Original post here.
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.
A diversion due to logistical re-jigging saw us here by car, as it’s a bit out of town for public transport. Worth the effort though: lovely, traditional, timbered pub with great beer and atmosphere. A shame we had to move on, especially to The Swan.
Bennetts Hill, Bitmingham City Centre:
I wasn’t expecting to like this. It has a bit of a chainpub feel to it, though a little upmarket. It’s a big space, all one room, and all the hard surfaces made it noisy, but most of the noise was lively conversation (until the Rugby started), though there was music, that, mid-afternoon added nothing; people chatting and drinking gave the place atmosphere and we both liked it more than expected.
Good beer too- I wasn’t expecting ale, but there was a choice.
Andy’s log here
Another by-the-numbers food pub, this time a Fayre & Square. Pretty quiet when we arrived at getting on for 10pm, it’s after the family feedbag market, and is very typically a feedbag pub, with owner Greene King’s beer in evidence. A bit soulless again, but not actually unpleasant, and convenient for my bus and Andy’s walk home.
Andy’s log here.
A by-the-numbers Marstons feedbag pub, but fairly pleasant for it. A bit soulless, and the beer was a bit lacking IMO, but there was a choice of ale and there were other people just drinking, as well as us. Nothing special, but could be a lot worse.
Andy’s log here.
Outside, a standard 1960s estate pub- apparently a fast-disappearing type of building. Inside, it’s a feedbag, but the other sort of feedbag: the pub with Indian food. The food smelt fantastic, to be fair. A little bit of the tall-seat-and-table standard pub furniture, but a friendly owner, decent beer, and the TV muted won it back some points. Not the atmosphere of The Whimsey, but a nice pub.
Andy’s log here.
A walk along the Cobb from town brought us here. Standard modern food-orientated pub inside, pleasant seating outside, decent beer, and good prices for the location, and an almost-pubcat over the road, who seemed to be willing the traffic to try to move him at one point.
This was a traditional pub, overlooking the bay, as per it’s Google Maps description. I suppose it still is, but it’s been hit with the Greene King pubco stick of Old English Inns.
By no means bad, but it’s got the middle-class-green, the over-polished lanterns outside, and the pubco-slick but trying to be pally food menu. As it was, the food was OK, but a little expensive and not exceptional, the beer not bad at all, and the staff were fine; it just lacked atmosphere a bit.
Nice pub just round the corner from Duke’s and much more our thing. Traditional, independently-owned pub just back from the seafront in one of the main shopping streets. Great food, staff, and beer and a nice relaxed atmosphere.
Some discussion here about whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, or pub, but we’ll go with pub, on the evidence of a dominating bar, a reluctance to serve food after 2:30, and the look and feel as we approached.
The look was “up itself food pub”, and that was borne out when we got in. It would seem Sidmouth is moving upmarket, and Duke’s is going with it. There’s typical modern hotel-pub decor (more green, pastels, and stripped wood!), and a slightly trendy air. Not really our thing, but many would love it. Good beer, outside space, food that looked good.