Oh look, a Home Counties pub in my Top 100; the end of the world may arrive before next Thursday. What’s more, it’s actually a smart pub with uniformed staff, Prosecco and genteel patrons.
I wasn’t going to put it in my Top 100 after yesterday’s revisit on the basis the staff called me “Sir” rather than the more appropriate “Me Duck”, but for a change decided that would be churlish. A mixed crowd, great architecture, well-kept beer and friendly staff ought to be enough for anyone. Just a shame it’s in Aylesbury rather than Maidenhead, which needs it more.
Aylesbury always flatters to deceive. A sunny day shows up the market square in a decent light, but the shopping streets are shabbier than you’d expect for Buckinghamshire. Leighton Buzzard has left it behind recently, and not just for pubs.
It’s redeemed by the string of streets around St.Mary’s Square, with plenty of half-timbered loveliness.
The King’s Head is so good the National Trust owns it, which isn’t always a good thing. Chiltern Brewery have managed to make it feel like a proper pub though, and the absence of all-day dining (food stopped at 2) certainly helps shape the character. Apart from the genteel elderly there were other blokes in T-shirts discussing their plans for an afternoon on the Pimms, which is hard to argue against (says Mrs RM).
I’m rarely impressed by the smaller breweries round here. Their beers rarely seem to generate enough sales to maintain quality. There were a few folk drinking the Chiltern at 2pm in the King’s Head though, and the Beechwood was an outstandingly tasty brown bitter (NBSS 4). It reminded me of Good Old Boy at its best.
Noting Pub Curmudgeons recent article on knowledgable staff, the fact that beer was immediately recommended to me when I asked was also a good sign. The kitchen was just about to close, but again some initiative was shown in pushing the Duck flavoured Corkers crisps, which paired with beer makes an excellent lunch.
The interior (Farmer’s Bar) is lovely, but the courtyard is the star. This could look a mess with all day dining and all that brings, but with just drinkers (read smokers) felt a great place for idling.
I can see how Simon Everitt would be enraptured by the numeric code for the loos; at my age I had to return to the bar twice as I’d forgotten the 3 digit number on the way. If I’d just hummed “Number of the Beast” to myself I would have been able to recall it without that embarrassment.