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BITE user comments - JohnBonser

Comments by JohnBonser

The Blue Anchor, Helston

Occupying a central position in the centre of Helston is The Blue Anchor, a well-known home brew pub.

It's immediately noticeable for its striking, thatched cottage style appearance, somewhat out of kilter with nearby buildings. Originally a monks home, it became a local ale house soon after and began brewing its own beer in the 15th century.

A central flagstoned corridor has two characterful, low ceilinged, unspoilt bars on the right hand side. The first room is the main bar and is basic, but traditional with stone floors, wooden furniture, ( including settles ), and plenty of interesting framed prints and photographs. A small framed print tells us that "the art of brewing beer was once widespread in The Duchy of Cornwall. At the beginning of the 17th Century, when the population of Helston was 300, there were 30 brewing ale houses here". Also of note is a listing of public executions in Cornwall between 1790 and 1862 which includes one for "setting fire to corn". In this room are displayed CAMRA awards for 25 and 30 consecutive years in the annual Good Beer Guide.

Further down the corridor is The Gun Room - a much smaller room with a splendid fireplace over which are a pair of impressive looking firearms.

There's a largish beer garden at the back. Part of this is covered and acts as a smokers marquee. A separate bar is here - not open on my visit - used when festivals are on. Also at the back are the outside toilets and the brewing house. There's B & B available in a connected building next door

On the left of the corridor are 3 additional basic rooms providing additional seating. The first of these is designated as a children's room. In one of the other rooms is a framed poster depicting the Helston Railway Centenary ( 1887 - 1987 ) . It was whilst sitting in one of these rooms that I was accosted by a strange, oddly dressed woman - I think we used to call them "hippies" when I was a kid - who politely enquired as to whether I was here for the beginners Cornish Language class. She seemed somewhat disappointed when I responded in the negative.

As a reflection of its fame and popularity as a "destination" pub, various items such as Blue Anchor branded T shirts, sweat shirts, fleeces etc are for sale.

Dotted around the pub were a number of flyers advertising a Monday quiz night starting on 20 September - "Test Your Nollegge" - ( as spelt ), which I presume is an attempt at local Cornish humour.

On the beer front, beers on were Jubilee, Middle, Braggett and Special at gravities of 4.5%, 5%, 6%, and 6.6% respectively. Both beers sampled by me - Jubilee and Middle ( which is described as the most popular beer ) at prices of £ 2.60p and £ 2.70p respectively - were pleasant pints, but, on two consecutive evening visits, both beers seemed rather thin for their advertised gravities. I'm probably going to be crucified for saying this, but, in my opinion, neither the Jubilee nor the Middle had the distinctiveness of ( say) Skinners Cornish Knocker ( as tasted in The Seven Stars, Falmouth ) or St Austell's Proper Job ( as tasted in The Mill in the Exe, Exeter or The Masons Arms, Falmouth ), both pubs that I had visited several days previously. Perhaps I should have gone for the bottled Spingo, as many other obvious non-regulars to the pub were doing. Interestingly, in 2010, the pub lost its 100% record in CAMRA Good Beer Guides since inception.

In summary, yes, I like the pub immensely and I'd definitely return, but, based on my two visits, there's better beers to be found in Cornwall without too much difficulty.

Finally, you'll all be no doubt pleased to hear that there seems to be a taxi rank outside the pub, so if you get spingo'd and can't find ( or be bothered to stagger ) back home, help is readily at hand.

28 Sep 2010 08:49

The Star Inn, St Just

Situated just off the main town square, The Star Inn is an 18th century granite built small locals pub.

The main bar on the left is dark with low beams and is well decorated with lifeboat and tin mining memorabilia. The latter reminds us that we are in former tin mining heartland - Geevor Tin Mine ( the last working mine which closed in 1990 and is now a museum ) is but a few miles away. Flags on the ceiling, including one with The Isle of Man "three legs" emblem, add further character to the interior. A fruit machine and a jukebox are concessions to modern trends, but there's also a piano.

A basic room on the right is rather bare, somewhat brighter and contains a dartboard. Notably, a splendid inglenook in this bar has had some built in seats added underneath - looks unusual, but very cosy. There's an outside smoking area in the back yard.

Entertainment is offered in the form of weekly music and open mic nights.

It's a St Austell's Brewery pub and, on my recent visit, was offering Proper Job, Tribute, HSD and Dartmoor Best ( the latter is not to be confused with the products of a separate Dartmoor Brewery ) together with a guest beer from Skinners. The Proper Job - £ 2.70p - was pretty good.

This pub is not tourist orientated at all - there's no food - and it makes a pleasant change from most other pubs in the vicinity, where food and catering for visitors seems to dominate. This pub is well worth a visit if passing through

24 Sep 2010 13:23

The Sloop Inn, St Ives

Occupying a prominent position on the St Ives harbour front, The Sloop Inn apparently dates back to 1312.

It's a reasonably attractive looking building on a harbour front where rampant commercialism in the form of coffee shops, souvenir shops etc seem to have taken away much of the character and charm that I remember from earlier years. It's certainly the oldest looking, most striking building on the harbour front and is a listed building.

Larger inside than it looks from the outside, The Sloop Inn, whilst retaining some semblance of a characterful interior is, of course, part of this commercialism - it makes an unashamed play for the visitor trade by opening at 9 a m for breakfast and selling branded beach bags, baseball caps, sweat shirts etc.

A pleasant traditional interior has the trademark dark, low beams and a black painted interior. The public bar on the right has several large tables and has, apparently, frequently appeared on TV and in films. The larger main bar extends back a long way and has some partitioned booths at the rear. The walls are mainly decorated with works of art from local artists.

There's a small seating area outside which affords a good view of the harbour across the road, although, on my recent visit, this quickly disappeared when Mr White Man Van parked in front of the pub. I was also conscious all the time of the smell of burnt toast from the next table where substantial looking breakfasts were being avidly consumed. There's a first floor restaurant - The Captain's Table.

A series of prominent, rather jarring notices - "Polite Notices" - in large capitals tell you that you can't take your drink across the road because of the St Ives no street drinking policy. Fair enough - but a total of 8 notices across a not very large pub frontage seems to be overdoing things.

On my recent early morning visit, beers on were Doom Bar, Ruddles County and Speckled Hen - definitely one of the least appealing selections that I came across in my travels in this part of the world. The Doom Bar - £ 3.10p - was reasonable.

This is quite a pleasant, attractive pub and is worth a look in, but I bet it gets impossibly busy in the height of summer

24 Sep 2010 13:22

The Ship Inn, Mousehole

On the edge of the attractive fishing harbour of Mousehole - pronounced "muzzle" apparently - is The Ship Inn, seemingly the only pub in this small contact Cornish coastal village.

Looking at the pub across the harbour, the granite exterior reminds me very much of the type of pub you might come across in the North Yorks Moors, or, alternatively, a West Yorkshire town like Ilkley or Otley.

On the wall outside the pub, a plaque commemorates the landlord, who was part of the crew of the Solomon Browne lifeboat which perished with the loss of all lives in December 1981 - The Penlee disaster, as it's better known as.

Inside is the trademark flagstoned floor and black beams and collection of nautical memorabilia, including, most notably, various pictures of The Torrey Canyon, which ran aground in the area on Seven Stones Reef in March 1967. A cosier room on the left is carpeted, with comfortable bench seating around the walls and a copper bar top. There's a separate restaurant area on the right.

Reflecting the fact that the pub needs to get customers in after the visitors have departed for the day ( and there seems to be precious little in the way of B & B's for those wishing to stay overnight ), there's a couple of fruit machines and TV screens for Sky Sports, but, thankfully, these weren't on during my recent lunchtime visit.

Plastic glasses are available should anyone wish to drink outside at the front on the narrow road, which, perhaps surprisingly, is not closed to traffic, although the frequent reversing to allow cars coming the other way to pass, makes for slow progress. There's a small sun terrace at the back up a flight of stairs, but this has no sea view and is of limited appeal.

It's a St Austell's Brewery pub and, on my recent lunchtime visit, beers on were Tinners, Proper Job, Tribute and HSD. The Tinners - £ 2.60p - was fine.

Given its location, this pub probably doesn't have to make too much effort to get people in, but I thought this pub came up to the mark in all areas

24 Sep 2010 13:20

The Golden Lion, York

Mr Mountain Man is of course correct about the location of this pub - and I am happy to stand corrected on this point.

In all other respects, I am happy to stand by the factual accuracy of my review. Mr Mountain, were you in the pub when I visited ?

You can form your own view as to whether my review is indeed a " pompous and less than accurate tirade" or indeed, whether there is a "racist undertone".

Mr Mountain - you, sir are the fool, not I.

23 Sep 2010 18:18

The First And Last, Sennen

So called because of its proximity to Lands End - a mile or so away - The First and Last Inn is a roadside inn dating back to 1620.

As you drive towards Lands End, the pub sign proclaims " The Last Inn in England" and, on the other side as you drive inland from Lands End, it says ….( well, work it out for yourselves ). The Cornish flag flies proudly from the roof top.

The main bar room has the de rigeur ( for Cornwall anyway ) interior of dark low beams, much exposed stonework, subdued lighting and marine and nautical memorabilia.

Various commemorative T shirts pinned to the ceiling reflect the fact that, over the years, groups of cyclists and walkers who have completed the John O' Groats to Lands End journey have obviously been in here to celebrate their achievement and, no doubt, to rest their weary limbs.

The principal item of note is "Annie's Well" - a glazed over entrance to a smugglers tunnel running to the cliffs. An information board tells us that this relates to Ann Treeve, a former landlady of the pub, who presided over local smuggling and wrecking operations. Eventually, she turned Queens Evidence and, as a reward (?), was staked out of Sennon beach and drowned by the incoming tide. Her body was laid out in the large upstairs room of the pub, prior to burial in an unmarked grave, for fear of retribution by grave robbers. At the front of the building, a large rusty anchor leans against the wall, but I didn't see anything to indicate from where it had originated.

As well as the main bar area, there's a separate dining / restaurant area and, beyond that, a pool room. Most people however, seemed to be eating in the main bar area and, whilst still retaining something of a community feel, it is clear that passing trade from visitors to Lands End is a major earner.On my recent visit, a lunchtime special ( available between 12 and 2 ) was proving to be popular and good value.

Reflecting the fact that the pub needs to pay its way long after the tourists have left for the day, the pub offers live music on Friday and Saturday nights, including on Friday 24th a band called Quijada - who, according to the flyer, are a " 5 piece Cuban inspired local sensation".

On my recent visit, on the 6 pumps, beers were Sharps Doom Bar, Skinners Ginger Tosser and Skinners Annie's Revenge. The latter is described as "our very own ghostly brew" and, if you've been paying attention whilst reading, you'll understand the reference. All beers were priced at £ 2.60p which, given the location, seems very reasonable to me.

If you're going to or coming back from Lands End, this strikes me as a very reasonable place to call in on for sustenance, of either the liquid or the food variety

23 Sep 2010 13:22

The Masons Arms, Falmouth

A 2 minute walk away out of the town centre from The Seven Stars, on which I have just posted, is The Masons Arms, a smallish reasonably traditional inviting looking St Austells pub which advertises itself as an "Ale and Cider House".

The interior is comfortable and carpeted and traditionally furnished with horse brasses on the dark beams creating something of a country pub feel to the place.

On my recent early Sunday evening visit, somewhat incongruously, and out of character with the pub, a TV screen above a splendid inglenook fireplace with exposed brickwork, was showing an unadvertised American football game. The volume was loud and this dominated the pub, but none of the other half dozen or so customers were showing any real interest in the game.

Beers on from the St Austell range were Tinners, Tribute and Proper Job. The latter - £ 3.05p - was in good nick.

Any pub that is showing an American football game with the sound on at a loudish volume in a smallish pub like this, despite obvious customer indifference, is not going to get a glowing endorsement from yours truly. However, previous reviews here are generally positive, so I might have come in at a bad time. I'll reserve judgement on this one, therefore

23 Sep 2010 13:20

The Seven Stars, Falmouth

Occupying a position on the edge of a large square in the town centre, close to the Falmouth Packet Boat memorial, is The Seven Stars, a basic no frills unspoilt locals pub, with a prominent Victorian - style frontage.

The public bar at the front features wood panelled walls with fixed bench seating, an original bar counter and shelving and a real time warp feel to it. The bar top has a deceptive curve to it - so position your drink with care !. There's a collection of key fobs suspended from the ceiling. Mobile phones are banned - a point emphasised by one attached to the wall with a nail driven through it.

The saloon bar at the rear ( note the glass in the door featuring seven blue stars ) is equally basic and has several notable plain glass large mirrors. This bar is serviced by a hatch at the side of the public bar in the corridor. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Heritage Pubs, the only such pub in Cornwall.

The long pub name board up at roof level - see the photograph here - has gone ( came down in a storm apparently ) and a rather temporary looking white tarpaulin bearing the pub's name and draped along the outside railings lower down is the current replacement. There's no hanging pub sign.

I'm a big fan of unspoilt, no frills pubs like this, but I'm afraid that this pub does feel somewhat run down and neglected. Some of the seat cushions and padded bar stools in the front bar are looking distinctly worn and dirty and, in the rear room, part of the ceiling appears to be missing. The exterior could also do with a lick of paint.

Locals here are very friendly and a warm welcome is assured. This is a pub where conversation and beer ( or cider ) rule the roost. However, a degree of grubbiness means that it doesn't look desperately inviting from the outside and it is perhaps telling that, on two separate occasions, other visitors to Falmouth who I got into conversation with were people who, like myself, had specifically sought this pub out, as opposed to people dropping in by chance.

Beers are served direct from the barrel, placed on metal stillages behind the public bar. On my recent visit, beers on were Bass, Sharps Special and Skinners Cornish Knocker. Bass is apparently a regular fixture and a cartoon in the bar dated October 2004 shows some glum looking customers bemoaning its absence on one particular occasion. Over 2 consecutive evenings, all 3 beers were found to be in excellent condition. Prices ranged from £ 3 to £ 3.10p. The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

I do hope this pub can keep going. If you get the opportunity, do drop in, but watch the opening hours - despite its central location, it closes in the afternoon, even at weekends.

23 Sep 2010 13:19

The Blisland Inn, Blisland

The Blisland Arms Inn is on the north west edge of Bodmin Moor, in a village that is only a short detour from the main A30 Okehampton - Bodmin stretch.

It's a fine traditional granite built, two bar village community pub on the edge of what, the CAMRA Good Beer Guide tells us, is the only village green in Cornwall.

The main bar on the left of the entrance has a splendid collection of pump clips on the ceiling and coffee mugs suspended from the beams. In one corner of this bar are a collection of CAMRA certificates, mainly from the Kernow ( Cornwall ) Branch, but also the one recognising the pub as CAMRA National Pub of the Year 2000. There's also a number of old photos of the pub, including one showing a Watney's sign on the wall, and a number of items of brewery memorabilia. On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, this bar was very busy with a good mixture of village locals ( accompanied by their dogs unfortunately in a good number of cases ) and people like myself who were just passing through. This bar leads through to a small family room - children are not allowed in either the bar or the lounge - and beyond that, a pool room.

The lounge bar was much quieter, but is equally traditional and inviting, with a number of photos of past kings and queens, together with some photos of the local fox hunt meeting up outside The Royal Oak ( as the pub was evidently then called ). There's a number of seats outside overlooking the green across the road. There's no TV or electronic distractions in the pub.

A good range of pub style food is available at normal meal times. My meal of cold meats, egg and chips, arrived promptly, was generously proportioned, very tasty and reasonably good value.

On the beer front, there's 9 pumps which, on my recent visit were serving mainly local Cornwall beers, but also, most notably, Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild ( 6%), at what I would consider to be a very reasonable £ 2.95p. A local cider (7%) was selling at £ 3 per pint. I went for the King Buddha Blisland Special ( 3.8% ) at £ 2.50p, which is brewed exclusively for the pub by Sharps. "King Buddha" is the larger than life, likeable landlord, Gary Marshall, and a Buddha effigy appears on the pumpclip. There's also a mini Buddha statue on the window sill.

Reflecting the role of this pub in the village community, King Buddha's shop ( behind the bar ) sells useful odds and ends such as shoelaces, elastoplast etc.

The pub advertisement in the latest local CAMRA branch magazine tells us that the pub has sold as many as 2713 different beers in the last 15 years. It's been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent times.

Definitely well worth the short detour ( 2 miles or so each way ) from the busy A30 to visit.

23 Sep 2010 13:18

Jamaica Inn, Bolventor

High up on Bodmin Moor and just off the A30 is The Jamaica Inn.

As if we didn't already know, on approaching the pub, we quickly realise that this is no ordinary Cornish moorland village inn. The car park is probably about the size of a football pitch and - here's the real giveaway - there's designated parking bays for coaches.

On my recent visit, the pub was relatively quiet - no coach parties, thankfully - but that didn't stop a rather officious looking jobsworth in a fluorescent jacket from eyeing me suspiciously as I drove in and then checking, none too subtly, that I was actually visiting the premises ( as opposed to walking off in entirely the opposite direction to absolutely nowhere, presumably ?)

The Jamaica Inn was, of course, made famous by the writer, Daphne du Maurier, and 18th Century smugglers tales and legends connected with this pub abound. No one could possibly accuse the pub's management of underplaying the connection nowadays - there's a separate museum attached to the pub ( admission charge - £ 3.95p ) and a gift shop, where you can buy just about anything, seemingly, with The Jamaica Inn name on.

As you walk across the smallish cobbled courtyard to the main bar - predictably named The Smugglers Bar - you see an inscription above the door telling you that "through these portals passed smugglers, wreckers, villains and murderers, but rest easy - t'was many years ago". The pub interior is very much what you would expect - dark, low beams with pots and pans and plenty of pictures of nautical / smuggling activities. There's also an old banknote collection on the beams. A plaque on the floor tells us that "on this spot Joss Merlyn was murdered", although I didn't immediately see anything telling me who Joss was or why he met such an unfortunate end. There's no TV's, but I did see a couple of electronic game and fruit machines.

There's a dedicated restaurant area - The Pedlars Bar - which, perhaps not surprisingly, accounts for much of the floor space. A leaflet about the pub refers to "a children's play area with pirate ship", which is presumably round the back of the building as I don't recollect seeing it. There's some seating outside in the cobbled courtyard at the front of the building.

Accommodation is offered - 16 rooms in total - in what is evidently an extension to the original building, but it does seem to blend in reasonably well. Needless to say, overnight guests have the possibility of being visited by one of the resident ghosts.

The 6 handpumps were serving Tribute, Dartmoor Jail Ale and Legends. The Tribute, perhaps cheaper than might be expected at £ 2.90p, was pretty good.

It's only a short detour from the A30, and not exactly short of signposts to help get you there, so you might want to pop in out of curiosity if passing by.

23 Sep 2010 13:13

Dartmouth Arms, Dartmouth

Another first for this intrepid pub explorer !

Occupying a prime position on an attractive cobbled street - Bayards Cove - on Dartmouth's quayside is The Dartmouth Arms, a smallish traditional pub affording splendid views across the estuary to Kingswear and the comings and goings of the river traffic, including the car ferry.

A rather underwhelming exterior leads into a cosy and comfortable wood panelled interior featuring much nautical memorabilia. Note in particular, the photographs on display evidencing that filming of Kidnapped and The Onedin Line, amongst others took place outside and inside the pub. Further inside, and towards the rear of the pub, we see some framed autographed photos of old England cricket teams - eg MCC Tour to India, Pakistan and Ceylon in 1972/73 when Tony Lewis was captain. There's also some interesting ( well, I thought so anyway ) signed scorecards of matches in 1935 and 1936 featuring Harold Larwood amongst others.

A smallish seating area on the quayside in front of the pub bears a plaque commemorating the sailing of The Pilgrim Fathers from this port in The Mayflower and Speedwell in August 1620. Note also the old Courage lantern by the entrance to the pub and, more obviously, the leaning Tudor building next door.

On the beer front, Bombardier, Doom Bar and Bay's Devon Dumpling ( 5.1% ) were available on my recent lunchtime visit. The Doom Bar - served in a plastic glass for outside drinking - was reasonable.

A reasonably comprehensive food menu is offered, reflecting the fact that we're in the heart of tourist country, but this seems to be first and foremost a pub that does food, rather than a restaurant with a drinks licence, if you get my drift.

I don't know what any of the other pubs in Dartmouth are like, but this one gets the thumbs up from me.

23 Sep 2010 13:12

The Bridge, Topsham

On the very edge of Topsham village, on the banks of the River Clyst, is The Bridge Inn, a fabulously old fashioned, unspoilt, traditional inn that describes itself as a "Free House 16th Century". It is believed that stonemasons who were building Exeter Cathedral lodged here.

As we approach the pub, we realise that the building appears to have some parts older than others and that the original old part of the building has been added to. Inside, up a few steps, we find two small old fashioned rooms that are serviced through hatches from what appears to be a small private room, which is not part of the public area, but to which access is apparently granted "by invitation".

The first room has basic, fixed seating and, notably, an old framed sign stating that "this room is prohibited from all amusements on Sunday - W Gibbings, Proprietor". The second room, further down, and in the real heart of the building, is darker, has a fine fireplace and grandfather clock, together with a splendid tall curved settle that effectively forms one of the walls of the room.

Photos of when the Queen visited here in March 1998 are displayed - believed to be the first and only official visit so far by Her Majesty to a Public House. In the corridor, there's various newspaper articles in which the pub has featured as a truly unspoilt timeless classic. Needless to say, there's no electronic distractions. Indeed, various signs dotted round the pub tell us that mobiles are banned - a message which one would have hoped would not be necessary. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Heritage Pubs.

Despite still retaining an old "Whitbread Tankard Free House" sign outside, there was of course no sign of this former much maligned beer. Beer is served direct from the barrel from a barn like room at ground floor level and carried up a few steps to those customers drinking inside. Customers drinking outside can be served directly from a hatch like counter without having to go inside to be served.

Beers, served in jugs, included Branscombe Vale Branos and beers from Cotleigh and Teignworthy, amongst others. 6 beers were on in total. Pork pies and pasties are available at certain times. My pint of Branos was in good form and only £ 2.60p, although a notice on the daily food / drinks menu tells us that "prices may vary depending on customers attitude". Unusually, beer can be bought in 1/3 pint measures.

The pub's opening hours, which are restricted, are referred to on the door as "the 1914 hours" and relate to the fact that the opening hours are restricted by the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act which restricted opening hours to ensure people made war ammunition instead of getting drunk.

The pub was advertising that, on 14 September 2010, Stage 4 ( Minehead - Teignmouth ) of the Cycle Tour of Britain would be passing the pub between 13.40 and 14.30 p m and, as a result, the pub would be staying open longer than normal. The pub has an outside drinking area on the banks of the River Clyst by the bridge over the river.

The pub is about 5 miles from Exeter and is easily accessible by either bus or train ( Exmouth branch line ). If you like unspoilt, old fashioned, characterful pubs, you should make the effort to get here.

23 Sep 2010 13:10

The White Hart Hotel, Exeter

The White Hart is a roomy old coaching inn in the heart of Exeter. Badging itself externally as a 14th century "Old Ale and Port House", it's much larger than it looks with a number of different drinking and dining areas either side of a central cobbled passageway, through which the horse drawn coaches presumably used to pass all those years ago. It is believed to have been originally a resting place for monks.

A sign in the passageway directs us to the "Tap Bar and Secret Garden" on the left which is a cosy and comfortable split level interior which, despite evident signs of alteration, still retains a characterful, if slightly chainy, ambience. Pots and pans hang from the beams and there's a flagstoned floor. The "Secret Garden" is a smallish walled garden, most notable for a pub in the heart of the city. The other side of the passageway contains the hotel accommodation, but the restaurant there is still comfortable and traditionally furnished.

There's 55 rooms available for overnight accommodation, of which 14 are in the original part of the building and the remainder in an extension. Room rates appear on the face of it to be reasonable, although the tariff sheet rather intriguingly says - "NB, bedrooms have not yet been refurbished".

The White Hart Hotel is part of the Marstons Inns portfolio and, on my recent visit, was serving Ringwood Best, Hobgoblin, plus Old Wallop ( the provenance of which escapes me ). The Ringwood Best, perhaps cheaper than might be expected at £ 2.70p, was in reasonable form.

There's the rather impersonal, slightly chainy feel that is inevitable in a place like this, but you could do much worse than call in when you're in town.

23 Sep 2010 13:09

Mill On The Exe, Exeter

Situated on the banks of where Exeter Canal meets the River Exe is the imaginatively named Mill on the Exe, a former mill where corn and paper was produced in times long gone. We learn that there has been a mill here since the middle of the 16th century and that wool, corn and then paper had been produced here at various times. The mill closed in July 1967 and was converted to a pub in 1983.

It's a large, rambling affair set over 2 floors with much exposed brickwork, wood floors and beams and what looks like an addition to the building in the form of a conservatory at the front. There's a landscaped garden / terrace at the front with different seating areas where you can watch the waters flow by, and a predictably large car park.

It's a family restaurant type of place with large A3 size folded menus and condiments on most tables. The usual range of starters, grills, sharing platters and children's menus is on offer along with teas, coffees, latte, cappuccino etc.

There's the inevitable chainy, impersonal feel that you would expect with staff dressed in corporate black shirts.

It's a St Austell's Brewery pub and beers on were Proper Job, IPA, and 2 pumps for Tribute. The Proper Job - £ 3.00p - was an excellent pint and I remember thinking at the time that it was the best pint of the holiday so far. A CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2009 sticker was spotted, but the pub is not in the 2010 edition.

I don't normally like places like this, but I have to say that my food arrived promptly, was well cooked and presented and did the business perfectly. The beer, as noted, was excellent and it was pleasant sitting outside afterwards ( on table number 506 ) watching the river go by.

I'd happily come here again, but probably not just for a drink.

23 Sep 2010 13:07

The Great Western Hotel, Exeter

Close to St David's main line station, but some way out of Exeter City Centre, is The Great Western, a pub / hotel that, externally at least, exudes the air of an establishment that has seen better days and does need a good lick of paint.

A cosy and largely carpeted bar - The Loco Bar - is split level and has a number of different drinking areas. Perhaps not surprisingly, a railway theme dominates and there's several splendid paintings / posters to admire. The "Great Western" engine nameplate hangs proudly in the back room. Note also the old Great Western poster advertising a "Special Fast Excursion to London" on Saturday 5 July 1879.

A bank of 9 pumps was, on my recent evening visit, serving mainly local brews of which both the O'Hanlons Port Stout and RCH Pitchfork were in superb form. The pub is listed in the CAMRA 2010 Good Beer Guide.

Staff here are clearly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about beer and I was served promptly and efficiently by a barman who was a dead ringer for David Seaman, complete with ponytail. Amongst various posters and flyers advertising forthcoming beer festivals was a rare sighting this far west of the latest issue of London Drinker.

This is clearly not your average hotel bar and it appears to have a good following of regulars. Notably, Seamus O'Donnells, a pub branding itself as Exeter's Number 1 Irish bar and situated virtually opposite, was closed and boarded up.

The hotel restaurant - The Brunel restaurant - seemed quite busy for a midweek evening. Food is also available in the bar till late.

It's a bit of a hike from Exeter City Centre - about 15/20 minutes, and even longer if you take the scenic route along the river towpath - but I think it's a hike worth making. This pub is at the top of my list for a revisit when I'm next in Exeter.

23 Sep 2010 13:06

The Well House, Exeter

Located in Cathedral Close, just across the green from Exeter Cathedral, is The Well House Tavern, a bare boarded bar with dark beams and wooden furniture and that inevitably uncomfortable, rather echoey feel that such places inevitably have. Large plain glass windows at the front give you a good view of the Cathedral but, unfortunately, presumably because of Council restrictions, outside drinking on the green is not permitted.

Inside the pub, a blackboard tells us that the original building was a Norman hall and was constructed as part of the medieval burial ground before tenements were built in the 15th century. After a number of varied uses, the building became The Well House Tavern in 1984 and is now part of the Royal Clarence Hotel next door along with a sister café bar and Michael Caine's restaurant.

Despite an apparent emphasis on food and wine, particularly at lunchtime, there's 6 handpumps which, on my recent early evening visit, were serving O'Hanlons Yellowhammer, Cotleigh Tawny Owl, Cotleigh Buzzard, plus Teignworthy Reel Ale and Well House Ale ( brewed by Otter ). Mistakenly as it turned out, I went for the Cotleigh Tawny Owl ( £ 3 at 3.8% ) , which was pretty uninspiring, but a subsequent pint of Yellowhammer ( 4.2% and a notably cheaper price of £ 2.50p ) was much better. The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2010 Good Beer Guide and is holding a beer festival on 24/25 September.

Despite the lack of comfort and the rather incongruous loud music, I wouldn't be entirely averse to a return visit.

23 Sep 2010 13:05

The New Inn, Kilmington

The New Inn is an attractive white washed country pub with a thatched roof located in the village of Kilmington, just off the main A35.

It's a long room with a small bar area at the front which leads through to a larger food orientated area. A basic lunchtime menu is offered, with a more substantial evening menu. The pub is cosy and comfortably furnished throughout and traditionally decorated. Note in particular, the large Trafalgar Way framed print showing the route from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London that a messenger took in 1805 to announce Nelson's death. We learn that the journey took 37 hours and passed by the village of Kilmington.

A large pleasant grassy garden contains several willow trees and a bird aviary.

It's a Palmers pub, but it's not badged externally as such, although we do see an old enamel sign by the entrance advertising the delights of "Palmers High Class Mineral Waters".

The pub is one of only a handful to have been in every edition to date of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and the plaques denoting 25,30 and 35 consecutive years are displayed just inside the entrance. A few GBG stickers are in the windows - I suppose there isn't room for all 37 !. I was informed that the current landlord, Brian, has been in situ for nearly 20 of those 37 years.

On my recent lunchtime visit, a decent ploughman's lunch was enjoyed, along with good pints of Copper Ale and Best Bitter at £ 2.65p and £ 2.80p respectively. A third, stronger beer, Dorset Ale, was on.

This is an attractive Devon village pub, well worth a detour

23 Sep 2010 13:04

Bankes Arms Hotel and Country Inn, Studland

Situated high up in the hills near Studland's beaches and close to Corfe Castle and Swanage, we come across The Bankes Arms, an attractive looking country inn made of local Purbeck stone.

The split level interior features much exposed stonework, dark beams and has a rather upmarket feel to it. It's quite food orientated, although dogs are positively welcomed, and there's no TV or anything. There's a number of horse racing pictures on the walls reflecting the interests of the landlord. The pub sign reflects the arms of the Bankes family and, in the largish car park just up the road, we learn that the family owned the estate, which included Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy, from 1635 until 1982, when it was bequeathed to the National Trust.

Food is pricey and an extensive all day menu is offered on one of the largest blackboards I can recollect seeing in a pub. Reflecting the food emphasis, the bar is candlelit in the evening. Accommodation is available, but it's not at the cheaper end of the price range.

There's a large field like cliff top garden across the road which gives good views across to the Isle of Wight.

A number of CAMRA certificates are on display. The pub is the home of The Isle of Purbeck Brewery, but, unfortunately, on my recent early evening visit, none of their ales were available. A rather unsympathetic barman told me that they had just had a rather large beer festival and, as a result, all home brewed beers had run out. Furthermore, he went on to explain that much of the beer is delivered to other local outlets anyway.

Of the bank of 9 handpumps, only 3 beers were on when I called in. A good pint of Titanic Black Ice ( 4%) - at a rather pricey £ 3.30p - was enjoyed. Other beers on were Castle Rock's Elsie Mo's plus another Titanic beer. The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2010 Good Beer Guide.

This is the second pub that I have been to in recent months that ( allegedly ) brews its own beer on site, but has had none on offer for the passing anorak such as me. I do hope you are more fortunate if you decide to drop in.

23 Sep 2010 10:37

The Red Lion, Swanage

Occupying a central position on Swanage's High Street, The Red Lion is an attractive looking 17th century inn with a whitewashed exterior and hanging baskets. On approaching the pub, a sandwich board on the pavement outside entices us in with the words " up to 6 real ales and 57 ciders" and proudly advertises itself as local CAMRA Pub of the Season 2010.

Despite retaining its 2 bar format - note the etched glass denoting "saloon bar" and "public bar" - the interior has been modernised and there is little to indicate its 17th century origins. Disappointingly, I failed to notice even one picture / photo of the pub in early times anywhere on the walls.

The public bar is basic and has a dartboard and displays many darts trophies. The saloon bar has an area with a pool table and a separate restaurant area, where much exposed brickwork is still in evidence. The pub is a sponsor of Bournemouth AFC and a framed advert from the matchday programme and an autographed football shirt are displayed.

There's a large outside drinking area at the back with a smokers marquee. A few rooms are available for B & B in a converted coach house at the rear of the pub.

On the beer front, two etched windows denoting " Strong's Ales and Stout" tell us that Strong's of Romsey had this pub in days long gone. It's now a free house which, on my recent visit, was offering 6 real ales - Ringwood Best, Otter Bitter, Palmers Copper Ale, Yeovil Summerset, Sharps Doom Bar and TT Landlord - all served direct from the barrel. The Otter Bitter was a pleasant tasty pint. The pub is in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide and displays local branch awards.

Whilst visitors and holiday makers are welcomed and an extensive food menu is offered, The Red Lion would, pleasingly, appear to be first and foremost a pub and evidently has a loyal band of regulars.

Despite an unattractively modernised interior, I'd be happy to come here again

23 Sep 2010 10:36

Tom Browns, Dorchester

In the middle of historic Dorchester is Tom Browns, which, as the CAMRA Good Beer Guide correctly points out, has the feel of a town centre ale house.

The main room at the front has bare boards and the usual mixture of sofas and wooden tables and chairs. It feels basically more like a room than a pub, but a piano and an old cash register, inter alia, add a bit of interest and character.

The pub is the former home of the Goldfinch Brewery and, although the name has been retained, the beer is, so I understand, now brewed by Dorset Brewing Co in Weymouth. The former pub sign denoting Goldfinch Brewery now leans rather forlornly against a wall in the main bar.

A longish corridor leads to a small basic room at the back of the building which houses a dartboard. The walls of this corridor are decorated with a number of Tom Brown's Schooldays framed caricature prints, including a rather tasteless one which depicts a large nude and bears the caption "Flashman's First XV Team Hooker". There's a large garden at the back which I didn't get to explore properly because it was persisting down.

On my recent Monday afternoon visit, the pub was virtually deserted and lacked any kind of real atmosphere at all, but I stayed longer than I otherwise would have done until the rain relented.

There were 5 beers on in total - Chesil and Jurassic from Dorset Brewing Co , Tom Brown's Goldfinch plus 2 beers from Potbelly in Kettering. The Chesil was rather uninspiring, but the Tom Brown's Goldfinch - £ 2.55p - was superb. The pub is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2010.

Perhaps my judgement was clouded by the heavy rain outside and the lack of atmosphere inside, but I was rather underwhelmed by the visit as a whole.

23 Sep 2010 10:34

The Duke of Cornwall, Weymouth

Occupying a fairly central position in Weymouth is The Duke of Cornwall, a pub that is a relatively small, bare boarded single bar.

As we approach the pub, we see large felt tip pen lettering on the plain glass windows advertising cocktails and live music - "Antigua Joe on Friday" - indicating an orientation towards younger customers.

Inside, we find a light pine, wood dominated, cheapish looking modernised interior, with the principal item of note being a large splendid old Devenish & Co mirror. " Shoot the Duke" cocktails are offered at £ 2 each or 3 for £ 5. This, together with various montages of customers in various stages of inebriation, reinforces the initial impression that this is not a place worth lingering in for long.

Although this doesn't feel in any way like your typical real ale pub, the pub is listed in CAMRA's 2010 Good Beer Guide. On my recent evening visit, beers on from the 4 pumps were Dartmoor Jail Ale, Dragons Blood from St Georges Brewery in Worcester and a beer from Potbelly Brewery. The Dragons Blood ( 4.8%) , a strongish, ruby porter-style beer was staggeringly good and at £ 2.60p could validly be considered good value. As a notice in the doorway says " drinking in this pub is not a wealth hazard", although the moreishness of the Dragons Blood did give, even an experienced drinker like me, a bit of a headache the next morning. The Dartmoor Jail Ale was pretty good as well.

As a pub, I didn't warm to this place at all, but the staff were friendly, the beer was superb and the customer mix much better than might have been expected, so you might want to give it a go if you're in town and see for yourself

23 Sep 2010 10:33

The Boot, Weymouth

Proudly announcing itself as Weymouth's oldest inn and dating back to the 17th century, The Boot is situated slightly away from the main central area of Weymouth, somewhat incongruously past the local Council Offices and on the fringes of a major town roundabout with a large ASDA supermarket. Its location means it's very much a locals pub with, seemingly, little passing trade. It's certainly not where the first time visitor to Weymouth would automatically expect the oldest inn in town to be found, although a small plaque high up on the pub wall tells us that the pub is "fronting the former busy High Street of Old Weymouth". Perhaps inevitably, it's where local ghost tours of the nearby harbour start - every Wednesday evening at 7 pm.

The pub consists of a low beamed bare boarded bar with a split level interior and additional drinking areas at each end. Leaded coloured windows denoting "public bar" and "saloon bar" tell us that it was formerly a multi roomed pub. Some hanging wellingtons and other types of boot and old photographs of the pub add character to the interior, although the colour scheme, which features a lot of greenish painted wood panelling, does jar somewhat. Note also the carved wood plaque with "The Boot" engraved on it above the fireplace in the lounge bar. The absence of music, fruit machines etc give the pub a rather basic old fashioned ale house feel to it, although live music ( guitarists ) feature occasionally.

A former Devenish & Co house, it's now a Ringwood Brewery pub which, on my recent Sunday evening visit, was serving Ringwood Best, Fortyniner,Old Thumper and Boondoggle ( a summer seasonal beer ). Jennings Cocker Hoop was on as a so called guest, although it is debatable whether this can be regarded as a true "guest beer" in a Marstons owned pub. The Ringwood Best - £ 2.85p - was in good condition. The pub has been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent years.

This pub is well worth seeking out when in Weymouth.

23 Sep 2010 10:31

The Square and Compass, Worth Matravers

The John Bonser brief sojourn to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall could only really have one pub as the first port of call - The Square and Compass.

Named after the local activity of quarrying, it's a fine old stone farmhouse style building, high up in the Purbeck Hills, not too far from Swanage and affording excellent sea views.

Arriving by car on a recent Sunday lunchtime ( park in the nearby car park for £ 1 - honesty box provided ), I felt somewhat out of place in my trainers and brewery logo'd sweat shirt, finding that most of the other customers were walkers in sturdy boots and shorts, displaying knobbly knees and carrying walking sticks, or alternatively were super fit looking cyclists. There were also a few seemingly locals, each with the obligatory large dog in tow. Thankfully, the "Chelsea set", to whom previous postings allude, were not conspicuously noticeable.

The pub consists of 2 basic rooms at either end of a short, low, wood panelled, flagstoned central corridor, down which you pass to reach the hatched bar counter at the end. The room on the left is basic and has fixed bench seating. The room on the right, where live music sometimes features, is slightly larger, is equally basic and contains a few CAMRA certificates ( including one for 30 years in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide ) and also cider and perry awards. It's one of only a handful of pubs to have appeared in each GBG edition - 37 to date ( up to 2010 ).The Square and Compass is also listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Heritage Pubs.

Further on the left is an interesting museum of local artefacts and fossils, to which admission is free. It's certainly the first pub with an in house museum that I can remember visiting. Mind you, some pubs - and here I'm particularly thinking about the well known Yew Tree - are museums in themselves.

Seating outside at the front, with splendid views of the English Channel, consists of some long wooden benches and a rather higgledy - piggledy collection of tree trunks and stone slabs acting as tables and seats. There's no sun umbrellas, but these weren't needed on my visit.

There's a grassy garden area to the right of the pub, but a notice warning that "the cockerel can be very unfriendly and is best avoided" appeared to have discouraged anyone from using it. There's outside toilets, but in a modernised block.

Food consists of home made pasties and pies, served on flimsy paper plates, whilst stocks last.

I'm going to do my grumpy old man bit now. When large swathes of Dorset's beaches are off limits to dogs in the summer months, I find it incomprehensible, in a pub like this with narrow corridors and not a lot of room at any time, particularly when busy, that a customer is allowed to bring into the pub a dog that is basically not much smaller than a Shetland pony, as was the case on my visit. Thankfully, most other customers were more accommodating and sensibly left their mutts outside.

Beer is served direct from the barrel from the small room at the end of the corridor to customers who queue in the corridor at busy times. Given the lack of space, this can give a degree of intimacy to proceedings. Beers on were Palmers Copper Ale and Dorset Gold at £ 3.00p and £ 3.10p respectively. Downtons Chockwork Orange ( 5.8% - notably, also £ 3.10p ) ran out during my visit, but was a non-starter as I had the car. There's also a good selection of hand pressed ciders available.

This was a very memorable visit and you really should try and get here if you haven't already been.

23 Sep 2010 10:30

The Criterion, Windsor

The Criterion is a small basic locals pub on a street corner just outside the main tourist area of town.

It's an L shaped bar with an additional room at the side, which features, notably, a large framed newspaper page - "Mersey Beat Issue" - dated June 1962 with the headline "Beatles top poll".

The Criterion is still badged as a Courage pub. Frosted windows bearing the inscription - "Charles Ashby & Co India Pale Ales" - indicate an earlier ownership by a former Staines brewery.

There's 3 handpumps, but on my recent visit, only Courage Best was on at a price of £ 3.20p, which seems quite pricey for a pub like this.

Some of the locals here seemed to be quite characters, but the welcome was nothing other than warm and friendly. If you like old fashioned rather basic pubs like this, I'd be inclined to poke your head round the door and see if there's any decent beer on.

3 Sep 2010 12:50

The Two Brewers, Windsor

Located by the entrance to Windsor Great Park and close to the tradesmen's entrance to Windsor Castle, The Two Brewers is a Georgian Grade 2 listed building that dates back to the 17th century.

A central bar counter serves two adjoining rooms, profusely decorated with plenty of newspaper cuttings, paraphernalia and royal memorabilia etc. Note in particular, a splendid large framed photograph of the funeral procession of King George VI in February 1952 passing the pub. There's also a large Courage Best mirror, indicative of the pub's earlier ownership.

There's a rather upmarket wine bar feel to the establishment, with candles in champagne bottles on each table. I imagine that the highly regarded food can dominate at busy times.

On my recent early evening visit, beers on were Fullers London Pride, Windsor and Eton Brewery's Guardsman Ale, both priced at £ 3.40p, together with a second Windsor and Eton beer which, with most untypical sloppiness, I forgot to note. The London Pride wasn't particularly good, but the Guardsman Ale was a fine tasty pint. The pub has been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for the past two years.

There are pubs in Windsor with a better beer selection, but this is a fine atmospheric traditional pub and I think it should be included in any Windsor crawl.

3 Sep 2010 12:49

The Three Tuns, Windsor

Located a few doors down from The Carpenters Arms is The Three Tuns.

Outside, we learn that the building dates back to 1515 and is the earliest surviving building connected with the Government of Windsor. The Three Tuns was alternatively known as the Guildhall and as the Town Hall until the building of the present Guild Hall.

Despite the apparent age of the building, the pub interior is a bog standard cut and paste job - comfortable and carpeted, but, despite there being several different areas, no real character or distinctive features.

Based on my recent lunchtime visit, this pub has more of a locals feel than the nearby Carpenters Arms and there's no real discernible play for the passing tourist trade.

The 3 pumps were serving London Pride and a rather moderate Doom Bar at £ 2.90p.

I'd be inclined to pass this one by next time

3 Sep 2010 12:48

The Carpenters Arms, Windsor

Situated in a cobbled, pedestrianised side street close to Windsor Castle ( which is, in this case, a Royal Residence and not a pub ) is The Carpenters Arms, a Nicholson's pub that is split over three floors.

We learn that the pub was built in 1518 and that the pub cellars, which are now bricked up, apparently lead to Windsor Castle. The downstairs drinking area contains evidence of this, in the form of a gated brick cellar. Note also the etched windows which feature tools, reflecting the fact that tradesmen used to frequent the pub and the Ashby Ales ( of Staines ) floor mosaic in the right hand entrance. It's a comfortable well appointed pub with a number of different interconnecting areas. There's some rather rickety wobbly chairs on the cobblestones outside.

On my recent early morning visit, the 6 pumps were serving 5 beers - Fraoch Heather Ale, Brew Dog Alpha, Davenports Heatwave, Black Sheep plus gcb ( good cheer beer ) from Roosters. A mini beer festival was being held and 3 barrels on stillage were due to come on stream shortly. The Heather Ale - £ 2.95p - was disappointing, but the Alpha Dog - £ 3.15p - was much better. The pub has been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent years and proudly displays the yearly stickers in the front windows.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the pub makes a big play for the passing tourist food trade, but this is a fine pub. You should try and get to this one when you're next in Windsor.

3 Sep 2010 12:47

The Roundhouse, Covent Garden

A short hop, skip and a jump away from The Lamb and Flag is The Roundhouse, a street corner pub that, as the name suggests, has a semi-circular curved frontage.

Now a Fullers pub, it's a rather unremarkable interior with bare floorboards, and a mixture of banquette seating and the usual high tables and bar stools.The frontage opens up to give a more welcoming and airy feel to the place, but, even so, it's a rather uninspiring place.

Beers on were Discovery, London Pride, ESB, Seafarers and, notably, Mr Harry. The Seafarers - at a pricey £ 3.35p for a 3.6% beer - was reasonable.

With the Lamb and Flag close by, where there's a better range, more sensible prices and a more traditional atmosphere - plus of course other decent pubs close at hand - I don't envisage calling in here again.

2 Sep 2010 18:07

The Lamb and Flag, Covent Garden

Reputedly the oldest pub in Covent Garden, and still one of the capital's best known pubs, The Lamb and Flag is situated in a quiet side street almost equidistant between Leicester Square and Covent Garden underground stations.

Despite being opened out at the front and the two bars merged into one many years ago, the pub retains something of an "olde" pub feel to it, characterised by much wood panelling and old floorboards. Note the brass plaques by the bar in memory of previous customers and the numerous photos and prints of the pub in days long gone. It's very much a stand up to drink pub at the front with seating limited to stools at the bar and around the walls. An adjoining room at the back has several old tables and seems to be favoured by tourists.

An upstairs room - The Dryden Room ( named after a famous poet beaten up in the alleyway outside in 1679) - serves meals.

On my recent visit, beers on were Courage Best, Bombardier, 2 Young's Beers, Adnams Bitter plus Dark Star Hophead. The Adnams - £ 3.20p - was in good form.

Despite being a popular tourist destination, this is still one of my favourite pubs in the area. Consider combining it with visits to The Harp and The Salisbury for a high quality three pub crawl of the area's finest

2 Sep 2010 18:05

The Wellington, Strand

Occupying a prominent street corner position on The Strand and next door to the Lyceum Theatre is The Wellington, a large Nicholson's pub.

Outside, we learn that the pub dates back to 1903. Note the fine corbels high up on the external walls.

Inside, as we might expect, it's a fairly standard typical Nicholson's interior with much polished woodwork and a fine ornate bar back. It's quite a narrow interior in places, which makes it seem more crowded than it actually is, but seating on the pavement outside relieves the crush and imbues something of a continental café feel to the place. There's the obligatory Wellington memorabilia. An upstairs dining room, called imaginatively The Dukes Bar, caters for the hordes of tourists who overrun the area, particularly in summer.

I've had decent pints of Leeds Best and other beers from the wide Nicholson's portfolio list in here recently.

This pub is worth including in any crawl of the immediate area.

2 Sep 2010 18:04

The Coach and Horses, Covent Garden

The Coach and Horses is a small, welcoming, traditional pub in the heart of Covent Garden's Theatreland.

An attractive exterior, featuring hanging flower baskets and retaining Watney Combe Reid etched glass windows, leads into a small single room. Reflecting the landlord's Irish origins, the walls are decorated with Guinness memorabilia, together with golfing and hurling photographs.

A fine moulded ceiling and a large Coach and Horses pub mirror add to the traditional feel of the cosy and carpeted interior. Notably, for its location, it's not a tourist orientated pub and it's got a genuineness that better known pubs such as The Coal Hole and The Wellington, with their transient tourist emphasis, can never hope to achieve. Indeed, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, a band of obvious regulars were engaged in friendly banter with the jovial Irish landlord, Jim Ryan. Perhaps inevitably, Guinness is popular here and a framed undated newspaper article tells us that it's one of the few pubs here to serve Guinness that comes from Dublin. This is certainly no tacky Irish theme pub.

Beers on were Spitfire and Courage Best. The Spitfire - £ 3.20p - was reasonable, but I doubt there's much real ale trade here. A hot food counter serves a limited menu.

The size of the pub means that seating is largely limited to bar stools around two sides of the room, which doesn't make for much in the way of comfort. Despite this, and the limited ale selection, I think this pub is worth seeking out

2 Sep 2010 18:03

Junction Inn, Otley

Occupying a prominent street corner position on the main road from Leeds into the West Yorkshire market town of Otley is The Junction, a solid looking typical Yorkshire stone built building.

A large single bar features a tiled floor, much wood panelling and a central fireplace. The walls are decorated with some evocative black and white prints of Otley and several enamel brewery posters. The rafters house a bottled beer collection and, on the other side of the fireplace, a collection of farming implements hang down from the dark beams. Comfortable, fixed seating run round the edge of the room with sturdy looking tables helping contribute towards a solid traditional feel to the pub. A smaller snug style drinking area on the left, which was probably once a separate bar, houses a fine pub mirror, featuring bulls horns.

Live guitarists feature on Tuesday evening. A Bank Holiday BBQ was being advertised, with proceeds to the Air Ambulance.

There's 11 handpumps in total, which, on my recent Tuesday afternoon visit, were serving Theakstons Best and Old Peculier, and Taylors Landlord and Best, which are apparently the 4 regular offerings. Guest beers include Deuchars IPA, Jennings Cumberland plus beers from Roosters, Hydes, Everards and Hobgoblin. Guests were priced at between £ 2.40p and £ 2.60p - which, for someone used to London beer prices, is very welcome. I noted that there's 50p off these prices on Mondays. Both the Taylors Best and Deuchars IPA ( £ 2.60p and £ 2.40p respectively ) were in good form. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

Otley seems to have a number of pubs that are worth investigating, unfortunately time and work commitments meant that I only did this one plus The Bay Horse ( which is not yet listed on BITE ). I'd be more than happy to return to them both next time I'm in Otley

1 Sep 2010 15:43

The Crown Hotel, Chertsey

Occupying a prominent position on London Street in the centre of Chertsey, The Crown Hotel is an imposing 18th century former coaching inn with an impressive Tudor style brick and timber frontage.

A number of years ago, this Young's house joined the ranks of those establishments enlarged and converted into hotels and it's now got over 40 rooms. Perhaps inevitably, as part of the rebranding, the interior was given that rather loungey look that Young's seem to go for nowadays, with a mixture of sofas, high perches and more traditional seating in a number of different drinking and eating areas. There's a large outside conservatory style drinking area at the back. Disappointingly, the splendid chiming grandfather clock that I remember from earlier visits seems to have disappeared - an inevitable victim of the rebranding, no doubt.

Pleasingly, on my recent Saturday afternoon visit, the pub didn't particularly feel like a hotel bar and a few keen rugby supporters were enthusiastically watching the New Zealand v South Africa rugby international.

The Young's Ordinary - £ 3.10p - was reasonable.

I didn't particularly either like or dislike this place, to be honest

1 Sep 2010 14:15

The Coach and Horses, Chertsey

Close to the town's football and cricket grounds is The Coach and Horses, a cosy and comfortable smallish Fullers tied house in a residential area of Chertsey.

As you approach the pub, at the foot of St Ann's Hill, a sandwich board welcomes you with the message - "Claire would like to welcome you to The Coach and Horses". People, not just pub anoraks like me, do notice small things like this.

An attractive hanging tiled exterior leads into a pleasant, but somewhat unremarkable, traditional single bar pub with a number of nooks and crannies breaking up the floor space.

It advertises accommodation - £ 68 for a double room - but this is a pub with rooms, not a hotel. It is however noticeably cheaper than that nearby bistro / wine bar place - Windsors - that featured on the TV programme, The Hotel Inspector, several weeks ago.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, despite the warm welcome promise, the pub was very quiet. The London Pride - £ 3.20p - was reasonable. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

This is a comfortable, welcoming, seemingly well run pub in a town where options appear distinctly limited

1 Sep 2010 14:13

The Golden Grove, Chertsey

On the outskirts of Chertsey, half way up St Anns Hill, is The Golden Grove, a former coaching inn on the old route to Windsor.

Set back somewhat from the road, the pub features low ceilings and heavy beams, but it's a rather characterless and unremarkable interior. There's 2 adjoining rooms. A rather worn and dirty carpet has clearly seen better days and, to be honest, the whole pub seemed a bit scruffy and run down.

It markets itself as a "family pub" and the enormous garden at the back and side of the pub features a large children's play area ( with climbing equipment etc ) that would put many a local authority recreation ground to shame. The pub was advertising a Bouncy Castle, Hog Roast, Face Painting etc for the forthcoming August Bank Holiday Monday. "Fine Dining" - 5 courses for £ 25 - was advertised for Saturday evening, 28 August.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, there was a distinct absence of families, just a few locals propping up the bar.

Beers on were London Pride, Bombardier and UBU Purity. I didn't detect any real commitment to real ale, nor did there appear to be much real ale trade, if my visit was anything to go by. The London Pride - £ 3.10p - was moderate, at best.

I found this a rather uninspiring pub and it's not down for a return visit

1 Sep 2010 14:12

The Royal Marine, Lyne

In the village of Lyne, the other side of the M25 motorway from Chertsey, is The Royal Marine, a small cosy, comfortable free house.

The pub dates back to 1847 and was originally 2 separate cottages. It's name is in recognition of the fact that Queen Victoria paid a visit to see the marines stationed down the road at nearby Chobham Common.

A comfortable, carpeted traditional interior features a number of items of marine memorabilia and a collection of jugs hanging from the ceiling beams to the left of the entrance. Unusually, for such a small pub, room is found in one corner for a dartboard. I don't recollect seeing any TV's. Leather bound menus on each table would appear at first glance to indicate a strong food emphasis, but, based on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, this is first and foremost a pub, with a seemingly loyal band of regulars.

A rather scruffy well worn sign on a fence directs customers to the "Patrons Car Park" - a car park behind the pub which is notably large for a pub this size. On street parking is also available. Past the car park is a garden. There's seating on the pavement at the front where you can watch the locals speed past in their Chelsea Tractors ( 4x4's ) or, occasionally, a farmer transporting bales of hay on a more conventional tractor.

The pub appears to be very much part of the local community and puts on occasional Hog Roasts, BBQ's etc. An "RSPCA Fun Day" is planned for 18 September. It is therefore somewhat surprising that the pub normally closes at 2.30pm ( even on a Saturday ) and doesn't open at all on Sunday evening ( 3pm close on Sundays ).

The Royal Marine is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular and the yearly stickers are displayed behind the bar. There's several CAMRA branch certificates on show, including one for local CAMRA Branch Pub of the Year for 2006.

There's 4 handpumps which were serving Ruddles County, Ruddles Best, Greene King Sun Dance and Sharps Doom Bar, a selection which might best be described as uninteresting. The existence of Courage Best posters in the gents would appear to suggest that that beer is often on. Both the Ruddles County and the GK Sun Dance were in good condition, but they're not particularly inspiring beers at the best of times and the emphasis on Greene King brewed beers ( 3 out of 4 ) was a disappointment.

I'd happily revisit, but I'd be hoping for a better beer selection if I do.

1 Sep 2010 11:35

The Odd One Out, Colchester

Also to the south of Colchester town centre, and only a shortish walk away from The British Grenadier, is the unusually named Odd One Out, a rather quirky old fashioned pub that offers a good selection of real ales and has won numerous CAMRA awards over the years.

It's a narrowish L shaped bar with additional space in a lounge room on the right. It's traditionally furnished, part carpeted, part bare boards and decorated with a fine collection of old brewery mirrors. The landlord, John Parrick, completed 25 years here in February 2010 and a framed memento of this, presented by the regulars, has pride of place above the furniture in the lounge. The room on the left has a framed cricket scorecard recording the time in June 1992 when the pub cricket team - The Real Oddies - were all out for 19, on a pitch which the scorer has recorded as being "treacherous". 9 batsmen - including one John Parrick - failed to trouble the scorers.

This is a fine welcoming traditional pub, but I have to say that, in parts, the pub looks somewhat worn and neglected. Note in particular, the badly torn and worn padded seats in the left hand room. Also, many of the seats in the rather scruffy garden look a bit rusty and have clearly seen better days.

Do note the rules concerning mobile phones, dogs and "feet and legs". Infringe them at your peril.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, there were 5 real ales on, including Milestone Black Pearl and Humpty Dumpty EAPA at 4.3% and 4.5% respectively. Both these beers were priced at a very reasonable £ 2.74p - it's very pleasing to come to a pub like this and feel you're not being taken for a ride - and were in excellent condition.

3 ciders were offered from barrels on the bar counter. A good range of whiskies is also available.

I think this pub is well worth seeking out - but do note the late opening times between Monday to Friday

1 Sep 2010 10:07

The British Grenadier, Colchester

In town recently for the Sheffield Wednesday match, a longish walk from the main railway station took me to The British Grenadier, a smallish street corner Adnams tied house to the south of the town centre.

It's a rather basic affair with one smallish room on the angle of the street corner and a separate pool room behind. It's very much a regulars pub and I don't imagine they get too much in the way of passing trade, but I received a very warm welcome from Simon and Linda, mine host and her ladyship.

Despite being an Adnams tied house, the pub has clearly been able to sell a good range of guest beers, as evidenced by the pump clips on the walls in the main bar.

The pub is evidently CAMRA friendly and displays a number of local branch award certificates. A good selection of CAMRA branch magazines - including the latest issue of London Drinker - was available.

Beers on were Adnams Bitter, Extra, Broadside and, as the guest, Gales Seafarers. Both the Bitter and Extra ( £ 2.80p and £ 3.10p respectively ) were in reasonable form, but tasted slightly too chilled.

The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide, where we learn that the pub was recently saved from closure by the persistence of the landlord and landlady.

I do hope this pub can keep going.

1 Sep 2010 10:05

The Hope and Sirloin, Farringdon

As the previous contributor points out, this pub is actually called "The Hope" with "The Sirloin" being a separate restaurant upstairs.

A very attractive exterior with a fine curved glass frontage leads to a traditional wood panelled interior with some fine tiling, a mosaic flooring and a burgundy painted ceiling. Note in particular the fine etched glass in the doors - "Public Bar" - and "Saloon Bar" - telling us that this was formerly a two roomed pub. Seating consists of wooden benches and tables.

On my recent evening visit, despite ( or perhaps because of ?) screening the England v Hungary game at Wembley high up in one corner of the pub, the pub was virtually deserted with the only two other customers occupying stools on the pavement outside.

The Young's "smile" logo is displayed outside on the frontage, but I don't think this has ever been a Young's house. On my visit, a reasonable pint of Young's Ordinary - £ 3.30p - was enjoyed. Shepherd Neame Master Brew was also on. The two foreign bar staff seemed rather bored and disinterested and there was no sign of anyone who seemed to be in charge or running things.

I don't think this pub is as bad as previous contributors make out, but it's not down for an early revisit.

31 Aug 2010 17:25

The Royal Oak, Rusper

I thought that I would re-post my earlier review from last November given all the silliness below ( TWG excepted ), so here it is -

Splendid, rural and isolated free house situated in the West Sussex countryside approx 5 miles north of Horsham.

The pub was voted CAMRA Sussex Pub of the Year in 2008, but first really started crossing the radar when it made it through to the last 4 in the 2009 CAMRA National Pub of the Year Competition alongside such legendary pubs like Stockport's Crown and the Kelham Island Tavern in Sheffield. The Royal Oak has made it through to the last 16 in the current year - winner to be announced in Feb 2010.

Prior to last Saturday's visit, I had last visited the Royal Oak back in 1982 when, as a King and Barnes house, it had participated in that brewery's Ale Trail promotion which - I am slightly embarassed to admit - I only ever half completed, visiting around 25 of the 58 pubs comprising the trail. No staying power in those days!

An old King and Barnes pub guide showes the legendary Oliver Reed participating in the Greasy Pole ( funny, thought he was one of us?) competition outside the pub and, pleasingly, the pub still participates in activities not often encountered nowadays - eg Tug of War, Pantomime Horse Race. Various montages of the pub's Tug of War teams and other events make it clear to the passing visitor that this is a genuine community focused local.

As well as the montages of pub events, there's various framed CAMRA certificates displayed as well as a number of photos of the pub in days of old. There's also various items of King and Barnes and King and Sons memorabilia - indeed the pub still displays the round K+B trademark logo on its white walled exterior.

The pub consists of a narrow low-beamed bar which is carpeted and has a cosy traditional atmosphere. An unusual feature in this bar are the hanging straps from the beams to support unsteady drinkers.

A small lounge bar extension on the right has several sofas and a fine fireplace. There's a dartboard, but its positioning suggests it isn't used. Notably, Ringing the Bull can be played though. No food is permitted in here, but there's a small dining area to the left of the main bar. There's no fruit machines or TV's anywhere, which, despite it being a Rugby International day, did not prevent the pub from gradually filling up during the afternoon after a slow start. For the better weather, there's a few seats outside at the front and a garden at the side, which looks rather neglected and in need of some TLC.

A splendid collection of pump clips testify to the wide range of real ales that the pub has sold in recent years. Of the 7 real ales that were on on my Saturday visit, all those sampled by me - Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale, Whitstable East India Pale Ale, Arundel Mild and Sarah Hughes Amber Ale (!) were in top form. All beers were priced at £ 2.80p. Other beers on were also from micros - Hop Back, Otter and Bay. Several beers changed during the course of my visit. No lagers are sold, but, if so inclined, you can try some snuff if you're suffering from the smoking ban. There's 5 pumps in the lounge extension selling ciders and perries, but, perhaps oddly, no real ales.

Although filled rolls are available and hot food at certain times if booked in advance, this is very noticeably, to use industry jargon, a "wet led" pub and it is very heartening to see an isolated rural pub like this making a go of things without having to go down the gastropub / restaurant route.

As an unfamiliar face in an isolated community focused local like this, it's always difficult to correctly judge the appropriate level to which you should interact with other customers, but I found this to be a welcoming and friendly pub, perhaps more so than usually found.

It's a family run pub and it was particularly pleasingly noticeable how the landlandy's daughter, Emma, switched effortlessly from customer to barmaid when the occasion demanded. I bet you don't find that in the Tarantula and Tomato !

Getting here without the car is a challenge, but one well worth taking on. Warnham station on the Dorking - Horsham line has an hourly service ( not Sundays ) and it's then approx a 2 mile walk along the country roads. It's not on a bus route. Despite doing my best Usain Bolt impression, the predicted bad weather in the afternoon found me a bit bedraggled and damp when I eventually got back to Warnham shortly before darkness fell.

I think I prefer the Royal Oak to the other local POTY finalists like the Bricklayers in Putney and the Bull in Horton Kirby, and I wish them well.

In conclusion, the Royal Oak is well up there with the best pubs visited by yours truly in 2009 and I'll defo try and get here again sometime. I recommend it wholeheartedly to BITE readers.

20 Aug 2010 14:29

Smithfield Tavern, Smithfield

A few doors down from The Fox and Anchor is The Smithfield Tavern, a longish single room pub that stretches back quite a way inside and hence is much roomier than it immediately appears from the outside.

The pub sign and the trademark green tinged leaded windows tell us that this was a former Charringtons pub, as does the mahogany bar back. Much woodwork, fine chandeliers and a burgundy ceiling create quite a homely traditional feel, which is not compromised too much by the inevitable modern touches such as several sofas and flowers on the tables in champagne bottles.

The pub holds film nights on Monday evenings and classics such as the Ladykillers have recently been screened. Live jazz is on Tuesdays.

A sandwich board on the pavement outside was advertising a happy hour between 4 and 7 pm, when all ale was £ 2 per pint. Unfortunately, my recent visit fell outside those times and I had to pay £ 3.40p for a rather moderate pint of Doom Bar, served in a Bombardier branded glass. Jennings Cumberland Ale was also on. I didn't detect much, if any, commitment or interest in real ale.

I found this to be a pleasant, if rather average, pub and not one that's crying out for a re-visit.

17 Aug 2010 09:16

The Fox and Anchor, Smithfield

On the edge of Smithfield Market is The Fox and Anchor, a former Nicholsons pub that has now gone upmarket, placing greater emphasis on food and also now offering accommodation as a boutique hotel with 6 rooms upstairs. The advertising blurb by the bar uses the strapline - "Hops and Chops, Cuvees and Duvets". It still opens early in the morning for serving breakfast to market workers.

Pleasingly, despite the change in direction, the pub has largely retained its characterful, traditional interior - a long single, narrowish bar with much ornate mahogany woodwork, banquette seating and many old framed photos of the area decorating the walls. On the left as you go in are a collection of framed newspaper and magazine articles, showering praise on the new enterprise. Do also note the fine Art Nouveau tiled frontage and entrance. Rather naffly, the ground floor toilets at the far end are labelled "Reynards" and "Vixens". A smallish TV in one corner was silently showing the Sky Sports channel.

Prices for food and drink are predictably high - eg cod in Meantime beer batter, chips and mushy peas - £ 12.50p, corn beef hash and fried hens egg - £ 10.95p. On my recent early evening visit, most of the tables that were set out for diners were taken and drinkers were basically restricted to either standing at the bar or outside on the pavement. I wonder how the pub will cope on cold or wet days when the option of drinking outside won't seem so attractive.

6 beers were on, which included Harviestoun Game Burd, Fox and Anchor Bitter ( brewed by Nethergate), Nethergate Old Growler, plus beers from Adnams, Purity and Sharps. The Harviestoun - £ 3.60p - was not very good, but the Fox and Anchor Bitter - £ 3.55p - was an excellent pint. The pub is listed in the CAMRA 2010 Good Beer Guide. It appears that pints are automatically served in jugs unless you specify to the contrary.

In contrast to other posters experiences, I was served by a very jovial and welcoming Irishman.

Despite the shift in emphasis, I still quite like this one.

17 Aug 2010 09:15

The Sutton Arms, Barbican

Close to Barbican Tube Station and the leafy Charterhouse Square, The Sutton Arms is an externally attractive looking pub featuring a bowed frontage, leaded windows and some fine wall tiling in the entranceway.

Formerly a Charrington's pub - as evidenced by the bar back - the longish single room features a number of wooden settles and chairs, providing a traditional, if not particularly comfortable, environment. Pleasingly - as Rex has previously told us - there's an absence of those horrible tall long perches and tables, and sofas. There's an upstairs lounge / restaurant.

At the far end of the room is a large framed aperitif poster - " bitter secrestat" - and an attractive skylight. On the wall opposite the bar are, most notably, three plaster busts of what are presumably famous people, although I didn't recognise any of them. Typically for London, and presumably to appease the PC lobby, one of the three busts features a black man, although there is nothing to indicate whether any of the three are gays or have special needs.

On the beer front, there's a clear emphasis on foreign lagers and bottled beers and, notably, the blackboard menu above the bar lists these drinks, but not the real ales, which, on my recent early evening visit, were limited to London Pride and Chiswick. The Chiswick, at a rather pricey £ 3.25p - was moderate, but, with only 2 real ales on from the 5 available pumps and no sign of any other pump clips anywhere, the lack of interest in promoting real ale seems all too evident.

Pleasingly - and I do wish more pubs would follow suit - opening hours are prominently displayed by the entrance. Somewhat surprisingly, we see that the pub closes between 2.30pm and 5pm between Mondays and Fridays. Rather less surprisingly, it doesn't do weekends.

On my recent early evening visit, it was disappointingly noticeable how relatively empty the pub was in comparison to nearby more modern establishments, such as a rather atrocious looking " Indulgence Bar and Grill" a few doors down.

This is a fine proper pub, if somewhat lacking in comfort, but the lack of interest and emphasis on the real ale front means that an early return visit is not planned.

17 Aug 2010 09:14

Dirty Dick's, Bishopsgate

Situated in Bishopsgate, across the road from Liverpool Street Station, is Dirty Dicks, a well known watering hole that came into the Young's portfolio in 1991 following their acquisition of the Finch's pub group.

"Dirty Dick" was, as all the pub guides tell us, one Nathaniel Bentley, an 18th Century warehouse owner who stopped washing and cleaning up following the sudden death of his fiancé. The pub was formerly called The Old Jerusalem, but took on the Dirty Dicks name from the former dirty warehouse because of the notoriety it had acquired. The present pub dates back to 1804, although the upper part of the building has since been rebuilt.

Nowadays, it's a reasonably attractive city pub spread over three floors. The main bar - at ground level - features low ceilings, much exposed brickwork, oak beams and, despite excessively loud "background" music on my recent late evening visit, a pleasant atmosphere with a wide customer mix, not just restricted to "suits". The upstairs bar houses Hobsons restaurant, but still with a bar and a drinking area. The downstairs vaults - to where I didn't venture - offers regular Stand Up Comedy, Karaoke and other forms of so called entertainment.

On my recent visit, the usual Young's range of beers was on, plus Butcombe Bitter as a guest. The London Gold - at a whopping £ 3.55p - was reasonable. Young's Special and Ordinary were priced at £ 3.40p and £ 3.20p respectively.

This is a pretty reasonable pub, but the nearby Lord Aberconway, on which I have just posted, is preferable in my book, on the grounds of beer range, quality and price.

13 Aug 2010 08:44

The Lord Aberconway, Liverpool Street

A stone's throw away from Liverpool Street Station and Bishopsgate, is The Lord Aberconway, a Nicholson's pub that forms part of their "Classic Pubs" chain.

Those who are familiar with the Nicholson's brand will know what to expect here - a largely reconstructed traditional pub interior featuring bare boards, much wood panelling, a high ceiling and some ornate woodwork. Of particular note in The Lord Aberconway is a pleasant, more comfortable upstairs mezzanine bar and, on the ground floor, some railway carriage style drinking booths that afford a degree of privacy so often overlooked by big pub chains nowadays. Seating is the usual mixture of stools and more comfortable leather banquettes.

The normal Nicholson's framed information panel tells us that the pub was rebuilt in the 19th Century and was named after the last chairman of the old Metropolitan Railway. Memorabilia - framed posters, pictures etc - inside the pub is disappointingly limited. The monument to the Great Fire of London is close by and it is alleged that the pub is haunted by spirits of victims of the fire.

It's not a particularly large pub, but the crush can be partly avoided by drinking on the narrow pavement outside, although given its narrowness and the volume of people passing by, I'm surprised that this is allowed. I would imagine that the pub can be uncomfortably busy towards the latter part of the week.

Beers on were TT Landlord, Fullers London Pride and Summer Ale, Sharps Doom Bar and Black Sheep's Golden Sheep. Guest beer of the week was Leeds Brewery's Midnight Bell, a strongish tasty dark mild which tasted very moreish - £ 2.95p. Somewhat surprisingly, hardly anyone else seemed to be drinking it on my recent early evening visit.

This isn't a must visit pub by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd be more than happy to drop in again when next in the area.

13 Aug 2010 08:42

De Hems, Soho

Just outside the entrance to Chinatown stands The De Hems, a so called Dutch café bar which describes itself as "Stylishly Dutch delivered with real personality".

Outside the pub, an information board tells us that a public house has been on this site since 1688 and that it was a meeting place for the Dutch Resistance in the Second World War.

Never having been to Holland, I have to confess that I'm not exactly sure what a Dutch café bar should look or feel like, but, in the main, this feels very much like an archtyepal London pub to me. Yes, there's a framed orange Holland shirt, some Dutch specialities on the menu, a "Gezundheit" mirror and an array of foreign lagers such as Kreik, Amstel, Grolsch and Fruli, but the bare floorboards, high wooden tables and chairs and general echoey and uncomfortable feel are reminiscent of many a London pub nowadays, as indeed is the array of non - British lagers.

The interior also features a high ceiling, some polished wood panelling and some framed paintings ( Van Gogh ?).

A notice by the bar tells us that, in Holland, all good beers are served with a large head, but that top ups are given on request. I suppose that, in this respect, it's different from many London pubs where the staff serve you short measure without having the courtesy to forewarn you, and then look at you in an odd way if you have the temerity to request a full pint !

It's a Nicholson's pub, but not branded as such and, as a previous contributor has told us, there's no real ale - despite the website clearly indicating to the contrary. The pub picture clearly shows handpumps offering TT Landlord and Youngs Ordinary, but it would appear that real ale has been off the drinks menu for some time now.

I'm not marking this one down for a return visit.

12 Aug 2010 13:18

The Salisbury, Leicester Square

Occupying a prominent street corner position on St Martins Lane in the very heart of London's Theatreland is The Salisbury, one of London's most impressive reminders of the Victorian age of ornate pub interiors.

Inside we find many splendid etched glass mirrors, an original central island bar, partly with a white marble top, and some particularly elegant art nouveau lamp statues of nymphettes with arrows. Note the different entrances indicating that this was a multi roomed pub. Despite the loss of a partition on the right of the main entrance ( note where the white marble bar top ends ), something of the original layout remains in the form of a separate screened snug with an entrance on the side street. Carved mahogany and a fine dark red plasterwork ceiling complete the picture. The pub is listed in CAMRA's book of London Heritage Pubs.

A blackboard inside the pub details its history, although surprisingly, it makes no reference to an earlier name of the pub - The Salisbury Stores - even though some fine window glass bearing the initials SS remain. We learn that the pub has featured in several films and, not surprisingly, is popular with the theatrical crowd. In recognition of this, the walls leading down to the downstairs toilets are covered with theatrical posters.

The pub proudly advertises itself as the "West End's Official Sports Free Pub" and people wearing football colours are not admitted. I have also previously seen male only groups being turned away, although, on my most recent Saturday lunchtime visit, a large group of a dozen or so northerners ( all drinking John Smiths Smooth incidentally and not the real ale !) were allowed in. The absence of TV's in a pub like this is welcomed by many, but, rather incongruously, background music now seems to be played continuously.

I was rather surprised to see that the pub now holds poker nights - "Texas Hold Em" - on Tuesday evening. Even having regard to the current economic climate, I wouldn't have thought that a well known tourist magnet pub like this in a prime Central London location would have any difficulty getting customers through the door without resorting to putting on poker nights.

The enthusiastic and friendly manager of this Spirit Group pub, Jaspal, takes pride in his real ales. Beers on were Bombardier, Youngs London Gold, Tribute, TT Landlord, Purity Mad Goose and Golden Sheep. Both the Landlord and the Mad Goose were in good condition. It seems churlish to be critical, but I did notice that all 6 beers were of similar gravity ( between 3.9% and 4.3% ) and this could usefully be reviewed by management.

Taking things as a whole, The Salisbury remains one of my favourite London pubs and you really should try and get there if you haven't already.

10 Aug 2010 17:58

The Great Eastern, Isle of Dogs

I'm disappointed to have to report that this pub is "Closed until further notice" as per a notice on the front door ( 7.30 pm yesterday )

4 Aug 2010 09:13

The Boleyn Tavern, Upton Park

The Boleyn ( the "Tavern" part of the name seems to have been dropped ) is an imposing street corner local in the shadow of West Ham's football ground.

It's a well preserved multi-roomed Victorian pub which features in CAMRA's book of London Heritage Pubs where it is described as "one of the more spectacular late Victorian pubs in London".

A central island bar serves a number of different interconnecting rooms. A longish narrow room with an entrance on Green Street appears to be the preserve of locals and contains a dartboard and some West Ham pictures behind the bar. At this entrance, we see old etched door glass being the names "private bar" and "saloon and billiards".

The billiards room is the architectural highlight of the pub with a splendid large stained glass skylight and an unusual decorated moulded frieze. The main adjoining saloon bar also has a fine stained glass skylight and some wooden partitions. There's also an original bar counter and some fine cast iron columns.

On my recent Sunday early afternoon visit, with the exception of half a dozen or so customers in the public bar, the pub was virtually deserted. I'm afraid that I formed the view that management is making little real effort - for instance a prominently positioned sandwich board on the pavement outside was advertising the "World Cup Final, Holland v Spain 11 July" even though this game had taken place a fortnight earlier. Similarly, a notice in the billiards room invited me to "join us for the World Cup".

There's no real ale, so I went for the draught Guinness - £ 3 - served by a barmaid who, whilst being reasonably welcoming, seemed genuinely surprised to see someone she didn't recognise.

This pub won't appeal to everybody, but if you're in to ornate Victorian pub interiors, you should seek it out.

Finally, when you're here, don't forget to cross the road to admire the splendid statue of Bobby Moore with his team mates holding aloft the 1966 World Cup.

30 Jul 2010 17:53

The Black Lion, Plaistow

Situated in Plaistow High Street, The Black Lion is a 16th Century former coaching inn that is immediately noticeable as looking much older than the surrounding buildings.

The main bar is up several steps from a smallish lobby and features a low beamed ceiling, a longish curved bar and fixed banquette seating. In this main bar, by the far door, is a framed newspaper article written by Harry Redknapp relating how, when he was a West Ham player, the players used to come here after games up the road at nearby Upton Park. Another newspaper snippet tells us that the pub used to be a haunt of smugglers when the pub was on the edge of the Essex marshland. Several plasma TV screens in this bar were showing horse racing and golf.

A separate "quiet bar", which can be accessed through the bar servery, or via a separate street entrance, is more comfortable and features patterned leaded windows. In this bar, a blackboard lists the real ales on offer.

At the back is a largish beer garden which can be accessed from the quiet bar or through a separate sturdy looking black oak door, which I presume is the original cobbled coach yard entrance. As you walk down to the beer garden, you pass the headquarters of West Ham Boys Boxing Club where Barry McGuigan ( a portrait of whom hangs in the quiet bar ) and Nigel Benn, inter alia, used to train. Opposite the Boxing Club is a function room, where, allegedly, Dick Turpin used to stable Black Bess. Some of the bench seats in the beer garden have seen better days and I'm afraid the garden does look a bit neglected.

The pub is run by an affable and welcoming Irishman who, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, came over and started to talk to me about the pub and its history. The pub displays an isolated Guinness poster and an Irish road sign, but this is certainly not an "Oirish" pub and the Irish influence is not overplayed. It's a former Courage pub and the old cockerel sign is displayed on one of the beams in the main bar.

Beers on were Adnams Bitter, Courage Best, Youngs Kew Gold and Northumbrian Bucking Fastard. The blackboard in the quiet bar indicated that other Northumbrian beers either had been on or would be coming shortly. The Adnams was in good form, but I might have expected it to be a bit cheaper than £ 3.20p in this area of London. The pub was in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 2009 and was displaying a poster for the forthcoming GBBF. Based on my visit however, I'm doubtful if there's a lot of real ale trade here.

It's a bit of a trek to get out here if you're not from the immediate area, but I think it's well worth it.

30 Jul 2010 13:26

The Three Tuns, Uxbridge

Situated virtually opposite Uxbridge tube station, The Three Tuns is an attractive looking former coaching inn in the pedestrianised part of the High Street. It's a 350 year old Grade 2 listed building.

An imposing looking Tudor style exterior gives way to a split level interior. The front part has a hot food counter, indicating that, perhaps unusually nowadays, food is served direct as opposed to being cooked to order. Down a few stairs is the bar counter and a low ceilinged bar with a flagstoned floor. It's a fairly standard cut-and-paste pub interior with that generic high street pub chain outlet feel to it ( eg - fruit machines, cheap drink promotional posters ) and nothing of specific note. It's part of the Punch Taverns portfolio.

There's an outside patio at the back, a more welcoming conservatory style courtyard at the side and some seats outside at the front where you can watch the shoppers passing by.

I paid a brief visit to this pub after watching the Middlesex v Sussex county cricket game up the road.

Beers on were Speckled Hen, Adnams Bitter, Marstons Pedigree and Tetleys. The Adnams - £ 2.90p - was reasonable. Worthy of comment is the fact that, during my visit, there seemed to be noticeably more real ale trade than is often the case in a pub of this genre.

I'd describe the pub as a perfectly adequate, but somewhat average bog standard town high street chain pub outlet. However, unless someone can recommend me a better alternative in the vicinity of the station - and I didn't immediately see any other pubs that looked worthy of investigation - a return visit next time I'm here for the cricket is reasonably likely

27 Jul 2010 13:08

The Tea Clipper, Knightsbridge

Situated in a Knightsbridge side street not too far from Harrods is The Tea Clipper, a single bar street corner pub. The pleasant interior features bare boards and much wood panelling, with many shipping photos and prints. We learn that the pub was established in 1863, although it doesn't have that "olde pub" feel to it.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there's a rather upmarket ambience and prices for both food and drink are predictably high. There's no feeling that this is in any way a community local, but one that has set out its stall to pick up passing trade from Harrods shoppers and museum visitors.

On my recent visit, beers on were Ringwood Best, Marstons EPA and Pedigree. The Ringwood Best - £ 3.30p - was in good form.

This is a reasonable enough establishment, but it's not really a drinkers pub, and there's better alternatives not too far away.

27 Jul 2010 13:05

The Fox and Hounds, Belgravia

Situated in a quiet, residential side street and in close proximity to Sloane Square underground is The Fox and Hounds, a pub whose main claim to fame is that it was the last "beer only" pub in London. A full licence was not granted until 1998.

It's a cosy, characterful, street corner pub with a small frontage, although it extends back further inside than you might expect from the outside. It's traditionally furnished, with much wood panelling and a profusion of fox hunting prints and pictures. A smallish room at the front, where the bar counter is situated, leads into a slightly larger room dominated by a couple of sofas, but with still a traditional feel. Just inside the pub, above the bar, rather incongruously, hangs a Yard of Ale and we are told that the pub record for downing this is 11.08 seconds.

There's no music, TV's or fruit machines to detract from the fine atmosphere.

On my recent Sunday early afternoon visit, the pub was dominated somewhat by several groups of smartly dressed people of both sexes and, since they included several people in dog collars, I presumed that they had just come from a nearby local church service. Despite being my usual well-behaved, affable self, an elderly Miss Marple type, who was in one of the groups and was sitting in the corner sipping red wine, say fit to look at me in a rather disapproving and sniffy manner. It was, with great difficulty, that I resisted the temptation to respond with a biblical quotation along the lines of "we're all equal in the eyes of the Lord".

Formerly a Charringtons house for many years, it's now a Youngs tenancy which, on my visit was serving Special, Ordinary and London Gold. The Special - £ 3.35p - was in good form, although I appeared to be virtually the only customer not drinking shorts.

I quite like this pub, but I'm hoping for a wider customer mix next time I drop in.

23 Jul 2010 13:19

The Zetland Arms, South Kensington

Situated close to South Kensington Tube Station on a busy main road is The Zetland Arms, an attractive looking largish street corner pub.

An information board in one of the doorways tells us that the pub dates back to 1845 and is the oldest building left on the street. In 1880 it was run by Sid Chaplin, the brother of Charles Chaplin. The pub gains its name from the Danish influence of the population in the area at the time.

It's a former Greene King pub, but recently became part of the Punch Taverns empire. The pub retains a fine curved mahogany bar and some etched glass has been retained and repositioned on a wall in the large room at the side of the bar, hinting as a certain lost grandeur, but there's an inevitable chain pub feel to the place, as might be expected from a Punch Taverns outlet with a seemingly clear emphasis on feeding the passing hordes of tourists visiting the nearby museums. Inept black shirted foreign bar staff and a transient clientele contributed to what is, all too often unfortunately, a fairly typical London pub experience nowadays.

Of particular note was, from memory, my first 2010 sighting of a blackboard with the message urging me to "Book Now for Christmas". There's an upstairs function room.
Several relatively unobtrusive TV screens were showing the motor racing. Posters in the gents toilets advertised live football from both La Liga and Serie A, perhaps indicative of the customer base.

3 beers were on - St Austell Tribute, Pride and Youngs London Gold. A 4th pump had a TT Landlord pump clip reversed. On my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, my pint of Tribute was served a good inch short, even after the frothy head had subsided and, despite giving the young barmaid ( Spanish, I suspect ) more than ample opportunity to rectify the short measure, I had to specifically request a top up. This elicited a rather suspicious look in response. I told her that the Weights and Measures people might decide to call in sometime, but I don't think she understood where I was coming from. My conversational Spanish isn't what it used to be, so I had to make do with giving her my best sourpuss look..

I've written to Punch Taverns about my experience suggesting that they might want to provide some training pretty pronto - let's see what they say. Ironically, the Tribute - £ 3.32p - tasted really good, although being served short measure always leaves a nasty taste in the mouth as far as I'm concerned.

Previous reviews here are not exactly glowing and I'm not putting this one down for a revisit.

21 Jul 2010 14:14

The Anglesea Arms, Chelsea

Situated in a residential side street off the Fulham Road, is The Anglesae Arms, a pub with a rather upmarket ambience that will be fondly remembered by older drinkers such as myself as one of the forerunners of the real ale revolution in London in the mid to late 1970's. In those days, pubs selling 3-4 real ales such as Ruddles County - then very much a cult beer - Brakspears, Youngs Special, Sam Smiths were few and far between and these pubs were quickly sought out and patronised by the real ale movement, then still very much in its infancy.

Nowadays, it's a pleasant single room pub with bare floorboards and scrubbed tables, but wood panelling, old photos, prints and some impressive oil paintings, coupled with the absence of any music or fruit machines, create a pleasant and traditional environment. Partitions break up the interior and create a degree of privacy, often overlooked in pub refurbishments nowadays.

Of particular note is a fine brewery mirror in one corner advertising Salt & Co Pale and Burton Ales. In another corner is a painting of a nude woman reclining on a bed. Behind the bar is a framed cricket bar signed by Graham Thorpe addressed to "the guys at The Anglesea Arms". Note also the large wooden clock over the bar.

There's a separate dining room down a few steps at one side of the pub. Food can also be ordered in the main bar and I imagine that food trade dominates at busy periods. Additional room is provided by an outside patio terrace at the front of the pub.Several notices remind us that this is a residential area and implore us not to obstruct the pavement and tell us to leave quietly, but it's hard to imagine that this pub has anything approaching a noisy and rowdy element.

Beers on the 6 pumps were Adnams Broadside and Bitter, Fullers ESB, Sharps Cornish Ale, Rudgate Brewers Choice Gold Elixir and Sambrooks Junction. The latter - at a price of £ 3.10p which might be considered cheapish - was in excellent form. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular. Diners might find that food prices are less accommodating on their wallets however.

Despite having to operate within the inevitable constraints of having to appeal to the Chelsea "set", this pub is still very much well worth seeking out.

21 Jul 2010 14:12

The Carpenters Arms, Tottenham Court Road

Situated in what is something of a relatively unknown area of London from this particular pub goer's perspective, is The Carpenters Arms, a reasonably traditional street corner pub.

The first thing one immediately notices on approaching the pub is the fine tiled exterior advertising the wares of "Wenlock Ales and Stout", indicative of former ownership in days before I became of pub going age. Disappointingly, there is no brewery memorabilia inside, apart from a rather forlorn looking Bass mirror in one of the two bars.

The interior consists of two interconnecting rooms, joined by a narrowish corridor, which feature much wood panelling and, most notably, in one form, an attractive looking cosy corner with floral wallpaper and a few plates bearing photographs of the Queen Mother.

There's an upstairs bar - not open on my visit and - up yet another flight of stairs after that, are the gents toilets. The pub website mentions a roof terrace, also.The nicely air conditioned interior throughout was very welcome on a rather unpleasantly muggy and sticky late afternoon.

The drinks menu is presented in an old style record sleeve, which, I suppose is indicative of the fact that we are in media territory. There's an emphasis on foreign beers and I suspect that real ale trade is not great.

Beers on were Dark Star Hophead, Wadworths 6X and, in the bar on the right, London Pride and Daleside Summer Delight. The Hophead - £ 2.85p - was reasonable.

This isn't a pub worth going out of your way to visit, but I might just decide to call in again if passing by.

21 Jul 2010 14:09

The Crown and Sceptre, Fitzrovia

Occupying a prominent street corner position on the fringes of Fitzrovia is The Crown and Sceptre, externally quite an attractive and imposing looking pub.

A number of doors, including one on the angle of the two streets that retains an impressive high glass surround, tells us that this was obviously a multi-roomed pub in its heyday. An impressive, high, black painted moulded ceiling and some Corinthian columns give us a feel for what was evidently a grand Victorian pub in days long gone, although, disappointingly, all the windows are now plain glass.

There's that usual mish mash of sofas, chairs and tables and different areas that one always seems to find nowadays in pubs that have been opened out and given a makeover, although the overall effect here is not as displeasing as is often the case. The bar servery is centrally situated and quite small for what is actually quite a large and spacious pub. There's some seats outside on both streets for sunny weather.

The pub seems to appeal to what I suppose are described nowadays as urban professionals. I gather that media types often pack the place out and there's a bit of a trendy, pretentious air about the place.

On my recent visit, beers on were London Pride, St Austell Tribute and UBU Purity. Notably, the price list shows London Pride as £ 1.50p for a half and £ 3.30p for a pint. Given previous comments, I am pleased - and somewhat surprised - to be able to report that the UBU Purity (£ 3.30p) was in good form. I didn't detect any problems with the staff either, although the pub website's description of them as being "the friendliest staff for miles around" is probably overstating the case somewhat and I'm never impressed when I see a cup on the bar counter specifically for tips.

This isn't really my type of place at all, but I did at least have a better experience than recent postings led me to expect.

16 Jul 2010 14:10

The Cock, Oxford Circus

Situated on the next street corner going northwards from The George ( on which I have just posted ) is The Cock Tavern, an archetypal Sam Smiths pub

Immediately noticeable as you approach the pub are several splendid glass lanterns outside. A blackboard by the entrance greets us with the words " The Cock - making people laugh for over a century", although on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, the sullen barmaid obviously hadn't read the script.

Inside we find a fairly typical Sam Smiths "Victorianisation", with fake snob screens, a colourful re-tiled floor, much dark wood panelling and comfortable leather banquettes.There's an upstairs lounge bar doing food at certain times.

On my visit, it was very noticeable how relatively empty and quiet the pub was compared with The George a block or so away and from where I had just come.

The Sam Smiths OBB is on handpump at the standard price of £ 1.99p.

If you like the Sam's style of pub, you're pretty sure to like this one, but it's not a pub to go out of your way to visit.

16 Jul 2010 13:35

The George, Great Portland Street

Situated slightly to the north of Oxford Circus tube station, The George is an attractive looking Greene King pub occupying a prominent street corner position.

Well maintained hanging flower baskets outside create an initially positive impression. A blackboard on the pavement entices us in with the words " It's a beer festival here 365 days a year. 3 guest ales at any one time. 15-20 different ales per month. Why go anywhere else ?". We also learn that the pub was established in 1677.

It's a pleasant, welcoming pub, despite the bare boarded floor, with a fine elegant bar back, some attractive etched mirrors and a cosy dark wood panelled seating area to one side of and behind the bar at one end. It's got the high ceiling and style of an old Victorian pub.

Separate entrances on each street would appear to indicate that this was formerly a multi-roomed pub, although no other evidence to support this is visible. Standard pub menus on the tables and black shirted staff, unfortunately do contribute towards creating something of a chain pub feel, but this is partly counteracted by staff who, on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, seemed particularly welcoming and enthusiastic.

BBC House is quite close by and an information board in the pub doorway tells us that the pub was nicknamed "The Gluepot" by Sir Henry Wood, the former conductor, and that older BBC staff still refer to the pub by that name. Coincidentally, the seating area on the left was marked as "reserved" and, shortly after my arrival, in walked Clive Anderson ( TV programme - have I got news for you ?) , followed shortly afterwards by a load of people who I didn't recognise, but were presumably BBC staff. In times gone by, Dylan Thomas and George Orwell apparently used to frequent this pub.

A booklet by the bar gives details of a Greene King Ale Trail and a map showing the location of all participating 23 pubs in the capital.

Beers on were Greene King IPA, Royal London ( odd, thought they were an insurance company !?) , Speckled Hen, Hardy and Hansons Kimberley plus O'Hanlon's Yellowhammer. By my reckoning that's one guest beer, not three ( as advertised ). Notably, on what was probably the hottest day of the year to date, both the Kimberley and the Royal London were in excellent condition.

The "background" music was a bit loud for my liking at times, but, taking the visit as a whole, I was quite impressed with this one and I'd happily call in again when next in the vicinity.

Finally, how pleasing it is to see that the pub management here are using BITE to provide us with useful information on what beers are to be stocked, rather than, as practised by other pubs who shall remain nameless, posting a series of exceptionally complimentary fake "reviews" from bogus non existent customers

15 Jul 2010 11:25

The Kirkstone Pass Inn, Kirkstone Pass

Describing itself as "The Inn with Altitude", at nearly 1500 feet above sea level, the Kirkstone Pass Inn is reputedly the highest pub in Cumbria and the third highest in England. It's situated at the head of the Kirkstone Pass, linking Windermere and Patterdale in the Lake District and, dating back to 1496, claims to be "reputedly amongst the oldest pubs in the world".

It's a whitewashed building with a pleasant traditional interior, consisting of low, darkened beams, flagstoned floors and cosy tables and seats, which give rise to a slightly neglected old fashioned charm. The setting - at the head of the pass - feels bleak and remote and there are no houses for several miles in either direction. There are no locals therefore - only passing walkers, bikers and the occasional coachload of tourists who stop for refreshments and to admire the fine scenery. There's a suitably large car park opposite the pub and an outdoor seating area for customers to fully appreciate the views.

It's a pub, not a hotel, but several rooms are available for bed and breakfast for those wanting to stop overnight ( or stranded by the winter snow !) and, also, for those on a budget, a number of bunk beds in an annexe at the princely sum of £ 8.50p.

A very brief business trip to the Lake District with a colleague gave us the opportunity to drop in on a recent Tuesday evening. Disappointingly, the weather was not kind that evening and, probably largely as a consequence, the pub was virtually empty, but a friendly welcome and a good value excellent home cooked meal from the pub's evening menu was enjoyed.

Beers on were Kirkstone Porter, which I noted is brewed at The Old Crown in Hesket Newmarket ( specifically for the pub, presumably ) together with two beers from the Tirrill Brewery - Red Screes and Old Faithful. My colleague, who was driving, was impressed with the Porter ( 3% ABV ) and I thought the Red Screes was pretty good. Both beers were priced at £ 2.90p.

Postcards and other souvenirs are available behind the bar and there's a visitors book to sign

My knowledge of Lakeland pubs is distinctly limited, but, when I'm next in the area, I think I'll make the effort to get here again.

14 Jul 2010 13:15

The Golden Fleece, York

Describing itself as "one of York's oldest and most haunted inns", the Golden Fleece allegedly dates back to 1503.

Situated in the middle of York's shopping centre, a small attractive looking frontage leads into a bare boarded wood panelled drinkers bar at the front of the pub. A long corridor, the walls of which are decorated with framed ghost memorabilia and tales, leads into a well appointed rear lounge, which was reserved for diners only on my recent visit.

Beers on were Yorkshire Terrier, TT Landlord and Black Sheep. The Yorkshire Terrier - £ 2.90p - was reasonable.

This is a perfectly adequate pub in a city where decent pubs are not exactly thin on the ground. Unless you've a particular fascination for ghostly tales, ( and if you have, you might want to consider doing Bed and Breakfast !) there's no reason to specifically seek this one out.

14 Jul 2010 08:36

The Royal Oak, York

Situated next door to the Golden Slipper, on which I have just posted, is the Royal Oak, a pub with a distinctive Tudor style exterior.

