“ Address: 15 Bloomgate / Lanark / Lanarkshire / ML11 9ET „
Roasting hot weather in July?...in Scotland? Weird. Anyway, when the mercury is rising, what better than to sit in your metal box of a car (y'know, the one with the dodgy AC) and bounce around the countryside with no particular place to go. That sounding like a half-baked plan, we proceeded to do just such a thing.
We eventually ended up, after a pleasant drive through the Clyde Valley, in the town of Lanark. Conveniently, this was just around lunch time so it was a no-brainer what to do with ourselves while there. We went for lunch.
The Royal Burgh of Lanark has been a market town since way back in 1140, and as with all market towns, there is no shortage of traditional pubs, lining the High St and its approaches. With all this varied choice, don't ask me why we ended up in a Wetherspoons (if I told you I'd have to kill you), but we did. Actually, we didn't realise it was a Wetherspoons till we were inside. How we missed all those 'special deal' posters I still don't know.
One thing I like about Wetherspoons (possibly the only thing) is the fact that they tend to be in historic, or at least interesting buildings. The CLYDESDALE INN in Lanark is no exception.
This Wetherspoon pub used to be the Clydesdale Hotel, opened in 1793, when the town council and other local bigwigs decided a first-class coaching inn was required for the town. By the mid 19th century, the hotel had become an important staging post, with coaches departing daily for Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. Apparently, the hotel played host to many special visitors through the years, including William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Dickens.
In its early days, the Hotel was used by European royalty Europe who stayed here while visiting the mills in New Lanark to study the revolutionary social and industrial ideas of Robert Owen.
Sadly, those elegant days of Georgian (and Victorian) stage coaches have long gone...although there is a bus stop nearby!
The building still retains some of its Georgian splendour from the outside with sash windows, porticos and the stuccoed walls painted a creamy shade of, well, cream. But the traffic thundering past within a few feet of the front steps brings you back to the 21st century with a crash (no pun intended). Inside is completely different. It's modern, shiny and, one of the neatest, cleanest Wetherspoons I've been in. Of course, judging by the nick of some of them, that's no great accolade. Still, by any standards, the interior was in pretty good shape. They seem to have retained the feel of a county hotel but in a modern setting. There's lots of sleek wood panelling and soft lighting in the main area, but other rooms leading off are of a more traditional feel with the large windows to the front letting in lots of natural daylight.
There are lots of beers on offer with plenty of real ales and ciders, and a variety of fizzy stuff but yours truly was the designated mug...driver for a change and an integral part of that function is limiting alcohol consumption - which, by my calculas translates to 'don't drink and derive'. (heh)
So I made do with a soft drink whilst Mrs p poured half a gallon of cider down her ever eager thrapple. Naturally, in the interests of accurate reviewerism I had a wee taste of her Magners and it was...well, it was appley and cold.
Wetherspoons is not somewhere I, or anyone else with a functional palate for that matter, would go for fine dining...or even half-decent dining, but they're quick and reasonably cheap and the titchy portions mean you don't get bloated.
They have a good choice of meals, in fact I'm sure their menu covers most types of food...as long as it's microwavable obviously. But fear not, I won't be listing the menu here.
We weren't looking for a huge feed anyway so Mrs p settled for lentil and bacon soup while I, after a quick rome around the menu, opted for a caesar salad (heh).
The lentil soup came with some nice crusty bread and was really beckham, y'know, thick. In fact it looked a tad on the gloopy side and I wondered if a knife and fork would be a better option than a spoon. However, it wasn't as bad as it looked and was actually very nice, as was the really fresh bread. The caesar salad was disappointingly small - hey, I'm a growing boy (mostly outwards unfortunately). You don't get the biggest portions in 'spoons. I shouldn't complain, I was looking for a light lunch, not a slap-up meal so it was an adequate amount when you get right into it...and I did.
The greens and the croutons were nice and crunchy and luckily the chicken wasn't. The salad was very tasty and much fresher then I was expecting. All in all, the food was better than many previous Wetherspoons experiences.
The staff were efficient but this may have had more to do with age and experience than anything else. Not a spotty-faced youth that was barely old enough to even buy a drink to be seen. Come to think of it, most of the customers seemed to be of the more mature variety - maybe evenings are a different matter but I wasn't hanging around to find out.
In conclusion, this seemed to me to one of the better Wetherspoons pubs I've been in. Still a bit lacking in character and definitely part of a chain, but pleasant enough.