Nothing much has changed- I didn’t have to get my beer changed this time though. Staff great, food great, beer fine, still potentially busy.
We liked this a lot last time, but this time things weren’t so good. No ale, no drinkable lager either, staff that didn’t listen to the order, and a bunch of gobby blokes in the beer garden. The first time in years we’ve left a drink (Cider!), in order to escape to The Old Blue Ball. Maybe we caught it at a bad time.
When we last visited, this was feeling a bit run down and and tired, and a little creceh-like too. In the almost five years that have passed, it’s seem some refurb work. The magnificent tiled counter is still there, the staff are still friendly, and sadly, tthere was still no ale, but it’s good to see this impressive pub looking a bit smarter and being used.
I’d detailed this pubs recent downfall on my main blog here, and I’m now pleased to note it’s back open since just before Christmas, with a new landlord (Tony from The Wheatsheaf). He’s doing a great job so far; the beer is great (and a good choice: Golden Glow, Doom Bar, Proper Job and HPA), the jukebox has metal, and there’s a live band on some nights, if that’s your thing.
Not massively changed: still great beer, still rammed full on a Saturday. A great pub, with my only criticism being the snacks: four quid for a pork pie, and the misrepresentation of olives as a pub snack. Surprisingly, our party, ranging from early 20s to mid-fifties, pushed down the average age a bit…
Not significantly chnaged since last time, but as the last visit was a long time ago and I don’t come here often, I’ll update: Boondoggle and Pedigree on draught, both very good. Thankfully Micky fabricant wasn’t here this time either.
A sad visit on our way back home; The Imperial closed later this evening, with J D Wetherspoon citing it as a commercial decision.
The Imperial has been there since 1997 or so, and I remember a bet with my other half that it would be there more than x years, (where x was either five or 10, we cannot recall). It lasted nearly 20 in the end, and despite it being just a ‘spoons, I will be sorry to see it go. handy for the bus station (especially as the toilets there are closed at night 🙂 ), and a little quieter than the nearby St Matthew’s Hall, it always seemed to be doing an OK trade to me. I just hope some new use can be found for the building.
Pleasant enough still, but it’s been affected by the plague of hipster tosspots, so the food’s a bit fussy (brioche fucking buns and twatting ciabatta again), and the Pedigree was rough (though when Andy decided he couldn’t bear it, it was changed without question). When it came, the food was actually fine, but what’s wrong with bread?
Still worth a visit, just not what it was.
Shire Oak, Brownhills:
The Shire Oak has had a bit of a chequered history in the last year or two, with changes of landlord and very much in need of a refurb, so it’s good to see it open again.
That refurb has been completed, so I took a hobble up to see what’s gone on.
It’s a fairly standard pubco makeover, but it looks smart and clean- the refurb was needed, but a bit of atmosphere has gone (I overheard other customers saying the same). The famously upside-down Fleur de Lys walpaper has gone too, and the seperate bar and lounge have gone; the bar area is still there, which is good, but the only demarcation is a hard floor instead of carpet. Sadly, the current fad for tall tables and stools has made it here too: awkward and uncomfortable. There’s a big focus on food- the lounge area is mostly set out for dining.
There were several ales advertised, but only one available, but it was OK, and there was a fair choice of industrial lager, and some variety in the fridges (BrewDog Punk IPA, for example), but the choice for drivers was a bit limited as far as I could see, which seems odd for a pub on a major road junction with a full car park.
All in all, not a bad pub, and very busy. The staff were pleasant, and the beer OK. I’ll be going back, but I’ll miss the old pub.