It describes itself as a "Traditional 15th Century Haunted Inn". You might be starting to think that being a ghost is a productive career in this city!

Whilst retaining its multi bar layout, I found the interior relatively bland and characterless by York pub standards. A small basic bar at the front has fixed seating round the edges and was empty, apart from a group of mature customers enthusiastically playing dominoes. A larger bar at the back is similar in style, but a bit more comfortable and had a TV showing motor racing when I popped in in late June. A third room, on the other side of the corridor, seemed to be a bit newer and, of particular note here, is a framed photo of the fire at York Minster in July 1984.This bar is serviced via a hatch in the corridor.There's rather basic outside toilets

Food has a rather naff Tudor theme - eg Henry VIII pie

The pub is in the Punch Taverns portfolio and is, according to the local press, due for a refurb in July ( about now then !). Beers on were Copper Dragon's Golden Pippin, GK Abbott and TT Landlord, a somewhat disappointing selection by today's standards. The Golden Pippin ( served in a Timothy Taylors branded glass ) - £ 2.90p - was reasonable.

This pub didn't particularly excite me and there's a fair few pubs in York that I'd rank ahead of this one.

14 Jul 2010 08:35

The Golden Slipper, York

The Golden Slipper is a former John Smith's pub situated in York's shopping centre close to York Minster.

As the picture on this site shows, it's an odd looking pub externally, consisting of two different buildings in different styles joined together internally. The pub sign outside features a golden slipper and we learn more inside as to why the pub is so named.

It's a multi roomed pub which, despite some evident alterations, still retains a reasonably traditional atmosphere. There's several rooms off a central corridor, including a small snug "library" just off the main bar and a darts room on the right. It's clear that there's an active darts team, but customers are asked not to play between 11.30am and 3 pm, when the room may be being used by diners. I doubt however, that there's many pubs this central in York that even have a dartboard at all.

The central corridor leads down to a small outside seating area where an old enamel Magnet Ales pub sign has been rather ignominiously consigned. On a wall in this corridor, we see the "Golden Slipper" in a framed glass case. We find out that it was discovered by workmen in 1984 and that it's a medieval leather slipper, which would have been built into the building to fend off evil spirits in a much earlier age. There's also some cricketing pictures in the corridor. Also worthy of note, in the front right hand side room, is a framed list comparing the number of pubs in York in 1885 with the number 1985, 100 years later. Perhaps not surprisingly, there were less in 1985, but still a pretty good number.

Beers on were John Smiths Cask, Deuchars IPA, Speckled Hen, Bombardier and Roosters YPA.

This pub seemed to me to have more of a local feel than many of the other pubs close by, which felt quite touristy, and, on those grounds alone, you might want to consider dropping in

14 Jul 2010 08:33

The Lendal Cellars, York

Situated virtually opposite Harkers, on the other side of the road, is the Lendal Cellars, a former Hogshead pub, but now a rare Greene King outlet in this neck of the woods.

Arriving at the front entrance of the pub, down a small slope from street level, we see an information board telling us that the pub stands on the site of an Augustinian friary traced back to the 13th Century.

Inside, the pub is much larger than expected, with a number of interconnecting rooms with low arches and much exposed brickwork, as you'd expect from what were, presumably, at one time, cellars. There's something of that chainy pub feel to it however. Outside is a large seating area around three sides of the pub.

Loudish music means that the pub is evidently trying to appeal to the younger drinker and, on my recent June early evening visit, a few reasonably well behaved hen/stag groups appeared to put down roots for a long stay.Interestingly however, it was advertising itself as a World Cup free zone.

Being a Greene King pub, the beer is not much to write home about. The IPA was not on and, for some unaccountable reason, I went for the Ruddles County - £ 2.65p - in preference to the guest beer from the Warwickshire Beer Co. It wasn't very good at all, but not bad enough that I could justifiably take it back. In retrospect, I can't imagine there's much real ale trade here at all.

Whilst not being a particularly bad example of that genre, this pub is probably more suited to hen/stag parties and the circuit crowd. If you don't come into that category, I'd be inclined to give this one a miss.

14 Jul 2010 08:32

Harkers, York

Occupying a prominent position on the corner of St Helens Square in the pedestrianised City Centre, Harkers is an impressive looking Georgian building that was previously occupied by Yorkshire Insurance Company, whose name and the date 1824 ( in Roman numerals ) can be seen high up on the exterior of the building.

The split level interior features high ceilings, Corinthian columns and pillars and the look and ambience of a drawing room. The walls have framed pictures of former company directors and chairmen. It's a Nicholson's pub and is one of their branded "Classic Pubs". The pub has a rather stylish grandeur to it and is evidently popular with ladies who lunch. This led to a rather upmarket ambience on my visit.

There's 6 handpumps which, on my recent June visit, were serving Castle Rock HPA, Bombardier, John Smiths Cask Ale and Yorkshire Terrier. Notably, a blackboard behind the bar urged drinkers to "try Yorkshire Terrier - brewed only a mile away - for £ 2.20p ". I went for the Castle Rock HPA which was in good form, but rather more expensive at £ 2.90p.

I quite liked the pub, but the beer range was disappointing by Nicholson's standards and this won't be one of my first ports of calls next time I'm in York

14 Jul 2010 08:31

The Three Legged Mare, York

Situated close to York Minster, the Three Legged Mare is one of 3 York Brewery pubs in the City Centre.

Externally resembling a shop rather than a traditional pub, the interior is a not unpleasant mix of traditional and modern, but with an overall feel that is perhaps more continental café bar than a traditional British pub.

Outside a blackboard tells us that the pub was CAMRA York Pub of the Season in Autumn 2008. It promises us a friendly welcome and - at the date of my visit in late June - was proudly announcing itself as a football free zone.

The main bar contains a number of photos of old York and leads through to a small conservatory and an outside patio. In the conservatory we learn that a three legged mare was a novel form of gallows comprising a horizontal triangle supported by three legs. Its design meant that several felons could be hanged at once. A replica of this may be found in the back garden.

On the real ale front, there's 3 banks of 3 pumps. Beers on from the York Brewery were the usual 4 - Yorkshire Terrier, Centurion Ghost, Guzzler and Constantine. Also on from York Brewery were York Mild plus Wonkey Donkey, the latter of which is promoted as unique to this pub. Guest beers were from Tring and Castle Rock. York Brewery beers were generally priced at being between £ 2.60p and £ 2.80p. The Yorkshire Terrier was in good form. The pub is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 2010.

The staff here were exceptionally attentive and helpful and, on my visit, were going way beyond the call of duty in helping a group of irritating and demanding tourists with limited English language skills, find their way to the brewery for one of the brewery tours.

This is a good place in the City Centre for sampling the wares of the York Brewery.

14 Jul 2010 08:30

The Maltings, York

Situated close by the end of Lendal Bridge over the River Ouse, the Maltings is a long established real ale orientated pub that really should not be missed on any York crawl.

It's the first pub that you come to when you leave the railway station, a 5 minute walk away in the direction of the City Centre. Don't let the rather forbidding black painted exterior discourage you.

It's a bare boarded single bar pub with the atmosphere and décor of an ale house, notably decorated with old enamel signs ( eg Rowntrees, Wills, Gold Flake ) and, unusually, a ceiling that is covered with old wooden doors.

A blackboard outside tells us that the Maltings was the "Cask Ale Pub of Britain 1998". It's been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent years. The pub is advertising its 18th Anniversary as The Maltings and is having a "Coming of Age" Beer Festival for three days this coming October.

The pub normally has 7 real ales and 4 ciders on. On my recent visit, beers on included Black Sheep and Roosters YPA ( and a few others which I forgot to note ). With the exception of a beer called Chockwork Orange ( ABV 6.5% - £ 3.50p ) , beers were priced between £ 2.80p and £ 3.10p. The Roosters YPA - £ 2.90p - was in good form. Drinkers of foreign and bottled beers are unlikely to be disappointed by the selection available.

This is an excellent pub to start or finish a crawl of York's many fine pubs and should not be missed

13 Jul 2010 13:32

The Swan, York

Situated in the residential Bishophill area of the City, in close proximity to The Golden Ball, just outside the city walls, ( indeed you can see the pub as you're doing your tourist bit and walking the walls ) is The Swan, a splendidly traditional street corner pub that is included in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

It's a multi roomed pub with a large central drinking lobby and bar counter, off which are a number of rooms each serviced by a hatch from the main bar. Note the glazed screen above the counter, the old bell pushes in the lounge and the tiling in the gents toilets.

It's badged as a Tetley's pub and is one of their Heritage Inns.

On my recent evening visit, beers on included Copper Dragon Golden Pippin and beers from Stonehenge, Saltaire and Nook. The Golden Pippin was in good form. The pub is another CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

Several flyers in the pub were advertising quiz night at The Slip Inn, a pub which is nearby and, according to the friendly locals, is "worth dropping in on sometime".

This is one of my favourite York pubs, but, as with The Golden Ball down the road, it doesn't do lunchtime opening during the week.

13 Jul 2010 13:31

The Golden Ball, York

Situated in a residential area of York close to the city walls, the Golden Ball is a fine traditional multi-roomed street corner local that is on CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

An unusual layout consists of 4 rooms including one sports "snug" room with plenty of sporting memorabilia - signed caricatures of Darren Gough, Brian Lara and a photo of Brian Close's 1969 Yorkshire County Cricket side for example - and a bar billiards table. There's another unusual snug immediately on the right by the entrance corridor. The bar counter is in a room at the back of the pub and can only be accessed from the entrance on the other street.

A fine glazed brick exterior still bears the branding of John Smith's Tadcaster Ales and Stout. Also of note externally is an unused door which was formerly the entrance to the Jug and Bottle Department.

6 real ales were on - Deuchars IPA, Bombardier, TT Landlord, Everards Tiger, Ruddles Best and a beer from Northumbrian Brewery. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

I regard this as one of York's must visit pubs, for its unspoilt interior and atmosphere, but watch out for the late afternoon opening times from Monday to Friday

13 Jul 2010 13:30

The Kings Arms, York

The Kings Arms is a smallish Sam Smith's pub situated on the northern banks of the River Ouse between the Lendal and Ouse bridges.

It's a typical Sam's pub - unbadged as such of course - with flagstoned flooring, exposed brickwork and lowish beams. The interior is largely unremarkable, although do note the markers indicating how high the floods have been over the years - the highest being approx 6 feet which was in November 2000.

There's a large outside area on the river front, which is a mixture of bench seating and a standing area on the cobblestones.

Given its location, this is a pub that probably doesn't have to make too much effort to attract the punters on a sunny day . My recent visit appeared to bear this out - longish queues for service, no one collecting empties, sticky tables - in summary, a not very impressive show, I'm afraid.

The Sam Smiths OBB - £ 1.61p - is not real ale.

We all like drinking outside when the sun comes out to play, but there's not much else to get enthusiastic about here.

13 Jul 2010 13:28

Ye Olde Starre Inn, York

Just down the road from The Punchbowl, and down an alleyway, is Ye Olde Starre Inn.

The first thing we notice is the pub sign straddling the street way above our heads pronouncing the pub as "Yorks Oldest Licensed Inn 1664".

As we approach the pub, a blackboard by the entrance tells us that, in 1552, Edward VI restricted the number of inns in York to 8 (!) and that it is possible that The Starre was one of those 8. In 1644, the Roundheads used the inn as a billet hospital. The sign over the street was erected in 1792.

It's an attractive looking whitewashed building with hanging flower baskets outside and criss crossed leaded windows.

The interior is carpeted, comfortable, with a couple of snug type rooms with wood panelling and fixed seating and a main bar area. There's some oddly positioned coloured glasswork denoting "Star Inn" with bell pushes underneath, which caused me to wonder what the original pub layout was, as it would seem to have been different. For cricket fans, there's plenty of pictures of old cricketers.

It's a Punch Taverns pub offering a standard pub menu, although an open kitchen slightly hidden away down a side corridor looked a bit gastropubby and incongruous with the rest of the pub.

Beers on were John Smiths Cask, Old Peculier, Youngs Bitter plus 3 Wentworth beers. The Wentworth Summa Luvin was a pleasant pint.

Despite a bit of a chainy feel, particularly in the main bar, I quite liked this one.

13 Jul 2010 13:24

The Punchbowl, York

The Punch Bowl is another of Nicholson's "Classic Pubs" and is centrally situated in the main pedestrian thoroughfare of Stonegate.

A fine Brewers Tudor exterior leads into a Tudor style wood panelled drinkers bar on the left. On the right is a more comfortable food orientated bar, seemingly principally catering for tourists, off which is another bar at the back.

An information panel tells us that The Punch Bowl has been a pub for over 400 years , although a pub T shirt on sale behind the bar bears the wording "circa 1500" , which seems to be 500 years, not 400, to me. We also learn that the pub has had 2 major fires during this period. Perhaps inevitably, the pub is alleged to have several ghosts.

On my late June visit, beers on were Leeds Best, Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, John Smiths Cask Ale and Wadworths 6X. The Leeds Best - £ 2.90p - wasn't desperately good. Interestingly, the much stronger Jaipur IPA was on offer at £ 2.85p.

This is a fine traditional pub, but it doesn't stand out from the crowd in this well pubbed city.

13 Jul 2010 13:23

The Golden Lion, York

Situated in Stonegate, one of York's busiest thoroughfares, is The Golden Lion.

Outside the pub, an information board tells us that the pub was first licensed to sell ale in 1771. It had a spell when it was named "The Nineteenth Hundred", but, following a refit in 1983, the pub was renamed The Golden Lion.

Inside is a rather standard open plan chain pub interior, with little of specific note. The pub is in the Punch Taverns portfolio.

On my recent June lunchtime visit, upon ordering my pint from the bar, I was told, admittedly in a reasonably polite and friendly manner, that I could not sit at any of the tables marked as "reserved" and where cutlery had been laid out. It transpired that this was effectively 95% of the pub and that drinkers such as myself were effectively banished to several tall tables and chairs by the front windows.

I should have been a bit quicker on the uptake when several serving staff started bringing out cold salad starters to all the reserved tables, but, at 12.15 on the dot, in walked a group of around 60-70 foreign tourists. In true tourist fashion, they seemed to spend an eternity deciding who was going to sit next to who and where, and then spent a further period of time taking pictures of each other standing up, sitting down, holding a beer glass, not holding a beer glass etc. It all seemed quite comical at the time.

Beers on included beers from Northumberland, Abbeydale and 3 Wentworth beers, of which the HPA - £ 2.94p - was a surprisingly good pint.

A rather large buxom lady - who I presumed was the duty manageress - was wearing a black T shirt with the words " Do you love my pub ?" on the front and kept walking past bringing food to the masses, who were now all finally settled and sat down. I resisted the temptation to provide her with my answer to that question

13 Jul 2010 13:21

The Old White Swan, York

The Old White Swan is a large rambling pub with a number of different areas and bars set round a central courtyard.

Although not badged externally as such, it's in the Nicholson's stable and part of their Classic Pubs portfolio.

Inside, we learn that the pub is a collection of at least nine (!) buildings with a rather colourful history and that a variety of business have traded on the premises including a barbers shop and a coaching house inter alia.

The building dates from the 16th century and largely consists of old timber framed structures with much exposed brickwork.

There's the usual ghost stories connected with the pub. There's also some Guy Fawkes pictures, he was born nearby apparently.

In one room, a blackboard tells us that the pub has offered "44 real ales to date this year" which, given that it was late June, didn't strike me as being a particularly high number.

There was a good variety of real ales on offer in the two bars. The Thornbridge Wild Swan - £ 2.95p - was a superb pint.

It's not in the must visit category, but I was quite impressed with this one.

13 Jul 2010 13:20

The Blue Bell, York

The Blue Bell is a small traditional pub in the centre of York. A blackboard outside describes the pub as an "Award winning real ale pub with a 1903 Edwardian interior". It's a Grade 2 listed building. It's York's smallest pub apparently and, once we step inside, we quickly realise why no groups are allowed.

The front bar seems to be the haunt of regulars and is a small intimate bar with much wood panelling. The walls are decorated with certificates and awards from CAMRA and other consumer organisations. It is also clear that the pub raises a lot of money for various charities.

A corridor on the left leads through to a rear smoke room which is serviced from the main bar via a serving hatch with a glazed glass screen. Unusually, this narrowish corridor has a serving hatch of its own and a small drinking lobby. The smoke room also has dark wood panelling throughout and its walls are decorated with interesting old photographs , including some of Yorkshire County Cricket and York City Football Club teams. This room has round copper topped tables and fixed seating with old bell pushes still in situ. Needless to say, there's no TV's or fruit machines. Period music was being played during my recent early evening visit. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

It's a Pubmaster pub. On my recent visit, 7 real ales were on, including TT Landlord, Deuchars IPA and Black Sheep, which I gather are the regulars. 4 guests were on - Copper Dragon Golden Pippin plus beers from Rooster, Rudgate and Saltaire ( Blackberry Cascade !) The Copper Dragon - £ 2.85p - was in good condition.

This is one of York's must visit pubs in my book and you really should try to do this one - but don't turn up mob handed, as you won't be allowed in.

13 Jul 2010 13:17

The Angel Inn, Leeds

Situated down an alleyway off Briggate, is The Angel, a fairly typical Sam Smith's pub and reputedly one of the City's oldest inns.

There's a smallish main bar, seemingly favoured by regulars, with a larger room on the left and an upstairs lounge bar which I didn't visit.

In contrast to many other Sam's pubs, I found this to be a rather featureless pub, lacking in character and atmosphere. Despite wearing T shirts promoting the pub as "The City's Best Kept Secret", staff appeared somewhat bored and disinterested on my late June evening visit.

The Sam Smiths OBB was cheap at £ 1.50p

I'm not putting this one down for a revisit.

12 Jul 2010 12:36

Templar Hotel, Leeds

Slightly to the north of the main pub "circuit", the Templar Hotel is a splendidly traditional street corner pub.

Externally, a splendid tiled exterior tells us that this was formerly a Melbourne's pub with separate "lounge" and "vaults" entrances. It's now a Tetley's pub.

Inside, we find a lovely wood panelled Brewers Tudor carpeted and comfortable interior with leaded decorative windows and stained glass screens creating a number of drinking booths. It's a long, narrowish bar with a room on the end at the left which has fixed seating around the edge of the room and retains old bell pushes.

An information board tells us that the premises became a pub between 1809 and 1842 and that it was previously owned by Leeds and Wakefield Breweries, the Melbourne's, and then it was sold to Tetley's in 1964. Various prints tell us the story of the Knights Templar.

There's numerous small TV's dotted around the interior and, on my recent June visit, some of these were showing a World Cup game and others an England cricket one day international, thus appearing to satisfy all wishes. The ceiling was draped with flags of the various World Cup countries.

On the beer front, it's a Tetley's pub and the Tetley's Bitter - £ 1.95p - was being sold in copious quantities. Tetley Mild was also on and, surprisingly, guests from Bateman and Saltaire Breweries. The Tetley's was in good form.

This is a real drinkers pub, full of character, with more of a pubby feel than most around here and it's pretty near the top of my list for a re-visit when I'm next in Leeds.

12 Jul 2010 12:20

The Town Hall Tavern, Leeds

Situated a shortish walk away from Mr Foley's ( on which I have just posted ) along The Headrow into Westgate and in the heart of the city's legal and financial district is The Town Hall Tavern. It's closeness to the inner ring road, only a hundred or so yards away, helps give it a bit of an out-of-town feel, however, compared with pubs further in the centre.

The green and gold painted exterior tells us that this is a rare Timothy Taylors tied house.

It's a comfortable, carpeted, well appointed pub with much light pine wood panelling and, despite an open plan layout, a number of different areas. The walls are decorated with pictures of old Leeds and, reflecting its location, a number of framed legal cartoons and caricatures. Note also the Leeds United memorabilia, particularly the photo of the League winning side of 1965 ( Mick Jones, Allan Clarke etc ). I gather that the pub gets busy with the office crowd at lunchtime when good value hot food is served.

Remarkably, on my recent June evening visit, despite being festooned with flags of the 32 World Cup teams and a live game being in progress at the time, the two pub TV's were not showing the game, nor even the one day cricket international, but a Rugby League game - Sheffield Eagles v Barrow Raiders. This game was being watched keenly by one customer ( the duty manager ?) , but, apart from that, the pub was virtually empty.

4 Timmy's beers were on - Landlord, Best, Golden Best and Ram Tam. The Best - £ 2.55p - was reasonable. The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2010 Good Beer Guide. Probably as a reflection of its location, it's not open on Sundays.

This is a pleasant enough pub, but it's not near the top of my list of Leeds pubs to revisit

12 Jul 2010 12:19

Mr Foley's Cask Ale House, Leeds

Situated opposite Leeds City Hall and Art Gallery, Mr Foley's Cask Ale House will be remembered by many in its previous incarnation as Dr Okells, when it sold beers from The Isle of Man Brewery of that name. It's now the first pub outside of York to belong to the York Brewery.

The pub is housed in a former Pearl Assurance office building. I gather that the pub is named after Patrick Foley, the founder of Pearl Assurance, although I don't recollect seeing any relevant pictures or photos to confirm this.

The main bar area is in front of you as you go in, but the pub is housed over several floors and is much more spacious than is immediately apparent. The mezzanine floor has a mixture of sofas and chairs and tables and has the feel, in parts, of a rather loungey gentleman's club. There's a number of TV's dotted around the place which were showing the one day cricket international between England and Australia. Although I was only half watching, as indeed were a number of other customers, the TV's were promptly switched over to the World Cup later on in the evening without as much as a by your leave.

On the real ale front, the normal York beers - Constantine, Centurions Ghost, Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier - were all on. The Yorkshire Terrier, described as a "rich malty session bitter" - was in good form. Other beers on, inter alia, were from Saltaire, Rooster and Tring. The pub is listed in the CAMRA 2010 Good Beer Guide. There's also a good selection of foreign and bottled beers.

Do note the splendid collection of pump clips on the walls as you go to the toilets downstairs.

Live music is offered on Sunday and Monday evenings.

I imagine that the pub can get quite busy and noisy with the after work office crowd at times and you might want to avoid it at peak times, but otherwise it's worth dropping in.

12 Jul 2010 12:06

Palace, Leeds

A relatively recent addition to the Nicholson's chain, the Palace is situated slightly off the main pub "circuit" and is virtually next door to St Peters Church. It's one of Nicholson's Classic Pubs.

The interior consists of a number of adjoining drinking areas around a central bar. There's an outside courtyard and some seats outside at the front. Note the large clock by the side of the bar.

Inside the pub, the normal Nicholson's information board tells us that the building dates back to 1741 and was first recorded as an inn in 1841. We also learn that originally the pub was outside the eastern boundary of Leeds. The boundary is shown by the East Bar Stone set into the churchyard wall of the Parish Church - look out for it as you walk past.

Externally, painted brickwork tells us that The Palace Hotel was formerly a Melbourne's house and, inside the pub, we can see some frosted leaded windows with a bowing courtier motif, which was originally the brewery logo, so I gather.

On the real ale side, there's 11 pumps, of which 1 was for cider. The normal Nicholson's "try before you buy" was on offer. Perhaps I should have taken them up on their offer as the Dark Star Hophead - £ 2.90p - was a bit disappointing. Interestingly, the Jaipur IPA - 5.9% - was also on offer at the same price.

The Palace is only a shortish walk from the City Centre and is worthy of consideration for a visit. You might want to combine it with a visit to The Duck and Drake, which, I gather, has improved quite a lot over the last few months.

12 Jul 2010 12:03

The Bingley Arms, Bardsey

A tad surprised to be the first to get here

Situated in the small village of Bardsey, a mile or so off the main Leeds - Wetherby A road, the Bingley Arms is one of a number of pubs that, with varying degrees of justification, lays claim to being the oldest in Britain.

As you drive through the small village, you suddenly see an impressive and imposing looking Yorkshire stone building with a large car park in front. A sandwich board outside tells us that The Bingley Arms is "one of England's oldest inns dating back to 953 AD.An enamel sign affixed to the wall announces the pub as "England's oldest inn recorded in The Guinness Book of Records". I'll leave you to read all about the pub's history on their own very informative website. Perhaps inevitably, there's various ghostly rumours, about which you may share my scepticism.

A traditional door entrance leads into a low ceilinged, dark beamed, flagstoned bar with several different rooms, with candlesticks on the tables and plenty of old pictures. A traditional olde worlde feel was somewhat marred by the presence of a large TV which had been set up on the table in preparation for the World Cup. Thankfully, it wasn't on during my visit, although a smaller public bar at the side through a small corridor was showing a game during my recent visit, although there was no none watching.

The pub has a good reputation for food, although I noted that the upstairs restaurant "Spice at The Bingley" now only serves Indian food. Pub style meals are served in the main ground floor bar.

On the beer front, Tetleys, Black Sheep and TT Landlord were available. The TT Landlord, at a predictably expensive £ 3.30p - wasn't particularly good. Perhaps surprisingly, the pub doesn't close in the afternoon.

Worth popping in if passing by, but I don't really think it's worth much of a detour to specifically visit.

9 Jul 2010 08:48

The Coach and Horses, Soho

The Coach and Horses is one of Soho's best known pubs, situated right in the heart of this vibrant area of London.

It's still promoted externally as Norman's Coach and Horses - "Norman" being of course, the notorious Norman Balon, allegedly London's rudest landlord, who retired several years ago. I never had the distinction of being served personally by Norman, although I did once receive an icy glare when I pointed out to one of his staff that my pint needed topping up.

It's a former Taylor Walker pub with a light pine, wood panelled, carpeted interior and several interconnecting areas. It still has a rather bohemian feel, attracting some real local characters, several of whom were noticeably rather the worse for wear on my recent early evening visit. There's a Private Eye dining room upstairs.

In one room a woman was enthusiastically belting out all the old Cockney favourites on a piano and customers were being avidly encouraged to join in, without too much success. A drinks break between songs revealed that the woman was not a Pearly Queen, nor even a Londoner, but was actually Romanian !

There appears to be a wider range of real ales being served from what I remember several years ago. Beers on were Cumberland, Black Sheep, Pedigree, Bombardier, Doom Bar and Trumans, which I suspect is probably too many for this pub. All beers were priced at £ 3.40p.

This pub is inevitably crowded and, taking the visit as a whole, I'd only rate it as average.

9 Jul 2010 08:43

The John Snow, Soho

The John Snow is a street corner Sam's pub in the heart of Soho.

It's done out in their usual traditional style with a U shaped bar divided up by partitions to create a number of different rooms. There's the usual etched glass and wood panelling in abundance.

I didn't see anything in the pub to indicate why the pub is so named, but I gather it's named after a Dr John Snow who was around during the cholera epidemic of 1854 and realised that it was water that was causing the problem. Sorry to disappoint those sports fans who thought it was named after the former England fast bowler !

On my recent early Saturday evening visit, the pub was quite busy with a youngish crowd of people who looked like media types.

The Sam Smiths OBB - £ 1.99p - is not real ale and tasted rather chilled and tasteless to me.

If they could only start serving decent beer in here, I'd happily come here again as I quite liked this place as a pub.

9 Jul 2010 08:25

The Pillars of Hercules, Soho

The Pillars of Hercules is a pub with an attractive looking mock - Tudor exterior. It's a former Wm Younger's house, although, sadly, none of the evidence of that ( eg - patterned leaded windows ) remain. It's now owned by Faucet Inns.

In contrast to the exterior, the interior is rather featureless and has a more modernised chainy feel than many Soho pubs. It's a long narrowish bar area, but opens out into a wider space at the back.

On the real ale front, 2 beers from each of Thwaites, Adnams and Westerham Breweries were on. The Thwaites Wainwright - at a rather pricey £ 3.50p - was a pleasant pint. The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

I found this a rather uninspiring place to be honest, lacking in any real atmosphere, and I'm not putting it down for a re-visit

9 Jul 2010 08:24

The Old Coffee House, Soho

This is a pub that has been on my radar for a visit for some time, but it was not till early June that I actually got round to getting here for the first time.

It's a fine traditional street corner pub situated on the fringes of Soho. Externally, we learn that the pub offers "real ales from our own micro brewery", although this strikes me as being somewhat slightly misleading as the range of beer pumps on the bar indicate that the micro brewery in question is Brodies, which, if we didn't already know, is actually in Leyton.

The interior is bigger than it looks from the outside, but is well decorated with plenty of pots and pans hanging down from the ceiling, some boxing memorabilia, guitars, stuffed birds, First World War posters, enamel signs and several old Truman Hanbury and Buxton mirrors. I did also notice that framed letter from David Beckham that I recollect seeing in the Cross Keys in Covent Garden some while ago.

The pub was originally a Coffee Public House run by the Temperance movement.

On the afternoon on my visit, a large drop down screen was showing the Australia v Ghana game, but it didn't dominate or detract from the friendly welcoming atmosphere. Notably, it was clear from the interaction between bar staff and customers that there were a good number of customers who were regulars and on first name terms with the staff. Tourists were relatively few and far between, although those that did venture in were cordially welcomed.

There were approx half a dozen Brodies beers on. All beers appeared to be priced at £ 3.00p. Both the Special and the Pride of St George were on good form. On the basis of my visit, I would expect the pub, which advertises regularly in London Drinker, to make next year's CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

I quite liked this one and it's going on my list for an early re-visit.

9 Jul 2010 08:22

The White Swan, Twickenham

The John Bonser roadshow paid its inaugural post refurbishment visit to this pub yesterday to see for himself the alleged recent "improvements" to this pub in the light of the plethora of recent adverse comments here.

My previous visit - and subsequent posting here in April - was generally positive and enjoyable, so it was with a bit of trepidation that I ambled down the towpath from Richmond yesterday evening

Whilst the pub appears unchanged externally - it's still got that attractive whitewashed exterior - the damage to the character and individuality of the pub is, perhaps predictably, quite severe - on the Richter Scale of pub vandalism it merits a 6 in my book. As previous contributors have correctly pointed out, it's now very much got that sanitised, clinical, identikit, any-pub-any-where feel to it. The worst part, in my opinion, is the pastel shades, particularly the green colouring that has been applied to the wooden bar front. The rugby tickets stubs previously here have disappeared. The back room has survived relatively unscathed, much of the rugby memorabilia remains ( framed shirts ) .

On the plus side, I have to say that my pint of Ringwood 49er was in good form and the price - £ 3.15p - for its gravity is reasonable, when compared with offerings from more local brewers ( eg - Fullers London Pride ).

The jury's out on the staffing front as far as I'm concerned, I didn't form any particularly positive or negative views either way.

Perhaps unusually for a refurbishment of this nature, I didn't detect, on my visit yesterday, any obvious signs that the pub was looking to change its "desired customer profile". Notably, the forthcoming Raft Race in July was still being advertised.

The pub is now part of the Convivial London Pubs group - a group of approx 8 pubs dotted round the London area, that, notably, includes the once notorious Pakenham Arms near the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office. Interestingly, particularly to older drinkers, is the fact that one of the company directors is David Bruce of former "Firkin" fame.

I shall probably continue to pop in here at infrequent intervals, but, in summary, whilst I don't like the "improvements", take it from me that they could have been much much worse.

1 Jul 2010 09:52

The Richmond Arms, St Johns Wood

The Richmond Arms is an old fashioned street corner locals pub dating back to the 1920's and is situated in a less than salubrious part of St Johns Wood. It's in an area of unattractive looking council estates just off the Edgware Road.

The pub features in CAMRA's book of London Heritage Pubs - which was why I sought it out - and features some original fireplaces and cushioned fixed seating around the walls of the 3 original rooms, which are now interconnecting. Original bar fittings and counters still remain and the pub is carpeted throughout. However, I'm afraid that the distinct overriding impression is of a rather tatty and run down pub in need of some TLC. It's a former Watney Combe Reid pub and two of the round stag signs can still be seen on the external walls.

My recent Sunday evening visit ( after watching a 20-20 cricket match against Essex at nearby Lords ) was not a particularly memorable or enjoyable visit. The pub had what could only be described as a rather rough and ready council estate pub atmosphere. A good few of the customers were clearly quite a bit the worse for wear and looked as though they had probably been in the pub for most, if not all, of the day. Bad language was rife. It's the type of pub where everybody looks at you as you walk in. After a quick walk round the 3 rooms, I retreated to an unoccupied table on the pavement outside.

There's no real ale and I had to settle for a pint of John Smith's Extra Smooth - £ 2.70p.

Don't be fooled by the St Johns Wood address - this is a rather unappealing pub with little, if anything, to commend it all to a passing visitor. I wish that I had read Rex's review beforehand

18 Jun 2010 12:30

The Cross Keys, Hammersmith

The Cross Keys is a smallish, traditional Fullers pub situated in a residential area between the Great West Road ( A4) and Hammersmith's King Street. It's one the other side of the A4 from the better known Black Lion.

It's a pleasant pub with much light pine wood panelling. A small L shaped bar at the front leads into a larger open area behind and an outside garden with a covered smoking shelter.

The pub has a real community feel and it's evident that much work is done in raising money for charity. A framed print of a magazine article tells us that this is James May's local and he describes it as a proper local "free of the distractions of passing trade". A "Chippy Menu" is offered, which is basically chips with whatever takes your fancy.

On my recent visit, 3 of the 4 pumps were serving London Pride and the other one Seafarers. Perhaps the absence of passing trade means that there's no need to offer a wider range of Fullers beers - eg Chiswick, ESB.

This is a perfectly adequate, if unremarkable, pub in an area where traditional community locals seem to be desperately thin on the ground.

16 Jun 2010 13:34

The Packhorse and Talbot, Chiswick

The Packhorse and Talbot is a large roadhouse type of pub on the main Chiswick High Road.

Outside the pub, an information board tells us that a talbot acted as a guide dog for a traveller with a pack horse, and that this pub was simply called The Pack Horse between 1698 and 1811. It was frequently confused with the other Pack Horse ( this being The Old Pack Horse - the Fullers pub further down on the other side of the road ).

The Packhorse and Talbot is part of the Punch Taverns empire and is a typical large chain pub outlet with a variety of different areas and that rather generic impersonal feel that such pubs often have. There's a few TV screens dotted about and a food orientated area at the back of the pub, but it's one of those pubs that's trying to be all things to all men. In this respect, it's a notable exception to the rule for Chiswick.

On my recent Sunday afternoon visit, it was doubtful whether the John Bonser 3 minute service standard was met, despite their being hardly any other customers waiting. Beers on were GK Abbot, London Pride and Youngs London Gold. The London Gold - £ 2.75p - was in reasonable form and probably represents better value for money than the London Pride at £ 3.15p.

This is one of those typical template pubs that are difficult to specifically like or dislike, and I'm not putting it down for a return visit any time soon.

15 Jun 2010 12:56

The Salutation, Hammersmith

Situated along Hammersmith's main drag - King Street - The Salutation is immediately noticeable for its impressive and distinctive Edwardian blue tiled frontage. A notice on the outside tells us that "an old coaching inn has stood on the site since 1750. It was proud then, as it is now, of its traditional beers, travellers fayre and warm welcome". The current building dates back to 1910.

Inside, we find a long spacious single bar that has been opened out from its original incarnation, but retains some original features - mahogany bar back and fittings - and is not unpleasant. A recent refurbishment has not been dramatic, but seems to be indicative of a desire to be more of a bar than a traditional pub. We have a mixture of sofas, high tables and perches and, most unusually, a church pew style arrangement of 6 seats directly facing the TV screen over the bar. Disappointingly, the tiled entrance no longer displays the pictures of the Queen Mother when she visited the fine garden at the back of the pub in 1989.

The bar leads past a small conservatory style area into a largish paved beer garden with seating booths and a BBQ facility. A recent addition here is a table football machine and tournaments are planned. I'm doubtful whether outside is the best place for this table - who wants to hear the inevitable clattering sound whilst relaxing here away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby shops ?.

The Salutation seems to be trying to cover all angles and a postcard sized advertising flyer promotes the pub as offering "Food, Drink, Entertainment, Sports". It's also claiming to be Hammersmith's No 1 sports venue, a claim that I suspect could be legitimately challenged.

On the beer front, the London Pride - £ 3.05p - was in good form and the pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Sadly, the long standing landlord, Southampton - supporting Rob, left at the time of the recent refurbishment and it is to be hoped that the excellent beer quality will be maintained by the new management team.

I suppose only time will tell whether this new venture will be a success or not. From my perspective, it's lost something of that pubbiness that it had when Rob was around, but it's still a reasonable place for a pint if passing through.

15 Jun 2010 12:12

The Dove Inn, Hammersmith

The Dove is an 18th Century riverside inn on the Middlesex side of the river, easily accessible from Hammersmith Bridge along the river front walk. The well known anthem - Rule Britannia - was allegedly composed here and the pub has had many famous literary visitors over the years, such as Ernest Hemingway, A P Herbert etc. Nowadays, it's a popular tourist destination with that rather inevitable transient feel of pubs of this ilk.

Situated in a narrow alleyway, an old heavy duty door leads into the main bar area which has low ceilings, dark old beams and wood panelling.Some of the furniture here looks newish and I'm aware that there was a fire some time last year which did some damage.Over the fireplace here is a framed panel of famous customers who have dropped in in more recent times, including actors and sporting heroes ( eg - Julie Andrews, Godfrey Evans ). Also here is a visitors book with testimonials ( and a few crass idiotic comments ) from people from all over the world.

On the right of this main bar is a very small snug bar with room, realistically, for no more than half a dozen drinkers. This bar holds the Guinness World Record for being the smallest bar area and the framed certificate to this effect is proudly displayed. Note also the small brass plaque indicating the height that the waters reached in the floods of January 1928. The pub is listed in CAMRA's book of London Heritage pubs and these two front rooms are the older parts of the pub.

The main bar leads into a newer food orientated rear room which is decorated with prints and photographs of the pub and the local area in days of old. Passing through this rear room, we reach a small verandah with fine views of the River Thames. This verandah is popular in fine weather and also, especially on Boat Race day in March.

On my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, it was noticeable how much more food orientated the pub as a whole seems to have become. Paper menus were on all the tables in the main bar and the tables on the verandah were laid out for diners. As you might expect, food is not cheap - eg Sunday roasts - £ 13.95p, Cod fillet with chips - £ 11.50p. Unusually, a blackboard outside the pub advertises a take out menu at weekends only which includes New York deli hot dog and Chicago Red hot dog at £ 5 and £ 6 respectively.

Perhaps surprisingly, for a small pub like this where space is at a premium, dogs are positively encouraged and water bowls and dog biscuits are readily visible and available.

On the beer front, it's a Fullers pub and the usual beers are served from a bank of handpumps, oddly positioned in the angle of the L shaped bar servery. The London Pride - curiously described on a chalkboard by the front door as a "top selling premium amber ale" - was in good form at £ 3.25p. The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2010 Good Beer Guide.

This is one of London's most well known pubs and you really should try and get here when you get the chance.

14 Jun 2010 17:15

The Swan, Hammersmith

Prominently situated at the junction of King Street and Hammersmith Broadway opposite Hammersmith Tube Station, The Swan is an imposing Victorian pub that has, pleasingly, now come into the Nicholsons stable.

Previously a typical town centre "Edwards" pub appealing to the less discerning and more youthful pubgoers, it has now reverted to its original name of The Swan. Do take the time to look high up on the outside of the building and note the splendid swan depiction on the decorative brickwork. Note also the date shown in the plasterwork - 1901.

Inside the pub, the usual Nicholsons framed information print tells us that an earlier pub - a coaching inn known as The Old Swan , functioning as the first stop for horse drawn coaches from the City of London in the 18th Century - had to be demolished when the railway arrived, and that this pub, close by, is its direct replacement.

In true Nicholsons style, their restoration has brought out the best of the pub's Victorian heritage - high ceilings, several solid looking arches, impressive pillars, chandeliers and some frosted stained glass mini-windows up above the main tall plain glass windows. There's polished wood in abundance, which enhances the traditional feel of the interior, although I suspect that much of it is not original. There's a number of different seating areas, including an attractive carpeted room around the back of the main bar area. Upstairs is a "Bar and Dining Room" , although the downstairs bar is obviously used for dining and condiments were on most of the tables.

On the real ale front, there's 10 handpumps downstairs, of which 9 were in use on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit. Beers on were Wadworths 6X, Brakspears Bitter, London Pride, 2 Timmy Taylors beers ( Landlord and Best ), Adnams Broadside, Sharps Doom Bar, Cropton Dutch Wink and Castle Rock Harvest Pale Ale. The Brakspears was not particularly good, but the Castle Rock HPA was in excellent form. Both beers were priced at £ 3.10p.

There's a certain similarity here with The Falcon at Clapham Junction - both externally impressive Victorian pubs occupying prime street corner positions at busy road junctions, yet, until "rescued" by Nicholsons, neither being particularly good pubs at all, if the truth were known.

The Swan is a very welcome addition to the West London pub scene

14 Jun 2010 16:17

Jolly Butchers, Stoke Newington

Could Camrawoman, Dimple Mug and N16 please take their petty squabbling off line, please ?

10 Jun 2010 14:12

The Surprise, Stockwell

The Surprise is an excellent, unpretentious, traditional locals pub situated at the end of a small cul de sac off the Wandsworth Road and backing on to Larkhall Park. It's one of a sadly diminishing breed of old fashioned "proper" Youngs pubs - let's hope the Wells and Youngs changing rooms brigade can be persuaded to continue to leave it largely well alone.

It's a small pub with a narrow curved bar area at the front which leads through to a further room at the back with a dartboard and which, pleasingly, retains the framed caricatures of regulars that I remember from previous visits, although I suspect that, by now, some of them are now drinking in that great pub in the sky.

My previous review of this pub for BITE back in January 2008 was not kindly received by the locals as I expressed my dislike as being incessantly barked at and licked all over by the pub dog. Whilst the landlord and the pub dog in question are no longer in situ, it was perhaps ironic, as I'm sitting outside in the evening sunshine thinking how much more enjoyable the pub is now, that I suddenly realise that I've trodden in ….( you can guess the rest ), necessitating a quick visit to the nearby park to clean my shoe on the grass.

Unfortunately, I arrived too late for the advertised happy hour between 4-6pm, but the Youngs Special - £ 3.15p - was in good form. The pub has been in CAMRA Good Beer Guides.

Pubs like this are sadly disappearing from the London landscape - even though I wouldn't describe it as my "lucky"pub, let's hope this one is still around for years to come

10 Jun 2010 12:56

The Priory Arms, Stockwell

Externally resembling an archetypal back street local, The Priory Arms, situated off the Wandsworth Road, is another pub that has, over a number of years now, been a real ale specialist pub and has won a number of local CAMRA branch awards in that time.

It's a Grade 2 listed building, but it's a rather featureless, modernised interior with a light and airy stripped out feel, wooden floors, large windows and a mixture of traditional seating and taller perches. A notice inside the pub points us in the direction of a "sunny balcony up the stairs", but then goes on to advise us that it has been "closed by Lambeth Council". There's some seats outside in front of the pub where you can watch the traffic go past - unusually, for what at first glance is a quietish side street, it's on several bus routes.

Food plays a prominent role in proceedings and there seemed to be an emphasis on steaks and burgers ( eg - Tex Mex burger with sour cream, salsa, guacamole and jalopenas - £ 5.50p ) . A Sunday roast is offered.

There's 5 handpumps which, on my recent Saturday early evening visit, were serving Sambrooks Wandle, Sharps Cornish Coaster, Hop Back Summer Lightening, Downton Mad Hare and a beer from Cottage Brewery, Jack the Whippet. The Sambrooks - £ 3.20p - was in good form. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

It doesn't have enough of that traditional pubby feel for my liking, but it's worth popping in if passing by.

10 Jun 2010 12:55

The Town Wharf, Old Isleworth

Situated just downstream from the London Apprentice, on which I have just posted, is the much less well known Town Wharf, a two-storey Sam Smith's pub built to resemble somewhat a Swiss chalet.In true Sam's style, it is unbadged and also unsignposted from the main road, hidden away at the end of a quiet side street in an area of new build offices and apartments.

As you'd expect from Sam's, the interior is very traditional - if not original - with a nice carpeted snug on the left of the main central bar with leather banquettes and old photos and a room with a pool table on the right, similiarly furnished. The floor is tiled and there's some stained glass partitions.

The outside decking affords a view of Isleworth Ait in the middle of the River Thames, but you can't see the towpath on the opposite bank of the river and the view is less impressive than further upstream. Steps lead from this decking to an upstairs bar, but this was not open on my recent visit.

Notably, this pub appears to have a small band of regulars - perhaps for the cheaper beer. The Sam Smiths OBB is cheap at £ 1.99p of course and it's on the handpump as well.

First time visitors to the area will probably want to go to the better known London Apprentice, but, assuming you can find it, the Town Wharf is a more than acceptable alternative and is likely to be less busy.

10 Jun 2010 12:54

The London Apprentice, Old Isleworth

The London Apprentice is a well known attractively situated pub on the river in the old part of Isleworth. The pub is named after apprentices from the City livery companies who used to row up here on their days off and partake of liquid refreshments. The pub also has - perhaps inevitably - a number of historical connections, among them being Henry VIII, Nell Gwynne and Cromwell.

An attractive Georgian frontage leads into a low ceilinged pub with a number of different areas. A recent refurbishment has created something of a rather chain pub style interior, although some original features remain - most notably some etched Isleworth Ales windows and double doors on the Church Street side, indicative of a former multi-room layout and a former off- sales facility. It's now in the Punch Taverns portfolio and, on my recent visit, staff were wearing the usual black corporate shirts.

In one corner of the pub are a few rugby related pictures / photos and there's also some interesting old photos of the area. An attractive outside verandah affords fine views of the river and Isleworth Ait opposite. An elegant and impressive upstairs function room - "The Riverview Room " - has some attractive original decorative plaster moulding on the ceiling which is worth a look.

The pub has that typically transient tourist pub feel to it and, on my occasional visits here, I've never detected anything of a local or community pub atmosphere. Food now appears to play a more dominant part in proceedings.

On my most recent visit last week, beers on were mainly the usual suspects - Deuchars IPA, London Pride, Doom Bar, Youngs London Gold, Hop Back Summer Lightening plus, notably, Purity Mad Goose. The Summer Lightening - at a pricey £ 3.37p - was reasonable. The London Gold - £ 2.95p - wasn't desperately good. Pleasingly, and in contrast to pubs across the river in Richmond, plastic glasses are not required for outside drinking.

If you haven't been here before, it's worth popping in if you're in the area, particularly on a pleasant summer's afternoon.

10 Jun 2010 12:53

The Duke Of York, Chiswick

Coincidentally the first pub that I ever reviewed for BITE way back in November 2004, the Duke of York is an unpretentious street corner local in an area that has seen much gentrification and pub "improvements" over the years. It's situated down a side road leading down to the Hogarth roundabout on the south side of Chiswick High Road.

There's 2 interconnecting bars - the larger bar has much wood panelling, exposed ceiling beams, a fine bar counter and, despite the presence of a large pool table, a reasonably spacious feel to it. The front bar is smaller and has a number of seating alcoves separated by some stained glass screening. It's a solid looking 1920's building and the pub is now listed in CAMRA's Inventory of London Heritage Pubs.

Unfortunately, my recent Friday evening visit found the pub virtually deserted. Indeed, on approaching from the direction of the George and Devonshire, I originally drew the conclusion that the pub was not open as the front bar was in total darkness. Entering the side entrance into the larger main bar, I found a pub with barely half a dozen customers and a rather subdued atmosphere.

Previous posters mention the existence of signs about anti-social behaviour and refer to "new owners" who have introduced karaoke. Evidently these new owners have quickly moved on and the Fullers website confirms that the brewery are advertising for new tenants.

My visit found a relief manageress in situ who had to unlock the door to let me out at about 10 pm and, although there were still two other customers remaining, I suspected that she was looking to lock up soon and have an early night.

The London Pride - £ 3.00p - was in good form, but this was a rather depressing visit in all honesty. Like the previous poster, I wonder about this pub's future - let's hope Fullers get some decent tenants in quickly as I quite liked this pub when I visited it back in 2004.

9 Jun 2010 12:18

The George and Devonshire, Chiswick

Situated close to Fullers Brewery, the River Thames and also on the edge of the notorious Hogarth roundabout is the George and Devonshire, a Fullers pub with two adjoining, but distinctly separate bars.

The public bar is what it says on the tin - a basic, bare boarded room dominated by a snooker table, dartboard and TV. Curiously, it's in this bar, where most of the customers seemed to be of the lager swilling fraternity, that there's a dartboard describing the characteristics of the Fullers beers. It's also here that we learn that the George and Devonshire is "where Dick Turpin is said to have tied Black Bess and strolling players performed Shakespearean plays in the 16th Century to the nobility and gentry of Chiswick village."

The saloon bar is well appointed with flowers in vases on the tables and more of a food emphasis than I remember from previously. On my recent evening visit, a live music band was just setting up their instruments and equipment, taking up much of the space in the room. This room leads to an impressive and elegant function room, which, most notably, I can't remember ever noting it as being used for anything.

There's some outside seats at the front on the pavement where you can watch the traffic negotiating the roundabout. A quieter and more pleasant area is at the back of the pub, accessed from the lounge bar.

The London Pride - £ 3.20p - was reasonable. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

This is a pleasant enough pub, but not worth a detour.

9 Jun 2010 11:55

The Prince's Head, Richmond

Situated on a prominent corner position on the edge of Richmond Green, the Princes Head is a Fullers managed pub that is much larger than it looks from the outside.

Etched glass in the entrance doors reveal that this was once a multi-roomed pub. Now it's a single bar pub that has been tastefully extended at the back to create several linked food orientated areas. Pleasingly though, it still remains, first and foremost, a pub, with a small band of regulars often occupying the narrowish bar area at the front overlooking the green. Despite some inevitable refurbishment over the years, lowish ceilings and wood panelling mean that it has retained a reasonably traditional feel, although it can feel a bit dark and grey at times.

The pub really comes into its own in the summer months when Richmond Green acts as an unofficial beer garden. There's few better ways to spend a lazy sunny summer evening than sitting on the green with a pint of Pride and a takeaway from the chippy in nearby King Street, watching the pub's own cricket team do battle with a rival pub.

The pub has not been in the Good Beer Guide for ages now, but the London Pride and Chiswick are usually in reasonable nick.

I think if I had one criticism of the pub, it's of the rather transient nature of most of the staff - plus those awful corporate black shirts that they have to wear.

This is still one of Richmond's better pubs.

8 Jun 2010 12:28

Jolly Butchers, Stoke Newington

The Jolly Butchers, occupies a prominent street corner position on the main A10 road in the centre of Stoke Newington.

As previous posters indicate ( amongst the usual silly squabbling and bickering comments ), it's recently reinvented itself from an earlier incarnation as Father Ted's. Never having visited the establishment in those days - well with a name like Father Ted's, you wouldn't would you ? - my recent evening visit was my first to the premises. It's now back to what was apparently its original 16th century name

Externally, it markets itself as an Ale and Cider House, which, given the range of drinks on offer, is fair enough, but, as you go in, the overwhelming initial impression is of a gastropub, mainly due to the prominently visible open kitchen in one corner, paper menus, small candles etc. There are some attractive original features - the small semi circular arched stained glass windows high up, pillars and tiling - but the often used phrase "stripped out" seems appropriate here. The establishment is clearly aiming at the local urban professional crowd of 30-40 somethings and they seemed out in force on my visit. Predictably perhaps, TV's and fruit machines are notable by their absence. There's no pub garden, but there are some outside tables on the side road pavement.

On the drinks front, there's 7 real ales which, on my recent visit included beers from Thornbridge, Redemption, Dark Star and Crouch Vale. All beers sampled by me - Dark Star Hophead, Redemption Urban Dusk and Crouch Vale - were in good condition and perhaps not as expensive as might have been expected ( eg - Dark Star Hophead - £ 2.90p ). 2 pumps were serving cider. Somewhat annoyingly, and similar to The Southampton Arms in Gospel Oak, it appears that you automatically get served in a jug unless you specify to the contrary. Staff appeared enthusiastic and there were no short measure issues.

Food is categorised into "Small Plates - Big Flavours" and "Big Ones". The former includes for example, Chorizo Salad - £ 5.50p - and the latter includes Erdinger beer battered cod fillet with triple blanched chips cooked in duck fat - £ 10.50p. Food that I saw looked appetising and seemed to arrive promptly. Perhaps unusually, the pub doesn't open for lunch midweek and food starts at 5pm on those days, with, according to the website, a 4pm opening.

My main criticism - and it's a fairly major negative as far as I'm concerned - is the total absence of any comfort, soft furnishings or degree of intimacy / privacy whatsoever. The floor is bare boarded, the chairs and tables are wooden and uncomfortable and there are no screens / partitions etc to break up the interior into more personal spaces. The end result of all this is a rather noisy, echoey environment where the ability to conduct meaningful conversations diminished as the evening wore on and as it filled up. A few rugs and the creation of some seating booths would make the place much more attractive and welcoming.

The beers were in fine form and it was nice to meet up and sink a few beers with several other BITE contributors, but this isn't really my kind of place and, taking the experience as a whole, I'm not noting this one down for a revisit.

4 Jun 2010 10:53

The Royal Standard, Croydon

The Royal Standard is a splendidly unspoilt traditional Fullers pub situated on a street corner just off the main High Street

It's a small basic unpretentious locals pub with two adjoining bars - a basic public bar with a dartboard and stools around the walls and bar and a more comfortable and slightly larger lounge bar. The pub is virtually unchanged from my first visit in the 1970's, apart from the lounge bar having been slightly extended at the back.

Unusually, there's an outside drinking area across the road virtually under the flyover and which affords superb views of a large 1960's multi storey car park.

On my recent Bank Holiday Monday visit, unbeknown to me in advance, a beer festival which had started on the previous Saturday was still in progress and there were still 8 barrels on stillage in the lounge bar. A promotional leaflet listed a total of 10 beers on offer during the festival - which included Skinners Betty Stoggs, Wadworths Henry's IPA, Robinsons 4-4-2, Brains On The Head, plus 3 beers from the local Westerham Brewery. Martin told me that this was the 3rd festival the pub had held and that more would follow later in the year.

Situated not far away from The Dog and Bull, on which I have just posted, this is a pub that really should be included in any Croydon pub crawl.

4 Jun 2010 09:45

The Dog and Bull, Croydon

The Dog and Bull is an excellent, traditional Youngs pub, situated in the heart of Croydon's Surrey Street Market. It's a Grade 2 listed building.

There's a central island bar surrounded by a mixture of seating and wood panelled walls with an additional drinking area at the back and in an extension on the right, which, although you wouldn't know it, was a later addition to the pub. The walls are decorated with a fine collection of evocative photos of old Croydon. Pleasingly, the framed pictures of the Queen Mother and Prince Charles, which used to be a feature of all Youngs pubs, are still very much in evidence. Splendid stained and frosted windows depicting the eponymous dog and bull are also a feature.

Unusually for central Croydon, there's a large outside sun trap garden at the back where summer BBQ's are held. An upstairs room has been brought into use as a function room, which I don't recollect noticing on earlier visits. There's now a Comedy Night on the first Tuesday of every month.

On my recent visit, beers on were Youngs Special, Ordinary, London Gold plus Hooky Bitter, a guest beer sometimes seen in Youngs pubs nowadays. The Ordinary - £ 2.90p - was reasonable. The pub has been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent years.

A recent refurbishment has seen the introduction of some plush seating and banquettes in place of some of the old basic furniture. In contrast to some earlier reviewers, I think that, unusually for Youngs, it is quite tastefully done and is probably a recognition that the pub needed to make more effort to extend its customer base beyond just market traders and customers.

Decent pubs are few and far between in Croydon. This is still one of the ones worth seeking out

4 Jun 2010 09:24

The Crown and Sceptre, South Croydon

The Crown and Sceptre is a fine traditional pub in a residential side street in South Croydon opposite Whitgift School.

The interior is cosy, carpeted and comfortable and gives the pub a slight feel of an upmarket country pub. There's some exposed brickwork and a number of seating booths down the side which afford a degree of privacy. A large conservatory style area at the back is mainly used for dining and the pub is very popular for Sunday lunch, in particular, I gather. There's an outside drinking area at the front on the extended pavement and some seats outside at the back.

It's a Fullers pub which on my visit was serving Pride, Chiswick, ESB and Gales Seafarers. The Pride - £ 3.15p - was in good form.

I quite like this one and I'm surprised it's not better known and that it doesn't seem to have won any Fullers Pub Awards yet.

There are rather more pubs than you might reasonably expect in these quiet residential side streets round here - and this pub clearly seems to be the pick of them as far as I'm concerned

3 Jun 2010 13:04

The The Rail View, South Croydon

The View is a two bar traditional pub, situated not too far away from South Croydon station.

Although it's still basically the same pub as it was on my last visit several years ago, it's clearly had quite a major change in emphasis since then, which has resulted in a name change from The Railway View to the rather pretentious sounding The View. Sadly, the splendid railway pictures in the comfortably furnished saloon bar have been replaced with a series of art prints of pop stars including The Beatles and that splendid role model, Amy Winehouse. This has created a pub with a bit of a student feel to it and, perhaps in recognition of this, the food menu is pizza orientated. Notably, both bars have a dartboard. Sporting related prints ( eg - World Cup 1966, George Best ) remain in the smaller adjoining public bar, which has a tiled floor

There's a fine outside decking area and garden, which, despite the pub name, does not have much of a view worth talking about.

On my Bank Holiday Monday visit, the pub was rather deserted and I was able to watch in splendid isolation on the TV screen the conclusion of the Test Match against Bangladesh at Lords. The barman seemed more interested in working on his laptop than in engaging in meaningful conversation with yours truly.

Beers on were London Pride, Adnams and Harveys Best, the latter being on good form and at a keenly priced £ 2.85p. A Fathers Day Beer Festival is being held over the weekend of 19/20 June. The pub was in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide a few years ago when it was The Railway View, but it's not in the 2010 Edition.

This was not a particularly memorable visit in all honesty and the jury's out on this one as far as I'm concerned, but a return visit is not ruled out at some time in the future.

3 Jun 2010 12:43

The Stamford Arms, Lambeth

Situated just down the road from The Mad Hatter, on which I have just posted, is The Stamford Arms, a traditional and pleasant, if somewhat unremarkable single bar pub with a number of different drinking areas and an additional area upstairs which doubles up as a function room.

The pub is part of the Market Taverns Group - which of course includes the well known Market Porter and also The Carpenters Arms ( Marble Arch ) - and it was a pleasant surprise to meet and have a longish chat with friendly landlord, Nick, who used to be at The Market Porter.

On my recent late evening visit, 2 beers from Ringwood were on, plus Yellowhammer from O' Hanlons, which is now brewed in Devon. The Ringwood Best - £3.00p - was in good form. Overall, however, I didn't get the impression that the pub majored on real ale, unlike either the Market Porter or The Carpenters. Notably, despite prominently displaying the large Harvey's barrel logo by the entrance, Harveys beer is no longer stocked. Nick told me that The Stamford Arms is tied to the Enterprise Inns guest list and it would apparently be too expensive to stock.

This pub - situated in Southwark incidentally, not Lambeth - is well worth a visit when you're in the area and I'll definitely revisit when I get the opportunity.

2 Jun 2010 08:56

The Mad Hatter Hotel, Southwark

The Mad Hatter is a Fullers Ale and Pie House / Hotel situated just south of Blackfriars Bridge.

A collection of framed hats reminds us that the building formerly housed a Victorian hat factory. It's now a fairly typical Ale and Pie House mock - Victorian interior, comfortably furnished with much wood and glasswork, but without the stunning interior of the converted banks such as The Counting House or The Old Bank of England.

The pub is popular with workers from mearby offices, but appears to suffer through not having a riverside location.

On my recent visit, the Chiswick - at a rather pricey £ 2.95p - was in reasonable form. The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

This is a comfortable and pleasant, if unremarkable, pub in an area with a number of attractive options.

1 Jun 2010 16:53

The Kings Arms, Waterloo

Smallish, but traditional street corner pub situated in a residential side street of terraced houses close to Waterloo East train station. I'm told that the street featured in one of the Dr Who series involving the Daleks.

The pub is divided into 2 separate bars by an original wooden screen, although access between the two bars can be gained via a corridor at the back of the pub which also leads to a conservatory and Thai food restaurant.

The pub is popular with both workers from nearby offices and local residents, who spill out on to the pavement - no seats - in front of the pub in fine weather.

Despite some sensitive renovations over the years, it still resembles a reasonably traditional pub, sporting some interesting old photos of the area and some brewery mirrors. The pub sign outside reminds us that this was a former Taylor Walker pub.

The pub displays framed certificates awarded by a rival website - which I'm not going to name for obvious reasons - for Best London Pub in 2004 and also for the three years from 2006 to 2008.

Close to these certificates, the pub price list that is on display refers to various "largers" - with an extra "r" - that are on sale, such as San Miguel, Fosters, Staropramen and Guinness (!). Also, under this heading are listed the real ales - mainly priced at £ 3.20p. I have to say, that I find this a bit unprofessional. Management might want to review this list.

On my recent early evening visit, beers on were Doom Bar, Adnams, Brakspears Bitter and Oxford Gold. The Brakspears was in acceptable form, disappointingly served by staff in chain - pub style black shirts. The pub has had CAMRA Good Beer Guide listings, but isn't in the 2010 Edition.

Staff seemed efficient and as welcoming and friendly as might be expected given how busy the pub was on my recent early evening visit.

Pubs close to railway stations are often not up to much, but this one is well worth seeking out.

1 Jun 2010 13:17

The Plough, Coldharbour

The Plough is a fine, traditional, well-established home brew pub situated in the Surrey hills a few miles south of Dorking.

I'm told that there's some excellent walks nearby, although the persistent drizzle that set in, together with the descending mist, meant that the focus of my Saturday visit to the area shifted more towards the pub and the home brewed beer and a longer visit than originally anticipated.

As you approach the pub, the first thing you notice is a St George's flag flying proudly outside. Inside, a board above the smallish bar servery tells us that The Plough Inn was established in 1641and that it has been the home of the Leith Hill Brewery since 1996. The Brewery is a converted barn at the back of the pub, which I did manage to get a quick glimpse of when the rain finally relented. There's a pleasant, sloping garden at the back which gives views of the surrounding countryside. There's outside toilets, just outside the side entrance, which, by normal outside toilet standards, are positively luxurious. The inn provides accommodation and is AA 4 Diamond standard.

The main bar on the left as you go in is bare boarded with some blackened oak beams helping create a traditional atmosphere. There's two adjoining areas here - the area at the back has a dartboard, but the positioning of tables and chairs suggests it's not used. There's also a smallish TV, which wasn't in use during my visit. Furniture is mainly wooden chairs and tables, with not a lot of comfort. There's a largish well appointed restaurant area on the right hand side of the entrance, but, on my visit, most people were eating in the back room of the pub. Food seems to be basic pub grub, but portions looked substantial and filling and arrived quickly, served by staff who seemed enthusiastic and eager to please. A few board games are provided for children.

The pub was reasonably busy with a mixture of walkers, cyclists and motorists visiting the area and who had, in the main, dropped in for lunch and a respite from the steady drizzle that had set in. Notably, there didn't appear to be one customer present who was either a local or a regular and this gave the pub a rather transient feel, with people coming and going at regular intervals. I didn't get the feeling that this was in any way a "community" pub, but one with a definite emphasis on catering for passing visitors.

On the home brew front, beers on were Crooked Furrow - described as "the flagship brew" - and Tallywacker - "dark and delicious". The Crooked Furrow ( ABV - 4% - £ 3.30p ) and Tallywacker ( ABV - 4.8% - £ 3.50p ) were both superb pints. In particular, the Crooked Furrow, a dry bittery pint, was very moreish. On a pump round the side of the bar- and not immediately noticed by me - was a third beer, The Beautiful South, which I found somewhat bland and disappointing by comparison. Shepherd Neame Spitfire was also available as was Biddenden Cider. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular. Notably, earlier editions of the Guide refer to the pub having 8-10 handpumps. This has evidently been reduced - I saw only 5 on my visit.

In view of the recent squabbling and plethora of recent adverse comments here about the pub - and the landlady in particular - some of which are noticeably more informative and helpful than others, here's my comments as an impartial first time visitor with no axe to grind. For most of my visit, the bar was staffed by a young Portuguese ( ?) bar maid who was friendly and efficient. She was able to describe the characteristics of the home brews, and seemed genuinely interested in what I thought of them. Anna was mainly in the background, keeping an eye of things and making sure everything, particularly the kitchen, was running smoothly. On several occasions, she found time to stop and chat with customers - most notably with a group of 4 cyclists - and also with a family with several young children who called in just before food stopped at 3pm. I formed the view that she's probably not a naturally gregarious Mine Hostess, but, based on my visit, she's certainly not the Wicked Witch of the West that I was half expecting.

Being a rural pub, getting here by public transport presents a challenge. My route was by train to Holmwood and then a 40-45 minute walk down country lanes and footpaths. Thankfully, I managed to avoid the worst of the weather.

Unlike the nearby Surrey Oaks and the Royal Oak in Rusper, The Plough Inn is not a "must visit" pub, but I enjoyed the visit and I'd happily call in again.

1 Jun 2010 11:10

The Flower Pot, Macclesfield

A tad surprised that a prominent pub like this hasn't had a posting for over 5 years !

It's a large Brewers Tudor roadhouse style pub at a busy road junction on the southern edge of town. Set slightly back from the road, there's a large car park and a large outside seating area at the front.

The main bar interior is carpeted and comfortable and pillars divide it up into a number of different areas, but it's a rather unremarkable pub with a fairly standard pub interior and little, if anything of note. It's got that rather impersonal feel that large pubs often have when they're trying to cover all bases.

Unusually for a pub of this nature, there's a separate public bar which contains a pool table and is decorated with some framed motor cycling photos.There's also a fine picture of another Robinsons pub - The Fletcher Arms - which I presume was the current landlord's previous pub.

The Flowerpot is also a Robinsons pub, but, on my recent late evening visit, only the Unicorn - £ 2.55p - was on. The presence of some local branch CAMRA magazines ( from a different branch incidentally than those I had seen in The Old Ship on the other side of town ) would indicate that it is CAMRA friendly, but it doesn't seem to have made any recent GBG's.

This is quite a pleasant pub, but it's not worth going out of your way to visit.

Finally, do note that, unusually, there are two pubs in Macclesfield with this name, both listed on BITE, so be careful you don't post your comment against the wrong one, as I almost did !

27 May 2010 13:10

The Old Ship Inn, Macclesfield

Surprised to be the first to post on this one, so here goes.

The Old Ship Inn is an attractive looking Tudor roadhouse style of pub with leaded and frosted windows helping give a traditional look to the place. It's situated approx 10 minutes walk from the centre of Macclesfield in a northerly direction, crossing over what appears to be the ring road for through traffic.

The interior consists of a single bar, simply but comfortably furnished with much wood panelling and a separate snooker room at the back. Of particular note is a framed list of pubs in Macclesfield in alphabetical order in the year 1910 which listed approx 140 pubs, but for some reason it only went up to the letter "R", so there were probably 200 plus in total.

There's an outdoor drinking area at the back, part under shelter. Note the mannequin of a sailor on the roof at the back.

Beers on, on my recent early evening visit, were Worthington plus 2 from the local Storm Brewery - Ale Force and Bosley Cloud, both pleasant pints at £ 2.10p. The presence of additional pumps indicated that the normal range was probably greater than this.The pub is CAMRA friendly and copies of the local branch magazine were available. The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide and was recently voted Macclesfield and East Cheshire Winter Pub of the Year for 2009.

My knowledge of Macclesfield pubs is virtually negligible, so I don't know how this pub compares with the competition, but I enjoyed the visit and I'd be more than happy to revisit if the opportunity presented itself

27 May 2010 12:51

The Castle, Macclesfield

CLOSED

Small, attractive looking pub situated in what appears to be the old part of Macclesfield. Having climbed up a small, but steepish, cobbled street to reach the pub, I wasn't desperately happy to find it closed with no signs of life at around 7.45 pm last Thursday. There's still an Estate Agents board on an outside wall.

I think we can safely assume that this pub is closed at present.

Let's hope it reopens as a pub soon as it's on CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

26 May 2010 18:01

The Harrington Arms, Gawsworth

Fine, traditional country pub situated several miles south of Macclesfield just off the A536 Congleton Road.

It's a Grade 2 listed building, part of a working farm, and consists of a number of unspoilt basic rooms either side of a central corridor. There's some basic fixed seating, old settles and quarry tiled floors. One room has a piano and the walls are decorated with some farming related pictures ( eg - shire horses ) . The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

On my recent early evening visit, the pub was surprisingly busy with a good cross section of customers and a friendly welcoming atmosphere was immediately apparent.

The pub is obviously run by an enterprising landlord as I noticed that a cocktail evening was being held on the coming Saturday where cocktails and canapes and musical entertainment were on offer for the princely sum of £ 10. On Sunday 30 May, a Kiwi tradition - a Hangi - is being performed, which is a method of slow cooking food under the ground, which has previously been heated up by a bonfire. Tickets - priced at £ 8 - include some New Zealand music and a demonstration of the Haka. I suppose that pubs - especially those in rural locations - are realising that decent beer and a warm welcome isn't always enough nowadays.

The Harrington Arms is a Robinsons pub which was offering Unicorn, Hatters Mild and 4-4-2, the latter being evidently one of the plethora of World Cup themed beers that we're going to have to get used to seeing over the next month or so. The Hatters Mild ( 3.3% ABV ) was an enjoyable pint, but, at £ 2.45p, perhaps more expensive than I might have expected, given that the stronger Unicorn ( 4.2% ABV ) was £ 2.55p - only 10p dearer.

This is another pub worth making an effort to get to when in the area.

26 May 2010 17:50

The Holly Bush Inn, Bollington

Fine traditional Robinsons pub situated on the main road through Bollington village.

An attractive looking mock-Tudor exterior features leaded, frosted windows - some hearing a holly bush motif.

It's a three roomed pub with one small room to the left and right before you reach the main bar, which is a cosy wood panelled and carpeted bar with some fixed banquette seating round the walls. Note also the drop down screens above the bar counter. The walls are decorated with plates, old photos etc. The room on the right has oak beams and each room retains an old fireplace. There's evidence of bell pushes being present in earlier days.The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. Rather incongruously for a pub of this style, live entertainment was being advertised.

On my recent Thursday afternoon visit at around 3pm, the pub was completely empty and a young girl with tattoos and a big dog sitting outside on a bench seat, and who really looked as though she should have been at school, rather begrudgingly stubbed out her cigarette and followed me in to the pub to serve me what turned out to be an excellent pint of Dizzy Blonde - £ 2.30p. Other beers on were Hatters and Unicorn.

This is an attractive looking pub, both inside and out, but I was distinctly underwhelmed by the experience as a whole and I'd be inclined to try one of the other pubs in the village instead. There's no shortage of choice.

26 May 2010 17:31

The Beartown Tap, Congleton

As the name indicates, the Beartown Tap is the brewery tap for the local Beartown Brewery situated only a couple of hundred yards away, and which started brewing in 1999.

Situated slightly away from the town centre, it's a smallish single bar pub with two separate lounge areas as well as a drinking area around the bar. The interior is comfortable and pleasant, but rather nondescript and a collection of posters and enamel signs from German and Belgian breweries reminded me of The Borough Arms in Crewe ( also incidentally a brewery tap ) where I had been the previous day. In addition, there's some fine old photos of Congleton to admire. There's an outside garden at the back down some stairs.

6 Beartown beers were on and, as is usual, all bore the "bear" name and branding. The Beartown name is in recognition of the fact that Congleton used to have a Bear Warden whose role was to supervise the bear baiting that took place when fairs came to town. The Bearskinful - £ 2.30p - was in good form. The pub has been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent years and has won local CAMRA Branch awards.

This pub is well worth seeking out

26 May 2010 17:20

The Yew Tree Inn, Cauldon Low

Situated somewhat incongruously between an ugly massive cement works and some quarry factories, the inside of The Yew Tree really does look like a cross between the Antiques Roadshow and Steptoe's junkyard.

It's an old stone built building situated off the A523 and, with no hanging pub sign and seemingly no real effort to attract custom ( no sandwich boards etc and nothing really to encourage you in ), it's easy to miss, although the large yew tree outside in front of the pub helps.

Previous posters - especially that intrepid Captain Cook of the pubgoing world, Roger B - have more than adequately described the delights that await you once you cross the threshold into the pub.Myself, I was particularly impressed with the working polyphons, some fine Jacobean furniture and the collection of old radios. Note also the old penny farthing bicycle hidden behind a wooden settle.

In contrast to Roger however, I didn't find landlord and collector par excellence, Alan, particularly engaging or welcoming at all. Perhaps I got off on the wrong foot at the outset. My friendly and good-humoured opening remark of "Blimey, it's a bit difficult to find, isn't it ?!" was countered by a rather brusque and disagreeable "no" and then telling me that it's only 4 and a bit miles from Alton Towers and that people from all over the world had managed successfully to find this pub over the years. He didn't seem desperately welcoming to later arrivals either. Whilst in negative mode, I ought to mention the smell from the gents toilets, which really does need addressing.

For the record, in case anyone's interested, beers on were Burton Bridge Bitter, Rudgate Mild and Bass. The first two - both at a very reasonable £ 2.00p per pint - were in splendid form. The cash register, reminiscent of the one in Open All Hours, is yet another throwback to earlier days. On the bar were a few home made pork pies and a glass jar of pickled eggs.

The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide where the commentary says "there cannot be another pub like this". It also regularly appears in more general pub guides - eg The Good Pub Guide, and a 25 year certificate is on display. It also appears in the "Strangest Pubs in Britain" book.

Don't forget to sign the visitors book - situated by the entrance on an old school desk - when you finally come to leave.

This is most definitely a must visit pub and I would encourage you to visit and experience it for yourself when you possibly can, but you might be advised to refrain from telling Alan that it's difficult to find !

26 May 2010 12:48

Travellers Rest, Alpraham

Splendidly unspoilt and old fashioned basic brick-built pub situated a few miles outside Nantwich on the busy A51 road to Chester.

The four rooms in this friendly, family owned free house feature some ceiling beams, fixed bench seating and some unusual wicker seating. Notably the four rooms are located in 2 separate parts of the pub, accessed through different external doors. There's the seemingly compulsory outside toilets.

There's no fruit machines or music here - in this pub that is reminiscent of a different era, beer and conversation rule the roost.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

Another notable feature is a splendid bowling green behind the pub and, on my recent early evening visit, local players were arriving to practice in preparation for a league match the following day. Parking outside at the front of the pub was becoming difficult due to the volume of cars arriving and I noted that very few of the bowls players seemed to be using the pub.

Beers on were Weetwood Cheshire Cat and Eastgate, together with Tetleys Bitter, which, the friendly landlord told me, were now the regular offerings. The Cheshire Cat was in good form and, at £ 2.25p, noticeably cheaper than I had paid in Nantwich earlier.

The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular and is well worth a visit if you like pubs of this nature. Do note, however, that it doesn't do weekday lunchtimes and do take care when exiting the car parking area back on to the main road as the traffic can be deceptively fast.

26 May 2010 12:27

The Vine Inn, Nantwich

The Vine Inn is another attractive looking black-and-white pub situated close to the town centre. The exterior says that the pub dates back to "circa 1641".

It's larger than it looks from the outside as it extends back quite a long way inside. Although there's oak beams, low ceilings and different drinking areas, it's been modernised a bit and this, coupled with the presence of fruit machines and a TV, give the pub something of a typical town centre pubco outlet feel to it.

It's a Hydes pub which, on my recent evening visit, was offering Jekylls Gold and Original from the Hydes range. Also on were Ruddles Best and a beer from Allgates.

Hydes have never struck me as being particularly distinctive beers and my pint of Original did nothing to dispel this view. Taking everything into account, I'd be inclined to give this one a miss next time.

24 May 2010 18:09

The Crown Hotel, Nantwich

The Crown Hotel is an impressively large black and white timbered building in the centre of Nantwich. On the wall outside, a plaque tells us that the building was rebuilt on site in 1585 on the site of an earlier inn destroted by fire in 1583. It was a coaching stop on the London - Chester run. Despite it being predominantly a hotel - The Best Western Crown Hotel - the attractive exterior, coupled with a blackboard listing several real ales, encouraged me inside.

The bar in the hotel has the predictable wonky beams, sloping floor and a comfortable, pleasant feel to it. Beers on were Titanic Anchor, Titanic Golden Age and Woodlands Crown Ale, which, as the name suggests, is brewed specially for the pub by the local Woodlands Brewery. The Titanic Anchor - £ 2.95p - was a superbly spicy and bittery pint.

The barman seemed genuinely chuffed that someone had come in specifically to sample the real ales and, somewhat ironically, the Titanic Anchor was easily the best pint of my Nantwich mini - tour. You do need to remember however that this is principally a hotel bar and not a pub.

24 May 2010 17:48

The Black Lion, Nantwich

Small, but attractive looking traditional inn dating back to 1664 and situated in the centre of town.

The characterful interior features low beams, some exposed brickwork and a mixture of flagstones and wooden flooring. Although nooks and crannies create 3 different, but adjoining separate drinking areas, the use of large tables mean that seating arrangements are not as user friendly as could be. Additional room is available in an upstairs lounge. There's an outside drinking area at the side of the pub which, with some unusual roofed seating, feels a bit like drinking in a garden centre.

On my recent early evening visit, 6 real ales were on, of which 3 were from the nearby Weetwood Brewery - Cheshire Cat, Best and Old Dog. Other beers on were Cottage Phantom, Rugby Brewery Union and Stationhouse Buzzin. Prices ranged from £ 2.60p to £ 3.00p. My pint of Cheshire Cat - £ 2.80p - tasted a bit uninspiring. The pub has been in CAMRA Good Beer Guides, but it's not in the 2010 Edition.

Worthy of consideration for a visit if in the area.

24 May 2010 17:24

The Borough Arms, Crewe

Enterprising free house situated just outside Crewe town centre close to a road bridge over the main railway line.

Outside, the pub advertises itself as offering "Traditional real ales and Belgian beers" and tells us that it was established in 1867.

There's a comfortable, but rather unremarkable, single bar interior which has low ceilings, but has a reasonably light and airy feel and is decorated largely with German/Belgian beer posters. Stairs lead down to a lounge bar below street level and a pleasant outside drinking area.

Although the CAMRA Good Beer Guide tells us that the on site Borough Arms Brewery is "now brewing regularly", disappointingly, none of their beers were on when I called in on a recent Sunday evening. My disappointment was tempered somewhat by the splendid range of other real ales on - 9 in total - beers from Box Steam, Blakemere, Banks and Taylor, Breconshire, Bushy ( IOM), Manchester Marble, Abbey Ales Restoration plus 2 from Hopback. The Abbey Ales Restoration - £ 2.60p - was a fine, light coloured hoppy pint. The pub is in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide and is South Cheshire Pub of the Year for 2009.

Crewe doesn't strike me as one of the nicer towns that I've ever been to, but I'd be happy to call in her again, irrespective of whether their own beers are on or not. Finally, do note that the pub doesn't do lunchtimes between Mondays and Thursdays, not opening until 5pm on those days.

24 May 2010 17:14

George Inn, Eccleshall

The George is a 17th Century coaching inn situated at the central crossroads in the attractive Staffordshire town of Eccleshall.

Despite some sensitive modernisation ( in customer terms, not pubco speak ) , the interior retains quite a traditional feel with some low beams, exposed brickwork and flagstones. It feels a bit bare and it's not particularly comfortable. There's a separate restaurant on the right but, on my recent Sunday afternoon visit, most people seemed to be eating in the separate bar area. As a concession to current demands, there's a small area with a couple of sofas which was showing the Grand Prix on a big screen, but nobody seemed interested. The exterior was currently receiving a lick of paint, so it will probably look less tatty than experienced by previous posters.

The George is the brewery tap for Slaters Ales although these are no longer brewed at the pub, but in nearby Stafford. On my recent visit, 5 Slaters beers were on - Why Knot, Original, Top Totty, Premium and Monkey Magic - at prices between £ 1.85p and £ 2.10p. The Why Knot ( 3.6% ABV ) at £ 1.90p was an excellent pint. There was also a guest beer ( 4.5% ABV ) at only £ 1 per pint, but, for some unaccountable reason, I forgot to note down what it was. The pub has been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular in recent years.

On the pavement outside, a sandwich board tells us that the pub is REAL - Rooms, Eatery, Ales, Log fires - which sums it up pretty well.

I was reasonably impressed with this one.

24 May 2010 17:00

The Anchor, High Offley

The Anchor Inn is a splendidly unspoilt canalside gem close to Bridge 42 of the Shropshire Union Canal and not too far away from Eccleshall.

It's a brick built pub resembling a private house that has been in the same family for over 100 years.

Entering through the front door, one finds a pub with two unspoilt basic rooms with a small central bar counter that resembles the back end of a barge. The bar on the right has a quarry tiled floor and 2 high backed settles. There's a grandfather clock and a real fire. Above the fireplace are a number of photos and certificates relating to the pub. The room on the left is equaaly basic and unspoilt with formica tables and wooden benches.

Sitting in the small intimate room on the right with its real fire and friendly locals really does feel like sitting in someone's living room and, when not serving, Olive, the longstanding landlady, would come and sit by the fireplace alongside the customers. Other customers appeared to be a mixture of passing walkers, local barge owners / dwellers and caravanners from the site within which the pub sits. Needless to say, there's no fruit machines or music, although I gather that impromptu folk music sessions are held when someone brings a guitar.

There's a well kept lawn at the front of the pub with tables for outside drinking where one can watch the passing canal traffic. Note in particular here the dolls house sized model of the pub in the far left hand side of the garden. There's the obligatory outside toilets.

In contrast to the experience of some recent posters, the pub opened bang on the dot at midday on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit. The real ale is Wadworth's 6X - served through a beer pump into a (clean) plastic jug, from which your pint is poured. Until recently, I gather that Olive used to bring the beer up directly from the cellar, but, reflecting her advancing years, a pump was installed to make life easier. The Wadworths 6X tasted fine and the pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular. It's listed in Part 2 of CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. The Caravan Club recently voted it their pub of the year.

There's a certain timelessness to pubs like this and it really does feel like a throwback to a gentler era and a much slower pace of life.

Unless you're arriving by barge, it's not the easiest pub in the world to get to or find, but do make the effort. I doubt that you'll be disappointed - this really is a gem.

24 May 2010 16:47

The White Hart Tap, St Albans

Nice back street pub on a street corner close to The White Lion and The Goat.

The single bar interior is pleasant enough and comfortably furnished in a rather unremarkable style.

On my recent early Saturday evening visit, the pub was noticeably busier than The Farmers Boy, from where I had just come, with what appeared to be mainly a youngish professional crowd.

It's another real ale orientated pub - beers on being Deuchars IPA, Pride, Butcombe Gold, Hobsons and Titanic Anchor. The latter - £ 3.00p was reasonable. It's in the current Good Beer Guide

This is a decent enough pub, but, in a well pubbed city like St Albans, it doesn't really stand out from the crowd and wouldn't be one of my first choices for a visit.

Finally, do note that, in a city where car parking appears a challenge, there is a largish public car park opposite

14 May 2010 13:38

The Farmers Boy, St Albans

Noteworthy for being the home of the Verulam micro brewery, The Farmers Boy is otherwise a rather unremarkable cottage style pub on the main London Road and reasonably close to the station.

The single bar interior is bare boarded and, apart from a fine old framed photo of the pub showing it advertising "Wickhams Pure Beer", my main memory is of hard wooden floors and uncomfortable seats and a slight smell of cleaning fluid. The pub was decidedly quiet with probably fewer than half a dozen or so customers.

On the real ale front, on my recent early Saturday evening visit, the usual suspects - Landlord, Pride, Bombardier and Greene King IPA - were all present, but, disappointingly, the only beer from the microbrewery that was on was the Clipper IPA - £ 2.90p. This was however in splendid form and, looking back in retrospect, was probably the best pint of the day.

On that basis alone, I think that I'd probably include this pub in the crawl next time

13 May 2010 13:35

The Fighting Cocks, St Albans

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks ( to give it its full name ) somewhat dubiously lays claim to being the oldest pub in Britain. Reading the newspaper cuttings inside the pub, however, whilst we learn that there has been a pub here since the 8th century, the present building is mainly 16th century, having been largely rebuilt in 1600 following floods in 1599. The pigeon house that forms the basic central framework of the pub dates back to the 14th century.

We also learn that Oliver Cromwell probably spent a night here during The Civil War, stabling his horse in the bar area. In my usual cynical manner, I was half expecting to read the usual ghost stories ( strange apparitions seen, cutlery rattling, furniture mysteriously moving etc ) - but I must have missed them.

Whatever the whys and wherefores of the pub's age, it's an attractive looking building situated in a pleasant location on the edge of Verulamium Park and a large lake. As rather worn and faded pub signs outside indicate, it's starting to look slightly neglected in parts. The interior is the usual mixture of pillars, low beams and oldish furniture and, apart from a lighter modernised area near the bar, quite attractive and traditional looking.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it's principally a food orientated operation with an emphasis on families and a standard pubco menu is offered. The inevitable noisy kids and large pushchairs were much in evidence.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, beers on were Harveys Best, Doom Bar, Landlord and Abbott. The Harveys was perhaps cheaper than I might have expected at £ 3.00p, but was distinctly below average and I had to ask for a top up.

If you're a first time visitor to St Albans pubs, you'll probably want to include this one and I'm not going to attempt to discourage you, but be aware that there are attractive alternatives close by.

13 May 2010 08:58

The Lower Red Lion, St Albans

Another fine St Albans pub this, situated in the conservation area of the city close to the school and the cathedral. It's a 17th century coaching inn which still provides accommodation.

There's two comfortable bars either side of a central entrance featuring blackened beams, horse brasses, exposed brickwork and some old pictures of the pub in days long gone.

There's no music or TV's and a quiet traditional atmosphere.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, the pub was noticeably quiet compared with previous pubs visited earlier on in the day.

Beers on included Oakham JHB and 2 beers from Sharps.The JHB - £ 2.80p - was in good form. This pub has not been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for several years now.

On the basis of my visit, I'd want to include this one in any St Albans crawl.

13 May 2010 08:42

The Farriers Arms, St Albans

Small traditional side street McMullens pub close to the city centre.

There's a small bar area at the front of the pub, which extends back into a separate room on the left, giving an overall L shaped drinking area. Through this separate room, a door leads to the rather basic outside toilets.

The pub is traditionally furnished in a lightish, airy and unremarkable. It's music free and unspoilt, although a relatively unobtrusive TV high up in one corner of the bar was showing the Blackpool v Notts Forest play off game.

The walls are decorated with some McMullens memorabilia. There's also a CAMRA mirror and some CAMRA award certificates. Famed for beingthe birthplace of CAMRA, a plaque outside reminds us that Herts CAMRA branch first met here.

Beers on were the standard Mac's range - Country, AK and Cask. The Country - £ 3.00p - was in good form. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

This is a good honest unpretentious community local and, despite a distinctly underwhelming welcome, I'd probably do this one again.

13 May 2010 08:35

The Boot, St Albans

Attractive looking pub in the city centre on the edge of the Market Square.

There's low ceilings, exposed beams, bare boards but, despite dating back to the 15th century, a bit of the inevitable city centre chain pub feel to it. The overall vibe however is traditional and not unpleasant. On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, there was a good cross section of customers, seemingly mainly shoppers and traders from the market, creating a busy but friendly atmosphere.

As a city, St Albans has a nice feel good factor to it - and more than its fair share of decent pubs incidentally - and, without wishing to appear naive, I was therefore slightly surprised to see that it's over 21's only on Friday and Saturday night after 6pm. Live music is offered on Sunday evening. Somewhat oddly, the pub sign outside includes a phone number.

Beers on were Bass, Adnams, Butcombe Gold, Deuchars IPA, Batemans XXXB and Tribute. The Tribute - £ 3.10p - was really good - and I did notice that this appeared to be outselling all the other real ales put together.

I was reasonably impressed with this one.

12 May 2010 18:03

The Goat, St Albans

Situated slightly further up the road from The White Lion is The Goat, a pub which, externally at least, with its white washed exterior, looks similar in style to that pub.

The pub has a large single bar, but with distinct areas. The small central bar area has old beams, with hops hanging down and several sofas to one side by a large inglenook. The main area on the left looks like it could be an extension to the original building and which, despite the presence of a bar billiards table, dartboard and largish TV, has a rather traditional drawing room feel to it. Notably, there's several old West Ham 1960's team photos and a seriously large collection of board games.

The pub is much larger than it looks from the outside and extends back a long way into a food orientated area, but still with a pleasant and traditional feel.

On my recent lunchtime visit, beers on were Bombardier, Wells Eagle IPA, Youngs London Gold, St Austell Tribute plus Elgoods Snake Slayer - a range which might be considered disappointing by today's standards, but which did at least give me an opportunity to sample Wells IPA, a beer that seems somewhat difficult to find nowadays. It seems to be a beer that divides opinion, but I like it and it was in splendid form . This pub is also a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

I didn't like this pub as much as The White Lion down the road, but it's a fine pub in its own right and, given their close proximity, it seems daft to visit one without at least popping in to the other.

12 May 2010 17:53

The White Lion, St Albans

Fine traditional pub situated in a residential side street off Holywell Hill.

The whitewashed exterior leads into two separate bars either side of the main entrance. The larger room on the left - The Lounge Bar - is divided into a number of different areas and is traditiionally and comfortably furnished. There's black beams, low ceilings, horse brasses, and a collection of brewery mirrors, including Aylesbury Brewery Co and Courage Imperial Stout. Just inside the door is an interesting framed map of St Albans detailing the location of 92 pubs then existing. As a further reminder of the past, note the redundant Watneys Red Barrel tap alongside the pumps on the bar.

The smaller bar on the right - The Den Bar - has a blackboard which lists the beers available in the two bars which, on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, were Butcombe Gold, Youngs London Gold, Exmoor Stag, Caledonian Flying Dutchman, Youngs Special, Black Sheep and Tribute. This blackboard also lists forthcoming beers.

The Butcombe Gold - £ 3.10p - was a pleasant pint, but was served slightly too cold. The pub has won local CAMRA awards and, as evidenced by the stickers on display, has been a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

I think this one should be included in any St Albans crawl.

12 May 2010 17:41

The Old Shades, Whitehall

Situated up near the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall, The Old Shades is a fairly typical Nicholsons house in many respects - much dark wood panelling, leaded windows, leather banquettes etc, and the usual fine traditional feel. Note in particular the old H G Simonds of Reading brewery mirror.

The pub looks quite small from the outside, but extends back quite a long way. There's a separate restaurant area at the back, principally catering for the hordes of tourists in this area.

In contrast to recent reviewers, the beer range was pretty disappointing on my recent visit - 3 pumps with London Pride clips, 1 pump serving Chiswick. Also on were TT Landlord and Greene King IPA.

I like the Nicholsons style of pub, but I do hope the beer range is much better next time.

Finally, as previous posters have commented, as at the date of posting this review, the pub pictured above is The Market Porter in Borough Market, and not The Old Shades

12 May 2010 17:28

The Bree Louise, Euston

Situated in a side street little more than a stone's throw from Euston Station, the Bree Louise can rightly be described as one of London's best known specialist real ale pubs.

Externally, it's a rather unremarkable back street pub and the interior is also distinctly uninspiring with tables and chairs packed closely together in a rather featureless single room. Leaded frosted windows and a carpet do help contribute towards a reasonably traditional and comfortable ambience, however.

The serving area is split into two separate sections either side of a pillar - on one side there's 5 handpumps and, on the other, a further 11 ales are served on gravity direct from the barrel.

There's flags on the ceiling - ostensibly of the Six Nations rugby teams, although I only actually recollect seeing five and I was unable to decide if it was France or Italy that was missing. Also notable is an old framed photo of The Euston Arch, now sadly no longer with us. There's a TV screen, but, otherwise it's a quiet pub.

Perhaps unusually for a pub with a distinct real ale emphasis and which appears to have a more mature customer base, there was an excess of signs telling me that I was on CCTV. Perhaps the proximity to a main line station counts against it.

The pub describes itself as "A Pie, Ale and Cider Emporium" in its leatherbound menu and the pies that I saw arriving on the next table looked appetising and substantial.

On the real ale front, on my recent lunchtime visit, beers on from the pump were Sambrooks Junction , Wandle, Redemption Urban Dusk and a beer from Batemans. Beers on gravity included Triple FFF Alton Pride, together with beers from Itchen, Dark Star and Nethergate. A blackboard lists the beers on at any particular time and, notably, there's a similar blackboard on the pub wall outside.

Both the beers that I had - Sambrooks Junction and Redemption Urban Dusk - were in good condition. The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular and is currently CAMRA North London Pub of the Year for 2009/10.

I've had several visits in here previously where beer quality has been disappointing - particularly those on gravity - but, on balance, I think this pub is well worth seeking out. Finally, do remember to bring your CAMRA membership card with you if you've got one and claim your 50p per pint discount.

12 May 2010 13:29

The Assembly House, Kentish Town

Large imposing roadhouse situated on a busy prominent street corner just outside Kentish Town tube station.

Once inside the pub, we learn that it was a traditional meeting place for ladies and gentlemen who wished to travel north in the safety of a group to avoid highwaymen and brigands. In the 1970's it became a film set in the Richard Burton film "Villain" and it is rumoured that Elizabeth Taylor pulled pints for the cast between shots.

Despite much evident modernisation, the pub still retains some semblance of its obvious earlier Victorian grandeur. There's a fine high moulded ceiling, some Corinthian columns and some internal etched glasswork. However much of the glass is now plain glass and the obvious separate bar layout has been knocked through. The pub is however listed in CAMRA's London Inventory of Heritage Pubs.

Apart from the surviving features, it now has a rather typical bare-boarded interior with some long wooden tables and chairs. There's a clear emphasis on food and wine and, with something of an All Bar One feel to the place, it's clearly pitching for the local professional thirty somethings.

Although it's not badged externally as such, it's a Greene King pub which, on my recent visit, was offering only the standard IPA and Abbott. The IPA - £ 2.75p - was in good condition and perhaps cheaper than I might have expected given earlier postings. There is now a visible price list displayed.

I didn't have any issue with the staff, but scuzzy toilets say a lot about a pub's management - and these here were the worst I've come across in a long while ( graffiti, wet floor, smelly etc ).

This is not a drinker's pub and, taking the experience as a whole, I don't envisage a return visit.

12 May 2010 12:55

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

Externally, a rather unattractive looking building, The Trafalgar is a small community orientated traditional local situated in a back street of South Wimbledon / Merton.

It's a single bar pub with two distinct drinking areas separated by a notable ship's wheel. There's some Nelson related memorabilia and frosted windows help contribute towards a cosy feel, but, taken as a whole, the interior is somewhat nondescript.

To be honest, I've never warmed to this pub in the past. Being only a small pub, there's not a lot of room and the regulars tend to congregate by the bar, leaving little room for the passing visitor to manoeuvre into a position to see what beers are on. In addition, the friendly welcoming atmosphere that other posters refer to has always appeared lacking to me. Plus of course, it's in an area that I would prefer to avoid after dark, thus restricting visiting opportunities in the winter months.

However, in my book, a pub is as good as I find it on my last visit and my visit on a recent Sunday afternoon, coinciding with the afternoon jazz between 2.30pm and 5.30 pm, enabled me to see the pub in a more favourable light. Yes, it was busier than on my previous Saturday visits - and the regulars were still hogging the bar space - but I detected a much more welcoming and relaxed atmosphere overall, probably because there was a much wider customer mix, with a good number of people obviously there specifically for the jazz.

