Friday, 22 July 2011

Pointing skywards

The Stockport area now has a new gastro-pub in the shape of the Pointing Dog in Cheadle Hulme, which opened last week. This has been developed by the Felicini Group from the former Smithy pub. As you can see, it’s a strikingly modernistic wood-clad building that doesn’t look remotely like a pub. The Smithy had for years pursued a youth-oriented policy and had became very run-down, so few tears will be shed for it.

The Pointing Dog is very much a “restaurant with bar” rather than any kind of pub, but there is an area set aside for drinkers at the front on the right. It even had beermats and a few bench seats! The dining area had a sign saying “Please wait here to be seated” and there were no informal bar snacks. There’s a very large part-covered outdoor seating area at the rear.

There were four cask beers – Theakstons Best Bitter, Deuchars IPA, Dunham Massey Big Tree and Castle Rock Harvest Pale – and the lager choice included Sagres, Amstel and the Derbyshire-brewed Moravka rather than the usual suspects, so they are making an effort on the beer front. However, I was charged £3.60 for a pint of the 3.8% ABV Harvest Pale, which is by some way the most I’ve ever paid for a “regular” cask beer. At least it was a decent pint. The beer was served in a heavy, straight-sided handle glass. I would expect the lagers to be over £4.

Needless to say, it’s unlikely to become a regular haunt of mine, although I wouldn’t condemn it out of hand, just say it’s not my sort of place. You could actually just go there for a couple of drinks without made to feel unwelcome, which isn’t the case with many gastro-pubs.

I couldn’t see any sign of a price list – maybe they thought it might be a heart attack-inducing health hazard, but even so Trading Standards might not be too happy. I couldn’t see a menu either, so can’t comment on the food prices, but I’m assured they’re at least double Wetherspoons’.

6 comments:

  1. It will do well I expect as the local demographic will support it. It goes to show that price is not everything. Recently ordered a pint of Timothy Taylors and a vodka and tonic in teh Midland in Marple Bridge - £8.60 and the place was packed at 8.00 on a Friday night. ( cv the Globe in Glossop last week £2.95 for a pint of their own brew summer ale and half a perry )

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  2. I'm not sure what the phrase that price isn't everything is supposed to tell us. Price is important to a lot of people, and while a tiny number of expensive pubs can be successful, as here, they are not drawing their custom from drinkers as a whole, but from a much smaller group, i.e. those with enough disposable income to afford their prices. There are no lessons for the pub trade as a whole here.

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  3. I wish I had the disposable income and was of that richer upper crust of characters who could afford to live in that area where expensive pubs can flourish thanks to having smaller groups of wealthy elites who can afford to support such enterprises. I should have become a member of Labour 15 years ago and dutifully and slavishly worked my way up the system so I could be in a higher class of high-brow intellectual, expert, wealthy and elite social circles nowadays. Had I gone red, then I'd have done well for myself, having emulated my betters.

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  4. It has to be said that the prices are ambitious even for that area. The Church in Cheadle Hulme, which is reputed to be the most expensive pub in Robinsons' estate, currently charges I believe £3.10 for Unicorn Bitter. But I expect it to thrive - as well as a restaurant I can see it becoming a fashionable meeting place. The south-facing outdoor drinking area is unsurpassed locally.

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  5. I didnt realise that comments were supposed to be a series of lessons for the pub trade as a whole. But now you mention it,I would disagree and there is a lesson here. The lesson is that pubs need to create a space that people in 2011 want to go in, that in some way offers them something that they can't get at home. It's not simply about reducing the price of a pint and slapping up a badly written sign about some crap karaoke or free pool.

    I tried to use the examples of the Midland and The Globe as illustrations of that point rather than a "Let them eat cake" statement that some tumbril draggers seem to have read into my initial comment.

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  6. While I would defend the right of pubs to charge whatever they like, I personally feel that a pub that decides to charge well above the local norm is to some extent taking the piss. One of the reasons the Magnet in Stockport is so well-regarded is that they charge reasonable prices, typically £2.30 a pint for cask beers in the sub-4.5% range. I'm sure they could get away with charging 20-30p more without much reduction of trade.

    With the Pointing Dog, there may be a deliberate element of "keeping out the riff-raff", as the immediate area isn't quite as leafy as the generality of Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme, and the old Smithy was the kind of pub where you'd expect to see modded Saxos in the car park.

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