La-di-dah Sutton Coldfield:
I don’t like Sutton, or as Google Maps and pretentious twats seem to call it “The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield”. This is the place where residents have been known to paint out the Birmingham coat of arms on street names, declaring the aforementioned Royal status as justification. The place in the Midlands with the highest concentration of new Range Rovers outside Solihull.
If I stop ranting for a moment, there’s stuff to like about Sutton. There’s leafy suburbs (if you’re rich), it’s on the cross-city line. Sutton Park is lovely, there’s some very nice buildings, and there’s decent enough pubs, if you like your pubs in general a little bit too plush and food orientated for me. Shops were OK last time I looked (twenty years ago!), and there are independent restaurants.
The Boot is still very much enough of a pub to be pleasant. It’s clean, tidy, and recently refurbed inside, and big. There’s a strong push for food- it’s taken to callinmg itself The Boot Inn and Kitchen, like other pubs with gastropub pretentions. The food is actually a standard Punch Taverns menu, but looked OK.
I was actually only there to use their (pay and display) car park instead of suffering the inevitable disappointment at Good Hope Hospital, but I was running early so dropped in (for orange juice). Friendly staff, pleasant interior, and no arseholes (in Sutton!), so I wonder if I can engineer a visit without a car?
Darlaston (even if Google thinks Wednesbury):
This was near to our bus, and a friend had suggested we popped in. It’s uninspiring, to be honest, from the outside, looking mostly like a couple of houses knocked through and turned into a pub, but inside is pleasant- not pluch, but clean and tidy. No cask ale, but decent lager served by a friendly Asian barman, and…
The proper Desi pub food experience from an open kitchen at the back. I’d fancied a curry anyway, so to find one almost by accident was a bonus, and the food was great and bargain priced.
Friendly, multicultural locals- the majority white, as it happened, but a significant amount of Asian customers (including the barman when his shift ended). A sign saying “You are respectfully requested not to discuss religion or politics on the premises” didn’t seem to halt conversation. Football was on the TVs, but no-one was shouting and the sound was low enough to hear over.
Old backstreet pub we’d been meaning to visit for years. Traditional inside, except maybe for the telephone box built into the rear wall! Very clearly a pub with regulars, including a cute 3-legged pubdog.
Great beer, friendly staff, but perhaps less friendly neighbours: the far end of the beer garden was out of bounds, due to an enforcement order from Sandwell Council. The surrounding houses are very close, but the pub must pre-exist them by a century, and it didn’t seem like the kind of place to get rowdy.
A big (inter-war?, maybe post WW2) pub, in many ways similar to The Church Tavern. Another Sizzling pub, another without cask ale, another good bit of outside space. I’ve been past this pub hundreds of time in a car or on a bus, having worked in Wednesbury when I was just a lad, and we tend to drink in the town once in a while.
It really wasn’t bad. The locals were friendly, the staff really pleasant, the food was OK, prices not bad at all (the food, particularly), and the 13 bus stops outside.
Part of the Sizzling Pubs brand of M&B. This is a big, between-the-wars “improved public house” typical of Birmingham suburbs, replacing an earlier building. It’s still fulfilling the role of appealing to families, with an outdoor play area (out of action due to flooding), and typical feedbag menu. Like others (say the nearby Tennis Court), it’s huge inside.
No ale (“it doesn’t sell”), but OK lager and wine. Decent outdoor space.
A ‘spoons. Not a bad ‘spoons, by any means, modern, always busy, but not bad, with a great location on the seafront by the ferry terminal.
Fairlie, Near Largs:
Very first impressions weren’t so good, but we soon found out how wrong we were.
The first impressions weren’t helped by a bus driver not stopping when requeseted, so we ended up walking about 1/2 mile back. When we got in, there were a large group of people stood around the bar, blocking access. The landlord was keen to help, but a bit /too/ keen for my annoyed state of mind at that point. However, this was just me being grumpy.
We got settled, got a beer, and relaxed. Beer was great, the landlord turned out to be really friendly, really keen to do well, and a generally nice bloke. He’d taken over a few weeks ago- the pub has had a chequered history of late, open, shut, open again, shut again. Food excellant, and good value. Inside to the left is aimed towards dining, to the right is a traditional bar, both clean and tidy, but not devoid of atmosphere. Deserves to do well.
Rothesay, Isle of Bute:
Not terribly inspiring from outside- it looks like a shop frontage, and the sign is a plaing black and white full-width job, but inside is lovely; traditonal. The front half of the pub has a notice that you may be asked to move to the back of the pub at busy food times if not eating, but when we visited (for food and drink) a chap was just sat reading the paper, and a couple of older ladies dropped in for coffee. Moving to the back wouldn’t be a hardship anyway, unless all the seats were full.
Great food, great beer, and very friendly staff.
Downm a side street, but near the sea front. Fairly traditional inside, but nothing very special, there was cask, which was nice, but it was distinctly below par, which was less nice, having had a decent pint of the same beer just hours earlier. Food available, but not when we visited.
Merchant City, Glasgow:
Again, a stripped-floorboards pub with food, but a bit smaller. Lovely outside space on a sunny afternoon, nice staff, and decent beer, and a remarkable building restoration. It’s actually a hotel and restaurant too, but feels like a upmarket pub, without being up itself- it’d make a nice place to stay in Glasgow.