On the real ale front, there's six handpumps. Both beers sampled by me - Dark Star Hophead and a chocolatey tasting Lytham Dark ( both at £ 2.90p ) were in excellent condition, served incidentally by a barmaid who bore an uncanny resemblance to Becky in Coronation Street's Rovers Return ( but minus the permanent scowl )

The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular and has won local awards ( eg - CAMRA Greater London Pub of the Year 2008 )

Two smallish TV's were showing the afternoon's Premiership football, one oddly positioned in a corner behind and above where the jazz band was, but the game was attracting little interest and it didn't adversely affect the atmosphere.

I'm now more enthusiastic about this pub and I'll try and get here again soonish - probably on a Sunday. Finally, do note that, according to the CAMRA GBG, it doesn't open until 3pm in the afternoon between Mondays and Thursdays.

12 May 2010 09:00

The Surrey Oaks, Newdigate

Splendidly traditional and welcoming 16th Century rural roadhouse pub which features stone flagged floors, oak beams, low ceilings and a large inglenook.

There's a restaurant area on the left and several interconnecting drinking areas on the right, which includes one room with what is possibly the largest collection of framed CAMRA certificates that I can recollect seeing for some time. There's also a fine collection of pump clips indicating the large number of ales that have been sold over the years. Unusually, and looking slightly out of place, is a separate billiards room.

There's a largish garden at the side which includes 2 petanque pitches and some rather rusty and weathered childrens play equipment.

Note also the different pictures on either side of the pub sign and a Friary Meux horseshoe lamp outside, indicative of the pub's former ownership. Unusually, for such a rural location, there's an unconnected curry house directly opposite.

The pub is a keen supporter of local microbreweries and, on my recent lunchtime visit, was serving Weltons Lionheart and Ossett Dazzler, amongst others. I didn't think either of these two beers tasted particularly distinctive, but a subsequent pint of Harveys was superb. All beers were priced at £ 3. A Surrey Hills beer had just run out.

The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular - note the large collection of stickers on the door as you go in. A large banner outside, tied up between two trees, advertised a forthcoming beer festival over the late May Day Bank Holiday weekend ( 28-31 May )

Being a rural pub, it's not particularly easy to get to without the car and it doesn't seem to be on a bus route. My recent lunchtime visit was via Holmwood Station ( on the Dorking - Horsham line ) and then a pleasant 40 minute walk across fields and through bluebell woods. Do note that the pub is in Parkgate, and not Newdigate, as the address would indicate.

Local residents are fortunate in having two such splendid pubs as The Surrey Oaks and The Royal Oak within a few miles of each other. Do make the effort of seeking them out - I don't think you'll be disappointed.

10 May 2010 08:44

The Cheshire Cheese, Temple

Fine, smallish, quiet traditional pub in a side street off The Strand.

The ground floor is cosy, carpeted and comfortable with wood panelling, leaded windows and a fine collection of pots and pans hanging down from the low beams, creating something of a country pub atmosphere. There's a TV screen, oddly positioned on a cabinet and, on the evening of my visit, was showing the Liverpool v Athletico Madrid match at a relatively unobtrusive volume.

Unusually, there's a downstairs bar with a dart board and a bar billiards table.

On my recent visit, beers on were Tribute, Bishops Finger and Marstons Dragons Tale. The Tribute - £ 3.30p - was in good form.

The pub doesn't have the beer range of the nearby Edgar Wallace, but is a much cosier and more comfortable affair. I'll try and get here again sometime

10 May 2010 08:26

The Coborn Arms, Bow

Pleasant, large Youngs pub situated in a Georgian side street off the Bow Road at the Mile End end.

It's a comfortable carpeted affair, with an L shaped bar serving three distinct areas - a public bar style area up some steps with a fine collection of darts trophies, a main central bar area and a food orientated area at the far end. There's a pleasant canopied seating area outside at the front.

By Youngs standards, it's relatively unspoilt and traditional - "An Oasis in a Changing World" - as it advertises itself. On my recent early evening visit, there was a good customer mix of all age groups. It's a bit offputting when you find 3 bar stools nailed to the floor, but this struck me as a friendly welcoming pub.

It's a Youngs pub which, when I visited, was serving Hook Norton Hooky as a guest. The Youngs Special - £ 3.05p - was in good form. The pub has had listings in recent CAMRA Good Beer Guides, but it seems to have missed out in 2010.

I'd be happy to call in again if the opportunity arises

7 May 2010 08:50

The Little Driver, Bow

Situated on the Bow Road, close to the underground station, The Little Driver retains the look and feel of a former Victorian pub that has been opened out and refurbished in a relatively sensitive manner.

High ceilings, Corinthian columns and large drape curtains give us a feel for what it must have been like in its Victorian days, when it was evidently a multi-roomed pub.

Some original bar fittings remain, but pride of place must go to the splendid Hoare's and Co brewery mirror on the right hand wall, one of the finest brewery mirrors that I can recollect seeing.

The pub sign depicts a train and, whilst I didn't see anything in the pub to give me a clue about the reason for this, a recent issue of London Drinker reveals that the pub began life as the waiting room for once what was Bow Road Station.

There's a large garden out at the back with some ranch -style seating booths.

Advertising itself externally as "under new management", it didn't appear obvious that it has only just reopened and previous recent openings indicate that the pub appears unchanged from what it was.

On the real ale front, there's 3 pumps and, on my recent early evening visit, 2 of them were dispensing Harveys Best and Spitfire - both at £ 2.80p. I didn't get the sense that there was much real ale trade ( or emphasis ) and I was pleasantly surprised at how good both pints were - and reasonably priced as well.

This isn't a pub to make a detour for, but it's worth dropping in if passing by.

7 May 2010 08:40

The Crown and Cushion, Waterloo

The Crown and Cushion is a bare boarded, dimly lit, traditional woody pub with an Irish emphasis - Ireland road signs everywhere and pots and pans on the bar gantry for instance.

If you look hard enough, you can evidence of the pub's former existence as a Truman's pub - some of the trademark wood panelling and a Trumans mirror. There's an outside drinking yard at the back which is decorated with some old enamel signs, two hanging bicycles and a large old Trumans pub sign. There's a Thai restaurant upstairs.

A largish TV was showing horse racing, with no sound, but, perhaps unusually was attracting little interest. Entertainment was being offered later in the evening from a music band.

Despite being close to Waterloo Station, it seems to be mainly a regulars pub. It's probably round the "wrong" side of the station to attract homebound commuters, unlike say The Hole in the Wall or The Wellington.

On the real ale front, there's 3 pumps which, on my recent early evening visit, were dispensing Greene King IPA and Speckled Hen. The IPA - £ 2.80p - was in good condition and, notably, there was rather more real ale trade than one might have expected here.

Not everyone wants to drink in stripped out, pine floored, so called contemporary pubs and I quite liked the dark, slightly seedy, atmospheric feel to the place. Despite the limited beer range, I wouldn't be averse to calling in again if the opportunity presents itself

7 May 2010 08:28

The Rifleman, Twickenham

Smallish pub situated in a quiet residential side street just off the Hampton Road.

It's a former Courage pub - as evidenced by the trademark cockerel sign - which now seems to be privately owned. A white washed exterior, seemingly recently painted, with frosted leaded windows, leads into a pleasant, but rather unremarkable and featureless small L shaped bar. On one wall is an old Courage Best mirror.

On my recent Sunday afternoon visit, the pub was desperately quiet, with never more than half a dozen customers in total whilst I was there. Those that were there were evidently not regulars and, tellingly, as a group of three left, I overheard one say "we must have doubled their trade today". I might have reasonably expected this to be a community orientated local, but, on the basis of my visit, this does not seem to be the case. One wonders what its customer base is, if indeed it has one. It's a bit worrying if you can't get people through the doors at 3 pm on a Sunday afternoon

The pub displays Cask Marque accreditation. Beers on were Twickenham Original, Courage Best and Youngs Ordinary. The Twickenham Original - £ 3 .00p - was in good form. A fourth pump was not in use.

I find this a difficult pub to sum up. On the one hand, the landlord seemed a genuinely friendly fellow, notably asking me if I was enjoying my pint, and the pub seemed reasonably clean and well run, but, on the other hand, the pub does not look desperately inviting from the outside. Curiously, there were no advertising or sandwich boards outside to indicate what one might find inside ( eg - do they do food, do they show sport ?) - and there's nothing at all that would encourage the casual passer by to drop in. I called in on the recommendation of a local that I had ended up in conversation with in the nearby Prince Albert and, even then, I very nearly carried on walking past as I approached the pub.

We keep hearing that 30 plus pubs are closing every week. I didn't dislike this pub at all , but, on the basis of my visit, it wouldn't surprise me if this pub joined those ranks

29 Apr 2010 09:17

St Margarets Tavern, St Margarets

Largish wedge-shaped pub situated at a busy road junction close by to St Margarets Station.

This is a pub that seems to change hands with alarming frequency - it's now in the Greene King stable. The interior is rather nondescript - large, plain glass windows, high ceilings and a mixture of traditional seating and high perches / tables. There's that rather chainy corporate feel to the place - staff in black uniforms etc.

It's very food orientated with a large restaurant area at the back.

Formerly a staunch rugby pub which didn't show live football almost as a matter of principle, it now advertises that it shows football games in 3D.

Pleasingly, despite the restrictions of it being a Greene King pub, management appear to be reasonably enthusiastic about beer. On my recent late Sunday afternoon visit, 6 beers were on - GK IPA, Abbott, Speckled Hen, Morlands Original, Royal London plus, notably, Hogs Back English Hop Medley. Detailed tasting notes - "the Beer Menu" - are provided on a prominently positioned blackboard.

As chain pubs go, I didn't think this one was as bad as painted here, but I don't envisage calling in again soon

29 Apr 2010 08:54

The Ailsa Tavern, Twickenham

Fine roadhouse community local situated in a residential area between St Margarets and Old Isleworth on the H37 Richmond - Hounslow bus route.

The pub has a rather contrived rustic feel to it with much light wood dominating. There's a small public bar area on the left with a dart board, although I can't recollect ever seeing it in use. On the right is a smallish but pleasant garden. A pizza menu is offered and there's a Sunday roast between 12 and 4 pm.

A plaque on the outside wall tells us that the pub is named after a former Victorian landlady.

Unusually, on the front door, a notice tells us "Any comments or complaints, please contact the manager of the Ailsa ( phone number provided )" which rather reminded me of those signs you see on the back of lorries inviting you to phone up and comment on their driving.

Despite being acquired by Shepherd Neame in 2009, the pub is still branded as a T&J Bernard house.

The pub is one of five pubs in Twickenham listed in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide - look at my four previous reviews if you want to find the others - and, on my most recent visit, the Canterbury Jack - £ 3.05p - was in good form. I've also previously had decent pints of Kents Best in here recently.

This pub is worth seeking out if in the area.

26 Apr 2010 13:12

The Turks Head, St Margarets

Large Edwardian Fullers pub situated in a residential back street behind St Margarets Road.

For many years a splendid community orientated tenanted pub run by the much respected Brazier family, Fullers took this pub into their Managed House Division a good number of years ago ( late 2002), carrying out a refurbishment that took away the separate public bar, removed some of the splendid etched windows and created much local resentment which expressed itself in the letters pages of the local Richmond and Twickenham Times over 7 consecutive weeks. To their credit, Fullers did draw back from their original intention to go down the full gastro route, but it does unfortunately now have that rather typical Fullers managed pub ambience and look to it.

It's a large pub with the old public bar area at the front, which leads into a larger food orientated area, which in turn gives access at the back into a largish garden. Notably, what was previously a boules pitch has now been taken over by some childrens equipment ( slide, swing etc ) - indicative of a move towards more of a family emphasis, especially at weekends.

The pub featured in a scene in a Beatles film and there's a signed photo of the Fab Four on display. Rugby memorabilia - including some photos of teams in 1895 - reflects the proximity to Twickenham and, notably, enterprising supporters have left tickets as souvenirs on the high ceiling.

There's a Comedy Club in the adjoining Winchester Hall. On 14 May, a 50's music night is taking place.

On my recent visit, the London Pride - £ 3.10p - was moderate. The pub has been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for the last couple of years, but previous postings here indicate beer quality is unreliable.

In conclusion, whilst I don't think this pub is as bad as previous postings indicate, it's certainly not the pub it was in the 1980's and I don't envisage an early return visit.

26 Apr 2010 13:02

The Prince of Wales, Twickenham

Situated just a bit further down from the Prince Albert, on which I have been posted, the Prince Of Wales still bears outside the round green stag sign reminding us that it was a former Watney Combe Reid pub.

A narrowish area in front of the bar counter is flanked by two distinct areas on either side. The public bar area on the right has some rugby memorabilia and a largish TV screen. On the left is a more comfortable saloon bar area which is also bare boarded, but has a characterful fireplace with some horse brasses and, further down, a seating area with burgundy painted walls and some old brewery mirrors, including Wethereds, Watneys, Double Diamond etc.

Further behind this area, unusually, is a restaurant - "Le Petit Prince" - specialising in, believe it or not, French dishes. At the side of the pub is a pleasant garden - looking noticeably well-tended compared with what I remember from earlier visits.

On the real ale front, the pub is a keen supporter of the local Twickenham Brewery and was offering Original - £ 2.90p - and Sundancer on my recent visit. The Original was in excellent condition. The other two pumps were serving Tribute and Doom Bar. A further bank of 4 pumps were not in use - I gather they're used during the pub's beer festivals. The pub has won local CAMRA branch awards and is a GBG regular.

The pub interior felt a bit bright and modern for my liking - the CAMRA Good Beer Guide description of it as "unspoilt" is rather off beam - but, with this pub being the unofficial Twickenham Brewery tap, you may think it's worth calling in to sample their beers.

23 Apr 2010 13:59

The Prince Blucher, Twickenham

The Prince Blucher is a Fullers pub situated close to the edge of Twickenham Green. A smallish frontage leads into a pub that is unexpectedly large with distinct areas extending back a long way and leading to a large child-friendly garden at the side.

The main bar at the front is L shaped and with low ceilings and, on my recent evening visit, was dominated by a large screen showing the Spurs v Arsenal game and with the usual customer base for sporting events such as this. Seating is a mixture of traditional seating and sofas. The areas at the rear are more comfortable, but with a rather generic chain pub feel to them, and it wasn't possibly to easily escape the noise from the TV screens and the oohs and aaghs of excited supporters.

The London Pride - £ 3.10p - was on form and this pub is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2010.

A pub is never at its best when there's a big football game dominating and leading the pub atmosphere, but I'm minded to come in again - albeit at a quieter time.

23 Apr 2010 13:33

The Prince Albert, Twickenham

Friendly, unpretentious Fullers pub situated on the main Hampton Road just past Twickenham Green.

An attractive looking green tiled exterior - note particularly the tiled saloon bar entrance at the side - leads into a pub that has evidently been opened out in the past, but still retains a reasonably traditional and pubby feel.

There's distinct areas - a small bare-boarded public bar type area at the front and a larger more comfortable carpeted area behind which leads through to a highly regarded and well established Thai restaurant.

The walls are decorated with some rugby pictures / photos, including a signed photo of the England Rugby World Cup Team 2003. There's also a fine framed painting of the pub towards the rear. Note also the glazed glass within the bar back - "J Wiffen, Spirit Merchant" - reflecting a former owner of the pub.

At the back, accessed through the Thai restaurant, is an outside grassy seating area. There's also some seats at the side of the pub under canvas with their own TV screen.

On my recent early Wednesday evening visit, the pub was surprisingly busy with a high proportion of people occupying stools round the bar, helping give the pub a more pubby local feel than is usual in most Fullers pubs.

On the beer front, the Chiswick - £ 2.85p - was in good form. I noticed that the Fullers 1845 was available on draught. The pub is listed in the current CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2010.

This is a good honest pub, worth dropping in on if passing by.

23 Apr 2010 13:21

The Viaduct, Hanwell

Until a few years ago, The Viaduct was a pub that was looking distinctly run down and somewhat depressing, probably winning the John Bonser award for stickiest and dirtiest pub carpet ever seen. Fullers were struggling to find a new tenant to take it on and there were fears that it might close. Enterprising tenants have given the pub a new lease of life and the pub won a Fullers Best Newcomer Award in 2007 ( or 2006 ?). Sadly, for traditionalists like me, some of the original etched glass was lost in the refurbishment.

Situated by a busy road junction on the main Uxbridge Road a few miles outside Ealing, the pub is named after the nearby Wharncliffe Viaduct which, according to an exhibition on display in the pub until 30 April, was built by Brunel in 1838 to provide a crossing over the River Brent for the main Paddington - Bristol railway line.The exhibition commemorates the 175th Anniversary of this line, constructed in 1835.

We learn that the pub was originally called The Coach and Horses and provided stabling. Some of the original stable building, dating back to the 18th Century, can still be seen at the back of the pub.

A fine glazed tiled exterior leads into a well appointed pub with a food orientated saloon bar and, by passing under an original low doorway in the centre of the pub, a public bar area. This public bar has a dartboard and, on my recent visit, a TV screen which was showing Chelsea v Bolton on my recent visit, but without attracting much interest. The atmosphere and clientele was not that of a typical public bar.

For the duration of the exhibition, the pub is selling the splendidly moreish London Porter on draught and it was on fine form on my visit.

I enjoyed the visit and, whilst admittedly this was largely due to the presence of the exhibition and the London Porter ( both due to disappear shortly ),I'd happily call in here again if passing.

23 Apr 2010 12:40

The Royal Oak, Rusper

Some very helpful, enlightning and informative comments there, Mr Full Belly !

19 Apr 2010 13:31

The Kings Head, Acton

The Kings Head is a large Fullers pub in the centre of Acton on the edge of the Market Square.

Shrouded in scaffolding on the evening of my visit due to external repainting being in progress, internally it's a largish single bar pub with that mish mash of traditional seating and sofas and different seating areas that you seem to get in pubs increasingly often nowadays.

There's much of the typical light wood panelling that Fullers seem to like. Several pillars help break up the interior nicely and prevent what could easily become a rather barn like interior.

Unusually, the food has an Italian emphasis - pizzas, pasta etc and a number of tables feature candles and menus. Rather incongrously in these surroundings, there's a large table football machine just inside the door on the right as you go in. It felt to me like a pub that was hedging its bets and trying to be all things to all men. The pub was virtually deserted on my recent early Tuesday evening visit, so perhaps there's still work to be done, although it might have filled up for the pub quiz later that evening.

A pleasant pint of Gales Swing Low - £ 2.50p - was enjoyed, but I'm not putting this one down for an early re-visit.

16 Apr 2010 12:43

The New Inn, Ham

Well appointed, attractive looking pub situated on the edge of Ham Common midway between Kingston and Richmond and easily accessible via the number 65 bus from either.

Despite it starting to look a bit tatty from the outside and in need of a lick of paint, The New Inn has a rather upmarket slightly old fashioned country pub air to it and is a welcoming reminder that you're actually in Surrey and not a London suburb. It makes a fine change from the pubs in Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston, which, with one or two honourable exceptions, have now unfortunately started to look and feel increasingly urban and "Londoney" in recent years.

The New Inn is cosy, carpeted and food orientated, but, based on my visit, still a pub and not a restaurant. The L shaped bar services a number of different seating areas and a large outside garden at the back. There's also a few seats on the pavement outside at the front where you can watch the traffic crawl front.

It's a rather sedate affair - no music, fruit machines etc and, not being in the town centre, doesn't attract the circuit crowd or the Friday/Saturday night psycho's. It's not a youngsters pub - and all the better for it.

Reflecting the area and the pub's preferred customer profile, prices for both food and drink are high.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, beers on were Deuchars IPA, Adnams Broadside, London Pride and Youngs Ordinary - which I suspect are the regular offerings. The Deuchars IPA - £ 3.27p - was quite good, but the Broadside less so.

I'll continue to pop in here every now and again

16 Apr 2010 12:32

The Victoria, Bermondsey

The Victoria is an archetypal basic street corner community local in a quiet Bermondsey back street in an area that is a mixture of residential housing and light industries.

A fine Truman, Hanbury and Buxton exterior leads into an interior featuring much dark wood panelling and, despite evident alterations, quite a traditional feel. Note the old black and white chequerboard spittoon around several sides of the bar. There's also some chrome-based bar stools which looked relatively new and didn't really blend in particularly well. In places the pub feels a bit tatty - some of the leather seating has obviously been patched up. Perhaps surprisingly, for what is clearly a community orientated local, I didn't recollect seeing either a pool table or dartboard anywhere. The pub still displays the plaque denoting it as Evening Standard Pub of the Year 1972.

On my recent early evening visit, despite there being 4 handpumps in total ( 2 round each side of the bar ), only London Pride - £ 2.80p - was available and I quickly formed the view that real ale trade here was probably minimal. Perhaps as a result of this ( or could it be vice versa ?) the London Pride was not very good.

Sometimes when you visit a back street community pub like this, the beer's good, you quickly get drawn into conversation with the locals, the time flies past and you don't want to leave. Unfortunately, this wasn't one of those occasions and, whilst I wouldn't describe the locals as unfriendly, I never felt anything other than slightly out of place.

Perhaps in retrospect, I built up my expectations too much - I was hoping this pub would be like The Lord Clyde in Borough ( after all there are similarities ) - but I left feeling somewhat disappointed.

I'm not putting this one down for an early return visit.

16 Apr 2010 12:19

The Eel Pie, Twickenham

Situated down an attractive cobbled street in the conservation area of Twickenham and close to the river, The Eel Pie was originally three separate houses which have been knocked through to create a single pub.

The main bar is quite small and narrow, but there's a further larger room on the left to provide additional space. Benches on the narrow pavement outside are provided in summer. The pub seems to have had a relatively minor and sensitive refurbishment since my previous visit and, pleasingly, the mahogany bar gantry has been retained. The pub still retains a welcoming reasonably traditional feel, enhanced by the inevitable rugby memorabilia - framed autograhed rugby shirts etc. I particularly liked the quote attributed to Gareth Chilcott that is reproduced on one of the oak beams - "I'm going for a quiet pint - followed by six noisy ones".

At one side of the bar, a framed Hall and Woodhouse family tree from 1777 through to the current day reflects the fact that this is a Badger pub. On my recent early evening visit, the Badger Bitter - £ 2.65p - was quite good, but I was less impressed with the K&B Sussex Bitter. The seasonal Hopping Hare was also on.

The Eel Pie is generally regarded as being the best pub in Twickenham town centre - which, admittedly, isn't saying much - and, if you're in the area, it's worth seeking out.

9 Apr 2010 13:25

The Barmy Arms, Twickenham

The Barmy Arms is a Twickenham riverside pub situated opposite Eel Pie Island. The pedestrian footbridge giving access to this traffic free island is little more than a stone's throw away.

The pub's main bar area is quite small and narrowish, but there's a larger room down some steps at the left. Low ceilings in the main bar contribute towards quite a cosy and pleasant ambience, but there's that distinct generic cut-and-paste chain pub feel to it. I gather that it's part of the Punch Taverns portfolio. At the front of the pub is a large covered seating area. There's a separate outside bar here which I imagine is only used on sunny weekends or when there's rugby on.

On the beer front, the 4 pumps were serving London Pride and Youngs Ordinary ( 2 pumps each ) - a selection hardly designed to excite - but I did see a notice in the gents inviting me to "Please tell us of any guest ales you would like us to stock". Presumably nobody has ? The pub prominently displays Cask Marque accreditation and my pint of London Pride, served by an exceptionally sycophantic and annoyingly over-smiley foreign barman, was pretty good - £ 3.15p.

I found this to be a pleasant enough, if somewhat unremarkable, pub. Finally, having now read the previous reviews and the plethora of unfavourable comments, I ought to add that I did not witness any inappropriate or aggressive behaviour at any time or anything that would specifically discourage me from returning here should I choose to do so.

9 Apr 2010 13:12

The Flask, Highgate

I think the previous poster must work in the Public Relations Department at Fullers

9 Apr 2010 12:50

The White Swan, Twickenham

Small, white-washed low ceilinged traditional riverside pub in Twickenham. The pub is similar to the White Cross on the other side of the river in nearby Richmond in that you have to climb a few steps to reach the entrance, reflecting the fact that high tides can occasionally flood the road. The cellar is at ground floor level.

The pub is situated across the road from the river, but there's a pleasant verandah opposite and this quickly fills up on sunny days as everyone escapes outside. The bar area is small, but there is further seating room at the back. The interior is packed with rugby memorabilia - framed shirts, ticket stubs over the bar and a framed signed caricature depiction of the England Grand Slam rugby team of 1991. There's also posters and pictures of the pub's own rugby team and Golfing Society.

The pub displays a plaque denoting it as Evening Standard Pub of the Year for 1997. A sticker on the window tells us that the pub was included in the 2009 Guardian and Observer Guide to Summer Pubs ( Part 2 - Towns and Cities )

Entertainment is provided every Wednesday evening by The Eel Pie Pirates, who provide what the flyer describes as "Acoustic, Cajun, Celtic, Bluegrass, Russian and Pirate Drinking Music". Hmmm.....!

Looking somewhat out of place high up in the corner on the right of the main bar is a largish TV, but thankfully it wasn't on and I didn't see anything to indicate what big upcoming games ( if any) they were intending to show.

On my recent Easter Monday visit, a hog roast BBQ was being set up on the pub's small balcony and I gather that these are a regular feature on summer weekends. There's an annual charity raft race.

The pub was supporting National Cask Ale Week and was serving Twickenham Original, Adnams Oyster, Brains SA, Greene King IPA and Greene King Ale Pril Fool. The Twickenham Original - at what I would consider to be a very reasonable £ 3.10p - was in excellent condition. Pleasingly, I was able to drink outside without the curse of the plastic glass. I was less impressed by a glass jug on the bar which seemed to be for staff tips.

I've never really warmed to this pub on previous visits - there's invariably been too many dogs and mums with pushchairs and screeching kids running around, and the beer has sometimes left a bit to be desired, but I was reasonably impressed on all counts this time round. Staff appeared to be noticeably more enthusiastic and welcoming than I remember previously, but, like previous contributors, I do find the chain pub style black shirts of the staff inappropriate in a pub like this.

I think this pub is well worth seeking out, but, needless to say, it gets packed out on summer weekends and also when there's a big match on at Twickenham

9 Apr 2010 11:31

The Dacre Arms, Lee

Situated in a quiet smartish residential side street, the Dacre Arms is a cosy, small and comfortable traditional pub that exudes a rather old fashioned and upmarket ambience. It's a carpeted and wood panelled interior, well decorated with plates and jugs and, notably, hops above the bar. Leaded, frosted windows and the absence of any TV's, fruit machines etc help create a fine environment for a quiet pint or two.

On the real ale front, as you enter, there's a bank of 4 pumps in front of who, which, on my recent visit, were dispensing Hogs Back TEA, Black Sheep, Bombardier and Greene King IPA - a range that could be considered as rather unexciting by today's standards, although I gather that Harveys and TT Landlord are often on. A further 2 pumps situated further round the bar were dispensing Courage Best, which presumably reflects the fact that the pub still has some customers from its former days as a Courage pub.

On my visit, notably, and slightly irritatingly, my Hogs Back TEA was served in a Courage branded glass. A subsequent pint of Courage Best then came in a John Smiths glass. To put the icing on the cake, a ladies glass was then used to serve me a half of Black Sheep ! The Hogs Back TEA - £ 3.10P - was in fine form, as were the other beers listed. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG.

It's a bit out of the way, but it's worth seeking out and I'd happily come here again - irrespective of which glass they use to serve me

9 Apr 2010 11:00

The Dog and Bell, Deptford

Fine, traditional local situated in a quiet back street midway between Deptford station and the River Thames.

It's a small bare boarded single bar, but with an additional much larger and comfortable carpeted seating area up a few steps on the right in what I imagine is an extension in to next door from the original pub.This larger area has yellowish and turquoise walls, giving it a rather modernish feel. There's some artwork on the walls and, unusually, a bar billiards table at the far end. On the mantlepiece above the fireplace are two local CAMRA branch award certificates. There's also a certificate from a rival pub website - which I shall refrain from mentioning here - awarding the pub first place in its London Pub of the Year competition in 2004.

The pub is a CAMRA GBG regular and, on my recent visit, beers on were London Pride, ESB ( I gather these two are regulars ), Westerham Freedom, Dark Star Over The Moon and Hogs Back Light Ale. The Westerham Freedom - £ 2.85p - was a fine pint. Notable, and worthy of specific comment, are the reasonableness of the beer prices here. London Pride and ESB were £ 2.90p and £ 3.00p, which is probably as cheap as you're likely to get them outside of one of the major pubco's. I have to say that I do like visiting a well known pub like this and not get the feeling you're being taken for a ride.

I formed the view that this is a clean, well run hospitable establishment which is well worth seeking out

9 Apr 2010 10:28

The Old Mill, Plumstead

Situated on the very edge of Plumstead Common and a shortish uphill climb from the station, The Old Mill is a friendly and welcoming community local.

On my recent Good Friday lunchtime visit, I quickly got chatting with the engaging Andy - who really is one of the most welcoming and likeable pub landlords that you're ever going to encounter - who explained to me that the mill dated back to the 17th century and that the pub had been operating since 1848. The mill - minus the sails - can still be seen behind the pub.

It's a pleasant comfortable, carpeted L shaped bar with an interior that is rather nondescript and is starting to look a bit worn in places. There's a pool table at one end, but, deliberately, no TV's - this is a "pub for conversation" as Andy explained. Perhaps surprisingly, I didn't see any framed prints / photos etc of either the old mill or the pub itself anywhere. The pub still displays a couple of the trademark red Bass triangles outside and was formerly owned by the Cannon Brewery Co in days long gone.

The main attraction here is the real ale. On my visit, beers on were Robinsons Dragon Fire, Batemans Miss Ireland, Morlands Original, Speckled Hen and a beer from Hook Norton. Beers change regularly and it is clear that Andy is enthusiastic and knowledgeable on the subject. Beers - described on the blackboard as "The Alements" - were priced at £ 3.35p per pint ( £ 1.70p per half ) , which is perhaps slightly more than might be expected, but both the Robinsons and the Batemans were in excellent condition.

The pub was in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide between 2007 and 2009 and the stickers are proudly displayed in the window but, unfortunately, it's not in the current edition.

An annual beer festival is held at the end of June, timed to coincide with the date that Andy took up the reins here. There's regular Sunday afternoon jazz between 2 - 4 pm.

I quite liked this one and would definitely return. Do call in if you get the opportunity.

9 Apr 2010 10:14

The Anchor Tap, Tower Bridge

Fine, traditional Sam's pub situated in a quietish side street close to the southern end of Tower Bridge. Despite the close proximity of this major tourist attraction, based on my recent early evening visit, it remains relatively tourist free, probably because of its off-the-main-track location.

The "Tap" referred to in the pub title is, of course, that of John Courage, who used to have a brewery here and The Anchor Tap was indeed their first pub. Whilst the pub still stands, flats and apartments are now where the brewery once stood.

The pub dates back to the mid 18th Century. Inside, looking much larger than you might expect from the outside, is a warren of 5 different interconnecting rooms and a feeling of authenticity that is perhaps lacking in some of Sams London pub "Victorianisations", although I have to say that I do like the Sam's traditional pub style and ethos.

The pub is dark wood panelled throughout. Frosted windows help create a cosy atmosphere. On the left is a games room which houses several electronic games machines ( thankfully silent during my visit ) and a dartboard. Off the main central bar on the right ( mind your head as you go in ) is a comfortable lounge with a piano. Also of note here is a framed poster showing that Sam Smiths OBB was the Supreme Champion at the 1980 Great Western Beer Festival. There's also a smaller lounge at the back and a further separate room with a pool table.

The multitude of keg fonts and pressure dispensers on the bar top are a major disappointment and, frankly, a bit of an eyesore in the surroundings. Let's hope that Sam's see the error of their ways, bring back handpumps and start serving real ale here again soon.

6 Apr 2010 13:21

George III Hotel, Penmaenpool

Visited in September 2009.

Smallish pub/hotel magnificently situated on the banks of the Mawddach Estuary with superb views of the river and the mountains beyond on the other side.

Aside from hotel residents, the main trade appears to come from walkers and cyclists who are travelling along the Mawddach Trail - a splendid, highly recommended walk between Barmouth and Dolgellau along the banks of the estuary following the route of the long closed railway line and which recently featured in that TV series of walks presented by Julia Bradbury. Access to the hotel can also normally be obtained from the other side of the river via a rather rickety old toll bridge opposite, which was closed for repair at the time of my visit.

Part of the hotel's accommodation is "The Lodge", which is the converted old railway station and station master's house. A hundred yards or so down still stands the old signal box. In a small grassy area at the side stands the old Penmaenpool Station sign.

The hotel consists of a ground floor bar - "The Cellar Bar" - which is geared up for catering for walkers/cyclists and has a bare boarded slightly rustice feel to it. There's plenty of outside seating to enable you to take in the splendid scenery. Upstairs, via the hotel entrance, is a food orientated more comfortable bar, also open to the public, although I suspect that muudy boots, rucksacks etc might be frowned upon.

On my stop off back in September 2009, disappointingly only the upstairs bar was open and service left a lot to be desired, with only the one person serving who are taking food orders, collecting dirty plates as well as serving drinks. He might even have been doubling up as chef for all I know, so frequently did he seem to disappear from the bar.

There's 3 pumps, but only one real ale was on - a rather uninspiring Worthington Cask Ale at £ 2.90p. Indications were that beers from Purple Moose and Hobgoblin had recently been on, so perhaps I was just unlucky.

I was left with the distinct impression that this establishment could be much better run and that more effort could be made ( why wasn't The Cellar Bar open on a pleasant summers afternoon, why was there only one person serving, for instance ?), but, quite simply, this is one of the most stunning locations for a pint that you're ever likely to come across.

6 Apr 2010 10:28

Rhos Fynach, Colwyn Bay

Visited in September 2009.

The Rhos Fynach is situated in the seaside village of Rhos-on-Sea, which is between Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. It's on the sea front road, but on the other side of the road from the beach. The building is reputed to be the oldest building in the locality and parts of it date back to 1181. The building is also reputed to be on the site of an outpost of a former nearby monastery. If you want to know more about the pub's history, it's stop number 5 in the Rhos-on-Sea Heritage Trail, the booklet for which you can pick up from the nearby Tourist Information Centre.

The pub is much larger than it looks from the outside and clearly has been extended much at the back. The pub is set back from the promenade road and there's an extensive terraced outside seating area at the front and a walled grassy garden area.

The first thing you notice as you approach the entrance is the proliferation of notices on the door telling do what you can't do - don't swear or use foul language, don't consume any food on the premises if not bought at the pub, don't climb or sit on the terrace walls.....(etc). You're also told that you're on CCTV. We've all seen these notices at pubs before, they just seemed much more numerous and noticeable here than one usually expects.

The Rhos Fynach describes itself as a "Tavern and Restaurant" and is primarily geared towards holidaymakers. But it's a reasonably traditional, welcoming and pleasant interior, with an upstairs restaurant and downstairs bar area.

On the beer front, a sign by the entrance refers to the pub as "Banks's" and also "Free House", so I wasn't sure what to expect at first. Beers on were Banks Bitter, Banks Gold and Jennings Crag Rat, which would indicate the former, but the decent collection of pump clips might suggest otherwise.

This is a more than reasonable pub to pop in to if you're in the vicinity.

6 Apr 2010 09:23

Britannia Inn, Llangollen

Visited in September 2009.

The Britannia Inn ( or "The Famous Britannia Inn" as it likes to be called ) is a large attractive looking roadside inn/restaurant on the A542 a few miles outside Llangollen, close to the scenic Horseshoe Pass and the Ponderosa Cafe, a popular meeting point for bikers.

The Inn dates back to 1462 and was previously a group of cottages used as accommodation by monks from the nearby Valle Crucis Abbey who brewed ales on the premises.

I'm afraid the interior has little if anything to appeal to the traditional pub goer. It's got that Harvester family restaurant look and feel to it throughout ( not that I frequent Harvesters, I hasten to add ) with matching light pine furniture and place mats everywhere. Mr & Mrs 2.4 children were present in droves during my early evening visit, taking advantage of the all day standard pub menu and it is clear that this is where the establishment has positioned itself.

Despite seeing the Theakstons logo above the entrance door and Theakstons umbrellas on the outside tables, there did not appear to be any Theakstons beers on offer. Two real ales were on - Barley Gold and Thirst Brew from Offa's Dyke Brewery in Trefonen, near Oswestry. My pint of the former - served in a Theakstons branded glass naturally - was an enjoyable pint, but this is not a drinkers pub.

I spent a pleasant half hour or so sitting outside in the early evening sunshine, despite the constant stream of leather clad bikers roaring past on their way to / from the Ponderosa Cafe, but, if you do decide to call in, don't expect anything remotely resembling a normal pub experience.

6 Apr 2010 09:04

The Shakespeare Inn, Birmingham

Mitchell and Butlers pub in the pedestrianised part of the City Centre in a side street off New Street.

A rather garish and unattractive looking yellow painted exterior leads into a fairly standard city centre pub type interior, yet one that does retain some original features, principally in the form of some fine tiling and an old M & B floor mosaic in the front entrance.

The pub prominently advertises itself in several places by the entrance as a "smoke-free pub" , which makes one wonder if recent legislation has passed the pub's management by. The Cask Marque symbol and a 2009 GBG sticker are also displayed, but the pub is not in the current 2010 edition.

On my recent lunchtime visit, the pub was quite busy with a mixture of shoppers and office people, enjoying the cheap food and drink.

Beers on were Pedigree, Deuchars IPA, Black Sheep and Marstons EPA. the Pedigree was in reasonable form - £ 2.29p.

This is a perfectly adequate, if not particularly inspiring, pub and it's not one to specifically seek out.

26 Mar 2010 12:38

The Prince of Wales, Birmingham

Fine traditional pub situated in what is known as The Convention Quarter of Birmingham.Despite being close to the National Indoor Arena and the Repertory Theatre, it occupies a slightly isolated position behind these buildings and away from the main hustle and bustle and "yoof" bars of Broad Street.

It's a Festival Ale House and, on my recent early evening visit, was offering a variety of mainstream real ales - Deuchars IPA, London Pride, Bombardier, Landlord etc, plus Brains and Ansells Mild. The Deuchars IPA - £ 2.7Op - was in good nick. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG.

The pub is traditionally furnished and decorated - wood panelling, frosted glass etc - and seemingly well run. On my recent Thursday evening visit, the pub was quite busy, mainly with locals and regulars, and there was a lively and welcoming atmosphere. It is therefore disappointing - and perhaps surprising - to report that there are still Estate Agents boards outside offering a "Leasehold Business for Sale".

It's not a must visit pub, but I quite liked this one and you could do much worse than seek it out.

26 Mar 2010 12:30

The Shakespeare, Birmingham

With its fine red brick exterior and large arched leaded windows, this resembles, on first sight, a rather typical traditional old style Birmingham pub. It's situated in a slip road just off the notorious Paradise Circus roundabout.

Although it has retained its separate room layout, the interior is somewhat uninspiring and has that any-pub-any-town chainy feel to it. There's a splendid Mitchells and Butlers mirror by the staircase and a surprisingly large outdoor drinking area at the back.

On my recent evening visit, the pub was quite busy with younger people, who, I presumed, were students from a nearby college, although the pub does not give off that student pub vibe to it. There's a Holiday Inn next door.

Beers on were Black Sheep, Pedigree and Landlord, the latter being in reasonable form - £ 2.50p.

I didn't particularly either like or dislike this one really, but it's not near the top of my list for a re-visit

25 Mar 2010 12:57

Rose Villa Tavern, Birmingham

Externally, an impressive looking red brick Victorian pub with the usual leaded stained glass windows, the Rose Villa Tavern occupies a prominent street corner postion in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter close to the Chamberlain Clock.

A central island bar serves a number of different adjoining rooms, variously named as The Bullion Bar, The Emerald Lounge and The Smugglers Den. There is some splendid wall to floor tiling, but the effect is marred slightly by the usual promotional posters advertising football fixtures and, most notably, a poster advertising what is referred to as an "Indoor Bring and Buy Car Boot Sale" at the pub on a forthcoming Sunday morning.

The main bar is The Bullion Bar and this contains a games area with a snooker table and dartboard and, at the far end of the bar, a red telephone box. The Smugglers Den contains some interesting old photos of the area. The Emerald Lounge notably unfortunately contains a rather unattractive looking boxing gaming machine that would be much more at home in an amusement arcade or fairground.

As previous posters have already pointed out, real ale does not feature prominently here. On my visit, a single handpump in The Bullion Bar, not immediately noticeable, was serving Adnams Broadside. Tellingly, despite it tasting fine and very reasonably priced at £ 2.55p, the barmaid's quizzical facial expression had "blimey, someone's ordering this real ale stuff" written all over it.

This is a fine traditional pub, the kind that I like, but I'd like it even more if there was a greater emphasis on real ale which, as previous posters have experienced, is not always available.

25 Mar 2010 12:42

The Bull, Birmingham

The Bull is a fine smallish traditional local situated on a quiet street corner in the Gun Quarter of Birmingham and close to Aston University. Despite being within a stone's throw of the busy Lancaster Circus roundabout and flyover, the pub has a quietish country pub feel to it, enhanced by a splendid collection of jugs and plates adorning the walls and beams.

Outside the pub, a slightly faded information board tells us that, in the old days, "gun gaffers" paid their employees their wages in The Bulls Head, as the pub was evidently then called. Also, outside the pub, on the black painted exterior, we see that it apparently dates back to "circa 1800" , making it one of Birmingham's oldest pubs. The pub retains Ansells etched windows and it is clear that, in earlier days, it was a multi-bar pub. Now there are two adjoining rooms, both carpeted and comfortable, each served from a central bar. In the far room, there's some interesting photos of the former gun making activities in the area's factories.

There's no music or other distractions and, once the lunchtime office trade had disappeared, the only sound was from the ticking grandfather clock.

The pub offers a good selection of home cooked food, including daily specials.

On the beer side, three beers were on when I visited - Adnams Broadside, Pedigree and Bargees Bitter from Elland Brewery. The latter, at a rather pricey £ 2.80p for an ABV of only 3.7%, tasted somewhat uninspiring. The pub is a CAMRA GBG regular.

I think this pub is well worth seeking out, but note that it is not open on Sunday.

25 Mar 2010 12:16

The Bartons Arms, Aston

Standing rather incongrously besides a 6 lane dual carriageway a mile or so north of Birmingham and in close proximity to a number of council estates, the Bartons Arms is generally accepted as having Birmingham's most impressive pub interior.

The pub dates back to 1901 and has that typical red brick exterior which, so we're told, is typical of Birmingham pubs of that era. Note also the fine 4 sided clock-tower.

Once inside, you cannot fail to be impressed by the colourful wall to floor tilingin the rooms towards the rear of the pub, together with some large swivel snob screens. Of particular note is the fine ornate staircase, with a church style stained glass window hal way up showing the date of the pub's construction - 1901. Note also the tiled hunting scene near the foot of the staircase. The pub features in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The front part of the pub doesn't have the riot of colour that the back part does and, although some of the etched glaa has evidently been replaced by clear glass, there is still some etched glass indicative of the pub's former bar layout. This part of the pub is not unpleasant, but the loudish rock style music was a bit offputting.

On my recent lunchtime visit, the pub was gradually starting to fill up with customers who had clearly come for the Thai Food Chef's Special Lunch - £ 5.95p - and it appear to me, unfortunately, that the Thai food element of the pub operation is now much more dominant that when I last dropped in a few years ago.

The pub also offers entertainment and was advertising " A Cacophony of Gothic Balls" ( I kid you not!) in the upstairs Ballroom on the forthcoming Saturday 20 March with a £ 5 entrance fee.

On the real ale front, beers are supplied by Oakham Ales and 5 different Oakham beers were available, ranging from a splendid pint of Jeffrey Hudson Bitter, a light dry beer with a citrus hop flavour ( £ 2.40p - 3.8%) to Kaleidoscope, which was a characterful dark beer with a dark roast chocolately taste. Other Oakham beers on were Inferno, White Dwarf and Bishops Farewell. Only one guest beer was on - Parish Bitter fromTunnel Brewery. The Bartons Arms has been a GBG fixture for most recent years, but seems to have missed out for 2010.

This is a real classic and you really should try to get here sometime.

24 Mar 2010 15:23

The Great Western, Wolverhampton

Splendidly traditional well known pub situated close to Wolverhampton railway station and down a cobbled street close to what, apparently, was the old GWR station. Despite being a trained investigator, the pub took some finding - I think, on reflection, that I must have taken the wrong exit coming out of the mainline station.

There's a smallish public bar type area at the front with a tiled floor and obvious, but sympathetic, extensions behind which make the pub look much larger and roomer than initially appears to be the case.

There's plenty of railway memorabilia - framed photos etc - throughout. Note in particular the white - painted wooden fencing station - roof style surround over the front bar. At the far end of the pub, accessed via a long narrow seating area, is a conservatory style dining area where there is some Wolverhampton Wanderers F C memorabilia, including a photo of the FA Cup winning team of 1949 when they beat Leicester City 3-1.

Disappointingly, on my recent early evening visit, the legendary hot roast baps or grey peas and faggots were not available - these are apparently only available midweek evenings if pre-booked

On the beer front, it's a Holdens pub and the full range of their beers - Mild, Bitter, Golden Glow and Special - were available. Both the Mild and Special - priced at £ 2.00p and £ 2.35p respectively - were excellent tasty pints, although the Bitter ( £ 2.05p ) tasted slightly bland and uninteresting to me. Also on were Bathams Bitter - a regular fixture I understand - and, as a guest, Broughs Pale Ale, which, according to the GBG is brewed using spare capacity at the Old Swan in Netherton. The Great Western is a GBG regular and has won numerous CAMRA awards over the years.

It's still only the first quarter of 2010, but I do have the distinct impression that I'm unlikely to visit many, if any, better pubs during the whole of the current year.

24 Mar 2010 13:03

The Coachmakers Arms, Hanley

Fine traditional town pub situated just south of Hanley's shopping precinct, about a mile or so from Stoke station.

It's a multi-roomed gem with 2 rooms either side of the splendid tiled central corridor. The pub has recently been added to CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The first bar on the left - a small simple bar with the feel of a tap room - is where the locals congregate and here beer and conversation are the staple diet. I quickly fell into conversation with other drinkers, a mixture of regulars and fellow pub/beer enthusiasts. The walls here are covered with a splendid collection of pump clips, reflecting the wide range of beers that have been offered over the years. The other rooms are serviced through a hatch in the corridor and are also unspoilt and traditional.

Beers on - well those that I wrote down - included Burton Bridge Gold Medal Ale, Leeds Pale Ale and RCH Old Slug Porter. The Leeds Pale Ale was an excellent pint, as befits a GBG regular pub.

As we all know by now, the pub is sadly under threat of demolition. Arriving at the pub for my first ever visit recently, and seeing its location ( part of a mini shopping parade in a slip road just off a major roundabout ) , I had jumped to the conclusion that a road widening scheme was being proposed, but the friendly locals and staff explained to me that a "regeneration" of the immediate area is intended. It's not known for sure when the pub's fate will be decided - so people are keeping their fingers crossed in the meantime. CAMRA have highlighted the pub's plight in a recent edition of Whats Brewing.

It's a real classic town community pub - so do try and get there if you can - or, at the very least, sign the petition ( details provided in an earlier posting here )

24 Mar 2010 12:42

Vine Inn, Wednesfield

Splendidly traditional unspoilt 1930's brick built pub on a main bus route out of Wolverhampton, which is only a couple of miles away.

Unusually, it's slightly set back from the road, the space in front of the pub seems to be used for parking rather than as an outdoor drinking area.

There's 3 interconnecting bars - the public bar is on the left as you go in and the lounge bar, with some fixed seating and bell pushes, on the right. The third room - the smoke room - is across from the corridor at the back of the pub and is serviced via a hatch. Here, in this corridor, is some memorabilia from the long gone Highgate and Walsall Brewing Co. All 3 rooms are basic and relatively unspoilt.

The Vine is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors - "one of Britain's true heritage pubs" - as it proudly announces itself above the lounge bar window.

There's 9 handpumps and, as well as beers from the Black Country Ales Brewery, on my recent afternoon visit, there were beers on from Slaters ( Top Totty ), Art Brew Full Mash and Nelsons ( Powder Monkey ).Of the Black Country beers, both the Pig on the Wall - a dark mild - and the BFG, a pale sweetish bitter, were on good form at £ 2.40p and £ 2.30p respectively.

This is yet another West Midlands pub that you should make the effort to get to if you get the opportunity.

24 Mar 2010 10:27

The Turf Tavern, Bloxwich

Wonderful time warp of a pub in the centre of Bloxwich, opposite the park. It's a family owned freehouse known as Tinky's.

Not having been here before, my initial reaction on reaching the pub and seeing the rather run down looking exterior ( peeling paint on the window sills ) and the absence of any hanging pub sign, was that the pub had closed down. Thankfully, this proved not to be the case.

Once the landlady's initial nervousness at the recent lunchtime arrival of a stranger had worn off, I was made to feel most welcome by both her and the other few customers present. It's very much a locals pub and I don't imagine it gets much, if any, in the way of passing trade.

Situated in a Victorian terrace, it very much resembles a private house from the outside and this feeling is reinforced as you enter. The main bar, with its tiled floor, is on the right of the central corridor and there are two other rooms on the left side of the corridor. These were initially locked, but opened by the landlady for me to have a look, without asking. All three rooms are basic, unspoilt, with fixed seating round the walls and free from modern embellishments. There's a courtyard at the back for outside drinking - which again looks as though it has seen better days - and the customary outside toilets. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The four handpumps were dispensing Pardoe's Bumblehole, RCH Pitchfork, Otter Bright plus Oakham Ales Chaos Engine, which I think is a seasonal beer. Given earlier postings, most of these beers appear to be fairly regular. It's evidently a CAMRA friendly pub and was advertising the forthcoming Walsall Beer Festival. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG, where it is described as a "pub not to be missed", which is difficult to disagree with.

This really does feel like a pub from a different era and I enjoyed the whole experience immensely, but, externally, both from the front and from the garden at the back, it does rather give the impression of a pub that's struggling and whose days are numbered. Let's hope this is not the case as I really do want to return here some time soon.

23 Mar 2010 13:48

The White Swan, Digbeth

Situated just down the road from The Anchor, on which I have just posted, is The White Swan, another of Birmingham's red brick tile and terracotta pubs. Notably, buildings between the two pubs have been demolished since my last foray into this territory, making the two pubs neighbours so to speak, but also making the immediate area feel a bit desolate.

In contrast to The Anchor, the main bar of The White Swan is long and narrow. The ornate bar back has several clocks built into its structure. At one end of the bar, a corridor retaining some original tiling leads to a smallish and cosy snug bar behind. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The White Swan is badged as a Marstons pub and, on my recent visit, the Banks Bitter - £ 2.60p - was in good form. Choice was limited due to the previous day's St Patricks Day Parade, but I did notice that Ringwood Bitter was also on. Several of the other handpumps were unclipped. The pub has been a GBG regular in recent years. It advertises in the local CAMRA magazine, where, as well as mentioning the Banks and Jennings bitters, it also claims to offer "The Best Guinness in Town".

Although it doesn't have the beer range of The Anchor, it's a fine pub in its own right and, given their proximity, you might want to do both pubs in the same crawl.

23 Mar 2010 13:12

, Digbeth

Multi award winning real ale pub situated in the Irish Quarter of the City and a stone's throw away from Digbeth Coach Station. It's one of Birmingham's distinctive red brick, tile and terracotta pubs and dates back to 1902.

The pub is a multi roomed street corner gem with the lively public bar following the angle of the street corner on which the pub is situated. A wooden screen divides up this main drinking area, creating a small snug type bar area on the right which can be separately accessed from Rea Street or via the smoke room behind. The smoke room is much quieter and has fixed seating and disused bell pushes. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

On the real ale front, it's a real CAMRA favourite with regular beer festivals featuring and it's been voted Birmingham CAMRA pub of the year on four separate occasions.

Between Thursday 11th and Wednesday 17th March, a St Patricks themed beer festival was held with approx 20-30 real ales being available over the period, with an emphasis on Irish breweries such as White Gypsy Brewery from Tipperary.

My visit on the evening of Monday 15th was disappointing as the pub had a limited selection of real ales. I was told that this was due to the St Patricks Day Parade in the area the previous day, which had attracted large crowds. A subsequent visit on Friday 19th was more satisfactory with decent pints of Beowulf Fallen Cross and Hobsons Mild being enjoyed.

Irrespective of whether there's a Beer Festival on or not, you should make every effort to get here if the opportunity arises.

23 Mar 2010 09:46

The Lamp Tavern, Birmingham

Small, traditional, cosy single bar pub situated in a rather run down light industrial area of the city where many buildings appear to have been abandoned. The Lamp Tavern is a seemingly amazing survivor in these surroundings.

The CAMRA GBG, in which this pub appears year on year, tells us that the pub is the only regular outlet in Birmingham for Stanway beers. Sod's law being what it is, these were not available on my recent early afternoon visit, although I did enjoy a fine pint of Springhead Liberty and a warm welcome from the engaging Eddie. Other beers on included Tunnel End Pale Ale, Everards Tiger and beers from Buxton Brewery and ABC Pride Of Aston.

The pub is traditional and cosy with fixed seating round the wall and circular tables and bar stools. There's a function room at the back used by local clubs and societies.

A framed chronological history of the pub on the wall is well worth reading and tells us that Eddie has been at the pub since 1993. Also worthy of note is an old framed Mitchells and Butlers price list dated July 1962 showing beer prices of 9 1/2 d for a half pint and 1s7d for a pint.

Only a shortish walk out from the City Centre, this pub is well worth seeking out and can be easily combined with visits to The Anchor and The White Swan in nearby Digbeth.

23 Mar 2010 09:28

The Old Fox, Birmingham

Largish pub occupying a prominent position opposite The Hippodrome Theatre and on the fringes of the Chinese Quarter. From the outside, we learn that the pub was established in 1891.

The U shaped bar serves two distinct and separate areas - a basic bare boarded front bar and a larger carpeted lounge area with a mixture of traditional seating and sofas. There's some impressive columns and stained glass leaded windows depicting the fox motif. Not surprisingly, framed theatrical posters advertising past performances are plentiful.

Beers on were Tribute - £ 2.75p - plus Beartown Bearly and Slaters The Craic, which I presume was a beer brewed specifically for the forthcoming St Patricks Day, for which the pub was gearing up. There's other pumps in the lounge bar, but these didn't seem to be in use on my visit. The pub is a CAMRA GBG regular.

This is a pleasant enough pub, but the music from the juke box was over loud and, although it's on the way to The Lamp Tavern, I might pass this one by next time

22 Mar 2010 12:30

The Old Contemptibles, Birmingham

Fine traditional red - brick Victorian pub situated in the Colmore Business District of the City.

Although it's not indicated as such from the outside ( where it's branded as a Mitchell and Butlers pub ), it's now part of the Nicholson's chain and the usual wide range of real ales, together with the try before you buy policy, are on offer.

The main bar is wood panelled, with high ceilings, frosted leaded windows and huge drape curtains contributing towards a traditional pub ambience. At the far end of the pub, up a few steps, is a snug like restaurant area.

The pub's name - The Old Contemptibles - refers to a select band of World War One soldiers who fought in France , and there's some fine depictions of them above the bar back.

On my recent visit, 7 real ales were on - Landlord, Pedigree, Bass, Hydes Over a Barrel, Goffs Tournament, Purity UBU plus Ffiagra ( a beer from Warwickshire Beer Co ) . The Purity UBU - £ 3.15p - was a fine pint. The pub is a GBG regular.

A blackboard lists forthcoming beers, which I noted included Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted, to be sold at £ 2.80p. I mention ths because I had just come from The Old Royal, where the very same beer was priced at £ 2.00p.

On a blackboard by the entrance we learn that the pub sold 1794 ales ( pints presumably ?) and 573 sausages the previous week.

This is a fine pub and has a greater beer range than The Old Royal a block or so away, but it is noticeably more expensive for both food and drink.

22 Mar 2010 11:11

The Old Royal, Birmingham

Victorian street-corner pub situated in the Colmore Business District of the City Centre.

Despite an impressive exterior and some original internal features such as a fine bar back and some leaded stained glass windows, the pub has, what I would largely describe as, a standard chain pub interior, not helped by the usual promotional posters advertising cheap drinks and meal deals.

The walls are decorated with pictures and prints of former kings and queens, reflecting the pub's name. There's an upstairs function room with some fine tiling on the staircase.

There's 3 handpumps, which, on my recent lunchtime visit, were offering Bass, Pedigree and Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted, the latter being on superb form and only £ 2 per pint. Not seeing any other pump clips behind the bar, I would hazard a guess that these beers may be regular offerings. The pub has been a CAMRA GBG regular in recent years.

On the food front, my Club Sandwich - accompanied by a generous portion of chips - was tasty, filling and arrived promptly, despite the pub being reasonably busy. Customers were a good mixture of office staff and locals.

This is a perfectly adequate and acceptable City Centre pub.

22 Mar 2010 10:57

The Duke of York, Borough

Solid looking street corner pub just down the road from The Ship, on which I have just posted.

The Duke of York ( or "The Duke" as it seems to like being called ) may be fondly remembered by older drinkers as The Goose and Firkin, the pub where David Bruce and his chain of home brew Firkin pubs kicked off all those years ago. Pleasant memories of pints of Dogbolter are but a distant memory now.

It's now a Sheps pub, but unfortunately with a rather more modern interior than many of Sheps pubs that I've done previously. The interior includes several sofas, but mainly consists of wooden tables and chairs packed as closely together as reasonably feasible. In one corner of the room is a fine painting of The Duke of York ( the person, not the pub ) but, despite some chandeliers and columns, the interior is somewhat characterless. There's the inevitable echoey feel that carpetless pubs invariably seem to have.

On my recent Wednesday evening visit, the pub was quite busy, mainly with a young urban professional crowd, which is clearly the target market. There's an emphasis on shots - Sambuca, Tequila etc - and wine and home cooked food ( not gastro food, but clearly a step up from normal pub grub ). The rather fazed look from the barman confirmed what I had already realised - namely that I fell outside the desired customer profile.

On the real ale front, most notably, no Sheps beers were available on the pumnps, but there were two guest beers - White Horse Village Idiot and Caledonian Over The Bar. The former, irritatingly served in a Spitfire branded glass, was a fine pale hoppy pint at £ 3.15p.

This is not my kind of pub though and I don't envisage a return visit any time soon.

12 Mar 2010 08:57

The Ship, Borough

Traditional Fullers pub a short walk away from Borough Tube Station.

The long single bar is unpretentious, yet pleasant and comfortable with much wood panelling and the usual collection of nautical prints and pictures on the walls. An alcove at the far end of the pub contains a dartboard.

On my recent early evening visit, the pub was surprisingly quiet, with just half a dozen or so regulars presents. A smallish plasma TV on silent , tuned to Chelsea TV, enabled me to wallow in nostalgia as a Chelsea v Arsenal game from an earlier season featuring stars such as Kerry Dixon and a youthful looking David Seaman was showing.

The pub proudly announces that it has a secret beer garden which it describes as "the only oasis of calm in Borough" . There's also an upstairs function room with occasional comedy nights.

The full range of Fullers beers was on and the London Pride - at a cheapish ( relatively ) price of £ 2.85p - was in excellent form. I noted that the ESB was £ 3.05p - a price cheaper than many pubs sell the London Pride for.

This is not a pub worth going out of your way to visit, but I'd happily call in again if passing.

12 Mar 2010 08:45

The Crown and Anchor, Covent Garden

Largish pub on a street corner in the heart of busy, touristy Covent Garden.

Outside some ceramic tiling advertising Watneys Pimlico Ales and Reids Stout reveals the pub's former ownership, but, although we learn that the pub was established in 1904, it's now a rather featureles and uninspiring bare boarded single bar.

The pub's Licensing Certificate tells us that it's a Market Taverns Limited pub - these are the people who have the Market Porter in Borough Market and the Carpenters Arms near Marble Arch. On my visit, the three pumps were serving Harveys Best, Spitfire and Deuchars IPA. Not seeing any other pump clips decorating the bar anywhere, I would hazard a guess that these beers are regulars. The Deuchars IPA - £ 3.05p - was quite good.

I'm not sure why the previous poster thinks this pub is "beneath contempt", but it's not a pub to go out of your way to visit and it's not on my list for a return.

26 Feb 2010 08:35

The Coal Hole, Strand

Well known Nicholsons pub situated half way down The Strand in the midst of theatreland - indeed it's next door to the Savoy Theatre.

It's a longish L -shaped bar with a high-beamed ceiling and fine plasterwork friezes high up around the walls featuring nubile young ladies picking grapes. Of note also are the unusual circular-leaded windows where the letters SWL can occasionally be made out - this denotes the establishment's former name of Strand Wine Lodge in days long gone.

At the far end of the pub - by the atmospheric and cosy Wolf Parlour - are some stairs to an upstairs mezzanine area, from where you can often sit in a bit more comfort watching the throng down below. Downstairs from the main bar is the Edmunds Ale and Wine Bar with a typical city wine bar ambience, rather different from the main pub upstairs at ground level.

A former Ind Coope pub, it was absorbed into the Nicholsons chain a good many years ago. On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, the usual Nicholsons suspects were on the pumps - TT Landlord, Pride, GK IPA and Thwaites Nutty Black. The latter - £ 2.95p - was a pleasant pint, but, as seems to be the case in many Nicholsons pubs now, the beer was not quite as good as it could be. Also on was a beer called Organic Cragg Vale Bitter from the Little Valley Brewery in West Yorkshire, which I didn't get to sample.

The pub is often busy with theatregoers or people from the Savoy next door and is a popular meeting up place, but it's worth calling in if you get the chance

24 Feb 2010 09:20

The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross

Fine, welcoming pub situated at the end of Charing Cross arches off Northumberland Avenue and virtuaaly underneath the Railway Station.

It's a pub of two halves - a bar and a separate pub sign on either side of the passageway ( although the smaller bar on the south side of the passageway seems to be open only at certain times ). Older drinkers may remember when the pub was a Free House called the Ship and Shovel ( only one "l") and, what is now the south side bar was, if my memory serves me correctly, a small shop selling stamps and war related memorabilia ( badges, replica medals etc ).

It's now the Ship and Shovell ( 2 "l" s ) , acquired and reopened by Hall and Woodhouse ( Badger Ales ), many moons ago, after a period of closure. The new name relates to Admiral Shovell and a fine painting of him hangs over the fireplace on the right hand side of the north side bar. This bar ( the only half of the pub open on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit ) has a small bare boarded public bar style area on the left of the entrance and a larger, carpeted area on the right which is decorated in a faux traditional style with engraved glass, mirrors and naval pictures. Those who remember the pub in the 1970's, which it had a rather seedy lairy atmosphere, will, I suspect, be more impressed with the 2010 vintage.

The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG and, on my recent visit, the Badger Best - £ 2.87p - was in good form. Other beers on were Tanglefoot, K& B Sussex and Hopping Hare, the seasonal beer.

Not a must visit pub, but worth dropping in if passing by

23 Feb 2010 09:04

The Audley, Mayfair

Imposing, late Victorian pub situated on a street corner of a busy road running down southwards from Grosvenor Square.

The splendid red brick and terracota tiled exterior is reminiscent of a number of pubs in the Birmingham area and the interior does not disappoint either, featuring much wood panelling, an ornate plaster ceiling and some crystal chandeliers. The fine traditional atmosphere is further enhanced by large arch windows, with attendant drape curtains and a curved mahogany bar. Note also the double sided clock above the bar.

There is a small TV above one of the entrance doors, but I'm not surprised Rex missed it - even though it was showing the Wales v Scotland Rugby International, the volume was low and hardly any one was paying it any attention.

There's a rather upmarket and civilised ambience, probably what you'd expect for this exclusive and classy area. The pub is very much on the tourist trail - but I agree it's not a"tourist trap" - and is popular with shoppers and visitors / staff of the nearby American Embassy. Michelle Obama plus offspring dropped inn unexpectedly in June 2009.

Beers on were Pride, Directors, Bombardier and Deuchars IPA, the latter being in excellent form at £ 3.25p - still pricey but 65p cheaper than at The Punchbowl, but where I'd just walked.

The Audley is well worth seeking out

19 Feb 2010 12:54

The Punch Bowl, Mayfair

Well known pub hidden away in a quietish side street in the heart of Mayfair. As the whole world and his wife seem to know by now, this pub is owned by you-know-who and his missus, although this particular reviewer would struggle to recognise either of them if they were to suddenly walk through the door.

Outside the pub, an information board tells us that "this Georgian Grade 2 Listed Tavern was built on the ground of Hay Hill Farm in 1750". It is believed to be the second oldest pub in Mayfair after The Guinea.

An attractive wooden frontage with original double doors, which retains some etched glass leads into a basic low ceilinged bar with a mixture of flagstones and bare floorboards and much wood panelling. Note in particular, a splendid painting of Winston Churchill by a fine fireplace. There's no TV or fruit machines etc.

The pub is very much on the tourist trail and is quite food orientated, with a dedicated restaurant area towards the rear of the pub. Prices for both food and drink reflect the affluence of the area and the fact that this pub is an obvious magnet for visitors.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, my pint of Deuchars IPA - at a stonking £ 3.90p - was on good form. Other beers on were Spitfire and Bombardier, but this is not a drinkers pub.

Rather perversely, I came here hoping that I wouldn't like it, but apart from the excessively high prices and the snobbishness of some of the other customers, it was much better than I expected.

I can't see myself returning in the near future, but I'm not going to discourage you from dropping in if you feel so inclined.

18 Feb 2010 12:53

The Kings Arms, Mayfair

Pleasant, but rather unremarkable pub situated in Shepherds Market just a stone's throw away from Ye Grapes.

I was originally going to give this one a miss, but a prominent pair of Cask Marque symbols and a sign starting with the words " Dear Valued Guest" encouraged me inside out of sheer curiousity.

The ground level bar is bare boarded and low ceilinged, with some fake looking beams, but the faux traditional air is rather spoilt by a few of those long high tables and perches that most punters detest, but are favoured by the big pubco's as it makes cleaning and sweeping up after closing time so much quicker and easier.

A sign by the entrance says "Welcome to the Kings Arms from Mark and his team" and, unusually for a London pub, a man who I presume was Mark came over and politely asked if I was enjoying my beer / visit. When I said that I was, but that I thought the high tables and perches looked out of place, he tacitly agreed with me without as much as actually saying so.

There's an upstairs bar and restaurant accessed via an impressive curved staircase. Downstairs an unobtrusive TV was showing Southampton v Portsmouth.

Beers on were GK IPA, Doom Bar, Rev James and Youngs London Gold, the latter being a pleasant tasty pint - £ 3.32p.

I think I'd probably call in again if passing

18 Feb 2010 12:37

The Shepherds Tavern, Mayfair

Smallish single bar Punch Taverns pub set on a street corner within a stone's throw of Shepherds Market.

It's rather unremarkable internally with a bare boarded interior and a mixture of banquettes and wooden seating. There's a reasonable amount of woodwork, but nothing really that is memorable in any way.

Like most pubs round here seemingly, it's very much pitching for food trade from passing tourists and a standard pub menu is offered throughout the day.

There's an upstairs restaurant which the pub describes as being housed in "a large antique pine panelled room".

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, beers on were London Pride - £ 3.27p - and Greene King IPA at £ 2.50p. A third pump had its clip reversed. The London Pride was reasonable, but not good enough to stop me thinking that I should have gone for the 77p cheaper IPA. I did notice quite a few framed Cask Marque certificates behind the bar.

I'm not marking this one down for an early return visit.

17 Feb 2010 13:36

Ye Grapes, Mayfair

Large, attractive looking, traditional pub set in a corner of the bustling Shepherds Market in the heart of Mayfair.

The pub dates back to 1882 and is a pleasant, traditionally furnished pub with high ceilings and a dark woody feel to it. Of particular note is a splendid collection of stuffed fish and birds which impart something of a rural air to the pub. Brass footrails and comfortable banquette seating help towards creating a homely relatively unspoilt feel.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, the pub was gearing itself up towards showing that afternoon's Rugby Internationals, although condiments on the tables and a cup on the bar counter for customer tips indicated that the pub was also aiming for trade from passing tourists.

On the beer front, the 6 pumps were serving Pride, Doom Bar, Sambrooks Wandle, Brains Bread of Heaven ( 2 pumps ) and a beer from Cottage Brewery. My pint of Wandle - £ 3.40p - was reasonable, but, not surprisingly at that price, I didn't feel inclined to contribute to the staff tips kitty.

There's an upstairs restaurant serving Thai and traditional British food.

This strikes me as being a perfectly adequate pub and I wouldn't be averse to calling in again if passing by.

17 Feb 2010 13:27

The Counting House, Bank

Former Nat west bank branch, converted a good number of years ago into a particularly impressive example of a Fullers Ale and Pie House.

Those of us familiar with the Ale and Pie concept will have a good idea what to expect here - a large central island bar, much dark polished wood, chandeliers and a large glass domed high ceiling.

Of particular note at The Counting House are some impressive floor mosaics and, just inside the entrance, a Memorial to those bank staff who served in World War One. This is believed to be the only pub in England to display such a memorial. Note also the upstairs balcony seating, from where you can observe the thirsty hordes of office staff down below, and the small wood panelled rooms at the back which were previously offices of the senior bank personnel.

On my recent early evening visit, both the London Pride and the Chiswick - £ 3.40p and £ 3.15p respectively - were in good form.

I echo the generally positive comments about this place - particularly in relation to the service. I always like coming here and it's well worth seeking out if you haven't been before, but you need to be prepared to pay for the privilege of drinking here

17 Feb 2010 09:51

The Bunch of Grapes, London Bridge

Youngs pub housed in a Grade 2 listed building in a side street just outside London Bridge Station.

It's a smallish bare boarded single bar pub broken up by some wooden screens and pillars into a number of nooks and crannies. The walls are traditionally decorated with a particularly large Bass mirror being worthy of note. Unusually, and notably for the area, is a split level outside garden at the back.

The pub seems to attract a wider client mix than the nearby Barrow Boy and Banker - it's much less dominated by suits, but, being close to the station, it's invariably busy.

I'm no fan of staff in pubs being made to wear a "corporate" uniform - eg short sleeved black shirts - but I have to say that I do like staff to be reasonably presentable. On my two recent visite here, staff have looked somewhat dishevelled - resembling the type of people you see selling The Big Issue on street corners, or homeless people sleeping in a cardboard box under the arches. Perhaps it's an age thing, but I do find it a bit offputting.

I still have a bit of a soft spot for this pub - it was here that theYoungs 135 Association held their farewell "bash" many years ago - and the beer, whilst not cheap, is usually in reasonable nick.

Given its closeness to the station, it's a good place to launch or berth a crawl of the area's many fine pubs.

16 Feb 2010 12:45

The Counting House, Bank

Former Nat west bank branch, converted a good number of years ago into a particularly impressive example of a Fullers Ale and Pie House.

Those of us familiar with the Ale and Pie concept will have a good idea what to expect here - a large central island bar, much dark polished wood, chandeliers and a large glass domed high ceiling.

Of particular note at The Counting House are some impressive floor mosaics and, just inside the entrance, a Memorial to those bank staff who served in World War One. This is believed to be the only pub in England to display such a memorial. Note also the upstairs balcony seating, from where you can observe the thirsty hordes of office staff down below, and the small wood panelled rooms at the back which were previously offices of the senior bank personnel.

On my recent early evening visit, both the London Pride and the Chiswick - £ 3.40p and £ 3.15p respectively - were in good form.

I echo the generally positive comments about this place - particularly in relation to the service. I always like coming here and it's well worth seeking out if you haven't been before, but you need to be prepared to pay for the privilege, as it's not cheap.

16 Feb 2010 12:33

The Cock and Woolpack, City Of London

Several hours after posting the review below, I received a PM from the manager of the Cock & Woolpack explaining that they are not allowed to have a hanging sign above the pub because the council consider the lane to be too narrow. Also, above the pub, is part of the Threadneedles Hotel who will not grant them permission to place one higher up. Neither are they allowed to place boards on pavements.

The manager says in his message to me "please don't think it due to idleness on our behalf" and I'm more than happy to set the record straight.

15 Feb 2010 09:44

The Cock and Woolpack, City Of London

Smallish, but traditional Sheps pub hidden away down a narrow alleyway off Cornhill. The absence of any sandwich boards or signs at either end of the alleyway, nor of any hanging pub sign outside the pub itself, means that it's not a pub that you're likely to stumble across accidentally - indeed, I imagine it's only used by those "in the know" so to speak.

A bare boarded basic area at the front inside the pub leads to a more comfortable area towards the rear with carpeting and padded seats - probably rather more seating than the average City pub. The light pine coloured wood - panelling means that the pub doesn't have that dark sombre feel of many nearby establishments - eg , The Jamaica Wine House, from where I had just come.

Inside the pub a notice tells us that the pub is the sister pub to the Coach & Horses, Hill Street, Mayfair, which it describes as having the "same great beer, but a posher postcode". I take it that this means they're under the same Sheps tenancy. You might agree with me that it seems slightly strange to tell people about your sister pub, whilst at the same time, seemingly making little effort to attract people to your own pub, in that there's no hanging pub sign or directions at the alleyway ends.

My pint of Master Brew - £ 3.00p - was on reasonable form.

This is a pleasant, if somewhat unremarkable pub and, whilst I'd happily pop in again, I think there's better pubs close at hand if you know where to find them.

12 Feb 2010 13:28

The Jamaica Wine House, Bank

Typically traditional City pub in an alleyway off Cornhill, next door to St Michaels Church.

Wood partitions divide the pub up into a number of smaller adjoining areas. There's a larger room at the end with a plasma TV, which was on silent on the early evening of my visit. Here there's a food counter serving sandwiches and soup at lunchtime. There's a restaurant / bar downstairs serving more substantial meals.

Of particular note architecturally is the large lantern over the entrance inscribed with the establishment's name and the ceiling, part of which consists of unusual glass panels. The sandstone exterior of the building is also noteworthy.

A plaque outside the pub tells us that "Here stood the first London Coffee House at the sign of Pasqua Rosees Head 1652". The present pub on this site was acquired by Shepherd Neame in March 2009.

The pub was in the 2009 CAMRA GBG, but it's not in the current edition. My pint of Late Red - £ 3.40p - was slightly cold and lacking in flavour.

In many respects, this pub has a typical City pub feel to it - all brightly polished dark wood and subdued lighting. There's plenty of pubs like this in this neck of the woods and - whilst I'd be happy to pop in again - it doesn't really stand out from the crowd for me

12 Feb 2010 13:15

The Coach and Horses, Mayfair

Small, wedge shaped pub close to the Bond Street shopping area, but quite close to The Guinea, on which I have just posted. A stand alone building with a mock - Tudor exrterior, it's difficult not to notice, positioned between 2 large multi-floored office blocks - see photo here.

The pub retains the attractive trademark leaded stained glass windows from its former days as a William Youngers pub. Note in particular, the large enamel notices on the outside wall advising that "for discerning gentlemen, we offer a goodly selection of Mr William Youngers fine cask ales and chilled lagers" and "we welcome delightful ladies and for them we present superior wines".

It's now a small single bar wood panelled traditional Punch Taverns pub which, as the extensive pump clip collection testifies, clearly operates an adventurous real ale policy. The pub displays Cask Marque accreditation and has been in the CAMRA GBG for the last few years. Despite this, my TT Landlord - £ 3.30p - was not particularly good, but the GK Abbott was much better. The other 2 beers - not sampled - were Batemans Miss Scotland and Caledonian Olde Acquaintance.

The pub was uncomfortably crowded on my Thursday evening visit with the after work office crowd - no "delightful ladies" spotted - and you may prefer to visit earlier in the week if possible.

Taking the visit as a whole, I was reasonably impressed and I'd probably call in again if passing

4 Feb 2010 13:33

The Guinea, Mayfair

Well known Youngs pub situated in the heart of Mayfair, in a quietish mews, just off Berkeley Square. The present building dates back to 1675, although a pub has been on this site since 1423.

It's claim to fame is principally due to the attached restaurant - The Guinea Grill - which ( so people say ) serves up top quality steaks. A plaque outside the separate restaurant entrance tells us that it's a founder member of the Scotch Beef Club. The menu advertises steaks from Aberdeenshire and the Orkneys at prices reflecting the affluence of the area and the restaurant's reputation.

I first visited this pub in the early 70's when working nearby and this was one of the pubs where I quickly developed a taste for real ale - still a bit of a rarity in those days. Although there's now a Pizza Express opposite, the area - and the pub in particular - are largely unchanged from those days.

The pub is a small traditional L shaped bar decorated with old prints and photos. Note the screen and the etched glass dividing the bar area from the separate restaurant entrance area. It's invariably crowded - particularly later in the week - but respite can be had by drinking outside in the mews at the front when the weather permits. In the early evening "suits" can dominate, so, if you have an aversion to office types, you might want to wait till later.

My pint of Ordinary - at a pricey £ 3.25p - was in reasonable form on my recent evening visit.

This pub is still well worth seeking out, but check opening hours if you're planning a weekend visit, to avoid possible disappointment.

3 Feb 2010 13:08

The Tom Cribb, Piccadilly

Smallish single bar Sheps pub situated in the heart of the West End, close to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

A fine tiled exterior leads into a pleasant, but rather unremarkable, interior with comfortable padded seating and round tables, but little if anything of particular note.

Tom Cribb was a famous bare knuckle boxer and the boxing theme is maintained by various boxing prints and photos on the walls, including Lennox Lewis and Henry Cooper.

Notably, the pub appears to have a good core of regulars - perhaps staff from the Prince of Wales Theatre opposite - but, not surprisingly, its clearly hedging its bets by offering a reasonably extensive food menu geared towards tourists and visitors.

The Kents Best - £ 3.15p - was in fine form when I dropped in recently.

This is not a must visit pub by any stretch of the imagination, but I echo the generally positive comments on here and, if you're looking for a quiet relaxing pint or two in decent surroundings with a good atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus, you could do a lot worse than seek this one out.

3 Feb 2010 12:56

The George IV, Kentish Town

Superbly traditional back street pub, a short walk away from Kentish Town High Road. The exterior, with its walls bedecked in flowers and the George IV inscribed globe lamps beckon the passing visitor inside. The interior does not disappoint - a fine wood panelled interior with pictures and paintings everywhere. It's a cosy comfortable carpeted interior with the type of warm interior that makes you want to linger.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, the pub was quietish with just a few locals catching up with the football scores on a large drop down screen. A small TV at the far end of the pub was showing horse racing. I formed the view that this was a real community local - but more than happy to welcome the occasional passing stranger who manages to find the place, either by design or accident.

Yes, there's no real ale, but, in all other respects, this is what back street pubs should be like and I'd happily linger here again awhile - even with a pint of John Smiths Extra Smooth.

It's a real gem - do try and seek it out

2 Feb 2010 17:24

The Southampton Arms, Gospel Oak

Smallish, traditional narrow single bar pub situated on the main Highgate Road to the north of Kentish Town.

I never visited, or even knew, this pub in its previous incarnation, but I gather its now been going for approx 6 weeks, as an independently run free house specialising in ales and ciders from independent micro - breweries. The trademark cockerel pub sign outside would indicate that it was a Courage pub in days gone by.

Having heard about this pub from a fellow BITE regular, I paid my first visit to this pub last Saturday lunchtime.

The pub has bare floorboards and long wooden church pew like benches which, as previously reported, lead to seating options which are much less than ideal.There's no TV's or fruit machines. Quietish background music is provided from an old style record player, the likes of which I haven't seen for yonks!

Decor is quite traditional, with a collection of portraits on the left hand wall and, on the other wall, a splendid Lacons of Yarmouth Ales Stout and Porter mirror. There's a Bass mirror down the far end and a piano. Lighting is mainly provided by bare light bulbs, which, when taken into account with the lack of any soft furnishings, give the place a rather stark and cold atmosphere, although there was a coal lit fire directly opposite the bar on my visit. Some Victorian style lampshades would make quite a bit of difference, as would also a carpet or even a couple of rugs to break up the rather echoey feel to the place. There's some rather unusual - but notable - factory / industrial style tiling behind thebar, which is on the right hand side. For the nostalgia addicts amongst us, there's rather basic outside gents toilets at the rear of the building.

The pub is clearly pitching for the CAMRA trade and stocks of London Drinker and The Full Pint were by the bar. There's a notice board where customers can suggest future beers - a nice touch this.

There's a fine bank of 12 handpumps on the bar - 7 real ales and 5 ciders when I was there. 3 additional ciders were also available on gravity. In addition, 2 lagers from the Meantime London Brewery were available, as was warm mulled cider from a large bowl on the bar. It seems churlish to be critical, but the fact that there's more ciders than ales seems slightly surprising.

Beers sampled by me - Sambrooks Junction, Nelsons Revenge and Dark Star were all on good form - priced at £ 2.90p. Other brews on - those that I can remember - included beers from Banks and Taylor and Otley ( Pontypridd ). Slightly irritatingly, and rather oddly, beer is automatically served in jugs unless you specify otherwise, but, in all fairness, I was readily served a pint in a "straight" with good grace.

On the food front, hot roast pork baps were available, as were a variety of pork pies plus sausage rolls, scotch eggs etc.

Despite the fact that I was sitting there writing the skeleton of this review in a barely disguised manner, neither of the 2 bar staff on duty made any effort to speak with me or to ask if I was enjoying my visit. For aventure that has been going for less than 2 months - and is probably now getting a good number of first time visitors and potential new regulars - I find this somewhat surprising, even for London. This fact, coupled with the seating arrangements, leads me to wonder if the pub is focusing more on attracting larger groups ( and I did notice that 4 pint pitchers were available at a discount ) - if so, I feel this may be a mistaken route to go down.

In conclusion, whilst I'm not entirely won over by this establishment, its enterprising beer range means a return visit is on the cards in the not too distant future. If you're in the area, it's worth seeking out.

1 Feb 2010 12:59

The Red Lion, St James

Small ornate Victorian pub in a quiet side street between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park. Curiously, this Red Lion is one of three Red Lions in this area of London which feature in either CAMRA's National or Regional Inventories.

This Red Lion is a former Nicholsons pub - now owned by Fullers - and features splendid surviving Victorian glasswork and mirrors. Note also the three separate former doors at the front, indicating that, despite its small size, this was formerly a multi roomed pub. A semi-circular island bar separates the back part of the pub from the front, accessed by a narrow mini-passageway.

My recent Saturday afternoon visit, being my first since the acquisition by Fullers, found as many as 6 Fullers beers on - ESB, Pride, Chiswick, Jack Frost, Discovery and the Gales - branded Seafarers Ale, which seems too many. It would have been nice to have seen a guest beer or two on offer instead - perhaps I just came in on the wrong day?. Both the Chiswick and the Seafarers - £ 2.60p and £ 3.05p respectively - were in good form.

Pleasingly, and perhaps surprisingly, the pub seemed to have more of a pubby atmosphere that from what I seem to recall when I visited it under Nicholsons banner and drinkers were more dominant than previously.

This is a splendid pub - it's only small and it will probably be standing room only - but don't let that put you off. It's one of London's classic pubs decor - wise. Well worth seeking out.

27 Jan 2010 12:37

The Dog and Duck, Soho

Smallish street corner Nicholsons pub situated in the heart of Soho. In marked contrast to The Three Greyhounds, from where I had just come, the Dog and Duck has a splendidly preserved Victorian interior which earns it a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

As you enter through the side entrance on Frith Street, note the decorative floor mosaic and the fine wall tiling, some of which notably features motifs of thr two animals in question. Worthy of comment also are two large advertising mirrors and a rather curious mini snug to the left of the side entrance as you go in, which was presumably partitioned off in days long gone.

The Dog and Duck is of course the pub where Madonna, allegedly, developed a penchant for TT Landlord. On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, Landlord was joined behind the bar by the ubiquitous London Pride, Lancaster Amber and, most notably, Ringwood Fortyniner and Thornbridge Kipling. Both the latter two beers were in fine form, particularly the Thornbridge Kipling - a fine pale fruity bitter with an ABV of 5.2%.

There's an upstairs bar and dining room - the George Orwell room - which acts as a useful overspill during the inevitable busy periods. There's also a perilous descent to the downstairs gents.

This is probably my favourite Soho pub - best visited if possible in less busy periods - particularly if you want to admire the decor.

27 Jan 2010 08:44

The Three Greyhounds, Soho

Smallish street corner Nicholsons pub in the heart of Soho, much smaller inside than you might expect from outside.

A striking Mock tudor exterior gives way to a rather disappointing and nondescript interior with little of note. The limited amount of seating - mainly banquettes round the walls - means that it doesn't have to get very busy at all for it to be standing room only. The windows are leaded, but plain glass and the floor is bare - boarded.

The standard Nicholsons framed potted history of the pub tells us that the premises were first licensed in 1847. The pub name derives from the dogs that used to hunt here when Soho was open ground.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, beers on were Landlord, Pride, Broadside, Polar Beer from Springhead Brewery and a beer from Ryedale. The Polar Beer - £ 2.95p - had a distinct lemony feel and was reasonably pleasant.

This is a rather unremarkable and uninspiring pub - despite external appearances - and I don't see any particular reason to revisit

26 Jan 2010 15:46

The Tottenham, Soho

Best known for being the only pub on Oxford Street, the Tottenham is a Nicholsons pub at the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street, a stone's throw away from Tottenham Court Road and Centre Point.

A rather uninspiring looking frontage leads into a long narrowish single bar with some impressive tiling and paintings being the principal features of note of a typically impressive and traditional Nicholsons interior. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

Perhaps not surprisingly given the location, the pub has a very transient feel to it - even by Central London standards - and my early Saturday morning visit, just after 11.15 am, found the pub quite full with shoppers and tourists having breakfast and/or coffee.

5 of the 6 handpumps were in use -serving Pride, Landlord, Doom Bar, Nethergate Azzaparrot and Batemans XXB. The Landlord - £ 2.95p - was reasonable.

The highlight of my visit was undoubtedly witnessing a classic Fawlty - esque exchange at the bar between a German couple complaining about their breakfast and the Eastern European barmaid who was less than sympathetic ( as was the Duty Manager ) to the couple demanding their money back on the basis that they had been served with an egg and bacon sandwich, instead of the full English Breakfast which they claimed to have ordered. I was sorely tempted to join in, by asking the German couple why they hadn't complained at the time and also, why they had proceeded to eat the sandwich if indeed it was the "wrong" order, but I decided against it on the spur of the moment. Eventually the Duty Manager gave them a couple of quid back, just to shut them up and get rid of them.

This is not a must visit pub, and I can't guarantee that there will always be impromptu entertainment, but it's worth calling in if you're passing by.

26 Jan 2010 13:40

The William IV, Leyton

Large imposing street corner pub in the middle of a shopping parade on Leyton High Road.

The pub's exterior is adorned with hanging baskets, making the pub look attractive and inviting from the outside.

Inside, one finds a fine traditional roomy Victorian pub with an unusual curved mahogany bar in the front room. This room is decorated with various artefacts hanging down from the ceiling - pots, pans, musical instruments etc - and several impressive Truman Hanbury Buxton mirrors on the walls. In one corner is a dartboard.

The rear adjoining room has a separate bar ( no service from here on my Sunday afternoon visit ) and also has various artefacts, including a petrol pump behind the bar and an old factory clocking on machine. The walls are decorated with framed cartoons and paintings. Of pride of place is a large is a large bulls head over a brick fireplace at the far end of the room. Note also the large Taylor Walker mirror advertising their " Imperial Stout and Sparkling Ales". Both rooms are comfortably furnished with banquettes and carpets.

On the day of my visit, the front bar was showing Aston Villa v West Ham on a large drop downscreen, but it didn't dominate or spoil the atmosphere as can often be the case in pubs. Worthy of comment - and indicative of the hospitable and friendly atmosphere that prevailed throughout - was the fact that, near the end of the game, a coloured chap came in openly displaying his Arsenal allegiance ready for the next televised game to follow shortly ( Bolton away ). Given the area, I half expected someone might land one on him, but there was no hostility or antagonism in the slightest.

As we all know by now, Brodies Ales are brewed here from the on site brewery at the rear of the pub. Pleasingly, all beers are priced at £ 1.99p and the 3 beers sampled by me - IPA, English Ale and East End Bitter - were fine, tasty pints, all in good condition.

This is a splendid East End pub - a real boozer's boozer - and I really warmed to this place. I'm rather surprised that - apart from the indefatigable Roger B - hardly any of the other BITE London regulars seem to have found their way here. If you're reading this, do put this one near the very pub of your "pubs to do" list. I'm certainly coming here again soon

22 Jan 2010 13:06

The King Edward VII, Stratford

Traditional town centre pub situated in the heart of Stratford Broadway.

"King Eddies" - as it badges itself - is a 19th century Grade 2 listed building, still retaining many original features including etched windows. A nice tiled entrance leads to a 2 bar pub. The front lounge bar has wood pannelling, low ceilings and a partly flagstoned floor. Up some steps towards the rear is a lighter, more airy room, which is the main restaurant area. The saloon bar has a mixture of sofas and normal pub seating, but still retains a traditional feel. There's no TV's at all and you get the feel that the pub is aiming at the more upmarket, professional end of the customer spectrum.

Food is evidently a big part of the operation and each table had a rolled up paper menu in a beer glass. A number of tables had "reserved" signs for stated later times.

In the lounge bar, there are 4 handpumps , but only two beers were on - Sharps Doom Bar and Bombardier. In the saloon bar, there's 2 banks of 4 pumps. One of the banks appears unused - all 4 pumps were unclipped - and the other bank of pumps were serving the 2 previously mentioned beers plus a beer called Full Steam Ahead. My pint of Doom Bar was average at best and, despite being listed in recent GBG's, I didn't detect any real emphasis or focus on real ale. The house beer - Nethergate Eddie's Best - wasn't on. Interestingly, the drinks menu includes some unusual bottled beers - Sam Smiths Organic Cherry, St Austell Clouded Yellow and Innis and Gunn amongst others.

On my early Sunday lunchtime visit, the temperature in the front lounge bar was a bit chilly and there was a distinct whiff of cleaning fluid, which made me retreat to the saloon bar.

I'd probably pop in again if in Stratford, but, taking the experience as a whole, I don't regard this as a pub worth going out of your way to visit.

22 Jan 2010 12:48

The George And Dragon, Acton

The George and Dragon - situated slap bang in the centre of Acton - brands itself as a Pub and Kitchen and is run by the Remarkable Restaurants Group. On my recent early Sunday evening visit, it felt however, first and foremost, to be a fine traditional pub.

The front bar area has a very traditional feel with low ceilings, wood pannelling and a fine old fire place giving it the feel of an old unspoilt City square mile watering hole. Behind the bar, note the list of former landlords of the pub dating back as far as 1759.

A further cosy drinking area at the side leads to a much larger and brighter back bar which is dominated by 2 splendid huge Art Nouveau statues bearing lights. This part of the pub appears to act principally as the dining area. At the side of this room is a smallish courtyard for outdoor drinking.

Food seems rather ambitiously priced for a not particularly nice area of West London. Mains were generally priced between £ 9 and £ 11 - presumably a conscious decision to discourage the hoi polloi.

Real ales on were Chiswick and London Pride at £ 3 and £ 3.20p respectively. The Chiswick was in reasonable form.

I like characterful pubs with a bit of an olde worlde feel like this and I'll try and get here again sometime soon

21 Jan 2010 17:31

The Queens Head, Hammersmith

Former Chef and Brewer pub situated by Brook Green. It's a relatively recent Fullers acquisition.

It's much larger internally than it looks from the outside, extending back a relatively long way to an attractive looking garden.

Fullers have resisted turning it into a gastro pub style place and, although it's very food orientated, it's not unpleasant, with several perches and tables by the front windows for non diners. It doesn't feel much like a drinkers up at all however - instead it's a rather impersonal up market food, family orientated establishment - which is what I imagine it was trying to be in its Chef and Brewer days.

There's some exposed brickwork and beams, but the decor is rather non-descript and there's little if anything of note.

I imagine that, with its pleasant positioning and large garden, it's quite popular and busy in the summer months, but I don't see any reason to specifically look this one out.

19 Jan 2010 12:45

The Brook Green Hotel, Hammersmith

Large Victorian Youngs pub/hotel close by Brook Green on the main Shepherds Bush Road.

Despite retaining some evidence of its former Victorian grandeur - most notably in the form of a splendid bar back with some original glasswork - this is now very much a typical Youngs made - over pub with the usual mix of sofas, perches etc.

On my recent Sunday afternoon visit, the pub was virtually deserted. The typically high ceilings that grand pubs of that era had, gave the pub a rather cold, atmosphereless feel. There's no feeling at all that this is a pub trying to serve the local community and you wonder why Youngs seem to have got it so wrong here. Perhaps excessively high prices are part of the answer - £ 3.30p for a pint of Ordinary is way over the top. Despite the absence of customers, the barman still saw fit to give me that "what are you doing coming in here?" look.

The Brook Green Hotel is now one of the Youngs pubs that offer accommodation and you may share my view that a nightly rate of £ 105 for a double / twin with breakfast is rather steep for what is basically a pub in a not particularly salubrious area of town.

Unless Youngs choose to rebrand this pub as a good honest community local - and you can form your own view as to the likelihood of that - I won't be calling in again

19 Jan 2010 12:34

The Defector's Weld, Shepherds Bush

This establishment describes itself on a sandwich board outside as a "tarted up boozer on Shepherds Bush Green". Well they're right about the location at least.

This is a large contemporary style lounge-like younger persons venue that somehow feels at odds with the general sleaziness and fast food takeaways of the surrounds. Perhaps Shepherds Bush is becoming gentrified - although I saw precious few other indications of this on my recent Sunday afternoon joint.

There's a couple of nice fireplaces and the warm fires were welcome on a cold wintry day, but this place has a distinct night clubby feel to it. I noticed that a 2nd tier price list comes into play after 11pm on Friday and Saturday when prices are hiked up ambitiously.

2 real ales were on - Jennings Cumberland and Spitfire, both at £ 3.30p ( £ 3.65p after 11pm !). The Jennings was not very good. This is not a beer drinkers pub and, although there were 2 other unclipped hand pumps, I would imagine that real ale trade is negligible. Food, on the other hand, is a major draw and, although I didn't eat, what I saw looked tasty and appetising.

The place was quite busy, so it's obviously fulfilling a need locally, but this is not my type of place at all and I'm not marking it down for a return visit. In fact, I'm wondering now how I ended up going in here in the first place.

19 Jan 2010 12:22

The Tabard, Turnham Green

I'm slightly surprised that this prominent looking pub, just round the corner from Turnham Green Station, hasn't had a posting here for over 12 months.

The pub was built in 1880 as the pub for the commuter garden suburb of Bedford Park and the building is Grade 2 listed. An unusual notable external frontage gives way to 2 interconnecting bars, with some fine original wall-tiles in the room on the right being of particular note. The pub features in CAMRA's Regional London Inventory.

The bar on the left has an adjoining food orientated dining area and an unusual sunken wood pannelled snug type area. There's some memorabilia from the pub cricket team - The Tabard Pilgrims - who are evidently very active. Next door there's a 60 seater theatre attached to the pub.

On the pavement outside, a sandwich board tells us "Best real ale choice or your money back" and, on my recent Saturday afternoon visit, 4 real ales were on - Butcombe, Batemans XB, Rev James plus one other which I've forgotten ( Spitfire?). A 5th pump had been serving Tribute, but it had run out. The Batemans XB - £ 2.83p - was in good nick.

I find it difficult to assess on a single visit where this pub is trying to position itself. On the one hand, the beer choice is welcomed in a Fullers dominated area and there's an active pub cricket team, but, on the other hand, there's no TV's for televised sport and no real pubby atmosphere or feel, which is discouraging. Food obviously plays a big part, but, unusually for the area, its of the pub grub variety and not gastro. The pub was virtually deserted on my visit and those few customers present were evidently not regulars.

