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 pub is a real landmark, a beautiful building- a lovely sight if you drive up Lower Rushall St: a proper terracotta-and-tile 19th century pub, and surprisingly, there’s some great stuff inside too; tiling and woodwork.
It’s been a loosely-Irish pub since the Irish pub boom of the nineties, but in more recent times, it’s gone a bit downhill in clientele- sadly there were some EDL types present (presumably a hang-over from the march in town that day). The Stella was serviceable, but no ale. Cheap, though, and the barmaid was very pleasant- but it just could be lovely; it could be a Woodman quite easily.
Our original final pub was to be Tinky’s, it being both sublime and next to the bus stops we needed, and still hadn’t been visited as one of #100pubs, but it had adopted its traditional, unpredictable opening schedule, so we went off to The Bell, giving up the quest for the day.
It’s very nice. It’s just been refurbished, with new landlord/landlady, and they haven’t wrecked it. There’s fresh paint, some new outdoor fittings, new handpumps, and new staff, but the basic fabric of this excellent pub remains. Andy’s mild was a bit duff, but replaced without question, and my Sunbeam was excellent, and the place was deservedly popular.
Bloxwich, just up the road from Tinky’s.
I’ve been past The Spotted Cow many times, generally on the way to Tinky’s, but this time we went in, needing to raise the #100pubs count a little.
Owing to the dire selection of beer, we had to resort to Budweiser, and fortunately we found a quiet corner in the place, which was inexplicably crowded. Not exactly awful, but loud, crowded, and with nothing to really wow the place. It could be lovely, though.
Bloxwich, just opposite The Lamp Tavern.
60s backstreet pub. First impressions didn’t encourage us, but inside was pretty good: real ale for me (Sunbeam, which was excellent) and Mild for Andy. Very pleasant landlord, pleasant locals- the bar was lively, but still a pleasant place. The jukebox was one, with a decent selection, but we could still hear to chat. Looks to be a pleasant locals pub.
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.
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.
We’d been to the Christmas Market in Brownhills, which was nice, and popped in for a pint. It’s been a few years since we’ve been in, and it’s been refurbed in that time. It’s still a backstreet drinkers pub, with no ale, but the lager was OK and the atmosphere was friendly. There’s still a few panes of the historic William Roberts Brewery glass left too.
A while ago, the pub had a half-hearted makeover that made it worse: it felt even more like a clubhouse. I’m glad to say that’s been fixed: the pub looks smart and feels modern and welcoming, and there’s new outside furniture too. It’s also gained real ale, which is very welcome, and food.
…which is where I was disappointed.
At time of writing, the website says food is served 12:00-20:00, and I’m told if you view on an iPad, it says light bites available up to 14:30. The sign outside says “food every day”.
Either way, having settled down with an (to be fair, excellent) pint, it was dissapointing to be told the kitchen had closed when I tried to order food at 14:01, so we drank up and went back down to the bustling centre of Walsall Wood and the Boatman’s Rest. Shame really, we’d have been set up for the afternoon…
Still much the same- but no longer The Rising Sun, and there’s ale, which was well kept. It’s still a rock pub, and it’s still not plush, but it’s a nice place for a pint, and the music is usually good. There seemed to be a resident cat, too.