to the modern pub audience...

19 May 2015 09:17

Cobbetts, Dorking

A terrific addition to the local pub scene - at least for those not inclined to trawl around town in large groups but who enjoy sampling a variety of cask, keg and bottled ales.

I'm amazed the 'micro-pub' scene has taken this long to land in Surrey, given its prominence only next door in Kent, and increasingly now in Sussex too. It was only on the off-chance of a customer asking the proprietors of Cobbett's when they were making the back room into a pub that they decided to follow that path - still; better late than never! The scheme seems to be working well and on my attendances thus far is popular with different ages and characters - so don't go assuming it's all lonely beardy-weirdy CamRA-only punters in here! Yes folks; I've even seen young people in here...

Besides trying the beers on offer, ensure you visit the lavatory out the back - sounds unsalubrious but it's bedecked with hundreds of pump clips and is quite an impressive sight to reflect upon while one is making room for more....

Keep up the good work guys; about time Dorking had a pub worth writing about (in a positive way).

19 May 2015 09:07

The Royal Oak, Rusper

Update: Apparently Thai food will be served at The Oak tomorrow night (1st April), which may seem at-odds with such a down-to-earth British establishment, but the chef's record is good, and when international food has made its appearance here before on select occasions (Caribbean etc), it's not hung about for long, so worth giving it a go methinks. If it proves a hit, the plan is to feature it more frequently - probably every Wednesday evening.

Beer still brill and folk still friendly by the way....

31 Mar 2015 10:22

The Half Moon, Charlwood

Pretty-much as richeymole left it in 2013 I think.

My maiden visit was finally made to this tucked-away village boozer for a quiet pint on Saturday night, after too many years saying I must try it. I wasn't blown away, but then again didn't expect to be. All-told it was a comfortable, deceptively spacious pub, with bars upfront and a long corridor at the rear leading to generous provision for eaters - sadly I assume that food must be king now in order for it to survive. That said, drinkers were about and the usual bar fare was offered, including three cask ales, none of which were novel but the St Austell Tribute sampled was well-kept.

I received a warm welcome from one of the bar staff (landlady?) who was very chatty and advised it was quieter than usual owing to a big blow-out the night before where apparently locals had partied rather hard to the sound of a live band. Good on them, I thought. Clearly doing decent business.

Can't comment on food, other than to say the proprietors of the Royal Oak at Rusper visited the Half Moon a couple of years back and gave its victuals a ringing endorsement - praise indeed! Menu looked reasonable, so might be worth a punt in the not-too-distant.

A charming local lady who I can't believe was on her own was very friendly at my side of the bar, but alas I had to drink-up and drive back before I could find out more - shame, but just nice to be noticed these days!

Give it a go folks and see what you think.

3 Mar 2015 17:21

The Old Chestnut, Earlswood

Still not in any way shape or form a regular at The Chestnut, but in case anyone's at all interested on this site, it did re-open for business (a couple of weeks later than scheduled), and has been transformed into a far-smarter and wide-rnaging venue, yet without losing its essential local pub character. On my only visit thus far I spoke to the licensee who confirmed Punch to still own the freehold - perhaps not surprising given how much money had been put into the refurb; it's heartening for once to see a large pubco taking a punt on one of its locals and allowing enough investment to appeal to a wider audience and hopefully flourish.

Obviously the place was in decent nick - could still smell the paint etc. Amongst the continued emphasis on branded lagers and other mainstream drinks, there is a slightly greater accent on cask ales - three now on offer (Sharp's Doom Bar, Fuller's London Pride and a guest which has varied although the clip isn't always facing frontwards - I doubt there's much of a market for the real stuff round here but I'm pleased they're trying). Also, cheap pub meals are served with general deals (can't comment on quality - I'd guess it's trying to compete with JDW), and Lavazza coffee seems to be a big noise here now - I think they even open some mornings to serve it with breakfast, but personally I'll be staying loyal to Matt at nearby Earlswood Station!

They have made a beautiful job of the front garden area - a vast improvement on the crumbly tarmac of old. I understand Sky Sports, pool and the local favourite darts are all still available as before. I don't think they're likely to alienate the former punters, yet there is some chance they may glean a few new ones here and there. As always, time will tell.

