I thought I’d get that little bit of Oswestry disappointment out of the way before I got onto the rave review.
What a town this is.
It’s not just the “micro in a treehouse” *
Mr T Irvin Esq will no doubt appreciate the dead railway station with it’s excellent collection of Thomas and Percy models, as did the young children enlivening my walk into town alongside the disused track.
There’s some great black and white loveliness in the centre,
and the series of life-sized models I saw a couple of years ago (photos lost) are still here, enlivening the chicken shop (top), the Dunbobin Room and the gruff Griffin.
Street art is patchy, but striking.
A look at the What Pub map might suggest a chain town; Spoons, Costa, Sports Direct, Wilko etc.
But I find a lot more character than that.
On to the new GBG newbie. I actually passed the Bailey Head in 2016 and it looked really appealing, but I don’t begrudge a dedicated visit.
It stands resplendent in the Salop sunshine, opposite the Town Hall and castle mound.
A small cask range from Proper breweries, but you sense from the Oakademy guff that Oakham is the house beer, and a wise choice it is.
It was a gorgeous cool, textured drop of Citra (NBSS 4), and no, I’ve nothing against tulips for halves.
A really cheery welcome, a mix of afternoon shoppers and the odd old boy, weird dub music, fresh flowers and some proper seating.
Almost as if some intelligent people had taken micro pubs principles (the good ones, obviously) and stuck them in a proper pub with a “Come on in” on the door, rather than a list of what you can’t do inside. The same thing the Dove has done in Bury St Edmunds, in fact.
Best of all, a filling home-made venison stew for £4.50. With proper butter.
And that value is reflected in the drinks list. The Citra was £3 a pint, the bottles half the price of a certain Cambridge craft bar. A cup of Welsh tea was 90p. Let that sink in.
Two ladies with bags of shopping peruse the gin list; one gives the other a £20 note. “I won’t need all that !” she said. Two specialist Salop G&Ts were £8.80. You’ll know how much I paid in That London recently. £10.45 for one.
Mind you, the competition from the Spoons is fierce.
Yes, I could have had a pint of Southwold’s finest for £1.05 with voucher, though presumably not if I was Scottish. At the bar the regulars were complaining about a child with a particularly noisy Nintendo DS, which has just arrived in Oswestry.
Elsewhere, still quite a bit of Proper Pub for the Proper Pub enthusiast,
and the only other Beer Guide entry is a pub retaining Boddington signage.
Shropshire gets a raw deal in terms of GBG entries, compared to some counties that start with “L” that I won’t name, and Oswestry has far more than two pubs worth visiting. Even if the treehouse isn’t yet one of them.
*Strictly, under licensing laws, only the owner can take his bottle of Mikkeller Breakfast beer up there, so phone ahead.