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The Fradley Arms

Near Fradley, Lichfield


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Just a few hours after whinging about them, I find myself in a chain-pub “restaurant”. In my defence, it was on the way home; an awkwardly-timed appointment in Burton-upon-Trent saw us heading south back home without having eaten, so we called in. I was last here over 10 years ago, and I think I recall a traditional pub. The old building still looks attractive, but it shares its site with a Premier Inn, has become a behemoth collection of buildings, and is part of the Fayre & Square chain, itself a brand of the Spirit Pub Company. See what they did there? It sells Fayre, at a fair and square price, and *giggle* some of the food is square (the burgers). How very whimsical, I do believe my sides have split.

It was OK, as a better alternative than McDonalds or the chippy, and it was pretty cheap (£17 for 2 meals, a soft drink, and a large wine). There was cask ale, and a good choice of other stuff. There’s a wacky warehouse for kids to run about in, though that didn’t stop some parents letting theirs run about the place (fortunately, as it’s a big place, we went to the other end and escaped them). The food was serviceable, rather than exceptional, and the menu standard family feedbag stuff (PDF, 11MB). Staff were nice enough, but a bit corporate training manual:

“Pint of lime & soda please”

“Is that a large or a small?”

[facepalm]

Overall, you could do worse, but you’re not going to get atmosphere or haute cuisine.

The Bamburgh Castle Inn

Seahouses, Northumberland:


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Opposite the Olde Ship, this seems to bask in the reflected glory: we went in because The Olde Ship was rammed, as did several others. It doesn’t have the olde-worlde charm, but it does have great beer and food, friendly staff, free wi-fi, and a great view over the harbour. Dog-friendly too. Like the ship, it’s got rooms, but both feel mostly like pubs.

The Cairnbaan Hotel

Cairnbaan:


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Again, it’s a hotel, but the bar area feels sufficiently pub-like. Great staff, decent beer (2 real ales), and good food- a step above average pub food. Not cheap, but not rip-off, and you have to remember overheads here are greater. Right alongside the Crinnan Canal; there’s some outside seating, and a separate restaurant if you want quieter dining. We ate here three times, and drank a couple of times on top of that, as we were staying nearby.