No rating as I don't really know what's what after only one drop-in. Find out for yourselves.

20 Jan 2015 17:52

The Surrey Oaks, Newdigate

I am bound to say that I must heartily agree with JohnN and disagree with Mhartes and Slerpy. They are entitled to their opinions and if based on genuine experience of their visits then fair enough. But I can't believe them to be representative of the Surrey Oaks experience in general, and judging by my recent visit I'd implore people to give it another chance.

On 31 Dec '14 I toddled along for lunch with my dear mother. Cask ale range, and conditioning of the two sampled, was found to be as per the Proctor years - options hailing from various regions as well as nearby. Indeed, there were a couple of extra barrels on the bar, and so found quality as good and quantity a shade better than under Ken on this occasion.

Food was selected from a regular menu that is manageable in scope yet not dull and predictable. When advised there was no 'game paella' I asked if there was 'game' but maybe with something else such as mash - the very attentive barmaid immediately checked with the kitchen and confirmed this was possible, and in 20-or-so minutes, in an ever-busying bar, there I was comfortably scoffing my way through a very flavoursome home-made lunch which had been served efficiently and pleasantly.

Mother's suet pudding was - and I quote - "the best I think I've ever had"! Her experience of pub grub is in fairness somewhat more restricted than mine, but nevertheless, it was a strong vote of confidence, and when I tried a bite or two I had to concur that it was a fine choice. She also commented on the quality of service - not insipid and not over-attentive; just about right.

I applaud what Nick & Tracey have done with the pub's interior - they've retained its natural character but just tweaked it here and there (including a sensitive incorporation of the former games room), and there's no denying the food quality has improved overall, and beer continues to impress as his predecessor's record did. Festivals are still run too which is a bonus. I understand the local CamRA aficionados are still happy!

As a freehold rural pub, much money needs to be made here to render it a viable business, but I would suggest all the right things are being done to realise that aim, without short-changing customers or moving too far away from what has become a bit of a local legend since the 1990s. There is life after Ken.

I say keep up the sound work folks and I'll certainly be back when I can. ....PS: John's comment re attractive bar staff is seconded....

20 Jan 2015 13:01

The Royal Oak, Rusper

Best of British to S & C for making their eighth birthday at the Oak.... I shall come amongst you at the weekend to check you're celebrating correctly....

21 Nov 2014 16:59

The Garland, Redhill

Happy to report P & A's first week installed at the helm of this pub seems to have gone well.

Fine food and well-kept cask ale continue to be offered, as will the charity fund-raising community meal events in future once things bed-in. Pete advises that he has secured a currently-rare concession from Harvey's to allow him to run a beer festival at The Garland, featuring ales from various breweries beyond the usual. Given Harveys' recent announcement of a move to national distribution and a reported quarter of their tenanted houses up for grabs just now, perhaps we will see more flexibility from them in coming years as they relax their approach to generate greater business. The fest should be held some time in the first quarter or so of 2015. An international wine festival is also in the offing.

Best wishes to you folks, and I'm sure us regulars are looking forward to enjoying the old place just as we have done under previous tenures.

10 Nov 2014 09:52

The Garland, Redhill

Make that Monday 3rd November for P & A's actual first day of trade, with S & L's leaving event on Saturday 25th October. An end of an all-too-short era folks. You will be missed by many, although comfort can be found from knowing that the pub is remaining in familiar and capable hands. Assurances on beer, food, decor and punter quality have been given....!

24 Oct 2014 17:10

The Old Chestnut, Earlswood

I'm still not clear as to whether Punch have sold this gritty local boozer on now and if so, to whom, but what I can confirm if anyone's at all interested is that it's currently undergoing some fairly invasive refurbishment, both inside and out, with the promise that the revitalised Chestnut will reopen its doors for trade on Thursday 6th November.

Whilst I would encourage something of an overhaul as the place had slid into a rather unkempt state in recent years, and a more modern mix of traditional and current decor may be welcome, I do hope whoever is now at the helm harbours no silly ideas of trying to render the OC more upmarket. It is an earthy local drinkers venue where fine food or craft beers play little part; brand lager and plain crisps are the order of the day here, and as far as I know most locals who use it regularly prefer it that way. Trying to turn this into anything but a solid local for the working men of Earlswood would likely be a big mistake. For all its faults, the OC was always swelled with punters and if it changes, I imagine all that good custom will be lost forever.