The jury's out on this one as far as I'm concerned but, given its convenient location by the station, plus beer range, I'm inclined to give it another go sometime.

15 Jan 2010 13:45

George IV, Chiswick

Large Fullers Ale and Pie house on the main Chiswick High Road, slightly set back from the road.

It lacks the internal opulence of many of the City based Ale and Pies ( eg - Old Bank of England, Counting House), but the faux traditional look that Fullers have gone for here is not unpleasant, although the inevitable sofas in the front part of the pub by the large plain glass windows do jar somewhat.

The pub is home to the "Headliners" Comedy Club where various stand up comedians perform in the large function room at the back and attempt to be funny. Lovers of the Jonathan Ross / Russell Brand style of "humour" may wish to consider booking tickets for an evening show on Fri/Sat.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, the full range of Fullers beers was on and the London Pride was in reasonable form. This pub seems to attract a younger crowd than the Old Pack Horse and has something of an impersonal, chainy feel to it, but, as Chiswick is not exactly over-endowed with good pubs, you might want to give it a go.

15 Jan 2010 13:30

The Old Pack Horse, Chiswick

Large imposing Fullers pub occupying a prominent street corner position on Chiswick High Road. The splendid Edwardian tiled frontage is complemented internally by some fine woodwork and glasswork, although what was evidently a partitioned pub ( note the "saloon", "private" and "public" etched glass ) has now been opened up to create a number of adjoining, but distinct areas. Note also the higher up leaded windows with the pack horse motif and the fine fireplaced alcove in the old saloon bar. These surviving features earn the pub a place in CAMRA's Regional Inventory.

The interior is decorated with old theatre memorabilia including posters from theatres up and down the land and, most notably, at the end of the bar, an old large sign from the now gone Empire Theatre in Chiswick. A picture of Tommy Cooper behind the bar reflects the fact that this used to be his local. Next to it is a picture of Captain Mainwaring ( hmmm ...?).

Pictures in the room leading to the Thai Restaurant at the rear tells us that the original pub on this site dated back to 1849 and was replaced by the current building in 1910.

The Old Pack Horse would appear to be the pub of choice of the local pub goers, which is never a bad sign, and my Saturday lunchtime visit found a few friendly regulars in situ being obviously well known to, and addressed by name by, the enthusiastic bar staff. Notably, despite the Arctic conditions outside - and it wasn't desperately warm inside either - the bar staff were cherfully going about their business in those corporate black short-sleeved shirts that Fullers seem to like.

The full range of Fullers beers ( including Chiswick ) were on and both the London Pride and the Gales-branded Seafarers Ale were in fine form, as befits a pub proudly displaying Cask Marque accreditation and with a listing in the 2010 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

This pub is easily the best all round pub experience in the immediate area and you should call in if you get the chance.

15 Jan 2010 13:20

The Wenlock Arms, Hoxton

Traditional, unpretentious back street local in an area of council blocks and print works within walking distance of Old Street Tube Station.

The pub dates back to 1835 and looks considerably older than many of the surrounding buildings - I gather there was a lot of war time bomb damage in the area.

The pub takes its name from the Wenlock Brewery, which used to be in the same street and brewed up till the early 60's when the brewery was acquired and closed by Bass. No trace of the brewery remains, but inside the pub you can see an old Bass mirror and some framed Wenlock Brewery beer labels.

It's an old fashioned smallish single bar pub with the feel and decor of a different era - drape curtains, half size lace curtains and fixed seating around the edge of the inside wall. One of the entrances has a tiled floor mosaic denoting "Private Bar".

As is well known by now, the Wenlock is one of London's best known real ale free houses and is a real favourite amongst the CAMRA fraternity. It's been a GBG regular in recent years and has won numerous awards from CAMRA.

My first visit to this pub for approx 9 months last Sunday afternoon found 8 real ales and one cider on offer from the 9 handpumps. Of the beers sampled by me, both the Rebellion Mild and the Downton Elderquad tasted a bit flat and uninteresting and the Ironbridge 1779 Bitter was OK ish. Other beers on were from Adnams, Slaters, Dark Star, Spinning Dog and, most notably, a beer called Tryst Brewers Swansong from Scotland with an ABV of 6.9% and a price of £ 3.40p. Other beers were priced at between £ 2.80p and £ 3.00p.

Unfortunately, I also experienced the excessive "industrial language" to which Harry The Dog refers below - this time from several men watching the Man Utd v Leeds game on a small TV high up in one corner of the bar, where the normal oohs! and aahs! of an exciting game were accompanied by regular exhortations to "break his effing leg!" every one an opposition player hoofed the bar away from the goal. I retreated to the far corner of the bar, taking up residence on a stool by the wooden central bar.

I like atmospheric, traditional locals pubs as much as anyone. However, my impression is that the Wenlock has descended into a rather grubby, seedy and run down establishment which shows a lack of lack of respect for the paying customer. Whilst I wouldn't describe it as threatening or intimidating, it's certainly not one of the friendliest and most welcoming pubs around. On my visit, staff appeared somewhat disinterested and sullen, particularly towards non regulars, and appeared to make little, if any, effort to serve people in turn. I do wonder if a degree of complacency has set in amongst the pub management and staff.

I'm reluctant to take such a well known pub like this off my radar on the basis of one poor visit, but I do think that, based on last Sunday's visit, this pub needs to raise its game considerably in virtually all areas. Now if the nearby Old Fountain were to start opening weekends, it could provide the kick up the backside that this pub seems to need.

I'm probably going to get shot down in flames for this review, but, sorry folks, I'm looking for a much better all round experience next time I call in.

7 Jan 2010 13:46

The Pig and Whistle, East Sheen

Largish single bar pub on Sheen Lane, quite close to the junction with the Upper Richmond Road.

It's carpeted and comfortable, yet rather featureless and bland, with little if anything of particular note, apart from rather striking purple wallpaper which prevents the pub from otherwise feeling too bright.

My recent evening visit ( having made a speedy exit from The Hare and Hounds ) quickly revealed that this pub has willingly taken up the trade from thos customers who, not surprisingly, no longer feel wanted at the H&H.

In contrast to its previous dubious reputation, the Pig and Whistle now appears to have a much better atmosphere and a good humoured mixed crowd were watching either Hull v Man Utd or Harlequins v Wasps on the TV screens at either end of the pub when I called in.

4 real ales were on - Youngs Ordinary, Special, London Pride and Deuchars IPA. As might be expected, the Youngs beers were selling well and, although I appeared to be the only customer drinking it, the IPA was rather good.

In all honesty, this is a rather unremarkable pub, but now that the Hare and Hounds has conceded the traditional pub territory, this appears to be the best bet in the immediate vicinity and I'll happily pop in again if passing through.

The pub is dead. Long live the pub !

6 Jan 2010 13:41

The Hare and Hounds, East Sheen

Large Youngs establishment on the main Upper Richmond Road in Sheen, not too far away from Mortlake Station.

Having heard that the pub had reopened following extensive refurbishment, a sort of morbid curiousity compelled me to go see for myself whether widespread local rumours of the pub's demise were true, or indeed premature.

Sadly, the two previous contributors are spot on. We now have basically a food orientated family venue with the atmosphere of a Harvester, but with a gastro pub menu and prices to match. Table service is provided at the rear part of the pub, where the previous intimate railway carriage style booths have gone.

The former public bar on the left is now The Bellini Lounge and was locked on my recent visit. The pub's website describes it as a "boudoir style cocktail lounge, primarily for private hire....". Had my Polish been up to scratch, I might have asked the barmaid for a quick peep inside, but I doubt I'll be hiring it !

On my recent visit, neither the Youngs Special or Ordinary were available, with only the Winter Warmer being on. Admittedly it was in good form, but basically this pub does not really offer facilities for drinkers only any more and I quickly drank up and left.

I retreated to the formerly much-maligned Pig and Whistle - where a pubby convivial atmosphere now exists - and you may well wish to follow suit.

6 Jan 2010 13:28

The Rose of York, Richmond

Large sprawling pub situated at the foot of Richmond Hill close to the Petersham Hotel, in former stables.

Older drinkers may remember this pub as The Tudor Close, one of the forerunners of the real ale revolution in London. I have rather hazy recollections of splendid pints of Brakspears Special and Ruddles County, inter alia, in the late 70's.

It's now a Sam Smith's pub with, unusually for Sams, a light pine wood pannelled interior that does indeed have the feel of a Harvester, decor wise. It's comfortable and cosy, but with something of a hotel bar atmosphere. There's nothing really of note, apart from a bar billiards table, which seems slightly incongrous in the surroundings.

Being slightly out of the Town Centre, it's invariably rather quiet and it's far enough away from the towpath not to pick up the passing trade from visitors. It does have a number of rooms for overnight accommodation and prices seem reasonable for the area, but this basically a pub with rooms.

The Sam Smith's OBB - £ 1.90p - is not real and tasted rather cold on my recent visit. Given that this was Sam's first London pub, it's disappointing that they don't see fit to offer real ale.

There's good river views from the outside drinking terrace, but there's no real reason to specifically seek this one out.

6 Jan 2010 13:13

The White Cross, Richmond

Well known Youngs pub in a picturesque setting on the river front at Richmond.

Reflecting the fact that spring high tides can flood the outside patio at the front ( even though there's a cobbled roadway between the river and the pub frontage ), there's a separate entrance up some steps at the side of the pub. Many an unwary motorist has parked outside at the front of the pub and, despite the prominent warnings, returned to his car to find it partially under water.

Inside the pub, despite a recent refurbishment several years ago, the pub still retains something of a drawing room feel with 2 separate distinct areas served by an unusual kiosk style central wood pannelled servery. Also of note is a fireplace situated directly under a window and a stained glass panel at the rear of the pub reflecting the fact that the pub stands on the site of a former Convent of Observant Friars, whose emblem was a white cross.

The pub has become more food orientated of late, principally to cater for the large number of visitors to Richmond. Unusually, food is not cooked to order, but is served from a rather ugly factory canteen style food counter towards the rear of the pub.

There's an outside bar for those drinkers using the large patio at the front of the pub, for which the inevitable plastice glasses are required, but there's no real ale. There's also a family room upstairs - no separate bar.

Despite the summer crowds who flock to the pub in fine weather, the White Cross retains a slightly upmarket feel, helped by the absence of any TV's , fruit machines etc.

On my recent visit, both the Winter Warmer and the St Austells Tribute were in good form. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG.

This is still a pleasant pub, despite having lost some of its character over the years, and, if you're a first time visitor to Richmond, you should try and make time to get here.

6 Jan 2010 12:42

The Old Ship, Richmond

Reasonably traditional Youngs pub in Richmond Town Centre and close to the River Thames towpath.

A refurbishment a few years back created 2 interconnecting bars either side of a central entrance. The public bar is largely bare boarded, but with a more comfortable area at the back. There's several screens for live sports which, on my recent visit, were showing Spurs v West Ham, but they don't dominate the pub to the detriment of other customers. There's a more comfortable food orientated saloon bar and an outside heated patio at the back. Pleasingly, this is still very much a pub as opposed to one of Youngs "Pub and Dining" experiences.

The refurbishment has resulted in the loss of some of the shipping memorabilia - although there's still several model ships dotted about and a ship's capstan in the entranceway. On the plus side, the toilets are no longer denoted as "gulls" and "buoys". Note the old photos of Richmond Town Centre, including one which shows that a pub called The Queens Head occupied part of the land where the Dickins and Jones store over the road now is.

The beer is usually reasonable in here and my recent visit found the Bombardier - £ 3.13p - in good form.

Karaoke is offered on alternate Tuesdays ( oh dear!) and there's a weekly music orientated pub quiz.

This is a perfectly adequate, if somewhat unremarkable, pub, but if you're doing a Richmond crawl, you'll probably want to include this one on your itinerary.

6 Jan 2010 09:14

The Red Cow, Richmond

Youngs pub situated outside of Richmond Town Centre on the Upper Richmond Road. The area where the pub is situated was formerly known as Marshgate with cattle grazing on the marshes then present - hence the pub's name.

Older drinkers may remember that, in the early 70's, this pub had snob screens similar to those at The Lamb in Holborn, but, sadly, these are long gone. Another refurbishment several years ago unfortunately removed virtually all of the pub's remaining Victorian character, apart from several impressive coloured mirrors which still form an integral part of the central bar back. Ironically, this latest refurbishment has resulted in the reintroduction of a few replica snob screens in an attempt to create an intimate "snug" type area immediately round the back of the bar.

The pub is now what Youngs would probably describe as a "contemporary traditional" pub, with pastel shades everywhere and a mixture of tall perches and sofas supplementing the more traditional tables and seating. Unlike many of Young's recent rebrandings however, this is still very much first and foremost a pub and televised sport still features prominently. There's several bedrooms upstairs providing B&B accommodation.

The pub seems to fluctuate in and out of the GBG - it's not in the current edition, but it was for the previous year - 2009.

My recent visit found the Winer Warmer - £ 3.30p - in fine form.

Formerly a haunt of thieves and vagabonds in its Victorian days apparently, it's now a reasonably friendly pub, principally serving the local community. There's a more welcoming atmosphere in here than in the more impersonal Town Centre pubs, but, that aside, it's difficult to make out much of a case for specifically seeking this one out.

31 Dec 2009 09:23

Orange Tree, Richmond

Well known large Youngs pub close by Richmond Station on the main Kew Road.

The pub still proudly displays outside the front door the circular plaque recording it as Evening Standard Pub of the Year 1976 and it seems like only yesterday that this establishment was one of Youngs flagship pubs.

Nowadays, perhaps predictably, its distinctive 19th Century brick and terracotta exterior leads to a comparatively disappointing interior throughout its various areas.I've often thought that Young's don't really seem to know what they what this place to be and it seems to have a different feel to it every time I visit ( which admittedly isn't often ). It's currently sporting what its admirers would probably describe as a rather stylish upmarket feel designed to attract professional 30-somethings. Cocktails are now promoted actively.

Although it's still a popular meeting up place for rugby crowds en route to Twickenham, there's no rugby memorabilia, unlike at The Sun Inn round the corner. There's a downstairs basement bar where I think televised sport is shown, but it wasn't open on my visit. The famous Orange Tree Theatre has of course been housed in a sparate building across the road now for a number of years. There's a heated outside seating area at the front where you can watch the local traffic crawl past.

Food - pleasingly not gastro-style food - is ambitiously priced ( eg - Steak and Ale Pie, Mash and Veg - £ 10.25p ) , but, surprisingly beer prices seem less inflated. My recent visit found the Youngs Ordinary - £ 2.95p - in good form, with a strong hint of the hoppy bitterness that it had when it was brewed in nearby Wandsworth. I noted that Youngs London Gold was on - a rare sighting this.

I'll probably pop in here from time to time - after all I only live 5 minutes walk away - but I don't envisage this pub ever becoming a regular haunt of mine.

31 Dec 2009 09:08

The Queens Head, St Pancras

An attractive Victorian style exterior - with a noteworthy Charringtons postage stamp pub sign - leads into a single bar pub that has been knocked about quite a bit, but still retains something of its former gin palace days, with some impreesive mirrors down one wall and some tiling.

The pub is situated in a residential side street, just off the busy Grays Inn Road. It's a long, narrowish pub with a dartboard and several TV's.

Unfortunately, apart from a couple of typically chirpy ( before Portsmouth scored ) exiled Scousers watching the Portsmouth v Liverpool game on the TV, the pub was empty when I called in on Saturday lunchtime. Despite ( or perhaps because of ?) this, a rather disinterested looking woman eyed me with a certain degree of suspicion before serving me with a decent pint of Adnams ( in a proper branded tall Adnams glass ) from the only handpump on the bar top.

The Queens Head has a slightly neglected air to it and I found it uninspiring. I can't see myself calling in again

24 Dec 2009 10:12

McGlynns, Kings Cross

A pub called McGlynns with a bright green exterior and a "Cead Mile Failte" sign over the front door is not normally a pub I would venture into, but, in the light of previous reviews here, I did just that last Saturday lunchtime.

The pub is situated in a quiet residential side street on the south side of Kings Cross, just off the notorious Argyle Square. Outside, another sign says " A warm welcome in traditional surroundings awaits you". Whilst the surroundings are traditional, the alleged "warm welcome" needs working on as the welcome I received was distinctly muted.

It's a slightly old fashioned unpretentious street corner local which, despite the external appearance, appeared to have no real Irish emphasis. The interior is carpeted and comfortable but, apart from some unusually positioned farming implements adorning the walls, there is little of specific note. Seating is of the comfortable banquettes and chairs variety and, in contrast to an earlier poster, I liked the carpet.

Unusually, there's a separate restaurant area at the back, but it wasn't open on my visit. At the risk of sounding like one of The Dragons, pub management might want to review opening hours, since 3 separate groups of drinkers came in enquiring about food during the half hour or so of my visit ( they were redirected towards a pub called The Boot, which I'm not familiar with ).

2 of the 3 handpumps were in use during my visit serving Deuchars IPA and Courage Best. Perhaps surprisingly, for a pub where I didn't detect any real ale emphasis or custom, the Deuchars IPA - £ 3.00p - was really quite good.

If you fancy a quiet pint in traditional surroundings away from the hustle and bustle of the main line stations, you might want to seek this one out

24 Dec 2009 09:50

The Euston Flyer, Euston

Large main road spacious pub situated on the main road and convenient for St Pancras, Kings Cross and Euston stations over the road.

A split level interior and various pillars break the large interior up nicely and help prevent what could easily become a bit of a typical high street "drinking barn".

Like the Doric Arch, it's a popular pub for football supporters and I imagine it can get a bit lively when big games are on. There's several large drop down TV's for those not going to a live game.

The pub opens early for breakfast and a good trade was evident on my Saturday morning visit.

The pub serves the full range of Fullers Beers and the London Pride - £ 3.25p - was in good form. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG. A good range of foreign bottled beers is also available.

I didn't think I'd like this place - I expected it to be rather chavvy and down market - but I was reasonably impressed and, whilst I wouldn't go out of my way to revisit, I'd happily pop in again if passing through.

24 Dec 2009 08:56

The Doric Arch, Euston

Formerly a free house called The Head of Steam, the Doric Arch is now a Fullers pub situated just outside Euston Station on the edge of the station concourse.

It's a split level traditionally furnished pub with, not surprisingly, much railway memorabilia, particularly old station signs. One rather depressing feature of visiting this pub which always sticks in the mind is the need to ask behind the bar for the access code to the downstairs toilets - which I presume is a reflection of the large number of scumbags and druggies in the area. I don't think I've ever been in a pub with this requirement before - and I've drunk in pubs all over the country. It's one of the "benefits" of being in a large international city, I suppose.

Sporting events are shown on the TV and the pub is popular with football supporters passing through either from or to a game.

Perhaps inevitably, the beer range has been reduced since Fullers acquisition a number of years ago. On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, there were only 2 guests - a rather good TT Landlord and Kelham Island Pale Rider which was past its best. The pub is listed in the 2010 CAMRA GBG.

It's convenient for the station and, despite the reduced beer range, I'm inclined to call in again sometime

24 Dec 2009 08:47

The Eleanor Arms, Bow

Friendly and welcoming Sheps pub close to Victoria Park and the canal. A rather forbidding and uninspiring exterior leads into a traditional wood pannelled single bar with an adjoining area at the back with a dartboard and pool table.

Outside a blackboard greets us with the message " Welcome to the 2010 Good Beer Guide Listed Olde Pubbe 1879", although I suspect that the current interior dates back to the inter war period. A splendid large Watney Combe Reid mirror by the fireplace is indicative of former ownership. It's a comfortable carpeted friendly pub decorated with film posters and old adverts.

On my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, beers on were Canterbury Jack, Kents Best, Christmas Ale and, notably Hook Norton's Old Hookey. The enthusiastic and engaging landlord told me that Kents Best was their top seller - Spitfire was not stocked any more as it didn't sell. Both the Canterbury Jack and the Kents Best - £ 2.60p and £ 2.95p respectively - were in excellent form.

The pub has recently made the CAMRA GBG for the first time ( 2010 edition ) and advertises regularly in London Drinker where it describes itself as " The Eleanor Arms brings a nice taste of East End charm back to Bow".

I quite liked this pub - a nice old fashioned community local. It's a bit out of the way, not particularly close to any Underground Station, but it's worth making the effort to find.

24 Dec 2009 08:36

The Old Bell, Fleet Street

Fine, traditional Nicholsons pub down the bottom end of Fleet Street. A flagstoned lobby area inside the door leads up several steps to a smallish U shaped bar and an archetypal Nicholsons interior - not unpleasant, but a bit samey. Note the fine coloured leaded Old Bell engraved window to the left of the entrance.

It's not a big pub, although refuge from the inevitable crowded interior can be had by drinking in the passageway outside the back entrance in the shadow of St Brides Church. Indeed, it is believed that the pub was built to cater for workers constructing the church.

On the beer front, a fairly standard Nicholson's range was on ( yes, you've guessed it - I've lost my notes ) . I do remember however that the Deuchars IPA was really good.

The pub still retains some character and atmosphere and I'd happily drop in again.

24 Dec 2009 08:25

The Tipperary, Fleet Street

Longish single bar, traditional Greene King pub half way up ( or down ) Fleet Street. The pub features in CAMRA's Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors for its wood pannelling, bar back, mosaic floor complete with shamrocks and two enormous splendid whisky mirrors.

Outside, an information board proudly proclaims the pub as "London's original Irish pub" and a stone slab by the entrance bears the Mooney's name - now somewhat feint unfortunately. The S G Mooneys of Dublin chain purchased the pub around 1700 and it became the first Irish pub outside of Ireland.

Being narrow and small, the pub tends to get busy quickly and it is surprising therefore that the upstairs bar, The Boars Head, never seems to be open. Seating is limited mainly to bar stools along the bar length, but stand up drinking is the likely outcome here.

On a personal basis, the highlight of my recent evening visit was catching up again with the ebullient Bill ( plus waistcoat of course ) and Wendy, former landlords at The Sekforde Arms, who now run the show here. Somewhat intriguingly, despite being only an infrequent visitor to The Sekforde, they remembered me.

Beers on were GK IPA plus Adnams,both being on reasonable form.

This is one of the better more atmospheric Fleet Street pubs. Don't let the limited beer range discourage you from visiting.

23 Dec 2009 13:13

The Crown and Sugarloaf, Bride's Lane

Archetypal Sam Smiths pub in a side street just off the lower end of Fleet Street. As the whole world and his wife know by now, this pub used to be part of the nearby Punch Tavern just round the corner on Fleet Street, but became a separate pub in the mid 1990's.

Now, it's a fairly typical Sam's pub, with much fine glasswork and woodwork to admire. It'sa smallish slightly narrow bar, but invariably seems to be less busy than pubs nearby.

The handpumped OBB - £ 1.90p - was on reasonable form, but it's not a beer that I'd want a session on. You know what you're getting with Sam's and you'll probably know whether you want to call in or not without the benefit of reviews from people like me.

23 Dec 2009 13:02

The City Retreat, Holborn

Pleasant traditional, but unremarkable Youngs pub at the foot of an office block in Shoe Lane.

The pub has been spruced up a bit since my previous visit a few years ago, but, thankfully, the notorious Wells and Youngs changing rooms brigade have been kept in check. I suspect this is because they realise that the City Retreat has a much wider cross section of customers than the average City pub - "suits" have never dominated in here, unlike in nearby pubs - and that too much unnecessary damage would prove counter productive. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - an adage that pubco's ought to remember more often.

It's also changed management since my last visit - the cheery London guv'nor is no more and we no longer appear to have the cross counter banter between staff and customers that used to be a notable feature of this pub.

A large selection of whiskies has been introduced and a notice by the bar tells us that the "Malt of the Month" is Aberfeldy.

The interior is part carpeted and the floor area is dominated by a large wood pannelled central pillar adorned with old framed postcards of London. Lowish ceilings give the pub a relatively cosy feel. We now have small candle lights on each table, as though a more select clientele is being sought.

I enjoyed a good pint of Bombardier - £ 3.10p - in here recently. Whilst I don't dislike this pub, it's nothing special and first time visitors to the area will probably prefer to focus on the better known pubs in nearby Fleet Street

23 Dec 2009 12:30

The Blue Posts, Soho

Smallish street corner local situated in the heart of a lively cosmopolitan Soho street.

As other posters have indicated, it's got that nostalgic old fashioned 70's feel to it, complete with formica table tops and tables and chairs and a trademark sticky carpet. There's nothing particular of note, but this is a pub that may appeal to those of a certain age group who remember when pubs were proper boozers where convivial company and conversation ruled.

Externally, it retains evidence of its days as a Watney Combe Reid pub and the tiled exterior is noteworthy. As noted previously, the pub picture on this page is that of the other Blue Posts.

The small central bar was serving Adnams and Courage Best, but I didn't sense that real ale was a major focus here at all. My pint of Adnams - £ 3.30p - was not particularly good and the people at the next table were not enthusiastic about the Courage.

I find it reassuring that an unpretentious ordinary pub can survive in an area like this, but I do hope the beer is in better nick next time I call in.

22 Dec 2009 13:05

The Star and Garter, Soho

Pleasant, small, but reasonably characterful Soho pub that still retains something of a slightly old fashioned community feel to it.

It's a wood pannelled pub decorated with old photos, plates, jugs etc. Seating consists of comfortable banquettes and chairs. I seem to recollect that the pub was carpeted on my previous visit several years ago, but, disappointingly, it's now got the ubiquitous trademark pine flooring that one associates with pub chains and which, I feel bound to say, does feel at odds with what is otherwise a cosy and comfortable pub.

Externally, it still retains evidence of its earlier days as a Courage pub, but the most striking external feature is the bright green painted exterior.

The beer range on my recent visit was unexciting - normal for Soho pubs so it seems - consisting of GK IPA, Pride and Spitfire. The London Pride - £ 3.20p - was on reasonable form, but was slightly too cold.

As a pub, I quite like this one and I'd recommend including it in any Soho crawl, but I do hope they've brought the carpet back by the next time I drop in.

22 Dec 2009 12:29

The George, Soho

Single room late Victorian ( 1897) street corner pub situated slap bang in the centre of Soho.

Internally, some original features remain - most notably a fine moulded ceiling and an ornate bar back - but the evident opening out of what was obviously a partitioned pub ( note the separate entrances ) into a single room with the usual mixture of high tables, chairs and sofas has created a pub that is not immediately likeable. Of particular note however, is a fine large Meux & Co Celebrated Ales Brewery Mirror. Windows indicate that the pub was formerly a Taylor Walker pub. I stand to be corrected, but I seem to recall that the pub had a spell as a Nicholsons pub.

Like most Soho pubs seemingly, the welcome for passing customers such as yours truly is somewhat less than effusive, neither is there seemingly any real emphasis or obvious commitment to real ale. My recent early Friday afternoon visit proved that The George is no exception to this rule.

There's 2 handpumps - rather oddly each is situated at opposite extremities of the bar. Beers on were Batemans Rosey Nosey and Spearfish ( Wadworths, I think ) . The Batemans - £ 3.30p - was reasonable, but, tellingly, despite the pub being quite busy, I don't recollect seeing any other pints of real ale being ordered during my half hour visit.

The customer base appears to be younger media types and, taking everything into account, I'll probably give this one a miss in future.

22 Dec 2009 12:20

The Royal Oak, Borough

Fine, unspoilt Victorian street corner pub situated in a quiet side street off Borough High Street.

There's 2 bars either side of an unusual small central lobby, which I imagine was originally used for off sales. Some etched glass and curved woodwork add to the appeal of this pub and there's no TV's, fruit machines, music etc.

As if you didn't know by now, it's a Harveys of Lewes pub - their London outpost. 5 of their beers were available on our recent evening visit - Mild, Pale Ale, Bitter, Armada and Old. Fullers London Porter was also on, as part of the reciprocal trading agreement with Fullers whereby the Lewes Arms continues to stock Harveys. Perhaps not surprisingly, the London Porter pump was scarcely noticeable and the existence of the beer not advertised.

There have been several adverse postings on the beer quality here, so here's our take. My recent visit was one of a group of 14 enjoying a fine Xmas meal and get together in the small upstairs function room. We're all experienced beer drinkers - a good number of us are members of the former Youngs 135 Association and some of us have also done the Harveys Hop Ale Trail. Apart from the Old Ale, which 2 of our party thought was slightly chilled, we all agreed that the beers were in excellent form as befits a CAMRA GBG regular pub.

This pub is well worth seeking out and it now does weekends. Highly recommended

15 Dec 2009 11:58

The Clachan, Soho

Former Victorian gin palace situated on a street corner just close to the famous Liberty's store.

Although much of the etched glasswork and screened partitions have now sadly disappeared, and the pub has been openerd up, a fine moulded ceiling and bar back give you a sense of what the pub would have been like in its heyday. Note the ornate plasterwork lettering high up on the outside which tells us that the pub dates back to 1898. There's also a fine mosaic floored entrance on Kingly Street.

It's a Nicholsons pub and the usual framed potted history information board inside tells us that the pub was owned by Liberty's for a time up till 1983. Indeed, the upstairs bar is still called The Liberty Bar and a number of old framed price lists and adverts from the store line the walls by the staircase.

As with the Argyll Arms, from where I had just come, the aroma of cooked breakfasts was noticeable.

The Clachan has 8 pumps, which, on my visit, were serving London Pride, TT Landlord, Deuchars IPA, Wadworths 6X. Also on was Downton Winter Solstice, a beer from Coach House, plus 2 from the Seasonal Ales selection - namely Ryedale's Winter Tale and Hydes Berry Good Ale. From observing staff interaction with customers, I detected quite an enthusiasm and commitment to real ale and it is therefore disappointing to report that the Deuchars IPA was not very good.

This pub is roomier and, being further away from Oxford Street than the Argyll Arms, likely to be less crowded. I dare say that I'll probably pop in here again sometime.

15 Dec 2009 10:29

The Argyll Arms, Oxford Circus

Impressive Victorian showpiece pub situated by Oxford Circus Tube Station and the London Palladium. The well preserved interior earns the pub a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The pub entrance leads to an impressive mirror-lined corridor with, on the right, a series of compartmentalized small rooms with etched glass screens. At the end of the corridor is a spacious room, mainly used for dining, and a staircase leading up to the Palladium Bar and Dining Room. At the foot of this staircase, a framed potted history of the pub on the wall tells us that the interior was remodelled in 1895, when the partitions were added in order to separate the various social classes. Of note is the front room is a large Bass mirror.

My recent early Friday morning visit found the pub mainly dominated by tourists having either breakfast or mid morning coffee. Despite the cold weather, several hardy souls were sitting outside in front of the pub in pedestrianised Argyll Street.

It's a Nicholsons pub and, on my visit, beers on were London Pride, TT Landlord, GK IPA, plus TT Golden Best and Rudolphs Reward from Sheps, the latter two as guests. The TT Landlord - £ 2.90p - was moderate.

Because of its location, the Argyll Arms is a popular meeting up point and is invariably crowded. Nevertheless, I wouldn't discourage you from calling in for a swift one if you haven't been here before - but I doubt you'd want to stay all evening.

15 Dec 2009 09:57

The Lord Clyde, Borough

Splendidly traditional, unpretentious smallish neighbourhood local situated in a quiet side street off Marshalsea Road. An inn has apparently been on this site for nearly 300 years, although the current building only dates back to 1913. The distinctive Truman Hanbury Buxton exterior - including the trademark eagle logo - is noteworthy, which, combined with the unspoilt original internal features, gives the pub a place in CAMRA's London Regional Inventory.

Old style heavy-duty red curtains have been retained by the two entrances and these lead to an interior with much wood pannelling, brass fittings and leather banquettes. Pub windows retain etched glass and those windows that bear the inscription "saloon bar" and "public bar" confirm what the separate entrances suggest - namely that this used to be a multi-room pub. It's now one main single L shaped cosy and comfortable carpeted bar, but with a separate adjoining public bar at the back serviced via a hatch. The pub is decorated with a number of old photographs of the area. Note also the splendid large mirror advertising "Unrivalled Mild Ales and Double Stout".

On my recent Wednesday evening visit, it was noticeable how the pub clearly appeals to a wide cross section of customers - both youmg and old - and of both sexes. Apologies for getting on my soapbox again - but this is the type of old school traditional pub that the marketing department gurus of the bigf pubco's would have us believe that no-one goes in any more. Well, guess what chaps if you're reading this - you're so wrong. When I started pubbing in the late 1970's, all pubs seemed to be like this and it's a crying shame that they're disappearing so fast.

5 real ales were on - London Pride, GK IPA, Youngs, Adnams and Hogs Back TEA. The latter - £ 3.20p - was on good form. Some previous posters have expressed disappointment at the beer range. I suppose that this is a reflection on how CAMRA and the increased availability of real ale, combined with the number of new micro breweries have raised people's expectations in recent years. For my part, whilst understanding the disappointment, I would rather drink a "mainstream" real ale in a pub like this in preference to drinking a micro brewery beer in a so called contemporary pub, complete with its stripped out interior, pine floorboards, uncomfortable wooden seats and poncey arty-farty food.

The Lord Clyde remains one of my favourite London pubs - long may it continue to flourish and prosper.

14 Dec 2009 13:47

The Roebuck, Hampton Hill

Smallish traditional real ale pub on the main road out of Teddington just outside of Hampton Hill. It's a single L shaped bar with a small outside patio at the back.

It's a well decorated locals pub with a fine collection of bric a brac and assorted artefacts decorating the walls and ceiling. Note in particular the fishing rods hanging from the ceiling and the carved wooden Red Indian statue watching over drinkers from a corner of the pub. Tables have glass tops under which are old wartime newspaper pages. There's also a couple of large ships wheels and some old fruit machines. Note also the brewery memorabilia - a few old Watneys beer trays and an Isleworth Brewery mirror. Every time I come here - which admitttedly isn't very often - I see often that I've not noticed before. This time it was an H25 request Bus Stop sign.

On my visit last Sunday lunchtime, 5 real ales were on - Youngs Ordinary, Hopback Red Amber and Elf n' Happiness and Sharps Doom Bar and Special. The Red Amber was an excellent pint. The pub has been a GBG regular in recent years and several framed certificates are displayed - see if you can find them on the wall.

There's no TV's and background music is unobtrusive. Nibbles on the bar - guarded carefully by the locals - are a welcoming touch, increasingly rarely seen nowadays.

Several niggles to report, I'm afraid. Locals occupying bar stools appear to guard their space possessively and seem disgruntled when customers approach the bar, trying to see what beers are on the pumps. Also, several customers, including myself, were later asked to move and the seating repositioned to accommodate a darts game. I don't mind moving, but why put seating there in the first place ?

In conclusion, despite the niggles, the pub is well worth seeking out - it's on the R68 bus route from Richmond and Twickenham. Finally, note that, despite being open all day during weekdays, rather unusually it closes between 4pm and 7pm on Sundays.

8 Dec 2009 12:42

St. George's Tavern, Victoria

Pleasant but unremarkable street corner pub located close to Victoria Coach Station and the rear entrance to the railway station via the shopping mall.

It's a Nicholsons pub, but without any of the notable interior character that some others in the chain have.

On my late Thursday evening visit, the beer range was rather more adventurous than often encountered in Nicholsons houses - TT Landlord, Pride, Thwaites Nutty Black, Purity, Davenports " The Fall", plus Fox Morrissey Brunette. The latter, served unusually in a jug, was a pleasant pint at £ 3.15p.

It seemed to be a perfectly adequate well run pub, but with nothing to make it stand out from the crowd.

You might want to pop in if passing to see what beers are on, but this doesn't strike me as a pub worth travelling any distance to visit.

7 Dec 2009 17:20

The White Horse and Bower, Westminster

Single bar street corner Sheps pub on Horseferry Road.

As previous posters have infeered, it's a pleasant, but unremarkable pub with nothing much really of note. It's carpeted - always a plus point in my book - and the seating is the usual mix of sofas, bar stools, chairs and those awful longish high tables that seem to be de rigeur nowadays. There's several large Sheps related photographs down the far end of the pub.

On my recent Thursday evening visit, the pub was quite busy, mainly, so it would appear, with local office workers. The Xmas Drinkies season now seems to be upon us and there were the usual mixed groups of squiffy and giggly girls and men - many of whom were old enough to know better - leching and leering and trying to look down their blouses in anone too subtle manner.

Background music was loud enough to make sensible conversation difficult and there's a strictly limited number of times that I want to hear the perennial favourites from Wizzard, Slade etc.

However, staff seemed efficient and on the ball and I got served impressively quickly. Both the Spitfire and the Bishops Finger at £ 3.25p and £ 3.30p respectively were in excellent form. The Master Brew was the only other Sheps beer on. The pub is clearly CAMRA friendly and I was able to pick up a copy of the latest London Drinker.

The WHB is one of those typical pubs that London seems to specialise in - nothing specifically to like or dislike at all. I might pop in again if passing by - particularly at a quieter time - but then again, I might just carry on past the pub. It's that sort of pub really

7 Dec 2009 12:39

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

Large, imposing pub occupying a prominent corner position on a busy road junction just outside Clapham Junction station.

Its impressively ornate Victorian interior, including much wood pannelling and coloured stained falcon - logo windows earn it a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. Note also the mini-snug with wood and glass screens as you come in from the main entrance and the stained glass in the rear room with the skylights.

It's a long continuous bar counter that serves round a huge central bar servery with a notable high bar back with etched mirrors. The bar counter serves a number of interconnecting drinking areas.

The pub was acquired several years ago by Nicholsons whose restoration, including bringing in chandeliers, has brought out the best of the traditional interior. One dreads to think what the Wells and Youngs "sensitive refurbishment" brigade would have done to this splendid place!

Prior to Nicholsons arrival, ordering a pint of real ale required a certain leap of faith - on occasions only the London Pride was on and quality left room for improvement. Real ale trade seemed to be negligible and the pub seemed to have more than its fair share of scallies.

We now have a thriving pub with a broad customer mix.

There's 3 separate banks of handpumps strategically situated around the bar with usually about 12 different real ales on offer. I've often thought that that's too many, but, in fairness, I've never had a pint that's below par. One of the difficulties is that staff serving at one bank of pumps never seem to know what the other pumps round the other side of the bar are offering and if - as I encountered the other day - you come in with a couple of friends and each wants a pint from a different bank of pumps, it becomes a bit of a nightmarish experience.

The pub is listed in the CAMRA 2010 Good Beer Guide. On recent visits, I've had decent pints of Purity Amber Ale, Doom Bar, Harveys, amongst others.

Being very close to a busy station like Clapham Junction means that the pub is invariably crowded, but it's streets ahead of your typical station pub and you should definitely pop in if you get the chance.

2 Dec 2009 13:29

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Multi award-winning pub situated down a side street close to the River Thames and Putney Bridge.

In terms of awards, the pub won the Greater London CAMRA Pub of the Year Award in 2007 and also made the last 16 of the CAMRA National Pub of the Year Competition in the current year - but didn't progress to the last four which were announced recently.

The pub is larger than it looks from the outside - a single horseshoe - shaped bar with bare brick and wood pannelled walls decorated with evocative black and white street scene photographs of Putney in days long gone. Note in particular a splendid 1902 large photo over a fireplace showing a works outing leaving from outside the pub. Furniture consists of scrubbed wooden tables and seats and bar stools. Unusually, pub games are available such as shove halfpenny and devil amongst the tailors, although I can't ever recollect seeing anyone playing. There's no TV's or fruit machines, but there is background music played.

The Bricklayers Arms is the oldest pub in Putney, dating back to 1826, although the original fixtures and fittings were sadly lost during a period of closure. The pub last re-opened in mid 2005 and, although a free house, acts as a Southern showcase for Timmy Taylors beers. Read more about the pub and its history in the June/July 2006 issue of London Drinker - a framed copy of which can be found on an inside wall. Regular beer festivals are held, including an Annual Yorkshire Beer Festival.

The full range of 5 Timmy Taylors beers - Landlord, Golden Best, Best Bitter, Ram Tam and Dark Mild - are usually served along with several guests which, on my visit last Sunday, included 2 Downton beers plus Sambrooks Junction from the local Wandle Brewery. The Sambrooks Junction - named after a certain railway station - is a spicy, darkish hoppy bitter and is well worth sampling if you get the chance.

The pub sometimes feels a bit cold and stark to me, but it's virtually unique in Putney in being principally a drinkers pub and it's well worth making the effort to visit

1 Dec 2009 12:23

The Royal Oak, Rusper

Splendid, rural and isolated free house situated in the West Sussex countryside approx 5 miles north of Horsham.

The pub was voted CAMRA Sussex Pub of the Year in 2008, but first really started crossing the radar when it made it through to the last 4 in the 2009 CAMRA National Pub of the Year Competition alongside such legendary pubs like Stockport's Crown and the Kelham Island Tavern in Sheffield. The Royal Oak has made it through to the last 16 in the current year - winner to be announced in Feb 2010.

Prior to last Saturday's visit, I had last visited the Royal Oak back in 1982 when, as a King and Barnes house, it had participated in that brewery's Ale Trail promotion which - I am slightly embarassed to admit - I only ever half completed, visiting around 25 of the 58 pubs comprising the trail. No staying power in those days!

An old King and Barnes pub guide showes the legendary Oliver Reed participating in the Greasy Pole ( funny, thought he was one of us?) competition outside the pub and, pleasingly, the pub still participates in activities not often encountered nowadays - eg Tug of War, Pantomime Horse Race. Various montages of the pub's Tug of War teams and other events make it clear to the passing visitor that this is a genuine community focused local.

As well as the montages of pub events, there's various framed CAMRA certificates displayed as well as a number of photos of the pub in days of old. There's also various items of King and Barnes and King and Sons memorabilia - indeed the pub still displays the round K+B trademark logo on its white walled exterior.

The pub consists of a narrow low-beamed bar which is carpeted and has a cosy traditional atmosphere. An unusual feature in this bar are the hanging straps from the beams to support unsteady drinkers.

A small lounge bar extension on the right has several sofas and a fine fireplace. There's a dartboard, but its positioning suggests it isn't used. Notably, Ringing the Bull can be played though. No food is permitted in here, but there's a small dining area to the left of the main bar. There's no fruit machines or TV's anywhere, which, despite it being a Rugby International day, did not prevent the pub from gradually filling up during the afternoon after a slow start. For the better weather, there's a few seats outside at the front and a garden at the side, which looks rather neglected and in need of some TLC.

A splendid collection of pump clips testify to the wide range of real ales that the pub has sold in recent years. Of the 7 real ales that were on on my Saturday visit, all those sampled by me - Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale, Whitstable East India Pale Ale, Arundel Mild and Sarah Hughes Amber Ale (!) were in top form. All beers were priced at £ 2.80p. Other beers on were also from micros - Hop Back, Otter and Bay. Several beers changed during the course of my visit. No lagers are sold, but, if so inclined, you can try some snuff if you're suffering from the smoking ban. There's 5 pumps in the lounge extension selling ciders and perries, but, perhaps oddly, no real ales.

Although filled rolls are available and hot food at certain times if booked in advance, this is very noticeably, to use industry jargon, a "wet led" pub and it is very heartening to see an isolated rural pub like this making a go of things without having to go down the gastropub / restaurant route.

As an unfamiliar face in an isolated community focused local like this, it's always difficult to correctly judge the appropriate level to which you should interact with other customers, but I found this to be a welcoming and friendly pub, perhaps more so than usually found.

It's a family run pub and it was particularly pleasingly noticeable how the landlandy's daughter, Emma, switched effortlessly from customer to barmaid when the occasion demanded. I bet you don't find that in the Tarantula and Tomato !

Getting here without the car is a challenge, but one well worth taking on. Warnham station on the Dorking - Horsham line has an hourly service ( not Sundays ) and it's then approx a 2 mile walk along the country roads. It's not on a bus route. Despite doing my best Usain Bolt impression, the predicted bad weather in the afternoon found me a bit bedraggled and damp when I eventually got back to Warnham shortly before darkness fell.

I think I prefer the Royal Oak to the other local POTY finalists like the Bricklayers in Putney and the Bull in Horton Kirby, and I wish them well.

In conclusion, the Royal Oak is well up there with the best pubs visited by yours truly in 2009 and I'll defo try and get here again sometime. I recommend it wholeheartedly to BITE readers.

23 Nov 2009 13:05

The Wilton Arms, Belgravia

Traditional, attractive looking Sheps pub situated on Kinnerton Street, a mews style street in Belgravia.It's close to the much smaller, but better known Nags Head, a hundred or so yards away. The Wilton Arms is a former Whitbread pub with a long standing landlord.

It's carpeted and comfortable and with a slightly upmarket hotel bar feel to it, with bookshelves, wood pannelling and a mahogany bar contributing to a traditional and cosy, if rather impersonal, atmosphere.

I enjoyed a good pint of Spitfire - £ 3.25p - in here last week, although my visit was somewhat marred by a distinct smell of furniture polish pervading the atmosphere.

The pub is larger than both The Nags Head and The Grenadier and is likely to be considerably less crowded, so it's worthy of consideration if doing a crawl in the area.

20 Nov 2009 17:00

The Edgar Wallace, Temple

Smallish single bar pub close to the Law Courts and several Inns of Court and hence popular with legal people. The pub interior is rather unremarkable and featureless, mainly dominated by tables and chairs, but with several sofas against the far wall. There's further seating in the upstairs bar, but with no beer pumps and, on my recent early evening visit, no staff. The staircase walls are covered in Rugby memorabilia, which includes a London Irish scarf and a number of framed rugby programmes.

The pub is named after Edgar Wallace, a famous writer, and a bust, presumably of him stands proudly on the end of the bar. The main attraction here is the beer range - 8 handpumps - oddly hidden away behind a pillar - serving, on my recent visit, a variety of micro brewerybeers mainly, with Adnams being the only beer immediately recognisable. Prices range from £ 3 to £ 3.30 depending on gravity. Both beers sampled by me - Brentwood Hope and Glory and Williams Gold - were excellent pints.

The pub has been in the CAMRA GBG for the last 4 years now and the stickers are proudly displayed on the entrance door. Occasional beer festivals are held.

The pub is worth seeking out for its range of micro brewery beers which takes some beating in this area of London - it even beats The Harp in this respect. However its popularity and central location means its likely to be standing room only - particularly when the legal crowd come out to play after work.

20 Nov 2009 09:26

The Star Tavern, Belgravia

Well known, long established Fullers pub situated in a quiet cobbled mews close to Belgrave Square. It's main claim to fame is that, allegedly, the Great Train Robbery was planned in the upstairs room. Of more relevance to current BITE readers, I suspect, is the fact that the pub is one of only a handful that has appeared in every CAMRA GBG to date - yes all 37 editions.

The pub has had what I suppose classifies as a "sensitive refurbishment" since my previous visit several years ago. The exterior has been painted black and, whilst the layout and structure of the bar area has not been altered, the main seating area on the left has become more food orientated and now has a bit of a drawing room atmosphere to it. Disappointingly, the CAMRA mirror by the bar area has gone, as has a number of framed articles about the pub that were previously on the wall.

Rather surprisingly, the pub was participating in CAMRA London Pubs Week ( 7-15 November 2009 ) and, at a quick glance, appears to be the only one of the 36 pubs listed on the London LocAle passport that is a Fullers pub. Copies of the passport were prominently displayed on the bar counter.

5 beers were on on my recent Sunday afternoon visit - Pride, Chiswick, ESB, Discovery plus Gales Winter Brew. The London Pride - £ 2.90p - was not very good at all - but I'll put that down as a one off.

I'll continue to pop in now and again. Still worthy of inclusion in any crawl of the area.

18 Nov 2009 12:31

The Bunch Of Grapes, Knightsbridge

Attractive looking, street corner pub on the Brompton Road situated close to Harrods and several popular well-known London museums.

Many Victorian features remain, including a number of painted mirrors, some original snob screens on the bar and an interesting carved partition with the bunch of grapes logo prominent. There's much woodwork and etched glass. The front part of the bar looks as though it was probably originally partitioned into different bars. The pub was built in 1777 and is listed in CAMRA's Regional Inventory for London.

Whilst retaining a traditional feel, there's a clear emphasis on providing meals to the many tourists who drop in and the seating layout largely reflects this. This creates a rather transient feel to the pub as people pop in and out, not starting after their meal / drink.

Unfortunately the background music was rather loud on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit. There's also a largish flat screen TV, which thankfully wasn't on.

The pub has recently been acquired by Greene King. Four real ales were on - IPA, Abbott, Speckled Hen and Royal London ( though they were an insurance company?). The IPA - £ 3.05p - was as good a pint of that beer as you will get. The pub proudly displays Cask Marque accreditation.

You might want to call in if passing by - I will when I'm next round this way

17 Nov 2009 12:52

The Sun, Faversham

Attractive looking weather-boarded Sheps pub in the centre of Faversham, down the pedestrianised West Street in the conservation area of town. It features beams, wood pannelling and a fine inglenook fireplace.

There's a rather upmarket ambience to the place, largely brought about by the absence of any TV's and a clear emphasis on food.

The restaurant area on the right looks like an extension to the original building. There's 9 rooms for accommodation, but this is a pub with rooms, rather than a hotel with a bar if you get my drift.

Unfortunately, my pint was served considerably short - the head was so large, it would probably have even been below the line of a lined glass. Having waited unsuccessfully to see if my pint would be topped up without asking, I was then subject to the occasional suspicious and disapproving looks from the Duty Manager after his staff had been asked to fill my glass ( which they did with good grace, incidentally )

The beer was on form and I quite liked the pub as a pub, but it does leave a nasty taste in the mouth when you get served short measure - and this was the shortest pint that I've been served in a long while.

12 Nov 2009 13:04

The Bear Inn, Faversham

Fine, multi-roomed traditional Sheps pub in the market place opposite the Guildhall. It's an unusual layout with 3 rooms off a corridor running down the left hand side of the pub. The rooms get smarter and more salubrious the further down the corridor you go. It's wood pannelled throughout with a slightly old fashioned, but warm and friendly atmosphere. Notably, it opens at a civilised time in the morning - 10.30 am.

There's some seating outside on the pavement at the front from where I was able to see the Saturday market stalls trading busily.

I enjoyed an excellent pint of Late Red in here, but £ 3.20p seems a bit steep for a beer brewed little more than a stone's throw away. The Bear is a CAMRA GBG regular.

You should try to make time to do this one when in Faversham

12 Nov 2009 12:53

The Shipwrights Arms, Faversham

Splendid 17th Century, multi award winning, white-weatherboarded pub situated in a superb isolated location approx 2 miles from Faversham at the joining of Faversham and Oare Creeks. There's a boatyard virtually next door and one large house close by, but that's it.

The interior has lots of character - low beamed ceilings, lots of nooks and crannies and many nautical artefacts. There's also some photographs of the pub in days gone by. There's seats outside at the front of the pub and a large grassy garden at the back which is now closed for winter.

The pub can be reached from Faversham either via a series of country lanes, with helpful signs pointing you in the pub's direction, or via The Saxon Shore Way - a more scenic walking route through the surrounding marshlands. Don't bother making the trip on Monday though unless you want to find the pub closed!

As other people have commented, unfortunately you are greeted by a plethora of unfriendly signs as you approach the entrance, telling you what you can and can't do. In particular, one sign prominently displayed at the entrance says "we will not serve anyone who is or appears to be drunk" and "we will not accept bad language or abusive behaviour", which I have to say, I found rather dispiriting. After all, this is an isolated country pub, not some chav-infested Identikit High Street drinking barn. You need a vivid imagination to picture the Fri/Sat night vomit and violence brigade descending on the Shipwrights.

The landlord, derek, is, as other people have commented a bit odd. Not for the first time, my Saturday lunchtime visit drew a barely disguised frown as I entered the pub and my polite and respectful greeting was not reciprocated. His wife, Ruth, is not much difference, but in fairness other staff ( some of whom are family offspring I think ) are welcoming and friendly. He doesn't appear to be a big CAMRA fan either, although this hasn't prevented the 2010 GBG sticker being proudly displayed and the pub has been a regular entry in recent years.

Beers come straight from the barrel. Four beers were on - Shipwrecked, Dark Mild Ale, Incubus and East India Pale Ale. I originally wrongly thought all these were Goachers beers as each barrel had a Goachers bar towel on top, but, on peering closer at the barrels, I realised that Incubus came from Hopdaemon and East India Pale Ale from the Whitstable Brewery. Both the Goachers Dark Mild and the East India Pale Ale were superb pints, very tasty and in perfect condition.

On balance, I like this pub despite the criticisms and oddities outlined above. My recommendation would be to go if you get the chance, but just don't expect to get anything remotely resembling the red carpet treatment.

11 Nov 2009 12:33

The Golden Cross Hotel, Bromsgrove

This is just me checking if the facility to post pub reviews on this site is now working properly again

11 Nov 2009 10:24

The Ship, Tower Hill

Smallish pub in a side street close to Fenchurch Street station.

The attractive looking exterior - see photo here - gives way to a rather featureless and bright single bar, but one that feels noticeably more friendly and less impersonal than the average City pub. In fact I'd go so far as to say that I don't think I've been in a pub round this area where there's been so much banter and interaction between customers and staff ( and that includes the legendary Alf in the downstairs bar at The Swan ). A sandwich board outside on the street corner has the message "Real Ales, Real Food, Real Friendly" which sums things up pretty well to me.

As other posters have already commented, there's a fine collection of ties and you are invited to sponsor one for charity.

On the real ale front, Sharps Doombar - £ 3.10p - was on reasonable form. Other beers on were Gales Seafarer, Butcombe and Courage Best.

I think this one is well worth seeking out if in the area.

6 Nov 2009 13:22

East India Arms, Fenchurch Street

Smallish single bar pub situated close to Fenchurch Station. It's a fairly typical bare-boarded stand up to drink City pub with a few stools dotted about. In summer standing room on the pavement outside helps relieve the inevitable early evening crush.

For many years a rare Youngs pub in the City, it's now owned by Shepherd Neame and serves the full range of their real ales. My recent early evening visit found the Late Red - their autumn seasonal beer - in good form, but at a rather pricey £ 3.35p. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG. Slightly puzzlingly, a blackboard on the pavement outside announced that "Spitfire has landed", although this has been a Sheps pub for several years now.

The interior is rather plain and unremarkable, but there is a large Bass mirror and some interesting photos which includes one of the pub when it was a Charrington's house ( before Youngs acquired it in 1973 ). In common with many Sheps pubs seemingly, the bar gantry is adorned with hops.

It's a perfectly adequate pub for a pint if in the area, but its lack of space and comfort means you'll probably not want to linger long.

6 Nov 2009 13:01

The Hung, Drawn and Quartered, Tower Hill

Fullers pub which, as the name might indicate, is situated close to Tower Hill and the Tower of London. The pub is part of a larger Grade 2 listed building, which formed part of Christ Church hospital previously.

It's smaller inside than it looks externally - in many respects, it's a typical bare-boarded City pub interior, with stools to perch on by the window, but with a number of large reproduction paintings of former kings and queens adding some character to the place.

In recognition of its proximity to the Tower and the tourist potential, specially printed HDQ T shirts and polo shirts are on sale at approx £ 10 and £ 16 respectively. There's also a hangman's noose suspended from the ceiling at a height that won't alarm the Health and Safety Brigade.

The London Pride - £ 3.05p - was in good form. The seasonal beer - Red Fox - was also on.

This is a perfectly adequate pub for a pint or so if in the area.

6 Nov 2009 09:18

The Horseshoe Inn, London Bridge

Largish pub hidden away at the end of a cul de sac quite close to Guys Hospital and London Bridge Station. Quite imposing externally, despite the inevitable plain glass windows and green blinds, the pub dates back to 1897 as evidenced high up in the external plasterwork.

Plenty of dark wood and a burgundy ceiling give a reasonably traditional feel, but there's little specific of note decor-wise and it did seem rather dark and gloomy on my recent early evening visit, as though they were trying to save on the electricity bill. A brighter conservatory style extension to the left houses a dartboard and there's also a dartboard in an area to the right of the main bar. Notably, both dartboards were in use during my visit.

The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG and is clearly proud of its beer, as evidenced by several beer related framed certificates by the bar counter. The 3 pumps were serving Brakspears, London Pride ( which I gather are the regular beers ) plus Hobgoblin. A blackboard by the bar lists future guests, which included Hogs Back TEA.

The Brakspears tasted past its best, but the London Pride was OK. The pub is listed in the 2010 GBG, but comments on this site suggest the beer quality is unreliable.

There's an enterprising food menu, featuring several unusual dishes.

I don't normally comment on bar staff in London pubs, on the basis that, unless it's the guv'nor, you're unlikely to find them still there on your next visit, but the young lady ( Mongolian ?) who served me came up well short in the people-skills department.

There's better pubs than this in the immediate vicinity of London Bridge station and I'm not presently convinced this one is worth the slightly longer walk.

4 Nov 2009 13:22

The Cleveland Arms, Bayswater

Nice traditional pub in a residential side street, reasonably close to Paddington Station.

It's a Grade 2 listed building, dating back to 1852, as indicated high up on the front of the building. Note also the tiling by the entrances at the front of the pub and the pub name, which extends across over the entrance to the mews at the side - see photo here.

It's got a bit of a slightly seedy, ale house feel to it, although there is a cosier carpeted area at the back with a dartboard and snooker table. There's no music or anything. Based on my visit last Saturday afternoon, the pub attracts a good mix of locals and tourists from the numerous hotels nearby.

There were 3 real ales on during my visit - Harveys, Greene King IPA and Orkney Dark Island, although this went off before I could sample it. The Harveys - at a relatively cheap £ 2.80p - was in superb form. Free bowls of peanuts on the tables are an unusual - but welcome - nice touch.

A curry orientated menu is offered, but this seems to be first and foremost a drinkers pub. It's listed in the 2010 GBG.

Yes, I'd come here again

4 Nov 2009 12:59

The Uxbridge Arms, Notting Hill

Smallish, unpretentious backstreet pub in a side street parallel to the main drag and close to Notting Hill Gate Tube.

Outside on the wall, a sign proclaims " convivial company awaits with a warm welcome" which reminded me that, on my previous visit several years ago, I ended up in conversation with a couple of elderly locals who both looked and talked like the Major in Fawlty Towers. On my lunchtime visit last Saturday, there were several groups of tourists in, but no majors and not one person who seemed to be a local. This struck me as unusual as the pub does not go out of its way to attract tourists, nor does it really try to cater for them.

It's a pleasant, traditionally furnished, wood pannelled carpeted single bar with a collection of prints and plates on the walls and, most noticeably, a framed soldiers tunic that looks quite old. There's no TV, music or other distractions.

3 real ales were on - Harveys, London Pride and St Austell Tribute. The Harveys - £ 3.05p - was spot on. The Pride and the Tribute were noticeably more expensive ( £ 3.20p - £ 3.25p ). The pub has had GBG listings in recent years and is in the current 2010 edition.

It's not a pub to go out of your way to visit, but I would make a point of calling in if passing through.

4 Nov 2009 09:02

The Churchill Arms, Kensington

Splendidly traditional award-winning Fullers pub situated in a busy street full of antique shops which leads from Kensington High Street uo to Notting Hill.

The pub is home to a fine collection of Winston Churchill memorabilia, plus numerous pots, pans, lamps, jugs etc suspended from the ceiling. The interior is carpeted, cosy and comfortable with some original snob screens still in situ on the bar counter. The pub is listed in CAMRA's London Regional Inventory. The exterior is adorned with splendid colourful hanging flower baskets - see photo here. It's run by a charismatic long serving Irish landlord, Gerry O' Riordan, who's probably been there 25 plus years now.

There's a well regarded sub contracted Thai food operation in house and - as other posters have correctly noted - the aroma can be a bit overpowering at times.

Unfortunately, on my Saturday lunchtime visit - 31 October - the pub was decked out for a Halloween fancy dress party starting at 7pm that evening and the usual nonsense - orange pumpkins, skeletons, cobwebs, ghostly looking pictures etc - were very much in evidence, much to the detriment of the pub's normal splendid features.There were also black and orange balloons covering the ceiling. Call me a grumpy old man if you wish, but I thought it disappointing that one of London's most well regarded pubs had succumbed to all this Halloween nonsense. I wonder what Winston Churchill would have made of it all.

Managing to resist the special Halloween cocktails - Bloody Scary, Pumpkin Punch, Dracula's Kiss and the like - I stuck to the Fullers beers. The London Pride was in good form, as befits a GBG regular.

Despite a disappointing visit, I have no hesitation in continuing to recommend this pub.

And finally, in case you're wondering - no, I didn't return in the evening for the Halloween party

2 Nov 2009 10:48

The Willoughby Arms, Kingston Upon Thames

Large traditional Victorian style street-corner pub hidden away in the maze of residential streets between the Kingston end of Richmond Park and Kingston Town Centre.

There's 2 interconnecting bars, one is dedicated to sport with a large pull down screen and a snooker table. This room is decorated with a fine collection of framed autographed football shirts and pennants. By the pool table are a series of framed film related photographs of stars such as Steve McQueen ( riding that motorbike naturally ) and Michael Caine amongst others.

The sallon bar is comfortably furnished with various stuffed animal heads looking down on you and a fine collection of bottled beers on the bar gantry. A separate area in this bar at the back has numerous framed newspaper articles about the pub's exploits and its enterprising landlord, Rick, and his wife, Lysa. Wood pannelling and frosted windows help create a traditional, cosy atmosphere.

The pub has been a GBG regular and hold beer festivals on St George's Day and at Halloween ( see previous posting ). The pub is a favourite with the local CAMRA branch and has won awards over the years. It's currently Kingston and Leatherhead CAMRA Pub of the Year for 2009.

On my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, 2 beers were on in the Saloon Bar - Sambrooks Wandle Ale and Surrey Hills Shere Drop. The 2 pumps in the adjoining sports room were serving London Pride and Bombardier. Two further handpumps were spotted on a window ledge - unfortunately these were being used for lampshades and not for dispensing beer !

The Sambrooks Wandle Ale - £ 3.00p - was only moderate, but the Surrey Hills Shere Drop - £ 3.20p - was an excellent pint in good condition. Slightly surprisingly, most, if not all, of the Sunday lunchtime regulars appeared to be lager drinkers and I don't recall seeing one pint of real ale sold between approx 12.05 pm - when I ordered by Sambrooks - and half an hour or so later, when I moved on to the Surrey Hills Shere Drop.

This pub is a fine example of a backstreet community focused pub and its continuing success shows what can be achieved by enthusiasm and effort.

This is not the easiest pub in the world to find - I still take my well-thumbed A-Z whenever I go - but you should definitely make the effort to go here.

29 Oct 2009 08:43

The Princess of Wales, Primrose Hill

Reasonably traditional ungentrified, but slightly upmarket, street corner local in a back street of Primrose HILL.

It's a single bar pub with the bar centally situated, but with a couple of cosy alcoves at the side and back.

On my recent Sunday early afternoon visit, it was standing room only as a jazz band were playing in one corner of the pub, but it empted out a bit after 4 pm when the jazz band finished.

The pub is well decorated, but the large plain glass windows and pot plants make the experience a bit like drinking in a conservatory and it's a bit offputting being gawped at by the passers by outside.

Beers on were Adnams, London Pride and Brains SA. The Adnams - £ 2.90p - was not particularly good.

I didn't dislike this pub particularly,but, rather like a certain pub in Pimlico that hardly needs naming, the POW seems to be a pub that has been "talked up" out of all proportion and its current BITE rating is distinctly out of kilter.

I may pop in again if passing through, but this is not a pub worth going out of your way to get to

28 Oct 2009 12:39

The Sir Richard Steele, Belsize Park

Large, traditional main road pub on Haverstock Hill.

It's a large spacious pub, a single L shaped bar, well decorated with curios and bric a brac, that some may considered to be overly cluttered. Note in particular the fine painting mural on the ceiling. It's a characterful interior that contrasts favourably with the modern minimalist characterless style that is very much de rigeur nowadays.

Green tinged frosted and leaded windows would appear to indicate that it's a former Charrington's pub. Outside, I did see an old pub sign on the wall indicating "Wests Brewery Co Limited- Prize Ales". Inside is a large Bass mirror over a fireplace.

There's an upstairs Comedy Club - "Monkey Business".

On the real ale front, the Adnams Bitter - £ 2.80p - was distinctly moderate, but a subsequent pint of Kingstone Brewery Abbey Ale ( 5.1%) - also surprisingly at £ 2.80p - was a much more tasty and memorable pint. Rather irritatingly, the two other pumps round the other side of the bar, which I noted as being unclipped when I came in, had, unnoticed by me at the time, started serving Meantime London Pale Ale and Mad Goose Purity Pale Ale by the time I came to leave.

I quite liked this pub - it's a more traditional, pubby, ungentrified atmosphere than many in the immediate area and I'd happily drop in again if the opportunity arose

28 Oct 2009 09:00

The Washington, Belsize Park

Well restored and maintained impressive Victorian former gin palace style pub in a Belsize Park side street.

Despite some opening out and signs of gentrification, there is still much to admire internally - a fine moulded ceiling, etched glass work, coloured mirrors and wood pannelling. Do note the side entrance with original tiling and floor mosaic - "The Washington Hotel - Billiards ".There's sufficient of note to merit a listing in CAMRA'S London Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. Pleasingly the pub management have resisted the temptation to paint the wood pannelling some trendy pastel shaded colour - other pubs please take note !.

Seating is a mixture of wooden chairs and the inevitable sofas / pouffes.

Gastro pub style food is clearly a major player here, but, notably, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, the long butchers - block style tables had not been specifically laid out for dining.

There's no TV or other distractions and the billiards table presumably disappeared yonks ago. Instead, on my recent visit, a competitive family game of Scrabble had just got under way at the next table - dominated by one of those irritatingly precocious and temperamental know all youngsters who really ought to have been strangled at birth. Bring back the billiards table, I say !.

On the beer front, foreign lagers and beers dominate the bar top, but two real ales were on - London Pride and Adnams Kolsch, the latter apparently being a German style lager beer. Both were in reasonable form. A third pump had a TT Landlord pump clip reversed. I did note the Cask Marque accreditation symbol, but I doubt there's much real ale trade here.

Despite the limited beer range, the internal decor makes this pub worth seeking out if in the area.

27 Oct 2009 09:04

The Bull, Horton Kirby

Single bar pub situated in the suburban village of Horton Kirby, easily accessible by bus from Dartford, or alternatively a 20/25 minute walk from Farningham Road station on the Faversham line. The John Bonser roadshow inaugural pub visit here chose this latter route.

The pub has recently been chosen as CAMRA's Kent Pub of the Year for 2009 and, as reported in October's What Brewing, is now in the final 16 for the National Pub of the Year Finals next February. A presentation party had taken place at the pub the previous Saturday - 3 October.

It's a former Courage pub, as evidenced by the trademark cockerel sign, now an enterprising real ale free house. There's 8 pumps in total. On my lunchtime visit last Saturday ( 10th ), there were 6 beers on - 4 from Dark Star, plus Titanic White Star and Marble Organic Festival Bitter. All beers sampled by me - Dark Star Hophead, American Pale Ale plus the Marble Brewery beer were excellent pints in perfect condition and temperature.

The pub is currently holding an October celebration of cider and perries, with 15 available throughout the month. In the latter part of November a 2 day festival is planned in conjunction with Dartford WMC, with approx 30 beers available at each location and a shuttle bus running between the two locations. The pub has been in the GBG for the past couple of years and advertises regularly in the London Drinker magazine.

The pub itself has a reasonably traditional feel to it - a bit of a "black and white" interior with some exposed brickwork, but rather marred in my view by some pine tables and chairs that don't really fit in and should probably have been left in the Garden Centre. There's a pleasant large garden at the back with fine views across the Darenth Valley. Unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably, it's a dog friendly pub, although I have to say that those present during my visit were well-behaved and relatively unobtrusive. Perhaps unusually, for what is clearly a community orientated local, restrictions apply to children. An enterprising food menu is offered.

Where this pub stands out, in my view, is the infectious enthusiasm and commitment of the knowledgeable and friendly landlord, Garrett, and this was very quickly noticeable to myself as a first time visitor last Saturday. As other customers came in during the early afternoon and the pub got busier, it became evident what a popular and likeable character he is with everyone. I think this more than compensates for what the pub interior perhaps lacks a bit in comfort and character. On the bar were several books about home brewing and Garrett did tell me that he had been studying these avidly with a view to producing a home view in the near future. I've a sneaky feeling that it will be pretty good when it arrives!

I really enjoyed the visit and I wish the pub well in the forthcoming POTY finals. Yes, I'll definitely be back here soon.

13 Oct 2009 17:22

The Crooked House, Gornal Wood

Another well-known Black Country pub situated in Himley, close to the Staffordshire border.

That intrepid explorer, Roger B, has, as usual, summed up the unusual features of this pub pretty well and I shall refrain from repeating these, suffice it to say that there were the inevitable wondrous and wide-eyed children rolling marbles up the window ledge during my recent visit.

As you turn off the A 4176 ( the pub is signposted ) and drive down a narrow country lane towards the pub, you could be forgiven for thinking you had missed it, but helpful signs saying such things as "it is the right road, we promise" and "mind the bend or you'll be in the cut" encourage you to keep going. I would add another sign - watch out for the potholes in the road!

The pub is now called The Crooked House, but was formerly called the Glynne Arms and that is the name by which it still appears in my well-thumbed Birmingham A-Z.

The pub features on the front cover of the "Strangest Pubs in Britain" book and, notably, copies were on sale behind the bar.( the book is a good read, incidentally, although I know of at least 2 London pubs in it that are no more - Crockers Folly and the Widows Son )

It's a Banks pub, but both the Banks Bitter and Original ran out during my visit ( are there supply problems I wonder ? - see also my comment re the Shakespeare in Dudley ) .Other beers on were Hobgoblin and Ringwood Filly Drift. The pub proudly displays the Cask Marque symbol, but I don't think it's ever made the CAMRA Good Beer Guide )

It is now very much a food orientated family restaurant, although the original rooms at the front remain. There is a large restaurant area at the back, together with a childrens play area, so it's clear where the emphasis lies.

Perhaps inevitably, the pub makes the most of its fame and I noted that a "Black Country Night and Ghost Hunt" occasionally takes place.

In summary, I'd put this pub in the same category as The Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds for example. The curious amongst us will want to seek it out and visit - as I recommend you do - even if only once

29 Sep 2009 13:26

Fox and Grapes, Pensnett

Purpose built Bathams pub a couple of miles outside Dudley on a main road and close to the absolutely massive Russells Hall Hospital.

It's a single U shaped bar, but with distinct areas. The public bar part is traditionally furnished and, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, 2 largish TV's were showing the last England - Australia one day cricket international ( the one that England won !). On the walls are limited edition prints of both West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Clubs, together with a signed photo of Cassius Clay, plus several Elvis pictures. The lounge bar part at the back was quieter, but still traditional and cosy.

There's some seats at the front for watching the busy main road traffic rush by and a grassy outside area at the back with a smokers shelter.

Both the Bathams Best Bitter and the Mild ( £ 2.15p and £ 1.95p respectively ) were in good nick, as befits a pub that has been GBG listed for several years. GBG stickers are proudly displayed in the front window.

Also worhy of note were the substantial plates of free "nibbles" on the bar - a Sunday lunchtime tradition that sadly seems to be dying out in these current times when pubs are regarded more as "profit centres" than places to sell beer and serve the local community.

This is not a must visit pub, but worth calling in if passing by

28 Sep 2009 13:07

The Old Swan, Netherton

Another famous Black Country institution this - and a must for the first time visitor to the West Midlands.

Older drinkers may recall that, in the early 70's when CAMRA was formed, there were less than half a dozen home brew pubs active, of which the Old Swan was one. Whilst it has not brewed on site continuously since that time, it does now, having recommenced in 2001. The pub sign now bears the name - "Inn Business" - not sure who they are.

The pub is situated a couple of miles outside Dudley - on a frequent bus route incidentally - and has been expanded into the building next door on the left since my previous visit in the early 80's.

The pub features in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors for its unspoilt public bar, featuring an enamelled swan - motiffed ceiling, old fittings, a stove and an antique "try your weight" weighing machine. Above this weighing machine is an enamelled sign telling us that "the Ales brewed at this establishment are the purest in the borough" and that they are "brewed by a medalist and certificated brewer". Of note also, although probably more recent, is a back to front clock over the bar. The public bar is where beer and conversation rule and, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, the atmosphere felt akin to that of an old style Scottish "drinking shop".

Round the back behind the public bar are several cosy snugs, served via a hatch from the public bar, which are traditionally furnished, comfortable and much quieter. A corridor - the walls of which bear framed certificates awarded to the beers at CAMRA festivals - leads to an outside drinking area at the back with a smokers shelter behind the newer part of the pub.

On the real ale front, there 4 pumps, all unclipped, but the home brewed beers are detailed on a blackboard and range from Old Swan Bitter ( 3.5% at £ 1.80p ) through to Bumblehole ( 5.2% at £ 2.40p ) . I found the Old Swan Bitter rather thin and bland, but both the Bumblehole and the Entire ( 4.4% at £ 2.20p) were excellent tasty pints in good condition. The pub has been a GBG regular in recent years.

Do make the effort of visiting this one when you can.

28 Sep 2009 12:56

Shakespeare, Dudley

Small, basic, three - roomed pub situated in Stafford Street, just off the High Street. The pub features in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors and the interior is certainly reminiscent of an earlier ( and better ?) age of pub going.

As you enter, the tap room ( note the etched windows ) is on your left. This is a small simple room with wood pannelling and fixed seating around the walls. This room is where the bar counter is located. There's a small TV in the corner, which, on my early Saturday evening visit, was showing one of these typically mundane family quiz shows and being watched by hardly anyone as the pub was virtually deserted.

Further back, accessed via the central corridor, is the games room, featuring a dartboard and fixed seating. There's a fine collection of darts trophies, both in here and the tap room, and I got the impression that the dartboard was probably the focal part of the pub. Service to the games room is provided via a hatch to the main bar. Across the way is the smoke room ( again notice the etched windows ), serviced through a hatch in the corridor.. There's the seemingly obligatory outside toilets in a back yard at the end of the corridor.

An interesting framed picture in the tap room records the history of the pub and tells us that it was first recorded as an alehouse in the 1820's. It is now the only pub left on Stafford Street out of an original 13.

It's a Banks pub, but neither the Original nor the Bitter - dispensed by electric pump, not handpump incidentally - were available on my early evening visit. But a nice pint of Theakston's Mild - £ 2.16p - was enjoyed.

This is a basic, simple pub that won't appeal to everybody - and I am disappointed to report that it was depressingly devoid of custom when I dropped in - but if you want to see what "Unspoilt by Progress" ( as the Banks' slogan goes ) really means, then do call in.

25 Sep 2009 13:43

The Lamp Tavern, Dudley

A tad surprised to be the first poster on this pub, so here goes.

The Lamp Tavern is a traditional two-roomed Bathams pub situated right at the very top of Dudley High Street. In fact the address is slightly confusing because you have to cross the busy main road where the High Street seems to end in order to reach the pub.

The public bar is U shaped and traditionally furnished, but with distinct drinking areas either side of the entrance. An impromptu sing - a - long had just got under way on the evening of my visit. At the back is a more sedate and comfortable lounge, which is pleasant enough, but seemed rather featureless to me. Further behind, accessed via a Batham's tiled corridor, is a music room, also used for functions. Unusually, there's also a cottage - The Lamp Cottage - which is available for Bed and Breakfast.

The Batham's Best Bitter - £ 2.15p again - was in good form here and tasted rather more distinctive than at the Bull and Bladder. The pub is a GBG regular.

It's well worth the steepish haul up the High Street to visit this pub.

25 Sep 2009 12:53

The Vine (Bull & Bladder), Brierley Hill

The Vine ( or The Bull and Bladder as it's more generally known ) is one of the most famous of all Black Country pubs and is the Bathams Brewery tap. The Delph Brewery describes itself as "the birthplace of genuine beer" and was established in 1877.

As you stand outside the pub on the other side of the road, note the inscription high up on the wall - "Blessing of Your Heart - You Brew Good Ale" - which is attributed to Shakespeare. I was however somewhat less impressed with the large West Bromwich Albion F C flag flying from the roof !

The pub is much larger than it looks from the outside. There's 4 rooms in total, 2 either side of a tiled corridor which leads to an outside concreted patio. The first bar on the right is the public bar, basic, but lively and the haunt of regulars. On the left is a larger, comfortable lounge which, as long ago as 1996, won a CAMRA award for its sensitive refurbishment. Behind this bar, accessed from the corridor, is a smallish room which appears to be used occasionally by a Lodge of the Royal Antidiluvian Order of Buffaloes, whoever they may be. There's another large lounge on the right hand side of the corridor behind the public bar.

There's a disproportionately large pub car park across the road, reflecting the fame and popularity of the pub. It's a popular venue for coach trips of beer / pub tourists, thankfully absent during my visit.

For the uniniated, Bathams Best Bitter is a typically sweetish Midlands bitter, pale in colour, and priced here at £ 2.15p. It's an enjoyable pint and was in good form on my visit. The pub is a GBG regular.

The Bull and Bladder is a splendid establishment - a West Midlands institution - and you should try to get there. Combine it with a stroll up the well known flight of locks, Delph Locks, if you have time.

25 Sep 2009 12:40

The Railwaymans Arms, Bridgnorth

Delightful watering hole forming part of the station buildings at Bridgnorth Railway Station at the end of the Severn Valley Railway ( which starts at Kidderminster ). The pub is actually owned by the SVR Railway Company.

Inside is decorated with the inevitable railway memorabilia - photos, pictures and old station signs , eg - Troon, Ilfracombe - stations that were, at a guess, axed by the infamous Mr Beeching in the 1960's. Note also the splendid fireplace with a large Cheshire Ales and Stout, Smethwick brewery mirror.

The pub serves a good selection of real ales from local micros - on my recent lunchtime visit these were Pardoe's Bumblehole, Worfield Shropshire Pride, Warwickshire Shakespeare County, All Nations Coalport Dodger Mild, Titanic Stout, Hobsons Best and Bathams Best. Both the Shropshire Pride and Hobsons Best - at £ 2.30p and £ 1.90p respectively were on good form. The pub is a GBG regular.

Tasty locally produced pork pies are also offered, but these had run out on the day of my lunchtime visit.

There's outside seating on the platform where you can watch the steam trains come and go and wallow in the nostalgia.

I really enjoyed the visit. This place is well worth seeking out, irrespective of whether you're here for the train journey.

25 Sep 2009 12:19

Tal Y Don, Barmouth

This is a smallish traditional pub on the main High Street in Barmouth.

I found it to be comfortable and pleasant, if somewhat unremarkable. There's a L shaped bar with different drinking areas. There's plenty of old interesting photos of Barmouth to admire. It's bears branding as a Burtonwood pub.

4 real ales were on during my recent early evening visit - Jennings Crag Rat and Cumberland, Hobgoblin and, surprisingly, Ringwoods Old Thumper. My pint of Jennings Crag Rat - served in a John Smiths Extra Smooth branded glass - was in good form, but pehaps, at £ 2.90p, more expensive than I might have expected.

The pub provides lunches and has several rooms for B + B.

I got the impression that this pub was doing a reasonably good job of catering for both visitors to the resort and locals at the same time.

In a town desperately lacking in pubs of any description, this one does exactly what it says on the tin and would appear to be your best bet in Barmouth.

25 Sep 2009 12:01

The Kings Head, Llandudno

Traditionally furnished, comfortable wood-pannelled split level pub located close to the lower terminus of the Great Orme Tramway, which is visible from the outside seats at the front of the pub.

Although it's a single bar, there are distinct areas. Low ceilings, subdued lighting and burgundy wallpaper help create a warm cosy atmosphere. It retains etched windows and has a mixture of carpeting and flagstoned flooring. It's supposed to be the oldest pub in Llandudno - 300 years plus.

In the raised part of the pub was a flat screen TV but, pleasingly, despite it being Champions League fixtures night, it remained switched off.

There's a separate restaurant at the back and food may also be ordered at the bar. As well as attracting holidaymakers, it seems, based on my visit, to have a regular crowd of locals, which is always a good sign.

"Llandudno Enthusiasts" ( whoever they are ) have voted this pub as The Best Pub in Town 2007, as evidenced bythe framed certificate at the bar. I was tempted, as I often am in this type of situation, to ask to be directed towards the pub with the current award, but decided against it.

Beers on during my visit were Greene King IPA, Abbott ( which appeared to be regular ) , plus 2 guests, Triple FFF Alton Pride - a rare sighting this - and Skinners Heligan Honey. The Triple FFF Alton Pride - served in a Courage Directors branded glass - was in good nick. A friendly local told me that they had had Mordue IPA on several days earlier. Despite the regular Greene King beers, I didn't see anything to indicate it was a GK pub.

The pub is a GBG regular.

I quite liked this pub. If I have one complaint, it is that they were desperately slow in clearing away the dirty plates and glasses on my visit.

If you're in Llandudno, I recommend you try and make time to call in.

25 Sep 2009 11:05

The Albion Vaults, Conwy

This is a traditional unpretentious three-roomed street corner local situated centrally and within the ancient town walls of Conwy.

Its unspoilt interior earns it a listing in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors, a fact of which the pub is rightly proud as this fact is advertised on a board outside the pub which displays a number of photos of the interior rooms and proudly boasts itself as "Conwy's true heritage pub".

As you go in, there's a games room on the left with a vaulted ceiling, "smoke room" etched windows and a fine fireplace. For some unknown reason, above this fireplace are two rather evocative framed photographs of youngsters in the streets of Paddington in 1957. This room is rather dominated by a large snooker table that takes up much of the space. The room on the right, where the bar counter is, has an original bar back and an interesting old picture of the pub, looking noticeably smaller than it does now. Behind this room, down the tiled corridor, is a third room, also traditionally furnished, retaining old bell pushes and a serving hatch to the bar. A rather uninspiring concreted area at the back of the pub is under construction as a smoking area.

The pub is still badged as an Ansells pub, retaining old Ansells branded lamps and the squirrel logo externally.

On my recent early evening visit, 2 real ales were available - Brains SA and Courage Best. The Brains SA - £ 2.50p - was reasonable. A further 2 handpumps were unbadged and I formed the view that real ale was probably not a big seller here. The pub was however listed in the 2009 GBG.

I'm curious as to what the actual name of this pub is. It's listed here on BITE ( and in the 2008 GBG ) as The Albion Vaults and the outside noticeboard also refers to this name. However the pub sign, showing a warship, bears the name "The Albion" as does the lettering on the external wall. To compound the confusion, the original CAMRA National Inventory Booklet ( published in 2003 ) refers to this pub as the Albion Hotel !

This pub ( whatever name you choose to give it ) appears to be predominantly a locals pub, but is not unwelcoming, and the pub noticeboard stresses that "everyone's welcome". It does however look a bit grubby and run down from the outside.

If you like old-fashioned, good honest unpretentious pubs, you should try and drop in if you get the chance.

24 Sep 2009 13:54

The Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon

Splendid traditional olde-worlde pub/hotel situated in a pedestrianised side street just inside the town walls.

The exterior has quite an imposing look to it and, inside, we learn that it's a 16th century building dating back to 1522. Dark low beams and criss-cross leaded windows help contribute towards quite a cosy rather upmarket establishment. There's also some fine old chairs and settles.

There's one entrance for a lounge bar and restaurant and a separate entrance for a public bar, which is still quite well appointed and cosy.

We learn from an information board inside the pub that the un -PC pub name relates to"Black Jack", who was captured as a young man in Africa and transported to Wales in the mid 1700's. He worked as a gardener, married a Welsh girl and fathered 7 children. He is said to have been probably the first black man seen in Wales.

2 real ales were on during my recent early evening visit - Bass and Snowdonia Ale from the Purple Moose Brewery, this being an enjoyable pint, but at £ 2.80p for an ABV of 3.6%, probably reflecting the pub's emphasis on providing food for tourists / visitors. There's only 2 handpumps, so the beer range will always be limited.

My quick walk round the town centre did not reveal any other pubs that I was irresistibly drawn towards, so , despite the limited beer range, you might want to seek this one out when in Caernarfon if you're looking for a pint in fine traditional surroundings.

24 Sep 2009 12:52

Ty Coch Inn, Porthdinllaen

I bet this one's not on BITE, I'm thinking to myself as I'm striding out along the beach over the wet shingle towards the pub. I now know of course that it is and that I'm not the first to post. However neither Trainman nor Roger B, nor any of the other intrepid regulars have made it yet.

The Ty Coch Inn is situated on the north coast of North Wales's Lleyn Peninsula, not too far from Morfa Nefyn and probably wins the John Bonser award for the most remote pub visited by me to date.

To get to the pub, you have to walk across the beach as it is inaccessible by road except to golfers ( there's a course up on the cliff tops behind ) or regulars, presumably.

It's on a remote stretch of beach in an area with a dozen houses at most, which appear to be mainly holiday homes.

On the afternoon of my visit, I was fortunate enough to arrive just before the pub closed for the afternoon. My understanding that the pub would be open all afternoon obviously proving incorrect.The landlord did say to another customer that they only opened in the evenings at weekends out of season now, not worth it during the week.

There's no real ale - as Mr Hanley points out - but bottles of beer from the relatively local Purple Moose Brewery in Porthmadog were prominently displayed on the bar. I enjoyed a bottle of Glaslyn Ale, which is described as a slightly sweet best bitter. It's golden in colour with an ABV of 4.2%.

This seems to me to be a relatively unspoilt pub. It's situated right on the beach virtually and the view's the main attraction though.

I enjoyed the visit, but don't forget to bring a dog ( hiring or kidnapping one if necessary!) if you don't want to feel slightly out of place

24 Sep 2009 12:38

The Spooner's Bar, Porthmadog

Spooners ( or "Y Tren Bach" to give it its Welsh name ) describes itself as a cafe bar. Before that makes you automatically decide to give it a miss, I ought to explain that "cafe bar" here means a cafe and an adjoining, but separate bar, and not what a young trendy urbanite would understand by the phrase.

It's located on the platform of Porthmadog Station - not the main line station, but the one by the harbour that is the terminus of the well known steam trains that run between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog. The pub is based in what appears to be the original station building.

Whilst the pub is traditionally furnished and comfortable and has much railway memorabilia, it seemed to me to lack that pubby feel and atmosphere. I think that is mainly because the staff seem to be shared with those serving in the adjoining cafe and consequently there appeared to be no real interaction or rapport across the bar that you might otherwise get.

No review of Spooners could fail to mention its most memorable feature - a disused former working engine called "Princess" standing proudly and prominiently in one corner of the bar. We learn that Princess first made her debut as a working engine in 1863 and that 80% of what you now see is original. We are also told that Prince, her brother, is still working and is now the oldest working steam locomotive in the world.

The pub is a keen supporter of real ales and there's some CAMRA certificates displayed behind the bar. There's 6 pumps which, on my visit, were serving Wye Valley Butty Bach, Ludlow Best, Theakston Paradise, Ringwood Filly Drift, Purple Moose Myrtle Stout and Worthington Cask Ale. My pint of Butty Bach was past its best, but not bad enough to take back. The Ludlow Best was, however, really good. The pub has been a GBG regular in recent years.

The pub is well worth visiting, irrespective of whether you're going on the steam train or not.

24 Sep 2009 12:23

The Aqueduct Inn, Froncysyllte

Well, it looks like I'm the first to post on this one as well.

Haven't people in Wales heard of BITE, I wonder ?

The Aqueduct ( with an "e") Inn is a smallish roadside pub on the main A5 road in the village of Froncysyllte, approx 4 miles south from Llangollen and close to the famous "canal in the sky".

When I first visited this pub a few years ago, it was a slightly run down but characterful Marstons pub, retaining evidence of even earlier days as a Border Breweries pub. The hanging pub sign now indicates that Admiral Taverns have acquired this pub. The interior has been sanitisedsomewhat and much of the original character has disappeared.

There's a carpeted games room on the right ( snooker table, dartboard ) and a comfortable lounge on the left designed for dining. The small central bar is bare boarded and, on my recent visit, was dominated by a smallish but loud flat screen TV. There's a new small outside decking area at the back of the pub which affords views of the canal, but not the aqueduct itself which is round a corner in the canal and largely hidden by trees.

Prince Charles popped in to this pub in March 2009, but there's no evidence of this apart from a framed letter of thanks from Clarence House.

2 real ales were on when I visited - Brains SA and Morlands Speckled Hen. The Brains was in good nick.

Despite the pub being on the main A5 road to Holyhead and close to this tourist site, I was virtually the only customer in the pub during the lunchtime period of 10 September, although the friendly young Welsh landlady told me it had been much busier the day before.

It's not a particularly inspiring pub, but it's open all day and currently serves food from 12-4 and 6-9 if you fancy popping in.

24 Sep 2009 10:55

Sun Inn, Rhewl

Well, it looks like I'm the first to post on this one as well.

The Sun Inn is a 14th century former drovers inn situated in splendid countryside a few miles away from Llangollen and close to the well known Horseshoe Pass.

It's a white washed building of great character internally. There's three separate small old fashioned rooms, traditionally furnished and with low dark beams. In one of the rooms is a splendid fireplace.

It's a difficult pub to get to - driving carefully down a winding country lane for several miles with a couple of blind corners and not enough passing places, so be prepared to reverse on occasions. The lane seems to wind on for ever and you'd be forgiven for thinking you must have missed it or taken a wrong turning.

Unfortunately, my Saturday lunchtime visit - 12 September - was rather unsatisfactory, I'm afraid to say and, at a guess, I suspect the pub has changed hands from my last visit 4-5 years ago when I was desperately impressed all round.

Arriving at the pub at about 12.55pm, I was not desperately impressed to find the pub closed and several other groups of customers waiting patiently by their cars. This was despite an expected midday opening. One of the other potential customers - clearly a friend of the landlord - told me that the landlord was on his way back to the pub, but had been held up by traffic. There was no sign of life from inside the pub and I noticed that the day's post was still evident in the door latch.

The landlord eventually arrived in a white jeep, looking rather unconcerned and laid back and opened up at about 1.05pm. Several customers quickly drove off, after being told unexpectedly that no food would be served that session ( the pub has a good reputation for its home-cooked food ).

I decided to stay, finding 2 real ales on - Facers Flintshire Bitter and Postlethwaite Bitter from the Coach House Brewery. The former was an enjoyable pint at £ 2.50p for an ABV of 3.7%. The pub has had a number of GBG listings over the years.

There's a pleasant outside seating area at the back but, perhaps tellingly, some dirty glasses were still on the tables uncollected from the previous day. The wash basin in the gents outside toilet was filthy, even after making due allowance.

The Sun Inn is a charming and characterful little old pub, but I'm afraid that I was left with the distinct impression that management is making little, if any, effort. Based on my visit, there is a clear lack of customer focus.

Desperately disappointing visit

23 Sep 2009 18:07

Grouse Inn, Carrog

Well, looks like I'm the first to post on this one.

The Grouse Inn is a nicely situated pub in the small village of Carrog, overlooking the River Dee and the picturesque 17th century stone bridge. The restored railway station at Carrog, a 5 minute walk away from the pub, is the westerly terminus of the steam train line which runs from Llangollen and is a popular tourist attraction.

In order to benefit from passengers, the pub is open all day for food and drink. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a strong food emphasis, with most tables set up for dining. A standard pub menu is offered.

It's a three roomed smallish traditionally furnished pub, but with a large outside terrace at the side which affords fine views of the river and bridge, plus the distant hills.

An information panel lower down the hill by the bridge tells us that Carrog used to have 4 pubs and that The Grouse Inn is now the sole survivor. It was apparently once a farm and a brewhouse.

It's a J W Lees of Oldham pub and my recent mid-September visit found 3 real ales on - Lees Bitter, Willie Lees Premium Bitter and Coronation Street Premium Ale, the latter being rather naffly described as "Gripping Drama in a glass" by a poster near the bar. Both the Lees Bitter and the Coronation Street Premium Ale were in good condition, as befits a current GBG - listed pub. In fact, the pub proudly displays a certificate from the local CAMRA branch in recognition of 20 consecutive years in the GBG from 1989-2009.

It's a pleasant enough pub, not worth going out of your way to visit as a pub in itself, but if you're travelling on the steam train, it's well worth the short walk from the Carrog railway terminus if you're feeling either peckish or thirsty.

23 Sep 2009 17:47

The Wynnstay Arms Hotel, Llangollen

Nice traditional 400 year old multi-roomed pub/hotel in the centre of Llangollen. It was formerly a coaching inn.

On the left as you go in, up a few steps from the street, is a games room, served by a hatch from the main hotel bar on the other side of the entrance. This main hotel bar is cosy and comfortably furnished, and is evidently used more by locals than hotel residents. On my recent evening visit, it had quite a lively, but friendly and welcoming atmosphere. There's several other characterful drinking/eating areas on the ground floor, but these were virtually deserted, leading to a rather strange atmosphere as a whole.

There's an outside drinking area at the back where horses used to be stabled overnight.

After several minutes of vigorous pulling on the handpump, the barmaid concluded that the Adnams Broadside had run out. Neither the Speckled Hen nor the GreeneKing IPA were available either, so, in the absence of any proper beer, I decided to suffer a half of John Smith's Smooth. The pub was last in the GBG in 2007 - but perhaps there is less commitment to real ale now?

As pubs go, I quite liked this place, but they need to get their act together on the real ale front.

23 Sep 2009 17:28

The Sun Inn, Llangollen

Nice street corner pub on the busy A5 road, approx 3/4 mile south of the centre of Llangollen.

Attractive art nouveau coloured glass doors lead to a single bar, traditionally furnished and with a slate floor. There's some old style school bench seats retaining original inkwell slots which will appeal to those nostalgia buffs amongst us. On the left of the bar is a stage, which looks like an extension to the original pub, which is used for live music, mainly on Fridays and saturdays.

The pub is a GBG regular and proudly displays a certificate awarded to it as Welsh Pub of the Year 2009 by Chester and South Clwyd CAMRA. There's 6 handpumps and on my recent early evening visit, these were serving Phoenix West Coast IPA, Facers North Star Porter, Thwaites Original, Lymstone Brewery Ein Stein, Salopian Shropshire Gold and Betwixt Sunlight. The Phoenix West Coast IPA ( £ 2.80p and 4.6% ) was a fine typically hoppy IPA. Other customers spoke highly of the Betwixt Sunlight.

If you're staying in Llangollen, you should make an effort to do this one, although you might want to avoid live music nights, which I was told are rather noisy and crowded affairs.

23 Sep 2009 14:05

Corn Mill, Llangollen

The Corn Mill ( or "Y Felin Yd" - to use the Welsh name which also appears prominently ) is a food orientated former flour mill on the banks of the River Dee near the centre of Llangollen.

It's been tastefully converted into a pub/restaurant retaining wooden beams and decorated with interesting old photos of Llangollen and period advertising posters. There's 3 floors in total with a large outside decking area on stilts overlooking the river and with a view of the steam railway station over the river. From this decking you can see the rotating water wheel inside the building.

The clear emphasis is on food and a varied menu of food is offered at all times. There's that typically relaxed and informal, but impersonal, style of a gastro pub operation.

It's a Brunning and Price establishment and those who have been to The Armoury in Shrewsbury will recognise the style and ambience - no music, fruit machines or TV and a rather stylishly converted characterful interior.

There's 6 handpumps - 5 for real ale and one for draught cider on my visit. Beers on were Hawkshead Lakeland Gold, Titanic First Class, Weetwood Cheshire Cat, Abbeydale Wheat Beer and the Brunning and Price "house beer ( don't know who brews this ).

My Hawkshead Lakeland Gold was a splendid pint and my food was tasty and well presented, arriving promptly.

The pub has been in the GBG for a number of years but, perhaps reflecting the food emphasis, I didn't see any GBG stickers anywhere.

