There’s a few pubs I always thought would be certs for my Top 100 when I’d revisited them to confirm their continuing brilliance.
It was a mild disappointment that the Great Western’s beer wasn’t quite at the level I’d expected, but I’m confident I’ll be back soon to review that decision.
The Vine looked even more difficult to award Top 100 status when I visited. One of my favourite pubs in the world is very clearly now supported by food sales, so how can it be on my list ? There were even a few “reserved” signs on a few tables !
It’s possible that you’ve only been here if you’ve been to The Hawthorns, as this is the default pub for visiting fans on account of the legendary indoor Indian barbecue. On Saturday I met an old work colleague in Bearwood, 3 miles away, who’d still never been.
15 years ago this was quite a basic looking pub in a dodgy industrial estate, but then so was the Kelham Island Tavern. Suki and team have gradually improved over the years without losing the core custom.
Over nearly 20 years I’ve popped in here a dozen times, enjoying simple grilled meats and fish with naan and inadvisable chillies, washed down by a single changing beer.
I would have liked a decent shot of the barbecue area but there were too many children around to safely take photos, so here’s the bar.
Nothing special, and the main seating areas are basically conservatories. But the atmosphere is wonderful. Perhaps it was the contrast between Cambridge and multi-cultural Brom, but this has always struck me as the pub where every section of society meets for cheap grub, beer and football on the TV. I believe the Good Beer Guide would call it a cultural melting pot.
The atmosphere has only slightly been affected by the latest smartening-up, which has made this the destination pub in West Brom on a Friday night.
That alone makes the pub unmissable, but the Abbeydale Moonshine was the best beer I’ve had this month. Carling is the beer of choice, but I shan’t be telling folk that they’re clueless idiots who should be drinking real ale with their Methi Chicken.
Proof that one beer is enough if it’s good. Bathams is often that beer in the Vine, and when it is this is almost the best pub in the country.