A cautious optimism I think around the refurb. Best wishes to whoever has taken it on and I hope you play to its former strengths while keeping a lid on its past weaknesses.

10 Oct 2014 11:20

The Marquis of Granby, Redhill

I made my first visit to this local pub in about 15 years the other week, and whilst I found that in essence little seemed to have altered in respect of clientele mix, beer range and so on, there was a certain comfort to the place, and the establishment was clearly popular with those punters who visit more regularly than once every 1.5 decades.

In fairness I'd only tagged along with some folks from my own local up the road who'd rated the Marquis as a decent-enough 'late-doors' venue (our pub shuts its doors at 12:30 on a Friday), and as these ladies are not cask ale lovers I wasn't expecting much on that score. Indeed, the Sharp's Doom Bar was dull and fairly lifeless and it didn't compel me to push for second pint (though that was probably just as well given how many I'd had elsewhere).

However, the service was very efficient and friendly, and the place seemed in good order and clean. For those who do want to extend their evening's entertainment in a livelier fashion, and are happy to tow the branded lager/cider line, this place is probably for you.

Besides, I can't help but have some fond memories of the Marquis from the 1990s, when it was always a venue where one's age would be far-less in question at the bar than some more decorous local hostelries! But I'm sure that sort of approach is no longer favoured. Quite right too....

10 Oct 2014 11:13

The Jolly Brickmakers, Redhill

Beer festival due, Fri 19 - Sat 20 Sep.

5 Sep 2014 17:12

The Plough, Stalisfield

I certainly don't make a habit of reviewing every good pub I visit - hell; I'd be spending most of my time on sites like this! But I feel an exception may be made of The Plough, as it is a true gem of a country pub that majors both in well-kept traditional cask ale, and modern high-quality food in a smart yet characterful setting.

Apparently there has been a change pf licensee in the two years since I last dropped by, and was advised that while the beer remained as good, the menu might not be 'so fancy'. Well, happily I found that both were in splendid form, sampling some local(ish) Canterbury Ales in sound condition, alongside a perfectly-cooked and seasoned confit duck leg with cripsy potatoes, shitake mushrooms and chorizo in a tasty sweet/sour jus. My friend gave the similarly-sumptuous looking lamb dish a good going-over and for a man who seldom eats meat he managed to polish it off with gusto I've rarely seen. Service was efficient and friendly by the young staff - not clear if either were the new incumbents but in any case, decent front of house. Others seemed suitably happy with their choices of victuals and beverages as well as the general ambience on a Friday lunchtime.

Best wishes to you folks and despite always having many pubby fish to fry, I hope to be back before long.

3 Sep 2014 16:11

The Garland, Redhill

Yes Mrgrumpy (still yet to work out who you are but I must know you!), changes are afoot as Lesley & Stuart are due to leave in the Autumn after over six years, with Peter and Anca the established chef and - until recently - barmaid taking over the reigns on Saturday 1 November. I doubt that much will change, as they've observed for themselves first-hand what works and what does not; certainly ale-wise Pete has a respect for cellarmanship and the Harvey's range should remain as broad as it ever was. Plus they are an engaging and well-liked couple locally. There's no need to re-invent any wheels here, and whilst there is arguably always room for some improvement, I would be as surprised as I would be dismayed if things were to alter unfavourably here.

Just as long as those who were barred and barred for good reason under S & L's tenure don't try their luck and expect to get away with it, all should be well....!

15 Aug 2014 17:24

The Sun, Redhill

An acceptable Wetherspoon's outlet in respect of passable and predictable food, and similar with drinks choices, with the exception of the cask ale range which does change reguarly in accordance with the company's pro-ale policy.

Service varies but is usually favourable; beers are well-conditioned and in 18 years (weirdly, to the exact day - it opened on 15 August '96 - meaning kids born that day are now eligible legally to drink here!) I have only ever had to return a handful of pints, though I'm not a weekly visitor.

The trouble is the clientele - not always civilized and not always tolerant or toelrable. But also the sheer blandness of it. It was a Magnet Southerns kitchen showroom when built and despite interesting Redhilliana strewn around the walls, it is a barrack-room for boozers which generates little natural atmos. Liking the outside seating option though; one can at least watch the traffic pass.

