The Starting Gate

Walsall:


View Larger Map

This is very much a backstreet drinkers pub: it’s very close to the town centre but you’re unlikely to find it unless you know it’s there. By the looks of the place it’s an old building, and is rumoured to be haunted.

The drinkers had been hard at it when we visited, but were friendly enough: rowdy, but friendly. Music was loud (but, to be fair, not shit) beer was acceptable, but no better (no ale, Stella was that 4% rubbish). Allegedly the place was refurbed in 2006, though I’d say “what with” to that. It reminded me of the Duke of Rutland or Shoulder of Mutton in several ways: old, traditional boozers with a local crowd, loud but OK music, and limited drinks range. Very much rough and ready…

The Vine

West Bromwich:


View Larger Map

You can catch sight of this legendary West Brom pub from the M5, if, for example you’re stuck in traffic. It’s tucked in a mixed industrial/residential area down a backstreet, and looks like a traditional boozer. In many ways it is: good beer, lots of little rooms. The surprise is out the back: what would have been a yard is enclosed now and has a indoor Tandoori barbeque. We didn’t eat, retiring instead to the front of the pub for a quiet drink- which is one of this pubs strengths: the back is family friendly (but not over-run with kids) and food-biased, the front traditional. There’s great real ale, and Cobra lager. Judging by the number of people dining (many of them Asian), the food must be good too.

Ye Olde Leathern Bottel

Wednesbury:


View Larger Map

Tucked in a Wednesbury side street, this is a real surprise: a proper, olde-world pub- the sort of thing you find in country villages, not smack in the middle of the urban West Midlands- it claims to originate from 1510. Inside, it’s very traditional- I’ve not seen beaten copper table tops in a Midlands pub for years. Pleasant staff (the landlord in a shirt and tie, too), decent beer as well.

The Rosehill Tavern

Wednesbury:


View Larger Map

Randomly encountered this pub we didn’t even know existed while walking to Ye Olde Leathern Bottel from Park Lane/Manor House Rd. Tucked in a backstreet, it’s a pleasant community pub- open plan now but probably multi-room once. There’s some nice original glass and other features, and pleasant staff and decent beer too- a choice of real ale. TVs were on, but not too loud, which was nice.