All posts by stymaster

Heddin’s Ford

Hednesford, Staffs:

Hednesford’s first micropub, in what was previously a sports bar called The Bank, so I’d guess it probably was a bank at some point. It’s got links to Backyard, my favourite local brewery, and unsurprisingly, there’s their beer, along with a few guests on keg and cask.

Inside is pretty typically micropub and also shows the sports bar origins: laminate floor- for example, but everything is clean and fresh, and not clinical. The barman was friendly, helpful, and knew what he was selling. Good range of snacks (sadly no cobs at this time, so we had to go visit the nearby ‘spoons). Music pretty OK, at a volume you could hear over, and the beer and wine were excellent. Given that it’s very close to the station (with a short train ride from Walsall), I’ll be back.

The Red Lion

Rugeley, Staffs;

With me having limited mobility again, Stymistress was driving. We’d had an abortive visit to The Toby Carvery Norton Canes The Turf (full of kids running about), The Railway, and an assortment of other pubs just over the border in Staffs, none of which were serving lunchtime sandwiches, which is what we were after. We’d suffered the traffic calming in Heath Hayes once, so instead of turning round, came back the long way round, aiming for The Hedgehog, but saw this first.

Pretty good too: Marstons foodish pub with a dining area out the back, but pool table and seating for drinkers at the front, so it’s still a pub- comfortable and pleasant, not just a family feedbag. Really, really friendly barmaid (landlady?), decent food, and cask ale. My Wainwright was on the turn, but changed without question for Pedigree which was in great nick- maybe a little cold for some, but that’s being picky. The food was decent, and good value. Overall a great pub; just a shame we’re not likely to visit often, but if you don’t mind driving there’s a decent car park.

The Figure of Eight

Birmingham:

The second ‘spoons on Broad St, heading out of town, the closer one being the Soloman Cutler. We were seeing a show at Symphony Hall again, and our budget hotel was almost nest door. It’s a ‘spoons, so no surprises, but decent food and beer at an amazing price for Broad St (as was the hotel, to be fair). No Brexit bullshittery, for a change.

Hard to believe I’ve not blogged it before, but my last visit pre-dates PubBlog, as the other Birmingham ‘spoons are closer. It’s not far- it’s just you generally have to walk past one of the others first.

Brewhouse and Kitchen- Lichfield

Lichfield:

Previously one of La-di-dah Lichfield’s spoons, this is part of the Brewhouse & Kitchen chain, so inside it’s a bit fashionable faux-industrial with scaffold-pole handrails, and repro factory-style lights.

There’s an impressive selection of cask ale and keg “craft”, including a tempting 7.3% IPA I didn’t try. Pleasant staff, decent food, and nowhere near as dreadful as you may expect from a modern, city centre, slighty trendy chain pub, in fact, quite pleasant, and food prices reasonable (drinks *slightly* pricey).

The Island Inn

West Bromwich:

Whatpub Link

Another Desi pub. Modern building, right on a busy junction of major roads in West Brom. No cask ale, but decent lager. Friendly staff. Impressive-looking menu (but a bit pricier than others). There’s 2 rooms; a big, open bar with multiple TVs showing sport (but the volume was down when we visited), and a separate restaurant room. Again, a laid back, early-doors atmosphere, with people dropping on after work.

The Ivy Bush

Smethwick:

Whatpub Link

Corner pub that extends along Malin St some way; it’s a long, thin building. Nice, old fashioned-layout- bar at the front, multiple lounges stretching back, and toilets that were obviously once outside, but now roofed over.

Another visit on our Desi pub tour, but no food evident when we visited (about 4pm), but very much the proper pub atmosphere- tradesmen dropping in for a pint after work. Friendly landlord. No cask ale, but handpumps on the bar, and at least decent lager.

The Red Cow

Smethwick:

Pub Website
Whatpub Link

Continuing our Desi pub tour, this was one of the more outlying ones, so a day off seemed like a good way to tackle it.

Outside, like some of the other Desi pubs, it’s a huge, inter-war pub, and it’s right on Smethwick High St, with bus stops nearby. Easily spotted by the huge Red Cow statue outside!

Inside is similarly large, and multi roomed- it’s opened out a little, but not completely. Decor is quite basic, but clean. There’s a couple of pool tables, and plenty of seating. Generally, it’s the standard recipe of TVs for sport, really good Indian food (bargain priced), and keg beer (including Cobra, but it was out, so I got Stella). Pleasant staff and customers.

Revisit 2: The Fountain

Previous post here.

Look, I’m probably going to upset people, including myself, here.

I don’t like The Fountain. Often don’t like The Fountain.

There’s so much to love. It’s traditional, it’s Victorian, and it’s a free house now, even if the excellent beers from my favourite brewery still form the base of the range. The beer is excellent, and there’s cobs. The music is OK and usually at a sane volume. The staff are all lovely, and there’s sometimes a pubcat.

So what’s wrong?

The customers.

Every time I visit, unless it’s a very quiet time, there’s one or more group of obnoxious customers. The middle-class closet rascist bar-blocking group, standing in the way all the time. The hipster types talking bollocks about the Spanish revolution, the hipster parents turning the place into a creche-cum-playground.

It ruins it. I think maybe there’s a bit of “victim of it’s own success” here.