Sadly, as a cask chap, in Redhill this represents a competitively-priced good option for variety and quality. Otherwise, I couldn't be arsed.

15 Aug 2014 17:15

The Home Cottage, Redhill

The first pub I visited in Redhill as a nipper c.1979/'80, and until recently, little had changed bar a couple of extensions at the back. All change please...

Where more traditional pub lovers and drinkers arguably lost out in the 2011 refurb, the contemporary cohort and eaters gained. The Cottage is undeniably a smarter, slicker venture nowadays, with expensive (as per Young's ludicrous 'one size fits all' central London pricing policy) but reliable quality meals on offer, in an expanded bar/restaurant area plus a decent-size garden with decking, which comfortably accommodates a mixed clientele including families. And the beer remains well-kept in my experience, although of a more narrow range than was the case a year ago.

But, despite retaining certain aspects of the old layout and original features dating back to the pre-Young era (i.e. pre-1978), it has lost a lot of appeal to the folks who just wanted to come and enjoy a beer with food as a sideline; darts and live music are no more and it's altogether more of a younger, middle-class vein than before the change.

It's swings 'n' roundabouts I s'pose, and one can appreciate the business sense behind the change, which has proven to fill a much-needed gap in the local market for a smart pub-based eaterie. There was literally NO competition. Alas, few can survive on wet sales alone these days.

I'd say avoid the HC if you're on the your own - you'll feel very conspicuous by having either (i) no friends and/or (ii) no kids!

15 Aug 2014 17:08

The Hatch, Shaws Corner

Rear wall repaired last year and is functioning as normal. Pleasant service and as good a range from Sheps' as one might hope for if that is your thing. Actually rather busy on my last visit which was encouraging; despite doing a lot right it can't be denied that custom be thin on the ground even of an evening. I daresay that much of that is associated not only with the lack of natural passing trade but with the continuingly high pricing strategy, which seems to have prevailied here regardless of who owns the place. Just don't blame Roy for that as it's out of his hands I think.

Still worth dropping into I'd say, though perhaps not regularly if your wallet is more Redhill than Reigate...

15 Aug 2014 16:56

The Market Hotel, Reigate

A steady though not exceptional performance by the Fuller's regime here. An improved venue in terms of physical fabric and cleanliness. Also a step-up in respect of beer quality; no longer do the cask offerings taste of chemical pipe cleaner and they now deliver the flavour one would expect from the beerclips. Presently three standard Fuller offerings plus two Pilgrim from down the road, all well-kept on a recent visit. Also they seem to be pushing this new Aspall's cask cider, Cyderkin which I favour above the keg counterparts if only because it is better value - and not fizzy. Whether it'll take flight who knows, but nice to have the option.

Can't comment beyond this other than all seemed well; mixed though broadly well-heeled and beneath-50 clientele. Better than the latter years of the old Market, but this was only judged on a visit between 5 and 7PM on a weekday; no idea what might lie beyond that time - rather depends on who frequents the place I think.

20 Jun 2014 15:41

The Ship, Croydon

I fear Bill Billiams' entry might be the final one as a punter, as observational evidence seen today suggests that the guv'nor may well have "legged-it". The opening hours notice on the front door indicating evening-only trade seems to have vanished, with a blank board to the left of the doorway, and curtains firmly drawn. This doesn't augur well.

Part of me hopes I'm wrong, as although I never frequented the place, for all its rough edges it has a long and memorable local history, and its death would be the end of an era for some. Also it has that rarest of attributes in Crudyon: a rather aesthetically-pleasing exterior, which I suppose only goes to show one can't judge a pub by its cover.

Scrub this if you find it's opening as usual at 5PM, although given what's said below I wonder whether it might actually be best if the latest licensee (and owner) move on and give someone more suitable a chance to make it work? They're the ones at fault here, not the pub itself or its position.

13 Jun 2014 17:25

The Halfway House, Pitney

Still an absolute total corker of a pub, which cannily combines the appeal of a traditional country drinkers' pub, with a more modern restaurant aspect that doesn't impact on proceedings too intrusively and make this more of an eaterie than a drinkerie.

