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.
This was better. Real ale, nice layout, tidy, traditional decor. Cobs and an enviable array of scratchings. As Andy points out, the landlady could have been a bit more welcoming, but otherwise fine.
Just over the road, this is Willenhall’s ‘spoons. It’s been there a while (since 1999), and is, well, a ‘spoons. Not a bad one overall: it was clean, and the beer and staff were fine. Again, bus stop very close, but the opposite direction.
It’s exactly what you’d expect in many ways: bland, lacking in soul, currently-fashionable pubco decor, but for what it is, it is OK. The food was perfectly OK (but, as a note to the world in general, burgers should come on baps, not Ciabatta), there was decent real ale and wine, and the outside seating by the wharfside is pleasant on a sunny day. Staff were pleasant, and the whole place was clean. If you were considering a stop in Walsall, the hotel seems good enough, and the location’s good for the station, shopping, town centre pubs/restaurants, and art gallery.
For some reason, its own website lists it as being near Selly Manor, which is both a bit random, and untrue, as Selly Manor is someway south of Birmingham, so if you were visiting there, there’s many, many hotels closer. Presumably someone at Whitbread HQ searched for historic buildings nearby and randomly picked it.
Fradley Junction, Fradley, near Lichfield:
I’d not been to The Swan for years, mostly because it’s not easy to get to for me- it’s way off public transport, and not the easiest to find without a map. However, I was being chauffeured, as I was unable to walk far or drive, and a family member took pity and got me out of the house for a change.
The Swan Inn is lovely. Very traditional, and by the canalside it has a great location to sit outside and watch the boats pass. The beer was great, and the staff helpful and friendly. About the only disadvantage is that it gets very, very busy at popular times, especially in the summertime.
Over the road to here. Outside looks a little tatty- nothing too bad, but peeling paint- and inside we’re confronted by a GK beer selection, and one of the standard family feedbag menus.
I chose Golden Hen, which was wise, as my companions chose GK IPA, which is never the most inspiring beer, but especially if (as in this case) it has a whiff of vinegar- but to be fair, it was changed by the barman.
Not an awful pub, but not wonderful either, nothing actually wrong, but I wouldn’t rush back.
A short walk into the village from the station (and The Station).
Surprisingly large, and while this did have a bit of Codsall’s affluence about it, it wasn’t up itself. Pleasant enough, nice staff, good beer. Only minus point was TVs- but hey were muted: so this would be the one pub in Codsall I’d choose to return to.
The good people of Codsall won’t thank me for this, but screw em.
The Station could be lovely. It was however, just good.
The beer was fine, the outside magnificent, the staff friendly. It was, in this case, the clientele. Just a bit too middle-class. Token white-bloke-with-dreadlocks (sure sign of privilege), slightly-posh parensts with kids.
Some will love it. Inside, it’s railway-themed- but as it is the actual station buildings, that’s allowed, but The Great Western back down in Wolverhampton carries it off so much better, and less plastically. To be fair, there was little to complain about- food looked good, beer was fine- but it just didn’t gel for me. Maybe it was just the dreadlocks.
We were at the beer festival at the town hall, and this was the nearest place to watch the Grand national. It’s typical town centre pub with a sports bias- loud, crowded, but it served the purpose- I’d usually avoid it. Service with a scowl too- the young lady serving me was verging on hostile, but I’d guess a day of serving beer to hordes of pissed-up people might do that (along with being asked to top mine up…). Beer was decent and cheap though.
Pretty standard ‘spoons, but I’m having less of a problem with that these days: after all, a ‘spoons is usually a good chance of decent beer and wine, and at least reasonable food. We didn’t eat here, but the beer and wine were up to standard, everything else as you’d expect. Friendly locals, who seemed surprisingly not that keen on their home town…