Craster is a delightful place; small harbour, a couple of fishing boats, inshore life boat station, a traditional smokehouse filling the village with a wonderful aroma, nice cafe, an art gallery and The Jolly Fisherman. Unfortunately on careful examination the plaques on the walls of the pretty cottages and the designer decor inside tells you they are mostly holiday lets owned by absentee landlords. Sadly the village boozer has shared the same fate. The Jolly Fisherman used to be a big favourite of mine, back when this area was a real ale desert and the allure was traditional pubs and local clientele. The pub used to be a real characterful, traditional place, almost comfortably neglected, until it underwent a total refurbishment about three years ago. It looks very nice, inside and out, and most people will be impressed with the bare floors, open fires, exposed beams, comfortable seating and beigey walls. Personally, I think it’s lost what it had and I could take you to a dozen similar looking pubs in any locality in the UK.
The outstanding feature is the upstairs room and verandah, with panoramic views out to sea, along with the beer garden which enjoys the same stunning vista. In terms of beer, their web site says there’s three standard real ales, plus a monthly changing guest ale. When we visited there was Black Sheep Best bitter, Mordue Workie Ticket and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. The fourth pump didn’t have anything on but looking today, their web site says they have Wharfebank Celtic red on the bar. We settled for the more local one of the three and enjoyed a good pint of Workie ticket, I love the name. The deep copper coloured, almost yeasty ale tasted of subtle malts which disappear to leave a soft, almost sweet aftertaste.
The pub is Casque Mark approved, which in this case and many others, seems to say, ‘we’re not a beer pub really, but we’ve got some real ale on and here’s the certificate to prove it.’ Dogs and kids are welcome inside and out and food appears more important than wet trade. At 12.30pm the staff had that flustered, caught in the headlights appearance, which was becoming the norm around here. I was on the verge of walking out when I eventually got served. I thought the food looked expensive at £7.95 for a crab sandwich. So did the two Canadian gents sat at the side of us who paid £17.10 for a crab and a ham sandwich with two bottles of sparkling water. Their faces said it all when the sarnies arrived, basically two slices of bread, arranged on a board around a few tracklements. I bet the fisherman gets nowhere near £7.95 for an entire crab.
Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera when I visited so here’s a couple of cryptic stock photos from my back catalogue. They were taken in the area and spell out a message.
Verdict, The Jolly Fisherman suits the drive, park, short walk, see, eat, drive back, sort of person to whom a drink is merely ancillary to their day out.