The 10 cask ales were found in excellent nick at the end of May when I last managed a visit, and mercifully I was able to indulge in most as for once I wasn't encumbered by driving. Cask cider also appears to support the already fine spread of beers, which I daresay satisfies many a local Somerset palate.

We enjoyed some home-cooked fare which was generous in portion and flavour, helping to soak up the excess booze. Turkey goulash was a novel option on a menu that catered for classic pub-grubbers to more adventurous diners, and it went down moreishly.

Atmosphere-wise, the HH combines a well-heeled local base with a civilised mix of visitors who come from further afield having heard its good reputation.

With a good garden at the front, the pub is a worthy destination on sunny Summer days, but is also a cosy choice on damp Winter nights too, with a log fire imparting that delighftul smokey aroma.

Go here. It is really rather good. And if you're looking to stay locally, you would be well-served by pitching up at The Mount at nearby Somerton who provide excellent value service and accommodation and will go the extra mile to assist - the proprietress even gave us a lift down to the pub!

13 Jun 2014 12:41

The Blue Posts, St James's

WAS a nice pub folks, but for the avoidance of confusion for anyone unfamiliar with the area, the Posts has been razed to the ground, along with all premises either side of it, and is now a large hole in the ground, pending redevelopment. Such is the ludicrous land valuation in St James's I suppose. RIP.

I'll stop writing now as I've been PM'd by a small coterie of mean-spirited and presumably very bored BITE users for posting about pubs that are no longer open. I'm making the most of the privilege until this heinous abuse is formally-criminalised by the next administration in 2015....

23 May 2014 17:02

The Harp, Covent Garden

Yes indeed! One of those daft things when you realise the mistake seconds after sending the comment but are powerless to amend the aberration.

I blame BITE for not enabling us to edit posts!!

23 May 2014 16:44

The Harp, Covent Garden

'Possibly' Steve? 'Probably' more like! Being biased in The Harp's favour for many years now I'd even suggest 'definitely'! But I am biased for good reason: an excellently-kept, ever-changing roster of cask ales from a broad range of breweries well-known and obscure. A similarly impressive array of cask ciders from various regions. These are supported by some good local bottled options, and also a keg ale (Kernel so stupidly overpriced but still a decent attempt at a worthwhile keg beer). Unadventurous beer/cider drinkers are covered by a few fonts dispensing recognised brands, and consumers of neither will find plenty of wines etc for delectation.

And all this bibulous brilliance served in a jauntily jolly atmosphere aided by a civilised mixed clientele, friendly and efficient staff, and delightful decor, notable for its various art works and fine stained glass frontage.

Even food, though limited, is worth metioning for quality - O'Hagan's sausages!

The only negatives? It can be over-busy even outdoors, and the toilets are best-avoided for sheer lack of manoeuvrability! But these aren't deal-breakers.

Biddy has overseen this place so successfully over the years and has made it an award-winning goldmine, mercifully free of brewery or pubco racketeering. Long may it continue as there's too few pubs of its ilk available in London nowadays. If it sounds your kind of venue, sally forth ASAP....

19 May 2014 16:23

The Hope, Carshalton

Glad to see various quaffers on here clearly enjoying the wares at The Hope. I've happily become gradually more acquanited with it courtesy of a chum who happens to live nearby, and each time it impresses with its cask range, and quality of dispense/conditioning. The Windsor & Eton and Downton 'staples' are always splendid back-stops but adventurous as these would be in nearby venues, they're the 'obvious' options here: numerous wonderful brews particularly from the south of England, and even some more worthy keg choices too (unacceptably prices but not the pub's fault I fear).

It's otherwise a cosy, if a little ragged in places, community local with no pretence, and while I sometimes feel older regulars bridling at the influx of younger non-regulars, all are welcome by the very accommodating staff.

The fest in late February was a corker, with even more zesty flavours being dispensed in the covered area in the garden.

Not a fault-free establishment, but show me one that is! If you love well-kept diverse beers, this is the current mecca in S London.

16 May 2014 16:13

The Nutley Hall, Reigate

Ooh; sorry. But if it's so completely irrelevant, why were you looking at it?! Just saying it needs to be labelled as CLOSED on here but don't know the process for doing that - if you're that keen for people never to post about pubs posthumously, perhaps you could do the necessary?!

