You know that feeling where something seems really good, but there’s one little thing that leaves you feeling uneasy?
This week it happened to me in the Change of Horses.
It’s a real pub, complete with loyal regulars, good food, a beer garden, daffs on the tables and sweet-smelling, sky blue decorated loos.
So, all good so far, but here’s the thing. Something happened in the bar that I haven’t seen for 15 or 20 years. And, I don’t know if the barman meant me to see, or whether he just doesn’t care.
But, just to be crystal clear, before I tell you and let you make up your own mind, in many ways I love this pub.
So, here goes – how do you feel about slop trays?
Having selected a pint of one of my favourite tipples, Doom Bar, I watched as the ‘efficient’, if not effusive, barman walked to a pump at the back. Here he brazenly emptied the slops tray into my glass (at least half a pint) and then topped up the remainder from the tap.
Now, you tell me, is this reasonable behaviour?
There’s no doubt the pint tasted a little flatter than it might have, but I have no reason to believe the slop tray was dirty, so is there any real harm?
As I say, years ago I don’t think this would have raised so many eyebrows, but today, when people expect a fresh glass for every pint surely this is slovenly, albeit money-saving, behaviour?
On the positive side, it was Pancake Day and the chef was offering a whole host of different flavours, the menu looked good and reasonable.
Instead of a full-on bar meal I opted for a ham roll from the bar, which was quite superb – entirely fresh with a generous slice of proper ham – a pound very well spent.
The sloppy Doom Bar was £3.70 and the serving method meant our publican enjoyed an even healthy than usual profit. I wonder if locals are also served the slops or if the practice is reserved for first-time visitors?
The pub was extremely busy for an early Tuesday evening, but the three women were heavily outnumbered.
There is real pub decor on display everywhere, right down to the horse brasses and charity certificates thanking regulars for their generosity.
Other notices proclaim that it’s home to a local folk club – they meet on a Thursday night, so I’ll leave that with you, but rest assured you won’t be seeing me.
Even bigger that the folk night notice, the menu board or even the barman’s ‘welcoming smile’ (NOT) are the signs barring children from the bar. I noted that the rule did not extend to four-legged creatures as there was a good-sized pack of dogs littered among the bar stools.
To sum up, this has all the makings of a great pub and you could even forgive the miserable git behind the bar – but sloppy seconds, really, are you sure?
Change of Horses, High Street, Farnborough
Decor: *** (a real bar, daffs a nice touch)
Drink: ** (could score so much better)
Food: **** (a great ham roll and the menu looked promising)
Price: *** (pretty good)
Atmosphere: **** (good buzz for early Tuesday evening)
Staff: * (just one slip......slop)