My first pub for ten (10) days, which tells you how much catching up I’ve been doing on the blog. Mansfield/Sutton. Lymington and Ancrum still to come.
But I need to bring you up to date on a great lunchtime session in Barrington today.
The Royal Oak isn’t in the Beer Guide (yet), but is what we call “a pre-emptive cert” having been awarded local CAMRA “Most Improved Rural Pub” recently. And Pint & Pubs likes it, which is good enough for me.
Southern Cambridgeshire from Newton down to Royston has been pretty much a Beer Guide desert for years, so a revival in Barrington and Shepreth is overdue.
I’ve been avoiding the Royal Oak for a while. When I had to attend semi-formal dinners with our Executive it was the sort of gastro nonsense place we always ended up in. “Braised rabbit cheeks in tadpole juice”, rather than the basic bread and dripping at the Queen’s Head down the road.
While I’m on the subject of work pub hell, did I ever tell you about the Birmingham Hotel du Vin monstrosity that wouldn’t let me take a (duff) pint from it’s Beer Guide listed Pub into the restaurant, “beer demeans the restaurant, Sir. Only wine allowed“.
I’d forgotten how smart a viilage Barrington is, longest village green, thatched cottages, 13th century aisle and clerestoried nave and all.
But never mind that. It’s not flat. The old cement works give it some of the most interesting walks in the county, with the sort of fields where Red uncovered Dufresne’s box in Shawshank. I’ve buried my pink pen and a 5p there.
But on the most glorious day of the year, I saw not a soul, around the works or on the green.
The Royal Oak was doing a decent trade on Monday lunchtime, looking just made for our inevitable unstoppable Summer. I was the sole scruffy oik, though to be fair the menu looked a lot less pretentious than I remember.
If there’s an acid test of cellarmanship, it’s the coolness of cask on a hot Monday in a dining pub. Just in case, I had a half of Cloudwater on KeyKeg along with the Alchemy Bad Day at the Office.
You really can’t beat cool beer in the English sunshine, as Erlanger Nick is discovering in Thanet. This was spot on, and I sank these two rather too quickly. Never mind, only the Cambridge Beer Festival to come on the way back.
All the signs of a top publican, one who has arranged a hustings of local election candidates, which is something you don’t get in Brunning & Price.