It's been ages since I reviewed a pub - simply for the reason that no new ones (or ones worth writing about) had popped up recently. That all changed at the weekend when I was pleasantly surprised by The Station Inn in Whitby.
Now, I like Whitby. Really; I like the beach, the Fish & Chips (although getting pricier each visit) and the uneasy alliance formed between the Goths and Chavs that make up about 80% of Whitby's tourist population at any one time. One thing that Whitby does not have, however, is decent pubs. Sorry - my opinion - but I really can't say any appeal to me. Except The Station.
Situated, well, opposite the train station, it's a small, three-roomed pub with an excellent array of beers on offer. I counted Timmy Taylor's Best, Sharp's Doom Bar, Copper Dragon Challenger IPA, Daleside Blonde, Black Dog's Whitby Abbey Ale, Adnam's Bitter and Courage Directors. Not changing the world, admittedly, but a fine lineup. Being a nice day, I plumped for the Daleside Blonde and Black Dog's Whitby Abbey Ale - the latter being a lovely, moreish tawny best that warranted a second pint. The beer was in excellent condition, too. I'll be visiting again, for sure.
Last week, at the presentation to Foley's of the CAMRA Pub of the Year award, we got talking about The Victoria & Commercial Hotel in Leeds - a pub that I had visited in ages. It's still a quiet oasis from the screaming bars of millenium square, with all the ornate windows and woodwork that I remembered. The huge main room is a wonderful place to sit and have a drink. Situated just behind the town hall, Nicholson's have done their usual efficient preservation job and the result is a lovely, unfussy yet grand pub. The beer is good too - when I visited, Tetley's Dark Mild, Acorn's Barnsley Bitter, Cairngorm's Nessie, Sharp's IPA and Morrissey-Fox's (or whoever brews it this week) Proud of Pubs Best Bitter. Out of curiosity I ordered a pint of Mo-Fo (please shoot me if I ever use that phrase again) and nearly fell over; for it was actually rather good. A thick, creamy head gave way to a huge, malty best with a massive sweetness at the end. A slight smokiness lingered - fans of Milds and Dark Milds should hunt this one out.
So far a week of pleasant surprises, all in all.
The Station Inn, New Quay Road, Whitby, YO21 1DH - Tel: 08721 077 077
The Victoria & Commercial Inn, Great George Street, Leeds: Tel - 0113 2451386