Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Pluses and minuses

Boak and Bailey recently posted about defining a classic pub. I don’t really propose to get into that debate, except to say that to my mind a pub needs to have to some extent stood the test of time to qualify as a classic. As part of the ensuing discussion on Twitter, they posted this list of things that made them feel positive about a pub, which struck a number of chords with me.

So I thought it would be interesting to do a quick list of things that, to my eyes, make a good and bad first impression in a pub. Some of them obviously are mirror images of each other. I know some will say “you’ve done this sort of thing before”, but isn’t every blog just variations on the same handful of themes anyway?

The Good

  • Appears welcoming from outside, for example displaying opening hours and menu
  • Comfortable seating, preferably benches, but certainly not café-style tables
  • Warm, rich tones in colour scheme
  • No suggestion of being unwelcome from either customers or staff
  • Some drinking customers, preferably chatting with each other
  • The presence of children is sensibly managed
  • Piped music is either absent, or tailored to the likely clientele, and is kept at a moderate volume
  • Well-kept beer
  • Real ales that show some connection with the local area or the pub’s heritage
  • Food (if available) that isn’t just the usual run-of-the-mill pub menu, and includes interesting non full meal items
  • Some aspect or feature that makes it distinctive or memorable
The Bad
  • A greeter at the door
  • High proportion of tables with place settings
  • Pale, cold colours in decor
  • Barflies making it difficult to get to the counter
  • Lackadaisical, offhand staff
  • Loud, foul-mouthed customers
  • No cask beers that I recognise
  • Lack of comfortable seating – posing tables or café-style layout
  • Uncontrolled children within the bar areas
  • Piped music too loud and/or inappropriate for clientele
  • Menu concentrating on expensive, restaurant-style meals
  • Lack of drinking customers or provision for non-diners
  • TV football dominates entire pub


  1. The Bad:

    Lack of comfortable seating and accommodation for those who like to smoke or vape while enjoying drinks and conversation, peacefully and cheerfully amongst themselves, without being subject to hate filled stares, threatening words and behaviour from anti-smoking lunatics, who could politely stay outside of the smoking room and thus mind their own business for once.

  2. My local pub has a traditional red phone box in it where you can hang your coat. I think that's fairly distinctive.

  3. I totally agree with 'Anonymous'.

  4. Stanley Blenkinsop21 July 2016 at 18:20

    A jar of pickled eggs.
    I've never yet been in pub which has one which has been crap.
    And Radio Four on in the background.
    And someone behind the bar who says " what can I get you ? "
    Aye,thems'll do me.

    1. I'd go in any pub that Mr Blenkinsop was in at the time.

  5. Your list of bad could be the WhatPub description for the Aleksander in Twickenham, except that the "greeter" was a two year old on a trike. Just toprove it's not about the beer, I rated the Oakham NBSS 3.

  6. Surely the worst is when the person behind the bar just asks, "Are you all right, then?", as a way of asking for your order. It seems to have become unbiquitous, at least in the South East, among bar staff, waiting staff, shop assistants, hotel receptionists...

    1. Yes indeed. "That's no problem" seems to have replaced "Thank you" or "You're welcome" at the end of a purchase too.

    2. I'm sure I've had a rant about "are you all right there?" somewhere. I know it's just normal nowadays, but to me it comes across as ill-mannered.

  7. It was me. Nearly six years ago. It has got worse.


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