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Review: The Beech Tree, St Mary Cray
OMG, why did I venture into this one?
The Beech Tree is the most uninviting, soulless and sombre pub you are ever likely to find.
In truth, the note taped to the door should have told me all I needed to know and had me turning on my heel as soon as I read: “Regulars only – due to our neighbours complaining”.
However, my curiosity got the better of me; after all, if only regulars are allowed in how does anyone get to become a regular?
But once you’re inside the bigger question is: ‘Why would anyone want to be a regular here?’
Faced by a bland, unwelcoming interior, the pub looks like it was decorated by someone throwing a firework into a tin of black paint.
The walls are then adorned with a mixture of huge expanses of what look like blank notice boards, interspersed occasionally with faded old pictures.
The only existence of colour is a typically horrendous pub carpet of the worst possible design (worst possible that is, until you see the second carpet in the back room).
There were three people in the front room, presumably all regulars, but no-one spoke so I couldn’t be sure.
As well as a pint of Kronenbourg I splashed out 50p on the only food available, a stale cheese roll which had definitely seen a few better days.
Thinking things could only improve I ventured into the back room where the main item was a pool table.
Here, a pair of ‘regulars’ were chucking cash as fast as possible into a fruit machine called ‘Dublin yer money’ – although no matter how much they tried, they didn’t.
This is clearly a sport in St Mary Cray as they’d both dressed especially for the marathon spending session in tracksuits and trainers.
Even the yellow tags on the hoodies added to their ‘sportsman’ look.
As Raghav’s 'Can’t Get Enough' blasted from the jukebox I can only assume it had a random setting as the music certainly fitted into this category.
In the outhouse area at the back, dominated by the pool table and misnamed fruitie, you also find the toilet entrances.
Presumably the regulars know better than to take on the cheese rolls in any quantity as the width of the door on the gents would preclude anyone above average size even entering, though anyone with an average sense of smell will also be well and truly put off.
The toilets keep up the style of decoration, although this time the black is replaced with bright blue paint chucked at the walls – if you do dare venture in.
I’d avoid the cracked urinal on the left.
Escaping back to the front room I dawdled only to wonder why washing was drying on the radiator.
However, as fruit flies then started to mass around my pint I thought my exit was long overdue.
Leaving hurriedly, the second sign I saw in this pub left me, if anything, even more incredulous than the first - ‘Under new management’.
As I escaped back into Wellington Road I was faced by the cold and foreboding Salvation Army building.
For the first time in my life, having visited The Beech Tree, I wondered if the Sally Army’s view of drinking might actually be right after all!
The Beech Tree
Wellington Road, St Mary Cray, Orpington
Decor: * (black paint applied by firework)
Drink: ** (the basics are covered)
Price: ** (£3.50 for a Kronenbourg)
Atmosphere: * (makes the proverbial doornail look lively)
Food: (Don’t even go there)
Staff: ** (Okay when not texting)