Newest Review: ... or two after plays have finished in the evening. My boyfriend and I stopped by for a pint after seeing The Merchant of Venice last Monday e... more
The Delightful Dirty Duck
The Dirty Duck (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Member Name: flodombey
The Dirty Duck (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Advantages: Great location, star spotting possibilities, good food, friendly staff, reasonably priced drinks
Disadvantages: Some access problems, can be very busy on summer days.
As such, the walls are lined with many signed photos of major and minor celebrities in the pub itself and you should not be surprised to see a famous face or two in there when you visit, especially if its late on a 'show' night. My mother and I had the amazing good fortune to see Dame Judi Dench herself come in with her co-stars some years ago when she was in The Merry Wives of Windsor.
The general etiquette in this pub is that such stars are left alone by the punters, there is an unwritten rule (from what i've seen) that this is a place where they will not be harrassed and therefore will return for a quiet glass of Chablis. I have never seen anyone pounce on people although you will occassionally see a fan politely ask for a signature on their programme from the play.
Anyway, about the pub - it sits across the road from the river Avon, facing it, built (as all the houses on this road are) in an elevated style, you have to go up some steps at the front to get to door level. This is deliberate as the river floods across the road from time to time, but it does mean there may be access problems for the less abled (although I think there is a ramp at the far side of the front patio area - I have never seen it used though).
There is a lovely terrace outside the front of the pub which looks across at the river opposite, this has many tables and chairs and doubles as a smoking area, there are also patio heaters out here for when its a bit chilly. Inside, the pub is a bit of a warren of rooms, there is a small, long bar to the right (which tends to be where the actors congregate) or a larger lounge area to the left.
The bar sits square in the middle of the building and is accessibly from 3 of the four sides. Through the lounge area is a back room and then a conservatory which leads out to a beer garden. Staff are usually pretty on the ball and cope well with the masses of tourists who drift in. The photo above shows the lounge room which is through the door to your left as you walk in.
Toilets are fine although there is only one cubicle in the womens, oddly, I have never had to wait to use it but I am sure there must be queues when the pub is at it's busiest. The stairs are also up some stairs from both access points (the pub is sort of circular with the bar and toilets in the middle, you can get at them from both sides). This might prove difficult for anyone in a wheelchair but is simply because of the age and style of the building.
This pub does some pretty good food too, a proper pre-theatre dinner menu is on offer as well as a full range of wraps, baguettes, burgers and pasta dishes, we have eaten here many times and whilst the food is not exceptional it is pretty tasty and quite good value for money considering where it is. Most recently I had a gammon steak and chips with some pineapple chutney and it was very tasty indeed and came in at a bargain £8.95.
Also on offer, which we really like and always seem to end up buying, are a number of small bowls of snacks priced at £1.95 each, they have chilli nuts, olives, cashews and the like, it makes a change from the usual pub snacks of bags of crisps, nuts and scratchings (although they do of course serve these too).
The wine list is pretty good and very reasonable, we got a decent bottle of Rioja there the other week for £14 which seemed a bargain given it was from a pub. We sat in one of the large bay windows overlooking the river with this and a bowl of olives, watching the people drift past and it was absolutely lovely.
They have many beers on draft here, lagers and ales, plus plenty of bottled options, including Magners and Kopperberg ciders. The drinks are priced quite reasonably on the whole, which probably accounts for why this place is so busy. On a sunny Saturday afternoon you will do well to find somewhere to perch with your drink!
Overall this is a great pub in a lovely location, it has the added benefit of the possibility of star spotting, has wonderful river views, offers good food and a great range of drinks. I have loved this place from the very first time I stepped in it at the tender age of 17, it has barely changed in the last 14 years and I still love it now. Do visit if you get the chance.
Long live the Dirty Duck!
Summary: A fantastic pub in the heart of Stratford, well worth a visit, a local institution!