There is a lot of publicity about the numbers of pubs closing. The problems facing tenants and licensees are legion and include the smoking ban , the recession , changes in society and the role of the greedy pubcos such as Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns. But without doubt the closures are becoming more apparent as the months go by.
Last week I drove down Oldham road to Manchester from Dean Lane , Newton Heath to Great Ancoats Street and noted that there seemed to be only one surviving pub, The Wheatsheaf, in a stretch of main road almost 3 miles long. In the fifties there may well have been as many as 40 to 50 pubs along that stretch of road.
In our own neck of the woods Robinsons , so long an example of a stable brewery and licensee relationship, are showing signs that the recession in the pub trade is far from over with around forty of their estate being available for rent. There are at least six in this area including The Devonshire here in Mellor, The Pineapple in Marple, The Crown at Hawk Green, The Railway, The Cow and Calf and the Friendship in Romiley. In many cases there are no immediate takers either.
Following a trip out this Saturday, one local pub that seems to be prospering is the Hare and Hounds at Mill Brow, Marple Bridge.
We booked a table the night before and that proved to be a wise move. It was crowded when we arrived with probably a full complement of 40 covers. Why is it a success in these straitened times? Reasons could be as follows: the food is good , locally sourced and features dishes that you would not normally make at home. The menu changes frequently and uses seasonal produce. In addition to it’s regular menu, it has a real specials board with daily changes to keep the local diners interested and returning. The pub itself is friendly , clean and has atmosphere. There is an open fire and small side room with a flat screen TV that does not intrude into the main pub. It features a small but well kept range of beers with Veltins for the lager drinkers and a hand pumped cider. The cellarmanship is good and has won awards this year. It has a short but interesting wine list with choices to suit all pockets. Most importantly, especially for the fairer sex , it maintains clean and well presented toilets,
We enjoyed starters of smoked haddock with prawn gratin and scallops with cauliflower puree and crisp proscuitto followed by main courses of a dense, richly flavoured suet pudding of local rabbit and ham served with duck fat chips and black peas together with Roast Belly pork and Pommes Anna. A very drinkable bottle of Jackman’s Landing Shiraz and a pre prandial pint and another glass of red, with coffee the bill was just shy of sixty pounds.
This was our second visit in as many months and it won’t be the last. It’s not all about the cost.