12 May 2014 12:00

The Surrey Oaks, Newdigate

Hmmm I do hope this is just early teething troubles. I popped in on 18 April to wish Ken well having heard he was shipping out just after Easter. He was generally positive about the new incumbent when I gently quizzed him about his approach to ale and so forth. But then being a gent, would he have been anything else? Another source suggests that this chap is essentially decent, but is certain to take it in a more food-led direction if only to try and recoup the massive outlay on the pub: he is owner outright, having purchased it from Admiral Taverns lock, stock and barrels. Said source also conjectured that he could have "bitten off more than he could chew", so, make of it what you will as time unfolds. We must all give them a chance, expecting that it won't be the same as it was in the Proctor Years.

I guess the jury's out for now, especially given the previous review on here...

9 May 2014 16:37

The Royal Oak, Rusper

Still splendid for dedicated cask ale/cider fans - dareI say puritans - who also love a friendly rural 'local' away from home! Glad to see the demeaning and unseemly bickering about this pub on this site seems to have died-down of late. And the North Sussex CamRA issues have effectively dissolved, as the antis have stepped-down and pro-Oak punters put in their place - yay!

But make the best of it folks... Good things never last forever.

9 May 2014 16:32

Royal Oak Inn, Staffhurst Wood

One of my personal favourites for food over many years, and also cask beer. Frequent winner of local CamRA 'Cider Pub of the Year', most-recently bestowed 17 days ago, although changes are afoot at the Oak. Julian & Denise, the long-term leaseholders, sadly retired a few weeks back, and although essentially the owner has decided to maintain the status quo and installed Paul (erstwhile big barman) as manager, there are some amendments appearing albeit for now only in decor - general brightening up and de-cluttering is good although too much and character may start to ebb away.

Ales still kept well (some of the best Adnams Southwold ever!), and a rare outlet for Larkin's Trad. Ciders all in check though a touch warm as behind the bar in polypins.

It's the victuals I'm most fearful for at the minute - that standard must stay high as it is surely the king when it comes to overall sales? I do hope it continues where J & D left-off; they will be sorely-missed by many.

9 May 2014 16:26

The Spread Eagle, Croydon

For what it's worth, Masterpint has it about right. The unspoken 'USP' of the Spread is that it seems to quietly but firmly keep out the innumerable undesirables that abound elsehwere in town. Much of this is of course associated with the good old Fullers pricing policy.

It is relatively expensive, but you will get a range of five F beers plus probably one guest (often Clarence & Fred but not always), each kept to perfection: I've never had a bad beer here in its 18-year existence so fair play.

Food is actually rather sumptuous smart pub-grub, but as ever, silly money really, even if you have it to spare.

Licensee Robin reputedly wants out of 'the Big C' and who can blame him, but let's make sure if he can't escape the rest of his tenure is as pleasant as possible!

9 May 2014 16:11

The Royal Standard, Croydon

Still being capably-run by Martin after 26 years. Nowt much has altered, bar the rocketing of Fuller's beer prices which is sadly universal, but otherwise generally good news here. Ale is found in fine form (F's plus occasional guest), food is more limited than it was but those Lincs/Cumbs sausages are splendid beer fodder, and fish 'n' chip evenings are regular run! All-told a classic local which is just tucked out of reach from the Crudyon Moronoscenti.

The problem? Same as the Dog & Bull really - no punters nowadays at lunchtimes! Evenings I gather still tick over nicely, but compared to even five years back it's dead as a dodo at 1PM. A reflection of 'Da Management's steady but sure clampdown on lunchtime boozing I'll wager. Well, I'm having none of it! If I can't get here on a weekday luncheontide, it's only because I'm too lazy to walk all the way over!

9 May 2014 16:00

The Oval Tavern, Croydon

Esther has now bedded-in firmly here and while it's never likely to be directly comparable to her previous billet, the Green Dragon, naturally one can't help but draw parallels. I don't get here frequently enough to say too much, but observations suggest that she's transferred some good vibes from the GD, and it's patently clear the pub has picked up and is more respectable than before.

But, keen though I am to support E in building this venue to its full potential, three things concern me: 1) Lack of cask ale range (one assumes it's constrained by turnover but as little as one out of four is surely under-selling?). 2) Food prices (what was available sounded mouthwatering enough but the amounts being asked were not obviously commensurate with the dishes' descriptions. 3) Toilets! Locks on cubicles and a general shape-up would not go amiss (well, in the gents anyway).

