Saturday 4 June 2016

Not number one in my book

As I wrote last August, I don't have a high opinion of TripAdvisor, but I looked at it today as I was curious to find out how it ranks the pubs in Southport. I was quite surprised to see at number one the Falstaff in King Street. This pub had a £325,000 revamp last year, but when I went in on a Monday evening shortly after it had reopened, I was unimpressed, because the landlady had decided close the pub at 10.00 pm. I heard she was replaced shortly afterwards.

On Thursday last week I agreed to meet a friend there for the open mike night; I also thought it would be a chance to see what the pub is like now. I arrived at about 8.45 pm to find I was the only customer. Other than the staff, the only other person was setting up the PA system, which struck me as odd because the open mike was scheduled to begin at 8.00 pm. I saw only one advert for it, an A4 notice on the bar; if it's going to take off, it will need rather more publicity than that.

Two handpumps, but only one in operation serving Brain's Rev James. There was nothing wrong with the condition of the beer, but it's hardly an interesting offering. I had a look around at the refurbishment. The Falstaff is a long pub and down the middle they have installed a solid barrier made of rough-hewn planks, separating the drinking area by the bar, which is to the rear of the pub, from the front area. I think it looks awful, and it creates an unnecessary visual obstruction. A wooden banister rail with spindles would have been preferable.

My friend arrived at around nine and we had a drink together. Shortly after, two more customers arrived. There was clearly going to be no open mike (I was glad I hadn't brought my guitar along), the place was dead and the beer unremarkable, so my friend and I went to the busy Sir Henry Segrave, a JDW house around the corner, where we had a choice of ten real ales.

Looking at the reviews on TripAdvisor from January onwards, I noticed that they were all talking about the food; none referred to drinks, except in passing. That's all well and good, but it's not what I go to a pub for. I regret to say that in my estimation, the Falstaff remains nothing special for the real ale drinker. I say 'regret' sincerely because many years ago this was my local and I really used to like the place.

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