Before today's report a brief mention of yesterday when I and a couple of friends spent an enjoyable afternoon in Liverpool. Not a pub research trip, so no detailed descriptions or photographs, but our itinerary was the Railway, the Lion, the Denbigh Castle, Ye Hole In Ye Wall and finally Wetherspoon's North Western before catching our trains home.
Excellent real ale in all locations, and all were reasonably busy except the Denbigh which was rather quiet despite serving what was possibly the beer of the day. I think we're doing Birkenhead next week.
Now, my second visit to town in two days, this time to mop up a few places that I wouldn't necessarily lead my pals to. First, Yates:
I was a little irritated to see a Cask Marque sign by the door, but no handpumps on the counter. The bar staff were very on the ball, interacting with each customer was soon as they approached the counter. It's too common to have to put effort into catching the eye of the staff before you can be served, but not here. Perhaps it was just my incredibly handsome face? No, the next customer was immediately snagged by another barmaid.
It was quite busy with the Thursday lunchtime crowd, lots of families dining. The menu of standard chain pub food looks good value for the city centre, with my standard reference of fish and chips just £8.00.
The table I selected could have done with a wipe down but otherwise the staff were doing a good job clearing up as people departed. As the diners finished their meals and departed the place gradually got less busy.
Next, on to Williamson Square, where there are three potential targets. I started in the Shakespeare:
A rather pleasant modern place on three floors. I remained on the ground floor where it was ticking over at two in the afternoon. Interestingly, a couple came in for food and the barmaid advised them to go upstairs where it's "quieter and nicer" - And presumably someone else has to do the work!
Shortly after opening in 2008 they had real ale, but that has long gone I'm afraid. The place is otherwise unchanged since my last visit in '09. It shouldn't be my sort of pub, but I rather like it - I'm not sure why, perhaps the plain unfussy comfortable style of the place.
Outside the weather was sleet and sunshine, lucky I haven't got far to go. Just two doors down is Shiraz:
Isn't that a type of grape? And/or a place in the Middle East?
What a good shop conversion this is, the ancient looking counter front is either second hand or a very good fake, the dark wood panelling and pews the same. The bare brickwork on one side is surely fake, and as for the riveted iron beam in the ceiling I've no idea. Anyway, taken altogether these make a great interior which I really like. A lot of effort by someone who knows what they are doing has clearly gone in to design here.
No real ale, of course, and the three young bar staff had some trouble pouring a Guinness but their second attempt was spot on.
Only six customers in at three on a Thursday were surely not paying the wages of three staff but I'm sure it'll be busier later. Another place where the staff are on the ball and efficient,
I noticed they've got those draft cocktail fonts on the counter, once again the temptation is to ask for a pint, but I won't.
The tellies in here were showing last night's Liverpool match, as were those in the previous two places.
A handful of customers added to the trade as I enjoyed my Guinness.
Finally, another very short walk, to Sweeney's Bar next door. (See picture above.)
Good grief, the karaoke is very loud in here. There were quite a few people in this tiny corridor bar. After obtaining my Guinness I headed to the back where it was a little less noisy. But only a little.
A proper boozer this, noisy and lively even at three on a Thursday. And very cold, I must say - I kept my coat on.
The decor was a bit plainer than the last stop, but still well done.
The aforementioned karaoke seemed to consist of just one bloke, who I must say did a good job, ranging from Mr Bojangles to The Drugs Don't Work.
What does this place remind me of? Cooper's is the nearest, I think, they always seem to have loud live music. Actually, that one's overdue for a visit as well. Maybe next time.
It occurred to me that a town centre mop up is quite a good thing in winter weather, with so little distance between ticks, so I think a few more might be coming until the weather improves.
Pub of the day: Shiraz
Miles walked: 0.5
Maybe coming soon: The new edition of the book is with the printer, so should be out soon.