England Pubs / Bars National
The Mermaid Inn (Rye, East Sussex)
My husband and I decided to go away for my Birthday / Valentines weekend and wanted to book something a bit special. We both like historical buildings, and after researching old inns along the coast not too far from London, we settled on the Mermaid Inn. The Mermaid is in the small medieval Cinque Port town of Rye in East Sussex, about ... two miles from the sea. It is easily accessible by train on roads. The Mermaid dates back to 1156, though it was destroyed by fire in 1377 and rebuilt in 1420, so the cellar and foundations are the only original remaining part. The price for a standard double is usually £90 per person per night B&B, but we found a deal for £115 per night B&B. The hotel has a range of rooms to choose from, including four poster and family rooms. All the rooms are en-suite, have tea and coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi, an LCD TV and 24 hour room service.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we found that the small car park was already full. We had been pre warned of this on the website so carried on driving down Mermaid Street, a narrow one way cobbled street. Luckily for us we found parking right at the bottom of the road with no parking restrictions and didn't have to pay to park there. Unfortunately we then had to carry our bags up the hill (I know - we should have stopped outside but by the time I thought of that, it was too late!).
The Mermaid Inn is a real gem. With beams everywhere and roaring fires in the main bar and the two guest lounges it was incredibly warm and welcoming. After checking in, a porter took us to our room where we unpacked and had a good look around. The room itself was fairly small. It had a cupboard in one corner, a chest of drawers and a dressing table. There was a chair on one side of the bed, and a small flat screen TV on the wall. The en-suite bathroom was spacious. Unfortunately it just had a bath with a shower head and no curtain so it was difficult to shower in it (my husband got water everywhere!).
There are pictures of former Kings and Queens along the passage from the main door to the bar, and along the passage as soon as you enter, there are pictures of many of the famous people who have stayed at or visited the Inn including Charlie Chaplin, Jonny Depp and Michael Caine. Another famous visitor to the Inn is said to have been Queen Elizabeth I! There are a few stairs around, and a few low doorways, so you need to keep your wits about you whilst walking around.
We decided to go out for dinner as the food in the hotel restaurant was expensive (around £30 for a main course). They also serve a bar menu but we wanted something a bit more mid range. We returned to the hotel for a nightcap in the bar, and sat in front of the famous Giants Fireplace. The bar was fairly busy. It was incredibly smoky in there which was a bit off putting at first, but we soon got used to it. OH decided he was still hungry and has dessert in the bar - Chocolate Tart with Grand Marnier sorbet which was fantastic!
The bed was comfortable and the room warm (too warm for me so had the windows open but probably about right for most people). This is certainly not a complaint - we chose it because it is an old building and clearly nothing can be done about this - but the beams creaking were incredibly noisy throughout the night. We did get a little bit used to it, but having read about the ghosts which are said to inhabit the rooms at the Mermaid, I was a little scared both nights! We were also by a door in the corridor so whenever someone went through it, it sounded like someone was trying to get into our room. Again, this is not a complaint, but if you are thinking of staying there it is something you should be aware of.
Breakfast the next day was served until 10am. There was a good choice including Full English, Kippers or Smoked Haddock and Eggs Benedict which I had both mornings. OH had Full English and both were a good size and filling. There was also a buffet table with fruit, cereal, yoghurts and juices. Tea, coffee and toast were served to the table.
We went out for the day and returned late afternoon to have a drink and read the papers in front of one of the fires in the guest lounges. It is obviously a popular thing to do on a cold February day as many other people had the same idea, but there was plenty of room to sit.
When we returned to the room it was nicely tidied again, and the tea, coffee and biscuits in the bedroom has been replenished, as has the shampoo and shower gel in the bathroom.
Again we went out for dinner and returned to the hotel for OH to have dessert (which he said was also delicious) and to have a night cap in front of the fire.
