I dunno… should the profusion of chalk boards have given it away?
I don’t do that many pub reviews on this blog, but whenever I’m either amazed or appalled by a pub experience, I feel a duty to share it.
Sadly, the appalling experiences seem to be winning at the moment, though I do have an amazing one I’m way overdue writing up.
Was on the Isle of Purbeck around Swanage at the weekend for a friend’s 40th. We visited Corfe Castle, actually an idyllic National Trust tourist trap village sitting in the shadow of said ruined castle. A brilliant model village was terrorised by Captain. It was a model of the village we were in, and sure enough, on the model we could find our location and there was a tiny model village, and inside that, at the same spot, was a microscopic model village, and that made me wonder whether we were in fact inside a giant model village ourselves, with someone looking down on us…
So anyway, metaphysically confused, we skipped the (fantastic looking) cream tea and went straight to the pub for lunch.
Now, you’re going to get all wise on me and ask me what I expected, going to an old stone-built pub in the middle of a touristy village owned by the National Trust. Well, I was expecting something roughly equivalent to what you get in, say, a Nicholson’s pub in the West End of London – indifferent, little atmosphere, nothing very inspiring, mildly overpriced, but perfectly OK quality and not that much you could actually complain about, and every now and again you get one that for some reason is actually quite brilliant.
The Bankes Arms Hotel, on the other hand, cynically takes the piss, knowing that only tourists drink there, so it doesn’t matter if you leave feeling angry, ripped off, and probably still hungry.
The beer was fine actually – a couple of brews from local brewery Ringwood, which were perfectly well-kept. But alarm bells should have rung when the only wine available was in little 175ml bottles – one red, one white, one rose. Mrs PBBB had the rose. It tasted of petrol.
Undaunted, we ordered food.
You may think it’s impressive that three different meals could be served just five minutes after ordering, on a busy Sunday lunch time. I don’t – you can’t cook three meals in five minutes.
BLTP’s crab sandwich cost £8. The bread was stale.
Mrs PBBB had a Sunday roast for £9 which was quite clearly a packet/boil in the bag affair. This meat had not been cooked or carved on the premises – and maybe not even that year – and the vegetables were a mushy mess.
But I made the biggest screw-up: as we were on the coast I went for one of the seafood specials. The scallops were utterly tasteless and served up in so much butter I felt sick after eating. The chips they came with were dry, hollow, oven chips. And the salad was drenched in so much cheap, sweet, bottled French Dressing it was utterly inedible. And what did I pay for this? £17. Seventeen. Fucking. Pounds. That’s more expensive than half of the main courses at J Sheekey’s, one of the most famous fish restaurants in the world, in Covent Garden.
One of the most grimly satisfying aspects of being in the privileged position where people actually read this blog is having the chance to name and shame those who are an insult to the pub industry. Do go to Corfe Castle, it’s lovely. But don’t go to the Bankes Arms Hotel. And do feel free to point to this blog as the reason why.
Oh yes, the other place to avoid – the Ginger Pop shop is an Enid Blyton themed shop that sounds just about perfect. I desperately wanted to go in, until BLTP showed me the photos he’d taken of the window display… featuring golliwogs. Even the Blyton estate have removed golliwogs from her books, recognising that they belonged to an earlier, less enlightened age. The only other people I know still selling golliwogs are the racist BNP. Go figure.