Once an antiques shop, now a micro-pub that felt nearer to being a real pub on a busy Saturday afternoon. When I say busy, there were only a dozen and a half people in when we arrived. Quite a few of the them were familiar faces I’d observed previously that day in other pubs. Anyway, we couldn’t get a seat for ten of us, so we retired to the unfinished beer garden at the back.
Basildon boy and owner, Terry Steers apologised about the beer garden, he’d started to sort it out, but a dispute over a Buddleia with the neighbouring property had stalled his planned renovations.
He told me the business would be two years old this coming November, 24th if you’re interested. The original idea was to take the pub back to what pubs should be like. I think he’s done that, there’s no music, TV or any other modern pub style accoutrements.
There’s cask beer and real ciders and it has a pub feel, rather than a cheap start-up micro pub. There’s even a pub dog, and Stella calmly sat behind the bar, not bothering a jot about the customers. The opening times are nearer micro than proper pub times; closed Monday, noon till 7 or 8pm except Thursday when it’s 10pm and 11pm on Friday and Saturday.
The only thing I’d criticise is the colour scheme. Bathroom blue I called it, Terry didn’t disagree, blamed his ex-business partner for the choice and apologised, explaining that now he was in sole charge it was going to change.
I quite liked the customer participation ‘Request’ wall where you could chalk up beers you fancied seeing on the bar. Most of the choices were quite, no – very, traditional, but different isn’t wrong and a fair few had been ticked off which is good to see. Terry told me they had done 600 beers since opening and had not had two beers the same.
Although there are six cask lines, Terry was only pulling from four. He told me he wouldn’t put a new cask on until he had cleaned the lines and that wasn’t going to be anytime soon with a pub full of customers and Terry on his own. Prices were between £3.50 – 70 for cask ales.
I had Farthing ale from the local Phipps Brewery. Solid traditional sort of stuff, decently kept, it surprised me the pub wasn’t in the GBG, although it did get to the finals of Carlsberg’s Food & Drink Awards – Community Pub of the Year and is the current Northants CAMRA Town Pub of the Season.
To be fair, on a lovely sunny afternoon the beer garden is actually quite pleasant and I was glad to be sat in almost peaceful tranquility in comparison to the noisy shenanigans of the Cordwainer (‘spoons) beer garden on the other side of the wall.
I’m surmising the pub is so called because it’s on St Giles Street, which is the name of the very pleasant parish church at the top of the street. We walked through the grounds on the way down and on another day I might have had a look inside. The only downside being the curse of any town with an eastern European immigrant population and I would have liked to think the local cops would have done something about street drinkers on consecrated ground.
Verdict – decent little pub.