I really enjoyed the visit, but do remember that it's more a restaurant than a pub.

23 Sep 2009 13:50

The Bhurtpore Inn, Aston

Splendidly traditional village pub in the village of Aston, a few miles away from Nantwich in the Cheshire countryside.

It's a much larger pub than it looks from the outside. There's a dedicated restaurant area at the side on the left and there are clearly extensions at the back creating additional distinct areas.

Bhurtpore ( or Bharatpur ) is a city in Northern India. I won't bore you with the history as to how the pub came by this name - you can find this out for yourself from the pub's own excellent website or a leaflet available in the pub itself. Suffice it to say that the pub is not short of related memorabilia such as photos of the Iron Fort and the Palace at Bhurtpore together with framed pictures of the key players involved.

As you approach the pub, you notice that the tall pub sign appears to be outside the house next door to the pub, which is presumably because the pub is just by a bend in the road and you could easily drive past.

The pub is traditionally furnished and comfortable. One of the rooms towards the back has a large snooker table, a fruit machine and a TV which, according to a notice at the side, is "for sports and current affairs, definitely not soaps".

There's a large car park and outside grassy garden at the back.

The pub is a real ale drinker's paradise. On the day of my visit 11 real ales were available, nearly exclusively from Northern micros - Derby Brewery, Allgates, Manchester's Marble Brewery, Summer Wine Brewery ( Holmfirth ), Blackwater, Ossett, Salopian, Weetwood, Titanic and Acorn. Prices ranged from £ 2.55p to £ 3.00p according to strength. Marble Brewery's Dobber at 5.9% was the most expensive at £ 3. I thought the Allgates Mild at Heart was a rather bland tasting mild, but all the other beers sampled were enjoyable and in perfect nick.

The pub has been in the GBG for a number of years now and has been South Cheshire CAMRA's pub of the year for 4 consecutive years. It's also won awards for its food.

The pub is holding its Second Novemberfest Beer Festival between 10-15 November 2009 and its advertising flyer tells us that around 65 real ales will be available.

Finally, how do you get to the pub?. Yes, it's a challenge - but one worth taking on. There's no bus service to the village of Aston. The nearest station is Wrenbury ( a request stop on the Shrewsbury/Crewe line ) - from there it's about 15 mins walk along country lanes. The train service is infrequent.

I think this pub is well worth making the effort to get to - but do check train times and pub opening hours carefully.

23 Sep 2009 13:07

Railway Inn, Shrewsbury

Definitely one to make for this, located close to Yorton railway station, a request stop on the infrequent rail service between Shrewsbury and Crewe.

Externally, the pub resembles a private house and my mid-September lunchtime appearance here initially seemed to disconcert both the pub dog and the landlady in equal measure. Whilst the pub dog quickly fell silent, obviously immediately recognising a seasoned pub-goer, and resumed its slumber on the tiled floor, I sensed that the slight feeling of bewilderment that the landlady initially showed upon my arrival never entirely disappeared. Two elderly locals, who were engaged in lively conversation with the landlady, seemed somewhat less fazed at my calling in. Whilst it would be unfair to say that I felt unwelcome, I think I understand where Mr Trickydisco ( earlier posting - 7 April ) is coming from.

The small basic public bar, entered through a wooden latched door at the side of the house, has settles and a tiled floor. The walls are decorated with some framed CAMRA certificates and a large photograph of Shrewsbury Town FC 1950/51 on their entry to the Football League. Through this bar to the front of the house is a more comfortable room ( no separate bar counter ) with carpets and covered chairs, resembling someone's front living room. Of particular note in this room is a large cased stuffed fish weighiong 40lbs 4 oz and being approx 3 foot long.

There's no music, TV or other distractions here. There's also the obligatory outside toilets.

Beers on during my visit were Woods Shropshire Lad, Wadworths 6X and Salopian Hop Twister, the former being on good form at £ 2.20p. The pub has been a GBG regular in recent years.

This is definitely one to try to get to for the experience, but, if you're doing it by public transport it's quite challenging. It's less than 10 minutes on the train from Shrewsbury, but remember to tell the train conductor in advance that you want to get off !. Finally, at the risk of stating the obvious, do check both train times and pub opening hours carefully.

22 Sep 2009 18:09

The Armoury, Shrewsbury

Spacious gastro pub / restaurant situated by Victoria Quay on the riverside.

The building is a former bakery and, at the entrance, we are told that the original building was built in 1807, relocated in 1920 and restored in 1995.

Externally, it's a bit understated - there's only a small green sign which doesn't tell you what the premises now houses - and you could easily walk past without noticing there was a bar / restaurant inside.

It's a large spacious room with a distinct drawing room feel to it, created by the high ceilings, period posters and pictures and some large bookshelves. It's bare boarded, but the exposed brickwork, period furniture and rugs help create what I thought was a rather stylish up market ambience.

Food is clearly the dominant factor here, being quite a wide range of gastro pub food with a daily changing menu. In fact, it's basically a restaurant, but one where you order food at the bar.

Perhaps surprisingly, a good range of real ales from local microbreweries is offered, approx 8-9 in total. Tasting notes are provided for the ales on offer. For example Wye Valley HPA was described as "a bit like brown sauce". My pint of Weetwood Cheshire Cat - at £ 2.40p, benefitting from a 50p happy hour discount - was an enjoyable tasty pint in fine condition.

I don't normally like gastro pubs, nor pubs that are housed in buildings previously used for different purposes, but I have to say that I quite liked this one. Given that the range of beers seem wider than most, you might want to call in, but don't expect a normal pub experience.

22 Sep 2009 17:49

The Wheatsheaf, Shrewsbury

Another nice traditional Shrewsbury town centre pub situated on the High Street, a few minutes walk away from The Three Fishes.

It's a single bar pub with distinct areas, but with a rather standard and unremarkable interior.

There's some seats outside on the pavement.

The beer range was similar to that at Loggerheads ( Ringwood Best, Brakspears Oxford Gold etc ), which led me to conclude that it was a Banks pub, but I can't recall seeing any external branding. My pint of Jennings was in good form. This pub has also been GBG listed in recent years.

I enjoyed the visit, but I found this pub somewhat unremarkable by Shrewsbury standards.

22 Sep 2009 17:37

The Three Fishes, Shrewsbury

The Three Fishes is a fine traditional 15th century building located in a narrow street in the oldest part of Shrewsbury, just off the High Street.

Outside it describes itself as "The Original Smoke Free Public House" and inside we learn that it was first recorded as an ale house in 1780.

It has a low black-beamed interior and is part carpeted, part flagstoned. It slopes a bit downwards towards the back.

A mirror by the bar advertising Southams Ales and Stout indicates that the pub was formerly owned by W T Southam Brewery of nearby Coton Hill.

Beers on during my visit were Woods Shropshire Lasd, Millstone Brewery Tiger Rut, Sharps Doom Bar, Timmy Taylors, Hopback Summer Lightning ( a rare sighting this ) and Hobsons Best. The Hobsons Best - £ 2.60p - was a fine tasty pint. The pub has been a GBG regular in recent years.

This was one of my favourites of all the Shrewsbury pubs that I did.

22 Sep 2009 17:31

The Old Post Office, Shrewsbury

The Old Post Office - or "OPO" as it seems to like being called - is a Grade 2 listed 16th century Tudor building set back in a small courtyard, off Milk Street, virtually opposite The Wheatsheaf.

Like most Shrewsbury pubs seemingly, it has a wooden framed interior. Inside the pub, an information board tells us that the OPO is now the only one left of 5 licensed premises that used to be in Milk Street. We also learn that the pub name bears no connection to the Royal Mail, but instead reflects the fact that the pub used to be a posting house for horse drawn coaches and that overnight stabling was available until the 1900's.

Whilst not being entirely spoilt, the interior has been updated somewhat to try to appeal to the younger drinker a bit more. Hence we have a few sofas, a largish flat-screen TV and music rather louder than seems appropriate for a pub of this age. Regular accoustic music sessions are held and - horror of horrors - karaoke is staged on Sunday night.

There's outside seating in a small shady courtyard.

Three real ales were on - Banks Bitter ( £ 2.15p ) , and Jennings Cocker Hoop and Crag Rat. I didn't see any branding, but I suspect it's a Banks pub.

The Banks Bitter tasted fine, bit I didn't really warm to this pub at all and I'm inclined to give it a miss next time.

22 Sep 2009 17:21

Boat House, Shrewsbury

Well appointed riverside pub overlooking the River Severn, easily accessed by a footbridge from the park on the opposite bank.

Inside is a reasonably traditional and pleasant interior, but somewhat unremarkable. The big draw here is the fine outside terrace, which includes some decking and standard recreation park type seats.

Four real ales were on during my recent early evening visit - Woods Shropshire Lad, Everards Tiger plus 2 beers from Salopian - Darwins Origin and Lemon Dream. Perhaps surprisingly - as I didn't sense this pub had a lot of real ale trade - both the Shropshire Lad and the Darwins Origin were in excellent form, although prices were at the top end of my expectations ( Shropshire Lad - £ 2.80p ).

I quite liked this one - probably one to do more in the summer months, though

22 Sep 2009 13:20

The Loggerheads, Shrewsbury

Fine traditional unspoilt town centre pub, meriting a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. There's 4 rooms in total. The bar counter is in the small public bar at the front of the pub, with serving hatches for customers in the other rooms. Note in particular the small room on the left with settles and bell pushes and a sign telling us that this room was "Gentlemen only until 1975". In the public bar, what was presumably the old pub sign, reminds us that a loggerhead is a kind of turtle. Etched windows at the front of the pub designate "Bar Parlour" and "Smoke Room".

Loggerheads is badged as a Banks pub. Beers on during my visit were Banks Bitter,Bass, Brakspears Oxford Gold, Ringwood Best, plus 2 beers from Jennings - Cocker Hoop and Sneck Lifter.

This pub is well worth seeking out

22 Sep 2009 13:13

The Nag's Head, Shrewsbury

Smallish reasonably traditional timber-framed pub on the historic Wyle Cop hill leading up to the main shopping streets.

It's got a bit of a bare-boarded ale house feel to it, although period advertising posters and prints help create some character.

Perhaps surprisingly for a pub so central, there's quite a large outside drinking garden area at the back, including a notable smoking shelter underneath what remains of an old 14th Century building.

Based on my recent mid-September visit, this is one of the few Shrewsbury pubs that doesn't appear to actively support local microbreweries. Beers on during my recent visit were TT Landlord, Black Sheep, Youngs Bitter ( does anyone still drink this any more ?) and Greene King IPA. Although the pub has been a GBG regular, I formed the view that there's not much of a real ale emphasis in this pub and neither the TT Landlord nor the Black Sheep were much good on my visit.

I'm not sure if I came in on a bad day, but given the uninspiring beer range, you might want to miss this one out.

22 Sep 2009 12:38

The Admiral Benbow, Shrewsbury

Another fine traditional Shrewsbury pub just outside the main shopping area and just a few doors down from the Coach and Horses, on which I have just posted.

It's a single bar traditionally furnished pub specialising in locally - brewed real ales which, on my recent visit, included Ironbridge Gold and Ludlow Gold and also a beer from the Severn Valley Railway. The pub is a GBG regular

The right hand area of the bar had lit candles in wine bottles on the tables, as if to try to attract a more upmarket and select clientele. On the left hand side is a Holt Plant and Deakin mirror, perhaps reflecting previous ownership. Given the name, there's the expected seafaring memorabilia.

Belgian bottled beers are also sold and I noted a cider from G Watkins of Hereford called Foxwhelp which, with a gravity of 7.8% rightly earned the "be warned" message on the chalkboard.

This pub was noticeably less busy than the nearby Coach and Horses, perhaps because of the fact that it doesn't open lunchtimes on most days of the week, but, if it is open, it's worth calling in.

22 Sep 2009 12:29

The Coach and Horses, Shrewsbury

Traditional street corner local just outside the main shopping area. There's a small wood-pannelled public bar with the entrance on the street corner and a curious cosy snug bar within this bar, together with a much larger lounge and dining area behind.

5 real ales were on during my recent early evening visit - Wye Valley HPA, Ironbridge ISB, Sharps Doom Bar, Hobsons Best and Salopian Shropshire Gold. Happy Hour runs from 5-9 on Mondays and 5-7 on Tuesday to Friday. As my visit coincided, I was able to enjoy a fine pint of Salopian Shropshire Gold - served in an Exmoor Ales glass - for the cheap price of £ 1.75p.

The pub is a GBG regular and holds regular curry nights and a Sunday quiz.

Finally, don't let the rather untraditional contemporary-style pub sign put you off. Do try and find time to get to this one if you can.

22 Sep 2009 12:21

The New Inn, St Johns Wood

Well appointed street-corner Greene King pub in St Johns Wood, a rather affluent area of North London

The pub itself is rather unremarkable in many respects - a bare boarded single bar, but with a reasonably traditional feel, enhanced by the large drape curtains, brass foot rail and wood pannelling.

The proximity to Lords Cricket Ground is reflected in the existence of a number of cricketing artefacts on display ( gloves, pads etc ) over the bar, together with a few prints of past players. For some unaccountable reason, one of the framed player prints was hanging upside down ( yes, I was sober, it was my first pub of the day ) making it look as though he was standing on his head. I was tempted to ask whether this was meant to depict an Australian cricketer "down under", but I suspect that this rare show of witticism would have been lost on the typically sullen foreign barmaid.

There were 3 handpumps - one dispensing Speckled Hen, one was unclipped and the third had a clip reversed. Upon asking for a pint of IPA, the barmaid apologetically replied "I'm sorry, I'm afraid we only have the chilled version" and pointed to a newish looking continental lager style tall font. I suspect that GK might wish their staff to promote this apparently new product a bit more enthusiastically, but needless to say, I went for the Speckled Hen which, perhaps surprisingly, was in really good form.

In one corner of the room, a silent plasma TV enabled me to catch up on the afternoon's football scores on the Vidiprinter.

Food offered is a mixture of English and Thai menus.

Accommodation is offered - 5 en suite rooms - which is 3 star rated, but this is clearly a pub with rooms and not an hotel.

It's a Greene King pub, which, in itself, will put a good number of people off, but, if you're going to the cricket at Lords, you might want to pop in during one of the intervals or if rain stops play.

1 Sep 2009 14:22

The Fishermans Cottage, Reading

Canalside Fullers pub on the banks of the Kennet and Avon canal, a short walk along the towpath from the town centre.

In terms of seating space, there's a large conservatory that dwarves the small seating area of the original part of the pub.

There's seating outside by the canal towpath and also seating at the back.

Perhaps surprisingly, on my recent afternoon visit, it had a more pubby local pub feel to it than I might have expected, given the location and most customers appeared to be regulars, known to the new management. The outside seating at the front had that newish garden centre look about it.

Despite proudly displaying the Cask Marque symbol, my pint of Pride was poorish. Perhaps I should have gone for the Ossett Brewery guest that was on.

There's a good honest pub grub menu.

It was quite pleasant sitting outside by the canal in the sunshine watching the world go by, but this won't be one of my first ports of call when I'm next in Reading.

28 Aug 2009 13:00

The Eldon Arms, Reading

Close to The Retreat, on which I've just posted is the Eldon Arms, an old-fashioned two bar Wadworths pub - probably one of their most easterly houses.

The public bar on the left has a tiled floor, dartboard and a rather rustic feel. The lounge bar on the right is smaller, cosier and more salubrious feeling. In front of you as you go in is what I presume used to be an off sales hatch, presumably no longer in use. Note also the rather wonky, sloping pub sign outside.

Rather disappointingly, the pub management feel obliged to remind us, through a proliferation of notices throughout, that we are on CCTV. It's hard to imagine the Friday / Saturday night vomit and violence brigade coming here.

This pub has been a GBG regular in recent years. On my recent lunchtime visit, in addition to the Wadworths range, there was a guest beer on, which, owing to a sad lapse of duty, I forgot to make a note of. My pint of 6X wasn't particularly brilliant, I have to say, but I'll presume that's a one off.

This pub is well worth seeking out, but note that it closes in the afternoon, even at weekends according to the latest GBG

28 Aug 2009 12:51

The Retreat, Reading

Smallish two bar pub in the middle of a terrace in a residential back street slightly to the east of the town centre.

The front bar is quiet and is where the regulars seem to congregate. The back bar is slightly larger and, somewhat unusually, has the slight feel and look of a Social Club. It's dominated by a large snooker table and some rather dubious nude artwork that is offered for sale.

There were 4-5 beers on during my recent visit - the Ringwood Best at £ 2.50p was on good form. The pub is a GBG regular.

It describes itself as "Reading's Favourite Back Street Pub" .

It's a rather basic pub that might not appeal to everybody, but I think it's worth seeking out.

Finally, watch out for opening hours - it doesn't open till 4.30pm on Mondays to Thursdays

28 Aug 2009 09:08

The Alehouse, Reading

Small pub situated on a street corner right in the heart of Reading's pedestrianised shopping centre.

A splendid collection of pump clips covers the walls and ceilings of what could otherwise be described as a rather spartan interior. There's a smallish single bar with a number of intimate wood pannelled booths off of a corridor leading to the outside toilets. There's a rather bohemian, studenty feel to the place, although on my recent visit, there was a surprisingly wide mix of customers.

A blackboard outside tells us that over 5900 guest ales have been served since September 1993. Mobile phones are banned. A notice on the door as you exit warns you that " Caution - outside world exists beyond this point". A notice also urged me to join the campaign to "Reopen the Jolly Anglers" - a small pub by the side of the canal that I have never visited, and might not now get the opportunity to, seemingly.

There was half a dozen real ales on during my recent lunchtime visit, including 3 from the local West Berkshire brewery. The Good old Boy - £ 2.80p - was a fine, malty tasting pint.

The pub is listed in the 2009 GBG and is worth a visit when you're in the town centre

27 Aug 2009 16:41

The Three Guineas, Reading

Large pub outside Reading station housed in what was apparently the old ticket hall.

It's a large rambling high-ceilinged pub, part carpeted, part bare-boarded, but broken up by pillars and walls into a number of differentareas. There's a largish seating area outside at the front for the better weather.

The pub is home to a splendid collection of rugby shirts. TV's dooted throughout the pub show the big games. Blackboards list forthcoming fixtures for Reading F C and London Irish, the town's local teams. There's also some interesting old railway pictures and posters. An information panel inside the pub tells us that the pub is named after the prize offered for the winning nomination of a train name for a train that would run from London to Plymouth in 1904.

On the beer front, perhaps surprisingly for a station pub, there's 8 handpumps. The only beer clip that I immediately recognised was for Greene King IPA - the others, on close inspection, turning out to be micros. Both beers that I sampled - Hawkshead Windermere Pale Ale and Slaters Why Knot - were in good condition, but a price of £ 3.15p each seems excessive for beers of 3.5% and 3.8% ABV respectively. Other beers on included offerings from Andwell, Leeds and Rudgate. The pub is listed in the 2009 GBG.

There's a wide range of pub grub offered during the day. You may be pleased to hear that it opens early at 10 am between Monday and Friday.

The pub describes itself as a "genuine freehouse". It's part of the Broken Foot Inns Pub Group, which has 4 pubs in total, including Duffy's in Ealing.

It also describes itself as "famous for our live bands and entertainment", although I didn't see any details of any gig listings inside.

Overall, I was reasonably impressed with this pub, despite the high prices. I'd probably come again, but not at busy times or when there's sport showing on the big screen.

It's location - and early opening - makes it a good place to kick off a Reading crawl.

27 Aug 2009 12:53

Woodies, New Malden

Well known pub housed in a wooden former sports pavilion located in a back street of New Malden close to the A3.

I visited this pub last Sunday, coinciding with the last day of the pub's 5th Annual Beer Festival, which had started on the Friday, and which featured approx 50 real ales and 6 ciders in a marquee on the playing field at the front of the pub. As well as the Beer Festival,there was a BBQ on the large terrace outside at the front.

The pub itself is decorated with a splendid collection of sporting memorabilia - football programmes, ticket stubs etc throughout the pub. Beers on inside the pavilion were Adnams Broadside, Fullers ESB, pride, Youngs Ordinary plus several guests.On the right inside the pub is a raised seating area where Sunday lunch was proving popular.

In the beer tent outside most beers were priced at £ 3.00p, with several stronger ones at £ 3.20p.Southern micros dominated - eg Surrey Hills, Twickenham, West Berkshire, Whitstable, W J King for example. All beers sampled were in good condition and, despite the hot weather, at a perfect temperature. Most beers had started to run out at about 4pm, but my disappointment was quickly forgotten by returning to the pavilion and seeing the last few Australian wickets go down in the Oval Test, thus giving England the Ashes 2-1.

So Woodies will always be in my personal memory bank as the pub where I saw England regain the Ashes.

The pub is listed in the 2009 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. It's a bit of a trek from New Malden Station, but I think it's worth it and I'll make a point of looking out for next years festival.

27 Aug 2009 11:56

The Cittie of Yorke, Holborn

Well known Grade II listed pub situated on High Holborn, close to Holborn Bars, the historic entrance to London.

It's a large three bar pub, the highlight of which is the much photographed back bar which resembles a baronial hall, with large whisky barrels on a gantry over the bar, intimate railway carriage style drinking booths, a high vaulted ceiling and an unusual triangular stove. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. A photograph of this bar appears on the front page of the CAMRA London Regional Inventory publication.

On the left as you enter the pub through a corridor is the front bar, which has wood pannelling, carpets and a more cosier and comfortable feel to it.This bar is a welcome refuge from the back bar, which usually seems to be noisier and more crowded, usually with "suits" from the nearby law firms.

There's a downstairs cellar bar - not open during my visit - which can be hired for functions. This cellar bar is apparently part of the original Grays Inn Coffee House which dated back to the 17th Century.

The Cittie Of York is one of Sam Smiths flagship London pubs. Even if you're not a big fan of Sam's beers, you should try to do this one at least once, perhaps combining it with a visit to the nearby Princess Louise.

24 Aug 2009 17:44

The Castle, Holborn

Smallish, street corner City style pub in a back street close to Chancery Lane.

Outside the pub, a wall board tells us that there has been a tavern on this site for nearly 700 years and that it was part of the original Lincolns Inn in the 14th Century.

In many respects, it's an unremarkable typical stand-up-to-drink City pub, with a rather spartan, functional interior, but with a range of real ales better than most. According to its ad in London Drinker, it has the best range of beers in the Square Mile. There's 8 pumps in total - on my recent evening visit, beers on were Youngs Bitter, Kew Gold, Red Car Bitter, Red Car Summer Ale, Nethergate Ashes Ale, Whitstable Winkle Picker, Wylam Turbinia and Hare's Breadth. A blackboard lists fortcoming beers. The Red Car Bitter ( not sure who brews that ?) was a fine tasty pint.

The pub is part of the Red Car pub group - a small pub group that also includes the Swan in Gracechurch Street, the Wheatsheaf in Southwark street and the Bell, down the side of Cannon Street station.

Although there's an upstairs bar and standing room outside on the pavement, this pub always seems too crowded for comfort whenever I've been there. Despite the beer range, the lack of seating and comfort means it's not ideal for a long session, but it's well worth popping in for one if in the area

24 Aug 2009 13:10

The Red Lion, Histon

Histon's main claim to fame, to most people I suspect, is that their non-league football team dumped the once mighty Leeds United out of the FA Cup last season ( a result which, as a Wednesday fan, caused me a certain amount of delight at the time ).

Following last Friday's lunchtime visit, I'm now able to report that, in my opinion, Histon is also home to one of the country's best real ale free houses.

Histon is a small rural village approx 5 miles north of Cambridge and, as you get off the bus, you approach what looks like the archetypal country village pub on a bend in the road on the main High Street. Tellingly, as I had got on the bus at Cambridge, the bus driver/conductor smiled ruefully at me - "You'll be wanting the Red Lion, s'pose" - as I tendered my fare.

It's a two bar pub. The lounge bar on the right has a lowish ceiling, comfy seats and carpets and a cosy rural traditional feel to it. What you immediately notice is the staggering collection of brewery memorabilia - Greenalls, Sheps, Watneys, Higsons, Cains etc - in fact you name the brewery and you've a good chance of finding something, whether it be a brewery poster, a jug or a pump clip on one of the wooden beams on the ceiling. Much of the memorabilia is from breweries long gone - in particular I noted a framed cased bottle of Dale's Coronation Ale, the brewery building of which I had earlier noticed in Cambridge's Gwydir Street. I also noted a signed autograph sheet of the England Cricket Team who toured South Africa in 95/96 ( Atherton, Stewart etc ).

In one corner of this bar is a series of photos and pictures of the pub in days long gone, including a photo of it as a Theakstons pub with the dray horses outside. It's also had spells as a Lacons of Yarmouth pub, also Whitbread.

The public bar on the left has bare boards, but is still pleasant and also has plenty of memorabilia. Unusually, there's no pumps on the bar here - beer is brought through from the other bar.

There were 7 real ales on on my visit - Theakstons Best, Everards Tiger, Oakham Ales Bishops Farewell, Might Oak Oscar Wilde and Tring Blonde being the 5 beers which are nearly always on, according to one of the friendly locals to whom I got chatting. The other two were Potbelly Brewery Inner Daze and York Brewery Ashes Ale. It was shortly after ordering a pint of the latter that I heard the Headingly Test score - England 50 - 4 wkts. Perhaps symbolically, the beer ran out shortly afterwards and was replaced by Pure Welsh Premium Ale from the Cwmbran Brewery.

All the beers sampled by me - York Ashes Ale,Tring Blonde and Oscar Wilde were spot on.

On my recent Friday lunchtime visit, the pub quickly filled up with people enjoying the fine range of beer and good honest unpretentious food. Curiously enough, there's 4-5 pubs on the High Street close to the village green and one of the locals confided in me that he thought the Red Lion did more trade than all the others put together.

The pub hosts special themed events and food evenings - eg Barn Dance on 2 September, curry nights and fish and chip nights. There's a beer festival planned for 7-11 September.

There's a largish car park and a pleasant garden at the back.

This pub ticks all the boxes as far as I'm concerned and I've no hesitation in strongly recommending it to anyone. Jump on the Number 7 bus - it takes about 20 minutes - and go see for yourself.

12 Aug 2009 13:31

The Nutshell, Bury St Edmunds

Reputed to be the smallest pub in the country, the Nutshell sits on a street corner in the central shopping part of Bury St Edmunds. At a rough guess, I'd put the dimensions at about 15ft x 7ft.

It's a reasonably atmospheric quirky place with a fine collection of bank notes displayed on the ceiling and various animal bones suspended down from the ceiling.

It's relatively unspoilt interior earns it a listing in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The inevitable memorabilia in the form of framed newspaper cuttings tell us that the record number of people in the pub at one go is 102 ( plus a dog!).

Apart from a table on the left which seemed to be the haunt of regulars, seating is on a bench flush up against the window. You're not allowed to take drinks outside.

The windows are plain glass and, sitting on the bench by the window, you feel very much on show to be gawped at by the passing shoppers, in a manner rather reminiscent of the girls in the windows in Amsterdams red-light district. Etched windows would be an improvement and would eliminate the goldfish bowl effect.

On my recent lunchtime visit, I was pleasantly surprised at how much of a local this was. True, occasional visitors such as myself would pop in, stay awhile and move on, but it's clearly not just the visitor curiousity that I was half expecting.

It's a Greene King pub and the 2 pumps were serving IPA and Abbot at £ 2.60p and £ 3.15p respectively. Both were in good condition. There's hardly any room for any more pumps on the bar - so no guest beers - nor is there realistically room for more than one barman serving at a time.

I enjoyed the visit. It's one of those pubs that it's nice to say you've been to and, whilst I certainly wouldn't discourage you from going if you get the chance, I very much doubt that I would go out of my way to visit again

11 Aug 2009 17:47

The Live and Let Live, Cambridge

Like the Cambridge Blue on which I've just posted, the Live and Let Live is situated in a residential side street just off Mill Road.

It has quite an ale-house feel to it, what with the bare boards, wood pannelling and "butchers block" long trestle tables.

Both the Nethergate Umber Ale and the Oakham Inferno were fine tasty pints on my recent evening visit. Other beers on were Milestone Black Pearl, Tring Jack O' Legs and Whitstable Winkle Picker.

As a pub, I didn't particularly warm to the place, but I'd probably pop in again if crawling in this part of Cambridge.

Again, as with many other Cambridge pubs, it shuts up shop in the afternoon most days

11 Aug 2009 17:29

The Cambridge Blue, Cambridge

Traditional real ale orientated pub in a residential side street off Mill Road. I have vague recollections of visiting this pub yonks ago when it was a Tolly's pub called The Dewdrop. Now it's a smallish free house with approx a dozen or so real ales on at a time.

Inside the pub features a fine collection of breweriana, but I didn't see anything relating to its previous existence as The Dewdrop, so I might be off line here.

Beers on during my visit were Elgoods Cambridge Blue, Trinity Wishing Well, Gisleham Gold, Woodfordes Wherry and Bath Festival Pride. Additional beers from the tap room included beers from Nethergate, Milton and Elgoods.

A blackboard proudly advertises that they've sold 1100 different real ales since October 2007.

My pint of Elgoods Cambridge Blue was served in a beer glass advertising an earlier beer festival at the pub between 23-28 June 2009 and I gather festivals are held regularly.

There's a conservatory and a surprisingly large beer garden to help relieve any crush.

Note the former Dales Brewery building at the other end of Gwydir Street near to the Mill Road junction.

Cambridge has a number of real ale specialist pubs that are worth seeking out, which are situated in residential side streets outside of the City Centre, but within reasonable walking distance of the station. The Cambridge Blue is one of them, but do note that it closes in the afternoon some days of the week.

11 Aug 2009 13:41

The Castle Inn, Cambridge

Large rambling pub set over two floors to the north of the City Centre over Magdalene Bridge. It seems that it's two separate buildings knocked through into one.

As previous posters have already told us, it's Adnams only tied house in Cambridge and is in fact their most westerly pub, which they acquired in 1994.

Cambridge Castle itself is long gone, but the pub lies close to The Mound which used to be part of the castle and is all that is left now.

The pub is a warren of interconnecting rooms on the ground floor furnished with a mixture of wooden chairs, tables, sofas etc. The walls have some Adnams memorabilia and posters and some rather dubious artwork. Of particular interest is an old photo dating back to 1879 showing the pub being formerly owned by Hawkes & Co of Bishops Stortford, a brewery later taken over by Benskins.There's also a large upstairs room resembling an attic and a large outside garden at the back.

Food is evidently a major part of the operation and I would expect this to dominate at busy times. Despite the beer range, it doesn't seem to have that pubby drinkers pub feel to it.

On my recent lunchtime visit, 4 Adnams Beers wewre on - Bitter, Broadside, Explorer and Regatta. There's 9 pumps in total with the other beers being Woodforde Wherry, 2 from Nethergate plus TT Landlord. The Adnams Bitter at £ 2.80p tasted excellent.

The pub offers 3 x 1/3 pint tasting trays at £ 3.20p, something I wish more pubs did. The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2009 GBG.

I quite enjoyed the visit, but I'm not sure it would be one of my first choice visits next time in Cambridge.

11 Aug 2009 12:54

The Eagle, Cambridge

Describing itself as the most famous pub in Cambridge, the Eagle is a largish bustling pub with a warren of interconnecting different seating areas, including a shady courtyard.

It's a reasonably characterful City Centre pub, very popular with tourists seemingly, enjoying a standard pub lunch menu in the main ( eg - Steak and Ale Pie - £ 7.45p, Fish and Chips - £ 6.95p )

The pub dates back to 1525 and is owned by Corpus Christi College, leased to Greene King. Of particular note internally is the RAF bar with much wartime memorabilia, in particular the ceiling which is covered with the names and squadron numbers of World War 2 airmen, written using cigarette lighters and lipstick apparently.

It's a Greene King pub and this pub had the biggest range of GK beers seen for some time. I had a pint of Cambridge University Ale 1209, the official octocentennial ale brewed to celebrate 800 years of the University.There was a guest on - Piddle Express from the Wyre Piddle Brewery.

Perhaps surprisingly, this pub is one of 8 Cambridge pubs selected by Greene King to participate in their Cambridge Gallon Challenge. Visit all 8 in a period of a fortnight and get a free T shirt - wow !

The previous BITE reviews here are rather mixed, but if you're a first time visitor to Cambridge and you like a bit of history with your pint, I'd suggest it's worth calling in on.

10 Aug 2009 17:31

The St Radegund, Cambridge

A quirky atmospheric free house situated at the far end of King Street and little more than a stone's throw away from the Champion of the Thames 9 just reviewed ). Don't let the rather forbidding and grim looking exterior - see photo here - put you off.

It's reputed to be the smallest pub in Cambridge and there's plenty of interesting memorabilia on the walls. In particular, I liked the memorabilia of the infamous King Street Run - a local pub crawl - where the record is apparently less than 15 minutes for a pint in each of 8 pubs. Sadly, there's now fewer pubs, so current contestants have to do some of the pubs twice to get the 8 pints in.

There's 5 pumps in total. 4 beers were on during my visit - Thwaites Original, London Pride plus 2 Milton beers ( Icarus and Sackcloth ) . The Sackcloth, disappointingly served in one of those tall branded Adnams glasses, was a splendidly tasty pint. The St Radegund is a CAMRA GBG regular.

I didn't find the pub as welcoming and friendly as other posters and the barman on duty looked slightly bored and disinterested to me, but I'd probably come here again. I did like the background jazz playing.

Finally, do check out the opening hours. It doesn't do lunchtimes between Monday and Friday. Evening opening on those days is not until 5pm.

10 Aug 2009 13:41

The Champion of the Thames, Cambridge

Splendidly traditional unspoilt Greene King pub on King Street in the City Centre.

There's 2 small wood-pannelled simply furnished low-ceilinged bars either side of the central entrance. The pub sign and etched windows feature a rower.

This pub feels like a true community local and there were a small band of loyal regulars occupying the public bar on the left on my recent Wednesday afternoon visit.

In contrast to the reports of previous reviewers, there weren't any guest beers on when I visited, but both the GK IPA and the St Edmunds Ale ( priced at £ 1.99p and £ 3.00p respectively ) were in fine form. The pub is a CAMRA GBG regular.

As other people have commented this is an "authentic pub" experience and, despite the limited beer range, you should try to do this one when on a city centre crawl.

10 Aug 2009 13:24

Elm Tree, Cambridge

Smallish traditional back street pub close to the Free Press ( just reviewed ) .

A blackboard outside welcomed me with the message "great beer, no food, angry barstaff" , although on leaving the pub later, I noted a Charles Wells sign indicating that "freshly prepared food" is available.

The hanging pub sign indicates that the Elm Tree is a Wells House, but the etched windows ( and a message inside the beer menu ) suggest that it is a B& T House ( formerly known as Banks and Taylor ) .

The friendly landlord - not "angry" in any way - explained to me that its leased to B & T by Wells. As part of the agreement, they are obliged to stock 3 Wells beers - on my recent lunchtime visit, these were Courage Best, Waggledance and Youngs Kew Gold ( a beer incidentally that I've not seen on draught before ). There were 3 B & T beers on, plus several guests which included Milton Sparta and a beer from Allgates. Belgian and German beers are also available. Both the B& T Shefford Bitter and the Milton Sparta were in excellent condition.

It's a smallish single bar pub with a fine collection of brewery memorabilia - posters, mirrors, enamel signs etc - including from breweries long gone ( eg - an enamel sign for Royston Fine Ales, The Swan ).

There's some outside seats in an alleyway.

I really liked this one - it's well worth seeking out and, unlike many Cambridge pubs, it stays open throughout the afternoon.

10 Aug 2009 12:40

The Free Press, Cambridge

Fine traditional back street pub in a residential side street between Parkers Piece and the Grafton Centre.

The low ceilings and simple, but traditional furnishings create a warm and cosy environment in the 2 smallish interconnecting rooms. There's a covered garden outside at the back and several seats on the pavement at the front.

Note in particular the well-known small snug with one table only and room comfortably for half a dozen people comfortably. I seem to recall that, on my previous visit, there was a framed certificate on the wall recording the maximum number of people ever squeezed into this room at one time, but I didn't see it this time round.

There's some interesting old photographs and framed newspaper cuttings on the pub walls, including a picture of the pub in Victorian times when it was owned by a brewery called Bailey Tebbutt.

The pub is popular for food and the stickers on the windows indicate that it seems to have appeared in most of the pub / food guides at one point or another. It's in the current CAMRA GBG for 2009.

It's a Greene King pub, but don't let that put you off. As other posters have pointed out, there's guest beers on as well. On my recent Tuesday evening visit, the standard range of Abbot, IPA and XX Mild were supplemented by Everards Tiger and Batemans XXXB, both guests being priced at £ 3.10p.The XX Mild is a pleasant malty dark mild. Unusually, oversize glasses are used here.

I'm afraid the earlier poster who described the pub as tourist free might have been lucky. On my visit, there were American and French visitors sharing this splendid hostelry with local students and real ale buffs.

Whilst this pub doesn't have the beer range of specialist real ale pubs close by, I think this pub is well worth seeking out, but note that it closes in the afternoon.

10 Aug 2009 12:20

The Harp, Covent Garden

Formerly a Charrington's pub called The Welsh Harp - a long time ago mind - it's now just The Harp. It's situated little more than a stone's throw from Trafalgar Square.

It's a long narrow bar with the walls covered in fine paintings and mirrors.

It's also a multi award winning CAMRA favourite and a CAMRA GBG regular in recent years. The pub now proudly displays the certificate recording it as SPBW Greater London Pub of the Year 2008.

It seems to be inevitably always crowded, given its beer range and location and its narrowness in front of the bar makes it a bit of a squeeze sometimes. There is however an upstairs sitting room ( no separate bar ) to where you can retreat to avoid the crush.

Pleasingly, it's a drinkers pub first and foremost, although speciality sausages are served.

Even though I only come here about every 3 months, there's invariably someone serving who I recognise - always a good sign.

There's usually 5-6 real ales on. On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, these were Harveys, Sambrooks, Greene King Sundance, Dark Star Hophead, Timothy Taylors Golden Best ( unusual to find a TT beer other than Landlord ) and a beer from South Wales Newmans Brewery called Last Lion of Britain. On previous visits, Black Sheep has usually been on.

I usually go for the Harveys in here, but went for the Dark Star Hophead on Saturday - £ 3.10p - which was in typically hoppy form.

The pub is well worth a visit, but try to visit when it's relatively quiet if you can

4 Aug 2009 13:29

The Cross Keys, Covent Garden

Fine traditional long darkish single bar pub in a Covent Garden side street. Note the 2 crossed keys outside and the foliage - see picture here.

The pub is decorated with a fine collection of bric a brac, pots, pans, stuffed fish etc and there is also much Beatles memorabilia. Note also the large Truman Hanbury Buxton mirror which has pride of place at the front of the pub on the right. There's also an Isleworth Brewery mirror over an old Grandfather Clock. There's also a signed photo of David Beckham and several handwritten letters at the start of his footballing career.

Comfortable leather banquettes, carpets, brass foot rail etc and subdued lighting help contribute towards a fine atmosphere.

On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, upon ordering a pint of Brodies IPA, I was a bit bemused to be asked, unsolicited, if I wanted a taster beforehand. My trademark puzzled expression elicited a comment from the barman that they had had several recent complaints that it "tasted bitter". Anyway it tasted fine to me. Other beers on were Brodie's English Ale, Twickenham Original and Harveys Best.

Whilst I got served promptly, several people coming in soon after me were not so lucky. For reasons which I never really discovered, the barman ( he who had previously offered me a taster of the Brodies ) who was the sole staff member on duty, kept on disappearing either upstairs or downstairs, leaving the bar unattended. I saw several groups of customers come in, wait patiently for several minutes, and then disappear simply because no one appeared behind the bar to serve them.

Had I entered the pub 20 or so minutes later than I did, it is fairly clear that the pub would have easily failed the "John Bonser 3 minute service standard test" that I rigorously apply on all pub visits.

I like this pub immensely - I think it's the best all round pub experience in the immediate Covent Garden area, but I do hope that there isn't a general customer service issue here.

4 Aug 2009 09:21

The White Lion, Covent Garden

Small single bar Nicholsons pub situated opposite the Nags Head, on which I have just posted.

In contrast to many of Nicholsons Central London houses, this one feels rather featureless, which is not helped by the large plain glass windows and bare floorboards.

There's 5 handpumps in total - on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit these were dispensing the seemingly standard Nicholsons regulars - TT Landlord, London Pride and Deuchars IPA under the "try before you buy" promotion - plus Sharps DoomBar, which I presume was on as a guest. A fine collection of pump clips on the wall indicate that a fine range of other guests have previously been on.

The TT Landlord at £ 2.90p was reasonable.

There's a restaurant upstairs - The Bedford Bar - with waitress service.

I didn't find anything to specifically like or dislike about this pub, to be honest.

3 Aug 2009 13:13

The Nags Head, Covent Garden

Large single bar Victorian style pub situated on a street corner just a stone's throw away from Covent Garden tube station.

The carpeted comfortable interior has a fine traditional feel, enhanced by the Mc Mullens etched windows, mahogany bar, Victorian light fittings and Corinthian columns.

Even at 11.15 on a Saturday morning, it was quite busy, with a mixture of well-behaved Arsenal and Glasgow Rangers supporters and shoppers and tourists.

It's a rare Central London outlet for McMullens of Hertfords beers and the AK at £ 3.02p per pint was a pleasant, if unremarkable pint. The Country Bitter - not sampled - was £ 3.24p and the imaginatively named Cask Ale was also available.

In conclusion, this is a pleasant enough pub in that typically impersonal London style. It's Central London location and proximity to the Tube Station make it a convenient meeting up point

3 Aug 2009 13:03

The Vat and Fiddle, Nottingham

The Vat and Fiddle is the Castle Rock Brewery tap and is about 5 minutes walk from the station. It's apparently named after the nearby Inland Revenue offices. The pub sign features a portcullis. I'm sure one of the locals will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it used to be a Tom Hoskins pub previously.

It's a pleasant single bar pub with different areas. There's a tiled floor and some interesting old photos of Nottingham pubs, some now long gone sadly.

On my recent Wednesday lunchtime visit, there were as many as 7 Castle Rock beers on - Elsie Mo, Preservation, Hemlock, Screech Owl, Harvest Pale Ale, Black Gold Mild and Sherriffs Gold. This is as many as I can recollect seeing in one pub before. The Hemlock is a fine dark tasty session-type beer. If that's not enough, there were also 3 guests on - Brains SA, Rev James and York Guzzler.

This is another good unpretentious friendly Nottingham pub. It's good beer range and location make it a good choice to start or end a pub crawl.

30 Jul 2009 13:30

The Newshouse, Nottingham

Unpretentious, basic Castle Rock pub situated on Canal Street. It's in a slightly isolated position on the "wrong" side of the major road and opposite a large office development that is under construction. Despite a reasonably central position, I doubt it gets much passing trade and it seems to be very much a regulars pub.

There's 2 interconnecting bars - the public bar on the right has a bar billiards table and dart board. The pub is called the News House because, so the CAMRA GBG tells us, the news used to be read out to customers in the pub. There's accordingly much news memorabilia - framed newspaper pages of significant events adorn the walls ( eg - Princess Diana's funeral, first man on the moon, Forest winning the European Cup, Torvill and Dean winning gold at the Olympics.)

On the date of my recent visit, the pub was proudly displaying a banner denoting it as "Notts CAMRA Pub of the Year 2009 - 2010".

The usual Castle Rock beers are served. The Harvest Pale Ale - which seemed to be the preferred pint of the locals - was in typically citrussy and hoppy form. Everards Tiger and a beer called Silly Mid Whippet from the Cottage Brewery were on as guests.

The pub looks slightly uninspiring from the outside, but it's friendly and welcoming and a good bet for a nice quiet pint or two.

30 Jul 2009 13:22

King William IV, Nottingham

Small and cosy traditional pub to the east of the City Centre, but within easy walking distance.

It's a fine street corner local. "Welcome to a traditional Victorian pub" is the exhortation outside. Inside is a small low ceilinged and comfortable interior with 2 interconnecting areas either side of the small bar. It's carpeted throughout, which is always a plus point in my book.

7 pumps serve a variety of mico-brewery beers. On my visit last week, these included 2 Oakham beers, Nottingham EPA and Hartington. Both the Nottingham EPA and the Oakham JHB were in good form.

The CAMRA 2009 GBG describes the pub as "one pub not to miss on a visit to Nottingham" and, whilst I'm not entirely convinced on that score, it's well worth seeking out and I'll try and get here again sometime.

29 Jul 2009 15:35

Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd, Nottingham

Situated virtually next door to the Canal House, on which I have just posted, is Fellows Morton and Clayton which, for those who are wondering, is not a firm of accountants or solicitors, but a pub named after a former firm of local boat builders.

Like the Canal House, the building is a converted warehouse.

Inside felt disappointingly chainy and there was a distinct lack of canal / boating memorabilia to interest drinkers.

There was not the emphasis on micro-brewery beers that I have come across in other Nottingham pubs. Here only Nottingham Legend and Mallard Quacker Jack were available to supplement the better known offerings such as Landlord, Black Sheep, London Pride and Deuchars IPA. My pint of Nottingham Legend was not particularly good.

This pub used to be a home brew pub, but I didn't see any such beers and, as there is no reference to any brewery in the 2009 GBG section, I suspect that this must have now ceased.

I don't see any compelling reason to do this one again

29 Jul 2009 15:28

Canal House, Nottingham

The Canal House is a 4 storey red-brick building which was originally a warehouse and which sits on the banks of Nottingham Canal.

It badges itself as a "bar and restaurant" and I gather the restaurant is upstairs.

As previously reported, an unusual feature is the barge moored inside the pub in a small inlet off the main canal. Going in through the pub's main entrance, you cross a small wooden bridge to get to the main bar area.

Almost hidden amongst the multitude of lager fonts - German and Belgian beers seem to dominate here - are the handpumps offering the usual fare from the Castle Rock Brewery. Both the Preservation Ale and the Harvest Pale Ale were in good form, as might be expected from a pub with a 2009 GBG listing.

There's a large outside drinking area on the canal bank.

I didn't dislike the place, and you might want to come here for the novelty value, or to sit outside on those long hot summer evenings that we occasionally have, but it won't be one of my first ports of call when next in Nottingham.

28 Jul 2009 13:20

The Plough Inn, Radford

Fine traditional locals pub to the west of the City Centre. This is the home of the Nottingham Brewery, situated behind the pub.

It's a two roomed pub with a central servery. The public bar on the right has a tiled floor with long wooden tables and comfortable seats. In an alcove is a dart board. The saloon bar on the left is carpeted and cosier. There's leaded frosted windows. At the back is a largish garden.

My pint of Nottingham Legend - disappointingly served in a Deuchars IPA branded glass - was in fine form. As well as other Nottingham Brewery beers, Banks and Taylor SOS was on as a guest beer.

There's a collectors card which entitles you to a free drink once you have collected 10 stickers. Oddly enough, this offer is extended to Carling and San Miguel, as well as the Nottingham Brewery beers. Not quite as good as the Castle Rock "one over the 8" promotion, but still not to be sneezed at if you're a regular.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2009 GBG and is well worth seeking out.

Finally, I'll update Trainman's earlier posting - the pub now stays open throughout the afternoon.

28 Jul 2009 13:10

The Horse and Groom, New Basford

I'm a bit surprised that this pub hasn't had a BITE posting for nearly 20 months - so here we go.

The Horse and Groom is a fine traditional free house that is situated close to the splendid red-brick Victorian edifice that used to be Shipstone's Brewery. It's worth a walk past to admire the architecture before popping in to slake one's thirst in what was apparently the Shipstone's Brewery tap. Indeed the pub still bears the Shipstone's lettering outside on the front wall and inside is various Shipstone's memorabilia including brewery trays and horse and dray photos.

It's a single bar split level pub with distinct areas. On the left as you go in is a small cosy snug with a fireplace and a Bass mirror. The main bar area has plenty of other brewery mirrors and memorabilia and a reasonably cosy traditional feel. At the back is a large function room where I gather that live music is occasionally staged.

There's 9 pumps serving a fine range of real ales. On my visit, these included beers from Rudgate, Slaters together with better known beers such as London Pride and Deuchars IPA. The pub is listed in the 2009 GBG. Unfortunately, I just missed a Yorkshire Beer Festival by a couple of days.

I have to confess that I can't remember what I drank in here, but I do remember staying longer than intended and falling behind my carefully pre-planned schedule.

This is another pub that is easily accessible by tram ( Shipstone Street stop ) and can be combined with a visit to the Fox and Crown ( Alcazar ) , on which I've just posted.

I'll definitely try and come here again

28 Jul 2009 12:33

The Bell Inn, Nottingham

The Bell Inn is another of Nottingham's well known ancient pubs - indeed on the outside it proclaims itself as "Nottingham's Oldest Inn". Apparently it dates back to 1437. It's situated on the edge of the main square in Nottingham City Centre - the Old Market Square.

As you come in, there's a small snug type room either side of a central corridor. These 2 rooms have their own bar counters, but the beer range is smaller than in the main bar, which is accessed through the central corridor. The main bar is carpeted and wood pannelled. There's a separate restaurant upstairs.

Formerly a Hardy & Hansons pub, it's now of course owned by Greene King. Alongside the IPA, Abbott and Olde Trip were beers from the Nottingham Brewery and, timing my arrival 4 minutes into the start of happy hour, I was able to enjoy a decent pint of Legend for £ 2.00p.

The 2 small rooms at the front , whilst retaining fine etched and leaded windows have unfortunately been partly given the light pine wooden floor treatment which doesn't sit comfortably with the age and general ambience of the pub to me.

In one of the rooms is a framed scorecard from a cricket match between Sussex and Notts in 1840 which Sussex won by 14 runs.

There is live jazz in the main bar some evenings.

The Bell is not a must visit pub, but is worth including in any Nottingham City Centre crawl

27 Jul 2009 14:01

The Salutation Inn, Nottingham

Well known traditional old pub by the side of Maid Marian Way, a busy dual carriageway in the centre of the City. It's about 5 mins away from Ye Olde Trip.

The building apparently dates back to 1240, but the present pub is 17th Century. There's dark oak beams and a warren on interconnecting drinking areas, including 2 downstairs snugs called The Cromwell Room and the King Charles Room. Apparently the building was used as a recruiting base during the Civil War between 1642 and 1646.

The pub describes itself as a "Rock 'n Ale" Pub and, on my recent Monday afternoon visit, the loudish juke box was a constant reminder of the former. Although the pub was not busy, it did give it quite a studenty feel. There's live music evenings too.

Apparently there are caves underneath the pub and, as these are reputed to be haunted, there's the inevitable ghost tours. Inside the pub, we learn that the ghost is supposed to be that of Rosie, a street urchin in Victorian times.

The pub is in the CAMRA GBG and is evidently a keen supporter of local micros. On my visit these included beers from Oakham, Belvoir and Caythorpe. Caythorpe Dover Beck - £ 2.70p - was a tasty session-type beer.

If they could go easy on the music, I'd happily do this one again.

27 Jul 2009 13:48

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham

Of all the pubs that I've visited and reviewed on BITE over the years, this is one of the ones that probably needs no introduction to BITE regulars.

Reputed to be the oldest inn in the country and to date back to 1189, this pub is built into the rocks at the foot of Nottingham Castle. The upstairs Museum Room and the Rock Lounge ( which now incorporates a souvenir shop ) are particularly worthy of note. Like some of the downstairs rooms, they are cut into the rocks. As well as these rooms, there's a courtyard and pavement seating area to help relieve the inevitable crush. Downstairs rooms have black oak beams and flagstone floors.

Even at 3.30 pm on a Monday afternoon when I visited, the pub was busy with a mixture of overseas tourists and students. Irritatingly, a good number of the tourists flash away with their cameras for several minutes and then promptly disappear. "Everybody seems to come here nowadays", said one of the harassed, but friendly bar staff.

Food now seems to play a more prominent role than when I last visited, probably sometime in the late 90's. A fairly standard pub menu and condiments can be found on each table, including disappointingly, the downstairs room nearest the bar where the Ringing The Bull game seems to have now become largely redundant.

Beers are not perhaps as expensive as you might anticipate, given the pub's fame. Olde Trip, Abbott and Greene King IPA were priced at £ 2.80p, £ 2.60p and £ 2.35p respectively. 2 beers from the Nottingham Brewery - Extra Pale Ale and Legend were also on.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's GBG and is also in the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors.

If you haven't been here before, you'll want to visit when you're in Nottingham - as indeed you should - but don't expect to have the place to yourself by any means.

27 Jul 2009 09:40

The Victoria Hotel, Beeston

Marvellous Victorian red-brick pub adjacent to the northbound platform of Beeston railway station.

The building dates back to 1899 and still advertises Ind Coope & Co Burton Ales high up on the building exterior.

The room on the right as you go in is the public bar. This had a tiled floor, a wooden bar and etched windows proclaiming "Red Bar" and "Vaults". This room houses a fine collection of brewery posters and mirrors. Of particular note is a splendid full size St James Bar Worthington Ales mirror and posters from defunct breweries such as Holt Bros of Burnham, Somerset and Simpson & Co of Baldock, Hertfordshire. In this bar, you hear the occasional sound of the non-stopping high speed trains hurtling past ( Beeston is on the main line between Leicester and Nottingham ). In this bar, there's 5 handpumps. On my recent Monday lunchtime visit, these were dispensing Adnams Broadside ( £ 2.80p), Fullers ESB, Everards Tiger, Batemans XB and Bays Bitter ( £ 2.40p ) from Torbay in Devon.

On the left is the main saloon bar. This comprises a number of interconnecting rooms which, whilst still retaining a traditional feel, gradually seem to get more food-orientated the further through that you walk. The food choice is wide and varied and is a step up from normal pub grub. Of particular note in this bar is a splendid picture of Queen Victoria and etched windows denoting "Smoke Bar". There's additional pumps in this bar, which add to the range on offer. These included Holdens, Ottershaw and Copper Dragon on my visit. Both the Copper Dragon and the Bays Bitter ( from the other bar ) were in good nick.

There's no TV's or distractions anywhere in the pub and mobiles are thankfully banned. There's a large outside tented area almost on the platform. The pub offers regular themed food evenings and other events.

The pub is a CAMRA GBG regular nowadays.

This is a superb "must visit" pub in my book. If you're staying in Nottingham, as I was, it's £ 1.90p off peak day return and I thought it was worth every penny.

24 Jul 2009 13:46

The Chancellors, Hammersmith

Fine traditional smallish pub opposite the Hammersmith Riverside Studios and close to the Thames Path on the north side of the river.

As other posters have commented, the Chancellors has a bit of a 70's time warp feel to it, enhanced by the photos on the walls of familiar stage and screen stars from that era, including the stars of the original Z Cars programme.

There's carpets and comfortable seating, with a black and white interior.

At the right hand side of the bar is an area with a dartboard. Here there's some boxing and Fulham F C memorabilia. At the side of the pub on the left is a small outside patio. There's also a few seats outside on the front pavement. On these tables were several old Combe's Bitter ashtrays - not something I've seen for some time.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, the two plasma TV's , one in each corner, were showing the Open Golf and horse racing at an unobtrusive sound level.

The Chancellors seems to be mainly a locals' pub, but not one that's unwelcoming to passers by.

Two real ales were on - Adnams Bitter and Sheps Spitfire. The Adnams was on good form.

This is a good honest unpretentious pub in an area where they seem desperately thin on the ground. If you're passing by ( perhaps walking the Thames Path ?), try and find time to drop in.

24 Jul 2009 13:01

The Royal Oak, Bethnal Green

Single bar street corner pub convenient for the well known Columbia Market.

It's a former Trumans pub that many people will know for being the pub used in the TV comedy programme - "Goodnight Sweetheart" - a programme that I have to confess never really warming to, despite it featuring Dervla Kirwan, a smart looking woman who knocked around with Nicholas Lyndhurst ( of Only Fools and Horses fame ). Perhaps surprisingly, there's no pictures or photos in the pub to indicate this connection.

The pub retains a fine Trumans exterior and there is still much to admire internally, although it has clearly been knocked about quite a bit. There's some of the trademark Trumans wood pannelling at the back. The pub seems to have been opened out from its original layout and is now a single bar with a central bar servery. Most of the windows are clear glass, although an unused former "Jug and Bottle " entrance retains etched glass.

The pub is heavily food orientated and prices are sky high. On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, the pub was dominated by a mixture of tourists ( who had presumably been visiting the market ) having late lunches and people who appeared to be New Labour Wannabee types.There's no real pubby feel or atmosphere to the place, I'm afraid.

There's 2 handpumps - TT Landlord and Meantime LPA being the 2 beers on when I visited. The TT Landlord was £ 3.50p ( yes, really !).

Even disregarding the sky high prices, I'm not planning on returning

15 Jul 2009 13:46

The Hare, Bethnal Green

Unpretentious friendly locals pub on the main road north from Bethnal Green towards Hackney.

It's an unremarkable pub in many respects. The single bar has a snooker table and is carpeted. The only real feature of note is a collection of framed signed football shirts covering past decades - eg Denis Law of Man Utd, Kenny Dalglish from Liverpool. There's also Spurs and Arsenal shirts. I can't say that I saw any Orient shirts, unlike the previous poster.

Here, last Saturday morning, in the company of half a dozen or so locals, I was able to catch up on the Test Match from Cardiff as Australia pushed on towards 600 runs. It was a pleasant friendly atmosphere, although the seemingly constant wailing sirens of passing police cars rushing by at great speed reminded you that you were in East London.

There's a small outside drinking area at the back - it's stretching one's imagination a bit to refer to it as a garden.

The pub is apparently quite well known locally for its Sunday evening jazz sessions.

On the beer front, there's 3 pumps - Greene King IPA and St Edmunds Ale being on offer on my Saturday visit. The third pump had a reversed Timmy Taylors Landlord pump clip. The Greene King IPA was on reasonable form at £ 2.55p.

The pub is situated in an area of East London that I would not classify as salubrious by any means - but I'd be happy to revisit this pub if I was ever in the area again

15 Jul 2009 13:26

The Approach Tavern, Bethnal Green

Victorian street corner pub situated in a tree-lined avenue in what I suppose you'd describe as the posh part of Bethnal Green.

Externally, the pub has that typical gentrified gastro pub look - a dark painted exterior, and a shop style green awning over the large outside pavement patio area.

Internally, it still retains quite a traditional feel with high backed wooden settles and a traditional bar counter. It was evidently, originally, a two roomed pub with a central partition, a fact confirmed by several interesting and evocative framed pictures taken in days long gone. Note also a photo of the pub showing war time bomb damage and a photo of regulars gathering outside the pub for a day trip to Margate in July 1954.

To the right of the bar counter, the seating area extends back into a room containing some reproduction war posters. At the far end is a small seating area with green painted walls and a sofa that doesn't blend in at all well with the rest of the pub.

Food fare is not gastro pub food, but is a clear step up from normal pub grub and I would imagine that food trade probably dominates at busy times.

Unusually for a pub, there's an art gallery on the first floor.

On the real ale front, there's 5 pumps - on my visit last Saturday morning these were dispensing London Pride, Fullers Discovery, Fullers Chiswick, Gales HSB ( which is of course now brewed by Fullers ) and Adnams Bitter.The latter was on good form, but ambitiously priced at £ 3.30p - this is East London, for gawd's sake ! - I imagine the Fullers beers are similarly pricey. Despite the existence of a CAMRA mirror on the wall, I didn't sense much of a focus or commitment on the real ale front.

As a pub, I didn't dislike the place, but it's a bit out of my normal territory and, taking this with the unimaginative beer range and seemingly high prices, I don't envisage a return visit.

13 Jul 2009 13:22

The Dover Castle, Marylebone

Splendid Sam Smiths pub in a quiet well hidden cobbled mews about 5 minutes walk from Oxford Circus. It feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Central London.

Etched windows denoting "Bottle Entrance" and "Retail Entrance" tell us that this was once a multi-roomed pub. It's now been opened out into a single bar, but still with a very traditional feel. There's a separate room at the back, which is accessed through a sliding wooden door. Here there's a fine Worthingtons Pale Ale mirror.

The main bar has sporting prints on the walls, settles and wood pannelling. This, combined with Victorian light fittings and etched windows, help create a fine traditional atmosphere in true Sam's style. Note in particular, a fine small photograph of people in uniform outside the pub in 1944 on the day before D -day.

An interesting feature is small mirrors underneath a beam which enabled coachmen to see when their passengers were ready to leave the pub in the days when it was still divide up. The pub is carpeted throughout.

It's listed on CAMRA's London Regional Inventory.

Food is served between 12 and 2.30, also 6 to 8.30pm.

Sam Smith's OBB is on handpump here - £ 1.90p.

I'm not a big fan of Sam Smiths beers, but they do have some fine London pubs and this is undoubtedly one of the best, and one of my favourites.

It's well worth finding, but I think it's closed on Sundays, so you check this if necessary.

10 Jul 2009 13:09

The Grapes, Limehouse

Famous old riverside pub in Limehouse on the north side of the Thames. The history books tell us that there's been an inn on the site since the 16th Century and that the present building dates back to around 1720.

It's a longish narrow single bar featuring wood pannelling and a fine collection of old prints and pictures on the walls. You'll notice a splendid painting - "Saturday night at the Grapes" - definitely no chavs or scumbags in sight.

Of particular interest to BITE followers is a plaque on the wall in recognition of the fact that a rival pub review website - which will remain nameless here - has awarded the pub First Place in its London Pub Competition 2004 - 2008.

There's no TV, background music, fruit machines etc to disturb the fine atmosphere. The pub is very much on the tourist circuit, a good number of whom come for the fish and chips at lunch in the popular upstairs restaurant.

At the rear of the pub up several steps is a small wooden balcony on stilts affording fine views of the river and the opposite bank. My red forehead bore testament to the fact that it's a bit of a suntrap on sunny afternoons.

Real ales on during my recent Saturday afternoon visit were Adnams Bitter, Pedigree and TT Landlord at prices of £ 2.80p, £ 2.90p and £ 3.00p respectively, which, given the pub's fame, might be considered to be very reasonable by London standards. Both the Adnams and TT Landlord were in good nick.

I've always liked this pub and think it's well worth finding - but note that I think it still closes on weekday afternoons.

9 Jul 2009 13:33

The George, Isle of Dogs

Large 2 bar street corner pub virtually opposite Crossharbour Station ( DLR ) on the Isle of Dogs.

On leaving the station last Saturday lunchtime and crossing the road to the pub, I was initially somewhat put off to see 2 St George's England flags flying prominently from the rooftop and wondered for an instant if I would be entering some Millwall or West Ham supporters BNP stronghold. My fears quickly proved unfounded - this is a comfortable, unspoilt, welcoming pub.

It advertises itself as dating back to 1864, although the current wood-pannelled interior, including a lapped wooden bar front, probably dates back to the 1920's or 1930's. It's a former Watney Combe Reid pub, as evidenced by the trademark round green pub sign incorporating the stag logo. The pub is listed in CAMRA's Regional Inventory.

The public bar is on the corner of the road intersection and contains a dartboard, TV etc. It is comfortably furnished throughout. There's some interesting old photos of the area, including the pub itself.

At one end of this bar is a curious mini snug - called Ma Baker's snug - which looks as though it might have been originally used for off sales. In this small snug on the walls are some framed newspaper pages from WW2 in 1945.

Next to this mini snug, but with a separate entrance, is the saloon bar. This is also comfortable and traditionally furnished. There's a conservatory here, which acts as a restaurant, and a small garden outside. Flowers, both here and in the hanging baskets outside, create a riot of colour, and it is clear that a real effort is being made to create a warm and welcoming environment.

Proper pub food is served.

On the real ale front, the pub proudly displays Cask Marque accreditation, but, on my visit, neither the TT Landlord nor the London Pride were particularly brilliant. Other beers on were Youngs, Deuchars IPA and Tribute. I wonder if 5 is too many.

On the other side of the road opposite the pub is an interesting information board, telling us that stevedores used to gather here for the daily call to work in the docks. The George used to be open from 6 am to serve them coffee and rum.

I quite liked this pub and I'd definitely come again soon.

7 Jul 2009 13:51

The Pineapple, Kentish Town

Small traditional street corner local in a quiet residential street within easy walking distance of Kentish Town Tube Station.

There's some original Victorian features such as a fine bar back with etched glass, mirrors and wood pannelling. There's also several impressive old Bass mirrors. Double Diamond -lettering in the windows would suggest that this was formerly an Ind Coope pub. The pub appears to have been opened out from its original layout, but there's enough remaining to warrant inclusion in CAMRA's Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

It's a smallish semi-circular bar with several alcoves at the side and a small outside garden and conservatory. In the corridor leading to the garden is a framed paper cutting recording a successful petitioning to save the pub from being converted to flats in 1992/93.

On my recent Saturday afternoon visit, there were 5 real ales on - Sharps Doom Bar, Bass, Adnams Regatta, Bombardier and , unusually for London, J W Lees Bitter from Oldham. The Doom Bar was on good form.

There's a Thai food menu offered.

Try and seek this one out if you can - just don't let the exterior colour scheme put you off

7 Jul 2009 13:28

The Bull and Gate, Kentish Town

Traditional ornate Victorian pub on the main road just north of Kentish Town tube.

There is much here for the connoisseur of traditional pub architecture to admire - etched glass, mirrors and Corinthian columns, although I did find the colour scheme ( the Corinthian columns and the pub exterior are painted blue ) a bit difficult to warm to. Note the impressive decorated archway between the two main drinking areas and several impressive mirrors indicating that this pub was ( or is?) a Lynskeys Free House. The bar gantry indicates that it was formerly a Charringtons House.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's London Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

My recent Saturday morning visit found the pub advertising two real ales - Bass and Toby - at prices of £ 1.50p and £ 1.00p respectively between the hours of 12 and 5 pm. The Bass was on reasonable form. Surprisingly, I didn't notice any other drinks being offered at "happy hour" prices.

Despite the pub's impressive architecture, I have to say that I found the whole visit experience slightly depressing. Some of the pub seats are very well worn indeed and the pub gives off a definite air of neglect. In addition, although the 2nd Rugby Test between South Africa and the British Lions was in progress, the pub was only showing horse racing. This was being watched by approx half a dozen or so locals huddled round a smallish screen in one corner of the bar. Apart from them - and yours truly for a while - the pub was deserted.

The pub is a famous live music venue with a separate entrance next door which I didn't go in.

In conclusion, unless you're either coming for a gig, or you're a big fan of ornate pub architecture, this pub has little to offer and you'll probably want to give it a miss.

6 Jul 2009 13:26

The Rising Sun, Mill Hill

Fine characterful country style pub in Mill Hill Village approx a mile or so away from Mill Hill Broadway, up, as has already been mentioned, a rather steep hill.

The pub has a central kiosk style servery which is entered through a big oak door. This central bar area has low ceilings and a flagstone floor. On the right is a cosy small snug, also with a low ceiling. To the left is a larger room, which appears to have been recently redecorated to produce a bit of a drawing room feel. This appears to be mainly used by diners. In a separate adjoining barn-like building to the right, with its own entrance, is another restaurant area.

The pub is situated opposite a small village green - note the old style traditional tall village sign - at a T junction at the top of Highwood Hill. Unfortunately, by rural standards, this is quite a busy road junction, which reminds you that you're not actually in the countryside at all really even though the pub and its setting could well otherwise lead you to think so. On my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, it seemed as though every 4 x 4 Landrover / Discovery etc in the neighbourhood had driven past at least twice.

It's a former Ind Coope pub - note several fine paintings and pictures of the pub in the bar area.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's London Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. It doesn't seem to have been in the annual CAMRA Good Beer Guide for a number of years, although I did notice two (?) stickers in the window for 2003.

Real ales on during my visit were Adnams, Abbott and GK IPA. The Adnams was in good form and cost £ 3 per pint. I suspect these are the regular offerings - no other pump clips seen anywhere to suggest other beers served instead.

There's outside seating at both the front and back. For the nostalgia buffs amongst us, there's outside toilets

Had I read the very recent postings below beforehand, I might not have decided to make the trek here, but I'm glad I made the effort.

I consider that this pub is well worth seeking out, whether for food or just a beer. I didn't detect any feeling that non-diners were not welcome.

If you don't fancy the walk uphill, it's bus number 251 . Transport for London have thoughtfully provided a bus stop at the top of the hill for the journey both there and back, so there's no excuse for not getting there.

3 Jul 2009 13:18

The Triple Crown Inn, Richmond

Small single bar free house in the back streets of Richmond close to the rear entrance to Richmond's rugby ground at Old Deer Park.

This pub is oner of Richmond's hidden secrets - it's off the main Richmond pub "circuit" and is seemingly only known to locals and the more discerning rugby followers who throng the place out on Twickenham big match days..

It's a narrow long single bar retaining a traditional comfortable feel, with a mahogany bar and frosted leaded windows. There's an upstairs bar with a balcony, which is not normally open, but can be hired for functions.

There's usually 4 -5 real ales on. On my recent visit these were London Pride, Brains Steaming Wagon, Downton Apple Blossom and Hogs Back Dark Mild. The Brains Steaming Wagon was a tasty malty pint, served in good condition.

The pub has had some GBG listings in recent years. Harvey, the relatively new guv'nor is an affable chap, enthusiastic about his beer.

Richmond is still, unfortunately, largely dominated by Youngs and Fullers pubs, in most of which the beer is inconsistent in quality. The Triple Crown is worth seeking out for the opportunity to sample a beer in good condition that you probably won't have had before

1 Jul 2009 12:44

The Express Tavern, Kew Bridge

Splendidly traditional family owned free house situated just over the river at the north end of Kew Bridge and close to Kew Bridge Station. This is a pub that I visit every 3 months or so, but, for some inexplicable reason, have not reviewed properly for BITE previously.

It dates back to 1794 and has been in the Aldington family since 1882.

There's 2 bars either side of the central entrance - a public bar on the right as you go in and a larger comfortable traditional saloon bar on the left. The saloon bar has a rather baronial looking room attached, in which are some dark beams and an interesting framed print detailing the pub's history, which is worth looking out for. There's a pleasant garden at the back for summer drinking.

My early evening entrance in to the pub a week or so ago initially seemed to slightly disconcert the young barman - perhaps he thought I was one of the eco - warriors who have recently taken up residence on the barren plot of land over the road ( which is due for development by St Georges incidentally ). Those BITE regulars who have met me will know that I bear no resemblance to Swampy or any other eco-warrior !

The Youngs Bitter and the Bass are always in excellent condition here. They are usually supplemented by either one or two guests - these being Brains and Harviestoun Blonde on my recent visit.

The pub is a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

This is a fine traditional pub, still retaining a slightly old fashioned and austere feel, but it does now appear to be attracting a wider customer mix than Mr Redriley ( posting in Feb 2008 ) experienced.

It's well worth seeking out, but note that it closes in the afternoon during the week ( as Rex below can confirm, having unfortunately found out the hard way !)

1 Jul 2009 12:30

The Andover Arms, Hammersmith

Oh dear, oh dear, as previous posters have correctly pointed out, one of the finest pubs of its genre in this part of West London has unfortunately fallen victim to the Changing Rooms brigade.

My earliest recollection of visiting this pub was in 2001, when doing the Fullers Passport Pub Tour and, being very impressed with the cosy and comfortable traditional atmosphere, I made a point of returning every few months or so until recently.

In those days, the pub had a well regarded sub-contracted Thai food operation. I've never been a big fan of old fashioned side street pubs like this going down the Thai food route, but it did at least allow Tom and Moyra, the friendly and welcoming Irish couple who ran the pub until 18 months or so ago, to concentrate on what they were good at - beer and conversation.

The pub was warm and welcoming in those days - at a time when identikit clone pubs were extending their tentacles across London in a menacing way, the Andover Arms was a welcome refuge for the more discerning and demanding pub-goer.

What did I find on my quick drop in early yesterday evening?. Well, the interior has largely bee wrecked. We now have what I often refer to as a "3C interior" - cold, clinical and charmless. The wooden floors, seats and absence of soft furnishings mean that you've got that horrible echoey feel where you can hear virtually every conversation in the pub apart from that at your own table. Gone is that villagey, neighbourhood pub feel to be replaced by the type of place more suited to say, Islington or Clerkenwell.

The mahogany bar, gantry and snob screens have been retained, but the curtained partition between the 2 bars has been knocked through. The Fullers mirror and period prints have gone and the walls are now alarmingly bare and stark.

I'm not Alan Sugar or one of The Dragons, but I really do wonder if this wooden floor, gastro pub concept hasn't been overdone to death already in this corner of W6. Saturation point must come soon, if it hasn't already.

On the drinks front, London Pride has increased from £ 2.90p to £ 3.10p. ( well somebody has to pay for the "improvements"!). In fairness, I ought to add that my pint was in good nick and its still cheaper than in several Fullers tenanted pubs in Brentford.

Well, there you have it - an honest, well considered assessment from one of BITE's most regular and frequent contributors - and without the need to resort to abuse, not to USE CAPITAL LETTERS THROUGHOUT and tell people to get a life and how old I am ( what's that all about, Carolyn ?).

In conclusion, I feel very sorry for those regulars whose gem of a local this once was.

I've paid my last visit to this pub, I'm afraid

30 Jun 2009 09:33

The Peacock, Tower Hill

Largish city pub built into the corner of an office block, Ibex House - see photograph - and situated quite close to Tower Gateway DLR.

It's got quite a cosy, if unremarkable, interior with comfortable seating and wood pannelling. It's in marked contrast to most nearby City pubs where stand up drinking appears to be the norm and the most comfortable position you can get is to perch awkwardly on a high bar stool.

Also noteworthy ( and certainly unusual for the area ) is an upstairs room - no separate bar - with two pool tables and a dartboard.

Based on my recent visit, this pub attracts a wider customer mix than just "suits" from nearby offices.

The pub is listed in the 2009 CAMRA GBG and has also made some earlier editions.

Beers on were Harveys Best - £ 2.95p - and, unusually, Ringwood Best, the latter being a beer not often encountered inLondon, seemingly. The Harveys was in perfect condition.

I quite like this pub. If, like me, you prefer a bit more comfort and room than the average stand-up-to-drink City pub, you should look this one out.

25 Jun 2009 13:30

The Brown Bear, Whitechapel

Unpretentious locals pub on Leman Street, several hundred yards away further east from the Princess of Prussia.

As you walk eastwards, you realise that you're gradually leaving the City behind and entering the East End of London. Unlike City pubs, I noted that this one opened at weekends and it had the feel of a local.

The Brown Bear is a former Taylor Walker house - note the lettering high up on the outside wall - and retains some original features, including some etched windows, a mahogany bar with brass footrail and a splendid full size Allsopps Pale and Burton Ales mirror.

Although it's a single bar, there's a distinct locals area on the left with bare boards, dartboard and a TV. On the far side at the back is a small cosy area which I presumethe food customers use. The menu is basic pub grub, featuring both English and Thai food.

3 real ales were on - London Pride, Adnams and Batemans Miss South Africa. The latter is a beer that I have not encountered before. The distinctive pump clip featured a black girl bending over with a rugby ball between her legs - not very PC. I stuck with the London Pride, reckoning that it would have the biggest throughput of the real ales. It was in reasonable form.

This is a good honest unpretentious boozer and I'd happily drop in again when next in the area.

25 Jun 2009 13:19

The Princess of Prussia, Tower Hill

Small fronted Sheps pub on the City fringes and dwarfed by several tall office blocks as the City seemingly continues its relentless expansion.

It's bigger inside than it looks from outside, extending back quite a long way.

The front bar is quite basic with bare floorboards, leading to a carpeted lounge type area which seemed quite food orientated, there being menus on each table. It's good honest pub grub at prices which could be considered reasonable and I'm told there's a good lunchtime trade from local offices.

In turn, this room leads to a shady ( shady meaning sun-free as opposed to a description of the other customers !) pleasant patio-type garden at the rear.

Decor wise, the pub is pretty featureless and the greenish painted wood pannelling looked out of sorts. I presume that this was part of the recent refurbishment that the Sheps website talks about.The background music was too loud and could only be escaped by retreating to the outside garden.

The Spitfire - £ 3.10p - was in good form and I noticed Titanic Iceberg on as a guest beer ( unusual in Sheps pubs, I think ?) , but, in all honesty, I didn't really take to this pub much and I can't see myself calling in again in the near future.

24 Jun 2009 13:08

The Travellers Friend, Woodford Green

Superb, traditional old-fashioned small single bar pub, situated jist off the busy High Road in Woodford Green.

It's main claim to fame lies in being one of the last remaining pubs in London with original snob screens still in situ - these are on the left hand side of the bar. The existence of these screens, plus the fact that there are 2 doors, one at either side, clearly indicate that this would have originally been a two bar pub, with the saloon / lounge bar being the one on the left.

The pub retains etched windows at the front with wood pannelling throughout. There's a splendid collection of brewery jugs and ash trays - some from breweries long gone. There's a Charringtons Brewery mirror, reflecting former ownership. A very small unobtrusive plasma TV is the only concession to modern pub traits.

On my lunctime visit yesterday, the pub was quite busy by about 2pm. There's no food - beer and conversation represent the staple diet here.

There's several seats outside at the front for catching the sun's rays, but unfortunately the sound of the passing traffic thundering past is all too present.

Beers on were Bombardier, Broadside and Courage Best together with Fullers Summer Ale and Youngs Dallaglios Heroes (?). There was no pump clip for the latter, but I imagine it's just the Youngs Ordinary or Special "re-badged". Both the Broadside and the Fullers Summer Ale were on good form, as befits a pub in the Camra GBG, and relatively cheap at only £ 2.85p and £ 2.80 p respectively.

I was surprised to note that the pub closes between 4 -7 pm on Sunday, but is open throughout the afternoon on the other 6 days of the week. I would have expected Sunday afternoon to be one of its busiest times.

Also surprisingly, a well-hidden price list revealed that this pub is in the Barracuda pub chain - a chain recently described to me as a "sort of down-market Wetherspoons". The Barracude website tells us that the Travellers Friend is in the Juniper brand - "a comfortable, but smart high quality finish that reflects the unique and special atmosphere that an outstanding local pub must have to accommodate the needs of today's consumer".

Finally, given the plethora of unfavourable comments about the staff, I ought to add that I had no issues during my visit. I didn't detect any feeling of being unwelcome or frostiness at all. The Welsh landlady was chatting animatedly to customers throughout, often popping outside to join those sitting at the outside tables when time permitted.

Based on yesterday's visit, I would be happy to have this pub as my local. Shame I don't live nearer. I shall return definitely.

22 Jun 2009 13:30

The Old Doctor Butler's Head, Moorgate

Well known ancient City watering hole hidden away in a quiet alley off Moorgate.

Dr William Butler was the doctor James 1st and was evidently a bit of a Tim Martin of his day, owning approx a dozen taverns, of which only this one remains.

The pub dates back to the 17th Century and features the obligatory low ceilings, wooden floor and wood-pannelled walls.

For many years a true free house, it was acquired by Sheps a few years ago. On my recent visit, both the Spitfire and the Whitstable Bay Bitter were on good form, but predictably expensive at £ 3.30p and £ 3.35p respectively.

There's an upstairs restaurant where the apparently acclaimed ODBH Steak and Kidney Pudding can be had for lunch.

There's several small plasma TV's - on the evening of my visit, they were showing the conclusion of the South Africa v India 20/20 match. Although there was no sound, the existence of these screens in an ancient inn like this does jar, I'm afraid.

I did like the fine collection of framed, politically incorrect war-themed Sheps posters - "you stupid boy etc" - on the stairs down to the toilets, probably one of the best collections of these posters that I've seen.

This pub is worth seeking out when in the area

19 Jun 2009 13:11

The Red Lion, Moorgate

Pretty bog-standard side street archetypal City pub close to Liverpool Street Station.

There's a reasonably traditional feel to the place, helped by some reproduction snob screens that divide the floor area up into different areas. There's also an upstairs bar, open at busy times.

My visit was noteworthy only for a distinctly average pint of Deuchars IPA - £ 2.90p - and for being served by a ginger haired barman, who had a somewhat offhand and disinterested manner, even by the standards of London pub staff.

It's in the Spirit Group stable. Other beers on were Pride, Bombardier and the ubiquitous Greene King IPA.

I've had good reports of this pub from work colleagues, so I'm expecting a much better all round experience if I decide to drop in again

19 Jun 2009 13:00

The Flying Horse, Broadgate

Unpretentious street corner pub in a side street close to Liverpool Street Station and the massive Broadgate development. It's an unremarkable pub in many respects, which, as a previous contributor infers, is remarkable in itself, given the large office block developments that have sprung up in this area in recent years. One might have reasonably expected it to have fallen victim to what the marketing departments of the big pubco's refer to as a "tasteful refurbishment".

Given the location, I'm a bit surprised at the dearth of recent postings and the fact that hardly any of the BITE London Pub regular posters seem to have dropped in over the years.

It's a single L shaped bar with much wood pannelling and carpeting helping to give the pub a reasonably traditional feel. Modern embellishments such as a smallish plasma TV screen and a couple of fruit machines are relatively unobtrusive.

On the evening of my visit, the clientele was mainly older and male, but "suits" by no means dominated. I suspect that the younger office workers in the area, for some unaccountable reason, prefer the Fleetwood, which I suppose would be described as more "with it" and female-friendly ( whatever that means )

There's 6 handpumps in total. On my visit beers on were Youngs Ordinary, Greene King IPA, Pedigree and Bombardier, the latter being on good form and probably relatively cheap for the area at £ 3.

Advertising material of one form or another indicated that Adnams Explorer, Hobgoblin and Courage Best had probably been on at some time or another, but I didn't sense that this pub had much of a real ale focus or emphasis.

This is the type of unassuming and unpretentious type of pub that I generally like, but I'd like it even more if there was a more adventurous beer range.

18 Jun 2009 13:27

The Old Suffolk Punch, Hammersmith

As previous contributors have correctly pointed out, this is now the Old Suffolk Punch, and it doesn't look much like the current BITE picture above.

It's a largish rather cavernous Greene King pub on the Fulham Palace Road, not too far from Charing Cross Hospital.

It's heavily modernised inside and food appears to be emphasised, but, on my recent quick Sunday afternoon visit, no one was eating and there were fewer than half a dozen customers present in total.

At the far end of the pub, a plasma TV was showing the South Africa v Scotland 20/20 cricket match with no sound on, despite the fact that virtually everyone in the pub seemed to be watching it. Another TV was showing the omnibus Eastenders edition, also with no sound on ( what's the point of that ?).

As those who have walked down this stretch of the Fulham Palace Road will readily testify, there's a somewhat seedy down at heel feel to the area and I was left wondering whether this pub was correctly pitched for the area.

My pint of GK IPA - £ 2.80p - was in reasonable condition, but I'm not feeling compelled to rush back here in a hurry

18 Jun 2009 13:09

The Blue Anchor, Hammersmith

Smallish riverside pub on Hammersmith Mall with a fine view of Hammersmith Bridge and the river from the outside tables at the front. The pub dates back to 1722 and claims to be older than both the famous Dove and the Rutland next door ( virtually ).

This pub has had a refurbishment since I last dropped in several years ago, inevitably leading to the loss of a bit of its previous character and individuality.

The bar has been mover round and now faces the river. The former Courage bar back remains in situ and the small stubby handpumps now sit proudly unused on a shelf by the front window.

There now seems to be more room inside, probably because some of the old traditional tables and chairs have gone and have been replaced by those high circular tables and tall bar stools that seem to be very much in vogue nowadays. The wood pannelling and rowing memorabilia is still there thankfully.

I suppose I would sum the refurbishment up by saying that there's still a reasonably traditional feel, but it's now a bit more sanitized and impersonal. It's still family owned however and not a pubco chain pub.

There's now slightly more of a food emphasis and a dedicated dining area upstairs.

My recent visit was noteworthy for a rare sighting of Betty Stogs, who, for the benefit of those less knowledgeable in these matters, is not a long lost relative, nor some fearsome Northern pub matriarch, but a fine pale coloured hoppy beer from Truro. Other beers on were Landlord and Sharps Doom Bar.

Rather like the Black Lion further down towards Chiswick, the Blue Anchor is not a must visit pub, but this is a nice stretch of the river and the Blue Anchor is worth calling in on, particularly on sunny days.

18 Jun 2009 12:57

The Black Lion, Hammersmith

Well known pub close to the river, just off Chiswick Mall.

According to chalkboards in the large outside drinking area, it's a "wonderful riverside gastro pub" and a "bit of posh by the river".

It's overstating the case a bit to use the word "riverside" as it's slightly set back from the river behind a small childrens playground and grassy area, although you can actually see the river from the pub if you stand on tiptoe on one of the outside tables in the large garden.

There's an extensive food menu, at prices that reflect the affluence of the area and the location, but, thankfully it's not a gastro pub.

The pub has managed to retain a reasonably traditional cosy feel, and there's a fine fireplace over which hangs a painting of A P Herbert in a small area of the pub on the right as you go in.

This pub was well known as one of the last pubs to retain a skittle alley. This is now long gone of course, but you can clearly see where it was - at the back of the pub on the left - a long narrow room with a low ceiling that now forms part of the dining area of the pub. The aforementioned A P Herbert - a well known author - was one of the principally players of the pub's Skittle Team apparently.

The pub proudly displays Cask Marque Accreditation. Beers on during my recent Sunday lunchtime visit were Bombardier, Broadside, Sharps Doombar and, unusually, Theakstons Old Peculier. Prices are high - the Bombardier was £ 3.50p - but both the Broadside and the Bombardier were in good nick. A weaker session beer would have been nice, but I suppose it's not really that kind of place.

Staff seemed noticeably keen, enthusiastic and friendly, such that it seems worthy of comment here.

There's regular events - theme evenings, quizzes, singers etc.

Taking the visit as a whole, I was reasonably impressed.

Not a must visit pub, but if you're doing a crawl along this stretch of the river, you should include this one

16 Jun 2009 13:42

The Nags Head, Belgravia

Small, Knightsbridge mews pub, certainly one of London's smallest.

It's a fine, old fashioned characterful pub with a fine fireplace, wood pannelled walls, some old penny arcade machines and several model airplanes hanging down from the ceiling. There's plenty of other interesting ephemera on the walls and ceiling as well.

There's an unusually low bar counter with correspondingly small bar stools to match.

It's free of normal pub embellishments such as TV's, modern fruit machines etc. Allow your mobile phone to ring in here at your peril, especially if the long standing guv'nor of 25 plus years, Kevin Moran, is behind the bar.

There's a basement bar downstairs, which fits in quite well with the character of the main ground floor bar.

The pub's name reflects the fact that stables used to be nearby, where the local nobility in days long gone used to house their horses and carriages.

The pub is in virtually every pub and tourist guide going, so, rather like at the Grenadier, on which I've recently posted, you may find yourself sharing the pub with tourists from the nearby hotels.

Beers on here are Adnams Broadside and Bitter at prices of £ 3.60p and £ 3.40p respectively. Yes, its expensive, but if you're in the area and haven't been before, this is one to definitely seek out

15 Jun 2009 13:37

The Grenadier, Belgravia

Fine,small, traditional well-hidden mews pub close to Belgrave Square.

It's a very characterful pub with many prints and photographs of the Duke of Wellington and his regiment, who apparently used to frequent the pub when they were based at the nearby barracks.

There's a small bar at the front - the rooms at the side and rear are now used for dining.

On previous visits, I've never really warmed to this place - mainly because I invariably seem to end up in conversation with some excruciatingly irritating know-all Americans who are touring "Yurrup" and have been directed to this pub by the local hotel conceirge. "Gee, ain't this pub cute" tends to be my cue to try to escape to another part of the pub , which is difficult given its size.

On the day of my most recent visit - 6 June 2009 - the pub was marking the 65th Anniversary of the D Day Landings with a singer performing all the old 1940's favourites ( White Cliffs of Dover etc ) and free 1940's menu food ( donation to charity requested ) . Certain of the beers were being sold at 5p per pint to servicemen in uniform.

Real ales on were Thwaites Lancaster Bomber, TT Landlord, Batemans XXXB plus Adnams. The TT Landlord was in fine form and, at £ 3.10p per pint ( to those not in uniform !) might be considered reasonable, given the pub's reputation and location.

I've revised my opinion of this pub now - it's well worth seeking out if in the area.

12 Jun 2009 13:51

Paxtons Head, Knightsbridge

Surprised this pub hasn't had more postings, given the location.

It's a Victorian pub in Knightsbridge, virtually opposite the Knightsbridge entrance to Hyde Park.

The Paxton in the pub's name is Joseph Paxton, the designer of the Crystal Palace, which was originally erected nearby before being moved to its final location in South London. Rumour has it that workers involved in the construction frequented this pub - hence the name.

There's a splendid mahogany curved island bar and some splendid etched glasswork, plus the obligatory moulded ceiling.

Since my previous visit several years ago, the subcontracted Asian restaurant operation has moved on and the pub has been absorbed into the Spirit Group stable.

On the day of my visit, the loudish "background" music and the existence of a plasma screen showing the motor racing ( admittedly without the sound on ) , which I don't remember from the previous visit, rather jarred in my view and seemed at odds with the pub's history and age. I also noted that they were advertising a DJ in the downstairs Hydeaway Bar on Friday ( or was it Sunday?) evening. This seems a bit odd for a pub, whose evening trade I would expect to consist principally of tourists from nearby hotels.

On the real ale front, from memory only 2 beers were on. Several other pumps were unused, as the pipes were either being cleaned or the beer wasn't yet ready. My pint of Bombardier - £ 3.16p - was only moderate, but unlike the redoubtable Rex, I didn't have to ask for a top up.

Despite the fine Victorian decor, taking the visit as a whole, I wasn't desperately impressed. I left thinking how nice it would be if a pub group like Nicholsons - who generally seem to know how to run and look after old pubs like this - were to take this one on. Until that happens - or unless we get a spate of good reviews from the BITE regulars here - I won't be rushing back.

9 Jun 2009 13:23

The Fox and Grapes, Wimbledon Common

Fine, traditionally furnished former Courage pub situated in a side street off Wimbledon Common and close to Cannizaro Park.

There's 2 interconnecting bars - the bar on the left has a low ceiling, traditional wood-pannelling and leaded frosted windows. The bar on the right looks like an extension to the original building and has a rather barn-like feel to it, but is not unpleasant.

The high walls in the right hand bar are covered in sporting prints. This bar is more food-orientated, while the older more atmospheric bar on the left is more drinkers orientated.

The pub features in CAMRA's Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

It advertises itself as "A Real Pub" - whilst it's not quite the real thing, I think its better than some of the previous reviews here indicate.

Beers on during my recent Sunday afternoon visit were Harveys Best, Doom Bar and Directors.The Harveys was quite good.

Prices for both food and drink reflect the affluence of the surrounding area.

I quite liked this pub - it's not a "must visit" pub, but it's preferable to the 2 Youngs pubs in nearby Crooked Billet.

9 Jun 2009 13:07

The Brewery Tap, Wimbledon Village

Smallish single bar establishment situated in the heart of Wimbledon Village, virtually opposite the much larger better-known Dog & Fox.

The pub's name apparently relates to the long lost Wimbledon Brewery that used to be next door.

Yes, the previous poster is right - it's an odd sort of place, is it a pub, is it a cafe bar, or is it positioning itself somewhere in the middle ?. I'm not sure if it knows.

There's the seemingly compulsory ( for the area ) carpet-less wooden floor and seating and a rather charmless and characterless feel to the place.

The pub's management clearly take real ale seriously - as evidenced by the Cask Marque symbol and the frequent advertisements taken out in London Drinker. It's also had recent GBG listings.

On my visit, there were 5 ales on - Adnams, London Pride, HN Old Hookey, a beer from Slaters and Twickenham Gothic Dark. The latter was a dark ( believe it or not!) malty pint and quite moreish, but at a price ( £ 3.25p) that perhaps reflects the affluence of the area.

Despite the decent beer range, I didn't take to this place particularly and I'm far from convinced that it's worth the trek uphill from the town centre, even if you take the bus.

29 May 2009 13:21

The Arab Boy, Putney

Greene King pub situated on the A205 South Circular slightly west of Putney town centre.

It's a fairly unremarkable single bar pub, recently given a serious contemporary-style makeover. It's now got the trademark wood flooring, and mixture of settees, high tables etc and the obligatory pastel shaded walls. There's a dining area towards the rear.

On my recent lunchtime visit, there were several customers watching the motor racing on a reasonably unobtrusive plasma screen. There's a smoking area and garden out at the back, together with several tables on the pavement at the front for breathing in the traffic fumes as the bumper-to-bumper traffic crawls past.

My pint of IPA at £ 2.80p was reasonable. Rev James was on as a guest, but I can't imagine there's much beer trade here.

Externally, small painted lettering on an outside wall proclaim this pub as being "probably the oldest pub in Putney". The word "probably" is written in smaller letters ( as an afterthought?) and I understand that the well-known Bricklayers Arms is actually the oldest.

In case you're wondering about the provenance of the non-PC pub name, the local CAMRA guide tells us that this refers to the Arab servant of the person who built the pub in 1849, and to whom the pub was bequeathed.

I've not got this pub on my list for an imminent re-visit

29 May 2009 12:48

The Halfway House, Barnes

Traditional wood-pannelled pub just off the busy South Circular. It's situated halfway between Richmond and Putney which, according to the pub's very informative own website, is how it got its name.

Externally, it's an attractive looking building, with what is probably a mock-Tudor exterior with several old gas lamps hanging down.There's leaded windows at the front, with that unusual semi-circle shape on top that you more readily associate with churches.

Internally, it's a pleasant wood-pannelled pub with a bit of a feel of a gentleman's club, despite the presence of several fruit machines. Several screens and pillars help divide the floor space and create a cosier feel than if it were completely open.

There's a more upmarket, select feel to the place than in several other pubs round here that I shall refrain from mentioning by name.

Being away from the river, it doesn't seem to get much passing trade and trade seems to be predominantly local.

There's the seemingly obligatory pub quiz on Tuesday. Jazz and Blues nights are Saturday and sometimes Thursday.

There's a dartboard, although the seating arrangements would appear to suggest that it is hardly , if ever, used.

There's a bank of 4 handpumps. On my recent Saturday morning visit, Brakspears, Black Sheep and London Pride were on. I've seen a Twickenham beer in here previously. Copies of London Drinker on a windowledge indicate that the pub is CAMRA friendly.

I quite like this pub. It's not a must visit pub, but worth the short bus ride down the South Circular to seek out.

29 May 2009 09:32

The Roebuck, Richmond Hill

300 year old pub sitting proudly near the top of Richmond Hill on the road leading up from the town centre to the Star and Garter Home and the Richmond Gate entrance to Richmond Park.

Its a former Younger's house - note the small plaque outside with the trademark bearded Scotsman logo detailing the opening hours in those days. It's now part of the Spirit Group empire.

Externally, it's a rather uninspiring looking box-shaped frontage. Internally, it's not unpleasant, with several nooks and crannies and low ceilings, but it has that rather generic chainy feel to it. Perhaps the previous poster can confirm, but it looks like it was originally multi-roomed.

Its principal customer base appears to be those visitors to Richmond who make the trek up the hill to see the famous World Heritage view of Petersham Meadows and the River Thames below, or who alternatively have been visiting Richmond Park. Food is inevitably quite a major focus of the trade

Perhaps surprisingly, its contribution to Richmond's real ale scene is however quite impressive. The presence of stickers in the windows indicating CAMRA GBG listings and a prominently displayed Cask Marque symbol show a pleasing commitment to real ale.

On my recent mid-week afternoon visit, there were 4 beers on - Deuchars IPA, London Pride, Summer Lightning and a beer called Brew Dog Trashy Blonde. The Deuchars IPA - £ 2.85p - was spot on. On previous visits, I've had decent Betty Stoggs in here.