9 May 2014 15:50

The George, Croydon

Consistently good beer on my regular drop-ins, and consistently good service - and all this despite Steve leaving in late 2013. The reason? Ildiko, the new manageress has had five or six years of experience here already and happily was asked to take over rather than parachute some no-mark in. She isn't the most talkative of staff but she is immensely industrious and I'm confident won't let standards slip, despite ongoing challenges from the constant throughput of weirdoes, chancers, dossers and drunkards they face, owing to its central Croydon location.

JDWs are inevitably 'mixed', as they try to appeal to all people all times. And often, that makes them jacks of all trades and masters of none. But, if you can ignore the old pirates and young thugs, hopefully you'll see this is a rather more worthy Wetherspoon than many, with great cask ales still at acceptable prices, passable food, reasonable service and actually, not an unpleasant interior.

And Charley has to be the most authentically happy barmaid in Greater London (not that there's much competition!). How she stays so buoyant doing that job I'll never know.

9 May 2014 15:38

The Dog and Bull, Croydon

Shame - atmosphere is essentially intact in terms of decor despite an upgrade, but it's the relentless lack of customers, particularly at lunchtimes, that makes the Dog feel like it's lost its lustre. There are many reasons, but chief among them is Young's central London pricing strategy, which most regulars could no longer support, hence an aspiringly-middle-class boozer whose core market can't afford to drink there, and the customers it panders to unaware that it has smartened up and is worth a punt.

But even for a long-term devotee the economics are challenging: almost £4 for some cask beers (guests are at least now available and always well-kept but at a cost), and food? Forget it now. £8 for "rustic fries" and a sausage bap? Draw your own conclusions folks...

Lesley who ran it back in 2009 is back in the saddle and good luck to her and the team, but she isn't in charge of pricing. The wares are worthy. But not at those prices.

9 May 2014 15:30

The Green Dragon, Croydon

Much-derided by many on this site, Slerpy's assessment below is broadly correct in my estimation, excepting the 'awful period' claims - it didn't take a huge dive after long-term incumbent Esther left, and the new chap, Carl, has essentially retained the worthy elements which his predecessor worked so hard to create. He has his detractors mind, particularly in respect of treatment of inherited staff, so don't take my word for it; see for yourself.

Beer-wise, five of the six pumps are usually occupied with interesting options, albeit with a leaning towards Clarence & Frederick's, Westerham and Dark Star, plus one or two active casks behind. Cask cider no longer supported apparently. I'm pleased to impar that discounts for qualifying customers still in place.

Food always tremendous value; chef stolen from the Dog & Bull still there!

Atmos is pretty-much as was (civilised), and still one of the best pubs in the central Croydonian context. Good luck to the new team.

Esther can now be found at The Oval, Oval Road by the way.

9 May 2014 15:23

The Black Sheep Bar, Croydon

All very well but closed now folks - not my generation but I'm told it's the end of an era for Young Croydonites (the minority who prefer to conduct themselves with at least a little decorum and avoid conducting debates through the medium of weaponry).

9 May 2014 15:17

The Bell, Reigate

For all the suggested faults below, this is now the best pub in Reigate for those of a cask-beer bent. Certainly much-improved on its earlier performance.

Those burgers aren't bad either; didn't need to eat for a week after I had one.

9 May 2014 13:17

The Nutley Hall, Reigate

Hear hear Geoff! I haven't passed by the ex-Nutley for a while now but I almost daren't do it, in case what I find has happened to the charming exterior is nothing short of vandalism. I was told the frontage had a listing of sorts, so fingers-crossed.

The pub should be indicated as closed by site moderators but I don't know how one goes about getting that done.

9 May 2014 13:14

Old Oak, Reigate

Quite; it will almost certainly be all-change if and when Colin and Pauline ever decide to hang up their beer towels and retire! They're well-overdue so make the best of it while you can.

9 May 2014 13:11

The Plough, Earlswood

Pleasant and agreeable though The plough continues to be, it remains one of the most over-priced watering-holes in this district: I sampled my first £4 pint of cask ale in here last month! And I wasn't surprised, as I believe it was here where I had my first £3 pint, £2 pint, and had I been legal at the time probably would've been the first to top the quid too!

