You’ll know I’ve not overjoyed about the growing numbers of Ember Inns in the Guide. I’m not the only pub tourist with that view. It does seem that Wetherspoons get a lot more flak for running identikit dining places than Ember, Marstons and Greene King, and I generally find Spoons have a lot more of the pub about them.
Ember are no different from a host of smart casual dining pubs in smart casual towns like Holmes Chapel, whose residents probably wonder how Sandbach got the Brunning & Price instead of them.
Most of the towns visitors appear to be folk using it as a bypass of the M6 rather than a place to “rest awhile amid its rustic charm“, or whatever its slogan is. In truth, it’s no Sandbach, but does have a fair amount of history.
This is the sort of town my parents would like walking round, stopping every five minutes at a new café, and peering in people’s windows (that’s still allowed in the Fens).
They would definitely be happy with lunch at Ember’s Old Red Lion in it’s attractive cobbled setting. The Lion was surprisingly quiet last Friday lunchtime, perhaps due to competition from the George & Dragon with the offer of Trooper at lunchtime.
If nothing else, busy dining pubs at least give Simon and me the chance to enjoy customer meltdowns when the wrong condiments are supplied. No such fun here, just a very good half of Ghost Ship (NBSS 3.5) in a dull pub. I could have shown you a picture of the beer or the pumps but I know you’ll want to see the dull pub.
In a sense, the Old Red Lion is a measure of the reliability of the Good Beer Guide. As in dreary Embers in Caversham and Redcar recently, the beer quality warranted the GBG listing, even if few would recommend the pub. I like that a lot.
20 years ago Mrs RM and I had a wonderful introduction to the joys of Sam Smiths at the Swan, conveniently placed a stumble away from the station. It may have been the Museum ale that caused the stumble. The Museum, and the excellent pizza, didn’t last long, and nor did the Swan’s Beer Guide place. It’s still a handsome pub.
In truth, I wish the Swan was in the Guide, but since cask has just been reintroduced this year following refurbishment I guess that may come later.
If it can happen in the Swan it can happen in Sinclairs.