Although it's not part of the pub, you're allowed to take your drink ( plastic glasses not required, you'll be pleased to hear ) over the road on to the terrace to admire the view. At the risk of sounding like a local Tourist Guide, there's an information board lower down the hill pointing out the landmarks. It's quite pleasant sitting here in the sunshine, although the sound of the passing traffic is a constant reminder that you're not in the countryside.

Take care crossing the road to and from the pub, particularly if you've had a few !. The traffic can be deceptively speedy.

Given the pub's location, you get the distinct feeling that they don't have to make much effort to get people through the door, but I have to say that I was quite impressed all round on my recent visit.

27 May 2009 13:44

The Dukes Head, Richmond

Large traditional inn in a residential side street away from the town centre and off the Richmond pub "circuit".

Despite having lived in Richmond for a good number of years, I still find it challenging to get to this pub without my trusty, well-thumbed A-Z.

It's a former Courage pub - note the bar back in the main bar indicating this. It's been refurbished within the last year and, whilst it still remains comfortable and cosy, it does now appear to have something of a generic hotel-bar atmosphere to it, based on my recent afternoon visit.

There's a wide range of food offered and there's a clear emphasis on this and the Bed and Breakfast side of the business now. However, you don't feel uncomfortable just popping in for a pint.

I think the previous posting from Nick needs clarifying. This is not an Irish pub - it is a pub owned by an Irish couple, which is not the same thing. The only evident indications of this that I saw were the trademark round black Guinness sign outside and a copy of the Irish Post on a bookcase ( along with info on Richmond attractions ). Football and rugby games are evidently screened and I don't see why they can't show hurling as well if the customer demand is there. Pubs need to be customer-focused to survive nowadays. The fact that Nick ( and myself incidentally ) have no interest whatsoever in hurling is neither here nor there, I'm afraid.

3 real ales were on - Youngs Ordinary, London Pride and Twickenham Sundancer. I found the Sundancer to be a splendid citrus flavoured fruity beer, albeit at a rather pricey £ 3.25p per pint for a beer with an ABV of only 3.7% and which is brewed only a couple of miles away. I've previously had decent Sharps Doom Bar in here also.

If you want somewhere a bit more select than the chav-infested pubs around George Street ( particularly at weekends ), you should try and seek this one out.

22 May 2009 13:35

The Victoria Inn, Richmond

Small, traditional, cosy, single bar pub near the bottom of Hill Rise, a road that climbs up towards the famous view over Petersham Meadows and then up to the Richmond Gate entrance to Richmond Park.

As previous posters have correctly pointed out, it's a bit like drinking in someone's sitting room. Conversation rules here - there's no distractions such as fruit machines or music. I'm not sure what "cooker cutter pubs" are - as mentioned in an earlier posting - but, yes, this is a most untypical Richmond pub.

There were 3 real ales on last week - Youngs Ordinary, London Pride and Hobgoblin. My London Pride was served in a Greene King glass with England Rugby branding and wasn't brilliant, but was acceptable. I don't think there's a lot of real ale trade.

The Victoria Inn is in the Enterprise Inns pubco stable, I think, although this is not indicated on the pub sign.

The pub has a small attractive garden and smoking area out at the back. The corridor to the garden is covered with posters of theatrical shows held over the years at the nearby Richmond Theatre.

The pub is slightly off the Richmond circuit, so it's unlikely to get the Budweiser boneheads on Friday and Saturday evenings.

It's worth considering if in the area, but, as it's only small, don't turn up mob-handed.

22 May 2009 13:18

The Bedford Park, Streatham

Largish music-orientated pub on Streatham High Road, approx 10 minutes walk from Streatham Hill station. I gather the music room is upstairs.

This is a Youngs pub, which I probably last visited, prior to last week, shortly after they acquired it in 1990.

It's a not unattractive looking building from the outside and there's some original features retained - Roman style pillars, woodwork and the bar back - but I'm afraid this pub left a very poor impression on my visit last Sunday afternoon.

It was only 4 o clock approx, but the half dozen or so customers in the pub sitting at the bar seemed noticeably the worse for wear and the frequently incoherent raised voce either attempting to shout or sing created a rather depressing, seedy and down market feel.

There's a rather scruffy and rundown outside drinking area at the back, which reinforces the notion that this pub needs some serious effort and TLC to bring it up to svratch. It's certainly got the potential, given the main road location, to be much better and busier than this.

The Youngs Ordinary - £ 2.70p - was reasonable.

I like to think that I write fair minded and well-considered reviews, but there's no escaping the feeling that this is one of the worst pubs I've done in a long time.

22 May 2009 12:39

The Eagle Ale House, Clapham

Always one to rise to a challenge - see Rex's posting in September 2008 - the John Bonser road show found its way here for the first time last Sunday lunchtime.

It's a fine traditional pub in a quiet residential Clapham side street equidistant from Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Common rail stations. It's situated off Northcote Road in an area of trendy bars and restaurants catering for the young upwardly mobile professional 30-somethings who seem to dominate the area.

The Eagle Ale House is a real ale specialist pub. The single L shaped bar has 2 banks of 4 handpumps each. Not all of these were in use on my visit - the 6 beers on being St Austell Tribute, Sharps Doom Bar, Surrey Hills Shere Drop, Brakspears plus 2 beers from Westerham Brewery.

Both the Shere Drop - a light hoppy pint - and the Westerham Freeminer were on fine form, as befitting a pub with GBG listings in recent years. It's also the runner up in the SW London Camra Pub of the Year.

It's a fine comfortably furnished pub in traditional style. There's a selection of interesting photos on the walls - including a small boxing section near the rear door, plus a photo of Tommy Cooper and a poster from the original Italian Job film.

There's an emphasis on board games - there's a table each with a backgammon and chess top and other games can also be played.

Whilst the beers sampled were on form, my Sunday lunchtime visit was marred somewhat by the presence of some hyperactive kids running around being largely unsupervised. For most of my visit, these kids outnumbered adults and the pub felt a bit like a kindergarten. I half expected somebody to come and ask me if I wanted my face painted !

Although the pub does not indicate this externally, I gather that its an Enterprise Inns Free House. The landlord was discussing the recently released report on the pubco "tie" with the landlord of another local pub and I noted that the article "Last Ordres for Britain's Pub Groups" that appeared in that day's Sunday Telegraph had already been given pride of place on the wall in the gents' toilets. The Eagle Ale House is mentioned in the first paragraph of this article.

There's a beer festival arranged for the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

This is a fine pub, well worth seeking out for its beer range - but I do hope that there's more grown ups and less kids next time I go.

19 May 2009 18:02

The Allied Arms, Reading

Traditional, but small city centre pub with low ceilings and leaded and frosted windows. There's 2 separate bars - the Dragoon Lounge and the Yeoman Lounge.

The pub's own website refers to the Allied Arms as being "the country pub in town" which sums it up quite well to me.

There's a pleasant outside drinking area at the back.

I had a pint of Loddon Hullaboloo which, along with London Pride, are the regular beers, so I'm told. Also on was Jennings Cumberland and Ascot Alley Cat Ale, plus one other.

This is a friendly and welcoming pub, recommended to seek it out

15 May 2009 13:52

The Rose and Thistle, Reading

Large Greene King pub in a residential side street in West Reading, quite close to the Foresters Arms.

Despite a rather offputting large " loyal to the Royals" banner across the front of the building ( in preparation for the play off game against Burnley ), I found this tobe quite a pleasant pub, if somewhat generic and impersonal in style.

There's an attractive large outside drinking area at the rear of the pub, where a TV had been specifically set up in preparation for the game. Despite the rapid approaching of the kick off, there was quite a diverse and mixed clientele in the pub.

Two GK ales were on, Abbott and Morris Mayhem, which I am presuming is a seasonal beer. Upon asking for a pint of IPA, I was firmly, but politely told - "we don't serve it" - and given a rather quizzical look by the young barmaid which clearly said -"gosh, you're weird, aren't you ?".

The Morris Mayhem was a fine malty pint - worth looking out for. Didn't see any non-GK guest ales.

Whatever one's opinions are of Greene King IPA - and it does certainly divide opinion - I'm somewhat surprised that a Greene King pub appears to have made a conscious decision not to stock what is, after all, one of the country's best known and top selling cask ales.

The pub is pleasant enough, but certainly not worth going out of your way to find

15 May 2009 13:47

The Foresters Arms, Reading

Fine traditional backstreet community local in a residential side street to the west of the City Centre. There's 2 bars, unusually linked by a side corridor and a largish garden at the rear, accessed from the back bar. For the nostalgia buffs, there's even outside gents toilets.

The front bar is called Friday's Bar - which I imagine is named after the iconic former Reading footballer, Robin Friday - and, on my visit, was being used by locals to watch the horse racing.

There's some football memorabilia to add interest. Football scarves from Swansea City and Norwich suggest that the pub is popular with visiting supporters.

The back bar houses a TV and is also basic and relatively unspoilt.

A barbeque was being set up in the garden to cater for the expected increase in trade later in the day for the Burnley v Reading play off game due to kick off later that afternoon. The large cow, mentioned in a previous posting, is still present, but unlikely to make much of a nuisance of itself!

Two beers were on - Brakspears and Harveys. The Harveys at £ 2.80 p was on good form. A third pump had a St Austells Tribute pump clip reversed, indicating that the beer has been ( or will be ?) available.

The pub is listed in the 2009 CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

This is an unpretentious side street local which, despite the limited beer range, is well worth seeking out

12 May 2009 17:23

The Butler, Reading

Seemingly slightly isolated Fullers pub just outside the town centre on the "wrong" side of the Inner Ring Road.

There's a large newish block of city centre type apartments close by - Chatham Place - where, if my recollection serves me right, there was previously a rather hideous looking multi-storey car park.

A sandwich board outside advertised the pub as being "under new management", but seemingly there's work to do as, on my early Saturday afternoon visit, the pub was virtually deserted , save for a couple of people using the large snooker table which dominates the back part of the pub. Seemingly, they're trying to address this - I noted a Vinyl Years Disco featuring music from the 50's to the 90's is planned for 30 May.

Older drinkers may remember this pub as being one of Fullers first acquisitions in the late 70's outside of its immediate trading area. Now of course, they have a relatively healthy presence in the locality - eg pubs at Newbury, Theale, Wokingham etc plus several others in Reading itself.

My pint of London Pride at £ 2.95p was on good form. Castle Rock Preservation Ale was on as a guest, so I presume it's remaining a tenancy rather than a managed house.There was also a font for London Porter, which I presume is keg not real.

Food is limited to sandwiches and toasties made to order.

In conclusion, whilst the pub retains a reasonably traditional feel, I don't regard it as a pub worth going out of your way to visit

12 May 2009 13:07

The Bugle, Reading

Small-fronted attractive looking pub in the centre of Reading, on one of the town's main shopping thoroughfares. It's virtually directly opposite a couple of budget hotels, Novotel and Ibis.

The front bar, seemingly the haunt of locals, has low ceilings, dark beams and is carpeted, but the traditional feel of the place is marred somewhat by the presence of a loudish jukebox. In addition, one of the 4 or 5 locals present during my visit appeared to be trying to set a new record for the number of times he could use the f - word in a single sentence. So I retreated to the back bar.

The back bar, accessed through the front bar or via its own side entrance, is rather bland and characterless, but I imagine gets filled up quickly when sport is showing on the big screen.

Real ales on were Bombardier and Courage Best. There were also a couple of other pumps, unclipped and seemingly not in use. I imagine they have an occasional guest beer, but I didn't see any clips anywhere and I imagine there's not a lot of real ale trade.

Visiting at approx 11.15 on Saturday morning, I was able to benefit from a 50p per pint discount, which was advertised as applying between 9am and 2 pm between Monday and Saturday, plus all day Sunday, although the well-endowed foreign barmaid told me the pub had recently reverted to 10.30 opening due to lack of trade.

Perhaps surprisingly, my pint of Bombardier, at the reduced price of £ 2.48p was rather good.

The Bugle is not a must visit pub by any stretch of the imagination, but, as the centre of Reading appears to be woefully short of traditional and characterful pubs, you might want to give this one a go if passing by.

12 May 2009 09:02

Nags Head, Reading

Award winning real ale specialist pub to the west of the City Centre, just off the Oxford Road, but within easy walking distance of the centre.

It's recently won the award for Reading and mid-Berks CAMRA pub of the year and is listed in the 2009 GBG

A trademark Morlands tile on the outside brickwork evidences this pub's former ownership. I gather it's now owned by a small group of customers. It's invariably better when pubs are run by drinkers as pubs and not run as "retail outlets" by big pubco's and their marketing departments.

The pub is a largish single bar with a bank of 12 handpumps serving an ever changing selection of beers, seemingly concentrating on micros. On my visit last Saturday afternoon, both the Rebellion Mutiny Mild ( £ 2.80p ) and the Butts Barbus Barbus were found to be fine tasty pints served in perfect condition and temperature.

Moveable boards above the bar tells you what beers are currently on and what's coming next.The pub's pint glasses have an inscription - " A beer festival 365 days of the year" which sums things up pretty well to me.

In one corner of the pub is a dartboard. Here there is some interesting Reading F C memorabilia, some of which relates back to the old ground - Elm Park - which used to be nearby.

The pub has 2 plasma TV's. The small one in the corner by the dartboard was showing ( without any sound ) the Millwall v Leeds play off fixture, but was not attracting much interest. The main TV was showing motor racing with the sound on, but not at a volume that I would consider intrusive.

There's a very impressive collection of beer mats and pump clips adorning the ceiling and walls, together with several posters advertising forthcoming CAMRA beer festivals.

Food is offered at certain times of the day, including on Sunday "Sylvia's and Lola's Sunday Roasts - £ 7" and a full English breakfast on Saturday mornings. From what I saw on other customers plates, the breakfast could be described as hearty and substantial.

Internally, decor wise, the pub perhaps lacks some of the character of other noteworthy real ale championing pubs such as Derby's Brunswick Inn, Stockport's Crown or the Fat Cats of Sheffield and Norwich, but in all other respects, it's there or thereabouts and I would categorise this as a "must visit" pub when in Reading.

Finally, it's pleasing to see that the pub management are BITE readers. Inserted in the pub's leatherbound menu is a download of the latest reviews of this pub from the BITE website. So, if you're a customer currently reading this while you're sat in the pub supping your pint, I hope you are enjoying your visit as much as I did. Cheers !

11 May 2009 13:27

The Blind Beggar, Whitechapel

Well known East End pub on the main road a few hundred yards or so east of Whitechapel Tube Station.

The pub's claim to fame ( or should that be notoriety ?) is, as the whole world and his wife know by now, that this pub was the scene of a gangland killing in 1966 involving one of the Kray twins and a rival gang member. Prior to that occurrence, it was apparently a popular meeting point for the local East End totty.

I first visited this pub in the early 1970's when it appeared in the Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs, a small paperback book that introduced me to the delights of pub crawling. I vaguely recollect the pub having a rather unusual country pub feel to it in those days, what with horse brasses, fake beams etc.

My more recent visit - last week in fact - indicated that the pub appeared to have had what I would describe as a fake Victorianisation refit - complete with chandeliers, wood pannelling, plastered ceiling etc. It doesn't really work in my view - the effect is spoiled somewhat by the light pine wood flooring and the usual mixture of wooden chairs, tables and sofas.

It's a largish single bar with a large outside drinking area at the side. In a small room at the rear of the pub is a snooker table.

The pub has a rather spartan feel to it, only partially redeemed by a few small pictures of the pub in days long gone. There's also the inevitable photo of the Kray twins.

If you feel so inclined, you can get a souvenir of your visit. Blind Beggar T shirts can be bought for £ 12. There's also a coin machine dispensing special engraved coins / tokens for the princely sum of £ 1.

It's a former Watneys pub and still retains the round green stag sign of the former Watney Combe Reid brewery. I gather that the pub is now privately owned. Brickwork high up outside tells us that the building dates back to 1894.

There's 2 handpumps hidden amongst the lager and keg fonts. On the date of my visit, one of these was dispensing Speckled Hen, the other had its pump clip reversed. Guessing, correctly as it turned out, that there would be negligible real ale trade and that the Speckled Hen might not be up to much, I wisely stuck to the draught Guinness.

Customers were a mix of East End locals and the odd curious tourist / visitor, into which category I suppose I should place myself.

Given the pub's history, I might have expected it to have had rather more character.

In conclusion, if you haven't been before and you're in the area, I wouldn't want to discourage you from popping in out of curiousity if you felt so inclined, but I suspect you'll probably be disappointed.

This isn't a pub to go out of your way to visit.

7 May 2009 12:39

The Wentworth Arms, Mile End

Smallish street-corner community local in a side street just behind Mile End station.

It's a Charles Wells pub, one of a small number of pubs they have held in London for a number of years, before the recent tie up with Youngs. I didn't see any sign of any Youngs beers on my recent visit.

There's 2 handpumps on the bar counter, but they had no pumpclips attached. Given this and comments from previous reviewers, I think we can safely say that this is a real ale free zone. Had the pub been less busy, I might have taken the liberty of asking if real ale was ever available, but it would have been without any real sense of optimism.

Keg Bombardier was available, but lager and Guinness appeared to be the favoured drink of the locals. I stuck to the draught Guinness.

The pub appears to attract a good mix of different age groups and both sexes, if my recent visit was anything to go by.

The pub's interior is clean and basic, but rather characterless. Music from the juke box was too loud, but could be avoided by retreating outside to the small covered smoking area along the side of the pub.

I didn't particularly dislike the pub, but, taking the experience as a whole, I'm inclined to leave this one to the locals next time.

7 May 2009 12:11

The Stags Head, Fitzrovia

Traditional, but unremarkable street corner pub underneath an office block on the same street as, and close to, the Ship, on which I've just posted.

It's a former William Younger's house - note the unusual semi-circular iron pub sign ( visible in the photo here ) with a stags head on the corner of the wall which tells you this.

There is however none of the other usual William Younger's trademarks - eg fake Tudor exterior, patterned leaded windows - that you normally get at former Youngers pubs ( eg - Wheatsheaf in Rathbone Place, The Ship close to Holborn Tube station ).

Two real ales were available - London Pride and Hogs Back TEA, the latter being in average condition on my recent early evening visit.

The guv'nor seemed friendly and welcoming and there's obviously quite a regular crowd, which is always a good sign , which isn't often the case in central London

Whilst the interior has a reasonably traditional unmessed about with feel to it, I found this a rather ordinary, slightly uninspiring pub, and it's not high up on my list for a quick return visit.

1 May 2009 13:26

The Ship, Fitzrovia

Difficult to fathom why no one has posted on this pub for nearly 2 1/2 years. After all it's not exactly difficult to get to - it's not as though it's hidden away in the Welsh mountains or on some remote Scottish island. Previous reviews are not exactly damning, either

The nearby Stags Head - which I'll be commenting on next - is just a couple of blocks away, is a less attractive pub in my view, yet has had half a dozen or so postings over the same period.

Anyway, here goes.

The Ship is a smallish, but comfortably furnished and carpeted traditional free house in that strange hinterland between Oxford Street and the Euston Road to the north.

Inside are some fine old Bass and Wenlock Brewery mirrors and a copper surrounded fireplace.

The Wenlock Brewery disappeared off the scene before I came of pub going age, being acquired by Charringtons in 1961.

Outside high up on the wall are 2 old Wenlock Brewery plaques and painted plasterwork indicating that the pub was rebuilt in 1887.

The bar has 3 handpumps, all sporting Bass pump clips. In the absence of any other pumpclips visible anywhere, I would guess that Bass is the only real ale that is ever on.

The traditional ambience and decor is marred somewhat by the presence of some neon-lit advertising signs above the bar, advertising various lagers such as Rolling Rock and Labatts, which I felt looked a bit tacky and out of place.

There's many pots and pans and implements hanging from the ceiling, which add a bit of character and interest, but do give the pub a slightly cluttered feel.

On my early evening visit, there were a mix of locals watching the horse racing and other punters, who presumably work locally ( BBC House is close by, I think )

The presence of a very large notice in the window indicating that no money is kept on the premises overnight looks a bit foreboding, but is probably explained by the pub not being open at weekends.

If you're passing by, it's probably worth popping in ( not weekends though!), despite the absence of any choice on the real ale front

1 May 2009 09:56

The Prince of Wales, Kennington

My previous experiences of Kennington have been limited to occasional trips to The Oval, which is nearby. I've always enjoyed these visits, but I know of several friends who have parked their cars near the ground on match days and had them broken into whilst watching the cricket.

I was therefore initially somewhat sceptical when a work colleague said to me the other day - "there's a decent pub in Kennington called the Prince of Wales - you should try and get there".

Out of curiousity, I went there yesterday evening. Here's my review.

The Prince of Wales is situated in the corner of a large, but quiet, Georgian square off Kennington Park Road and approx 5 minutes walk from Kennington Tube.

It's a single bar Sheps pub with that smart, comfortable and cosy feel that Sheps pubs seem to have nowadays. There's no TV or distracting fruit machines to spoil the atmosphere.

I enjoyed an excellent pint of Spitfire ( £ 3.20p ) in a pub which I noted proudly displays a Sheps certificate showing it as "Best Cellar of the Year 2008". Kent's Best and the seasonal Early Bird were also on.

Sitting outside in the evening sunshine in this fine Georgian square felt a bit like being in either Bath or Cheltenham, not some Inner London suburb with a dubious reputation. In the square were not fearsome hoodies with trainers, bikes and big fierce dogs, but seemingly middle class people playing petanque !

The pub interior is comfortable, but unremarkable - given the proximity to the Oval, a few more cricket pictures wouldn't go amiss.

The pub building itself dates back to 1901 - as indicated high up on the pub's front wall.

I enjoyed the visit - it's not a "must visit" pub, but I'll definitely go here again sometime

30 Apr 2009 13:59

Wheatsheaf, Southwark

As people will know by now, the "new" Wheatsheaf is here at Southwark Street.

It advertises itself outside as a "Pub and Chop House" , but on my early evening visit yesterday, it was drinkers only.

It's a large room below street level, down a few stairs, and very strongly resembles a Davy's.

It's quite roomy inside with a mix of sofas and tables with candles.

There's a corner with a dartboard and several alcoves. It's nice to see that the photos of the regulars from the old Wheatsheaf have been moved across.

There's a wider range of real ales than at the old Wheatsheaf. 2 banks of 4 pumps were serving Bombardier, Youngs Special, Hook Norton 303, York Constantine and Red Car Best amongst others.

Like Trainman, I felt the beer was served too cold.

My pint of Red Car Best ( £3) was so chilled as to be virtually tasteless, although a subsequent pint of York Constantine was better.

I'll probably revisit in 6 months or so when the place has bedded down, but I'm not wildly enthusiastic about the place at the moment

30 Apr 2009 09:24

The Golden Eagle, Bond Street

Small single bar pub in Marylebone Lane, just off the High Street.

It's a former Charringtons pub, as evidenced by the green banded leaded windows.

The pub has a bit of an old-fashioned look to it, enhanced by the fine mahogany back bar and the etched mirror depicting a golden eagle.

An unfortunate colour scheme - purple-ish wood pannelling - and rather bare walls, however do create a slightly cold, stark feel and I can't help feeling that some local pictures of the area in bygone days ( for example ) would give the interior a bit of focus and a cosier feel. They would also fit in well with the general ambience of the pub.

Real ales available on my recent Sunday afternoon visit were London Pride and St Austells Tribute ( £ 3.00p ), the latter being in perfect condition and very tasty indeed. As it's only a smallish pub, I doubt they have the throughput for a bigger real ale range.

Note the old outside sign high up on the street corner above the door, describing the pub as an "Imbibing Emporium".

In conclusion, I think it's worth popping in for one if you're in the area, providing you can stomach the colour scheme of the wood pannelling.

23 Apr 2009 13:33

The Carpenters Arms, Marble Arch

Single bar free house in Seymour Place , just down the road from the Masons Arms.

This pub has had a number of reincarnations since the early 70's, when it was one of the first pioneering real ale pubs in the West End. Since then, it's had spells as a Courage pub and an Irish pub.

Note the old pictures of the Youngs dray horses outside - although I dont recall it ever being a Youngs pub.

Nowadays its become a noted real ale pub again with an enthusiastic landlord and, on my visit last Sunday afternoon, a variety of 6 real ales from Harveys ( Best and Porter ), Tom Woods and Freeminers inter alia.

There's an extensive beer mat / pump clip collection on the walls

The pub consists of a semi-circular bar ( which is not the original bar that I remember from the 70's ) and several different drinking areas, including what seems to be a locals corner at the back with a dartboard.

Note also the fine tiling on the right as you go in.

Unfortunately, on my Sunday afternoon visit, a typically sullen "Olga - from - the - Volga" type was serving behind the bar, but the other customers ( seemingly locals ) seemed friendly and welcoming enough.

Worth seeking out if in the area, if only for the beer range which seems to be better than most in the immediate vicinity.

23 Apr 2009 09:06

The Masons Arms, Marylebone

Pleasant enough street corner pub, not too far from Marble Arch and the south end of Edgware Road, with quite an upmarket feel to it.

It has what I would call "contrived" rather rustic traditional decor ( ie - not original ).

Note particularly the special screened pawnbroking booth, which unlike those at the sadly now closed Barley Mow ( off Baker Street ), is unlikely to be original, I suspect.

The Masons Arms is a Badger pub, but not badged as such externally.

I enjoyed a good pint of Hopped Hare - £ 3.10p - in this pub last Sunday ( the Badger Bitter being unavailable, despite the pump clip not being turned round - in true Wetherspoons style ) .

Note the plaque outside the pub, revealing that the pub is situated on the site of the dungeons where prisoners were held before being taken for hanging at nearby Marble Arch. These dungeons are now the pub cellars.

There's a few outside tables on the pavement.

This is a pleasant enough pub, but it didn't wildly excite or enthuse me in any way and I don't regard it as a pub worthy of a special effort to visit

22 Apr 2009 13:27

The Royal Exchange, Paddington

Small, street-corner single bar locals pub in a side street off Praed Street and close to the hospital.

The Royal Exchange is an Irish run free house. Inside, there's no carpet, but the numerous horse racing photos and pictures help create a traditional pubby atmosphere. Note in particular a splendid painting of the pub with a horse galloping past in the street outside.

There's a piano and I gather that music nights ( singalongs ?) are from Thursday to Saturday evenings.

Amongst the plethora of lager fonts on the bar are two handpumps, sitting there almost apologetically. On my recent Sunday afternoon visit, these were dispensing a rather moderate and slightly chilled pint of Brakspears - £ 2.90p - and the ubiquitous Greene King IPA.

Real ale is evidently not a big seller here, but this is a good pub in all other respects and worth seeking out if you're in the area.

21 Apr 2009 13:38

The Blythe Hill Tavern, Forest Hill

An uninspiring looking exterior hides what is a real gem of a pub on the A205 South Circular midway between Catford and Forest Hill.

It's a former Courage pub - the cockerel high up on the wall outside is a bit of a giveaway - with 3 fine, wood-pannelled, carpeted rooms in an unusual interconnecting layout helping to create a cosy traditional atmosphere.

One of the 3 rooms has a golfing theme and another a horse racing theme.

The pub seems to be Irish owned, but there's a warm welcome for all.

There's a large outside drinking area.

No food is served, drinking and conversation being the main attractions.

It's been a Good Beer Guide regular in recent years.

On my recent visit ( last Saturday lunchtime ), the blackboard on the pavement outside indicated that Courage Best, Broadside, London Pride, TT Landlord and Westerham Black Eagle were the 5 real ales on, but inside I found ( and confirmed by the indoors blackboard ) that Harveys Best and Dark Star Hophead were on instead of the latter 2.

The Dark Star Hophead - £ 2.70p - was a splendidly hoppy tasty pint. It's only a very minor niggle, but I would have liked to sample the Black Eagle as well.

I really took to this splendid pub - it's a pub-goers type of pub if you know what I mean and I think I fall into that category.

Highly recommended. I shall return soonish.

21 Apr 2009 13:28

The Catford Ram, Catford

Purpose built ( 1974 ) Youngs pub in the shopping precinct close to Catford Broadway and Lewisham Town Hall.

It's comfortably furnished in a traditional style with carpets throughout and old pictures of the area on the walls.

The low ceilings and absence of any windows ( apart from at the entrance ) help with a cosy and welcoming ambience, albeit with a rather cavernous feel due to its size.

Reflecting the area, both the beer and food are relatively cheap, Youngs Ordinary being £ 2.45p and foodwise, sausage, mash, peas, onions and gravy being £ 2.95p.

The pub is in the 2009 Good Beer Guide and the Youngs Ordinary was basically as good as it gets on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit.

I must confess to not knowing the pubs of this area very well at all, but I would be surprised if this was not one of the better ones.

21 Apr 2009 12:48

Brockley Jack, Brockley

Large imposing suburban roadhouse, owned by Greene King.

It was formerly a Courage Pub and visited by me as such in the early 70's, when it appeared in the Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs.

"Brockley Jack" was apparently a local highwayman back in the 15th century.

Thankfully, the clientele seem more welcoming nowadays !

The building is late Victorian - you can see the date, AD 1898, high up in the brickwork outside at the top and, whilst a bit of the Victorian grandeur and feel remain, it's evidently recently had a substantial makeover. It now looks quite stylish, in a contemporary way and has a more upmarket feel and ambience than you might expect for South East London ( oops, hope this doesn't offend anyone ).

Inside, I noted an old photograph of the pub showing ownership by D Noakes & Son Entire ( presumably an old London brewer ) and you can still make out the lettering "Noakes Entire" in the brickwork outside.

The pub is one longish single bar with high ceilings and a carpeted restaurant area at the back.

Food is quite a large part of the operation, but doesn't over dominate and you don't feel uncomfortable just coming in for a pint, as indeed many apparent regulars seemed to be doing. Pleasingly, they were being greeted by name by the friendly manager - this is certainly not always the case when a pub has made a deliberate upmarket makeover.

I formed the view that this was a friendly, welcoming and well run establishment, based on my visit last Saturday afternoon.

Only Greene King IPA and Abbott were on the pump ( no guests ) , the former being as good a pint of IPA you will get and only £ 2.40p.

There's an extensive outside seating area at the back and a pub theatre at the side.

There's a small TV, but it wasn't on during my visit, presumably to discourage any undesirables.

As modern pubs go, I was quite impressed by this place.

20 Apr 2009 13:28

Champion, Norwich

Smallish Bateman's pub just round the corner from The Coachmakers, close to the remains of the old city walls.

It's a bare boarded L shaped pub with 2 interconnecting rooms and a reasonably traditional feel.

There's a smallish outside drinking area - some seats on the pavement at the side.

The Bateman's XB at £ 2.50p per pint was an excellent pint.

I found this a pleasant, but unremarkable pub and probably not one to go far out of your way to find.

16 Apr 2009 13:25

The Coachmakers Arms, Norwich

Not sure what the problem is about the location per the previous posting, didn't stop me going and I 'm not sure why it should do any one else.

The Coachmakers is a largish coaching inn style pub close to the old city walls just over a roundabout from a main shopping thoroughfare.

The interior has a nice traditional feel and there's a pleasant outside drinking courtyard at the back.

Unusually, beer is served on gravity straight from the barrel - GK Abbott, IPA, Woodforde's Wherry and Wolf Golden Jackal on my visit early Friday evening visit.

The "background" music seemed a bit loud, but could be avoided by moving to the outside courtyard.

The beer was on form and the pub in listed in the 2009 GBG.

Finally, whilst I enjoyed the visit and would probably return, I think that the GBG description of this as "a pub that is not to be missed" is probably overstating the case somewhat.

16 Apr 2009 13:21

The Mischief, Norwich

It's a bare boarded ale house type of pub on the other side of Fye Bridge to the Ribs of Beef.

It's a rambling sort of pub with various nooks and crannies and a slightly studenty, young persons feel to it.

I managed to find a quieter part of the pub away from the big screen TV. Here there was a snooker table and a really old looking table football machine.

Not being able to recollect having ever knowingly set foot inside a pub called "The Mischief" before, I looked round for some framed print or information board, either inside or outside the board, telling me why the pub was so named - but to no avail.

Real ale was limited to a rather moderate Adnams and Courage Best - a third pump had its clip reversed - so, whilst I didn't particularly dislike the pub at all, there's better pubs in the City for the beer enthusiast than this

9 Apr 2009 16:41

The Ribs of Beef, Norwich

Largish pub in the modern traditional style by the Fye Bridge close to the City Centre.

There's a largish ground level single bar which is comfortably furnished and a smaller downstairs bar - "The Wherry Bar" - which leads to a narrow outside decking area overlooking the river.

The sun had gone in by the time I arrived, but, unfortunately, this outside area appeared to be the only football-free zone in the pub, which was dominated by people watching the Fulham - Liverpool 5.30 pm kick off. This seemed a tad surprising as it had the feel of a pub aimed at the trendy urban professional types and you might have half-expected it to be a football free pub.

There was a good choice of real ales on - Adnams Oyster Stout, Elgoods Black Dog, London Pride, Butcombe Brunel IPA and a beer from Woodfordes.

I'd probably do this one again - but preferably not when there's football on the big screen

9 Apr 2009 16:30

The Adam and Eve, Norwich

Splendid cottage type pub with flint and brick walls and timber beams hidden away slightly off the beaten track in a country lane quite close to the cathedral.

The Adam and Eve lays claim to being the oldest pub in Norwich - 1249 AD - and it was apparently used as a brewhouse for workmen building the nearby Norwich Cathedral which dates back to that time. In the 19th Century, it was a wherrymans' pub.

Nowadays, it seems to attract a mix of locals and visitors to the city, many of whom are obviously attracted by the history and its frequent appearance in the Good Food Guide, Good Pub Guide etc - stickers aplenty in the front window.

The pub has a real country feel to it, enhanced by flower buckets outside and the carved corbels above the entrance door. The interior has, perhaps inevitably, been knocked about quite a bit, but it's not unpleasant.

Perhaps inevitably, there's ghost stories in the pub's history and Norwich Ghost Trail tours start here.

Perhaps surprisingly, its Cask Marque accredited and the CM symbol is proudly displayed. My pint of Adnams - at what might be considered a reasonable price of £ 2.70p - was on good form.

There's some outside seating at the front and a large pay and display car park opposite.

Despite not having a great range of real ales - only 4 in total - this is a fine pub, well worth seeking out

9 Apr 2009 13:46

The Wig and Pen, Norwich

Smallish white-washed reasonably traditional pub in a quietish area of the city reasonably close to the cathedral.

The pub is a GBG regular and, so I'm told, one of the best known Norwich pubs.

Food appeared to play a major part when I visited, but there were 6 real ales on - London Pride, Adnams, Deuchars IPA, Mauldens, Woodforde Nog and Oakham Ales JHB.

It's quite compact inside and probably usually gets busy quickly, but there's a spacious outside drinking area on the square outside to help relieve any crush.

Not a must visit pub, but I'd probably return

9 Apr 2009 13:34

The Coach and Horses, Norwich

Largish pub on Thorpe Road close to the railway station - approx 300 yards or so.

It's set back from the road - see photo - so there's a relatively large outside seating area in front of the pub.

Inside is a large main bar with bare boards and an open fire place.

My Friday night visit found the pub, perhaps inevitably, pretty busy, but with seemingly quite a trendy urban professional crowd, rather than the usual Friday night Budweiser boneheads. The fact that its situated the other side of the station from the City Centre obviously helps in this regard - its all about location, location !

The Coach and Horses is the home of Chalk Hill Brewery and the CHB Bitter was a fine tasty pint.

Food seemed popular, if not cheap.

Worth popping in for one when in Norwich

9 Apr 2009 13:28

The Fat Cat, Norwich

The John Bonser roadshow inaugural pub tour of Norwich ( in town for the SWFC game the following day ) could only start at one place if all the hype and reputation ( and earlier postings here !) are to be believed, so on an early Friday evening - 3 April 2009 - my initial pilgrimage to this pub took place.

It's a bit of a trek from the City Centre - 15/20 minutes for the average speed walker and thirsty drinker, crossing the Norwich ring road on the way.

It's twice been CAMRA National Pub of the year - most recently in 2004.

Inside, the pub is quite compact, with a number of different seating areas, but it quickly filled up. There's also limited seating space on the pavement outside.

As well as the pubs own range of Fat Cat beers ( brewed in a side street nearby ), there's an excellent selection of other real ales and continental beers.

Both the Woodforde's Wherry and the Fat Cat Best, the latter at only £ 2 per pint were on good form.

What really made the visit for me was the splendid collection of brewery posters and enamel signs, particularly featuring old Norfolk breweries such as Bullards, Steward and Patteson and Morgans. Note also the large Watneys Red Barrel sign hanging down from the ceiling and an old enamel sign proudly proclaiming "Watneys Sparkling Ales - London's Finest" ( hmm....? )

This is a classic example of how a backstreet pub in a normal otherwise quiet and unremarkable quiet street doesn't necessarily have to end up being turned into either a curry house or a Chinese takeaway.

I must try and get to the sister pubs in Ipswich and Colchester, if they're even only half as good as this.

Perhaps tellingly, a people - carrier taxi was dropping off half a dozen or so CAMRA types outside the pub's front door as I eventually made my departure.

30-odd pubs a week are closing, so we're told, but this certainly isn't going to be one of them.

A must visit pub, undoubtedly

9 Apr 2009 12:38

The Brunswick Inn, Derby

Splendid free house at the end of a red-brick terrace close to the station.

The guide books - and a very informative pub website - tells us that this terrace was built in 1842 as part of the community village for workers of the North Midland Railway. The Brunswick Inn lays claim to being the first ever railwaymans pub.

It was saved from demolition in the 1980's, reopening in 1988 after a spell of closure.

Nowadays it's a fine traditional multi-roomed pub, with wood-pannelling and flagstoned floors and restored in keeping with the character of the original building.

It's much larger inside than it looks from outside and with its own self-contained brewery.

The pub sign outside refers to "A True Ale House and Brewery" which strikes me as a very good summing up of this not to be missed gem.

It's owned by Everards, but sells beers brewed on site and a number of guests. The Brunswick White Feather Ale was a nice light session ale and, at only £ 1.70p, noticeably cheap.

Being behind schedule, and with a train to catch, I was unable to stay as long as I wished, but I shall return.

In conclusion, it's one of the best known real ale pubs in the country and should be on everyone's itinerary for a visit at some stage

9 Apr 2009 10:46

The Alexandra Hotel, Derby

Friendly, traditional 2 bar pub close to the station - you can see the pub from when you're sitting on the train.

It's a Tynemill pub, although it's much less noticeably badged as such than the New Barrack Tavern in Sheffield where I went recently.

As well as the Castle Rock beers, there were also beers on from Millstone and Oldershaw and Titanic on my recent visit.

I made the mistake of trying a half of Saltaire's Raspberry Blonde, a drink that might best be described as a "beer for drinkers who don't like beer" if you see where I'm coming from. Thankfully the Castle Rock beers were much more to my taste.

The pub is decorated in traditional style and the railway photographs will please the trainspotters amongst us ( not that I come in that category, I hasten to add ) .

You should try and do this one if at all possible - particularly if you're travelling by train, given the close proximity of the station

9 Apr 2009 09:43

The Smithfield, Derby

Seemingly slightly isolated pub on the riverside along from Exeter bridge close to the City Centre.

It's a rather basic and, externally particularly, scruffy looking pub with a separate games room and a lounge at either end of the main bar.

There's a pleasant outside drinking area overlooking the river.

There's an impressive range of micros on offer, which include Whim Arbor Light and Hartington IPA, also Headless Fruit Bloom on my recent Wednesday afternoon visit, when the pub was quite quiet.

I didn't find this pub quite as welcoming or as friendly as some of the others in Derby.

Beer pricing seemed a bit odd to me - Whim Arbor Light at 3.6% being £ 2.60p per pint whereas Thornbridge Jaipur IPA at a much higher gravity of 5.9% being only 20p dearer at £ 2.80p.

Not a must visit pub by any means, but worthy of consideration for any Derby crawl

9 Apr 2009 09:34

The Brewery Tap, Derby

As the previous contributor correctly points out, this is now the home of the new Derby Brewing Company. The pub's official name seems to be "The Brewery Tap at Derby's Royal Standard".

The wedge shaped building, situated just across the River Derwent on a street corner, looks quite austere from the outside. The attractive black and white frontage shown by the picture that I downloaded before my visit from a Derbyshire / Peak District website has now gone and has been pared back to bare brickwork.

The interior is quite badly modernised in my view, with London pub style pine floors and large plain glass windows, leading to a distinct lack of cosiness and warmth.

There were 4 Derby Brewery beers on, including a light hoppy beer called "Hop Till You Drop" and a dark mild called " Dashingly Dark".

Guest beers came from Timmy Taylors, Shardlow and Durham breweries.

Food plays quite a large part of the operation and prices would appear to suggest that the credit crunch has not yet reached Derby ( eg Cumberland Sausages - £ 7.95p, Traditional Beer Battered Fish - £ 7.75p )

There is a largish NHS Office opposite the pub where I imagine quite a bit of trade comes from as, otherwise, it would appear to be the "wrong" side of the river for the City Centre trade.

Despite the existence of an on site brewery, this pub is not top of my list for a re-visit if I'm ever in Derby again

8 Apr 2009 17:27

The Flowerpot, Derby

The Flowerpot is Derby CAMRA's pub of the year for 2007 and is situated on the edge of a busy road junction in the City Centre.

The deceptively small frontage belies a much expanded interior inside.

The pub is the home of the Headless Brewery and rows of beer casks can be viewed through an unusual glass screen in a bar at the back.

Immediately on the right as you enter the pub is an area that looks like it could be part of the original pub. Here are some pictures and framed prints , including one detailing Derby County's football fixtures in 1914/15 when such teams as Gloosop, Clapton Orient and Woolwich provided the mouthwatering opposition.

Also look out for an amusing framed caricature in another part of the pub of everybody's idea, apparently, of the archetypal "beer ticker".

Regular live music is featured in another room towards the back of the pub.

The pub is a keen supporter of local micros as well as its own on site beers. The imaginatively named King Street Ale brewed on site was a good tasty pint.

In conclusion, unless you're a big fan of live music, The Flowerpot does not strike me as a particularly memorable or inspiring pub, as a pub in itself, but it is certainly worth making the effort to seek out for its splendid beer range

8 Apr 2009 17:02

Ye Olde Dolphin Inn, Derby

This is an attractive black and white timber-framed Tudor-style pub close to Derby Cathedral in the City Centre.

It's Derby's oldest pub - 1530 AD - a fact of which it makes no secret, judging from the blackboards outside.

It's an old highwaymans' pub apparently - a framed print in the Offilers Lounge tells us that Dick Turpin allegedly stayed here where he had "an illicit affair with the inn's young and beautiful landlady".

The pub interior is a typically cosy wood-pannelled interior with etched leaded windows and a low beamed interior. There's several rooms either side of the entrance and an upstairs restaurant.

( Surprise, surprise !) - several ghosts are said to haunt the pub and local Derby Ghost Walks start here.

There was a good range of real ale available on my visit, mainly mainstream. Sod's law being what it is, on the date of my visit, the only beer that I wasn't familiar with - Nottingham Legends - wasn't on. However, both the TT Landlord and the Deuchars IPA ( £ 2.85p and £ 2.75p respectively ) were on form. Adnams and Black Sheep were also on.

The pub is listed in the 2009 GBG.

There's an outside drinking area at the side of the pub and a beer festival planned for July.

You should make the effort to do this one when in Derby

8 Apr 2009 13:59

The Hillsborough Hotel, Sheffield

Single bar pub serving beers from the on site Crown Brewery plus guests which, on my recent visit, included Acorn and Salamander.

Unless I'm misinformed the Crown Brewery beers are only available at the pub itself.

4 Crown beers in total were available - both the Hillsborough Pale Ale and Traditional Bitter at £ 1.90p and £ 2.00p respectively being pleasantly tasty pints.

It's a former Gilmours Windsor Ales pub called The Wellington as evidenced by the etched windows and signage over the door.

There's a conservatory at the back and a few seats outside which afford a fine view of part of the Don Valley, although there's a rather unsightly Mecca Bingo Hall about the size of an aircraft hangar to contend with.

I'm disappointed to have to report that the interior of the HH is a rather characterless bare boards and wooden chairs affair with no real cosiness or pubby feel to it. Some old photographs/brewery posters/mirrors would certainly improve the atmosphere which, to me, felt a bit like sitting in a railway station waiting room.

Despite the existence of an on site brewery and the availability of guest beers, I'm not as keen on this place as some of the other pubs round here, although I would still probably recommend a visit.

Finally, note that, despite the name, the pub is not particularly close to the football ground, which is a couple of stops away on the tram

8 Apr 2009 13:46

Coach and Horses, Dronfield

Attractive looking roadside pub in a Derbyshire village on the main bus route between Sheffield and Chesterfield.

As previous posters have stated, the pub is owned by the world's oldest football club - Sheffield F C - founded in 1857.

Their ground - The Bright Finance Stadium - is situated directly behind the ground. I wasn't exactly expecting the Bernabeu or the San Siro or even my own team's beloved Hillsborough, but to me the word "stadium" conjures up more than just a football pitch in a field, which is virtually all we have here.

Anyway, let's review the pub.

On entering the pub my heart sank when I saw what could best be described as a cold, clinical, charmless and contemporary interior. My spirits rose slightly when I saw the bank of Thornbridge pumps, but quickly feel again when the young barmaid enquired " would you be joining us for lunch, sir ?".

My pint of Thornbridge Wild Swan tasted good, but the charmless pastel shaded interior did not appeal and the place lacked the cosy warmth and comfort that us traditionalists look for.

Based on my visit, this pub is a restaurant in all but name.

I didn't feel inclined to linger long and I won't be returning.

Very disappointing

I w

8 Apr 2009 13:34

White Lion, Sheffield

I'm somewhat surprised to be the first BITE'r to get here for over 4 years !

The White Lion is a main road classic multi-roomed traditional locals pub in the mainly industrial suburb of Heeley, a mile or so south of Sheffield City Centre in an area that might perhaps best be described as being "in need of regeneration".

The central tiled corridor has several rooms on either side , leading to a main bar at the end which has a snooker table and where regular music nights take place.

The pub has a rather old fashioned genuine feel to it, enhanced by the leaded, frosted Gilmours windows where the name "White Lion Hotel" is notable for having an upside down capital N.

In the first room on the right is a fine collection of old photos and prints of the area and some old brewery labels and adverts from former breweries such as Tomlinsons Anchor Ales, Birks Finest Ales from the Lady's Bridge Brewery and J L Cockayne & Sons of the Owlerton Brewery.

Another framed advert revealed that Billy Marsden, a former SWFC footballer, used to own the pub - quite a bit before I started supporting them, I would reckon.

On the date of my visit, the landlady was gearing up for the pub's beer festival between 9-12 April, phoning round the various breweries organising supplies, pump clips etc. I gather that a total of 15 beers are expected over the 4 day period.

Both beers that I sampled on my recent visit on 2 April, Kelham Island Pale Rider and Holdens Springhead Jack were nice tasty pints, although at prices of £ 2.60 and £ 2.65 respectively, might be considered a bit pricy by Sheffield standards, especially given the area.

The White Lion is in the 2009 GBG, where it's described as "one of Sheffield's finest pubs".

Heeley is easily accessible from Sheffield City Centre - there's a frequent bus service - so, if you're in to pubs of this ilk, try and make time to get there

7 Apr 2009 14:40

The Museum, Sheffield

Split level purpose built Greene King pub in a pedestrianised part of Sheffields shopping centre.

It has that comfortable, generic style that city centre pubs have that are trying to be all things to all men - or in this case thirsty and hungry shoppers and office workers in need of lunchtime sustenance.

It offers cheap meal deals - 2 for £ 9 on selected dishes.

Perhaps surprisingly, it proudly displays Cask Marque accreditation and, as well as GK Abbot and IPA ( at £ 2.55 and £ 2.35p respectively ), it had other non-GK beers on from Elgoods and Everards.

As pubs like this go, I was reasonably impressed with the friendly and efficient staff and the reasonable value food. The beer was on form as well.

If you're looking for a pub lunch in the City Centre, you could do worse than seek this pub out.

Finally, whilst Greene King is not everybody's favourite pub company by a long chalk, I am pleased to be able to report that the pub was doing noticeably more trade than the All Bar One establishment next door.

7 Apr 2009 14:09

Dog and Partridge, Sheffield

Another fine traditional cosy pub in a quiet side street on the fringes of the University area. The green painted frontage and large round Guinness sign indicate that it is catering for our Irish cousins, but don't let that put you off.

Note the impressive Gilmours frontage, although a lick of paint in places wouldn't go amiss.

It's a cosy low-ceilinged multi-roomed pub, of the type more often seen in the Leeds / Bradford area.

On the evening of my visit, the back room was hosting several Irish folk singers complete with accordion and hearty customer participation.

Guinness is the favoured drink here. Real ale was limited to Tetleys and one beer from Abbeydale, but I quite took to this pub as a pubby type of pub.

Yes, I'd definitely do this one again

7 Apr 2009 13:55

The Red Deer, Sheffield

Traditional street-corner local in the heart of the University area, but pleasantly hidden away in a side street off West Street.

It's still badged as a Tetley's pub and etched windows demonstrate that, before that, it was a Gilmour Windsor Ales pub.

There's more room inside than the smallish frontage would suggest. The internal layout would suggest it was originally multi-roomed.

Both the Deuchars IPA and TT Landlord were on reasonable form on my recent Monday evening visit, but, as a number of posters have already pointed out, there is not one micro brewery beer on offer. All the beers were "mainstream" - Black Sheep, Abbot and Adnams Broadside in addition to the 2 previously mentioned.

The pub proudly displays Cask Marque acccreditation and is 2009 GBG listed.

Worth popping in for one if in the area, despite the shortcomings in the beer range

7 Apr 2009 13:47

Ranmoor Inn, Sheffield

Cosy, friendly, traditional local virtually next door to Ranmoor Church in the suburb of Fulwood and only a shortish walk away from The Rising Sun.

It's a largish open plan interior, much larger inside than you would expect when looking at the pub from front on outside.

It's an Enterprise Inns free house, listed in the 2009 GBG, and was serving Bradfield beers and Abbeydale beers, inter alia, on my recent visit.

The Bradfield Farmers Ale is a fine malty pint, worth sampling.

The pub retains some original features including etched glass - "smoke room"- and - "Tennants Ales" - and a Ranmoor Inn floor mosiac in the entrance and it is clear that this was once a multi roomed pub.

If you're doing The Rising Sun down the road, you should call in on this one as well if you can

7 Apr 2009 13:38

The Rising Sun, Nether Green

Large pub on the main road in Fulwood, a smart residential area to the west of Sheffield, easily reached by bus ( £ 1.20p ) from the City Centre.

This pub is effectively the Abbeydale brewery tap and is a GBG regular.

An impressive bank of 12 handpumps offered 5 beers from Abbeydale, together with various guest beers from micros, including Old Bear, White Horse and Brewsters on my recent end-March visit.

Both the Abbeydale Brimstone and Moonshine were enjoyable tasty pints. Guest beers are priced at between £ 2.25p and £ 2.75p, depending on strength. Tasting notes are provided for the beers on offer.

The pub was very quiet on my late Monday afternoon visit and felt a bit like a hotel bar to me.

I was also disappointed by the young barman, who, whilst being friendly and efficient enough, made no secret of the fact to several customers that he was a lager drinker and, pointing dismissively to the bank of handpumps, stressed that he didn't care for "all that flat stuff". When asked where the White Horse beers originated from, he stated that he hadn't a clue and made no effort to find out. I think he's letting the side down a bit.
A marked contrast with staff in other notable Sheffield real ale pubs - eg Fat Cat, Kelham Island, Wellington - whereI've always been impressed with the staff enthusiasm and knowledge of the beers on offer.

Live music is on offer, often jazz, some evenings in one of the two interconnecting rooms.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the visit, but, with the plethora of micro-supporting real ale pubs nearer the centre of Sheffield, and the seemingly widespread availability of Abbeydale beers in many of these, I'm not convinced that its worth the time and effort ( not forgetting the bus fare !) specifically to get here

7 Apr 2009 11:57

Harlequin, Sheffield

Traditional one bar open plan pub on Nursery Street, situated the other side of the River Don from the other "Valley of Beer" pubs and opposite a number of newish residential developments.

The Harlequin is yet another keen supporter of local micros

There's 8-9 pumps in total. Beers on included Old Bear brewery ( Keighley ) and beers from Landmark and Hambleton on my recent end-March visit.

The interior is comfortably furnished and on two levels. There's plenty of bric a bric and other exhibits to add interest to the interior.

The pub offers regular live music and beer festivals and is now listed in the 2009 GBG.

In conclusion, well worth the shortish walk to include in any crawl of the surrounding area.

7 Apr 2009 10:36

The Wellington, Sheffield

Yet another real ale mecca in this part of Sheffield, the Wellington is another keen supporter of local micros and a Good Beer Guide regular.

Externally, the pub proclaims itself as "The Ancestral Home of the Little Ale Cart Beer and Pub Company" and the friendly barman was pleased to advise that brewing on site had now recommenced ( update from 2009 GBG entry ) . The pint of Prince Palatine that I had was a pale, but flavoursome light bitter.

Also on offer were beers from other micros, which included Mollys Chocolate Stout from the College Green brewery in Belfast on my recent visit.

Externally, the pub looks very much like a private house. It is known as "The Bottom Wellie" to distinguish it from the nearby Hillsborough Hotel up the hill on Langsett Road, which also used to be called The Wellington.

The Bottom Wellie is a comfortable traditional 2 bar pub, just round the corner from Shalesmoor Tram Stop, so there's no excuse for not getting there.

6 Apr 2009 17:46

The New Barrack Tavern, Sheffield

Fine multi-roomed traditional pub on the A 61 North out of the city, going towards Hillsborough.

The New Barrack Tavern is a Tynemill Pub, serving beers from Nottingham's Castle Rock Brewery plus guests, which on my recent visit included beers from Acorn and also Atomic.There is also a good collection of foreign and bottled beers

Try the Castle Rock Harvest Gold ( £ 2.00p ) if its on

Tynemill has recently been voted Pub Group of the year, not for the first time.

Tynemill is a smallish pub group with approx 20-30 pubs, mainly in the Notts, Derby area, but with outlets here in Sheffield and a newly opened pub in York.

The main bar is bare boarded, but comfortably furnished and there's a fine collection of brewery mirrors and posters to admire from breweries, both past and present.

Externally, the etched windows and entrance testify to this being a former Gilmours Windsor Ales pub.

There's a pleasant outdoor seating area at the back, which has recently won first prize in the pub section of the Sheffield in Bloom competition.

Live music is offered at weekends and a Sunday night comedy club has recently been introduced.

This pub is well worth a visit

6 Apr 2009 17:33

The Ship Inn, Sheffield

Fine traditional pub with a superb 'Tomlinsons Anchor Ales' tiled exterior.

Tomlinsons Brewery was apparently based close to Sheffield United Football Ground and was largely destroyed in the blitz in World War 2.

The pub now bears the logo of Hardy & Hansons Kimberley Ales of Nottingham.

Interestingly, there's no Greene King beers, or evidence of GK ownership anywhere noticeable in the pub.

The pub bears the Cask Marque symbol and I was pleased to see that the pub displays the local CAMRA Branch Magazine - "Beer Matters" - so I suspect that the surly landlord complaining about 'tickers' that a previous posting mentions has now moved on.

The pub is carpeted with leather upholstered seats and has a comfortable traditional pubby feel.

A snooker table is located in what appears to be an extension to the original building at the side.

Note also the small metal plaque outside, revealing that, during the floods in 1864, two seamen drowned in a secret tunnel beneath the pub. A ghost of one of them allegedly now frequents the cellar.

Having only the one real ale on, this pub will not appeal to the tickers in the way that certain other pubs nearby ( which I hardly need to name, I suspect !) do, but The Ship is a good honest community local and worth a visit in its own right, even if only for a brief stop

19 Mar 2009 09:17

The Fat Cat, Sheffield

Round the corner from the Kelham Island Tavern, on which I have just posted , is the Fat Cat, Sheffield's original real ale mecca and yet another pub on Sheffield's "Valley of Beer " crawl.

Interesting phots and pictures of the pub during the recent flood are displayed on a wall in the pub lobby, together with details of the pub's history.

Interstingly the pub was a William Stones' pub until 1981 - note the Cannon Ales mosiac just inside the door.

On the wall outside the pub is a painted horizontal line showing the height that the flood waters reached in June 2007, and also in 1864 ( when the flood level was at least twice as high !).

The bar has 2 rooms off the small central lobby. The smaller room where the bar counter is located is on the right and boasts an impressive bank of handpumps. The larger room on the right is decorated in traditional style and is served via a hatch in the lobby.

Both the Kelham Island Best and Pale Rider ( at £ 1.89p and £ 2.15p respectively ) were on fine form. Other beers ( well those that I can remember !) were Simpson & Simpson IPA, Banks and Taylor Stout, Brewers Choice Rummy and the ubiquitous TT Landlord.

Kelham Island Brewery is next door.

Another must visit pub, undoubtedly

17 Mar 2009 12:52

The Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

What is there to say that has not already been said ?

The KIT has just been voted CAMRA National Pub of The Year.

It's situated ( believe it or not !) on the edge of the Kelham Island conservation area, an area where steel and metal industries dominated in the 1800's. Many of these buildings are now being converted to either blocks of flats or offices.

The KIT is a keen supporter of local micros, Salamander, Acorn and Sheffield Brewery being among the breweries beers on offer from an impressive bank of handpumps on Saturday morning recently, before my pilgrimage to Hillsborough for the Wolves match ( which we lost incidentally )

The KIT is a single bar pub with a conservatory behind and a small beer garden.

Inside the pub walls are adorned with its numerous certificates and awards gained over the years.

The pub is a veritable real ale mecca and, being slightly out of the City Centre, doesn't attract the less discerning drinkers or the circuit crowd.

There's folk music nights on Sunday and a pub quiz on Monday.

Staff here are knowledgeable and enthusiastic and more than willing to discuss and describe the various beers on offer ( when time permits )

A must visit pub, unquestionably

17 Mar 2009 12:41

Three Tuns, Sheffield

Traditional wedge-shaped corner pub on a street intersection close to what would seem to be the business district of the city.

Its a single bar pub with a characterful traditional cosy carpeted lower level and, up several steps, a refurbished upper level, but with still a pleasant feel to it.

There's a large HSBC office close by, but "suits" by no means dominated the pub during my recent early evening Friday visit.

Beers on included TT Landlord, Tetleys and Castle Rock Harvest Ale.

I really liked this one - yes, I've made a mental note to come here again

16 Mar 2009 12:59

The Broomhill Tavern, Broomhill

Largish comfortable pub in the Broomhill area of Sheffield, where there is much student accommodation.

It's a not unpleasant pub, but with somewhat of a unremarkable and chainy / generic feel to it.

Beers on were Deuchars IPA at £ 2.50p, Black Sheep and Tetleys.

There's nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd or makes me feel like calling in again

13 Mar 2009 14:03

University Arms, Sheffield

Comfortable, traditional pub virtually on the University campus - hence the name, I suppose ?

Note that it's only been a pub since January 2007 - previously it was the University Staff Club building.

It feels a bit like entering a hotel as you go in through the lobby into the bar straight ahead of you.

The pub bears the logo of Thornbridge Brewery outside, but serves real ales from other micros as well.

My pint of Thornbridge White ( Wild ?) Swan at £ 2.20p was an excellent beer with a noticeable spicy and citrussy taste to it.

In contrast to other reviews, I felt the customer mix was equally split between students and older drinkers during my recent Friday afternoon visit.

This is another pub I think you should try and do when in Sheffield

12 Mar 2009 13:54

Fagan's, Sheffield

Fine, traditional, former Tetley's pub situated on one of the main roads leading up to the University campus.

The splendid wood-pannelling and plush banquettes give a cosy, old fashioned feel.

For reasons which escaped me, initially I was virtually the only customer present on my mid-afternoon visit last Friday, although a small group of friendly students later joined me. In true student style, they had been drinking since opening time, but hadn't eaten yet that day and proceeded to enquire about the availability of all day breakfasts.

There's one main bar with a small intimate snug to the right as you go in - "just a small room with a couple of tables and chairs" - as one of the students dismissively put it.

My pint of Abbeydale Moonshine tasted rather uninspiring to me and the only other real ale on was Tetleys, but I liked this place as a pub.

It's a GBG regular, so I'll put my uninspiring pint down as a one off

I 'll definitely seek this one out again

12 Mar 2009 13:43

The Bath Hotel, Sheffield

Traditional, wedge-shaped pub just off West Street, close to the University.

The Bath Hotel is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors for its tiled interior and original glasswork.

There's 2 interconnecting bars, the lounge bar with the tiled floor and a more comfortable snug.

It's surprising that a pub like this, so close to the University and the studenty areas, hasn't had the benefit of a "tasteful refurbishment" and has retained its unspoilt, old-fashioned feel.

The pub is another Good Beer Guide regular, offering several beers from local micros. I enjoyed the Acorn Barnsley Bitter in here on my visit.

This pub is well worth seeking out - you can get the tram from Castle Square to West Street, which is near.

12 Mar 2009 13:34

Roebuck Tavern, Sheffield

On the same street as the Red Lion, on which I have just commented, but the other side of the main Arundel Gate carriageway is the Roebuck, another Enterprise Inns house.

The pub is next to a brand new multi-storey car park, which, for fairly obvious reasons, is known locally as The Cheese Grater.

There's a large single bar, with plenty of room for the lunchtime food trade and room for a couple of snooker tables.

There's outside seating at the front which affords the priviledge of breathing in traffic fumes if you're so inclined.

Beers on during my recent visit lasst week were TT Landlord, Black Sheep and Abbeydale Moonshine. The TT Landlord was spot on.

I think I'd probably put this pub in the same bracket as the Red LION - not a must visit pub and nothing to make it stand out from the crowd, but perfectly adequate.

10 Mar 2009 17:48

Red Lion, Sheffield

Unremarkable, street corner pub situated close to Hallam University in an area of the city known as the Cultural Industries Quarter.

It's a former Wards Brewery pub - see photo - now in the Enterprise Inns stable.

There's a small snug and a larger main bar, off which is a not unpleasant conservatory.

There's a separate food counter, doing good honest pub grub - none of this arty farty poncey food oop north !

Directly in front of this food counter is a curiously positioned snooker table, which meant that staff bringing meals to tables occasionally risked getting a snooker cue or an elbow accidentally thrust in their face.

The pub is comfortably furnished in a pleasant, but unremarkable style.

The pub has been in the GBG in recent years. Beers on during my visit last week were Deuchars IPA, Black Sheep and Abbeydale Moonshine.

This is a good pub, as city centre pubs go nowadays. Not a must visit pub, but perfectly adequate for that odd pint or so if you're in the City Centre

10 Mar 2009 17:40

The Red Lion, Isleworth

Fine award-winning traditional community local in an Isleworth side street close to the station

There are 2 interconnecting bars, a fairly basic public bar with a snooker table and the main bar, traditional and comfortable, which includes a stage where regular jazz nights are held, plus Sunday afternoons.

There's a good range of real ales always on and regular beer festivals are held. Both the Sharps IPA and the Ascot Ales Anastasias ( a tasty stout ) were sampled and found to be very tasy and moreish last Sunday lunchtime.

There are some interesting old pictures of the area, including one of regulars outside the pub celebrating Queen Victoria's jubilee in 1887. ( the pub dates back to 1846 )

There is also a large metal plaque at the end of the bar indicating that this pub weas formerly owned by Royal Brewery of Brentford

Home made food is available during normal meal times - including a renowned curry night on Fridays.

This is probably my 2nd favourite pub in this part of West London now , after the Magpie and Crown in Brentford.

In conclusion, this pub is definitely worth seeking out

5 Mar 2009 15:34

The Hat and Tun, Clerkenwell

Now called The Hat and Tun - opened as such in November 2008

26 Feb 2009 13:38

The One Tun, Farringdon

Fine traditional single bar pub in a Clerkenwell side street.

The pub has been spruced up recently and the poster below who complained about uncomfortable seats should find it more comfortable now.

The pub is celebrating its 250 years anniversary this year - yes it goes back to 1759 - and, although it doesn't have the feel of a 250 year old pub, there is still a very traditional feel to it, enhanced by the wood pannelling, lighting and carpets.

Read more about the pub, including pictures of the refurb,on its own very informative web site

Formerly a Manns pub - note the bar back - its now in the Enterprise Inns pub stable.

There's a subcontracted Thai food operation, very well regarded apparently

Beers on were Wadworths 6X, Black Sheep and Adnams, all at a very reasonable £ 2.70p.

Nice to see Mine Host and Hostess mingling and chatting with the regulars - an all too rare sight, especially in London.

Yes, I'd definitely come here again

26 Feb 2009 13:31

The Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell

Small traditional pub owned by St Peters Brewery in Suffolk and situated reasonably close to Farringdon Tube Station ( the pub, that is, not Suffolk !).

I paid my first visit here for some time early yesterday evening, enjoyed tasty pints of the Best Bitter at £ 2.80p.

There's a range of 6 or so St Peters beers served by Air Pressure from barrels built in to the bar, together with various bottled beers as well.

Taddington Lager ( where's that ?) was also on offer.

I would come here more often, but it always seems busy and not much room and I'm not a big fan of standing up while drinking

Note that it doesn't open weekends at all

25 Feb 2009 13:01

The Gunmakers, Clerkenwell

Smallish single bar pub, in a side street just off the Clerkenwell Road

Stonch was not in situ yesterday evening when I called in - but the TT Landlord was on fine form, as might be expected from a pub run by such a beer connoisseur

3 other ales were on - sorry, I've lost my notes of what they were.

In contrast to previous reviewers, I found the interior decor rather cold and featureless and it seemed to lack that warm cosy pubby feel that I look for in pubs.

I won't be rushing back here, I'm afraid

25 Feb 2009 12:47

The Sekforde Arms, Clerkenwell

First visit last Sunday lunchtime since Bill ( he of waistcoat fame ) and Wendy were moved on from this pub by Youngs several years ago.

Thankfully, it's still a friendly traditional unpretentious Youngs local - an increasing rarity nowadays.

I was made very welcome indeed last Sunday lunchtime and quickly fell into conversation with the friendly staff and a fellow "grumpy old man".

Deuchars IPA was on good form - £ 3.10p - and I'd happily go back here.

Let's hope the Wells and Youngs refurbishment hit-squad stay away

24 Feb 2009 13:20

The Rocket, Euston

Largish street corner pub on the main road close to Euston station.

Retains some original features ( etched glass, woodwork etc ) and is popular with students due to its low prices ( eg - Guinness £3) .

The absence of real ale - as correctly reported by a previous reviewer - means I won't be rushing back in a hurry, however

24 Feb 2009 13:12

Mabel's Tavern, Euston

Older drinkers may recall this pub from the 1970's, when it was a Whitbread theme pub called The Escape with 2 bars called The Cooler and The Compound and barbed wire running along the top of the bar and POW pictures / photos etc !. I vaguely remember visiting it then when it was listed in the Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs

Now, some 30 years on, its a more sedate affair - a comfortable, traditional Sheps pub that has been in the GBG for the past few years. My pint of Spitfire was on good form last Sunday lunchtime.

It has that rather transient feel that only London pubs seem to have - people popping in, staying for one and/or some food and then moving on.

I was reasonably impressed with the pub on all counts and would happily return if passing through, but it's not a pub to make a special effort to visit

24 Feb 2009 13:07

The Kelham Island Tavern, Sheffield

Just been announced as CAMRA pub of the year - congratulations ( which reminds me that although I've been here several times , I haven't actually posted on it yet )

Watch this space

20 Feb 2009 11:27

The Old Red Lion, Islington

Largish traditional single bar pub with a pub theatre upstairs. Shows most nights seemingly.

The pub is in the 2009 GBG and proudly displays this fact together with its Cask Marque Accreditation.

5 real ales on yesterday evening - GK Abbott, Broadside, TT Landlord, Harveys Best and the ubiquitous London Pride. The TT Landlord was first rate, the Harveys a bit disappointing.

Note the glasswork and screens effectively creating a public bar within the pub

Worth seeking out - close to Angel Tube Station

19 Feb 2009 17:16

The Shakespeare's Head, Islington

Fine traditional pub hidden in a quiet side street close to Sadlers Wells.

It looks a bit uninspiring from the outside, but don't let that put you off

As other reviewers have correctly pointed out, its got a bit of a time warp feel to it - probably mid 70's , when I first started pubbing.

Note the framed photos of theatre and TV celebrities - John Inman, Patsy Palmer and the like.

This is the type of pub that the marketing gurus of the big Pub Co's would have us believe that no one goes in any more - well, guess what, chaps - you're wrong.

On my visit early last evening, there was a good mix of customers of both sexes and all ages, not just those going to the theatre.

This is not a pub for the real ale / CAMRA fraternity - only Courage Best and Directors on the pump - but, if you're in to good old fashioned friendly, traditional pubs, make the effort to seek this one out.( nearest Tube - Angel )

19 Feb 2009 10:58

The Brewery Tap, Brentford

The Brewery Tap is a fine small traditional pub, hidden away off the High Street close to the Grand Union canal.

Offers jazz several evenings a week, including weekends.

Currently offering Ossett Black Bull as a guest beer, following Fullers trading tie-up with that brewery, presumably.

Worth seeking out, but yes, its pricey, I'm afraid

16 Feb 2009 13:37

The Magpie and Crown, Brentford

Enjoyable pint of Downtons Chimera IPA - 6.8% ABV - yesterday afternoon.

Its priced at £ 3.30 per pint, which, when you consider that several of the Fullers tenanted pubs in Brentford sell London Pride at £ 3.20, represents good value.

The refurbishment has taken away a bit of the character of the pub, but the Magpie and Crown is still THE pub in Brentford in my book.

16 Feb 2009 13:33

The Duke of York, Fitzrovia

Smallish traditional pub in that rather typically generic Central London style

I did notice a rather attractive Hoopers Brighton mirror - apart from that the interior is unremarkable, but comfortable and pleasant enough

I was virtually the other customer in several weeks ago on a Saturday lunchtime visit.

It's a Greedy King pub which will put quite a lot of people off, but my IPA was on reasonable form.

Not worth going out of your way to visit

12 Feb 2009 13:04

Fitzroy Tavern, Fitzrovia

Well known Sam Smiths pub in Fitzrovia that apparently used to be a former haunt of artists and writers up to the 1960's.

I recently paid what was probably my first visit since when I did this pub in the 1970's due to it appearing in the Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs.

Nowadays, it's a not unpleasant typical Sam's pub - no music etc - with some interesting pictures of the pub and its patrons in days long gone.

There's also a small downstairs bar.

No real ale - Sam Smiths fizzy OBB is £ 1.88p.

In contrast to previous reviewers, I found the bar staff positively effusive and welcoming by London standards

12 Feb 2009 12:58

The Old Fountain, Old Street

Traditional back street pub, a short walk away from Old Street Tube ( Northern Line )

Lee Newton's's posting below is a good sum up of the pub's characteristics.

Yesterday evening there were 2 Twickenham beers, 2 from Red Squirrel, plus Tanglefoot and London Pride on..

Several brewery mirrors inside would suggest that this is a former Whitbread pub.

The pub looks a bit forbidding and distinctly uninspiring from the outside, but do go in - you won't be disappointed.

It doesn't replace The Wenlock as my pub of choice in this area, but the Old Fountain is worth seeking out and I'll defo pop in again soon

21 Jan 2009 10:30

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

Very enjoyable visit last Sunday afternoon - both the Summer Lightning and GFB being in good form, and, as an earlier contributor correctly points out, cheaply priced by London standards.

This pub has a nice cosy feel, especially with the wood-pannelling, real fires and carpet, although I'm not too keen on some of the seating - the light pine wood chairs look a bit garden-centre ish.

No Sam Smiths beers - this is London's only Hopback pub which is well worth seeking out

20 Jan 2009 15:23

The Salisbury, Leicester Square

I was there yesterday lunchtime - no doorman, bouncers or "smug idiots".

This is one of the West End's top pubs - beer is consistently in good nick and there is nothing wrong with the staff at all.

If they don't want to show sports, that's the management's prerogative. Judging how busy the pub invariably is, it's a policy that a good number of people favour.

Ignore the previous gripes - go and visit this pub if you get the chance

2 Jan 2009 12:14

The Sair Inn, Linthwaite

The John Bonser roadshow ( or bus show in this case ) paid its long overdue first visit to this splendidly traditional 4 roomed pub on Thursday evening, 13 November.

Since being voted CAMRA's National Pub of the Year in 1997, this fine pub with its own brewery attached appears to have developed almost legendary status. It regularly crops up in conversations that I have had with fellow drinkers up and down the country in recent years - yet very few people that I have spoken to have actually ever been there or have a reasonably clear idea where abouts it is.

Well, its approx 3 miles from Huddersfield in a small village, reasonably easily accessible from Huddersfield ( 20 minutes bus journey ). So now you know.

Apparently it overlooks the Colne valley, although on a dark November evening, I missed out on the view unfortunately.

Disappointingly, on the evening of my visit, only 2 of the Linfit home brewed beers were on, Bitter and Special, both clean tasting and hoppy and at a reasonable £ 1.90p per pint.

Two guest beers from Elland Brewery were also on and these seemed to be selling better than the Linfit beers.

Real fires were lit in those of the rooms being occupied. The floors are stone flagged. It's a real community local, although I, as an outsider was warmly welcomed.

Unfortunately, it's a dog-friendly pub and I counted at least 4 largish mutts, either lolling around, sprawling on the floor taking up room, or getting under people's feet.

Was it worth the effort of visiting - yes, definitely, although I'll try next time to visit in the Summer months when it's still light in order to appreciate the views and the scenery.

Finally, watch out for opening hours - it doesn't open till 5pm midweek

21 Nov 2008 13:49

The Grove Inn, Huddersfield

Externally, one's first impression is of an unremarkable typical street corner local.

Internally, it's a 2 bar pub, whose beer range is best summed up by the printed T shirts and beer glasses for sale, which depict a chap standing at the bar saying to the barman - "I was going to drink my way around the world - then I discovered I could do it here".

There's a large leather-bound drinks menu which looks like something you might get in an Indian restaurant and which lists the beers on offer from all over the world, together with bar snacks, which, with typical understatement, the GBG describes as "unusual".

From the beer menu, I particularly noted Black Death Chilli Beer from the Fallen Angel microbrewery in East Sussex ( £ 3.20p per bottle ) and something called Medieval Dark Mead ( 14.5% !) at £ 9.50p.

I wisely stuck to the draught beers from the pumps. Both the Empire Grove Grog and Thornbridge Jaipur IPA which I sampled were in good condition and very tasty.

Those of us used to London beer prices may be interested to know that Fullers ESB and Taylors Landlord were available at £ 2.50p and £ 2.20p per pint respectively.

There's an interesting cabinet in one of the rooms displaying old breweriana - this changes regularly apparently. Hammonds Brewery was featuring when I visited.

It seems churlish to end on a critical note for such an enterprising pub, but I have to say that some of the artwork on the wall in the main bar - particularly that large horrible nude picture - is absolutely hideous. Reminded me of that large dreadful woman in that Little Britain sketch at the sauna.

Nevertheless, do make the effort to visit this pub - it's well worth it and it's close to the Rat and Ratchet.

21 Nov 2008 13:34

The Rat and Ratchet, Huddersfield

Large multi-award winning traditional pub situated to the west of Huddersfield town centre, just outside the ring road.

There's one bar, but with a number of different seating areas.

The pub is owned by Ossett Brewery. As well as their extensive range of real ales, beers from Riverhead and Fernandes were also on. The friendly welcoming barman advised me that both these breweries were owned by Ossett, but were run as separate distinct businesses.

There's 14 pumps in total on the bar. Try the Ossett Pale Gold if you get the chance.

As well as pub and brewery memorabilia, there's a collection of music posters. These, combined with the loudish rock juke box and the pinball machine gave the place a rather studenty feel.

There was a London Pride promotion on at the time of my visit and the pub was proudly proclaiming that the Pride was being served without a head in the proper way.

This is a must visit pub when in Huddersfield - but do note that it doesn't open until 3 pm on either Mondays or Tuesdays

20 Nov 2008 13:47

The Albert Hotel, Huddersfield

The inaugural John Bonser roadshow tour of Huddersfield pubs got off to a rather ignominious start last Thursday lunchtime - finding this pub closed, shrouded in scaffolding with an Enterprise Inns banner hanging down proudly proclaiming -" Pub/ restaurant business to let - early December".

All external pub signage has currently been removed, but I did notice 2 Good Beer Guide stickers rather forlornly still displayed on one of the windows.

Let's hope that the heritage listed interior to which a previous entry refers, is not vandalised in the name of what the big pub owning barons euphemistically refer to as "improvements"

20 Nov 2008 13:31

The Castle Hotel, Bradford

Somewhat amazed to be the first to post on this pub - its quite central and a Good Beer Guide regular in recent years.

It's a large open plan L -shaped bar, with a relatively unspoilt traditional feel.

The pub is housed in an old stone building retaining many original external features.

Like the Corn Dolly, the Castle is a keen supporter of local micros and is evidently popular with the local CAMRA fraternity.It has taken out a large ad on the back cover of the local CAMRA branch magazine.

My pint of Daddy's Ale ( why do people give beers such silly names ?) from the local Cullingworth Old Spot brewery went down well.

The pub is holding its first ever beer festival between 27-29 November -"Drink the Moat Dry" when Indian cuisine and live music will be available.

Unusually for a real ale pub, the landlord is from an ethnic minority.

You should try to visit this one when in Bradford - I certainly will next time I'm in the city

20 Nov 2008 12:53

The New Beehive Inn, Bradford

Ornate large Edwardian multi-roomed pub listed in CAMRA's National Inventory for its original features , one of 2 such pubs in Bradford ( the other being the Cock and Bottle on which I have just posted )

This is very much a music-orientated pub - regular jazz evenings and at weekends.

The pub was virtually deserted during my mid-afternoon visit recently ; indeed the young barmaid seemed initially a bit disconcerted that someone should have the temerity to come in for a drink.

Despite having a fine bank of 10 pumps, only 2 beers appeared to be on at the time of my visit. I had an enjoyable pint of Whiter Shade of Ale from the White Rose Brewery.

Despite some Timothy Taylor's branding outside, none of their beers were on .

Decor-wise, note the fine painted mural of pop stars in the back room - The Beatles, Stevie Wonder etc.

Note also the splendid large photo over the fireplace in the main room, showing a large charabanc outside the pub, probably in the early 1900's, full of punters presumably leaving on a pub outing somewhere.

There's a room on the left with a fine collection of brewery mirrors, posters etc

Worth seeking out.

20 Nov 2008 12:43

The Shoulder of Mutton, Bradford

Fairly typical unspoilt Sam's pub at the bottom of Kirkgate, close to the massive new Broadway development site ( still very much work in progress as at Nov 2008 )

The pub dates back to the early 19th century - see the plaque outside.

Like many Sam's pubs, the pub seemed popular with the more mature drinker, enjoying the hospitable atmosphere and cheap beer

I didn't get to try out the apparently renowned large sun trap garden as it had started raining. Besides which it was unfortunately a typically fresh November day ( effing cold to the unitiated !)

Worth popping in for a pint if passing by

19 Nov 2008 14:01

The Corn Dolly, Bradford

Fine single bar pub with black oak beams and a real country pub feel within easy walking distance from Bradford city centre, close to the cathedral.

On my visit, there were 8 pumps serving a good range of real ales from local micros, including Fernandes from Wakefield. The inevitable Black Sheep was also on. I had a pint of Moorhouses Mild.

Note the fine collection of pumps clips and brewery mirrors.

There's also some photos of former Bradford City football teams - the stadium is visible from just outside the pub

Despite being a single bar, there's two distinct areas, one housing a pool table and a number of horse racing pictures. The other side is more food orientated, serving good value lunches, which include massive doorstep sized sandwiches.

This is a warm and welcoming pub, well worth seeking out.

I accept that my knowledge of Bradford pubs is rather limited, but, based on my recent visit, if I only had time to visit one pub in Bradford again, I think this would be the one I'd make for.

19 Nov 2008 13:55

The Cock and Bottle, Bradford

CAMRA National Inventory pub on a busy main road just outside Bradford city centre. It's a typically traditional multi-roomed local.

The pub sign indicates that this is a William Greenwood Brewing Company house, although there is nothing to indicate whether they still brewed beer or not.

Contrary to what I was expecting from the latest GBG entry, only was real ale was available on my lunchtime visit in mid - November, that being Moonshine from Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield.The other 5 handpumps were unbadged. I got the impression it was mainly a locals' pub with little, if any, real ale trade.

There are some original features, including a fine bar back, and some nice etched windows, but the pub felt a bit run down and neglected to me and I'm not convinced it was worth the walk uphill.

Perhaps I came on a bad day, but with the Corn Dolly and Castle Hotel not too far away as competition, this won't be one of my first ports of call next time I'm in Bradford.

19 Nov 2008 13:46

The Garden Gate, Leeds

Splendid CAMRA National Inventory listed pub on the edge of a housing estate in Hunslet, a mile or so south east of Leeds City Centre ( buses available ) in what appears to be quite a working class area.

Its a Tetley Heritage Inn.

Of particular note is the splendid tiled corridor as you come in, off which there are 4 rooms. Note also the splendid etched glasswork.

Despite ( or perhaps because of ?) the landlords efforts to get a Monday night disco going, I was the only customer present for much of the early evening ( 10 November ). This did mean however that the landlord was able to give me a guided tour of the pub, pointing out all the interesting original features.

Tetleys handpulled bitter was not available on my visit, although I was assured that it usually was and that a delivery was expected on Wednesday.

Rather like the Vines in Liverpool, this is a pub where I regard the absence of real ale as a minor negative and not a reason for not visiting, although I suspect that many of the BITE regulars might not share this opinion.

People say that this is the most impressive decor-wise of the 6 CAMRA National Inventory pubs in the Leeds area. I've not done the Beech yet, so I'll refrain from commenting, but the Garden Gate is worth a visit if you're in to old-fashioned stunning pub interiors.

17 Nov 2008 13:42

The West Riding Refreshment Rooms, Dewsbury

First ever visit from the John Bonser roadshow ( or should that be railshow?) last Monday - 10 November.

This is a splendid real ale pub situated in part of Dewsbury Railway Station, a listed building.

The pub has won many awards - look on the walls for the certificates. Note also the bottled beer collection overhead.

There's 8 handpumps - on my visit, there were 2 Timmy's beers on, Black Sheep ( inevitably?), plus 5 micros including one from the Anglo Dutch Brewery. I had a pint of Glentworth Little Gem, plus a pint of the intriguingly named Bonfire Toffee, a very moreish chocolatey tasting beer ( forgotten who brews it unfortunately )

There isn't the railway memorabilia of, say, the Buffet Bar at Stalybridge, but it's an essential stopping off point if in the area.

The pub tells T-shirts - " I missed the train at Dewsbury" - on the day of my visit, quite a lot of people missed quite a lot of trains ( or didn't have trains to catch, more likely )

There's a good range of foreign bottled beers and good value lunches are available.

Outside seating is available on the station concourse.

Dewsbury is on the Leeds - Huddersfield line, about a 15 minute journey from either station.

Do call in if you get the chance

17 Nov 2008 13:26

The Albion Inn, Chester

Splendid Victorian back street local close to the river and just inside the City Walls ( which are well worth walking incidentally, while waiting for opening time ) .

There's 2 interconnecting rooms either side of a central bar.

The evidently idiosyncratic landlord - not sighted during my visit - is a keen collector of World War One memorabilia which is displayed throughout the pub, with Kitchener posters - " put the Hun on Iron Rations" - and enamelled posters etc advertising such delights as Colmans Starch and Frys Chocolate. Note also the splendid wallpaper and period furniture.There's also a piano.

The landlord makes no effort to attract customers who don't fit in to the pub's character. Note the blackboard outside with messages such as " Don't bring your stag, hen or pub crawl here. We don't need you. We don't want you. We won't serve you."and also " no designer drinks, shots". The pub prides itself as being family-hostile.

Whilst not everyone will agree, I have to say that I applaud a pub that is prepared to buck the trend and not pander to the alcopops/ loud music/chain-pub drinker types, even if his motives are doing so are probably largely commercial.

Suffice it to say that at 6.30pm on a windy and damp Thursday evening, the pub was packed with a wide range of discerning customers enjoying the fine atmosphere.

Food - known as "rations" here - is from the old school - eg minced beef, mashed potato and greens etc and is a major draw.

Real ales on were Black Sheep, Landlord and Bombardier.

Not everyone will agree that's for sure, but I regard this as a "must visit" pub.

Long may it flourish and prosper !

8 Oct 2008 13:38

The Boot Inn, Chester

Traditional Sam Smiths pub in the centre of Chester on "the Rows" serving real ale - OBB at £ 1.40p on my late September recent visit.

It's typical Sams - unbadged, traditional, no music and with a bit of a "take us as you find us" attitude. There's seemingly very little, if any, effort to attract the hordes of tourists despite the location and attractive building.

The trade appears to be mainly local

I was intrigued to see a large prominent notice in the window stating " no tracksuits / jogging bottoms after 5 pm", which had me wondering to myself why they were acceptable at, say, 4.30 pm, but not an hour later. I was half expecting the fashion police to come round at 5 o'clock on the dot and summarily evict offenders, but there didn't seem to be any anyway !

Definitely worth a visit when in the City Centre.

7 Oct 2008 14:05

The Ship Victory, Chester

Bit surprised to be the first to post on this pub since December 2006.

The Ship Victory is a small traditional locals pub oddly situated in the corner of a large pay and display car park near the station and just off the ring road.

Notably, for a City Centre pub, it has the feel of a real community local - there's regular music nights and quiz evenings etc

Its a CAMRA friendly pub and has been a GBG regular recently.

I enjoyed a pint of Drummer Bitter from a local Cheshire micro on my recent visit. The other pump was serving Tetleys.

It seems to be a Manchester City supporters pub.

The beer range is too limited for this to be a "must visit" pub, but it's worthy of consideration in a city where real traditional local pubs seem thin on the ground

7 Oct 2008 13:57

The Stork Hotel, Birkenhead

Fine Grade 2 listed pub within easy walking distance of Hamilton Square.

The layout of the pub bears a striking similarity to the Lion in Moorfields - the curved bar occupies the street corner and behind it is a surrounding corridor that links the two entrances, one on each street.

Like the Lion, the Stork Hotel is also listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. Here, note the splendid wall tiles, glasswork and mosaic floor. The blue exterior tiling is also striking and was apparently the house colour of Threlfalls Salford Brewery ( swallowed up by Whitbread, I seem to recall ) and there is still evidence of their former ownership in the etched windows at the front.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pubs Guide - a book I may well have referred to in previous postings

There's not the same strong emphasis on real ale that there is at the Lion, but I was pleased to see that the pub was advertising all beers uinder 5% at a price of £ 1.60p between 4 and 7 pm. 3-4 beers were on. I had a pint of Northern Soul Legends from a Cheshire micro.

Cheap food is offered at lunchtime - eg steak pie, chips peas and gravy for £ 2.95 and a 3 course Sunday lunch for £ 6.95p between 2-6 pm.

If you've done all the Liverpool pubs that are worth doing ( and there's no shortage of them ), you should seriously consider crossing the Mersey ( by either ferry, bus or train !) to seek this one out.

7 Oct 2008 09:35

The Grove Inn, Holbeck

Fine small multi-roomed traditional unspoilt pub over the river from the station in a very developed area of Leeds that reminded this reviewer of a mini - Docklands.

Formerly a John Smiths pub - see the signage outside - it's now an Enterprise Inns free house, retaining some original features and serving a good variety of real ales. These included Moorhouses Black Cat Mild , which seemed popular and a beer from Elland Brewery ( which my notes record as being Bora Bora - a rather robust copper premium bitter )

The pub is popular with local office workers at lunchtime, but, unlike London's Docklands, they have largely adapted to the pub rather than the other way round. The tallest office building in Leeds is nearby.

There's outside seating at the side and a large music room at the back where live music is put on at weekends and in the evening.

It's approx 10 minutes walk from Leeds centre and is well worth it.

It's pleasingly to see that redevelopment of an area doesn't always mean that splendid pubs such as this half to be bulldozed in the name of "progress".

Probably my second favourite Leeds pub after Whitelocks at the moment.

Try and go there if you get the opportunity.

3 Oct 2008 17:35

The Duck and Drake, Leeds

Large, basic, music-orientated pub close to the City Centre with a rather down-at-heel spartan feel to it.

The pub advertises itself as "Leeds most extensive range of quality cask ales", which based on my recent visit may well be true. Amongst the dozen or so on offer were Brakspears, Youngs, Old Mill and Orkney - not beers one often encounters up north.

There was a noticeable lack of real ale being sold during my visit and I strongly suspect they simply have too many different beers on. Previous comments bear would seem to support this and I notice that the pub doesn't ever seem to make the CAMRA Good Beer Guide nowadays.

Having said that, my pint of Landlord was reasonable, so the jury's out on the beer front as far as I'm concerned, but I didn't see much else to draw me back here again.

3 Oct 2008 14:32

The Adelphi, Leeds

Ornate multi-roomed Edwardian pub, just over the river Aire and close to Tetleys Brewery.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

Designed by the same architect as the Cardigan Arms and the Rising Sun in the Burley area of Leeds, the pub has much to admire internally, despite improvements to pander to Leeds yuppiedom who seem to have invaded the vicinity - look at all the loft style apartments close by. In particular, one of the rooms resembles a Turkish brothel, what with the low settees covered with white sheets. Some of the dividing glass screens have been covered up by blackboards describing how beer is made.

Reflecting the target clientele, food is a major part of the operation - not quite gastropub food, but a clear step up from normal pub food. Moroccan cooking seems to feature quite a bit.

Beer prices also reflect the target clientele - both the Landlord and the Tetleys were at prices higher than average for the area. Lots of foreign beers and lagers are also available.

Read the information board outside over the road giving the history of Bridge End - the gateway to Leeds.

Despite some dubious "improvements" from what I remember of the pub in the 1980's, this pub is still well worth seeking now

3 Oct 2008 14:24

The Victoria Hotel, Leeds

Fine Victorian red-brick pub close to the Town Hall and now owned by Mitchells and Butlers as part of their Nicholsons chain.

Not surprisingly rather like the Scarbrough in style and seemingly also popular with the after work office crowd, it also serves a good variety of real ales. As well as the usual suspects - Black Sheep, Landlord, Tetley - the pb offered several tasty beers from the Acorn Brewery in Barnsley, a welcome change of tipple.

Note the splendid outside signage - " Victoria Family and Commercial Hotel" - and the partitioned booths on the right as you go in through the splendid entrance. I suspect the screens partitioning the booths aren't original.

I seem to recollect that the pub won some kind of CAMRA preservation award some time ago.

This is yet another Leeds pub that is worth making the effort to visit if you get the opportunity

3 Oct 2008 13:14

The Scarbrough Hotel, Leeds

Traditional Nicholsons-branded pub in Leeds City Centre close to the station.

Historians amongst you may wish to know that the pub is named not after the North Yorkshire seaside resort ( which is spelt differently, anyway ), but after one Henry Scarbrough, a theatre impresario who purchased the property in 1826, then an elegant gentlemans residence.

Those of you familiar with Nicholsons style will know what to expect - much polished mahogany, glasswork and a decent range of real ales which included Outlaws, Roosters and Tetley on my recent visit.

There's one large bar with a number of different seating areas, seemingly popular with the after work crowd.

Note the splendid tiler exterior advertising Ind Coope's Burton Ales and, inside, an odd looking disused bank of handpumps in one corner of the pub.

It's a "pie house" - but I didn't see too many pies being consumed on my recent visit - se copious amounts of real ales and fancy drinks ( for the women ).

A blackboard behind the bar proudly proclaimed that "last week we sold 2427 pints of real ale", which, for a City Centre pub probably open all permitted hours didn't seem much to me.

In any event, this pub is worth seeking out

3 Oct 2008 13:02

Whitelocks, Leeds

Delightful old pub hidden down a narrow alleyway off Briggate, one of the main pedestrianised shopping streets in Leeds centre.

Old brewery mirrors, wood pannelling and a marble bar counter contribute towards a splendid cosy atmosphere.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

There's a smallish bar, serving a number of real ales and a separate restaurant, popular with suits at lunchtimes.

Some of the pump clips were turned round on my recent lunchtiime visit - but beers on were Deuchars IPA, Abbott, Broadside and Theakstons Best - a selection which one might consider disappointing nowadays.

Further down the alleyway, virtually next door is what is described as its "sister" pub - Ma Gamps - which was not open when I visited and which I can't say I've noticed on earlier visits.

There's outside seating in the narrow alleyway.

The 2009 GBG makes reference to "concerns about the future of the pub's interior" and points out that a support group - Friends of Whitelocks - has been formed. On my visit, a blackboard notice stated that the pub was now in the hands of a family company - Chennell and Armstrong Limited of York - so perhaps these concerns have now been addressed. Does anyone know ?

In any event, do visit this pub if you get a chance - it's a gem

3 Oct 2008 12:51

Rising Sun Inn, Leeds

Designed by the same architect as the Cardigan Arms several hundred yards down the road, the Rising Sun could probably best be described as a less ornate version of the former. It does still have original glass, screens and an impressive curved mahogany bar.

Like the Cardigan, it's also on CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors - one of six in Leeds.

Despite the interior, I'm afraid the Rising Sun left a rather poor impression on this reviewer when I visited lateish one evening in mid-September ( having just come from the Cardigan )

The pub initially looked closed from the outside and no lights were on in the smoke room. There were only 2 other customers in the pub, sitting in semi-darkness in the main bar.

Probably tellingly, there was a large Estate Agents " To Let" hoarding on the wall outside.

There was no real ale and I had to suffer a predictably bland pint of Tetleys Smooth at £ 2.00p.

I'm afraid the overall impression was of a pub in its death throes.

It would be somewhat ironic if, having introduced this pub on BITE, it was to close fairly shortly.

If you're making the effort to go to the nearby Cardigan Arms, you might as well go here as well if it's still open

2 Oct 2008 14:23

Cardigan Arms, Leeds

I'm a bit surprised that this pub wasn't previously on BITE and that the John Bonser Roadshow is the first to get here and comment.

The Cardigan Arms is a multi-roomed Victorian gem in the Burley area of Leeds ( west of the City Centre ) with much original glass, tiling and screens, which earns it a listing in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. There's also a Tetley Heritage Inn plaque outside.

The pub is situated opposite a large modern retail pub, where the usual brand names may be found, but both this pub and The Rising Sun nearby ( on which I'll be posting next ) stand testament to a much earlier period of architecture and building.

It's very much a locals pub, but not in the hostile or unfriendly sense.

Only the Tetley's Bitter was on as a real ale - £ 1.85p - and there was nothing to indicate that other real ales were ever available.

It's a bus ride out of the City Centre to get to if you don't want to waste drinking time - Kirkstall Road is a main A road and there's plenty of buses - so, if you're in to ornate old-fashioned Northern drinking dens, you'll probably want to give this one a go.

2 Oct 2008 14:12

The Cemetery Hotel, Rochdale

Fine traditional street corner local on the Bury road, a couple of miles out of town and close to - yes, you've guessed it ! - Rochdale Crematorium

The pub is a typical multi-roomed layout local with a stand up lobby and 3 rooms, one of which is a snooker room.

There's much fine tiling, Art Nouveau glasswork and mosaic flooring by the entrance which earn the pub an entry in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

2 Bank Top beers were on alongside Black Sheep and Taylors Landlord on my September visit.

The establishment brands itself as a "bar and restaurant" - although to you and me, its a good honest street corner local, but with an apparently well-regarded upstairs restaurant.

