We had been reliably informed that, if we drove across the Somerset levels to a particular pub in the middle of nowhere, that we’d be able to try some beers from a well-regarded local brewery. It looked nice on the website — smiling landlord and landlady, appealing lunch menu and a very enticing beer list — so we went for it.
From the off, things didn’t go well.
The cask ale on offer was just about OK, but none of it was from the local brewery whose beers we so wanted to try. We shrugged — you win some you lose some, right?
But things didn’t look up when our attempts to engage the landlord in conversation saw him respond with a scowl and a very unappealing brand of mild sarcasm. For example, he seemed positively annoyed when asked if he served wheat beer and his helpful reply was: (snort) “Sometimes.”
A very pleasant and possibly rather put-upon young waitress showed us into a dining room which reflected in every detail an idea of classiness c.1985. There wallpaper was pink and chintzy, the seats were faux-velvet and flowers were plastic. Pride of place went to a certificate showing that the pub had been “highly commended” in the Guinness/Sunday Express pub food awards. In 1989. So vivid was the sense of having travelled back in time, we expected to look out of the window and see a car park full of Austin Maestros and Mini Mayfairs.
The food wasn’t actually that bad, although the menu was worryingly long (as we’ve learned from Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, if the menu is too long, it’s probably all frozen) and melted yellow cheese had been applied in a inch-thick layer to any food item with a flat top.
We left feeling a little jaded.