The Occidental Bar

Broughty Ferry, Dundee:
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Our local for a week, being the nearest pub to our holiday cottage. An ordinary Scottish community pub away from the main tourist drag at the waterfront. When we walked in early on a Saturday evening it was rammed in the bar, busy in the lounge, but we found seats, a short distance from a group of lads from a football team, one with a remarkable Dwayne Dibley haircut that presumably is fashionable now, like I’d know.

Anyway, the pub. busy, pleasant enough, no food, no cask (so Heverlee it was). Much quieter on Tuesday evening, handy for the bus service. The name just kept reminding me of Piper Alpha, though.

The Red Lion

West Bromwich:

A short way out of town, but the right way out of town, on our bus route.

A big, red-brick, inter-war, “improved” or road-house type pub that’s been modernised inside, and given the desi treatment. Bar at the front, big, slightly canteen-like room at the back. Friendly staff, good beer choice (decent lager and cask ale), and a really impressive food menu (we were still full from The Sportsman).

Very busy- a popular pub, and despite feeling a bit canteen like, not unpleasant, until the volume on the TVs got cranked up loud.

The Prince of Wales

West Bromwich:

So, we’d passed this already.

When we dropped in on the way back, it was disappointing we hadn’t gone here first, though I wasn’t sure if they were doing food at lunchtime.

Anyway, inside was a basic, honest boozer. Bench seats, no cask ale, but decent lager and wine, and lovely staff. There’s an eating area out back, and to the other side, a pool table. The pub stretches back a loooong way.

We didn’t eat, having filled up at The Sportsman, but the food has a good reputation. Customers wandered in and out, as multicultural as the area.

The Sportsman

West Bromwich:

So, I’d bought the Creative Black Country Desi pub book. I love Indian food, and we needed somewhere to go, so time to start. I’d not checked details before, so went past the Red Lion on the bus, and walked past the Prince of Wales en route…

Anyway, from outside, unexceptional. Inside? Clean, bright, practical if not that atmospheric, but well set up for the audience: a big open bar area at the front, and a big area with booths for food at the back, TVs in both, but not too loud. Mixed Asian and white customers, counter for food order at one end of the back area.

The food was excellent and good value, and while there was no cask ale, there were at least 3 decent lagers. really friendly staff, and a nice, friendly feel to the place.

Beerbohm

Lichfield:

It’s a little hipster, but what do you expect, in affluent Lichfield, and the advantage is you get a good selection of cask and craft ale. Busy on a Friday afternoon.

A small bar downstairs, and another area up a set of stairs (as are the toilets) that are quite seriously steep if you’re old and fucked, like me.

The aforementioned cask was in good condition, and the craft and Belgian selection is *huge*. Pleasant staff, no food that I could see, music was either quiet or non-existent. Group of much younger and much cooler than me lads sat next to us, using the USB charging points(!). Decor is reproduction enamel signs, stripped floorboards, old wooden tables. Not at all unpleasant.

The George Hotel

Lichfield:

Well, it’s a hotel really, but the bar feels pubby, and while the beer’s a bit pricey, the food is very reasonable, and it’s a nice place for lunch. We’d popped into la-di-dah Lichfield, taking advantage of the new direct bus, dropped in at The Whippet Inn, and needed lunch.

Pleasant barman, trusting enough of us commoners from Walsall to allow a tab. Backyard Hoard on cask, and in great condition too. Good lunch and a pleasant courtyard with unbrellas to deflect the shower that passed. Right in the middle of Lichvegas, too.

The Star Hotel

Burntwood, Staffs:

A Ember Inn, so it’s a pub for people that don’t like pubs :-).

I’m being unkind. Ember Inns are OK, in their way. The food’s usually at least OK, they tend to have a few cask ales on, the interiora are a bit of a fake-traditional thing- and this was the case here. It’s an imposing building outside- late 19th century at a guess.

Ember Inns used to have a no children policy, but I they’ve sadly relented on that now, not that it was a problem for us on a weekday lunchtime.

Beer was fine, but maybe a bit cold for some real ale twats, fine for me.

The Hedgehog

La-di-Dah Lichfield:

A mile or two outside the city. We were heading further afield, but the weather turned for the worse, so we turned off the A51 and dropped in.

It’s a Vintage Inn, M&B’s “traditional” brand. Pretty standard, very-slighty-upmarket pub food, drinks to match, reasonable ale choice (Dizzy Blonde, Pedigree, and Doom Bore, the first two of which were in good order), popular with the Lichfield set for lunch. Hotel on site (Innkeepers Lodge), standard pubco decor. Decent enough food without charging the earth, and a nice building.

The TurfToby Carvery Norton Canes

Norton Canes:

Whatever M&B think, this place is The Turf. The island, at the junction of the B4154 and A5 is The Turf island, the pub is The Turf, even if it’s just another Toby Carvery now.

I didn’t actually go inside. Unusually, we arrived by car; my dear other half drove as I’d only just had knee surgery. We needed lunch, it was a bit late for lunch timing, we knew from experience that Toby carveries did carvery sandwiches, there’s a big car park, and we were fairly nearby.

No cask ale apart from Doom Bore, so lager it was, and we sat outside on a hot Saturday afternoon. The food was good, the lager OK, and the prices reasonable. The location on the A5 probably keeps it busy.

The Boot Inn

La-di-dah Sutton Coldfield:

I don’t like Sutton, or as Google Maps and pretentious twats seem to call it “The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield”. This is the place where residents have been known to paint out the Birmingham coat of arms on street names, declaring the aforementioned Royal status as justification. The place in the Midlands with the highest concentration of new Range Rovers outside Solihull.

If I stop ranting for a moment, there’s stuff to like about Sutton. There’s leafy suburbs (if you’re rich), it’s on the cross-city line. Sutton Park is lovely, there’s some very nice buildings, and there’s decent enough pubs, if you like your pubs in general a little bit too plush and food orientated for me. Shops were OK last time I looked (twenty years ago!), and there are independent restaurants.

The Boot is still very much enough of a pub to be pleasant. It’s clean, tidy, and recently refurbed inside, and big. There’s a strong push for food- it’s taken to callinmg itself The Boot Inn and Kitchen, like other pubs with gastropub pretentions. The food is actually a standard Punch Taverns menu, but looked OK.

I was actually only there to use their (pay and display) car park instead of suffering the inevitable disappointment at Good Hope Hospital, but I was running early so dropped in (for orange juice). Friendly staff, pleasant interior, and no arseholes (in Sutton!), so I wonder if I can engineer a visit without a car?

In Ur Pubz, Drinkin Ur Beerz