There was a large banner outside proudly proclaiming - "under new management" - but seemingly there's work to be done as there were fewer than a dozen or so people in on my Sunday lunchtime visit. Perhaps the good people of Rochdale aren't ready yet for a "bar and restaurant"?

Nevertheless, it's a fine pub - definitely worth calling in if passing through.

1 Oct 2008 18:24

Three Pigeons, Halifax

Attractive looking 1930's Art Deco pub reasonably close to the centre of Halifax and the railway station.

The Art Deco theme extends to the "Bar Lounge" metal signage on one of the doors and plenty of Art Deco posters.

There's an unusual hexagonal bar lobby with 3 rooms off it. Note also the painting on the ceiling off this lobby.

The pub has a comfortable, homely, welcoming feel to it.

It's listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

The pub is a former Websters house now owned by Ossett Brewery. As well as the full range of Ossett beers, Fullers Summer Ale and Northumbrian Legends of the Tyne were on. Try the House Bitter - Three Pigs - brewed especially for the pub.

Sod's law being what it is, unbeknown to me in advance, my Sunday lunchtime visit coincided with a Rugby League play off fixture that day at The Shay between Halifax and Whitehaven and my peaceful pint was soon interrupted by a crowd of noisy, boisterous, but good humoured rugby supporters, including an inordinate number of screeching womenfolk. ( Why do women have to screech and shriek so often without good reason )

Despite the interruption, I enjoyed the visit and would definitely call in again when next passing through

1 Oct 2008 18:15

The Gardeners Arms, Bilton

This Sam Smiths pub is a multi-roomed old stone cottage situated a couple of miles outside Harrogate at the far end of Bilton Lane ( off the Skipton Road )

The pub features in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors for its wood pannelling, fireplaces and a curious mini-snug, just in front of the bar, which is probably only of use to those who are vertically challenged.

Needless to say, being a Sam's pub, there's no music, but there is a silent fruit machine in one room.

There's numerous old photos of the pub to add interest and also one of a Mid Winter Car Rally in 2007 taken outside the pub.

There's a meadow-style garden at the back leading down to a stream - also a few seats outside the pub at the front.

On the date of my late-September visit, the OBB was £ 1.36p.

Cheap lunches are offered.

The pub is near a disused railway line ( now a cyclepath ) and there are several pleasant walks in the nearby Nidd Valley.

Worth seeking out, but I don't think it's on a bus route if you haven't your own transport.

30 Sep 2008 13:48

Hales Bar, Harrogate

Grade II listed 17th Century pub in the Montpellier district of Harrogate, located opposite the Royal Pump Room Museum.

Read about the history of the pub on a plaque outside.

The pub retains old traditional gas lighting together with Victorian fixtures and fittings.

In the main bar, old brewery mirrors, old pictures, stuffed animals over the bar and a row of whisky barrels behind the bar help contribute towards a splendid atmosphere.

Note the separate screened off snug in the main bar divided by a large Tadcaster Brewery mirror and the signage over the bar - "Ales and Porter supplied to the gentry for over a century"

6 real ales were on when I visited in mid-September - Timmy Taylor, Bass, Tetley, Copper Dragon Best and Monkmans Slaughter which is an award winning beer with an OG of 6% from Cropton Brewery.

A good range of food is offered at meal times.

This is a "must visit" pub when you're in Harrogate

29 Sep 2008 14:00

The Birch Hall Inn, Beck Hole

What is there to say about this pub that the previous reviews don't ?

It's a splendidly time-warped old fashioned pub in the small hamlet of Beck Hole , approx one mile from Goathland - the "Heartbeat" village. Thankfully, very few of the hordes of Heartbeat visitors seem to find their way here, even though it's quite close ( walking along the disused railway line path )

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors .

There's two small bars either side of a sweetshop which sells sweets you probably won't have seem since you were a kid.

The "Big Bar" as its known, is wood-pannelled with a small serving hatch. There's a fireplace and plenty of old photos - eg Beck Hole Quoits Team 1951.

Beers on were the ubiquitous Black Shhep, Daleside Old Leg Over and Beckwatter Beck Holes Best Bitter. No pumps are visible in the Big Bar, beer is brought through from the other room - the "Little Bar".

Food consists of locally hand made pork pies and the Beck Hole butty with a variety of fillings.

There's a garden behind the pub, unfortunately closed during my visit due to recent rain.

This is another "must visit" pub - I've yet to meet anyone who thinks differently.

29 Sep 2008 13:51

The Black Horse Vaults, Whitby

Small traditional friendly pub in Church Street on the south side of the River Esk, a couple of minutes walk away from the swing bridge.

This side of the river is the quieter side as far as pubs/bars are concerned and accordingly, it would appear that the less discerning holidaymakers do not find this pub.

A good number of Whitby locals seem to use this pub, which is always a good sign.

The Black Horse still displays signage from its former days as a Tetleys pub, but it is now part of the Punch Taverns portfolio. Note the etched leaded windows at the side of the pub showing the name "Black Horse Vaults", although it appears that the pub is just known as The Black Horse nowadays, something I will get the BITE administrators to update ( as the former name is still showing at the moment ).

There's a strong commitment to real ale - Whitby Black Dog Rhatas is probably the one to go for here. The pub has now achieved a listing in the recently published 2009 CAMRA G B G.

Try the tapas if feeling peckish - various types of olives, nuts and bread dripping etc

There's also a Yorkshire cheese board and even snuff if you feel so inclined.

Mine host and hostess are welcoming and enthusiastic.

You should definitely seek this one out if in Whitby

29 Sep 2008 13:40

The Dolphin, Robin Hood's Bay

Small traditional pub in a steep narrow street close to the saefront of this small picturesque village. There's a single beamed bar and a couple of seats outside for drinking on the pavement.

The pub clearly prides itself on its real ales - "Ye Dolphin Real Ales" is proudly displayed on the pub sign and its a CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular.

Food, which includes fish specialities is served between 12 and 2 and also 6.30 to 9 pm.

Having arrived at the pub via the scenic route - coastal footpath from Whitby ( a recommended walk, incidentally ) - I was eagerly anticipating refuelling with a pint or two, but my pint of Broadside was unremarkable and it would have been nice to have seen a micro on offer . The other beers were from the usual suspects - Deuchars IPA, Bombardier and Theakstons XB.

I enjoyed the visit - since its a GBG regular, I'll put my disappointing pint down as a one-off.

25 Sep 2008 17:48

The Cod and Lobster, Staithes

Sea - front pub in this small picturesque village, approx 7 miles north of Whitby.

Perhaps not surprisingly, its a food-orientated operation, catering for holidaymakers and visitors with a typically uninspiring, functional and characterless interior.

4 real ales were on - Black Sheep, Abbott, Spitfire and Speckled Hen. My pint of Black Sheep was pretty poor.

In retrospect, thinking back about it now, I should have exchanged it for a cappucino or latte ( yes, they do have these fancy coffees this far oop north now !) , as I got the distinct feeling that the other beers might not have been well kept either, but, at the time, I was probably seduced by the sea view and the Bambi eyes of the barmaid.

There's another pub in the main street of the village - it seemed to be closed for the afternoon when I visited- and you might want to try that instead, particularly if the weather's not good enough for sitting outside.

25 Sep 2008 17:39

The Bridge Inn, Ruswarp

Cosy pub in a quiet village, approx a mile or so from Whitby across the fields ( its slightly further by road ).

Ruswarp seems to be a reasonably smart well-heeled village - it is perhaps surprising therefore that the pub does not offer food, but instead retains quite a local community feel. One of the two adjoining rooms is dominated by a snooker table. There is a smallish drinking area outside overlooking the River Esk.

There are numerous, interesting old photographs of Whitby and Ruswarp on the walls, and this, combined with the wood-pannelled interior, gives a traditional cosy feel to the main bar.

Real ales on when I visited in mid-September were John Smiths Cask and Wells Bombardier, on reasonable form.

This is an unremarkable pub in many respects, but if you're staying in Bed and Breakfast nearby, as yours truly was, this is a perfectly adequate pub for that evening nightcap pint or two.

25 Sep 2008 13:50

The Red Lion, Alnmouth

Fine 18th century coaching inn on the main street in Alnmouth, leading down to the sea front.

There's a fine wood-pannelled lounge which merits the pubs inclusion in CAMRA's Regional Inventory and a separate restaurant area at the front with attractive stained glass windows, depicting red lions.

At the back through the longish yard, seemingly in a dfferent postcode to the main building, is a garden, which gives fine views over the estuary.

There's also outside toilets for the nostalgia buffs among us.

As with the other pubs in the village - all within a few hundred yards at most - food predominates, but you don't feel uncomfortable, just popping in for a beer or so. It seemed to be convention, if you just wanted a beer, to occupy a stool at the bar, rather than a table, a convention which I was happy to comply this.

Real ales seem to come mainly from micros - try the Wylam Bitter if it's on.

Recommended, well worth a visit

25 Sep 2008 13:42

Free Trade Inn, Berwick upon Tweed

Well, another first from the John Bonser roadshow.

The Free Trade is a small, basic, but very friendly working mans local on Castlegate, one of the main thoroughfares in the centre of Berwick.

The pubs main feature of note is the splendid Victorian head-height wooden screens separating the public bar from the rest of the pub. The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

Good Beer Guide stickers on the etched leaded windows indicate that this pub was a GBG regular in earlier years, mainly the 90's, although it no longer seems to serve real ale.

On the day of my visit, none of the 3 handpumps had any clips attached ( either facing or reversed ) and, not seeing any unused clips anywhere behind the bar, I would hazard a guess that real ale has been discontinued. My enquiry as to whether any was available was met with a puzzled expression.

I opted for a pint of Northumbrian Smooth, which seemed to be what the locals were drinking, but it didn't taste of much at all.

Despite the absence of any real ale, this is a real boozer's boozers. It's basic nature means it won't appeal to everyone, but if you like pubs of this genre, you'll probably like this one

25 Sep 2008 13:34

The Olde Ship Hotel, Seahouses

Splendidly traditional pub/hotel a stone's throw away from the harbour in this coastal fishing village just south of Bamburgh. You can get trips to Holy Island from the harbour.

The saloon bar is extensively decorated with shipping memorabilia including many model ships and fishing baskets hanging from the ceiling.

The saloon bar would appear to be where the village locals drink, which is always a good sign.

Despite being attached to an hotel, it retains a very pubby feel and you certainly don't feel like you're drinking in a hotel bar.

There's a smaller cabin bar and a deck bar towards the rear of the building which help create a roomy feel to what appears to be a small pub from the outside.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's 2008 GBG and is also on the Regional North East Inventory.

There's a good range of real ales on - on my 5 September visit, these were Courage Directors, Landlord, Bass, GK Ruddles County ( a rare sighting this ) , the seemingly ubiquitous Black Sheep and Farne Island from the local Hadrian and Border Brewery.It seems churlish to criticise, but a second micro would have been a welcome alternative to the usual mainstream suspects.

Learn more about the pub and its history on a beermat, readily available on the bar.

In conclusion, highly recommended, whether it's for a beer, food, or just a coffee.

24 Sep 2008 14:03

The Ship Inn, Alnwick

Smallish pub among a row of cottages in a corner of the village green close to the sea.

There is no vehicular access to the green for non-residents - you have to use the car park a few hundred yards up the hill and walk down ( and then back up afterwards obviously !)

The pub brews its own beer on site now - this must be a relatively new venture as the CAMRA GBG entry for 2009 makes no mention of this. I had a pint of the onsite brewed bitter which had a pleasant hoppy taste. Rather imaginatively, its called Hop Ale. Farne Island from Hadrian and Border was also on, but this is not a place for drinkers.

Despite the splendid setting, the pub interior is rather dull and functional, the wooden trestle tables reflecting the clear emphasis on providing meals for those visitors who manage to find it. It makes no pretence at being a village local.

However, the pub was quite busy on my late afternoon visit of 4 September. I seemed to be the only customer without any of the seemingly essential accessories - walking boots / stick, large smelly dog etc.

There's a few seats and tables outside on the village green.

Its a bit remote, and certainly not worth an effort to visit in its own right, but if you're walking the nearby coastal path, you'll probably want to drop in.

24 Sep 2008 13:50

The Victoria Hotel, Durham

Splendidly traditional pub with an unusual interconnecting three bar layout which comprises a popular front bar and 2 quieter "sitting rooms" - as per the etched windows.

The pub is adorned throughout with memorabilia of Queen Victoria - posters, paintings etc - which contribute towards a splendid old fashioned atmosphere.There is a piano in one of the sitting rooms.

As well as the 3 rooms, there is a screened "family department" for off-sales.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

On the ale front, the pub is a keen supporter of local micros - Big Lamp Bitter, Durham White Gem and Hadrian Pioneer were just 3 of the beers on offer during my mid-September visit.

There is no background music to disturb the peaceful tranquillity throughout the pub.

This is a "must-visit" pub - make no mistake.

Go there !

24 Sep 2008 13:39

The Shakespeare Tavern, Durham

Early 19th Century CAMRA National Inventory pub in a narrow shopping street leading up to the cathedral.

The pub is larger than it looks from the outside as it extends back quite a way into several rooms behind the bar, including a small wood pannelled screened snug.

Taken as a whole, I found the pub a bit featureless and the pine floor boards and cream coloured walls made the pub feel a bit cold and uninviting to me. It lacks the cosiness of, say, the Victoria Hotel or the front bar of the Dun Cow nearby. It didn't help that, on a wet and windy evening, the barman insisted on having the front door open.

There was a reasonable range of real ales on - Deuchars IPA, Everards Tiger, Fat Catz Devonshire (?) - and the staff and locals were welcoming and hospitable, but, in all honesty, I didn't really warm to this place.

22 Sep 2008 18:09

Market Tavern, Durham

Traditional Spirit Group pub in the central Market Square with a fine welcoming atmosphere, but with that slightly generic feel that one might expect from a large chain - owned pub.

On the plus side, the pub stocks a good range of real ale - Deuchars IPA, Mordue IPA, black Sheep, Theakstons and Adnams Broadside on my visit. The Mordue IPA - at a surprisingly strong 5.1% OG - was very tasy and is worth looking out for.

Staff were friendly and knowledgeable about the beers on offer, which is certainly not always the case in this type of pub.

I see that its now in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for 2009.

Food is served at most times and this draws in a wider cross section of customer than most other Durham pubs that I did.

It's probably on the "circuit" , but, yes, avoiding Saturday and Sunday nights, I'd do this one again when next in Durham

22 Sep 2008 17:59

The Colpitts Hotel, Durham

Smallish wedge-shaped Sam Smith's pub on a street corner by what appears to be Durham's equivalent to a ring road.

There are 2 traditional bars - a large locals bar and a smaller snug type bar - either side of a curious unusual off sales hatch in front of you as you enter through the front door. There is another a seperate snooker room at the back.

The OBB at £ 1.34p was perfectly acceptable.

Needless to say, being a Sam's pub, there's no deafening musical distractions to detract from the atmosphere.

I didn't get to find out the reason for the unusual name, but I imagine it's something to do with coal mining, as that's what the pub sign shows.

In conclusion, worthy of consideration for inclusion on any Durham crawl

22 Sep 2008 17:51

Dun Cow, Durham

Fine traditional pub in a quiet smartish Georgian part of Durham, situated next door to Durham Masonic Lodge. The tudor exterior of the pub is quite a contrast to the exterior frontage of the Lodge, which resembles a church.

The pub consists of a small snug bar at the front, which seems to be where the regulars congregate, and a larger, but quieter lounge at the rear, accessed through a covered corridor, whose walls detail how the pub got its name.

My pint of Castle Eden Ale - £ 2.40p - was quite tasty. I forgot to note down the other beers on, but I suspect it was Black Sheep and / or Jennings Cumberland.

In summary, worth seeking out

22 Sep 2008 17:37

The Half Moon, Durham

Well known traditional Durham pub at the end of Elvet Bridge with an outside drinking area at the back looking out on to the river.

My initial impression of this pub on a Sunday afternoon visit was not good - the bar at the front was busy and dominated by the loudish football screens, but I quickly found a much quieter part at the back down a few steps.

A subsequent visit the next day gave a more favourable impression. The traditional atmosphere is enhanced by a number of old black and white photos of Miners Marches ( 1958, 1983) taken from the pub and several Bass mirrors and a curved mahogany bar in the lower bar.

Its a Mitchell and Butlers pub and 3-4 real ales were on - Bass, Timmy Taylor, London Pride and Bees Knees from the local Durham Brewery.

The pub is Cask Marque accredited and clearly takes real ale seriously.

This is one of the pubs that people tell you to visit if you're in Durham and I'm not about to tell you differently.

22 Sep 2008 17:31

The Grapes Hotel, Eccles

Large Edwardian Holt's drinking den on the A57 Liverpool Road out of Eccles.

The Grapes features in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors for its splendid mahogany bar, etched glass screens and wall tiling. The building dates back to 1903 and, with its red bricked exterior, bears a marked similiarity to the nearby Lamb.

There is a large billiards room with Man United memorabilia and the usual northern drinking lobby and layout.

Has often featured in the GBG for its beer quality, which was OK on my visit

Well worth visiting if you get the opportunity.

29 Aug 2008 12:45

The Stanley Arms, Eccles

Small Holts street corner pub on the A57 within short walking distance on the Grapes Hotel, on which I will be posting next.

The Stanley Arms is in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors for its tiled corridor and original layout.

According to the CAMRA, its a rarity in being one of Holt's few tenancies.

The eagle-eyed passer by will readily notice that there is no shortage of Holt's pubs on this stretch on the A57 - there's at least a further 3 that I passed without going in. ( not on BITE yet incidentally ).

The Stanley Arms is another locals pub - most of them seem to be around here - but it's welcoming to visitors and worth calling in if passing through

29 Aug 2008 12:39

The Sawyers Arms, Deansgate

Single bar pub with an ornate exterior situated on Deansgate.

Looking at the previous reviews, I would guess that the pub has changed hands since these postings - it's now a rather featureless single bar pub lacking any real atmosphere.

It's owned by the Orchid Group - a pub group whose website is staggeringly uninformative.

2 real ales were on - Boddingtons Cask at £ 2.70p and Theakstons Old Peculier at £ 2.75 - but this does not feel like a drinkers pub.

It's one of these pubs that has little to like or actively dislike in equal proportions - a typically impersonal pub with that " London feel", but in the centre of Manchester.

I can't see myself doing this one again

29 Aug 2008 12:34

The Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester

Fine street corner local close to Oxford Road and the University.

Note in particular the fine tiled exterior and the large whiskey barrels above the bar.

Despite noticeable internal alterations and opening out, the pub retains a traditional feel, particularly a small cosy snug at the rear of the pub.

The pub claims to make the best pies in Manchester, a claim I was unable to put to the test on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit.

Despite the 10 handpumps, only 3 beers were on when I visited, of which the Longdendale Lights from the Glossop Brewery went down well. I gather there are usually 5-6 ales on.

The pub offers occasional music nights and is starting a monthly comedy night from November.

The pub is hosting its own Oktoberfest celebrations in October between 21-27 October, featuring German food and an Oompah band.

Not a must visit pub, but well worth making the effort to find when in Manchester

29 Aug 2008 12:28

The Old Wellington Inn, Manchester

Well known Manchester pub close to the Cathedral, Exchange Square and the Manchester Eye.

As other reviewers have pointed out, this was the pub damaged by an IRA terrorist bomb in 1996. The pub was moved brick by brick to a new home several hundred yards away and was re-opened in 1999.

It's owned by Mitchells and Butlers and, although not unpleasant decor-wise has, inevitably, something of a chainy feel to it.

There's a ground floor bar and a restaurant upstairs.

My pint of Timmy's Landlord - £ 2.90p - was on good form. Jennings Cumberland Ale and Davenports were the other beers on.

There's a pleasant outside drinking area - plastic glasses unfortunately - on Exchange Square for sunny days, but this is not one of my favourite Manchester pubs.

The first time visitor to Manchester can find better pubs in close proximity if he cares to look

28 Aug 2008 12:56

The Crown and Kettle, Ancoats

Well known pub in Manchester's Northern Quarter which re-opened relatively recently following extensive renovation after a period of closure of some 20 years as a result of fire.

I never visited the pub in its pre-renovation days, but I'm told it was one of Manchester's finest drinking emporiums.

With its high moulded ceilings and church-like arches, there is still much to admire internally.

The pub consists of 3 interconnected rooms.

On the beer front, the pub is clearly a keen supporter of local micros - Dunham Massey Light Ale being my randomly chosen pint on my recent visit.

A blackboard lists future beers coming shortly - these included York Brewery, Ossett, Coach House, Greenfield and Allgates when I visited.

Crown and Kettle Ale is brewed for the pub by Greenfield.

The pub serves home cooked food and Sunday roasts. Live sport is shown, but not obtrusively.

You should include this pub in any Northern Quarter crawl - along with the nearby Hare and Hounds on Shudehill and the Marble Arch on Rochdale Road

28 Aug 2008 12:48

The Castle Hotel, Manchester

Yes, the previous comment is correct - pub is "closed until further notice". It is hoped that Robinsons will endeavour to re-open it ( after giving the toilets a good clean, preferably !)

It was their only Manchester city centre pub - I would hope they would therefore want to retain a presence in the city

21 Aug 2008 12:55

Railway Inn, Broadheath

Well, it looks like the John Bonser roadshow is the first here.

The Railway Inn is a small traditional old fashioned Holts pub, approximately a mile or so north of Altrincham on the main A56 road to Manchester.

In contrast to Hale Barns ( see my recent posting on the Bulls Head ) , Broadheath is very Greater Manchester-ish, and not Cheshire. I can't imagine the footballers - wives types coming here.

The Railway Inn is a basic, multi roomed local with the familiar Northern drinking lobby and the usual bar parlour, tap room, vault etc.

It merits a listing on CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

The pub is situated on the edge of Altrincham Retail Park, where the usual out-of-town suspects may be ound. The pub probably did well to survive this extensive re-generation on its immediate doorstep, but disappointingly, there was an Estate Agents board on the wall advertising the lease for sale.

It's a Man City supporter s pub ( doesn't everyone who lives in Manchester support City, not United ?) , and there's some intersting pictures and photographs of the club's recent history, including a special Farewell to Maine Road ptint.

The Holt's Bitter was in fine form on my recent visit.

Not a must visit pub, but worth dropping in if passing through if you like pubs of this genre.

7 Aug 2008 13:51

The Bulls Head And Lodge, Hale Barns

Well, it looks like the John Bonser roadshow is the first to comment on this pub.

The Bulls Head is a large Robinsons pub in the village of Hale Barns, a mile or so away from Altrincham.

Hale Barns is definitely very Cheshire ( as opposed to Greater Manchester ) and the pub has a rather upmarket feel to it.

It seems to be the only pub in the village and as such seems to be trying to cater for everyone - local pub for the locals, restaurant / dining area for the food trade, all in one large single bar that has that typically contrived rustic feel to it.

There's a crown bowling green to the rear of the pub and I was able to watch the Cheshire set competing in a local match as the evening sun was setting in the background.

There's a lodge type annexe offering accommodation at reasonable rates.

THe Bulls Head appears to be one of Robinson's flagship establishments - it features prominently on the cover of their pub guide.

I quite enjoyed the visit - its about a mile or so away from the Manchester Airport Marriott where I was staying on business recently and where of course real ale is notable by its absence.

The Unicorn was £ 2.30p in here - slightly pricier than normal for Robinsons, but that's only to be expected

7 Aug 2008 13:39

The Navigation Inn, Heaton Norris

Another pub that hasn't had a posting for some time - so here goes.

The Navigation is a largish pub on a busy roundabout approx a mile north of Stockport over the M60 and up Lancashire Hill.

There's a largish lounge and a small vault, both served from the one central bar.

The pub itself is somewhat unremarkable, but it is owned by the Beartown Brewery in Congleton.

The local Stockport pub guide describes the Navigation as being a thriving pub, having been turned round since its acquisition by Beartown in 2001.

However my recent Friday lunchtime visit revealed a very quiet pub with an Estate Agents board outside advertising the lease as being up for sale, so perhaps its fallen on hard times again.

There was a good range of Beartown ales on - my pint of Bearskinful ( OG 4.2% - £ 1.80p) was a nice hoppy pint.

Not a must visit pub by any means, but you might want to consider it, just for its unusual beers, but not unless you've done the Crown Inn and The Railway, both nearer to the town centre

6 Aug 2008 13:39

The Arden Arms, Stockport

Fine traditional Robinsons pub with a multi-roomed layout, included in CAMRA's National Inventory of historic pub interiors for its glassed in bar and floor tiling.

Also of note is the grandfather clock and a small snug reached through the bar, which apparently is by invitation only - you're expected to ask rather than just walking through the bar.

I was slightly disappointed by some effort to adopt a more contemporary feel - in particular background music, which was a bit loud and some French bistro-style posters that I thought looked out of place.

The pub is highly regarded for its lunchtime food apparently.

The pub has an informative website - worth reading if you want to know more about the pubs history and facilities.

Worth seeking out - close to the Market Square in the old part of Stockport.

6 Aug 2008 13:29

The Crown Inn, Stockport

Splendidly traditional pub virtually under the famous railway viaduct, serving what is probably the widest range of real ales in Stockport.

There's the usual multi-roomed layout with that warm cosy feel that such pubs have and which modern drinking barns can never hope to replicate.

Most of the beers were from local micros - my pint of Copper Dragon Golden Pippin was a tasty pint.

THe large drinking yard outside is used for music and barbecues and gives a splendid view of the viaduct.

Unfortunately however, the noise of the traffic thundering past on the M60 nearby is very audible.

Note the fine Ward's 150th Anniversary Plate ( 1840 - 1990 ) on an inside wall and the hops decorating the bar area.

If I only had time to do one pub in Stockport, this would be the one I'd make for.

6 Aug 2008 13:23

The Olde Vic, Stockport

From the outside, as the photo shows, this appears to be an uninspiring run down street corner pub - it is half boarded up and you might easily be mistaken for thinking it is closed. Inside however is a warm friendly pub serving 4-5 different beers, of which I went for the Facers Flintshire Bitter.

Note the splendid array of pump clips adorning the ceiling, indicating a strong commitment to real ale.

The pub can easily be accessed from the rear exit of Stockport Station.

I found out the hard way that the pub does not open at lunchtimes, so bear this in mind.

( memo to self - pay more attention in future to previous BITE reviews, Good Beer Guide descriptions etc !)

30 Jul 2008 12:56

Swan With Two Necks, Stockport

Small traditional Robinsons pub located on a pedestrianised street in the shopping centre - the only pub on its street, Princes Street.

Its bigger inside than it looks from the outside as there are 2 rear snugs to give it a more rommy feel.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors for its unspoilt wood-pannelled interior which dates back to the 1920's apparently.

The pub was very quiet last Friday evening - it closed at around 9pm ( not sure if this is normal ) - but it is apparently quite busy at lunchtime with trade from local shoppers.

My Friday visit was also memorable, despite the overall quietness, for my sharing the splendid front snug with a larger than life Peter Kay sound-alike who was knocking back bottles of Old Tom at an alarmingly impressive rate of knots!

This pub is well worth seeking out

30 Jul 2008 12:49

The Railway, Stockport

Single bar pub opposite the Peel Shopping Centre and easily walkable from the town centre.

The pub serves beers from the Porter Brewing Co, a microbrewery from nearby Rossendale.

A splendid bank of handpumps in the L-shaped lounge bar offered a range of 8-9 different Porter Brewery beers when I dropped in last week. My pint of Hameldon Bitter - £ 1.60p - was a pleasant darkish beer with a slightly bittery taste.

Seemingly unusual for Stockport pubs, there is a wide range of foreign bottled beer offered as well

There are the inevitable railway-themed pictures and photos to admire while you sup your pint.

Well worth seeking out, especially if you fancy something other than Robinsons

30 Jul 2008 12:41

Winters, Stockport

I'm somewhat surprised that this pub hasn't had a posting since May 2005, given its central location on Little Underbank and its prominent exterior, consisting of a large clock and several figurines, reflecting the premises former use as a watchmakers and jewellers in the 19th Century by one Jacob Winter.

It's now a largish Holts pub, with not unpleasant interior decor, but with that somewhat impersonal circuit pub feel to it, which is not lessened by a few typical montages of photographs showing younger drinkers in various stages of inebriation and merriment.

I suspect that my Friday lunchtime visit, when the pub was quiet, enabled me to see it in a less unfavourable light.

I cant imagine that real ale is a big seller in here, but my pint of Holts, at a predictably cheap £ 1.74p, was spot on.

Upstairs is a seperate lounge bar / restaurant where cheap OAP lunches are offered.

If you're doing the Stockport town centre heritage trail while waiting for opening time, note that Winters is landmark point 18 ( out of 36 ). And no, in case you're wondering, not all the 36 landmark points are pubs !

Worth popping in for one if the nearby Queens Head ( landmark number 20 ) is impossibly busy.

29 Jul 2008 13:56

The Queens Head, Stockport

As usual, Roger B's reviews say most of what needs saying, but I will add that the Sam's OBB is now £ 1.32p a pint - outrageous !

It's a small pub - but bigger than it looks from outside - with a narrow bar area which makes getting to the cosy quieter rooms at the back a bit difficult. Even at 11.15 am last Friday morning, I had to gently squeeze slowly past the locals to get to the splendid alcoved snug at the rear.

Unfortunately, what with just the one staff member on duty, I felt unable to ask to be shown what is reputedly the smallest toilet in Europe ( according to the Stockport town centre heritage trail leaflet - in which the Queens Head is landmark number 20 )

In common with most Sam's Smith's pubs nowadays, the Sam Smith's external signage has been removed and the photo on this site is now out of date.

As Roger B says, if you like traditional unspoilt pubs, do visit this one.

It's situated virtually directly under St Petersgate Bridge ( from which steps lead down to Little Underbank )

29 Jul 2008 13:07

The Pineapple, Stockport

Traditional Robinsons pub on Heaton Lane, a stone's throw from The Crown and Stockport's famous railway viaduct.

The interior features low beams and a fine collection of souvenir plates from around the world. Windows with "Commercial Room" and "Smoke Room" inscriptions would indicate that this pub was multi-roomed in days long gone.

The Robbies Unicorn was £ 2.04 in here, seemingly cheaper than most other local Robinsons pubs.

The Pineapple is a pleasant enough pub, but probably suffers from having the Crown Inn nearby as competition.

29 Jul 2008 12:58

The Armoury, Stockport

Traditional Robinsons community local in Shaw Heath, slightly to the west of the town centre

There is a large and comfortable, but somewhat featureless, lounge, The vault and darts room are mainly used by the more mature drinker, it would appear.

There's an outside drinking area at the back.

There's some glasswork in the doors, indicative of the fact that the pub was previously owned by Bells, a small local brewer taken over by Robinsons in 1949.

The Armoury is a pleasant enough place, but there's no real reason to specifically visit, unless you're going to a match at nearby Stockport County F C.

29 Jul 2008 12:53

The White Lion, Barthomley

Fine, traditional thatched, low-beamed pub in a quiet hamlet just into Cheshire, little more than a mile from Junction 16 of the M6.

The building is Grade 2 listed and the pubs unspoilt interior merits it a listing in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

The building dates back to 1614 - look carefully and you can see the date carved in a wooden beam over one of the 2 entrances ( the one that says "use the other door ").

The White Lion is a Marstons ( formerly Wolves and Dudley ) pub and, on my visit last Tuesday was serving Pedigree, Burton Bitter, Mannsfield Cask Bitter and, perhaps surprisingly, Cocker Hoop and Sneck Lifter from Jennings. ( I know that, technically speaking, Jennings can't be described as a guest beer in Marstons pubs, but it does seem worthy of note to comment that there were 2 Jennings and no Banks beers on, given the location.

Having the car, I went for the Burton Bitter, a pleasant, but unremarkable pint.

The pub does a good range of lunchtime food and is evidently popular locally due to this.

Surprisingly not closing for the afternoon, the pub is well worth seeking out - particularly if you're not a big fan of motorway service station food.

If do you visit, try to make time to visit the splendid 13th century village church opposite as well.

28 Jul 2008 17:31

Central Commercial Hotel, Liverpool

Well, having been the one who introduced this pub to the site, I suppose I ought to write up my review.

This is yet another fine traditional Victorian pub, its name reflecting the fact that Liverpool's main station - Central Station - used to be opposite.

Note the splendid Walkers Warrington Ales frontage

Despite having fallen victim to modern pub embellishments ( eg karaoke on Thursday night, largish plasma TV's ) , there is still much to admire internally - particularly the cupola ( look upwards just after entering ) and glasswork with mahogany screens and wood pannelling.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide, which is well worth getting hold of. I may have mentioned this in some of my previous postings also.

It's difficult not to like this pub, despite the absence of real ale and, if you're a fan of traditional pub interiors, you might want to pop in nevertheless.

It serves keg Tetley's at £ 1.60p and it's just round the corner from The Globe.

8 Jul 2008 12:53

Doctor Duncans, Liverpool

Fine flagship Cains pub in the City Centre near Queen Square and next door to The Marriott Hotel.

You can choose from Bitter, Mild, FA, IPA or the 2008 Ale celebrating Liverpool's achievement as European Capital of Culture.

Do be sure to visit the magnificent ornate tiled room downstairs - this part of the building was previously the headquarters of Pearl Assurance.

Dr Duncan was the first Medical Health Officer in Liverpool in the 1800's and these are interesting framed panels dotted round the pub giving more information.

This is another central Liverpool pub that is worth visiting, with its cental location making it an ideal start or finish point for a crawl

8 Jul 2008 12:45

Peter Kavanaghs, Liverpool

Quirky but characterful Victorian side-street pub in the smart part of Liverpool - the Georgian part that reminds you of Bath or Cheltenham.

I'm afraid that I've lost my notes of what I drank in here - suspect it might have been Black Sheep. There were 3-4 real ales on

As previous contributors have correctly pointed out, there is much to admire decor-wise in this pub, particularly the paintings in the 2 side rooms. Note also the carved faces on the wooden faces and also those that stare down at you from the high up shelving.

The room to the left as you enter contains old radios hanging down from the ceiling and other musical items.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide, which is well worth getting hold of.

It's a bit of a walk here from the City Centre ( walk southwards down Hope Street and turn left after passing the Anglican Cathedral ) but it's well worth it and it can reasonably easily be combined with visits to Ye Cracke and The Phil.

Recommended

7 Jul 2008 13:55

The Ship and Mitre, Liverpool

The Ship and Mitre, situated at the eastern extremity of Dale Street, near where the flyover starts, is Liverpool's beer exhibition pub and CAMRA types will probably want to include this one in any crawl of the business district of the city. They have regular beer festivals.

The selection of real ale on my June visit included Higsons, Lees, Hydes together with a number of micros.

I had a pint of Higsons - a rather bittery tasting beer at £ 2.20p - which I imagine is trying to replicate the original recipe of the old brewery.

There is also an extensive foreign bottled beer and spirit selection.

The pub offers a good range of food, including "scouse", which I gather is a kind of soup, served with red cabbage and crusty bread.

The pub retains some vaguely Art Deco features, particularly on the first floor.

Watch out for the Worzel Gummidge dummy in a corner on the ground floor - was this his local, I wonder ?

Worth seeking out for the beer range alone, in a city where there are plenty of traditional pubs, but none with a range as good as this ( unless of course you know different )

7 Jul 2008 13:45

The Roscoe Head, Liverpool

Another fine, but smallish traditional Liverpool pub in a side street a couple of blocks away from the Philharmonic.

The Roscoe Head has been in every edition of CAMRA's GBG to date and I enjoyed a reasonable pint of Jennings in here last Friday lunchtime - 27 June 2008. There's 3-4 real ales on in total.

Perhaps unusually for Liverpool, there are several side rooms off a central drinking lobby ( rather similar in layout to Manchester pubs such as The Hare and Hounds on Shudehill )

The pub offers good honest lunchtime pub grub ( eg - steak and kidney pie, chips, peas and gravy for £ 4.75p ) . None of this poncey gastro food nonsense here !

The pub is named after William Roscoe, a famous anti-slave trade campaigner in the 1780's.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide, which is well worth getting hold of.

Visit recommended - try and make time to do this one if you can.

7 Jul 2008 13:35

Crown, Liverpool

Fine traditional Largish Victorian pub close to Lime Street Station.

On my recent visit - 27 June 208 - the beer range was limited to Tetleys and Everards Sunchaser, the former being on form and noticeably cheap at £ 1.35p.

Note the splendid ornately plastered ceiling and the art nouveau glass dome on the first floor - which you can see by walking halfway up the staircase.

Note also the copper bar front and the fine external friezes advertsing Walkers Warrington Ales and the Crown Hotel ( note that accommodation is not offered )

The pub opens early for breakfast and I think serves beer from 10 am.

My recent early morning visit - 27 June 2008 - was interrupted at about 10.45 am (!) by the arrival of a large hen party of about 25-30 females in number, a good few of whom looked at though they had probably had to bunk off school for the day. I retreated to the quieter, but equally traditional room at te back.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide, which is well worth getting hold of.

In conclusion, the Crown is not a must visit pub, but its central location and proximity to bus / rail stations make it a good meeting point or a good place to start or end a Liverpool crawl.

7 Jul 2008 13:25

Ma Egertons, Liverpool

Well, having been the one who introduced this pub to the site, I suppose I ought to write up my review pretty pronto.

Ma Egertons is a typically traditional unspoilt smallish Liverpool pub, located in a side street behind the Empire Theatre and close to the side exit from Lime Street Station.

Ma Egerton was well known in theatrical circles and was apparently a close friend of Charlie Chaplin.

The main room ( on the left of the pub as you go in ) is adorned with photographs of those who have performed at the theatre and have, presumably popped in for the proverbial swift half between performances ( or scenes ?).

Of particular note are paintings of some of Liverpool's leading kights - Ken Dodd, Cilla Black and George Formby.

There is also a painting of Ma Egerton herself above the fireplace - she looks a bit like a typically fearsome old style Northern pub matriarch.

Ma Egertons seems to be one of those Liverpool pubs that has not moved into the 21st Century - and is all the better for it.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide, which is well worth getting hold of.

The one downside is that there's no real ale - so you'll have to make do with John Smith's Smooth or something similar if you want to visit.

7 Jul 2008 12:25

Volunteer Canteen, Waterloo

Bit surprised that only one person has posted on this pub since my last posting ( below ) in October 2006.

The Volunteer Canteen - or The Volly as it's apparently known locally - is a fine traditional pub in a residential side street, a couple of blocks behind Crosby Marina and Lakes. The date above the front door is 1924, but the building dates back to 1827.

My pint of Black Sheep was on fine form - 26 June 2008. There's usually 3 or 4 real ales available - these included Deuchars IPA and Ruddles on my recent June visit.

Note the interesting collection of photographs and memorabilia of Liverpool in days of old - particularly the pictures of the Liverpool Overhead Railway which served the docks and ran until 1956, or thereabouts.

Note also the old Higsons etched windows and mirror in the public bar.

In the gents toilet, there is a framed poem entitled "lament to a lost pub" which isn't referring to any named pub in particular, but did strike a cord with this reviewer.

Read more about the pub in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide, which is well worth getting hold of.

In conclusion, the Volly is a splendid example of a good honest community local, well worth seeking out when in the Crosby area.

7 Jul 2008 12:11

The Pride of Spitalfields, Shoreditch

I'm not sure I'd describe the pub as "cavernous" - the previous poster might well be referring to a different pub

20 Jun 2008 13:04

The Queens Arms, Kilburn

The Youngs refurbishment hit-squad have not found this place yet.

I found it an unpretentious old fashioned local serving a reasonably good pint of Youngs.

Not a pub for youngsters - one for us older gits.

Well worth popping in if passing by

19 Jun 2008 14:11

The Warwick Castle, Maida Vale

First ever visit from yours truly last Saturday.

Former Charringtons pub in a quiet side street near the canal with a rather upmarket feel to it.

Good pint of Doom Bar and some original traditional features, including etched glass, combined to make this a reasonably enjoyable visit.

Note the old painting of Paddington station over the fire place.

Worth including in a crawl of the area

18 Jun 2008 13:52

The Windsor Castle, Maida Vale

Small pub just round the corner from the Robert Browning. Even disregarding the absence of any real ale on my Saturday visit, the pub felt rather sterile and uninspiring and I won't be returning in a hurry

18 Jun 2008 13:45

The Robert Browning, Maida Vale

Reasonable Sam Smiths pub let down solely by the absence of any real ale, which means I won't be rushing back

18 Jun 2008 13:41

The Warrington Hotel, Maida Vale

First visit since the revamp from yours truly last Saturday.

Yes, some of the "wow factor" of the internal decor has gone, but there is still much to admire, particularly the art nouveau glasswork.

There's 3 real ales regularly on - Adnams Broadside, Fullers Pride and Greene King IPA - all at £ 2.90p , which, I suppose makes the Broadside reasonably good value by London price standards.

Inevitably, its more food orientated now, but drinkers are still catered for and don't feel out of place.

Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, there was no sign ( or sound !) of the effing and blinding shouty one - which was a shame as I was feeling a bit grouchy myself that day.

Still worth going out of your way to visit in my book

18 Jun 2008 13:38

The Rose and Crown, Isleworth

Well, it looks like the John Bonser roadshow is the first to get here and comment, which is surprising since its been on the BITE site since 2005. It's also on the main road from Brentford to Hounslow with plenty of passing buses to hop on and off to keep lost drinking time to a minimum.

The Rose and Crown ( or the "Rose and Crow" as it is currently signed due to a missing letter "n" on the pub wall !)is an old style traditional coaching inn, somewhat similar in style and appearance to the nearby Coach and Horses.

I have a vague recollection of having a pint of Webster's Yorkshire bitter in here previously - probably sometime in the 70's - but there's no real ale nowadays.

The pub has a slightly neglected feel to it and I was left with the distinct impression that a bit of effort and TLC ( which would cover more than just finding a new letter "n" ) would not go unrewarded.

There's outside seating at the front for breathing in the traffic fumes if you feel so inclined.

I can't see myself calling in here again in the near future

11 Jun 2008 13:07

The George and Dragon, Brentford

Basic small locals pub on the main London Road catering for people from the local housing estates.

It bears evidence of its former days as a Charringtons house - before that it was owned by Fullers, but was one of the pubs that was exchanged between the two companies some time in the 1970's.

There's no real ale and, although it didn't seem to be as bad as I was expecting based on previous postings, I wouldn't recommend a visit.

( Given the new rash of expensive flats that have sprung up recently close by on the other side of the road by the Grand Union Canal basin, it's surprising that so many of the pubs on this stretch of the London Road ( eg George and Dragon, Six Bells ) are making absolutely no effort whatsoever to appeal to - or even welcome - the new influx of potential customers. The best pub round here by a country mile is The Magpie and Crown a bit further down on Brentford High Street )

11 Jun 2008 12:55

The Artful Dodger, Tower Hill

First ever visit from yours truly last Monday evening.

This is a pub that I've only ever previously seen from the window of the passing DLR train from Bank for the last 5 years or so, but never, until now, made the effort to visit. It's about 5 mins or so walk from Tower Gateway DLR station.

Its a reasonably traditional rather basic single-bar street-corner local situated in what seems to be a strange sort of hinterland between where the City of London ends and the East End begins.

There was only 1 real ale on during my visit - the ubiquitous Greene King IPA - which took ages to be pulled through properly, but tasted OK once the rather sullen barmaid had succeeded in filling the pint glass with beer rather than froth and bubbles. Pump clips decorating the wooden bar testify to the fact that other real ales have been one, but I would guess that there is not a lot of real ale trade here.

There's a pool table at the front of the pub and a plasma TV which was showing Holland v Italy in Euro 2008 at a reasonably unobtrusive volume level.

The pub was quiet - just half a dozen or so seemingly local customers.

In conclusion, I didn't dislike the pub, but, in all honesty, I'm struggling to find any compelling reason to re-visit or to specifically recommend it to BITE readers.

11 Jun 2008 11:01

The Hope, Richmond

Yes, it's another soulless wannabee gastro pub for those bright undiscerning young things with more money than sense.

Yes, it serves Sharps Doom Bar - but at a price that might be described as "ambitious"

I have nothing against the place - I never used to go into it in its previous incarnation as Molly Malones - but I suspect it's located the wrong side of the Pepsi roundabout to be a commercial success.

10 Jun 2008 14:28

The Queens Head, Limehouse

Fine Youngs pub in a Georgian square ( rather like the Trinity Arms in Brixton ) close to Limehouse station.

This is indeed the pub that the Queen Vic in Eastenders was modelled on, though thankfully there were no punch-ups or anything during my visit ! Nor did anyone try to sell me a dodgy motor !

This is of course the pub where the Queen Mother pulled THAT pint way back in 1987 and it is pleasing to see that mementoes of that visit have been retained.

The public bar has been updated somewhat and I found the quieter saloon bar more to my liking. Note the old London 5's dartboard - not seen too often nowadays.

I enjoyed a reasonable pint of Ordinary at £ 2.40p early yesterday evening.

Well worth popping in if passing by.

10 Jun 2008 11:23

The North Pole, Canary Wharf

There's a certain message coming through in these reviews - and mine's no different.

The North Pole is a nice unpretentious corner pub within spitting distance of the soulless and charmless drinking environment that is Canary Wharf - where the usual suspects ( ABO, Slug and Lettuce etc dominate )

Despite being in close proximity to the Britannia Hotel in Marsh Wall ( its just down a flight of steps to the road below ), the North Pole has thankfully managed to remain undiscovered by the "suits" brigade.

People of my age group have a certain nostalgic fondness for pubs like this - comfortable leather-covered seats, decent carpet, some wood pannelling, authentic old-school London guvnor etc... . Note also the old Mann, Crossmann and Paulin windows at the front.

For the real ale drinker, there's London Pride plus Timmy Taylors, both of which were on good form last night - and reasonably priced.

Lets hope this pub is around for years to come.

Recommended for the discerning drinker.

10 Jun 2008 11:00

The White Horse Inn, Priors Dean

Famous traditional pub in the middle of nowhere, still notoriously difficult to find, despite the fact that is now signposted from the main Alton road ( which I dont think it was last time I visited yonks ago )

Perhaps surprisingly, the pub serves a good range of real ale. My pint of Deuchars IPA at £ 2.80 tasted fine.

The pub is quite food-orientated on the whole - there's a large restaurant at the back - but even the 2 bars have a warm friendly traditional feel to them.

Note the old framed price list in the main bar advertising Bass at 24p, Directors at 28p etc and some old settles.

Perhaps also surprisingly, the pub is open all day on Fri, Sat and Sunday.

Disappointingly for someone who's not a big fan of dogs, they are allowed in the bar, but horses must remain outside, as the notice says !

There's outside seats for summer drinking , including a garden at the back.

Well worth seeking out - recommended to be combined with a visit to the Harrow in Steep, but allow time to find them both !

6 Jun 2008 17:13

The Harrow, Steep

Splendidly traditional, long-established family run 16th Century rural pub in the Hampshire hills a mile or so from Petersfield.

This pub is probably as far removed from your chav-infested identikit high street pub as you can get nowadays.

It's listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors and there is much to admire in the two separate rooms, each with their own distinctive character.

Needless to say, there's none of the usual pub accompaniments, such as slot machines, TV's etc.

For the nostalgia buffs, there's also outside toilets on the other side of the lane.

Beer is served in jugs direct from the barrel - on my recent visit, there were Ringwood Best and a local micro.

I was pleased to be able to add to my growing collection of pub postcards by paying £ 1 to charity for a card showing the splendid public bar interior.

The pub is cut off from Petersfield by the A3 and it takes a bit of finding. Print out a map from the web site to make it easier.

To conclude, do make the effort to find this pub - you will be well rewarded

6 Jun 2008 16:59

The Kings Arms, Oxford

Well known traditional City Centre pub dating back to 1607 and now owned by Youngs since 1991 ( their first pub in Oxford )

The small rooms at the back have more atmosphere and display pictures of old customers who have visited over the years, including the deadly duo of Morse and Lewis.

Despite it being a Youngs pub, the KA has always sold guest beers - on my early May visit, these were Deuchars IPA ( now a regular guest in many Youngs pubs ) , St Austell Tribute and a beer from Beartown Brewery ( regrettably my notes on which beer are now illegible !)

Bottled Quadricentary Ale ( ABV - 6.4%) was being sold in bottles to commemmorate the 400 years Anniversary.

The pub is close to several colleges and is inevitably popular with the Gown. It does however open at 10.30 in the morning, which is a good time to visit.

Definitely one of Youngs best pubs - worth seeking out.

Very close to the famous Turf Tavern ( on which I've also commented recently )

3 Jun 2008 13:46

The Turf Tavern, Oxford

Famous 16th Century city centre pub within spitting distance of the Kings Arms down a side alley by the much photographed Bridge of Sighs ( there's another alleyway off Holywell Street ) and close up against the old city walls.

As previous contributors have pointed out, its a GK pub, but it serves a good range of approx a dozen real ales, including local micros ( these included West Berks Good Old Boy and White Horse Wayland Smithy on my early May visit. As the pub itself proclaims - " its an education in intoxication".

There are several outside drinking areas - the one in front of the main entrance has chalk boards providing interesting snippets of information on the pubs history / customers.

At the time of my visit, the Southern Counties Beer Festival was in progress in the garden at the back and the usual CAMRA worthies ( all looking like Bill Oddie of course ) were starting to roll up.

Mind your head on the low beams in the front bar and look out for the inevitable picture of Morse and Lewis supping a pint in the pub.

Recommended - but likely to be busy whenever you visit

30 May 2008 14:04

The Bear, Oxford

Small and old traditional oub dating back to 1242, located close to Christ Church college, just south of the High Street.

Despite not being badged as such, the Bear is a Fullers pub, having been bought off the City Council in 2001 ( per Oxford CAMRA guide ).

At the time of my recent visit, the pub was selling the monthly Fullers guest beer - Highgate Best at £ 3.10p.

Previous contributors will be disappointed to hear that the previous policy of allowing a wider range of guest beers has now been discontinued and I'm afraid the previous contributor is unlikely to find Timmy's on any more.

The pub's most noticeable feature is the extensive tie collection in glass cases on the walls and ceiling. I gather there's about 5,000 in total.

Note the old Halls - Oxford and West Brewery Co Ltd - motif on the wall outside.

Worth popping in for the proverbial swift half if time permits

30 May 2008 13:55

Ye Hole in Ye Wall, Liverpool

Well, having been the one who got this pub listed on BITE, I suppose I ought to write my review, somewhat belatedly.

Its another fine traditional Liverpool pub, reputedly the oldest in this splendid pubby city. The date 1726 is displayed high up on the wall outside.

Its situated round the corner from Thomas Rigby's in Hackins Hey, one of the ancient medieval streets of Liverpool in the business district, off Dale Street.

There is much wood-pannelling, a fine old fireplace and an unusual telephone booth at the back of the pub.

Real ale was not available on the date of my visit in late March, but I gather it usually is. I did however enjoy a good cheap business lunch.

In conclusion, it's not a must visit pub, but should be included along with Thomas Rigby's if you're crawling in the business area of the city.

Read more about this pub - and Liverpool's other classic gems - in the CAMRA guide to Liverpool's historic pubs, which is a good well illustrated and informative book - good value at only £3.

And, no, in case you're wondering, I don't get royalties from sales.

29 May 2008 13:19

The Beehive, Marylebone

It's now re-opened as a gastro pub, reviewed in today's Metro.

Needless to say, I won't be going there - I'm not a gastropub sort of person

21 May 2008 13:32

The Royal Exchange, Paddington

I think we've got the message now, Mr Griffin !

29 Apr 2008 12:08

The Rose and Crown, Huish Episcopi

First ever visit from the John Bonser roadshow last Monday ( 21st ) on the way to Taunton.

Its an old fashioned largely unspoilt roadhouse of great character on the A372 about 15 or so miles east Of Taunton.

There's no bar, just several handpumps in a flag stoned tap room.

I enjoyed a good pint of Mighty Tor bitter from the nearby Glastonbury Brewery, which, given that I was driving, was the lowest gravity beer.

Being a Monday lunchtime, the pub was very empty, but I received a very warm welcome indeed from the landlady's son and grandson and the one or two locals present. Sadly, I was told that Eileen, the landlady, aged 85, had passed away a week or so ago.

Several of the fields close by the pub are owned by the family and it is clear that this is a real centre-of-the-community pub.

Note the specially designed framed Ordnance Survey map on the wall showing Eli's ( as the pub is known ) as the centre of the world, not just the village !

Mr Brahmsandliszt - posting of 21/05/07 - is spot on with his short but succinct review.

Do pop in if passing by, I think you'll enjoy the experience.

25 Apr 2008 17:26

The Vines, Liverpool

Little to add really to my September 2005 posting, except to say that the Vines is an architectural masterpiece, both inside and out and second only in this respect to the Philharmonic amongst Liverpool's many classic unspoilt boozers.

The present Vines dates back to 1907 and was constructed by the same architect as the Phil ( on which I have just posted ).

My early morning visit on 3 April coincided with the first day of the Aintree race meeting and the pub was heaving with our Irish cousins wolfing down hearty cooked breakfasts.

I made do with a pint of John Smiths Smooth - yes, the Vines is a real ale free zone - but if it's possible to savour a pint of John Smiths Smooth, this is the place to drink it.

This is one of the few pubs in the country that I will visit, in the full knowledge that there is no real ale, and I recommend you do too.

18 Apr 2008 13:53

The Philharmonic, Liverpool

Generally accepted as the most ornate pub in Britain, this well-known pub is a must visit place for strangers to the City. Listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

It was built by the same architect as The Vines on Lime Street, another pub you should try and get to.

The room at the far end, entitled the Grande Lounge, used to be a billiards room and retains something of the atmosphere of a gentlemans club.

Note the splendid copper friezes and ornate plasterwork and the iron gates outside by the pub entrance.

In contrast to previous reviewers postings, there were half a dozen or so real ales on - I went for the Everards Sly Fox, a reasonably enjoyable pint.

However, it goes without saying that the beer is not the main reason that visitors to Liverpool make the short pilgrimage here.

18 Apr 2008 13:43

The White Star, Liverpool

Fine traditional welcoming pub with a handsome tiled exterior , just round the corner from Matthew Street in the Beatles area of the City.

The interior features much wood pannelling, plus comfortable leather banquettes and numerous splendid shipping pictures, including The Titanic and the White Star liners. There are also numerous boxing photos / memorabilia ( Clay/ Cooper etc ) and, perhaps inevitably, a Beatles corner. It is said that musical promoters used to pay their pop groups, including the Beatles, in this pub.

Note also the large Bass mirror on the back wall.

I had a good pint of Bowland Gold on my recent April visit.

Given the location of this pub, close to the Beatles area, it is pleasing that it has not been "improved" -pleasingly it remains a comfortable homely welcoming pub, well worth seeking out.

18 Apr 2008 13:32

Globe, Liverpool

Small traditional pub in the heart of the City Centre situated close to the entrance to the Clayton Street shopping mall.

There is one small bar at the front which leads to a quieter room at the back.

There is much wood-pannelling and stained glass to admire. However, the main distinctive feature is the sloping floor which slopes down quite noticeably to the back of the front bar from the bar area at the front - indeed the pub advertises itself outside as " the pub with the famous sloping floor"

Note the globe high up on the facade of the building, indicating that the pub dates back to 1888.

It's badged as a Robert Cain's & Co's house, but serves guest beers also - on my recent visit, these included Deuchars IPA and Black Sheep.

Well worth seeking out, but be aware that this is one of the smaller pubs in Liverpool and that you'll probably have to stand.

18 Apr 2008 13:21

The Lion Tavern, Liverpool

Another fine traditional Liverpool City Centre pub, close to Moorfields station.

Note the splendidly ornate glass dome and the tiled bar and the unusual bar layout. This pub is pictured on the cover of the CAMRA National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors guide.

I enjoyed a good pint of Hawkshead IPA recently which I tried in preference to either Banks, Youngs and several others which I forgot to note down.

This pub serves baguettes and cheease toasties at lunch time, also Southport potted shrimps.

If walking to the pub from Moorfields, do notice the unusual revolving windows in the building virtually opposite the station - its " modern art" apparently as one of the unimpressed locals confided in me.

You should try and do this pub if at all possible when in Liverpool.

Recommended

17 Apr 2008 17:37

The Poste House, Liverpool

Somewhat surprised to be the first to post on this pub for a good while - 3+ years in fact !

Its a small traditional pub in a narrow side street off Dale Street in the business district of Liverpool.

As previous reviewers have correctly pointed out, this pub was nearly lost to the developers in 2002, but was saved by a multi -pronged petition.

Based on my visit - 3 April - this friendly community local is thriving.

There's an upstairs bar, but the ground floor bar is preferable and more homely.

The visit was notable for a rare sighting of Fullers London Pride, but I stuck with the Cains, which was on good form.

Disappointingly to report, the curse of the Oriental DVD sellers have now reached Liverpool - pleasingly, the young barman here dealt with them in a robust fashion.

In summary, this is not one of Liverpool's must visit pubs, but well worthy of inclusion in any crawl of the business district pubs of Liverpool.

Read more about the history of this pub - and others - in the Liverpool Historic Pub Guide - a splendid well-illustrated guide and very good value for money at only £ 3.

17 Apr 2008 17:29

Lamb Hotel, Eccles

Splendid Holts pub close to the Eccles Metrolink terminus.

This pub is supposedly the crown in the jewel of Holt's Edwardian drinking holes and is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors, for its splendid mahogany glass fittings and etched glasswork.

The building itself dates back to 1906 - note the date on the external brickwork high up.

In true Northern pub style, there's a typical drinking lobby which lead to 4 rooms in total. These rooms are traditionally furnished and decorated with pictures of the area in times gone by, including the inevitable pictures of Ye Olde Eccles Cake Shoppe.

To get here, take the Metrolink Tram from Piccadilly.
The journey goes through Salford Quays, which is aspiring to be Manchesters equivalent of London's Docklands.

Eccles is not short of Holt's pubs - try also the Stanley Arms, a mile or so further down the A57 towards Patricroft, a pub which I have unsuccessfully tried to get listed on BITE.

My beer was certainly not sour ( see previous posting ) and both this pub and the Stanley Arms are highly recommended for fans of decent cheap beer in traditional welcoming surroundings.

17 Apr 2008 17:14

Mr Thomas' Chop House, Manchester

Well known restaurant/pub in the centre of Manchester seemingly favoured by the office brigade at lunchtime.

This establishment is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors - note the extensive green tiling and the impressive bar back.

Also noteworthy is a photo looking down Cross Street taken shortly after the IRA bombing just down the road and a series of photos of old Manchester in the downstairs gents toilets.

As previous posters have correctly pointed out, this establishment is first and foremost a restaurant, but with a small bar area at the front. Prices of both food and drink reflect this emphasis ( eg Black Sheep at £ 3.20 per pint. I imagine the other 2 beers, Lees and Boddingtons are equally expensive )

Food is also expensive - eg, fish, chips and mushy peas at £ 12.50p and Mr Toms bangers and mash at £ 9.95p

I didn't dislike the place, but I doubt that I'd go again, unless someone else was picking up the tab.

17 Apr 2008 12:59

The Courtyard, Horwich

I do enjoy the high standard of intellectual debate that often appears on BITE

15 Apr 2008 17:02

The Eagle Inn, Salford

Splendidly traditional Holts pub just outside the Manchester City Centre boundary in Salford in an area that is rapidly being regenerated. Not the easiest pub in the world to find, but do persevere, you won't be disappointed

Note the sign in the window in the left hand bar - " nutters corner - no vacancies". I only saw this on leaving and inadvertently sat in that corner, but in a good humoured friendly local like this, no one minded. ( perhaps they saw me as one !)

A good honest workaday boozer - lets hope it's still around next time I'm in the area.

Needless to say, the Holts was in fine form

8 Apr 2008 13:35

The Dutton Hotel, Manchester

Back street corner locals Hydes pub just north of the City Centre, close to where the old Boddingtons Brewery used to be.

Its bigger inside than it looks from the outside, being wedged at a narrow angled road junction.

Inside, note in particular, the trademark Hydes Anvil on display and a collection of blowtorches.

The blackened oak beams give the pub a bit of a country pub feel, but, in most other respects, this is a typical back street Mancs boozer ( well so my northern friends say ).

Had a good pint of Hydes Original - £ 2.20p - a rather clean tasting beer.

Probably worthy of the short walk from Manchester Victoria B R, but I prefer both the Hare and Hounds in Shudehill and the Marble Arch on Rochdale Road in this area of Manchester.

8 Apr 2008 13:28

The Derby Brewery Arms, Manchester

Large Holts pub - it's the brewery tap for the nearby brewery - on Cheetham Hill Road, approx 1 mile north of Manchester City Centre.

I enjoyed a typically bittery pint of Holts last Thursday lunchtime at the standard price of £ 1.74.

The pub itself is unremarkable and there's a disappointing lack of breweriana ( both about Holts and brewing generally )on display , so unless you have a specific urge to drink Holts virtually outside the brewery gates, I wouldn't specifically recommend seeking this one out

8 Apr 2008 13:20

The City Arms, Manchester

Friendly two roomed traditional City Centre pub with a fine tiled exterior.

I enjoyed a good pint of Moorhouses Premium Bitter in this cosy pub.

Its best avoided at lunchtimes apparently, when it gets taken over by the office crowd.

Notably, there's a pub also on either side ( The Vine and The Waterhouse ), neither of which I visited, although the Vine looked tempting.

In conclusion, the City Arms is not a must visit pub, but well worth seeking out if in the area

7 Apr 2008 17:49

The Old Grapes, Manchester

Largish pub in a side street off Quay Street ( main road to Salford ) , but within the Manchester City Centre boundaries.

As previous posters have correctly pointed out, this is " Vera Duckworths pub " and the pub is adorned with numerous photos and press cuttings of our Vera and other cast members.

In many other respects, its a somewhat unremarkable pub, with, despite a reasonably traditional feel, the slightly impersonal ambience of a City Centre circuit pub. I gather it does indeed get impossibly busy on Friday and Saturday nights.

There's no real ale.

In conclusion, I found it a pleasant enough place, but unless you're a big Corrie addict, I see no real reason to specifically seek this one out, given nearby alternatives.

7 Apr 2008 17:44

The Buffet Bar, Stalybridge

First ever visit from yours truly last Monday ( 31 March )

This is a well known licensed buffet bar, serving a range of half a dozen or so real ales in a nostalgic Victorian atmosphere on Platform 1 at Stalybridge B R station. Sitting there supping your pint, you half expect to experience the sights / sounds and smells of steam engines passing through.

The pub consists of several interconnecting rooms and a conservatory. Note in particular the old fireplace in the main bar, the extensive railway memorabilia and the framed newspaper articles detailing how customer petitions thwarted British Rail's attempts to close it many years ago.

I enjoyed several good pints of Hanby Mild, but for some unaccountable reason, I omitted to try the famous black peas and pie.

Stalybridge station can be easily reached from Manchesteer Victoria B R and, at only £ 2.40p for an off peak return, I considered it as money well spent.

I think this is probably the first time ever that I've bought a return rail ticket without ever leaving the station at the other end !

Apparently, its now the only fully licensed public house to be found on a railway platform ( as opposed to a station concourse ) in the UK.

If you're staying in Manchester and have done the better known pubs there, I'd recommend you consider making the short trip out to Stalybridge.

7 Apr 2008 17:37

The Buffet Bar, Stalybridge

First ever visit from yours truly last Monday ( 31 March )

This is a well known licensed buffet bar, serving a range of half a dozen or so real ales in a nostalgic Victorian atmosphere on Platform 1 at Stalybridge B R station. Sitting there supping your pint, you half expect to experience the sights / sounds and smells of steam engines passing through.

The pub consists of several interconnecting rooms and a conservatory. Note in particular the old fireplace in the main bar, the extensive railway memorabilia and the framed newspaper articles detailing how customer petitions thwarted British Rail's attempts to close it many years ago.

I enjoyed several good pints of Hanby Mild, but for some unaccountable reason, I omitted to try the famous black peas and pie.

Stalybridge station can be easily reached from Manchesteer Victoria B R and, at only £ 2.40p for an off peak return, I considered it as money well spent.

I think this is probably the first time ever that I've bought a return rail ticket without ever leaving the station at the other end !

Apparently, its now the only fully licensed public house to be found on a railway platform ( as opposed to a station concourse ) in the UK.

If you're staying in Manchester and have done the better known pubs there, I'd recommend you consider making the short trip out to Stalybridge.

7 Apr 2008 17:37

The Buffet Bar, Stalybridge

First ever visit from yours truly last Monday ( 31 March )

This is a well known licensed buffet bar, serving a range of half a dozen or so real ales in a nostalgic Victorian atmosphere on Platform 1 at Stalybridge B R station. Sitting there supping your pint, you half expect to experience the sights / sounds and smells of steam engines passing through.

The pub consists of several interconnecting rooms and a conservatory. Note in particular the old fireplace in the main bar, the extensive railway memorabilia and the framed newspaper articles detailing how customer petitions thwarted British Rail's attempts to close it many years ago.

I enjoyed several good pints of Hanby Mild, but for some unaccountable reason, I omitted to try the famous black peas and pie.

Stalybridge station can be easily reached from Manchesteer Victoria B R and, at only £ 2.40p for an off peak return, I considered it as money well spent.

I think this is probably the first time ever that I've bought a return rail ticket without ever leaving the station at the other end !

Apparently, its now the only fully licensed public house to be found on a railway platform ( as opposed to a station concourse ) in the UK.

If you're staying in Manchester and have done the better known pubs there, I'd recommend you consider making the short trip out to Stalybridge.

7 Apr 2008 17:36

The Hare and Hounds, Manchester

Yes, they do serve Holts - I was in there on 31 March. It's now £ 1.90p a pint, which, if you're used to London beer prices, is good value.

In a Holts house, such as The Lamb in Eccles, the standard price is £ 1.74.

I suspect the mild ( which is not sold in the Hare and Hounds ) is a few pence even cheaper.

The Hare and Hounds is a splendid pub, well worth visiting ( not far from Manchester Victoria B R station )

Listed on CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

7 Apr 2008 13:11

The Cat's Back, Wandsworth

Beer was in good condition on my recent visit. My pint of Itchen Valley bitter tasted fine. Now more food orientated than previously, but still worth visiting if in the area.

There's now a restaurant upstairs

This place is not cheap, but then again where is around these parts ?

28 Mar 2008 14:25

The Lord Nelson, Sutton

Good honest Youngs community local in the well pubbed New Town area of Sutton. Locals are very keen on horse racing. Worth calling in if crawling in the area

28 Mar 2008 13:09

The Little Windsor, Sutton

Fine traditional Fullers house in the well-pubbed New Town district of Sutton. Formerly a Charrington's house - it was previously called the Windsor Castle - but its name was changed to The Little Windsor to avoid confusing it with another much bigger pub nearly in Carshalton with the same name.

Looks a bit like somebody's house from the outside - indeed I gather it's 2 former cottages combined together

Well worth the walk out from Sutton town centre to find ( about 10 mins only )

28 Mar 2008 13:06

The Mitre, Paddington

I'm sorry to have to report that Youngs have now bought this pub - so previous reviews ( including mine ) that refer to "wonderful floor mosiacs" and "original Victorian features" might sadly soon become inappropriate, as might the listing on CAMRA's Regional Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

28 Mar 2008 11:42

The Jolly Gardeners, Mortlake

Good honest Youngs locals pub on the main road from Richmond to Mortlake. I'm a bit suprised that it's only had 2 postings since my introductory comment below in November 2004.

I've little to add to that posting, which is still largely true today.

This was the pub that the Watneys draymen used to drink in in the 70's when Grotneys ( sorry Watneys ) was brewed at the Stag Brewery close by

25 Mar 2008 13:40

The Coach and Horses, Barnes

First visit yesterday afternoon from yours truly since the change of tenant ( Lesley having now gone to The Buckingham Arms ).

This is still a fine traditional quiet pub. Sadly it was short of customers yesterday afternoon, because it's a Sky Sports free pub, so they weren't showing Chelsea - Arsenal.

It's still the best pub in Barnes in my book, perhaps better visited in Summer because of the splendid large garden at the rear.

And it's still, as far as I'm aware, the only Youngs pub with outside toilets - unless of course YOU know differently

25 Mar 2008 13:31

The Charlie Butler, Mortlake

I think the previous contributor may find that his wish has been granted.

The for let sign has now been taken down and new tenants seem to be in situ.

The pub has not been refurbished again - it still has that Youngified chain pub feel that was forced on it several years ago ( see my previous posting ), but there now seems to be a better atmosphere. I caught the last 20 mins or so of the Chelsea - Arsenal game yesterday afternoon.

As regular readers of my scribblings may recall, one of the John Bonser acid tests of pub evaluation is " what's the atmosphere like when there's a Chelsea game showing?". They passed the test comfortably.

There's now food more readily available. The Youngs bitter was in good nick. Interesting to note the availability of Deuchars IPA as a guest.

To conclude, this is not one of my favourite Youngs pub by a long chalk, but it certainly seems better than it was

25 Mar 2008 13:24

The Britannia, Richmond

Good pint of Sharps Doom Bar early yesterday evening, but, yes, this pub is now starting to look and feel a bit run down.

It's been up for sale for some time now, I believe.

Its owned by The Massive Pub Group ( they also own the Tup chain )who are currently in administration, so it will be interesting to see what happens to this pub in the next few months

17 Mar 2008 13:55

The Royal Oak, Ham

Nice traditional locals pub on the 371 bus route between Richmond and Kingston. Has a bit of a country feel to it, with the black oak beams and lowish ceiling. Note the fine etched windows, one advertising "off sales saloon " would suggest that this used to be a 2 bar pub.

Only one real ale - Youngs - so the pub's not a big draw for the real ale fraternity.

A pleasant enough place, but not worth going out of your way to find ( but the bus stop is close by )

17 Mar 2008 13:47

The Fox and Duck, Petersham

Locals pub on the main road between Richmond and Kingston, close to the Ham Gate entrance to Richmond Park. Its a pleasant enough pub in a slightly old fashioned basic sort of way. Not a great pub for real ale drinkers - a solitary handpump serves Bombardier at £ 2.70p - and I was virtually the only customer drinking it.

Used to do Thai Food a number of years ago, but has changed hands since.

No sign of any chavs yesterday ( Sunday ) during my lunchtime visit

17 Mar 2008 13:41

The Park Tavern, Kingston Upon Thames

Caught the end of the Fulham v Everton game on in here yesterday, so yes, there is football.

This is a fine traditional pub, the nearest decent pub to the Kingston Gate exit to Richmond Park.

I enjoyed a nice pint of Dark Star Old Ale, but with an ABV of only 4%, a price of £ 3.25 for a pint seemed a bit steep. The people on the next table thought so too.

17 Mar 2008 13:35

The Angel, Rotherhithe

Famous riverside pub, re-opened several years ago by Sam Smiths after a period of closure.

It's a former Courage pub - first visited by me in the early 70's when it appeared in the Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs. Then I got propositioned in here by a "working girl" - but that's not for posting on this site

Nowadays it's a fairly typical Sam's pub - including those partitions that they like with doors suitable for dwarves ( sorry the "vertically challenged")

There's a more comfortable upstairs room with comfy chairs etc and good river views.

12 Mar 2008 13:43

The Ship, Rotherhithe

Basic Youngs local just inland from the river, not too far from the Mayflower.

The Ship is a Millwall supporters pub - " no one likes us, we don't care" - as deduced by the large flag over the door, which is hardly a glowing reference, but I didn't feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in any way. I saw the end of the Man Utd v Portsmouth F A Cup game here on TV last Saturday.

This is a fairly typical down to earth South East London local.

I'm afraid to say however that, based on last Saturdays brief visit, ethnics and those who find un-PC comments distateful might prefer to give this pub a wide berth and use the Mayflower instead

12 Mar 2008 13:36

The Mayflower, Rotherhithe

Characterful and well-known traditional riverside pub, very popular with tourists. Doesn't have any music, fruit machines etc, which seems to keep most of the riff-raff away.

Its a Greene King pub, so the beer aficianados will be disappointed, but my pint of IPA was pleasant enough.

There's a verandah at the back for outside drinking overlooking the Thames on those rare sunny days that we occasionally get

12 Mar 2008 13:29

Moby Dick, Surrey Quays

Purpose built pub in a good location overlooking Greenland Dock, within easy walking distance of Canada Water Underground station.

It's a Fullers pub and, given the location and previous comments, I was rather surprised to see 2 guest beers on - Adnams and Ossett Brewery.

I dont have any adverse comments to make - my beer was OK. It was early Saturday morning, the pub was virtually empty and it allowed me a brief respite from the gale force winds outside.

Based on that Saturday visit, I'd pop in again if passing through

12 Mar 2008 13:23

The Blacksmith's Arms, Rotherhithe

I agree with the previous posting about lack of atmosphere - coincidentally, I was in the pub on that very afternoon before the rugby started.

The place seems to be a Thai Restaurant in a pub ( as opposed to a pub with a Thai Food restaurant attached if you see what I mean ). On the early Saturday afternoon that I was there, food was dominating and I seemed to be the only pub type customer there.

It's a very attractive building - both externally and internally - but in its current incarnation I won't be rushing back

12 Mar 2008 13:17

The Crown, Richmond

A change of management has brought about an increase in trade and more of a "feel good" factor which this pub has sadly lacked in the past.

It's still basically the same pub as before, but it's amazing what can happen if you get a couple in who are prepared to make a bit of an effort.

This is a difficult area for a pub, it's slightly out of Richmond Town Centre so it's not on the circuit, but it's in an area where there's a mixture of offices and residential flats / houses.

Had a good pint of Wadworths 6X last Thursday.

Pub is quite close to where I live and I'll defo visit again

11 Mar 2008 13:16

The Mitre, Richmond

Traditional unspoilt Youngs side street local, worth seeking out for its warm and friendly old fashioned feel. Run by a long standing Irish tenant, Pat, who has been there for 23 years now.

There's little if any passing trade given the location, so it always seems quiet

This is the type of pub that would be under threat of closure by the new Wells / Youngs brigade were it not a tenancy, so here's keeping our fingers crossed that Pat ( and the pub ) are still around for many more years yet.

Note the splendid etched and frosted windows - gives the pub a warm cosy feel.

11 Mar 2008 13:08

The Windmill, Burgess Hill

"Random" pub of the day - yet again !!!

3 Mar 2008 13:35

Ye Olde White Bear, Hampstead

Another nice traditional welcoming Hampstead pub in a side street, not too far from The Duke of Hamilton.

Surprisingly, on my Saturday lunchtime visit, they had 6 real ales on - but not one of them was what I would call "mainstream" such as Pride or GK IPA.

My pint of Titanic Stout was very distinctive, but I'd be surprised if they had the beer trade to keep so many different beers in good nick consistently.

(The pub is to be commended on its ales, but I do wonder how many customers will switch to lager when there isn't a real ale that they recognise).

Not spoilt by musak or chavs ( they probably don't exist in Hampstead ?), this pub is well worth seeking out

3 Mar 2008 13:29

The Duke of Hamilton, Hampstead

Traditional Victorian - style pub in a side street off Heath Street. This pub is well worth seeking out - don't let the rather uninspiring exterior put you off.

This appears to be where the Hampstead locals drink ( having abandoned the Flask ?) - which is always a good sign.

Note the interesting collection of sporting pictures on the walls - and in particular a photo signed by both Mike Gatting and Shane Warne of THAT ball at Old Trafford that so bamboozled him during an Ashes Test Match.

The London Pride was on reasonable form - there's other beers to sample too.

This pub is well worth seeking out

3 Mar 2008 13:22

Spaniards Inn, Hampstead Heath

Well known North London watering hole on the north side of Hampstead Heath near Kenwood House. Has associations with Dick Turpin, the famous highwayman apparently.

My visit early Saturday lunchtime was quite pleasant, but this is a food orientated pub and not for drinkers, although I did note a surprisingly good selection of real ales on. My pint of Harveys was reasonable, and at only £ 2.80p perhaps cheaper than I might have expected for this area.

The area is bare boarded, but with much wood pannelling which creates quite a traditional atmosphere.

Its dog friendly, unfortunately - they advertise doogie baths, but thankfully my visit was during a dog free period.

Saturdays visit was probably my first visit since the 1970's when I visited the pub due to it featuring in The Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs.

Nowadays, its a pleasant enough pub, worth combining with a stroll on Hampstead Heath if in the area, but not worth going out of your way to visit

3 Mar 2008 12:58

The Duke of Sussex, Waterloo

Typical London local close to Waterloo station. Being on the Lambeth side of the station ( as opposed to the City side ), it doesn't get the early evening commuter hordes.

Retains old Truman Hanbury Buxton signeage outside - see the photo - and although the old style 60's Truman interior is not there, the pub has quite a traditional feel to it with a decent carpet and comfortable seating. Pub was not too busy early yesterday evening

Note the interesting old local photos on the wall - very evocative of an earlier era when London was full of English people.

Real ale is not a big seller here - of the 3 handpumps on the bar, only one was in use, dispensing a nice pint of Wadworths IPA. I didn't see anyone else drinking real ale.

The Duke of Sussex is not a must visit pub, but is likely to be less busy than the Hole in The Wall and, given how that pub seems to divide opinion on this site, you may wish to consider the Duke as an alternative meeting up place close to Waterloo B R.

Yes, I'll come here again sometime

27 Feb 2008 13:45

The Stage Door, Waterloo

Corner pub in a side street close to the Old Vic theatre. Perhaps surprisingly, given the pub name and the location, there is no theatrical memorabilia on display, but some sporting photos - including one of Donald Bradman and the 1930's Australian cricket team. I gather the landlord is an Aussie

I find it difficult to assess where this pub is trying to position itself - one the one hand, there's a big screen for the rugger / footy and a pool table - but it seems to be trying to be more than just a locals local, what with the subdued candlelit lighting and the trendyish window blinds, and the food on offer.

Real ale does not appear to feature strongly - yesterday there was only a rather moderate London Pride to sample and Adnams Broadside, which was in the process of having the barrel changed during my visit yesterday.

I didn't dislike the pub particularly, but, taking the visit as a whole, I can't see myself rushing back here

27 Feb 2008 13:32

The Island Queen, Islington

Retains much of its original Victorian interior and is worth visiting for that alone - but, based on yesterdays visit, this pub appears to attract the young upwardly mobile Islington types and there is not much in the way of real ale to attract the beer buff.

25 Feb 2008 13:50

The Pakenham Arms, Clerkenwell

Rather disappointed in yesterdays visit - in retrospect, I probably picked a bad time as the Chelsea v Spurs Carling Cup Final was just about to start, so there were lots of football-supporter types in evidence, in what had quite a bit of a sports bar atmosphere to it.

Beer range seemed reduced from what I remember previously - there was no Harveys on, only Pride, Greene King IPA and 2 Cornish Beers, one of which was Doom Bar.

Older readers will probably remember this pub as one of the vanguards of real ale in the 70's - when the real ale revival started. It was then, believe it or not, part of a small chain of free houses owned by Maxwell Joseph ( of Grand Met /Watneys fame !)

I'll put yesterdays disappointing visit down as a one-off

25 Feb 2008 13:44

The Duke (of York), Holborn

Food - orientated pub in a quiet Bloomsbury side street, but signposted from Guilford Street.

Retains many original Art Deco fixtures - and is worth visiting ( probably just the once ) for that alone - but this is not a beer drinkers pub and neither the Adnams Broadside nor the Greene King IPA ( its only 2 real ales apparently ) were available yesterday lunchtime.

I have not sampled the food - but it's pricey

25 Feb 2008 13:37

The Calthorpe Arms, Holborn

Traditional unspoilt Youngs pub within walking distance of The Lamb in Lambs Conduit Street.

Mainly a locals pub - it's always nice to be reminded that you're not the only English person still in London - well worth calling in if passing by.

Run by a long standing tenant, the pub is unspoilt as yet by the Youngs refurbishment hit squad

25 Feb 2008 13:30

The Nightingale, Balham

Re dogs - not if they're making a nuisance of themselves, Mr Early Drinker !

And when was the last time you saw a dog getting a round in at the bar ?

21 Feb 2008 12:58

The Sherlock Holmes, Charing Cross

Perfectly reasonable traditional pub that gets a lot of tourists in due to its association with you-know-who ( the clue is in the pub name )

I tried their own branded Sherlock Holmes Ale, on the basis that it would probably have the biggest throughput. It did, but it wasn't particularly inspiring.

Roger B ( posting in Dec 2007 ) may well be correct that this beer is Morland in disguise - after all it's now a Greene King pub - but I couldn't discern anything from the taste.

Worth taking your American cousins to, but I think I'll stick to the Ship and Shovell myself( under the arches selling Badger beers )

20 Feb 2008 13:29

The Bell, Cannon Street

Small traditional pub within spitting distance of Cannon Street station. Retains signs of its former status as a Courage Pub , but its now owned by the Red Car pub company ( a small chain of 5 public houses in London ).

It's had a minor refurb over the years - the gantry over the bar has gone and so has the carpet, but it's still one of the better traditional pubs of its genre

Note the information panel inside which tells us that, in days of old, this used to be a riverside pub - its not any more !

Yes, the beer is expensive ( Harveys - £ 3.05p), but this pub is well worth calling in on.

20 Feb 2008 13:19

Ship, Monument

Fairly typical Nicholsons pub down an alley way close to the Monument. Timmy Taylors was in good nick yesterday. Not a must visit pub, but well worth popping in for one if passing through.

20 Feb 2008 13:12

The Swan, Bank

Fine traditional, but small city pub with a narrow bar at ground level and an upstairs bar that is somewhat bigger and not quite as busy. It's a Fullers pub that takes the permitted guest beer - note the numerous pump clips on display

Rather pleasingly, the management of this pub clearly read BITE as pinned up by the bar is the BITE top 40 listing in Feb 2007 when this pub was briefly at number 1 and the nearby Bell in Cannon Street (which is under the same ownership ) was at number 2.

What I would say to the management is that the upstairs bar had a strong whiff of furniture polish yesterday evening - one of the unpleasant consequences of smoking now being banned, obviously.

I'll put this down to a temporary aberration - the Swan is still one of the best pubs in this part of the city in my book

20 Feb 2008 13:08

The Lamb Tavern, Leadenhall Market

Renowned stand-up-to-drink pub in Leadenhall Market retaining many original features - one of my favourite city pubs. Youngs Beer was in good nick early yesterday evening.

John Wayne fans may recall that this pub featured in a fight scene in an 80's film - Brannigan.

Nowadays, it is of course rather more civilised, although I was apoplectic to see that karaoke is now being offered as an "attraction" in the downstairs bar on occasional Wednesdays. I think I'll give it a wide berth

20 Feb 2008 13:00

The Chamberlain Hotel, Aldgate

Seems to have had a rebranding since my last visit several years ago - its no longer a Fullers Ale and Pie House - and it feels more like a pub than a hotel bar now ( which has never been the case previously ).

It was certainly a lot busier yesterday than I remember from previous visits.

My London Pride was OK - nothing spectacular.

In summary, it was a reasonably pleasant visit, but this is not a pub worth going out of your way to get to

20 Feb 2008 12:54

The Queens Hotel, Crouch End

Large corner pub on the Broadway in Crouch End, retaining many original features. Note particularly the Art Nouveau glass work and the splendid entrances - rather similar to the Salisbury in Green Lanes in that respect.

This pub is listed in CAMRA's Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors

Beers on were Wells Bombardier and Eagle IPA ( A rare sighting ) , but this is not really a drinkers pub. You might prefer the Harringay nearby in this respect

Worth visiting if you're in to old relatively unspoilt pubs, though

19 Feb 2008 13:48

The Harringay Arms, Crouch End

Nice traditional long narrow single bar pub in the centre of Crouch End.

I wouldn't describe it as "rough and ready" - it's just a proper old school boozer that does what it says on the tin.

It seems to be where the locals drink - and that's usually a pretty good sign.

Worth popping in if passing through

19 Feb 2008 13:41

The Salisbury, Harringay

Splendid North London drinking emporium - the description of Verbanofacta on 14 /12/07 is a good sum up. Note also the splendid skylight in the lounge room, which is where the kitchen area is situated. I understand that this used to be a billiards room.

Yesterday early afternoon, the only real ales on were from Fullers - but this is not really a real ale pub - go to admire the splendid interior, principally.

Worth visiting, this pub would probably do much better in an English community, rather than in an area dominated by Turks and Cypriots.

This is not a racist comment - just a sad matter of fact.

18 Feb 2008 13:31

The Oakdale Arms, Harringay

First visit from yours truly yesterday ( Sunday ) lunchtime.

Arriving just after midday, it initially appeared that I had gatecrashed some kind of kiddies play group, what with kids running around all over the place and parents sitting idly by with pushchairs.

However, thankfully, they soon left and I was able to enjoy 2 of the Milton Beers that were on. I liked the Pegasus, a dark copper coloured malty beer, but I was less keen on the Sparta, which tasted a bit lifeless and uninspiring.

The friendly barman - who bore a slight resemblance to Peter Stringfellow - offered me a taster of the others, which I wish I'd taken up in retrospect. There weren't any non Milton guest beers on.

The pub is situated in Hermitage Road, off Green Lanes, but right at the other end, about 10 minutes walk down the road if coming from the Green Lanes end.

Well worth visiting - can be combined with a visit to the Salisbury in Green Lanes, which was our next port of call after leaving the Oakdale.

Haringay is a bit outside our normal drinking territory - but I'll defo return soon

18 Feb 2008 13:22

St Stephens Tavern, Westminster

Fine interior decor and decent pint of Badger yesterday evening. The pub has a typically transient London feel to it, but I enjoyed the visit. Staff seemed unusually keen and enthusiastic for a Central London pub.

Worth including in any crawl of the area

15 Feb 2008 13:54

The Speaker, Westminster

Long overdue inaugural visit from the John Bonser roadshow yesterday. I echo the positive comments of previous posters.

Being Valentines Night, the pub was relatively quiet and I was able to enjoy the friendly and relaxed ambience.

There were 4 real ales on - three micros plus Youngs. The Peat Porter from Moor Brewery in Somerset was particularly noteworthy - tastes a bit like Lagavulin whisky, so Dennis confided in me.

This pub is well worth seeking out - I shall return, sooner rather than later.

15 Feb 2008 13:38

The Harp, Covent Garden

I too am at a loss to understand how anyone can complain about the range of beers on offer in this pub.

Highly recommended when in the area, as is The Salisbury in St Martins Lane

4 Feb 2008 13:15

The Plough, East Sheen

Mr Ashers - are you the new owner, by some chance ?.

You talk about expecting "vastly improved food" and "better quality" beer, but the place hasn't reopened yet, seemingly, so I'm not sure what your expectations are based on

30 Jan 2008 12:51

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

There seems to be some debate as to how old this pub is, reading previous reviews.

The guidebooks seem to be in agreement that the current building is a replica of the original building. The original building was indeed built in 1546. The current building dates back to around 1772.

Much of the interior wood-pannelling was put in in the 1930's according to the CAMRA National Inventory guide.

I think we're almost unanimously agreed however that this is definitely a must visit pub - but not at weekends, cos it's shut !

29 Jan 2008 13:46

The Duke of Devonshire, Balham

It depends what you mean by "doing the place up", Mr Altoplanato !

29 Jan 2008 13:37

The Rising Sun, Epsom

Characterless and bland - not worth bothering with.

29 Jan 2008 12:55

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

Another enjoyable visit late yesterday afternoon - since coming under the Nicholsons umbrella, this has become a sports free pub and is much improved.

Neither the Timothy Taylors Landlord nor the Deuchars IPA - both very distinctive and recognisable beers - were on top form yesterday, and I think this pub may be suffering from having more real ales than they have the trade for. I counted 8 different beers yesterday.

This is however a fine traditional pub - note the etched windows and skylights in the back bar and the screens that create a mini - snug.

Pub is on CAMRA's Pub Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors

Well worth visiting

28 Jan 2008 13:03

The Plough Inn, Clapham

Small reasonably traditional Youngs pub on the main Wandsworth Road.

Football colours behind the bar indicate that the boss is a Celtic fan, which probably explains why they were showing Falkirk v Celtic on the main screen ( being watched by about half a dozen people ) while the Man U v Spurs game was showing on a small TV in another corner of the pub ( with about 20 people trying to watch ).

I enjoyed the visit - Ordinary on surprisingly good form - but the burgundy painted walls made the interior feel a bit dark. Part of the main bar is dominated by a pool table

Note the old Youngs tiling with the ram motif outside - not seen as often nowadays as it used to be

28 Jan 2008 12:57

The Surprise, Stockwell

Fine traditional unspoilt Youngs pub - it hasn't yet had the benefit of a "tasteful refurbishment" - located in a cul de sac off the Wandsworth Road and backing on to Larkhall Park.

Note in particular the back room with the caricature drawings of pub customers.

In marked contrast to other reviewers, unfortunately, I am no big fan of the pub dog, Toffee.

My arrival yesterday ( Sunday ) afternoon at approx 12.45 pm, which purely by chance coincided with the arrival of another customer ( also not a regular ), was met with several minutes of unrestrained barking until the landlord managed to quieten him. Not the best of welcomes, I would suggest.

No, I'm not a fan of pub dogs in general - particularly in small pubs like this when they take up too much room by sprawling all over the place. Occasionally they try and jump all over you and lick you, which I'm not keen on as you never know where they've been.

This is a fine traditional pub, however, I won't be disappointed if said dog is not there next time I call in.

Had he not been there, I might have stayed longer as the Ordinary was in good form.

28 Jan 2008 12:47

The Tamworth Arms, Croydon

You have to specifically ask for the petition - and yes, I think they have accepted the inevitable - the landlady virtually says as much in the newspaper article referred to in my last posting

25 Jan 2008 13:57

The Albert, St James's

Large pub with traditional decor, popular with tourists.

Staggeringly however, on my visit at approx 8 pm yesterday evening, none of the 5 real ales were available as the lines were apparently being cleaned ( all at the same time !?).

When I therefore ordered a pint of Guinness, the barman replied " I'll just have to go downstairs to change the barrel".

Its a nice pub, but they need to get their act together better on the drinks front to warrant a return visit from the John Bonser roadshow

25 Jan 2008 09:37

The Cask and Glass, Victoria

Enjoyable visit yesterday evening - Spitfire in good form.

As other people have correctly pointed out, its not the biggest pub in the world, but its cosy traditional atmosphere makes it worth popping in if in the St James area.

Readers may recall that, in days of old, this pub only used to serve beer in half-pints, but they have now seen the error of their ways !

25 Jan 2008 09:30

The Dog and Bull, Croydon

Splendidly traditional Youngs pub in Surrey Street market - a Croydon institution.

I visited Sunday lunchtime - felt very quiet indeed without the normal hustle and bustle of the weekday market, but this pub is highly recommended at any time of any day of the week.

As the well known beer writer Roger Protz once wrote - "The day Youngs turn the Dog and Bull into a wine bar called Johnnies is the day I emigrate"

( but then again, knowing the new Youngs, that might not be too far away !)

23 Jan 2008 13:23

The Woodman, South Croydon

Quiet pub in a South Croydon side street. Has quite a country feel to it.

The pub was virtually deserted last Sunday afternoon - not sure why - I'll return some day and perhaps I'll find out why.

Staff seemed keen and friendly - the pub has just changed hands recently, so perhaps they're still finding their feet

23 Jan 2008 13:15

The Swan and Sugarloaf, South Croydon

I can't say that I felt intimidated when I visited on Sunday lunchtime, but there's no real ale and the place has little to commend it.

It's a shame as it's a local landmark building

23 Jan 2008 13:12

The Tamworth Arms, Croydon

The John Bonser roadshow paid what is sadly likely to be his last ever visit to this pub last Sunday lunchtime.

I will always have a soft spot for this pub - first ever Youngs pub that I visited way back many many moons ago ( back in the 70's ) but, according to the Croydon Advertiser ( 18 Jan ) Youngs are set on closing it as it doesn't make money.

I signed the petition behind the bar, but what's the use ?

It's a shame - one of Croydon's few remaining proper pubs

RIP -Tamworth

23 Jan 2008 13:06

Ye Olde Watling, Mansion House

I'm afraid this pub left quite a poor impression yesterday evening. The Timothy Taylors was only marginally drinkable and there were plenty of uncollected dirty glasses on the tables, which was poor given that the pub wasn't particularly busy

I too witnessed the staff serving short measures.

Based on yesterdays visit, I'd be inclined to go to Williamsons instead - its only a 100 or so yards away, if that

15 Jan 2008 13:21

Williamson's Tavern, Mansion House

Excellent Nicholsons pub, well worth seeking out. Marvellous pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord yesterday - it was noticeable that of the other three beers on, no one was drinking either the Abbot or the Tribute and very few people were drinking the London Pride. 75% approx of the trade was the Timmy's landlord during the hour or so that I was there.

Very impressed all round

15 Jan 2008 13:16

The Banker, Cannon Street

Reasonable, but unremarkable Fullers pub by the river under Cannon Street arches. Lacking in atmosphere early yesterday evening, even allowing for the fact that it was a Monday.

London Pride was on good form at £ 2.80p.

Probably better in summer when you can sit outside and watch the river, which of course you cant do on a cold January dark evening

15 Jan 2008 13:11

The Half Moon, Herne HIll

Splendidly traditional interior in a large road-house type of pub, a short walk from Herne Hill B R ( Blackfriars Line ).

Much splendid glasswork and wood pannelling

Note in particular the mini snug on the left with the coloured mirrors.

There were only 2 real ales on when I visited early last Saturday evening - Adnams and Wadworths 6X.

Despite the pub being reasonably busy, I seemed to be the only real ale customer - which is never a good sign - but the Adnams did not disappoint.

If you're in to old fashioned Victorian pub interiors, you should seek this one out

14 Jan 2008 13:24

The Gorringe Park, Tooting

Little to add to my previous review in Feb 2005 - which was the first comment on this pub - it's still a good honest traditional local on the main road close to Tooting B R station.

Seems to have had a bit of a clean recently - carpet looked very new, but this is still a proper pub, thankfully, worth visiting if in the area

14 Jan 2008 13:17

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

Very enjoyable visit last Saturday lunchtime. Summer Lightning in good form. This is a two bar pub, but there's only ever one bar open whenever I go - I think the other opens evenings only.

Pub is in the back streets of South Wimbledon - not the easiest pub to find if you haven't been before.

Very much a local, but I've never felt unwelcome here.

Yes, it's not the friendliest pub going, but this is London remember

14 Jan 2008 13:12

The Prince of Wales, Merton

Nice reasonably traditional Youngs pub on the main road from South Wimbledon tube. Beer in good nick. ( Ordinary - £ 2.50p )

Nice to see the pictures of the Queen Mum still being retained here.

A good honest community local

Used to be called the Prince of Wales in years gone by, but was renamed in honour of a certain unassuming publicity - shy young lady who was married to Prince Charles

14 Jan 2008 13:06

The Tamworth Arms, Croydon

This pub is at risk again, according to the Croydon Advertiser - 4 Jan 2008

Local property developers have submitted a new application which would involve demolishing the pub and replacing it with flats.

Lets hope that this too is rejected

14 Jan 2008 13:01

One, Lewisham

I do like these highbrow intellectual debates that seem to be a feature of this website !

11 Jan 2008 13:42

The Waggon and Horses, Surbiton

Perhaps they only put the Courage Best in to boost the sales of Youngs - can't say I'm keen on either though !

11 Jan 2008 13:10

The Angel, Soho

Decent traditional Sam Smiths pub - we ought to stop bickering amongst ourselves and be grateful that we have such a fine watering hole so close to the tawdry hell hole that is the Tottenham Court Road / Oxford Street junction.