When we checked out the next day we had a lovely chat with the ladies on reception about the history of the hotel and the various ghost sightings (I was too worried to ask before as I knew it wouldn't help me sleep!). I asked about the cellars and they called one of the porters to show us down there. When the door was opened the cold and the smell of damp was very strong. It is now used to store the wine and is a lot smaller than I had expected but the current owners apparently sealed up the tunnels which weave under the town of Rye.
In summary The Mermaid Inn is a lovely place to stay which is full of history. The owners are obviously passionate about preserving the character of the Inn whilst trying to make a comfortable and enjoyable place for guests to come and share it with them. I don't think I would be happy to have paid the full price as I think £180 a night for a small room is a bit much, so if you do want to stay here, then keep your eyes open for the special deals.
Thanks for reading, and please ask if you have any questions. Rachel
The Mermaid Inn
Tel: +44 (0)1797 223065
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Crown Carveries in General
Location and History The jug & bottle is a family based restaurant which is apart of Crown Carveries. It is located on Louth road in Holton-le-clay, Grimsby. If you live in Grimsby and not a surrounding village like myself this isn't very acessable unless you can drive or have someone to drive you there as it is quite far ... out. This is located right next to the Holton-le-clay sign so you can't miss it. The area where this is, is quite historic because across the road there's what some people might call waste land but it still has part of the old run way from the world war 2 where Lancasters used to land and there are still hangers there too although I think they have been converted into something else but they still look the same from outside. There's only a small part of the run way left and no one has really preserved it because there's lots of grass and weeds growing up through it. Of course it used to be bigger but they've built all the buildings and the big main roads across where it was. It isn't really a site seeing area as it's basically a fenced off bit of road but it's stiill quite cool that it's still there.
Parking, Layout and Decor
Parking has never been a problem when going to the Jug and bottle because there are more than enough car parking spaces and this goes around 2 sides of the building because this isn't like a normal restaurant where you will sit and chat have drinks and eat, this you just eat your food then don't usually stick around so it means people are coming and going constantly so it's easy to get a spot. The layout inside is quite simple as, as soon as you walk through the 2 sets of doors there is a table with pots of crayons and a large pile of colouring sheets, this is a great idea because we all know how bored kids get when they go to restaurants there is also a teddy grabbing arcade machine. Straight ahead is the bar this isn't very long but it's big enough. To your left when you first walk in is a step up to lots of tables and further down on the left is a fire exit some bandit machines and then more tables. To the right when you walk in there is a large step up area full of tables, and then next to the bar is where they serve the food, a little bit further right is another seperate step up of tables and near to that is the sance and gravy table. On this side is another fire exit and the toilets which are both clearly signed. The design and layout of this is very simple and everything is easy to locate, this is a barn type buiding and has high celings with visable beams. The floor is carpeted but has wood flooring around the bar and food serving area. All around the building are pictures in frames of old planes and black and white pictures of people and people from the war and now I know why - because of the history surrounding the building.
Customer service, Purchasing and Queuing
I've only ever been here in the week days and I try to go in the elast obvious time when most people go such as breakfast lunch and dinner time and when I have been there isn't a lot of visable staff on however when I arrived there was 2 ladies on the bar in clean black uniforms with visable name tags they looked very clean and presentable, when approaching the bar I was greated with a "hello what can I get you" which is always nice. I never saw any staff clearing away plates or cleaning tables and replenishing them so I can only guess that the ladies behind the bar were doing that as well. There was only 1 other staff member that I saw and that was the man who was serving the food. Purchasing you carvery is quite easy you just go up to the bar wait to be seen and request your carvery and whatever beverage you please, they will then print out your recipt which you will give to the cook for your meal. Queing up is one of the only bad points I've found with the Jug and bottle because there isn't a clear space to que by the food so people kind of guess where to stand but a que starts to form across the front of the bar, this makes it difficult for people actually trying to get to the bar and there is no que there ether you just stand there and hope to be served soon.
