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WELCOME to the second part of my festive round-up of pubs, the real crackers and the occasional turkey.
Say what you like about Bar Revenge you can’t argue with the value. Two quid a pint and some of the best views around. It’s also one of the most comfortable pubs I’ve found, even the walls in the gents are padded in case you lean against them while you’re waiting.
I was warned that if I visited the Jolly Brewer I wouldn’t find either a toilet roll or an ice cube. What I did find was a brilliant group of new friends. The most surreal moment was standing at the urinal and looking up to find the lovely barmaid staring at me with a smile on her face. Sure, it was tatty and smelly but it was a great pub – sadly no longer with us.
Stripped floorboards, twinkling lights, strategically placed candles and just the right amount of posters – that’s the Shakespeare’s Head. Full of shabby chic and expensive crisps to match but a pub offering life drawing classes has to be good.
I loved the Royal Sovereign the second I walked through the door. Live music, lively buzz, an even livelier Thai curry. It reminded me of a few great Belfast bars I’ve been lucky enough to visit.
On to the Long Man of Wilmington in Brighton – less to do with the size of a man and more to do with a hill. Everywhere you look it‘s retro and there’s more than a few lion references. The fish in the tank look big enough to eat and there’s even a Bangkok Bad Boy on the menu. Another pub well worth a visit.
The White Horse felt like care in the community but there were also two of the most professional fruit machine players I’ve seen and the nicest, most upbeat, fun waitress. This Rottingdean pub did feel a bit like God’s waiting room – it must be better sitting on the terrace in the summer.
Back to Hove. The Palmeira is another Greene King pub with a winning formula. It takes the traditional pub experience, adds in as many offers as possible and then makes sure each local pub hosts its own events.
The Basketmakers Arms was a rare delight – in keeping with the great age of the pub the ceiling is low and helps add to the atmosphere which is buzzy and infectious. On a sunny day the crowds spill outside and the quality of both food and drink means it will always be busy.
Tired and weary, that’s how the Downs Hotel feels. In the heart of Woodingdean it has spectacular views but everything else is decidedly below par.
Block was trendy in the extreme and full of cool musicians, the smell of beard oil and fashionable walls. It also had a hairy boar’s head, sex in large letters and a minuscule urinal – very upmarket though with great food.
As a starting point, The Preston Brewery Tap has got most things any good pub should have – beer, atmosphere, three blokes on stools putting the world to rights, helpful, friendly staff – and a ghost. It says it has a pub garden but it’s more of a concrete back yard with a few hanging baskets.
The Ranelagh came with a health warning – political correctness took a week off. But, apart from one incredibly angry woman, the banter was good natured and personally I loved the spectacle, but this one is not for the faint-hearted.
A true monster of a pub, The Walrus is hidden away and I came upon it by accident. You will never visit a more decorated pub – but it’s full of great surprises, so take my advice and dive into this Tardis.
A big old corner pub without a great deal of character, Hove Park Tavern relied upon the personality and warmth of its barmaid to attract customers. Fortunately she was the perfect landlady and couldn’t have been more welcoming and professional.
The Market Inn had a wealth of history and looked like a real boozer but I couldn’t warm to it. The beer was good but the silver fox behind the bar was definitely a man of few words.
I was plagued by seagulls at the Master Mariner and then a beer for vegans – I avoided both but did make another snap decision and tried the crocodile burger. I reckon this one would be better in the winter with a roaring fire.
Open until 3am, Molly Malone’s does everything possible to be seen as a traditional Irish pub. It’s all about the craic, the music and the drink. George McCanna’s live acoustic set was worth the visit alone – but I got flack for even daring to set foot in a West Street boozer.
Claiming to be Brighton’s smallest pub, the Queensbury Arms is hidden behind the Hilton Hotel. I found myself the sole customer (twice) in this former Hole in the Wall. At least the barman was good company.
Source: The Argus