The Caroline of Brunswick, a ‘marmite’ pub according to Pub spy
Marmite – that will be my review of the Caroline of Brunswick.
If you already love it then this must be your perfect pub and I’m sure you won’t want to hear a word said against it.
However, if you’d rather avoid anything grungey, dark and dingy then you’d hate everything about this one.
I entered through a black back passage having parked in what I assumed must be parking spaces for the pub.
The graffiti from the walls of the car park simply flows into the pub, in much the same way as the locals drift in.
The first thing to hit you is the smell. It’s difficult to define it exactly but I’d say it’s a combination of old furniture, sweat and mustiness with just a dash of toilets thrown in for good measure.
But it doesn’t put the locals off and the pub revels in the atmosphere it creates – if there was an award for grunge then look no further for your gold medal winner.
Earlier in the day dust from the Sahara and the remnants of Storm Orphelia had combined to give the impression the end of the world was coming. Stepping into the Caroline of Brunswick did nothing to dispel the idea. Even Pat in her army fatigues, who joined me at the bar, decided it was enough of a sign to start her diet tomorrow.
The friendly barman smiled through his heavy cold and several coughing fits to serve me saying there is no rest for the wicked.
He served me a non-alcoholic ginger beer for £2.60.
If you’re looking for somewhere that takes Halloween seriously then you’ve come to the right place.
The dark, dreary interior is already a great backdrop and the rest of the fixtures and fittings are perfect props from which to drape spooky, ghoulish decorations.
And, that’s before I even mention the massive, ferocious three-headed dog, otherwise known as Cerberus. I assume this monster of a thing has been moulded from papier mache but whatever it’s made it from, it certainly creates an effect.
By the time you’ve looked around the place for a few minutes I suspect there isn’t much in the way of decorations that can surprise you, even a giant three-headed dog blends in.
So, the carefully designed crucifixes sitting above the bar, offered for sale at £50 or £75, don’t seem out of place.
I’d say it was shabby chic, but there’s definitely no chic, although mention should go to the album covers pinned to the walls as these are historically fascinating.
At this point the blue-haired woman at the bar declared she had one smelly armpit. After a great deal of discussion and checking it was agreed that, whilst the right one was fine, the left one needed serious attention. I’m not really able to pass judgement as she left straight afterwards.
The other decoration I particularly liked is the Wall of Butts – it does what it says on the tin and brightens the place up with several dozen locals displaying full moons.
There are plenty of options for smokers and a large percentage of the clientele take up the opportunity.
There are also the standard types of messages you would expect warning punters what the consequences will be if they smoke certain alternative substances with their tobacco.
A popular, well-used pool table sits on the left hand side of the pub as you walk in and there’s also a quiz machine and an electronic gambling machine.
There’s also a sign on the ceiling which reads “Shows this way” and it shouldn’t be forgotten that this pub is a great venue for new, local bands and stand-up comics finding their way in the business.
I noticed old stager Billy Bragg is booked for Bonfire Night and bought in advance a ticket will cost you £22.
To be honest, good old Billy would be a welcome change to the music playing when I was in – maybe they were preparing for Halloween because it sounded as if someone was being murdered.
Everyone I saw looked like they were well prepared for a long night outdoors and no one even thought about taking off a coat, scarf or hat when they came in.
This is the grungiest pub I’ve ever seen.
If you like grudge you’ll love it, if it leaves you feeling uneasy and more than a little unclean then you’ll hate it.
CAROLINE OF BRUNSWICK, DITCHLING ROAD, BRIGHTON
One star for some seriously impressive papier mache work
Old Rosie was off, but there was a reasonable selection on offer
Reasonable across the board
Grunge fiends love it, others won’t be in more than once
Polite and efficient
Source: The Argus