I know that Stonegate are rivalling Wetherspoons for that early morning crowd now that they’ve got CAMRA vouchers, but don’t rule out Mitchells & Butlers either.
In particular, their Sizzling pub chain is a definite player in that corner of the market. By that I mean early opening (usually 9am), cask ale, food and very much putting itself forward as a ‘locals’ boozer.
However, where it differs to spoons is that it usually has Sky/BT Sports on a big screen and whilst that might put a few off it also drags a few more in along with a dart board and pool table.
I’m not sure if they’ve made it to the pinnacle of CAMRA vouchers just yet, although they don’t tend to have as much cask on, but price wise it isn’t hugely different.
So, I knew what to expect when I popped into 464 – The Argosy DE22 3HZ in Littleover a couple of weeks ago. It’s past the main shopping centre in Littleover, which has the very good Half Moon but not tucked away on the estate like The Oaklands.
Littleover like it’s close neighbour Mickleover, is a big Derby suburb with planning permission galore to get even bigger.
It was chilled out early afternoon time during the first Ashes test when England weren’t under the cosh (one of the few days so far) and the place was reasonably full with people eating, drinking, working on their laptops or generally chatting in the background.
The barman was working overtime but doing it with a smile and he appeared to know most of the punters and managed to flat bat a blaggard perfectly.
A woman came in and claimed she had lost some money the ‘grab machine’ you know, the one where you try and grab a soft teddy etc…
The barman said he was happy to help her get her cash back but she’d need to fill in a form with her name and address on.
She scarpered fairly quickly shouting “I only wanted to get a toy for my little girl.” I later found her spread-eagled outside with her male mate smoking roll ups sitting on the pavement, apparently without any kids in tow!
(just to the left of this sign!)
All part of pub life though and a Welsh bloke in there gave the perfect description of how cricket works and what a great game it is to a couple who were clearly watching it for the first time and trying to fathom out the intricacies of it all.
To be honest the Wainwrights (Thwaites) was a pretty average at best but you can play the cask ale lottery in the summer and maybe I should have plumped for the Keg M&B Mild.
Derby is one of the best pub cities in Britain but out of the centre you still need your local boozers and this big roadside pub is serving a lot of houses behind and a fair bit of Hi-Viz passing trade along with families eating etc.
M&B still own a lot of pubs in various guises, Ember Inns being another on their roster, and the Sizzling brand is definitely here to stay. A better version of GK’s Hungry Horse chain I reckon and judging by the amount of people in here, one that is happy to keep ticking over.