Food is decent and good value; beer is well-kept but only outdone on puffing-up of price-tags locally by The Hatch!

9 May 2014 13:09

The Old Chestnut, Earlswood

Rick, the trusty licensee of some years who always wanted to do more with the pub but couldn't owing to his lager 'n' pool-driven clientele, and the constraints of being a Punch tenant, has now moved on and the lease is up for sale. Popular though the Chestnut is locally, it really could go either way in future, depending on who takes over the reigns...

9 May 2014 13:05

The Joshua Tree, Redhill

I'd dispute that the Joshua is an expensive option for ales; up to four can now be found here (up from only two when it was a tied operation - it's been free since March '13), and the price point is around £3.40, which is actually rather competitive in today's market.

It still does a good job of marrying a pub with a restaurant, without the latter ever dominating the former.

9 May 2014 13:03

The Garibaldi, Redhill

Yes; G Reader assesses this pub correctly. Seb & Tracey do a fine job, and a steady set of regulars who are now loyal to the Gari attest to this. Keep up the good work.

A note on the cask beers: nearly always a Pilgrim option available, plus one from Sharp's that isn't the usual ubiquitous Doom[ed] Bar (Cornish Coaster)! And all sold at competitive prices: around £3.30 a pint for the guests (more for London Pride but who would expect anything else?!).

9 May 2014 13:01

The White Lion, Redhill

Trouble is, no manager since John Connolly's sudden departure last November seems to have stuck it here, leading to a confused present and uncertain future. It seems the Lion has again changed hands, with a rumoured focus away from elements that were popular here: broad cask beer range (reduced to only four and mostly Greene King), regular karaoke nights (live music on Fridays is being mooted), and Thai food (the Siam lot seem to have skidaddled, and a boring by-numbers pub grub menu installed in their place!).

Get someone in who's settled, agree on a strategy that suits locals, and STICK WITH IT!

9 May 2014 12:57

Red Lion, Redhill

Re-opening is due imminently I'm advised. I knew a couple who were on the point of taking this pub over, even to the stage where they were scoping refurbishment options, only to discover they'd been gazumped by an unknown party, whose offer the vendor had seemingly accepted without question, and without the courtesy of letting the other parties know! In view of this, I can only hope that this late and presumably enhanced bid proves to be worthwhile; there is much to be improved here and potential to be realised, but only in the right hands. If the correct changes do not materialise, it will be a crying shame that it didn't go to the earlier bidders, who I know would've done it proud.

Time will tell.

9 May 2014 12:52

The Garland, Redhill

The landlady was understandably aggrieved by some earlier comments on this site, which weren't really fair in their reflection of her contribution to the pub's smooth running. Lesley does much for the Garland, and her apparent arrival sometimes later on in the day belies the effort she puts in behind the scenes. Landlord Stuart isn't always on the scene in person either, but hasn't received such criticism! Both are usually convivial with customers, and in busier times they will both be willing to sally forth and supplement the efforts of their staff.

Ale still ace, food always fine. Live music every three Saturdays or so for those who are interested too. When you find the G-spot, make the best of it!

9 May 2014 12:48

The Jolly Brickmakers, Redhill

Regretfully, though deservedly, Dick and Judith will be retiring this summer after 12 years of laughs and largesse at the Bricks. I salute you folks, and will hopefully catch up to help see you off in the time-honoured manner when the time comes.

9 May 2014 12:34

The Junction, Redhill

I heard that the new managers were a couple of Thai chaps, presumably trying to make that bizarre 'Thai restaurant-cum-English pub' concept work. Locally, that only worked at the White Lion, and even then I think they've called it a day just recently.

If you can't get passing trade to prop you up here, bang in the centre of a town, where can you? Shows the inherent limitations of Redhill sadly.

9 May 2014 12:31

The Tower, Redhill

A shame if it remains shut, if only because this was where the bulk of Redhillian 'riff-raff' drink, meaning that they'd not be visiting your pub any time soon! A policy of containment is a good thing...

By-the-by: the 'new' name is not new: the original name was 'The Towers' and it only changed in the early '80s.

9 May 2014 12:29

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