A lot of folk think Wetherspoon’s are all the same, I beg to differ. Okay, the ethos is the same but there’s always subtle differences if you look.
The building is the obvious one, lending it’s own unique foundation to Mr Martin’s cheap beer and food emporia. Then there’s the carpets which are all different, plus the helpful information boards dotted around the room telling you all about the building and the history of the locality. Incidentally, if you get it in the right light, the carpet here is quite a vibrant red with Pollockesque squiggles.
Look a little further though and you’ll always find something unique, a little highlight, an element of detail that’s hiding behind the sheaves of menus and propaganda sheets.
In the case of the Swan it’s the lights. As you enter, look up in front of you and there’s a chandelier of inverted dewdrops, pretty coloured glass shades with an art nouveau feel to them. Understated but quite attractive and probably missed by most drinkers. The theme continues with the coloured glass wall lights around the room telling me someone has actually designed this.
I guess there’s not a great deal else you can do with a square room under a grim looking seventies office block, that looks like it’s been a shop once. Maybe it was a shop selling light fittings? The smoking area out the back is quite decent though and apparently there was a Victorian pub of the same name until it was demolished in the seventies.
It’s obviously popular because every time you go by it’s always well patronised. All sorts of people, more drinkers than diners and often people propping the long bar up. I took Mother in a couple of times, she’s an expert, near 30 years service landlady; on a Sunday lunch time visit she proclaimed there was no riff-raff in, a statement which, if you know her, speaks volumes.
The staff are friendly too. On a recent occasion I fancied trying Hopback’s TEA, I’d never had this Traditional English Ale. The lad behind the bar asked if I’d had it before?
‘Would you like to try some first?’
‘Why is it that bad (laughs)?’
‘No, but it’s not to everyone’s taste (laughs).’
Now I’m not sure whether Hopback’s top selling, award winning ale (their words) is meant to taste like this? All I can say is TEA for Tannin, so dry, no off flavours, just not nice, can’t see how it won any awards, nor who buys it.
‘No thanks mate, I’ll try something else.’
I had a pint of DBC Origin and very pleasant it was too, NBSS 3. Now I’m not saying I’m a regular here, the pub’s 300 mile from our house, but over the years I have been in here a good few times and I’ve always found the beer to be well kept, although I am unable to comment on the Doom Bar, Abbot and Ruddles ones. I’m sure they are equally well looked after though.
As Wetherspoon’s go this is a very good one, one with a proper pubby feel to it and I’m going to give it 4 on the WSS. Probably the best bit is the no mewling children, adults only policy in the Swan. If you have any of those you have to take them to sister pub the William Henry at the other end of St Thomas Street.