PLENTY of pubs can and do disappear every week with barely a neighbour batting an eyelid.
But people came out in force to save The Baring Hall Hotel in Grove Park so it was only natural to for me to go and see why.
What I wasn’t expecting was a shabby treasure trove vaguely in the spirit of Withnail and I.
It’s the sort of bar they would be at home, you understand, and not like the scary place they flee from.
The place is severely fire-scarred. To my knowledge, the fire was a while ago now but it has been left like that since re-opening and in my own opinion it gives the place a unique charm.
Receding paint teamed with peeling wall paper and charred wood was matched with vintage furniture – including a hefty three piece suite – and old clocks which all tell wildly different times. Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.
Add to that the old soul and jazz in the background and dim candlelight and it felt a bit - and I liked it.
The intentional scruffiness is quite fun, though it will doubtless polarise opinion.
For those who demand to have some booze, you needn’t worry about having to drink lighter fluid.
There were six quirky ales and four ciders on tap when I popped in, including the Dark Arts Surreal Stout, the Otley O-Ho-Ho Blueberry Infused ale and Brighton Bier West Pier – all a far superior drink to meths, and even the w******s can afford it at £3.60 a pint for the latter.
I’m not sure you’ll get the finest wines available to humanity, but there is a decent wine list and hundreds of bottles of spirits behind the bar.
Food is on the way, I understand, but for now you’ll have to settle for bar snacks – the highlight of which is the five types of scotch egg.
I opted for the Aztec – free range pork, harrissa, chilli, paprika, red pepper and chocolate. It was sweet but deep in flavour. The best scotch egg ever.
The Baring Hall Hotel
How it rated:
Atmosphere *** Quirky
Decor **** It’ll get mixed responses but I liked it.
Price *** Ok considering the quality
Drinks ***** Best range I’ve seen in many moons
Staff *** Plentiful, fast and efficient