The menu and Drinks
There isn't a real need to look at the menu so they have signs and posters around the buiding stating how much it is for children, normal and kingsized and 2 alternatives to the normal carvery. The only menu on the table is a dessert menu and a drinks menu. Alternativly instead of having a normal carvery you can have a steak and ale pie slice instead of the traditional meat or you can have 3 large sausages instead. They also sell a breakfast in the morning too. They sell big name largers and cask ale along with your spirits such as flavoured vodka, whisky, brandy also cider, bottled beer, a big selection of wine and soft drink and they sell fair trade tea and coffee.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.. even on a Sunday.
The jug and bottle offer a different Breakfast meal made up of bacon, sausage, beans, scrambbled egg, fried egg, harsh browns and tomatoes. However you don't have to have this you can order a bacon bun or porridge instead. You can given the sausage and bacon but you help yourself to how much of the other things you want and all this will cost you only £2.99 or £1.99 for a chids breakfast. This is served 9am - 11am. Unfortunately I havent tried this because I can never get up in time and I don't usually eat breakfast.
The carvery is a traditional Sunday roast, but available every day, this consists of a choice of meat either chicken (turkey as well at christmas) beef or gamon. You get 3 slices of which meat you choose or you can have a bit of each, you then will get a yorkshire pudding and then your handed the plate to pick the rest yourself, you then can pick anything from the carrots, peas, cauliflower cheese, stuffing, mash and roast potatoes, You can have as much of these things as you like and you can go back for more too. This is served 11am - 9.30pm and this will cost you just £3.89 or £3.49 for children, you can upgrade this to kingsize for an extra £1.50. However this will cost you £6.99 on a Sunday.
Every time I go here the food has always been different, because it's not all frozon they cook it all properly themselves sometimes things can be a bit crispy and sometimes over cooked. The meat is always a large meaty joint which all always look delicious and juicy, I always go for the glazed gammon because I have chicken and beef often at home. The meat is always cooked just right and it's very juicy, it's always easy to cut and it just tears apart and there's next to no fatty parts in any that I've had. I don't like vegetabes but I will always get a few carrots which are seasoned with some herbs, these are really flavourful and are much better than the average frozen carrots. The mash is really fluffy and creamy it tastes like it's made with a lot of butter or margarine and it's really nice, the roasters will always vary between really big ones or lots of little ones and sometimes they're brown and soemtimes they look like someones forgotten to take them out of the oven, I love the small crispy(burnt) ones so I always dig deep with the tweezer forks to get the good looking ones.
I don't like sauce but they offer a wide range including mint sauce and cranberry sauce. Their gravey is the best I have ever tasted it is very thick and beefy but sometimes you can get too little or too much, I always seem to get too much and my food is swimming in it and over flowing off my plate - how embarrassing. All the food incluing the gravy is in those black pots which are thick and keep the food warm, whenever I have gone the food has always been piping hot which is a little ucomfortable but I would complain if it was cold.
Cleanliness, Offers and People it attracts
The jug and bottle is really clean, the floor is always hoovered and moped, the bar never has any spills on it and the tables and cleaned up swiftly, the food area does get a little messy but it is cleaned up when it isn't busy or when they have to replenish the food. The sauce area gets really messy becaus eof course your bring over ladel of gravy and it drips everywhere, it's impossible not to spill any but this doesn't get cleaned up as quickly. I have to say I have neevr been to the toilets in the jug and bottle so I cannot comment on them. The jug and bottle attracts all kind of people from large families with small children to friends or couples and there are a lot of elderly people that come here. There are always offers on - currently in half term children eat for free, you can buy a two course meal consisting of your carvery and a dessert for just £5.49 and 2 breakfasts for £5.
There are lots of advantages of coming to the jug and bottle, the food is so cheap and easy to get that you may as well, I can never be bothered to cook so I'd rather just go out there for really cheap. You can have unlimited vegetables which is great because it means you can get enough to fill you up because if it was a set amount you might still be hungry.
The biggest disadvantage is it's location, if you live in Grimsby it is quite far to go just to get a cheap meal which will probably cost you more in petrol. Another is the the knives are clearly just butter knives so if you do have a tough bit of meat or a crispy roaster it's really hard to cut through them. The last disadvantage to coming here is they have bandit machines located between two seating ares, in my opinion I don't want to sit there eating a meal while someone is getting angry at a machine because it took his pound and he never won.
