Having just moaned about a (rare) duff pint, I feel I need some balance today. The two new Beer Guide pubs in Romsey are a triumph of quality over quantity, joining a third that fits the bill too.
You’ll be delighted to know that the pinked Navigator maps are back today, thanks to some technical wizardry I shall take credit for, but which Mrs RM probably deserves.
This Romsey is in the big bit of nothingness above Southampton, not the edgy suburb of Cambridge. The edgy suburb yards from where I was born, mind.
Romsey is one of the least edgy towns you’ll find outside of Surrey. Even Bradbeers, which sounds like a Dalston bar, turns out to be the setting for “Are You Being Served“.
It’s an attractive town, but like Bradbeers a bit old-fashioned and run-down in parts; like a “Hitchin of the South” before Hitchin found craft recently.
Quite a few dead pubs to admire.
Not much in the way of independent café culture, but plenty of shops selling “Avalon crystals” and women’s clothing. I know how much you enjoy photos of women’s clothing in market places.
That’s not the highlight of the market place though;
Johnnie wasn’t keen to be photographed, but he’s there on Tuesdays.
My favourite stretch of town is down by the Test. I do like Hampshire’s streams.
There’s a modest tourist trade, all over 67, to keep the chain places (Costas, Café Nero and King John’s House) going.
Most visitors are there for a wake, perched in the grounds of the Abbey under gathering clouds.
The drizzle held off long enough for me to get to the Star.
WhatPub says “handsome“, but clearly not handsome enough for Hampshire’s gentle folk; I’m the only customer at 2pm. That can be awkward, but the old school landlord is a good mix of cheeriness and reserve.
From a range of two, the Andwell Wibbler was exceptional, given the lack of lunchtime turnover. Cool, rich and fruity (NBSS 3.5), enjoyed in the quiet while I made notes about ladies garments (top)
The second new GBG tick is under the “Romsey” heading, but a good two miles away, no doubt necessitating a taxi for our less energetic pub bloggers.
The walk takes you past Romsey’s GBG stalwart, Fuller’s Old House at Home, which shares a carpark with Waitrose. Of course.
I thought Old English Inns were the ones you booked by saving coupons out of the Times, and had to wear a blazer to get in. But clearly no longer. Warm welcomes, bouncy castles and Spoons pricing tell their own story.
I expected the worst, but the barmaid was outstanding, the Andwell Ruddy cool, rich and fruity, another 3.5. Why do you never see the same beer on the bar from brewers like Andwell, though ?
Mainly budget diners, one of whom came in to whine that “no-one has seen to my requirements“.
Only a couple of drinkers on high stools, so I sat at the bar. I hate myself.
One drinker said to the barmaid;
“We’re popping out for a fag. Will you mind our drinks ?”
“I’ll be sure to throw your drinks away !”
That’s the spirit ! You wouldn’t get that in Ember, which should be their catchline.
Two very good beers in unpromising circumstances. Well done Romsey CAMRA members.