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Revisit: The Walsall Arms

Original Post Here.

I’d heard good things about The Walsall Arms since it reopened, and finally got there, and the reputation is deserved- a lively atmosphere, nice looking beer garden, and the skittle alley is still there. A great welcome, nice locals, and top-notch beer too- about our only reservation was the slightly bland decor and we preferred the layout before it was opened up, but still a great pub, and deservedly popular.

Flan O’Briens (The Borough Arms)

Walsall:

This pub is a real landmark, a beautiful building- a lovely sight if you drive up Lower Rushall St: a proper terracotta-and-tile 19th century pub, and surprisingly, there’s some great stuff inside too; tiling and woodwork.

It’s been a loosely-Irish pub since the Irish pub boom of the nineties, but in more recent times, it’s gone a bit downhill in clientele- sadly there were some EDL types present (presumably a hang-over from the march in town that day). The Stella was serviceable, but no ale. Cheap, though, and the barmaid was very pleasant- but it just could be lovely; it could be a Woodman quite easily.

The Lamb Inn

Norwich:

The most interesting thing here was the tiled/painted alley off the street leading to it: the pub itself was pleasant, but a by-the-numbers modern, slightly upmarket food pub with la-di-dah pretensions. I’m not being very fair her: it was nice enough, comfortable, the beer was fine, and the staff pleasant, it’s just this type of place bores me a little. There’s a nice courtyard for if the weather’s good, too.

The Yare

Brundall, Norfolk Broads:

Our nearest pub for a few days. The Tripadvisor reviews seemed to be polarised between shit and brilliant, but I can’t for the life of me think why; it is neither.

What it is is a fairly average traditional pub, with decent beer (3 ales), and a fairly extensive if unremarkable (in that it’s exactly what you’d expect) pub-food menu. The food itself is pretty good- home-cooked pie, for instance, and the beer was fine, as were the staff and prices, so there’s plenty to like here, even if it’s not incredible, it’s certainly not shit by a very long chalk.

The Punch & Judy

Covent Garden, That London:

A tourist trap, this is a “18th century pub in Covent Garden Market“, apparently. I was working nearby with a colleague, and we needed lunch.

What it really is is a spoons-a-like pub with a terrace and a cellar bar. We went in the cellar bar, as the terrace bar was closed. It was a big gloomy, but OK. There’s an eating area at one end, with normal table, but they were all occupied so we had to make do with those ridiculous stools that seem to be fashionable at the moment.

There’s ale, but as we were working we had soft drinks with our meal, which was good, but, as you’d expect, pricey: our burgers were well over a tenner, and Fish & Chips will set you back the thick end of 15 quid. the food and staff were fine though, but it has to be said I’ve been in nicer surroundings, and used less stinky bogs, and paid a lot less for it.

Revisits: The Royal Exchange

Original post here.

A while ago, the pub had a half-hearted makeover that made it worse: it felt even more like a clubhouse. I’m glad to say that’s been fixed: the pub looks smart and feels modern and welcoming, and there’s new outside furniture too. It’s also gained real ale, which is very welcome, and food.

…which is where I was disappointed.

At time of writing, the website says food is served 12:00-20:00, and I’m told if you view on an iPad, it says light bites available up to 14:30. The sign outside says “food every day”.

Either way, having settled down with an (to be fair, excellent) pint, it was dissapointing to be told the kitchen had closed when I tried to order food at 14:01, so we drank up and went back down to the bustling centre of Walsall Wood and the Boatman’s Rest. Shame really, we’d have been set up for the afternoon…

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.