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The Greyhound Pub / Restaurant (West Sussex)
Friendliness from staff, good food and a welcoming homely atmosphere make a good pub in my opinion. The Greyhound Inn public house at Keymer, a few miles outside of Brighton, has all of these attributes in plentiful supply. Despite being over 100 miles from where I live, I've just made my fifth visit to this pub and each time I look ... forward to enjoying time in the company of Hassan, the proprietor, and can't wait to tuck into the fresh tasty food that he prepares.
We first discovered the Greyhound about 18months ago. We were staying at a gloomy hotel in Brighton and had had several meals in the centre and decided to try to find a country pub one evening for a change. We found this one after heading back out on the A23 towards London and then taking the first turning off signed to Hassocks and it is about 8 miles outside of Brighton. It looked picturesque from outside with soft lighting and still retains the character that you'd expect of a building 450 years old. We enjoyed the meal and hospitality so much that we joked with Hassan that we wished we would be in the area on a Saturday when he opens up to serve a cooked breakfast, as the breakfast in the hotel had been less than inspiring. The next thing we knew we had been invited the next morning for breakfast. We were a bit dubious as we drove back the next morning thinking maybe he had been joking or was regretting his friendly remarks, but no, he was there, apron ready, to begin cooking for us at the same time as preparing the bar and kitchens for lunchtime trade. We were presented with the best cooked breakfast that you could ever wish for as well as being made to feel like really special house guests.
The following day on our way home we dropped by with a thankyou gift and as it was lunchtime just had to sample the puddings as we hadn't found room for them the first night and after breakfast it would have been just a tad greedy, despite seeing them there on display in the glass fronted fridge. The beamed ceiling of the pub is covered with hooks and from each hangs a mug - we were able to contribute a new mug for this collection as our 'big breakfast' thankyou.
As I have relatives in the area we had since returned once more, for lunch this time taking my grandparents, but that was before my reviewing days, but since I have started writing reviews I knew that when I next visited this would be a place that more than deserved a five star review. That visit occurred after a long day visiting relatives and then sale shopping in Brighton, between Christmas and New Year, and we decided that the perfect way to round off our day would be a quite sit down with good food at the Greyhound.
Our timings meant that we were a bit early arriving, at 5.30 as food is not served until 6.30, but we were happy to wait and were shown to a table in the bar area where Hassan came and took our drink requests. I was impressed when I asked for a J2O and instead of being told a few flavours, he brought over 8 different bottles for me to choose from. He also brought the A La Carte food menu over to us so that we could begin choosing, but also told us that if there was anything else we wanted to just let him know. As one of my daughters was not overly hungry we asked if there were lighter snacks so he also showed us the lunchtime special board and bar menu and also told us that there was a children's menu.
The bar was a really pleasant place to sit and chat and while away an hour. There were some local magazines and leaflets to read and we felt quite at home to bring out a game that we had with us to play (I don't usually have these in my bag, but it had kept the kids amused at great grandparents). Being an old country pub there is the perfect roaring open fireplace that all good pubs should really offer for a cold winters evening and the walls are cosy oak panelling, but brightened by the walls above being painted a pale yellow. As it was Christmas all of the mugs had been removed and from each hook a gold, silver or red bauble was hung, with some tasteful fairy lights strung between, as well as a Christmas tree and cards on the mantel piece. It really did look so festive, cosy and welcoming. Music is played at an unintrusive volume and the lighting was just right for me, dimmed but not too dark to see what you're eating; I do hate stark pubs with bright lights on. The bar has definitely retained its local village pub atmosphere with many people in there just for a drink. It seemed friendly with lots of people knowing each other, but we didn't feel out of place being outsiders. There is also a second linked room with a billiard table and bar games, although at this early hour on a Friday night no one was using this. We were also the only diners on this occasion, although we did leave at about 7.30 and other tables were reserved. Previously it has been more full and we have had to eat in the bar area on one occasion, so it may be worth booking at busier times.