Its my pub of choice when I'm in the area - always happy to pop in for the proverbial "swift half" with or without work colleagues

11 Jan 2008 12:53

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

It was apparently rebuilt externally shortly after 1772 and the interior remodelled in the 1930's.

Older readers may recollect that this pub appeared in an Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs, a paperback book published, I think, in the early 70's. This book deliberately included one fictitious non existent pub and a prize was offered for the first person to write in to the authors correctly identifying the pub.

A good number of people wrote in claiming that Ye Olde Mitre was this fictitious pub as they had not been able to find it !

10 Jan 2008 13:38

The Red Lion, St James

Forgot to mention in my earlier review that I don't think this pub is open on Sunday - you might want to check if planning a visit on that day

9 Jan 2008 13:04

The Red Lion, St James

Enjoyable visit yesterday, although in contrast to previous reviews, there were only 3 beers on ( and that soon became two when the London Pride went off ). Still the Taylors Landlord was in fine form.

Staff seemed keen and enthusiastic, in marked contrast to previous visits in years gone by.

Well worth seeking out, close to Piccadilly Underground.

It's a Nicholsons pub and listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

9 Jan 2008 12:58

The Salisbury, Leicester Square

I too am a fan of this place.

The Deuchars IPA early yesterday evening( strangely priced at £ 2.83 ) was basically as good as it gets.

Decent beer, friendly and efficient service, splendid decor - this pub continues to tick all the right boxes as far as I'm concerned

9 Jan 2008 12:20

The Princess Louise, Holborn

I agree that this is a good refurbishment - well done Sam Smiths.

Hmmm...yes, I do wonder what Youngs would have done to this splendid place

Still highly recommended - and Sam Smiths OBB on the pump is still £ 1.78

7 Jan 2008 12:00

The Princess Louise, Holborn

I agree that this is a good refurbishment - well done Sam Smiths.

Hmmm...yes, I do wonder what Youngs would have done to this splendid place

Still highly recommended - and Sam Smiths OBB on the pump is still £ 1.78

7 Jan 2008 12:00

The Andover Arms, Hammersmith

Pub is unchanged internally, but you need to be aware that the Thai food people have gone.

Now serving British food - but at prices that reflect the affluence of the area

7 Jan 2008 11:56

The Holly Bush, Hampstead

Fine pub with an old traditional interior, retaining some old original partitions and glasswork. It's still badged as a Benskins pub and there's a splendid oval shaped Benskins mirror on display along with several Ind Coope mirrors, who took over Benskins in days now long gone.

The pub is mainly catering for the local gastropub trade, but is a classical example of how a gastropub can be created without destruction of an original pub interior or loss of character.

Beer prices are, perhaps inevitably, on the high side, £ 3 for Harveys Sussex Best - but this pub is a must visit pub in my book.

Conveniently situated, up a short flight of steps off Heath Street virtually opposite was once was The Horse and Groom ( Youngs )

31 Dec 2007 12:48

The Flask, Hampstead

As regular readers of my reviews will know, I am not a big fan of Youngs refurbishments, but this is certainly not one of the worst. The original partitioning between the public / saloon bar side has been retained and the public bar still has a traditional feel to it.

I enjoyed a good pint of Youngs Ordinary in the "public" side at only £ 2.50.

The Flask is no longer THE pub in Hampstead in my book, but I'll certainly go again next time I'm in the area

31 Dec 2007 12:41

The Victoria, Bayswater

Has just won the award of Fullers Pub of the Year 2007 and the Griffin Trophy was proudly displayed behind the bar when I visited yesterday afternoon.

This is a splendidly traditional well-run pub, a must visit pub when in the area.

Do take the opportunity to visit the upstairs rooms - particularly the bar with the former fittings from the Gaiety Theatre.

24 Dec 2007 10:22

The Mitre, Paddington

Still retains some original Victorian features - note particularly the glasswork in the snug and the floor mosiacs and the skylight in the back room - and the pub is well worth visiting for these features alone, but in other respects, based on yesterday afternoon's visit, this seems to be a typically transient London pub with no regular customers and no real atmosphere.

The London Pride was surprisingly good and there are other real ales available as well, but, were it not for the original internal features, I wouldn't rush back here.

24 Dec 2007 10:18

The Viper, Mill Green

Fine traditional unspoilt country pub, approx 2 miles from Ingatestone Station. The Mild was in fine form. Supports local micros and does a reasonable range of food at fair prices.

Worth seeking out if in the area

19 Dec 2007 13:37

The Grove, Balham

Not quite what you'd expect to find in a back street in Balham - this is a fairly typical chainy Youngs Pub and Dining Room, which has limited appeal for serious drinkers.

Carry on walking to the nearby Nightingale, if its a bit of atmosphere and a proper pub you're after.

19 Dec 2007 13:09

The Nightingale, Balham

Very enjoyable visit last Sunday lunchtime - sadly this is one of a rapidly diminishing breed of "old school" traditional Youngs pubs.

First sighting this year of Youngs Christmas Ale

Note the extensive collection of bottled Youngs beers on a shelf high up behind the bar.

Thankfully, there weren't any dogs running round being a nuisance on my visit - but I do agree with the sentiments of the previous contributor.In a smallish pub like the Nightingale, they should be left outside, especially when food is being served

19 Dec 2007 13:04

The Duke of Devonshire, Balham

Closure date is 7 January - Youngs are spending £ 500k on the refurbishment - oh dear !

19 Dec 2007 12:41

The Halfway House, Earlsfield

Another pub ruined - Mr Lash is spot on with his comments unfortunately, this place is no longer recommended to anyone who likes proper pubs

18 Dec 2007 10:12

The Castle, Old Isleworth

Pub appears to be up for sale again - the estate agents board outside has re-appeared.

Are Debbie and Tracey moving out ?

13 Dec 2007 13:12

The Lord Clyde, Borough

Another very enjoyable visit last night en route to a Xmas Dinner with work colleagues in the Royal Oak.

Splendidly unspoilt interior - rather reminiscent of the majority of Youngs pubs in the 70's when I did the 135 tour.

Previous comments say most of what needs saying, but this pubs ticks all the boxes as far as I'm concerned.

I'm slightly surprised that more of the "usual suspects" who regularly post on this site don't seem to have been here - this is a neglect of duty that you are recommended to rectify sooner rather than later ! You won't be disappointed.

11 Dec 2007 12:47

The Spread Eagle, Wandsworth

Splendidly traditional pub, now seemingly busier and more welcoming following a change of management. Memorable for a rare sighting of the old framed photos of the Queen Mum, which seem to have all but disappeared from Youngs pubs now.

This pub and The Grapes are probably the pick of the Youngs pubs in Wandsworth now, although of course the beer now comes from halfway up the M1.

10 Dec 2007 13:36

The Alma Tavern, Wandsworth Town

Not a very impressive show at all last Saturday morning I'm afraid

Entering the pub at approx 11.20 am, I was clearly the first customer of the day.

" A pint of Youngs Bitter please" I said, pointing to the appropriate pump.

After about 2 or 3 minutes of pulling vigorously on the pump, the barmaid managed to produce approx 1/3 of a pint of rather murky and cloudy looking beer.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we've only just opened up" she offered up apologetically, " I'll go downstairs to the cellar, see what's happened"

Several minutes later, she reappears - cue more vigorous pulling on the various handpumps, but still no liquid appears.

" I'm sorry sir, I dont know what seems to be the problem, can I get you a cup of tea, instead ?!!!!"

At this point, I made my excuses and left, telling her I would pop in again, some other time

I dont think I 'll bother

I'm scoring this visit a massive 0 out of 10 - well we aren't allowed to give minus numbers are we ?

10 Dec 2007 13:30

Ye Olde White Horse, Aldwych

Still a fine pub - Top Dog Andy will no doubt be disappointed to hear however that it was again only Wherry, Landlord and Brakspears on yesterday evening.

4 Dec 2007 14:16

The Seven Stars, Chancery Lane

Nice pint of RSB from the Red Squirrel brewery yesterday, not cheap though.

Where have all the legal eagles gone that used to frequent this place - seemed to be full of scruffy students yesterday ?

Still a great pub though, but do take care when visiting the toilets unless you want to fall and break your neck

4 Dec 2007 14:13

The Crown Inn, Stockport

Splendid multi roomed free house - makes a change in a town dominated, not surprisingly, by Robinsons pubs - the Crown is well worth seeking out.

Excellent range of real ales in a fine traditional and friendly atmosphere.

Do visit the pub garden at the back - the view looking up at the famous railway viaduct is simply awesome !

4 Dec 2007 10:21

The Nursery Inn, Heaton Norris

Well, the John Bonser roadshow has reached a pub that no one else has for some time.

The Nursery Inn is a fine traditional multi roomed -unspoilt Hydes pub a few miles outside Stockport just off the road to Didsbury.

Its wood pannelled 1930's interior earns it a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors.

Hydes is not my favourite beer by a long chalk - but the Mild was an enjoyable pint

The real highlight of the pub is its own crown green bowling green at the rear - I dont think I've ever visited a pub with one before - brings a whole new meaning to "pub games" !

Worth seeking out - you can get the bus from Stockport

4 Dec 2007 09:59

The Marble Arch, Manchester

Traditional home-brewer pub reasonably close to Manchester Victoria B R. This is a large single bar pub with a fine ceiling and a deceptive floor that slopes down noticeably to the bar at the far end.

There's a old Harpurhey Brewery mirror ( don't know much about them )

Brewing takes place at the back of the pub and the equipment is visible from a small lounge at the back

As regards the various beers, the Lagonda IPA was a nice pale citrussy IPA, worth sampling. As well as the half dozen or so home-brewed beers, there were a couple of micro guests on when I visited

3 Dec 2007 13:15

The Briton's Protection Hotel, Castlefield

Another fine traditional Manchester pub, established in 1831, a short distance away from the Peveril of the Peak.

The Britons Protection boasts a multi -roomed interior with a splendid tiled corridor, for which it earns a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. Its badged as a Tetleys pub, but it's a free house and Robinsons Unicorn and Jennings were among the guest beers available on my visit

Very convenient if you're staying at Jurys Hotel - it's next door !

Close also to the Concert Hall, this pub is worth seeking out

3 Dec 2007 13:09

The Duke Of Wellington, Marylebone

This place is now apparently a gastropub - it was reviewed in yesterday's Evening Standard

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by the previous reviewer - he's summed up perfectly what we're all thinking.

It's a crying shame.

29 Nov 2007 12:46

The Peveril Of The Peak, Castlefield

Not sure about the previous posting, but the Peveril is another one of Manchesters drinking institutions. The striking tiled exterior is memorable - see photo here.

The pub is named after a horse drawn coach that used to run from Manchester to London through the Peak District, taking 23 hours.

In typical Northern style, there are a number of different rooms off a central bar. The public bar contains an old Sokaball table football table - apparently one of only 3 like it left in existence.

There are old bell pushes in the lounge and a splendid painting of Sir Matt Busby. Bar lunches are served and there are a few outside seats and tables on the pavement for when it is not raining.

The pub is still badged as a Wilsons pub - note the trademark draughtboard tiles in the gents loo.

Beers served were Black Sheep, Deuchars IPA and Bombardier on my September visit

27 Nov 2007 17:19

The Castle Hotel, Manchester

Traditional Robinsons pub not far from Piccadilly Gardens in the City Centre. Note the fine tiled exterior and the old mosaic floor. The full range of Robinsons ( and Hartleys ) bers are served - remember to treat the Old Tom with respect.

There is a large games room to the rear.

There are a good number of pubs within short walking distance of Piccadilly Gardens that are well worth visiting - see my other postings if you want some help in finding them !

27 Nov 2007 17:08

The Old Monkey, Manchester

Traditional- ish Holts pub in Portland Street, close to the Circus Tavern and the Grey Horse. The pub has a bare-boarded ale house style, which I didn't really take to, but a typically bittery pint of Holts at £ 1.62 ( from memory ) more than compensated. There is an upstairs bar doing lunchtime meals. This pub is rather bigger than both the Grey Horse and the Circus Tavern - hence more suitable for larger groups

27 Nov 2007 17:00

The Grey Horse Inn, Manchester

Traditionally furnished single room pub virtually next door to the better known Circus Tavern. Photographs of old Manchester adorn the walls. Hydes is not one of my favourite beers and my pint was distinctly nondescript, but you may wish to visit this pub if the Circus Tavern is crowded ( which I gather it often is ) or heaven forbid it, closed for good

27 Nov 2007 16:57

The Circus Tavern, Manchester

Still open when I visited in late September.

Its a tiny unspoilt drinking institution in Portland Street. There are 2 small rooms off a central corridor.

The corridor contains the bar counter, which is situated under the stairs and is big enough for one person only to be serving at a time. There is one handpump serving Tetleys Bitter at £ 2.10 per pint - expensive by Manchester standards

One of the side rooms is decorated with football photos of past and present United and City players. The pub wisely maintains a strict neutrality between the 2 clubs. Rather oddly, in the middle of all these football pictures is a signed photo of the England Ashes cricket squad in 1993.

The second room ( the front of the 2 rooms )has pictures of various celebrities who have dropped in over the years - people from Corrie, boxers, film stars etc

One of Manchesters must visit pubs - I do hope it is still around next time I'm in Manchester

27 Nov 2007 16:53

The Cardinal, Kingston Upon Thames

Not my type of place at all.

27 Nov 2007 13:19

The Alexandra, Norbiton

Little to add to my previous posting in May 2005, but the pint of Greene King IPA last Sunday lunchtime was probably as good as that much - maligned beer gets

I'm not really sure if this pub knows what its target clientele is - seems to be trying to be all things to all men.

27 Nov 2007 13:18

The Park Tavern, Kingston Upon Thames

Good range of real ales on in a warm and friendly atmosphere. I think I prefer this pub now to the Wych Elm. Worth the short walk from Richmond Park ( Kingston Gate exit )

27 Nov 2007 13:14

The Wych Elm, Kingston Upon Thames

Rather disappointed with last Sunday lunchtime's visit.The pub felt cold - one of the regulars was leaning against a radiator to keep warm - and they didn't have the London Porter on. Margaret told me it hadn't sold well in previous years - so they didn't get any in this year. The Chiswick at £ 2.35 was cheap, but tasted of nothing at all in particular. I think I now prefer the nearby Park Tavern to this pub - comparing the numbers in both pubs, it seems a lot of other people do too.

27 Nov 2007 13:12

The Princess Louise, Holborn

My understanding is that it is due to re-open in December 2007. I've heard this from 2 different sources independently, so lets hope they're right

22 Nov 2007 17:04

The Commercial (the Comm), Lochgilphead

Unspoilt traditional pub at the top of the loch on the shore road. The unspoilt interior has earned the pub a place in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. The room at the back is particularly noteworthy.

It seemed very much a locals pub, might not appeal to everybody.

Like far too many Scottish pubs still, the pub offers no real ale.

21 Nov 2007 17:37

The Oban Inn, Oban

Fine traditional pub in the centre of Oban on the sea front road. Pub dates back to 1790. The downstairs bar has bare floorboards and black beams, but with music at a volume that this poster considered excessive. Note the extensive banknte collection

Upstairs is a more comfortable carpeted bar that effectively acts as a restaurant serving good honest traditional pub food at reasonable prices and in generous portions to those visitors who throng Oban in summer.

My pint of Loch Fyne Highlander at £ 2.35 was an excellent pint - tasted like Adnams Broadside.

This would appear to be the best all round pub in Oban

21 Nov 2007 17:27

Aulay's Bar, Oban

Surprised to be the first to post on this pub for over 3 years !

Its a fine traditional local in the centre of Oban.
The public bar has many shipping photographs and retains many original features, including extensive wood pannelling and disused water taps on the bar.

There's no real ale though, folks

21 Nov 2007 16:58

The Tigh an Truish Inn, Clachan Seil

18th Century pub situated next to the historic Atlantic Bridge which joins mainland Scotland to the slate island of Seil.

I too, won't bother to bore you with the history as to why the pub is known as "House of the Trousers".

The pub offers standard bar meals and, on my September visit, a couple of real ales, of which the Atlas Wayfarer from a local micro went down well.

There is a pleasant outside drinking area with a view of the bridge and the river. Close by is a souvenir shop selling postcards and photos - many of the pub itself. There is an honesty box for payment as it is unstaffed.

If you haven't got a car, Seil Island is accessible by bus from Oban ( infrequent service )

21 Nov 2007 16:55

The Magpie and Crown, Brentford

1907 different real ales served to date ( as at 4pm yesterday afternoon ) - great stuff, keep it up !

Yes, the place does feel a bit cleaner now and it's still one of the best pubs in Brentford, irrespective of whether you're a real ale anorak or not

19 Nov 2007 12:55

The Red Cow, Richmond

Not too bad a refurbishment by Youngs standards. The bar back with the splendid whisky mirrors has been preserved and I do like the new mini "snug" at the back, even if the newly introduced snob screens are only replicas.

In many other respects, its a typical Youngs refurb - pastel shades and those awful high chairs and long tables that give it a bit of a chain pub feel to it.

My pint of Youngs yesterday was spot on by Bedford standards

16 Nov 2007 13:11

The White Horse, Richmond

Visited late yesterday evening - seemed to have more of a pubby feel because they had stopped serving food for the evening

2 guest beers on - Adnams and Rev James. The friendly barman voluntarily gave me a sample of the latter. Told me they had London Porter on last week.

If only they could do something about the noise - as other people have commented, the wooden floors dont help - I could consider coming more frequently

16 Nov 2007 13:05

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

I visited last week end ( Sat 10 Nov ). As well as the full Timmys range, they had 3 guest beers, which is more than they used to have a few months ago - so I will also give it an upgrading

15 Nov 2007 13:09

The Pride of Spitalfields, Shoreditch

Fine traditional pub just off Brick Lane, well worth finding. Good pint of Crouch Vale Brewers Gold yesterday afternoon, but why did they suddenly pull down the big screen for the footy yesterday afternoon ( Portsmouth v Man City ) when nobody in the pub seemed remotely interested in watching it ?

I drank up and left - what a pity

12 Nov 2007 13:29

The Palm Tree, Mile End

Fine old fashioned traditional pub by the canal approx half a mile from Mile End Tube Station. Has that classic "don't go in on your own" look from the outside, but do, you won't regret it. Note the splendid gold wallpaper - well you can hardly miss it !

12 Nov 2007 13:19

The Fox, Twickenham

You don't get London Pride in the Eel Pie, its a Badger Pub - you're the one who needs to get your facts straight, Mr John

9 Nov 2007 11:33

The Fox, Twickenham

It's not £3 per pint in The Eel Pie

6 Nov 2007 16:50

The Queen Dowager, Teddington

Perhaps Mr Howat - previous contributor - would care to comment on the quality of the beer / wine / food that's now on offer as that's what most people are interested in finding out about.

It's the product, not the packaging that matters

6 Nov 2007 16:46

Mathers, Edinburgh

Another reasonably traditional Scottish drinking den just off the Western extremity of Princes Street. Here I had the pleasure of seeing Argentina beat host nation France in the opening Rugby World Cup Game on 7 September in an atmosphere that was often raucous and lively, but never anything other than good - humoured.

Of all the Edinburgh pubs that I visited, this was the only one where English beers dominated the bar - Batemans XB, Theakstons OP, Morlands Old Speckled Hen and Adnams Broadside. The Broadfside was basically as good as it gets and at only £ 2.60 might be considered reasonably priced.

Not a must visit pub, but worthy of consideration in any New Town crawl

25 Oct 2007 13:47

The Bow Bar, Edinburgh

Basic single bar drinkers pub in the old part of Edinburgh, not too far from the more tourist orientated pubs in Grassmarket. The pub had the best collection of old brewery and whisky mirrors that I encountered during my all too brief recent visit to Edinburgh.

The bar sports no handpumps - but worry out, the beer is served by an Air Pressure system apparently unique to Scotland, which manifests itself in an series of tall gleaming fonts. Yes it's real ale !.

There was a good range of real ales on - amongst the usual suspects was Dark Star Espresso Beer, which I imagine tastes like coffee. I had the Pentland IPA, a typically hoppy lightish coloured IPA.

The pub boasts that it offers more than 150 malt whiskies, but most customers seemed to be drinking one of the real ales

You could do a lot worse than seek out this friendly drinkers pub next time you're in Edinburgh

25 Oct 2007 13:31

Leslies Bar, Edinburgh

Yes, Mr Nogbad, you're a lucky bloke.

Leslies Bar is a marvellous watering hole situated at the foot of a tenement block in the Edinburgh suburb of Newington. Get a bus if coming from the City Centre, or if you've been climbing Arthurs Seat in nearby Holyrood Park, leave the park by the St Leonards Gate and its down one of the side roads past the Commonwealth Pool.

Its a splendid old fashioned pub built in 1899 and has polished wood in abundance. Note in particular the unusual ticket booth type counters on one side of the island bar and the splendid decorative moulded ceiling.

The pub is listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Unspoilt Interiors. There is an interesting information plaque in the pub giving its history. There is a tiny snug at the front as you go in and a further room at the back past the island bar.

My handpumped Deuchars IPA was in good form - there's other real ales as well if you want something else.

This is one of Edinburghs most well known watering holes - seek it out if you get the chance

24 Oct 2007 17:38

The Duke, Richmond

Not one of my favourite pubs, but Richmond needs another gastro pub like a fish needs a bicycle, so on that count alone, its a shame if it goes

24 Oct 2007 17:26

The Old Shades, Whitehall

NOTE TO SITE ADMINISTRATORS - AS other people have already pointed out, the pub pictured here is The Market Porter, NOT the Old Shades

22 Oct 2007 16:48

The Bon Accord, Glasgow

Well known Glasgow watering hole, easily accessible from the City Centre just the other side ( west ) of the M8 motorway from Charing Cross.

On the day of my September visit, the pub was offering 12 different real ales of varying gravities, all priced at £ 2.50, including Theakstons OP, Marstons Old Empire, Oakham JHB and Rev James. There was also some Farmhouse Cider from Ross on Wye with an OG of 6.5% and a beer called Punk IPA (!), the provenance of which I have now sadly forgotten

The pub has won numerous awards from CAMRA and I can easily believe the claim that it offers the widest beer range in Glasgow.

Irrespective of the extensive beer range, this is a decent traditional pub in its own right, well worth seeking out.

There was no issue with beer quality on my visit

17 Oct 2007 17:59

The Horseshoe Bar, Glasgow

Splendidly traditional and old fashioned Glasgow pub in a side street not far from Central Station. The pub claims to have the longest continuous bar counter in Britain.

There is much for the staunch traditionalist to admire - large Horseshoe motif mirrors, much wood pannelling and fine leaded stained glass windows at the front.Note also the old spittoon trough round the bar floor. The pub is included in the CAMRA National Inventory for unspoilt interiors.

There are numerous small TV sets dotted round the pub. These are relatively unobtrusive and seemed not to detract in any way from the boisterous, yet good natured atmosphere.

The Deuchars IPA in here was the cheapest yet - only £ 1.95p. The Timmy Taylors was on, but no-one seemed to be drinking it

There is an upstairs bar - The Horseshoe Bar - where we do cheap business lunches and where they were advertising Karaoke " eight days a week"

Highly recommended

17 Oct 2007 17:51

The Old Crown, Hesket Newmarket

Well known traditional Cumbria home brew village pub given considerable publicity due to 2 visits by Prince Charles as part of his "pub is the hub" campaign. The pub is owned by a cooperative of local villagers, who own the pub independently of the brewing operation which takes place behind the pub.

There are 2 interconnecting bars with a seperate restaurant / dining area at the back. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the two bars is largely given over to a large snooker table. There are thankfully no TV's or other distractions

I enjoyed the home brew and the sociable locals.

If travelling past on the M6, the pub is well worth the detour ( Junction 41 ).

Note that it closes at 2.30 pm on Sunday afternoon, not 3pm as per the 2007 GBG. You might want to phone ahead to check hours if travelling from far.

16 Oct 2007 17:52

The Cricketers Arms, Keighley

Friendly small single bar pub serving a number of guest beers, mainly from micros. Note the brewery memorabilia on display - an Adnams mirror and one from the late Trough Brewery in Bradford. The pub regularly offers live music.There is a recently opened downstairs bar.

Try and spot the cricketing memorabilia - which, given the pub name, is disappointingly limited.

In conclusion, this is not a must visit pub, but worth popping in if passing, especially if you're looking to try a beer you haven't sampled before.

16 Oct 2007 17:43

Albert, Keighley

Old Victorian pub in the centre of Keighley, which, despite some modernising, still retains much character and original features. This is one of the numerous Timothy Taylor pubs in the brewery's home town and the Golden Best was on good form on my visit - 3 September.

Not a must visit pub, but worthy of consideration on a pub crawl of the town, particularly since the nearby GBG listed Brown Cow does not open till 4 pm, for reasons which escape me

16 Oct 2007 17:38

The Fox, Twickenham

4 out of the last 5 postings on this pub are complaints about overpricing. There's a message there for the pub management if they bother to read this site

16 Oct 2007 13:04

The Brew Wharf, London Bridge

A complete waste of time and money - a place this bad could only survive in London.

16 Oct 2007 12:54

The Cat And Canary, Canary Wharf

Probably the best pub in Docklands - yes, I know it isn't saying much - but I've just come back from a long liquid lunch with work colleagues, the London Pride was spot on at only £ 2.80 ( it costs £ 3 in the Counting House in the City ) - do YOU know a better drinking place round here - if so, let me know ASAP ?

Cheers

11 Oct 2007 15:02

The Queen Dowager, Teddington

Haven't been in for some time - do you still need to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes ?

9 Oct 2007 13:32

The Hope and Anchor, Hammersmith

I paid my first visit for ages yesterday afternoon, not knowing that it was now a gay bar - a bit of a shock.

I dont have a problem with it being a gay bar - but the absence of any real ale is a major negative for me

8 Oct 2007 10:21

The Bat and Ball, Brighton

I'm interested as to whether a pub's clientele are hetero or homo - so are most people !

3 Oct 2007 13:40

The Archery Tavern, Bayswater

It is indeed now a restaurant - French, so I gather,not that I will be going there needless to say

1 Oct 2007 16:24

The Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden

Went there on Saturday - barman said that they would remain open till Xmas - after that it's all up in the air - so I guess it's watch this space for further news

1 Oct 2007 10:01

The Half and Half, Croydon

Worth visiting if in Croydon

27 Sep 2007 17:48

The Kings Head Inn, Carlisle

Welcoming traditional pub in the centre of Carlisle, close to the Tourist Information Centre.This pub had a wider range of real ales on than either the Howard or the Cumberland on my visit ( 4 Sept ) and I enjoyed a good hoppy pint of Yates Bitter at only £ 1.90p.

This is one of the oldest pubs in Carlisle - look at the history plaque on the outside wall.

Incidentally, I was interested to see a leaflet/map behind the bar giving details of as many as 22 breweries now in Cumbria. Real Ale rules OK !

26 Sep 2007 18:14

The Cumberland Inn, Carlisle

Traditional, wood pannelled pub in Botchergate, close to Carlisle station. Botchergate appears to be the epi - centre of the Carlisle drinking circuit - I spotted 2 Wetherspoons, a Walkabout, a Litten Tree, plus other "yoof" bars all in a stretch of 200 yards or so.

The Cumberland Inn - a CAMRA National Inventory listed pub is therefore an amazing survival in their midst, although I was disappointed to note that it has unfortunately succumbed to the trend of offering "attractions" - eg karaoke, disco - on certain nights of the week. Mercifully, my Monday night visit ( 3 Sept ) was free of such attractions and I was able to enjoy a good pint of Jennings Cumberland Ale in relative peace. Rather disappointingly, the locals all seemed to be drinking John Smiths Smooth and I reckon that real ale is not a big seller here.

Carlisle seems dreadfully short of tyraditional pubs - there's the Howard Arms, on which I've just posted, plus this one, plus the Kings Head behind the Tourist Information Centre - but that seems to be about it, unless anyone knows different

26 Sep 2007 18:09

The Howard Arms, Carlisle

Traditional Theakstons pub close to the city centre, sporting a fine tiled exterior. It's a one bar pub, but with a number of different drinking areas, featuring wood pannelling and a number of old photos of local interest, mainly of the now demolished Carlisle Theatre, which apparently stood virtually opposite.

Disappointingly, no real ale was available on my first visit ( 2 September ) , but a pint of keg Theakstons Mild was just about passable

On a subsequent visit ( 4 September ), no Theakstons real ale was available either. I was told that this was because recent batches had been cloudy, possibly due to yeast contamination, and had therefore been returned to the brewery. By some splendid irony, which will probably be appreciated by BITE regulars, the pub was able to offer Black Sheep Bitter (!!) which went down quite well

If Carlisle has such a thing as a "must visit" pub, this may well be it

26 Sep 2007 17:59

The New Inn, Gloucester

Characterful Grade I listed galleried inn in the centre of Gloucester that apparently dates back to the 15th Century. There are a number of rooms around a central courtyard, only one of which is actually the bar itself, the others consisting of a coffee shop, function room and carvery restaurant

Accommodation is offered in rooms upstairs around the courtyard

The pub stocks a good range of real ales - both the Sheps Spitfire and Old Hooky were on reasonable form on my recent visit ( Aug 10th ) and at only £ 2.20 might be regarded as good value

I have to agree with previous comments about the place feeling a bit run down - the carpet in the bar is distinctly run down and sticky in places and a good number of the outside seats in the courtyard are rather rickety and wobbly, but don't let this put you off.

I would classify it as a must visit pub for the first time visitor to Gloucester

26 Sep 2007 17:03

Butchers Arms, Sheepscombe

Fine traditional Cotswold village pub, a bit out of the way and difficult to find, but worth the effort.

Like many pubs of its ilk, its food-orientated.

I had a very enjoyable ploughmans lunch and pint of Otter sitting outside in the sunshine watching the locals manoeuvre their 4x4's in and out of the car park

Note the unusual pub sign - a farmer with a pig tied to his leg, well its a bit difficult to miss really

Good views from the high grassy seating area at the side of the pub

Worth finding if you're in the area

26 Sep 2007 16:56

The Horse and Groom, Belgravia

Doesn't open at weekends, remember

26 Sep 2007 16:34

The Woolpack, Slad

Splendidly traditional Cotswold pub, a few miles north of Stroud on a B road. The views of the Slad valley, both as you drive up to the pub and also from the pub garden itself are indeed memorable. The Uley bitter was on fine form on my visit ( August 11th ). Having the car meant that i had to pass on the stronger beers, the Uley Pigs Ear and the Spingo beers from the Blue Anchor in Helston, Cornwall, a noteworthy sighting.

The pub is situated opposite the local parish church, which is also worth a quick visit, time permitting.

Note that parking is difficult - you may have to park a bit further up the road and walk down.

This is a fine relatively unspoilt community local. Recommended

26 Sep 2007 12:50

The Swan Inn, Old Isleworth

All Bar One meets Isleworth ?

30 Aug 2007 17:14

The Castle, Old Isleworth

Further to my previous posting, pub has now changed hands - the new tenants are called Debbie and Tracey. Internally the pub has not changed much, although I note that the leaded frosted windows have been replaced. Food features more, but this is still very much a pub, infinitely preferable to The Swan, which is now an All Bar One clone-pub.

7 Aug 2007 11:14

The Poole Arms, Poole

The John Bonser roadshow - and a work colleague - visited this pub on Wednesday evening 25 July 2007, although, had we read the review below beforehand, we probably wouldn't have done.

We both enjoyed the albeit brief visit - nice pints of Ringwood Best incidentally - and would be happy to return if we ever happen to be in Poole again.

From John Bonser ( one of the most frequent contributors to this site )

31 Jul 2007 12:28

The Compton Arms, Islington

Splendidly traditional pub in a quiet residential side street, could be a million miles away from the seedy hell-hole round Highbury and Islington Tube Station.

Pub doesn't open until 12 o clock, but the friendly landlady took pity on me sheltering from the summer drizzle and opened up 10 minutes early specially for me.

It's a Greene King pub and the Hardy and Hansons Olde Trip Ale was on and in good form.

It's a CAMRA friendly pub, well worth visiting.

Younger readers of this site may be interested to know that this was one of the first pioneers of real ale back in the 70's when it was part of a small chain of free houses owned by ( believe it or not ) the notorious Maxwell Joseph of Watneys / Trumans fame

12 Jul 2007 13:10

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

The John Bonser roadshow visited here last Friday. I agree that it has not been spoilt - in fact the refurbishment to my mind enhances the original Victorian features. In response to the comments about price increases, my pint of Pride was £ 2.50p which is the same price as pre-closure.

The pub is now aiming to attract a wider range of customers than hitherto and I don't have a problem with that

The back bar is NOT a restaurant as has been claimed

It's a good traditional pub in my view, well worth visiting if in the area

11 Jul 2007 13:23

The Plumbers Arms, Victoria

Fairly reasonable, but unremarkable, pub close to Victoria Station. My visit was noteworthy only for a rather abysmal pint of Pride and a sighting of the England Rugby player, Brian Moore, at the bar.

10 Jul 2007 13:09

The Plough, Clapham Junction

CLOSED AND BOARDED UP AGAIN - I walked past last Friday

9 Jul 2007 10:38

The Salutation, Hammersmith

To the previous contributor, I would say - what about the Andover Arms ?

4 Jul 2007 13:32

The Camden Head, Islington

Fine traditional pub just off the main drag in Camden - I managed to get served correctly first time without having to exercise my considerable knowledge of the Polish language, but the London Pride was only marginally acceptable.

The pub retains many original Victorian features, which is always a plus point with me and, for this reason alone, I would definitely return when next in the area. I will hope that the beer is in better condition though.

Do take time to read the potted history of the pub, on a large notice board by the pub outside drinking area at the front.

3 Jul 2007 17:04

The Plough, Bloomsbury

Visited yesterday lunchtime - only 2 staff serving, one of whom seemed to be a trainee on his first day who was still at the stage where he needed considerable help operating the till.

Similar experience to Mr Smudge - see posting below on 31 August

After about 5 minutes of waiting patiently, I gave it up as a bad job and went back to the Museum Tavern which seemed infinitely better run and more customer focused.

For those who do managed to get served here, I hope the beer is considerably better than the service !

3 Jul 2007 16:58

The Museum Tavern, Bloomsbury

Fine traditional pub close to the British Museum, so inevitably gets dominated by tourists coming in for lunch. Nice to see a good proportion of them drinking from the wide selection of real ales on offer - even though when an American couple spend 5 minutes deciding whether to share a half pint of Fullers Summers Ale or Charles Wells Summer Solstice, my patience starts to get a bit frayed !

But yes, I enjoyed the visit and would happily come back when next in the area

3 Jul 2007 16:52

The Admiral Nelson, Whitton

The John Bonser roadshow accidentally visited this pub yesterday evening. I say accidentally because I fell asleep on the train and forgot to get off at Richmond, waking up as we were coming into Whitton, and needed sustenance !

The previous comments surprise me based on my visit early yesterday evening. I did not notice any kids at all running around, nor was the pub full of "chav scum ". Yes, there were a few there, but they did not dominate the pub, nor did they make this particular punter feel in the least uncomfortable.

In many respects this is a fairly typical traditional High Street pub. I noticed a good mix of all age groups

The London Pride was on good form.

Based on my visit yesterday, I would be more than happy to pop in when next passing through ( or after falling asleep on the train !)

29 Jun 2007 13:47

The One Tun, Goodge Street

This pub has now been "Youngified" - all previous character and atmosphere has gone. The only sign of the pubs previous existence are the Finch's and Bass mirrors. This pub is now a typically bland and impersonal new Youngs pub with no redeeming features whatsoever - give it a miss if it's a bit of character and atmosphere you're after.

Desperately disappointing.

28 Jun 2007 16:55

The Cambridge Arms, Fitzrovia

CLOSED - This pub is now a Japanese restaurant called "Ping Pong " - I know this because I went to the pub last Saturday and found it wasn't there any more !

28 Jun 2007 16:51

The Dickens Inn, Tower Hill

Large pub / restaurant spread over 3 floors close by St Katharines dock. Looks inviting from the outside, but inside was a major disappointment last Friday evening - oppressively loud music and Fullers London Pride a whopping £ 3.10p per pint ( they even give you a receipt just to rub it in )

On the evening of my visit, the pub was packed with what seemed to be a mixture of the post work office crowd and foreign tourists presumably staying in one of the nearby hotels or either visiting Tower Bridge.

Even allowing for the fact that it was early Friday evening, quite why the pub management felt it necessary to have a couple of typical hard -looking black-coated heavies on the door defeats me.

I won't be rushing back to this one

26 Jun 2007 17:53

The Town of Ramsgate, Wapping

Less well known than the Prospect of Whitby down the road, the Town of Ramsgate has a more pubby feel to it. This seems to be the pub where the locals of the area drink, which is always a good sign.

My visit to the ToR last Friday unfortunately coincided with the visit of a wedding party. One of the golden rules of wedding parties in pubs seems to be that they have to congregate in the narrowest, most restrictive part of the bar area. This group were no exception, although thankfully they did soon move to the small verandah outside overlooking the river.

Perhaps surprisingly, the London Pride is 10p more expensive in here than in the Prospect of Whitby, but worth every penny based on my visits to the pubs last Friday.

Friendly locals and staff combined with the traditional atmosphere combine to make this my pub of preference along this stretch of the Thames.

26 Jun 2007 17:41

The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

Famous old riverside pub on the north bank of the River Thames. Probably one of the most famous pubs in London. Dates back to 1520, according to a sign on the outside of the building. A recent refurbishment has resulted in the loss of a bit of character and individuality and the place now has a bit of a feel of a corporate chainy, yet historic pub if you know what I mean.

On the day of my visit, the background music was irritatingly loud and the beer range was unexciting,but if you're a visitor to the area and haven't been before, I wouldn't attempt to discourage you from going.

In summer, there's an outside drinking area with fine river views

26 Jun 2007 17:33

The King and Keys, Fleet Street

First ever visit from yours truly yesterday. I thought I'd try a change from the CC virtually next door. Has a slightly different feel to it than the other pubs in Fleet Street - the King and Keys seems to be trying to appeal to a younger clientele, whilst, at the same time, trying to maintain a traditional feel and atmosphere to some extent. Offers things that you wouldn't expect from a pub in the area - eg occasional quiz nights, curry evenings, karaoke ( oh dear ).

The blurb on the back of the food menu tells us that the landlord ran a former CAMRA regional award winning pub, but the London Pride yesterday was not very good at all( only other real ale on was Timmy Taylors )

21 Jun 2007 14:06

The Cockpit, Blackfriars

Traditional City pub well worth seeking out. Roger B's splendid review below leaves little for me to add, except to say that the Adnams yesterday was first rate and also that, unusually for the area, the pub opens weekends. Also, I am pleased to be able to report that I didn't see any mice.

21 Jun 2007 13:58

The Hatchet, Mansion House

Typically traditional City pub within spitting distance of Mansion House tube station ( District Line). Its a Greene King house which many would consider a major drawback, but the IPA yesterday was probably as good a pint of IPA as you would get.

The traditional feel to the front bar is slightly marred by one of these amusement arcade machines that allows you to play mini-golf. Playing the game appears to involve thumping your open palm on a computer screen at regular intervals ( this is presumably akin to hitting the ball with your golf club in real life). I do feel that machines like this are out of place in old traditional pubs like this, particularly small pubs where they can tend to dominate proceedings.

Still, all in all an enjoyable visit. I shall return, but I wont be disappointed if said machine is not there.

21 Jun 2007 13:52

The Wheatsheaf, Borough

Enjoyable visit yesterday evening, watching the end of the England - West Indies Test Match on the unobtrusive TV's. This pub is at its best when its quiet when you can enjoy the old fashioned traditional surroundings and atmosphere. And a surprisingly good pint of Youngs to boot !

20 Jun 2007 15:33

The Market Porter, Borough

Another very enjoyable visit late afternoon yesterday . There's always a good range of real ales in here - but a lot of people seem to stick with the Harveys which was top notch last night.

Still the best pub in the area in my book - particularly late afternoon or early evening before the "suits" arrive en masse.

20 Jun 2007 10:57

The Old Kings Head, Borough

Seems to have had a bit of a refurb since my last visit with a consequent loss of a bit of character, but still a fine pub. Nice to see a pub offering a Happy Hour ( between 4 - 7 pm ) with all beers £ 2 per pint.

20 Jun 2007 10:51

Kings Arms, Borough

Nice traditional unpretentious pub in a side street between London Bridge and The Borough.

However, the real ale range, which last night was Courage Best and Greene King IPA, meant unfortunately that I didn't stay as long as I would have liked. It's a Scotco house.

Seems to be well run and friendly enough, but not as busy as some other pubs in the vicinity.

Get some decent beer in and you'll get a lot more customers !

20 Jun 2007 10:48

The Rose, London Bridge

Visited last night - not very impressed at all, I'm afraid. Yes, the internal decor, particularly in the room to the left, will appeal to traditionalists such as myself and people who detest chainy corporate pubs, but I didn't feel particularly welcome in here.

This was mainly because there was a group of about half a dozen or so "lads" hanging round the entrance and this dominated and shaped the whole atmosphere of the pub. One chap in particular looked like he was acting as a kind of unofficial bouncer.

As I squeezed past to visit the toilets ( which are in the other bar ) one of the group, commenting on my unironed white shirt said " wotcha mate, had an argument with your iron ?" in a manner that suggested that engaging in friendly banter was not the order of the day. My gut reaction, which comes from over 25 years of drinking in pubs the length and breadth of the land, was to smile weakly and carry on as normal.

There was only one real ale on - a London Pride that was not particularly good and, all in all, despite the rather quirky and interesting decor, my inclination would be to give this pub a miss next time.

20 Jun 2007 10:40

The Horseshoe Inn, London Bridge

Nice traditional pub in a quiet backwater not too far from London Bridge station. Timmy Taylors on reasonable form last night. As other contributors have correctly commented, this is a good area for pubs. This is not one of my personal favourites, but I'm happy to continue to pop in now and again when in the area.

20 Jun 2007 10:26

The Dragon, Redhill

Perfectably reasonable Sheps pub in the centre of Redhill on the one way system through the town centre. There's a conservatory and outdoor drinking area for good weather days.

Normally when you're the only customer in a pub at 4 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, it speaks volumes about the pub and it's usually pretty obvious why it's so deserted, but I have to say I'm puzzled in this case.

Perhaps one of the ex-regulars ( or current regulars if there are any ) can enlighten us ?

19 Jun 2007 13:31

The Sun, Redhill

Visited last Saturday lunchtime. Yes, it's a bog standard Wetherspoons, you know what you're getting. However, I didn't find the atmosphere "hostile and edgy" in the slightest - probably it depends when you visit. If you visit on Friday / Saturday evening when the psychos and meatheads are out - then what do you expect ?

I was disappointed with the beer range - Courage Best, Directors, Abbott and Speckled Hen from the "nationals" and only King's Red River ( Horsham Brewery ) from the micros, which was an enjoyable pint with a hint of berries.

It was certainly a cheaper and more enjoyable pint than either of the Youngs beers in the Home Cottage, I have to say.

19 Jun 2007 13:26

The Garland, Redhill

Little to add to previous comments - this is certainly the best pub I know in Redhill. Thankfully the "irritating commercial radio" that Mr Trainman ( earlier contributor ) had to suffer wasn't on when I visited last Saturday lunchtime - perhaps customer power has permanently silenced it ?

19 Jun 2007 13:16

The Home Cottage, Redhill

Handy for Redhill station - a reasonably traditional, perfectly adequate local. Neither the Youngs Special or the Ordinary were much to write home about though on my visit last Saturday lunchtime - both rather insipid and lacking in any discernible taste. Perhaps I should have tried the Charles Wells Summer Solstice ?

Youngs have now owned this pub since 1977 and it is nice to see that the redoubtable matriach Sybil Starr who owned the pub before selling out to Youngs is still remembered in pictures on the pub walls. ( I'm probably one of the few who remember this pub before it was a Youngs pub )

There's also a nice grandfather clock and fireplace which always pleases old school traditionalists like me.

There's a room at the back of the pub used for monthly comedy nights now- which I don't remember from last time

In summary, this pub has a certain feel good factor to it, in marked contrast to pubs the other side of the station, but I do hope the beer is better when I next visit

19 Jun 2007 13:13

The Wenlock Arms, Hoxton

Very enjoyable visit yesterday evening - inadvertently coinciding with the pub quiz. The Slaters Queen Bee went down very well as did the dark mild from Moorhouses. This is a fine backstreet boozer for lovers of traditional beer and traditional unspoilt pubs.

If this pub is a dive , then I'm the Queen of Sheba

15 Jun 2007 13:56

The Artillery Arms, Old Street

Traditional Fullers pub opposite Bunhill cemetery. In many respects this is an unremarkable pub, but my pint of Pride was spot on yesterday evening and perhaps cheaper than expected for the area at only £ 2.70p.

I don't know too many decent pubs in this neck of the woods and I always try to pop in if in the area

15 Jun 2007 12:40

The White Swan, Aldgate

Clean and functional Sheps pub not too far from The Still and Star and Aldgate Bus Station. I found the White Swan to be disappointingly bland with a typical sameness ( burgundy and cream walls, mixture of sofas and wooden bar stools, polished floor, chalk board menu etc ) that one associates with chain pubs. As the previous contributor correctly says, the pub lacks atmosphere. My pint of Spitfire (£ 3.00 ) was spot on, but I can't see myself doing this one again.

Try the Still and Star instead if it's a proper pub with a bit of character and atmosphere that you're after

15 Jun 2007 12:37

Ye Three Lords, Aldgate

Fairly typical Youngs pub down the road from Tower Gateway Station ( DLR ) . My pint of Youngs was pretty poor, even by Bedford standards, but this is a friendly welcoming pub that seems to have a better atmosphere ( banter between staff and customers etc ) than most City pubs.

15 Jun 2007 12:29

The Still and Star, Aldgate

Decent traditional pub within spitting distance of Aldgate Bus Station. Being on the fringes of the City district, it seems to get a wider cross section of customers than just suits. Proudly displays Cask Marque accreditation, although the beer range is not very adventurous - London Pride, Youngs, Greene King and Adnams. The London Pride was on form.

Note the frosted leaded windows - the small green coloured windows reflect the fact that this used to be a Charrington's pub in years gone by.

Well worth calling in if passing by

15 Jun 2007 12:24

The Wenlock Arms, Hoxton

It's a proper drinkers pub for proper drinkers. In an age of increasing homogenity and blandness it stands out like a beacon. I have always found it very friendly and welcoming - a true local.

And one last point - Mr Chav Man ( do you not think incidentally a better pen name might be in order ?),if I wanted eye-candy, I'd go to the Pitcher and Piano, All Bar One etc

Cheers

13 Jun 2007 14:47

The Rose and Crown, Ealing

Fairly bog standard Fullers pub. I'm not a local, but I didn't get any funny looks, nor did I see any hillbillys ( whatever that means ). Not worth going out of your way to find - but worth popping in if passing

Another sighting of Thwaites Lancaster Bomber as a guest beer - didn't see any body order a pint though

13 Jun 2007 12:10

The Kings Arms, Ealing

First ever visit from yours truly yesterday ( Sunday ) afternoon. This is a fine old fashioned back street local which has a certain nostalgic charm that people of a certain age, such as me, fondly reminisce about. It is close to Ealing shopping centre, quite close to the large multi-storey car park.

There are 2 interconnecting rooms - the saloon bar is very cosy, with much wood pannelling. There was a plasma TV showing the tennis, thankfully not too loud.The public bar is larger, but retains a traditional feel also. The pub is carpeted throughout, always a plus point in my book. The pub retains a real community feel to it - which is a pleasant reminder that Ealing has not yet completely turned into a mini - Poland

The beer range is unexciting - Courage Best and the ubiquitous London Pride. There didn't appear to be much beer trade - my London Pride was evidently the first pulled from the pump that day and needed pulling through three pints before it came up non-cloudy.

The visit was also noteworthy for a rare sighting of an old Isleworth Brewery mirror - can't remember when I last saw one of those.

Surprisingly, for a back street pub, accommodation is offered.

In conclusion, this pub should be included in any crawl of the area - its not too far away from the 65 Bus Route and the Red Lion and the Castle ( both Fullers )

11 Jun 2007 16:57

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

Yours truly managed to squeeze an early evening visit in before closure last Friday night. Most of the drinks had already run out - drinks on draught were limited to Guinness and London Pride. Ironically, because more customers were drinking the London Pride than usual, it was the best pint I've ever tasted in here.

The barman told me that the planned refurbishment was "not too drastic" - well I suppose he would say that wouldn't he ?

I shall keep an eye on the place and report again when it's re-open. In the meantime, let's just keep our fingers crossed

11 Jun 2007 16:43

The Britannia, Kensington

It's a restaurant unfortunately, not a pub and you need to be aware of that if you're planning a visit

7 Jun 2007 12:57

The Ailsa Tavern, Twickenham

Rather unremarkable roadhouse type of pub on the main H37 bus route between Richmond and Hounslow. It's badged as a T J Bernard pub. Has a rather more relaxed and less pretentious air to it than the other St Margarets pubs and for this reason I prefer it. It's a CAMRA friendly pub - copies of the new London Drinker were available - and the Timmy's last night was basically as good as it gets.

Specialises in pizzas, which seemed very popular. There were quite a lot of students in the pub, probably from the nearby college, but they were being reasonably well behaved.

This pub is now run by the Brazier family apparently, who were tenants for a good number of years at the nearby Turks Head, before it became "Fullerised" and taken under Fullers Managed Houses arm.

The Ailsa Tavern is now preferable to the Turks Head in my view, go and see what you think

6 Jun 2007 13:19

The London Apprentice, Old Isleworth

Nice traditional well known riverside pub. Note the old Isleworth Brewery etched windows. Timothy Taylor's Landlord was on good form. Pub very busy yesterday evening - Tuesday - and the service was a bit slow, but, despite it often being overrun with tourists and visitors to nearby Syon Park, this pub is well worth seeking out.

6 Jun 2007 13:10

The Castle, Old Isleworth

Traditional Youngs pub on the H37 bus route in Old Isleworth. It feels a bit run down now I'm afraid to say - the carpets are looking distinctly worn in places - and I note that it's now up for sale as there's a Fleurets estate agents board outside

6 Jun 2007 13:05

The Check Inn, North Wroughton

"Fullerised" generally means that a place has been refurbished and has consequently lost a certain amount of its previous charm and individuality. It will be run by a brewery - employed manager as opposed to a tenant. Pubs that have succumbed to this fad have a certain samey chainy feel to them and are instantly recognisable. I hope that your local hasn't been affected this way

5 Jun 2007 12:57

The Sun, Richmond

Probably the most unspoilt pub in Richmond now, along with the Triple Crown. People - including me - have made adverse comments about the beer quality in this pub in the past, but last night's Pride was on good form. Slightly surprised to see a guest beer on - Thwaites Lancaster Bomber. Fuller's do allow tenancies to take a guest beer - but no advertising / promotional material is allowed, so if you don't spot the pump clip on the handpump you wouldn't know it was on offer

1 Jun 2007 12:31

The Old Anchor, Twickenham

My visit last night resulted in me accidentally gatecrashing the pub quiz, which was very well attended, but reminded me that I actually know very little if the questions aren't about pubs, beer or cricket.

The Youngs Ordinary was on reasonable form. Several years ago, I was convinced that this pub would be lost and become just another block of flats or executive offices, so it's nice to see it still going and seemingly doing well now

1 Jun 2007 12:25

St Margarets Tavern, St Margarets

Has a rather generic and impersonal feel to it, which is typical of pubs in the area.

However, it is clear that they take their beer seriously - note the Cask Marque leaflets on the bar counter and the blackboard giving a full description of each real ale on offer. I had a nice pint of Bath Ales Gem Bitter which was very nice and on form.

1 Jun 2007 12:21

Crown Posada, Newcastle

I think most sensible people who have ever been to this pub would understand where Ale Rover is coming from, however.

31 May 2007 13:36

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

It would indeed be a shame if this pub got vandalised and the splendid stained glass windows and skylights in the back bar diasappeared - and also the mini snug bar with its wood pannelled screens. I'm not a regular - but I certainly won't come in again either if it becomes another Identikit Chain McPub type of place

31 May 2007 11:31

The Harp, Covent Garden

Nice traditional pub within spitting distance of Trafalgar Square. I'm with Tony Ale on this one, he's spot on.

29 May 2007 14:58

The Express Tavern, Kew Bridge

Another very enjoyable visit recently - but yes, Gordon is not the most welcoming chap around. Words such as "Scotsman" and "dour" spring to mind. Do try the Cains Dark Mild if it's on when you visit - the first ever sighting by yours truly of a Cains Beer outside Merseyside

29 May 2007 13:37

The Cricketers, Mitcham

Rather uninspiring Youngs pub, but in a nice location overlooking the cricket pitch. Note the interesting pictures of old cricketers over the bar - Don Bradman, Ted Dexter and other famous faces. Unfortunately that is the only concession to any cricketing theme - which didn't extend to showing the Test Match against the West Indies at Lords the other week when I was in.

The pub has a rather down market feel to it - even for Sarf Lunnon - and I don't see myself doing this one again for some time

29 May 2007 13:33

The Orange Brewery, Belgravia

Rather unremarkable and uninspiring pub. Has that rather transient and impersonal feel that only London pubs have - and, as the previous contributor rightly points out - they need to start brewing their own beers again. Not a pub to rush back to, although the beer was OK.

29 May 2007 13:26

Finch's, Chelsea

Nothing to add from my previous posting in Jan 2006 - the Youngs Ordinary was staggeringly good on Sunday lunchtime though - rather reminiscent of the old hoppy flavour you used to get when it was brewed in nearby Wandsworth. Worth popping in if in the area just to see the old tiling on the back wall

29 May 2007 13:23

The Fox and Pheasant, Fulham

Wonderfully unpretentious traditional pub in an area where you wouldn't expect there to be one.

Quite rightly listed on CAMRA's Inventory of Pubs with Unspoilt Interiors. Do visit if you're in the area - unless there's a CFC game on !

Only downside if that it's a Greene King pub, so the beer's not great.

29 May 2007 13:19

The Eight Bells, Putney Bridge

First ever visit from yours truly last Sunday. I echo the generally positive comments from previous posters on this site. A good traditional welcoming pub in an area where you might not expect to find one. Sharps Doom Bar bitter is worth sampling if it's on when you visit

29 May 2007 13:15

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Another very enjoyable visit last Sunday lunchtime. The Timmy's Landlord was in its usual good form, as was the Downton's Mild, if perhaps at the top end of price expectations at £ 2.80p for an OG of 3.3% ( a very weak beer ).

In some ways, this is an odd pub - you always get served by someone you recognise - on Sunday it was Mark - but it doesn't seem to have any regular customers. Probably the only pub on my circuit where the "regulars" are the staff, instead of the customers. Pub is obviously very popular with the real ale fraternity, but has a slightly transient feel to it. Nevertheless, I shall continue to drop in from time to time - after all, there's no competition in Putney is there ?

29 May 2007 13:11

The Spotted Horse, Putney

Has now re-opened, haven't been in, but I don't suppose I'll like it much.

29 May 2007 13:03

The Rose and Crown, Southwark

Another very enjoyable visit early yesterday evening from yours truly. Spitfire on fine form.

So what if the Spitfire is 30p dearer than the Youngs in the PWH - I know which pub and which beer I prefer.

This is the type of pub that the marketing department gurus of the big pubco's would have us believe that no - one visits any more. Well don't believe it. Visit recommended if in the area, but surprisingly, not open at weekends

25 May 2007 12:44

The White Hart, Waterloo

Pleasant enough place, but nothing to make it stand out. Not really a beer drinkers pub, but they did have London Pride and Deuchars IPA on, but at a price. Has a lot of foreign lagers on and tends to attract a slightly younger crowd than the nearby Kings Arms.

I dont have any adverse comments to make on the staff, unlike some other posters here - perhaps I visited on a good day

25 May 2007 12:39

The Kings Arms, Waterloo

Very handy for Waterloo Station - hence quite popular with after work "suits". This pub has had a couple of minor refurbishments over the years, nothing too drastic fortunately and the pub is still worth visiting.

Note the old Taylor Walker logo on the pub sign - thankfully the real ales are good, if not cheap. Adnams - £ 2.90p

25 May 2007 12:34

The Gardeners Arms, Lewes

Smallish traditional busy pub quite close to Harveys Brewery. Note the extensive collection of Archers pump clips - the landlord supports Swindon Town, so I was told. Well worth popping in - although you might well not get a seat. Beer was on good form when I visited

24 May 2007 16:46

The Wenlock Arms, Hoxton

A proper pub for proper drinkers - recommended

24 May 2007 16:21

The Brewers Arms, Lewes

Nice traditional pub in the old part of town on The High Street. There are 2 bars, the public bar at the rear has a pool table, a painted sports mural and some framed memobarilia from old pub games in ages long gone.

The front bar is the saloon bar and, based on my visit, is very popular with the local CAMRA real ale fraternity.

There is a good range of real ale on - The Tom Woods Harvest Bitter was a tasty, hoppy pint. The pub serves Biddenden cider on draught, which has an ABV of 8% - a bit strong for early morning drinking. Pub opens at 10 am in the morning and it was already quite busy when I turned up just before 11 am last Saturday.

Note the Page & Overtons insignia outside by the front door - a long gone Croydon brewery apparently ( even before my time !)

This pub is well worth visiting - very enjoyable visit

23 May 2007 17:08

The Princess Louise, Holborn

Given that it's a Sams pub, I would normally be optimistic that it would not be wrecked, but it's a desperately long time to remain closed - till Dec 07, according to a previous contributor - so I have to admit to being concerned in this case

8 May 2007 15:28

The Anchor and Hope, Clapton

Splendidly traditional old fashioned no - frills local on the banks of the River Lea. I paid my first visit yesterday since doing the Fullers Passport Tour back in 2002 ( I think ) . The long standing publican, Les Heath, is sadly no longer around, as others have commented, but his memory lives on in a splendid painting inside the pub. The pub feels unchanged virtually from my first visit in the 70's

This is probably the first pub I've been to in ages where ESB ( at only £ 2.80 ) was outselling the London Pride.

For those of you who like a bit of a walk before a pint, get the tube to Tottenham Hale ( Victoria Line ) and walk down the river bank from Ferry Lane - about 25 mins.

There is a certain timelessness about this pub - still highly recommended and the warmth and friendliness of the locals takes some beating.

8 May 2007 12:39

The Bow Bells, Bow

The John Bonser roadshow reached this pub yesterday. Given its location, I'm surprised it hasn't had more postings. Yes, it's a nice traditional local, well worth popping into if in the area.

Note in particular the framed old Ind Coope price list dated 1971 and a framed picture of Bobby Moore also. The cannon logo outside on what remains of the pub sign is the old Taylor Walker logo for those who don't know. The beer range is unexceptional - but the London Pride was on good form, if a little pricey for the area probably at £ 2.80.

Sorry to end on a critical note, but the person who arranged to have the exterior painted bright orange - see the picture here - should be subjected to continuous unbroken community service until he has seen the error of his ways.

8 May 2007 10:32

The Albert Arms, Norbiton

so " a little bit of the pub's Victorian charm has disappeared in the process" according to the previous contributor.

A bit of an understatement to put it mildly - the place has been wrecked and now has little if any charm at all ( where's the splendid Victoria and Albert Young's mirror that used to be in the main room gone, for instance ?)

It's a great shame. As I said in my last posting, go to The Wych Elm instead.

2 May 2007 13:03

The Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden

589 signatures on the petition as at 12.45 pm today

2 May 2007 12:47

The Harp, Covent Garden

I was in yesterday evening - about 7 o'clock - service was fine and the Harveys was excellent.

When did you visit,Mr Chav Man ?

1 May 2007 14:16

The Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden

Well, the John Bonser roadshow reached this pub yesterday evening - probably my first visit since the early 80's.

Well, what can I say that hasn't been said already it's a gem of a pub and is well worth fighting to save.

Incidentally, the Wells Bombardier was on fine form.

DO SIGN THE PETITION IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY

1 May 2007 14:03

The Duke Of York, Chiswick

Proper traditional community local - one of a dying breed sadly in this well-heeled area.

I caught the end of the Newcastle - Chelsea game on TV in here yesterday afternoon. One of the John Bonser acid tests of pub evaluation is - "what's the atmosphere like when there's a Chelsea game showing ?".

I am pleased to report that this pub passed the test.

Well worth popping in if in the area.

23 Apr 2007 16:38

The Angel and Crown, Richmond

Not the best pub in Richmond by a long way - good for watching live football on the big screen - but has very little if anything else to commend it at all

19 Apr 2007 10:32

Treaty of Commerce, Lincoln

Nice traditional Batemans pub over the other side of the notorious level crossing from the main part of the High Street. I had a seemingly interminable wait to get to the pub whilst what was possibly the longest goods train ever seen rumbled over the level crossing at little more than snail's pace.

Having finally reached the pub, I found a friendly welcoming pub frequented by a mixture of locals and thirsty shoppers. Bateman's XB was in good nick and it was nice to see a beer from the Arundel Brewery as a guest beer - never seen that so far away from its base.

Note the unusual church pew type seats at the front of the pub and the cosy food area at the back.

In conclusion, I think this pub is well worth popping in if passing by. Note that if you're visiting the Cathedral and Castle afterwards, it's a walk up the aptly named Steep Hill, so you might want to visit them first and then recover in the pub afterwards !

17 Apr 2007 14:07

Strugglers Inn, Lincoln

Nice traditional pub not too far from the Cathedral and Lincoln Castle.

As other reviewers have correctly commented, the pub offers a good range of appetising food at lunch time. The other week I had a splendid lunch of a generous portion of Lincolnshire Ham with egg, chips and a nice side salad in the cosy Lincolnshire snug bar, which seems preferable to the outdoor covered heating area.

There was a good range of real ales on offer - surprising to find London Pride so far north of its base in Chiswick. The Timothy Taylors was in fine form.

This is a fine example of how what is basically a normal street corner local can be both a locals pub and yet be attractive and welcoming to outsiders at the same time, simply by virtue of the warm welcome and good honest unpretentious fare on offer. As the pub itself proudly proclaims - "we are a proper pub".

Recommended. Definitely hope to call in again

17 Apr 2007 13:55

The Cat's Back, Wandsworth

Still a pub of great character, despite the recent yuppie invasion, but neither the Slaters Supreme nor the Youngs Ordinary - both at £ 2.90 per pint incidentally - were at their best last Saturday afternoon.

Why has the old Shell petrol pump, that used to be outside on the pavement, been moved inside ?

16 Apr 2007 14:35

The Bricklayers Arms, Putney

Another very enjoyable visit early Saturday afternoon. There's a guest beer on - Alcazar Windjammer - very moreish, light, bittery and hoppy and only £ 2.80 a pint for a beer with an ABV of 6%.

Friendly staff - there's usually an American woman serving when I'm there - sorry, I'm not good with names, I've forgotten it already. Americans usually wind me up, but this one doesn't.

Still the best pub in Putney - picking up where The Dukes Head left off when Youngs vandalised it recently.

See you again soon !

16 Apr 2007 14:28

The Spotted Horse, Putney

Closed for refurbishment when I walked past last Saturday afternoon on the way to the Bricklayers

16 Apr 2007 14:21

Ye Olde White Harte, Hull

Along with Ye Olde Black Boy, this would appear to be the pick of Hull pubs, if, like me, you're a staunch traditionalist.

It's a bit difficult to find, hidden down an alleyway in the old town. The main features are a couple of sit-in fireplaces and stained glass windows. This is another historic pub - allegedly where The Civil War started in 1642. The pub is included in Camra's National Inventory of Outstanding Pub Interiors.

There is a courtyard for outdoor drinking and an upstairs restaurant, which is apparently quite highly regarded.

On my visit, the real ale range was unexceptional, but the Deuchars IPA was in fine form. A group of visiting Lancastrians were downing pints of Theakstons Old Peculier with great relish.

Like Ye Olde Black Boy not too far away, I would classify this as one of Hull's "must visit" pubs. Recommended

13 Apr 2007 13:23

Ye Olde Black Boy, Hull

YOBB is Hulls oldest pub apparently, situated in the old part of Hull. The building is Grade 2 listed and the pub is included in Camra's National Inventory of Outstanding Pub Interiors.

The main bar at the back is very traditional with dark wood pannelling and a splendid collection of bottled beers. The pub serves a good range of real ales - The Roosters Yankee went down well. It's a lightish coloured fruity beer. Seems to be mainly a locals pub, but don't let that put you off.

I would classify this as a "must visit" pub, seek it out if in Hull, you won't be disappointed

13 Apr 2007 13:15

The City Hotel, Hull

Well, having just been the first to post on The Mission, I'm also the first to make a comment on this pub as well.( dont people in Hull go to pubs much ?)

The City Hotel is a traditional city centre pub, which was virtually deserted at the time of my visit, a recent Wednesday evening, as the England - Andorra game had just kicked off and the pub didn't have Sky.

So I was able to sit there in virtual isolation enjoying a splendid pint of Pedigree and the company of the friendly landlady and her assistant.

I was told that the pub gets busy weekend evenings - it gets the circuit drinkers and does Karaoke - so, like most pubs nowadays, it's probably better to visit earlier in the week

13 Apr 2007 13:08

The Mission, Hull

Well, it looks like the John Bonser roadshow is the first to get here and comment.

The Mission is situated in Posterngate, not too far from the massive Princes Quay indoor shopping centre in the centre of Hull

The building was originally a Seamans Mission - hence the name - and only became a pub in 1995. The pub includes a deconsecrated chapel retaining its stained glass windows and wooden pews. It felt oddly relaxing and atmospheric sitting in that part of the pub supping my pint. There is an upstairs Minstrels Gallery

The pub is owned by the Old Mill Brewery , based in nearby Snaith, who own around 20 pubs. The ordinary bitter had quite a sharp, bittery flavour.

The Mission was virtually deserted on my mid week evening visit, although I was told it's popular at weekends.

In conclusion, I would not describe the pub as a "must visit pub", unlike Ye Olde White Hart and Ye Olde Black Boy, but it's worth calling in if you get the opportunity and like something different

13 Apr 2007 13:02

The Heritage, Hull

CLOSED AND BOARDED UP

13 Apr 2007 12:52

The Minerva Hotel, Hull

I'm a bit surprised that a well-known pub like this doesn't yet more postings, so here's my contribution based on a couple of visits during my stay in Hull a couple of weeks ago.

The Minerva Hotel is a fine traditional pub on the banks of The Humber Estuary, the other side of the A63 from the City Centre. Inside is a good collection of nautical memorabilia and photographs. There are 4 or 5 different rooms, including a remarkable mini - snug that can seat 4 people at a push.

The on-site brewery next door is apparently no longer in production, but there was a good range of real ales on, ( Timmy Taylors, Deuchars IPA etc ) . Food is served until late in the evening and there are special curry nights.

There is an outdoor seating area at the front where you can sit and watch the boats go by, unless it's dark and raining, as it was on my visits.

Well worth seeking out when in Hull - not too far from The Holiday Inn if staying there. It's a 10 minute walk and worth it, even if it's raining

13 Apr 2007 12:51

The White Cross, Richmond

Went in last Wednesday, yes, I agree the refurbishment is not too drastic, but a good deal of the old fashioned drawing room atmosphere to which a previous contributor refers, has sadly been lost.

In many ways, it's a typical Youngs refurb - all new pastel colours and clean lines, which contribute towards a rather clinical and cold atmosphere, I'm afraid.

The upstairs room looks attractive, but I am concerned to see a plasma TV now in situ - hopefully it will remain a chav - free and football - free zone

On the plus side, the splendid central enclosed kiosk style serving counter has been retained, as has the stained glass window at the back and also the fireplace under the window.

Having witnessed many Youngs refurbishments over the years, I can truthfully say that this one could have been much much worse ( eg - Dukes Head, Putney and the Albert Arms in Norbiton ) , and we must be grateful for small mercies, I suppose.

Finally, I note that on St Georges Day, they are selling beer at £ 2 per pint between 6 and 8 pm, and there is live music ( presumably in the upstairs room ) , so, in celebrating St Georges Day, well done to the new landlord for not kowtowing to the tiresome PC lobby.

13 Apr 2007 12:29

The Fox and Duck, Petersham

Surprised that no one has commented on this pub since my last posting below. It's an unpretentious pub with a slightly old fashioned feel, mainly used by locals seemingly, on the main road between Richmond and Kingston. The fact that it is in neither of the town centres means that it presumably doesn't get the Friday / Saturday night pyschos. The pub is not a real ale stronghold - there was only a single handpump serving a well kept pint of Wells Bombardier at a very reasonable £ 2.55p on my visit last Sunday. The pub is on the 65 bus route between Richmond and Kingston and the stop is virtually opposite the pub if coming from Kingston.

Not worth going out of your way to find, but worth occasionally getting off the 65 bus for a quick pint for a change from the better known watering holes round this neck of the woods.

10 Apr 2007 14:36

The Wych Elm, Kingston Upon Thames

Still a fine traditional pub - in marked contrast to the reborn Albert - but the London Pride is now £ 3 per pint, which seems too high. Still, with such a genial landlord as Manny still at the helm, perhaps on reflection it's worth it.

Top drawer pub - highly recommended

10 Apr 2007 13:42

The Albert Arms, Norbiton

I was there on Sunday lunchtime - the previous review sums the new place up very well indeed - I say "place" because by no stretch of the imagination could this be called a pub anymore.

A few of the old locals were there on Sunday lunchtime as well, evidently paying their first visit since the place re-opened. They were saying things like " it's going to take some time to get used to" - well, guess what chaps, Youngs don't want you to get used to it, the place is not interested in catering for the likes of you ( or me either ) anymore.

Coming in places like this, knowing them as they used to be, makes you realise that Youngs is just like any other pub chain nowadays, rather than the feircely independent and traditional pub company that they were when I first started drinking in Youngs pubs in the early 70's.

Very sad, I'll be going to The Wych Elm when I'm next in the area instead

10 Apr 2007 13:36

The Hook, Line and Sinker, Twickenham

The Hook Line and Sinker is no more - it has been renamed The Ranch - perhaps run by cowboys ?

I didn't go in, it looks just like every other place in Twickenham nowadays

2 Apr 2007 17:15

The Fox, Twickenham

As others have indeed commented, this is a nice traditional pub, serving a good variety of real ales. I visited yesterday lunchtime, first time for ages. Sorry to be a dissenting voice, but I'm afraid that I don't think it acceptable to charge as much as £ 3 for a pint of locally brewed Twickenham Advantage with an ABV of only around 4% and I told the barman so, asking him to relay my comment to the boss.

If you are the boss reading this, happy to read and consider any comment you may wish to make on the subject, but, in the meantime, I won't be coming here again

2 Apr 2007 17:11

Crown Posada, Newcastle

"If you only have time to visit one pub in Newcastle, make it this one", I was told, so being in Newcastle on Tuesday and short of time, I did just that and I'm glad I did. It's a splendidly traditional Victorian pub, note in particular the stained glass windows at the front which apparently are late 19th Century. Its a rather long and narrow bar, with a small snug bar at the front, which meant it felt quite crowded, even early evening ( Tuesday). There's an old gramaphone on the end of the bar playing music, not too loud thankfully and some interesting photos of old Newcastle. There's a good range of real ales on offer, some from local micros.

Whether this is indeed THE pub in Newcastle, I don't know, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me. What I would say to the regular posters to this site ( Stonch, Roger B, Lad Newton etc ) is that I'm pretty sure that you would be impressed. Go there if you're ever in Newcastle.

Very highly recommended

22 Mar 2007 12:53

The Kings Arms, Oxford

Nice traditional Youngs pub in the centre of Oxford. It was good to find a pub opening at a civilised hour on Saturday morning - 10.30 - and to be able to visit it while quiet. The rooms at the back are preferable, more atmosphere and traditional than the large bar at the front, which I'm told is where the students congregate.

Still has Wadworths 6X on a permanent guest beer seemingly, not sure of the history behind this, does anyone know ?

One of Oxfords must visit pubs

19 Mar 2007 13:27

Hobgoblin, Oxford

Not one of my favourite Oxford pubs, but is slightly larger than some of the others, and it doesn't seem to get the tourists in, so there was room to sit down, which there wasn't in some of the others, notably The Bear.

19 Mar 2007 13:22

The Bear, Oxford

Nice traditional Oxford pub, very busy last Saturday lunchtime, but it was warm enough to sit outside where there's a few benches. Oxford is not short of decent pubs, but you should try to do this one if possible

19 Mar 2007 13:20

The Crown and Anchor, Chiswick

currently closed - boarded up and shrouded in scaffolding.

19 Mar 2007 11:12

The Weir Hotel, Walton on Thames

Similar experience to virtually everyone else who's ever been here - i e good location, but until the pub management start to become customer-focused, you're advised to give it a wide berth and continue on to The Swan or The Anglers instead

16 Mar 2007 13:33

Crosskeys, Wallingford

Nice traditional Brakspears pub just outside the Town Centre, serving Brakspears which is of course not brewed in Henley anymore. Note the Cross Keys insignia pub sign. Very close to the Coach and Horses ( Fullers ) by the green which is also worth visiting

14 Mar 2007 10:39

The Coach and Horses, Wallingford

Surprised that I'm the first to post on this pub for 18 months or so. It's a nice small traditional Fullers pub by the green. Two bars - a food orientated lounge and a smaller public bar for the locals. A few outside seats on the green. London Pride was spot on yesterday

14 Mar 2007 10:35

The George, Temple

Unremarkable bog standard London pub. Difficult to get excited about. Can't say I liked it, can't say I disliked it. A rare sighting of beer from the Twickenham Brewery. I didn't sample it as I wasn't confident that it would be on form - the London Pride was distinctly moderate.

Staff seemed disinterested - in marked contrast to The Old Bank of England which is just across the road.

9 Mar 2007 10:12

The Old Bank of England, Fleet Street

Much improved pub- management seem to be keen and enthusuiastic and the pub seems well run, which was certainly not the case several years ago, The London Porter is currently on - very moreish, but treat it with respect.

9 Mar 2007 10:08

The Ship Tavern, Holborn

First visit from yours truly yesterday. Old fashioned decor and a nice welcoming atmosphere, music a bit loud though. Formerly a William Younger's pub - note the old frosted leaded windows. Currently having a real ale festival until the end of March. The festival flyer offers you the opportunity to win "a KEG of ale" - I kid you not !

8 Mar 2007 13:54

The Crane, Wandsworth

Apologies for forgetting to mention in my previous review that the pub had no draught Youngs beer or Guinness either.

8 Mar 2007 13:51

The Crane, Wandsworth

Desperately unimpressed last Sunday evening. As the previous poster correctly points out, the pub's decor gives it a feel of a fast food outlet. Yet there was no sign of any food being on at the time of my visit and the pub was virtually deserted. With no TV on for sport, it's difficult to see where this pub is positioning itself in terms of market share. I won't be rushing back.

8 Mar 2007 11:13

The Falcon, Clapham Junction

Much improved pub nowadays and now attracting a wider range of clientele than previously. The bar at the back is preferable to the bog standard pine floored bar at the front. First sighting of Timmy Taylors Landlord last Sunday in this pub.

6 Mar 2007 13:52

Ye Olde White Horse, Aldwych

Marvellous pint of Timmy Taylors last Wednesday evening, otherwise nothing to add to my December posting below. Worth visiting if in the area

2 Mar 2007 12:46

The Andover Arms, Hammersmith

Has London Porter on draught at present - and very moreish it is too. Note that there is a beer festival on between 9 - 11 March

26 Feb 2007 13:27

The Britannia, Richmond

Has a decent range of real ales on, but lacks atmosphere and pubbiness and feels like the type of place you might find on a railway station concourse.

22 Feb 2007 12:22

The Pineapple, Kentish Town

A smallish side street pub that retains a bit of a community feel to it - an increasing rarity in London. Has a very impressive bar back and 2 large Bass mirrors. Worth visiting, just don't let the external colour scheme put you off.

20 Feb 2007 12:59

The Assembly House, Kentish Town

Large pub close to Kentish Town station. Has that bare boarded modernised look that so many pubs have nowadays, but there are still some interesting features retained - note particularly the wrought iron work by the entrance and the impressive mirrors. For the real ale buffs, the selection is limited to Greene King IPA and Abbott, but this is not really a drinkers pub. Worth popping in if passing by, but not worth a detour

20 Feb 2007 12:56

The Fox and Hounds, Belgravia

Did indeed have ale on yesterday ( Sunday ). After a spell some years ago, when the interior resembled an Amsterdam "brown bar", this is now a traditional pub again, with the fox and hounds theme reflected in some large attractive paintings. It's small, but cosy. The pub was almost empty however, yesterday afternoon, presumably because they weren't showing the rugby - this is a TV free pub. The pub is a short walk from Sloane Square Tube Station and is well worth popping in for a pint if passing by, but not worth going out of your way specially to visit

12 Feb 2007 10:54

The Britannia Tap, West Kensington

Surprised that no one has posted on this pub since my last effort below in November 2005, which was complimentary. Unfortunately my visit yesterday was disappointing. Now serving Thai food again - not that I have a problem with that per se - but it no longer feels like a pub any more. For some unknown reason, the seats at the front of the pub by the window have been taken out, as though they are actively trying to discourage drinkers. Michelle and Gary have presumably moved on, sadly, as I quite warmed to them when I met them in November 2005. There were only 3 customers in the pub last Sunday lunchtime at about 1.30 and none of them were regulars, so seemingly this pub has no regular custom at all. Very disappointing - beer was only moderate at best - and I can't see myself rushing back here again.

12 Feb 2007 10:46

The Lord Clyde, Borough

Nice to see a good honest traditional local like this at No 1 in the BITE listings. Well done

9 Feb 2007 13:36

The Trinity Arms, Brixton

Great pub, well worth seeking out, situated in a square that bears an uncanny resemblance to Albert Square in Eastenders.

I'm afraid however that I have to support John Bonser, who is merely being responsible in warning people, particularly those who do not know Inner London, of the undesirability of the area after dark.

When reading dogbear's comments, words such as "head" and "sand" come to mind - after all the crime stats speak for themselves and how far away is Peckham ?

8 Feb 2007 12:37

Bar Estilo, Teddington

Not a place for go just to drink - shouldn't be included on a website that is named "BEER in the evening". It's a restaurant.

2 Feb 2007 14:14

The Norbiton and Dragon, Norbiton

I'd much prefer The Willoughby and The Wych Elm any day - both highly recommended.
Shame I cant say the same about the Norbiton and Dragon any more

2 Feb 2007 13:22

THE Distillers, Hammersmith

Doesnt really feel like a pub any more - and feels oddly out of place in a seemingly rather poor area that is dominated by fast food burger joints, kebab places etc.

2 Feb 2007 13:16

The Radnor Arms, Kensington

Just read the bad news about closure - will have to pop in and pay my respects shortly.

It's a dreadful shame

2 Feb 2007 12:19

The Wykeham Arms, Winchester

Best all round pub in Winchester - highly recommended

1 Feb 2007 12:26

The Barley Mow, Marylebone

I've reported this closure to CAMRA - I believe the interior is Grade 2 listed, so hopefully the splendid fixtures and fittings - esp the pawnbrokers booths - will not be lost.

29 Jan 2007 12:33

The Beehive, Marylebone

I'm afraid that I have to agree with the 2 previous posters - this pub is now definitely no longer the "relatively unspoilt community local" that I reported on below ( see posting of 21 August 2006 )

Such unnecessary wanton vandalism is very sad - we're not going in this pub again.

29 Jan 2007 12:28

The Hole In The Wall, Waterloo

A proper pub for proper people that does what it says on the tin. Those of us who remember the halcyon days when pubs were for drinkers ( and not themed identikit places principally serving overpriced poncey foreign food for Piers and Henrietta types ) will love this place.

Well worth missing the odd train or so for.

26 Jan 2007 13:36

The Porcupine, Leicester Square

I think the review by pgazz is spot on - basically the pub is in a poor area, but has potential to do better if management got their act together and made a bit of effort

24 Jan 2007 12:41

The King Of Denmark, West Wimbledon

I agree - this is so called progress - I feel desperately sorry for the locals whose pub this once was. Can't see myself calling in when it reopens, somehow

19 Jan 2007 12:38

Coach and Horses, Fleet Street

"not a great area for pubs" according to Mr Grecian. Hmmmmm.....? I reckon he needs to look a bit harder

19 Jan 2007 09:53

The Old House At Home, Shadwell

This pub has been closed and boarded up for some considerable time now - I know this because I can see it when I go past on the DLR every morning

12 Jan 2007 12:55

The Kings Head, Chertsey

In response to the previous comment, this is not in fact a Youngs pub

12 Jan 2007 12:13

The Churchill Arms, Kensington

Still one of London's best pubs - a real classic - always worth a visit, but even more so when the Xmas Decorations are up as they always make an extra effort here

2 Jan 2007 14:04

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

One of my favourite London pubs - hidden away and difficult to find, but well worth the effort. Good range of real ales - the Adnams was excellent last night

19 Dec 2006 13:34

George IV, Holborn

Busy and noisy. The noise is accentuated by the wooden floor and lack of any soft furnishings. Beer was OK and there are still some original features, but this is not one of my favourite pubs in the area. A rather studenty feel to it - after all it is owned by LSE

19 Dec 2006 09:28

Ye Olde White Horse, Aldwych

First visit since it reopened from yours truly yesterday - as a previous poster has commented, not much seems to have changed, but the welcome is now warmer and students are no longer unwelcome (although they seem to prefer The George IV round the corner, for reasons which escape me ). Timmy Taylors Landlord was on good form and all in all it was a very enjoyable visit. Will definitely pop in again when next in the area

19 Dec 2006 09:25

The Harp, Covent Garden

Splendid pint of Timmy Taylors Landlord last Saturday morning.
I like this pub more and more every time I visit, which unfortunately isn't often enough. Always nice to get served by somebody behind the bar you recognise from your last visit, even if you're not a regular

18 Dec 2006 11:07

The Kemble's Head, Covent Garden

Has now reopened - didn't go in though

18 Dec 2006 11:04

The Trinity Arms, Brixton

Nice traditional unchanging Youngs local - the problem is, being in Brixton, it's effectively off limits after about 3.45 pm in December because it gets dark so early. Lunchtime only basically

Better off visiting when the days are longer

12 Dec 2006 14:04

The Masons Arms, Teddington

Nice traditional street corner local - nothing remarkable, but well worth including in any Teddington crawl. This is the kind of pub that is sadly rapidly disappearing, either being replaced by flats or being turned into a "trendy wine bar " - so, the message is clear - use it or lose it !

11 Dec 2006 10:28

The Builders Arms, Teddington

Nice traditional back street pub not too far from Teddington High Street. It felt a bit chilly inside yesterday lunchtime - no heating ? - and there were only 2 other customers in at approx 1 pm, but the London Pride was spot on. Worth including in any Teddington crawl

11 Dec 2006 10:25

Woodies, New Malden

Takes a bit of finding - but in a desperately poor area for pubs, it is well worth making the effort to do so

8 Dec 2006 12:51

The Rose and Crown, Southwark

Another pleasant visit last Tuesday evening, the Sheps is a good pint in here, but no sighting of Jamelia, alas !

7 Dec 2006 13:59

The Mulberry Bush, Lambeth

Inexplicably popular Youngs pub on the South Bank midway between Blackfriars and Waterloo. Not worth going out of your way to find, The nearby Mad Hatter Hotel in Stamford Street ( Fullers Ale and Pie House ) is a much better bet in all respects - and, somewhat surprisingly, was much emptier than the Mulberry Bush last Tuesday night. If you like vertical drinking, try the Mulberry Bush - if you want comfort ( somewhere to sit down ) and decent beer to boot, go to the Mad Hatter. The choice is yours

7 Dec 2006 13:56

The Dog and Fox, Wimbledon Village

Youngs pubs used to be about decent beer and pleasant conversation - some still are, Mr Flash, but you need to know where they are !

6 Dec 2006 12:42

The Lamb and Flag, Covent Garden

Me thinks the "non witty Northerner" was taking the p*** out of you, Kevin Bear.

This is a fine pub - the Youngs beers are usually well kept ( although the quality is not as good as they used to be since the move to Bedford )

For a splendid mini crawl of the area, do this one, along with the Harp and The Salisbury, both nearby, all three are fine traditional pubs with good real ale and atmosphere, based on my visits over the last few years

6 Dec 2006 12:33

The Dog and Fox, Wimbledon Village

But it is a tragic waste of a pub - he's not wrong there

6 Dec 2006 12:25

The Phene Arms, Chelsea

CLOSED - ADMINISTRATORS PLEASE UPDATE THIS WEBSITE

5 Dec 2006 12:50

The Express Tavern, Kew Bridge

Little to add to previous comments, except to say that on Sunday I had the best pint of Bedford - brewed Youngs that I've had to date. This pub is still a must on any Kew / Brentford crawl

5 Dec 2006 09:52

Wyndham Arms, Bridgend

Popped in for a quick pint while in Bridgend recently. Asked for a pint of Evans Evans ( a Welsh beer ) which wasn't on apparently, despite the pump clip not being turned round. This seems to be standard Wetherspoons practice - very irritating. Settled for a pint of Brains instead - which was actually on. Unremarkable pub - seems to be a fairly typical Wetherspoons, full of the local low-life drinking cheap beer

1 Dec 2006 13:42

Five Bells Inn, Bridgend

Nice traditional pub in a town that seems poorly served for the real thing. Note the nice Worthingtons mirror - not seen too often nowadays. Had Sheps Spitfire on. Would go back next time I'm in Bridgend - which is after all the acid test of any pub when you're a stranger in town

1 Dec 2006 13:38

The Llandoger, Bristol

attractive looking pub, but rather disappointing inside. Food orientated ( upstairs restaurant ) and the downstairs bar lacks atmosphere and has a rather transient feel to it - people popping in for one and then moving on

1 Dec 2006 13:33

The Old Fish Market, Bristol

Fine Fullers pub in the centre of Bristol. Still badged as a Fullers Ale and Pie pub despite the fact that they are now offering Thai food - the only Fullers Ale and Pie currently so doing unless anyone else knows different

1 Dec 2006 13:30

The Kings Head, Bristol

Splendidly traditional pub in the heart of Bristol which - if other contributors on Bristol pubs are correct - is not too well off for proper pubs. Note in particular in this pub the ornate bar back and the "tramcar" snug. Decent range of real ales - recommended

1 Dec 2006 13:27

The New Inn, Send

First ever visit from yours truly yesterday on the way back from Woking. The New Inn is a nice pub in an ideal location on the Wey Navigation canal bank. There is a good selection of real ales and traditional pub grub ( not arty farty gastro pub type food, thankfully )

A good point for starting / finishing a canal towpath walk, I imagine it gets very busy indeed in Summer and has a good outside drinking area for Summer drinking

In conclusion, well worth a visit if in the area

16 Nov 2006 13:15

The Cricketers, Kingston Upon Thames

Revisited yesterday - found the pub busier, mainly because the football was on. This is not an unpleasant pub in itself, although there was an aggressive Malaysian chap - apparently a former employee - being aggressive and threatening to the young bar staff, which rather took the shine off the visit. I believe this to be a one off and shall return and make a fuller report on this pub in due course

13 Nov 2006 17:19

The Lamb and Flag, Oxford

Unusual beers for the area make this pub well worth including in any city centre crawl given its quite central location

8 Nov 2006 13:57

The Eagle and Child, Oxford

Nice pub, one of the better known Oxford watering holes. Very food orientated, but both the Adnams Broadside and Pride were in perfect nick. Nice to come in a well known touristy pub such as this and not feel you're being ripped off - see my comment re The Rose and Crown in North Parade.

Try the Lamb and Flag over the road as well

8 Nov 2006 13:55

The Harcourt Arms, Oxford

Rather quiet on my recent Saturday lunchtime visit, but the Pride was in good nick. Surprised it doesn't stay open all afternoon on Friday, Saturday - perhaps that's why it was so quiet. Nice surroundings and decor, apart from the rather odd looking abstract paintings which seemed out of place

8 Nov 2006 13:50

The Gardeners Arms, Oxford

Another splendidly traditional pub in North Oxford, a stone throw's away from The Rose and Crown. Rev James was on as a guest beer, not cheap at £ 2.95, but in fine form.

8 Nov 2006 13:47

The Rose and Crown PH, Oxford

Splendidly traditional pub to the north of Oxford, but within easy walking distance of the City centre. As other people have commented, it is indeed rather pricey. The "friendly landlord" referred to in earlier postings was not around when I called in last Saturday lunchtime, otherwise I might have told him what I thought at being charged £ 3.20 for a pint of Adnams Broadside - particularly when the famous Eagle and Child in the centre charges only £ 2.55.

Despite the above, I enjoyed the visit, but I'll probably give this one a miss on principle next time I do Oxford.

8 Nov 2006 13:45

Lewes Arms, Lewes

MESSAGE TO THE HARVEYS CAMPAIGNERS - I've never been in your pub, but hopefully will someday. I have been following your campaign with interest - good luck. I have visited several Greene King pubs while in Oxford recently - they had Rev James from Brains in Cardiff on as a guest beer, so I don't see why they don't want your pub to have a guest such as Harveys. Best wishes

8 Nov 2006 12:59

The Beehive, Wandsworth

Had a guest beer on on my recent visit - Goddards from the Isle of Wight. Rather an average unremarkable pub in many respects, but the light pine wooden furniture puts me off

2 Nov 2006 13:05

The Windmill on the Common, Clapham Common

Seems to be more of a restaurant than a pub nowadays if last Sunday's lunchtime visit was typical. Quite pleasant sitting outside in the autumn sunshine, but it was desperately difficult to get served and we reluctantly moved on after only the one pint. The usual shortcomings I'm afraid - lack of staff and when we finally got served, staff's command of English and knowledge of the various drinks on offer left a lot to be desired.

Disappointing visit, but so typical of the "new Youngs", I'm sorry to say

2 Nov 2006 12:59

The Manchester and County, Manchester

The problem described by the previous contributor re pump clips not being turned round is a problem at many Wetherspoons pubs - why they haven't sorted this out around their estate is anyone's guess

2 Nov 2006 10:40

The Prince of Wales, Clapham

It's different - and in these days of increasing pub blandness and uniformity, that can't be a bad thing.
I enjoyed looking at all the various paraphernalia - very interesting. We don't all want to drink in All Bar One clone pubs.
Worth visiting if in the area

31 Oct 2006 09:11

The Rose and Crown, Clapham

Probably as traditional a pub as you're likely to get in this upwardly mobile part of London. Had the Rev James on as a guest beer last Sunday, but yes, otherwise I agree with the comment about Greene King beer emphasis

31 Oct 2006 09:08

Volunteer Canteen, Waterloo

The previous comment sums it up perfectly - this pub is well worth seeking out if in the area. Read the Liverpool Historic Pubs Guide for a short history of the pub and why it is called what it is. Note that the beach is nearby - where you can view the famous statues in the sand which have made the news recently as the local council want to remove them. But back to the pub - a near perfect pint of Tetleys was enjoyed by yours truly last Monday in this splendidly traditional pub.

30 Oct 2006 18:03

The Scotch Piper Inn, Lydiate

Splendidly traditional thatched roof pub on the main road from Liverpool to Southport. Take bus number 300 from Liverpool Queen Square - takes approx 40 mins. Stops virtually outside the pub. Yes, this pub does claim to be the oldest in Lancashire - dates back to the 16th Century, I believe. It's on the CAMRA National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. Ales are now dispensed by handpump - not gravity, I had a very acceptable pint of Banks. Sheps was also on. Pubs like this have a certain timelessness - let's hope they're around for future generations to enjoy.

19 Oct 2006 14:08

The Ship, Soho

Is that stroppy landlady still there ?

18 Oct 2006 12:58

The Swan Inn, Liverpool

My previous review of this pub in December 2005 met with harsh criticism in June 2006. Having now paid a subsequent visit to the pub in September 2006, I am prepared to accept that my comment about the pub being intimidating and hostile to strangers is probably not entirely fair. However the jukebox was excessively loud and conversation with other customers is well nigh impossible with music at this volume and for this reason alone, I still do not like this pub. Why cannot a pub in such a good reasonably central location make an effort to appeal to a wider cross section of customers. ?
Interested in comments from the management, thanks.

18 Oct 2006 11:12

The Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Fullers London Pride was in fine form on my visit last week and yes the interior is marvellous and this is still one of my favourite Ale and Pies, but unfortunately I have to agree with the previous contributor about staff attitude - being served by someone with a long face who would clearly rather be elsewhere - and who is not afraid to show it - is simply not good enough.

17 Oct 2006 15:18

The Wynnstay Arms Hotel, Llangollen

Tradtional pub / hotel in the centre of Llangollen with a number of small rooms, including a games room, a locals bar and a restaurant area. 3 real ales are usually on, Greene King IPA, Abbott and the rarely seen Ind Coope Burton Ale. There's something for everyone in this pub - probably the best in Llangollen

6 Oct 2006 17:26

The Sun Inn, Llangollen

Bit surprised that no - one has posted on this site since Dec 2003. It's a fine traditional pub just outside the centre of Llangollen on the main A5 road. Note in particular the attractive glass doors and some unusual seating consisting of former school desks. There is a stage area for live music which is usually held on Friday and Saturday. There is a good range of real ales, principally from micros. Try the Salopian Shropshire Gold if its on. This pub and The Wynnstay Arms, on which I am about to comment, would appear to be easily the pick of the pubs in Llangollen - unless of course you know better

6 Oct 2006 17:23

The Circus Tavern, Manchester

An absolute gem of a pub - well worth seeking out. You could spend an entire afternoon just looking at the photos of former Man Utd and City players and actors , actresses. The Tetleys bitter was in good nick on my recent visit. Roger B's brilliant report below says it all and there's little if anything to add
REAL PUBS RULE O K !

5 Oct 2006 13:32

The Blue Lion Hotel, Cynwyd

Well, the John Bonser roadshow has reached yet another pub no one else has yet !
The Blue Lion Hotel is a nice traditional stone built pub not too far from Corwen. The exterior is Grade 2 listed. Very much a community local, but with a friendly welcome for the occasional passing visitor such as yours truly. I was the only non Welsh - speaking customer in the pub on my visit earlier this month, but no problem whatsoever. The Plassey Bitter from nearby Wrexham is recommended. As with the not too far away Ty Mawr ( which I have just commented on ) , this is another pub that is realistically only accessible by car if planning a visit, but it's only a short detour off the main A5 road, on the main B 4401. Park by the church, as there's no parking by the pub. Note that despite it being a "hotel" according to the name, there's no accommodation offered any more.

2 Oct 2006 17:54

Ty Mawr, Gwyddelwern

Well , the John Bonser roadshow has reached yet another pub that no one else has yet! This pub is allegedly the oldest in Wales. Situated on the A494 Corwen - Ruthin road not too far from Corwen. Has a rather medieval / baronial feel to it. The oak beams in the main bar downstairs are original, but the ornately designed chairs presumably are not, but do add to the splendid atmosphere. There is an upstairs restaurant. Bus service to the village is infrequent, you realistically need a car if you're aiming to visit this pub. One or two real ales are normally on - Theakston Best when I was there - but this is not really a drinkers pub.

2 Oct 2006 17:45

, Digbeth

Traditional unspoilt pub within easy reach of Birmingham City Centre. 4 seperate rooms. Note the original partitioning between the large main public bar and the much tinier snug. Pub is listed in the CAMRA National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. There is a good range of real ales for the enthusiast, predominantly local micros. I had a pint of Styrian Goldings from the Outlaw Brewing Co -and very palatable it was too.
To the previous contributor who feels the interior is "dowdy and oldish" all I would say somewhat sarcastically is - let's modernise Stonehenge, Canterbury Cathedral etc, now wouldn't that be cool !