Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The pub is the hub...

A really nice piece by the always thought-provoking Stuart Maconie in The Guardian's Rural Pub Guide about the demise of the village pub got me thinking, as I suppose any good thought provoker should.

A good pub, like a comfortable armchair, is something to be savoured and enjoyed. Like an armchair one should be able to feel comfortable there and enjoy a drink, perhaps a quiet read and certainly some convivial conversation.

Looking back at some of my postings from various blogs, pubs crop up quite a bit. Not that I've got a problem or anything.

Mr. Maconie has some, if you like, quality indicators for a good public house and his list got me wondering what I reckon the key elements of a good pub are.

For sure Guinness on tap is up there. Not extra cold of course. That would just be silly. A real fire? You bet - a must, even in the summer. A good jukebox? Hmm. Not sure but certainly live music would be a winner - even if it's not always one's first choice of genre being played, any live music is always welcome.

Pub grub? A tricky one this. Gastropubs are becoming more and more common but do people visit them for the food alone and does that impact on the general "pubbiness" of the place? For me, reasonably priced "staples" - fish and chips (ahh, the mighty pub chip!), steak pie, a home made burger - done well are worth any number of butterflied medallions of veal with celeriac compote.

A pool table? Provided it's out of the way and the cues don't knock over the drinkers' pints then I'm all for it. Issues tend only to arise when there's some dispute over local rules - do two shots carry ? (no, they shouldn't...anyone with any idea of how to hold a cue can't really fail to clear up when awarded two shots) Does the winner stay on? Not ideal if you've turned up with some family or friends and some folks are already on...

Friendliness of staff? A must. Absolutely. There's no pleasure to be had in supping a pint of Thelwell's Festering Bunion under the withering glower of a mardy landlord. Jeezo. Make an effort folks.

Having said all this, where I live right now there's no pub so I guess there are evenings when, heaven forfend, I'd even settle for a Blue WKD and a Bacardi Breezer in a chrome and pine Witherspoon's. Or maybe not. As Stuart said, "...the pub, the sound of distant laughter and the smell of charcoal from a beer garden is balm for mind and body, and a reminder that one cannot survive on smoothies and paninis alone."

Some of my pub related postings...

McCarthy's Bar - December 2008

Tigh TP's Pub - Dingle 2007

Balconie Inn & Tartan Heart - 2005

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