Staffordshire is in my Top 3 counties for proper pubs; traditional seating, old codgers drinking Bass and Pedi, a lack of pretension. It’s also one of the cheapest counties, producing that virtuous circle of high turnover, high quality and low waste. That applies as much to food as beer.
I’ll wager few folk outside of South Stafford could place Cheslyn Hay on a map. It shelters a mile from the M6 Toll Road with the
flesh honeypots of Cannock and Brownhills just out of reach, particularly on foot.
As a former mining village, it’s got those pleasant stretches of countryside you get wherever there’s big holes in the ground.
Disappointingly, there are fences and signs sternly telling me not to enter the lakes. A sense of being told off continues through a succession of signs telling me to keep out, don’t reverse, Wolves fans go home, one-way, and this one at the library that chills me to the bone;
Nearly as scary as this place on Saredon Road that looks rather like an abandoned pub. If anyone can identify it I’d be unusually grateful.
Forty-five minutes is all I needed to walk the bounds, and conclude that the Colliers Arms is, indeed, the centre of the village.
I regularly tell you about pubs that are reducing their hours to open at 4pm, unable to make a decent lunchtime trace viable. The Colliers is heaving by 12.30 with custom across the ages, and deals with them with efficiency and humour.
Plenty of drinkers, but it’s the bargain menu that is brings in the pensioners, and probably explains why the chippy wasn’t open at lunchtime.
What stands out is not just the sub-Spoons prices, but what a compact menu of unfussy food that is. I had the roast, it was tasty, filling food for the price of a pint in Cambridge, paired with a cellar-cool pint of Golden Glow (NBSS 3) that was just good enough to prevent you wishing they served Bathams.
The beer range was equally short and centred on the well-known, which is sensible when your market is pensioners.
The soundtrack of ’70s Motown was quiet enough for nonagenarian Gladys to negotiate her Christmas present with her daughter. “Go on, surprise me. No don’t. The sweater on page 82 in the Argos catalogue will do.“. Gladys then negotiated a child’s portion of the roast to save a quid. You can say and do what you like when you’re 90.
Interesting, good value pub food. It can be done.