“ City: Camberley „
This review is for the pub "The Claude du Vall" in Camberley, not far from London. The pub is part of the JD Wetherspoons chain, known for their good value food and drinks.
I visited this pub twice recently, once in the morning for breakfast and once in the afternoon whilst waiting for a train to take me back to London Waterloo station. My first impressions of the pub were that it was in a competitive area, there is a Yates nearly next door, a pub opposite with similar cheap prices to Wetherspoons, and a selection of other nearby pubs.
When entering, the pub was relatively busy on both occasions, bearing in mind the time of day. The pub was clean and seemed well looked after, and there were plenty of seats and tables available at the time of day when I went.
The barman, who was the same on both days, was very helpful, and very precise in taking the food orders and clear when explaining where the sauces were and how long the food would take to come out. You order food in Wetherspoons at the bar giving your table number, and as promised on both occasions, the food was brought out within ten minutes.
On both occasions, the food was fine. On the first day I had a large breakfast, which was under five pounds, and good value. It was cooked well, with the usual sausages, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, beans and hash browns, with bread and butter served as well. Other breakfast options are available.
The toilets in the pub were also clean and tidy, and as with most Wetherspoons pubs, there is a sign on the wall which shows how often the toilet has been checked, which is signed by the staff member responsible every hour.
The atmosphere in the pub seemed friendly enough, with most people seeming to have popped in on their own. The cheap prices, such as pints of Ruddles real ale for just 1.29 pounds, were really good value, and no doubt attracted many in for a quiet couple of pints. It also seemed to be a good location for people to meet up, and there was a good turnover of people during the time I was in the pub.
There were a range of real ales on, although no real ciders unfortunately, which I would have personally liked. There were four real ales on, although I selected the ever bargain Ruddles, which is usually the cheapest pint in a Wetherspoons. It was well kept, the glasses were clean and tasted fresh.
There is no music played in most JD Wetherspoons pubs, and this was not one of the exceptions. There were a few televisions dotted around the pub, but these were just showing BBC News on silent, which at least enabled me to keep up to date with what was happening in the world!
The pub opened as part of the JD Wetherspoons chain in March 2002, so isn't that far off celebrating its tenth birthday now. The pub has done well to stay clean and tidy and for the furniture and decor to have been kept up to date and modernised. As with other Wetherspoons pubs, the food and drink are very good value.
When I visited, the pub was open 9am to midnight seven days a week, but from late April 2010, the pub (like other Wetherspoons) will be opening at 7am. More information can be found at their web-site at http://www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/.
Overall, it's always of course worth hunting down a local pub when you go to a new town, to support the pub trade. But it's never a bad idea to go to a JD Wetherspoons if you can find one, they have a good selection of real ales, and good value food and drink. Definitely a pub worth visiting, from a chain that I visit probably too much!
Camberley isn't blessed with a lot of really good pubs. There are a lot of fairly average ones. The good ones, few and far between and, until recently, none of them a Wetherspoons. Then, all of sudden every pub chain seemed to want to open a hostelry, and all in the same place.
First to open was a Goose, a redevelopment of what used to be known as the Brown Jug, on the corner of Portesberry Road and the High Street, opposite the railway station. Then, almost at the same time, almost immediately across the road from the Goose, on the High Street, a Yates and Camberley's first and only Wetherspoons were developed from redundant shops. So, if you don't like any of these you only have to stagger a few yards to try a different one!
The Claude du Vall, named after a 17th century French-born highwayman, follows the proven and very successful Wetherspoons formula. Do not expect any entertainment; no TV, no music. What you do get is good beer and good food at very reasonable prices.
The beers on offer include a local gem, T.E.A. (Traditional English Ale) from the Hogsback Brewery in Tongham, about 6/7 miles from Camberley. You will also find such staples as Fuller's London Pride plus, for those of less discerning taste, various lagers.
As with all Wetherspoons, food is available and if you are familiar with Wetherspoons menu then you will know what to expect. The Claude du Val carries the standard menu, which means good quality, good portions and value for money.
The Claude du Vall is a reasonable sized pub but the size is all in length and not width. The shape was determined by the former premises. The frontage is only the width of the single shop, from which it was converted, so the only way that they could go was backwards from the street. This results in a few limitations.
As with many Wetherspoons, the frontage onto the street is open in summer and here you can sit and watch the World go by whilst enjoying your bevvy. However, due to the limited width of the premises, only a few tables enjoy this light and airy outlook. Behind, as the open room stretches back, the room gets gloomier and darker, there being little natural light.
A little relief is provided by a minute patio at the right side of the building where you can sit in the open at four to five tables that each will provide seating for around four people. The patio doors allow some light into the room at that side but this soon gives way to the natural darkness.
This has not been the most successful of Wetherspoons conversions but, given the limitations of the premises, it's difficult to know what else they could have done. Actually, it was Yates, who got the premises next door, that had the greatest promise and to which the more successful development has been done.
Nevertheless, the service and the quality of the food and drink is up to the usual excellent standard. Just bring your own candle.