Hassan, as mentioned already, owns the pub. He was born in Iran and has been a chef for thirty years. He really gives the impression that he is not 'at work', but that you are at home with them and that he loves every minute of what he is doing. Many of the other team members in the kitchen and bar appear to have a family resemblance.
As our food was due to be served we were invited by Hassan's daughter who is the main waitress and bar attendant, to move through to the dining area, which is linked to the bar. The tables were laid with bright yellow napkins decorating the wine glasses and again Christmas decorations.
We opted to start with main courses as we knew that the deserts looked absolutely irresistible and we wouldn't manage 3 courses. Starters are available though ranging from soup at £3.75 through many traditional starters to King prawns in a white wine and garlic sauce at £5.95. I chose the scampi at £10.95 - not very original I realise, but I'm always glad when it's there on a menu as it's definitely my favourite. The scampi itself tasted good and pretty much as you find it in most places. The chips were chunky, crispy and lovely and hot - just perfect and it was also served with peas and a salad. The salad was as crisp as you could ask for and consisted of lettuce, cucumber, red onion and red and green peppers. It was definitely just as I'd hoped that it would be and my daughter also really enjoyed this too. My husband chose Huntsmans Chicken with chips and vegetables for £10.95. He described the sauce that the chicken was in as having a nice mustardy flavour and the cheese topping looked good. Sadly for him he is just far too fussy with his veg so only ate his carrots and pinched some of my peas. I therefore got to sample his cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage which were all nicely cooked being still firm without being raw. Our final choice was the smoked mackerel salad served with a good sized bowl of new potatoes. My daughter was impressed that the bed of salad also included more exciting things like avocado and it was very nicely presented.
The food is all cooked to order and was definitely hot and fresh. Food is sourced locally where they are able to which also adds to the freshness. The menu is quite extensive, although I only noticed a couple of things for vegetarians on the main menu, unless you eat fish in which case the selection is wide. With the addition of the lunchtime menu with meals of about £8 and the bar menu that includes jacket potatoes, sandwiches and petit pans at under £5 there should be a good choice for everyone. It does suggest on the menu that if you like your meal adapted from the standard that this can be done. I would recommend looking at the menu at www.greyhoundkeymer.com if you're interested, as this review could go on forever if I included more food options.
The deserts are cleverly displayed in a glass fridge as you walk through into the restaurant, so I'd already chosen what I'd like prior to eating my main so was making sure I'd leave room. I believe that these are probably brought in, but they all looked mouth watering. There's apple pie, cherry cheesecake, banofee pie, chocolate fudge cake to name a few and they all cost £3.95. The pecan pie was exceptional and I've had this served with cream twice there now, and hope to again in the not too distant future.
Our bill for 6 drinks, all be it soft ones, except a shandy, 4 main courses and 4 puddings came to £71, which seems about right for what we received. Service is not included, but is worthy of a tip. Watch out for the vouchers that are sometimes available on the website for reduced prices of meals.
The pub is open all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday and lunchtimes and evenings the rest of the week. Special Sunday lunches are available of 1, 2 or 3 courses between £8.95 and £15 and of course the cooked breakfasts on Saturday would be worth a visit. In keeping with its local atmosphere quiz nights are held on the second Monday of each month and open mike sessions on the second Sunday. I bet these are great nights to try out and I only wish I lived near enough to get myself on a quiz team. They do also cater for special occasions and parties.
Whenever I've visited it's been winter or dark or horrible weather, but I have peered out through the doors into the garden where there is a patio, large grass area and a covered arbour all with bench seating, so it looks like this could be good for a summer evening drink and meal too. There's plenty of parking with a few spaces at the front and a larger carpark to the side. Toilets are adequate, although a little dated.
You may have guessed by now that I would whole heartedly recommend this pub to you if you are ever in the Brighton area and feel like escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, for a quieter village setting in glorious traditional pub surroundings. Whether it's for food or just a drink with a jovial host I doubt if you will be disappointed.
Keymer Road (B2116)
Te: 01273 842645
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