Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Cask week sesh

Here’s my contribution to Cask Ale week, a small selection of pubs that are well worth visiting, not just for good beer but also for food, to take the family to, to rest your weary feet after a walk, to enjoy the lapping of the water nearby and to recover after wasting your money on a three-legged nag.

Best pub for food
The Anchor, Walberswick, Suffolk
‘Tudorbethan’ on the outside and bright, comfortable and modern on the inside. Mark Dorber’s Adnams-owned pub has swiftly become renowned for both its captivating collection of cask beers and its superb food. The menu is cheeringly small (a sure sign of freshness) – for instance meatloaf served alongside home-made piccalilli; freshly caught local fish or rare breed beef. On sunny days decamp to the patio, with views over the sea and the coast stretching southwards to the lost town of Dunwich. 

Best Pub for Families
The Castle Inn, Cambridge
On sunny days, families flock to the suntrap of a garden behind this popular town pub. Landlord is John Halsey, a genial soul who also leads a not-so-secret life as an original member of The Rutles. When not gigging, he oversees events at this solidly built pub. Children enjoy smaller versions from the excellent menu (no chicken nuggets here) while grown-ups also contemplate the cask beers from Adnams and other brewers further afield. 

Best Pub for Walks
The Thatchers Arms, Mount Bures, Essex
The Thatchers Arms sits atop a ridge that overlooks both the Stour and Colne valleys, right on the Essex-Suffolk border.  This is Constable country and offers nigh-on perfect walking. Canny hikers often drop in early to order their lunch then enjoy their ramble before coming back to tuck into a plate of traditional pub food — all accompanied by a pint of Crouch Vale’s Brewer’s Gold. Dogs and families, locals and visitors, can all expect an equally warm welcome at this friendly family-run pub. 

Best Scenic Pub
The Pandora Inn, Restronguet Creek, Cornwall
Evocative quayside inn apparently named after the HMS Pandora, the ship sent out to bring back the Bounty’s mutinous crew from Tahiti. Set in a stunning position overlooking a creek that flows into the Carrick Roads north of Falmouth, it’s a low-slung cob-built, thatch-topped inn with a long history. Summer sees visitors crossing the creek by canoe or dinghy from the over side, passing the swans as they glide on the water. Inside the Pandora there’s a jumble of slate-floored rooms, some with low-ceilings, and plenty of nautical object d’arts scattered about. Inside or outside, St Austell’s Proper Job or Tribute is the beer to ask for. 

Best Pub for Sporting Occasions
The Royal Oak, Prestbury, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
It’s a short gallop to Cheltenham racecourse from the Royal Oak in Prestbury, a pretty village on the northern outskirts of the town, which also has the distinction of having one of the most haunted streets in England, the Burbage. This sixteenth-century honey-coloured Cotswold stone pub positively hums with activity on race days. Jockeys, trainers, punters and locals mix and mingle, swapping stories and enjoying pints of Taylor’s Landlord and Butcombe Bitter, amongst others, at the bar. Whitsun Bank Holiday sees a sausage and beer festival, while autumn has a celebration of oyster and stout. The pub used to be owned by English cricketing legend Tom Graveney who still pops in for a pint. 


  1. Best pub for families? Score!

    Now added to the roll of honour.

  2. Love the post We have several Royal Oaks in Ottawa, now a chain and takes away from the charm