Saturday 14 January 2023

Contrasts in Town

I began my City Centre survey today in the Pump House by the Albert Dock:

I've not been in here since 2015, and the place continues to thrive.  At half twelve on a very chilly Saturday it was doing a great trade, mainly tourists and shoppers coming for lunch, I think.  Perhaps the bitter wind off the Mersey was driving everyone indoors.

Despite the throng the bar staff were making a decent fist of getting everyone served.

Just as last time I was here, there was a very good range of quality cask ales on offer, including no less than four from local Big Bog.  I had a wonderful pint of their Stog, a creamy stout.  I have commented before that one expects to find a token handpump if you're lucky at a tourist destination like this, but one is very wrong in this case.  Mind you, at £5.60 for a pint I guess it's worth the effort for them.  £13.50 for fish and chips is not cheap either.  (Still, if it helps collect tourist pounds into local pockets I'm all in favour.)

The background music was almost inaudible under the chatter of umpteen groups.  A notice on the counter said there was a problem with their computer system which might delay food orders, and I wondered if any of the groups were getting hungry.  I did eat in here once, some years ago, and I think I recall that the food was of good quality and promptly served.

Just a side whinge:  If you want to encourage gents to wash their hands, why have four sinks but only one drier?

While I'm in the area, why not try the Long Shot, a sports bar opened in 2021:

This place doesn't really meet the "pub" criteria; I was guided to my table by a waiter who then took my drink order and promptly fetched me a pint of Neck Oil.  Very tasty but no match for the cask from the Pump House.

Rather noisy in here with a vaulted brick ceiling and stone floor amplifying the animated chatter.

The Manchester derby was in full swing on umpteen tellies but I was slightly surprised to see no one was paying attention.  Until I realised it was half time.  A significant proportion of the customers started watching when the second half began, and the music was replaced by commentary.

At the risk (Risk??  It's almost a certainty.) of making a fool of myself by commenting on something I know nothing about, it appeared to me that City had most of the ball but didn't seem to be interested in scoring, with at least a dozen passes back to the goalie in the first five minutes.  I'm the lone voice in the crowd shouting "the goal's THAT WAY".  Of course, as soon as I'd written that, City scored.

Despite being "not a pub" I quite like this place. Somehow it has the style of "sports bars" all over the world, it's done very well and doing a good trade.  I do ask myself what it would be like on a wet Tuesday, though.

I wondered how I was to pay...  In a great example of skilled waitressing, as soon as I moved to pick up my coat a young lady whizzed over with the credit card machine.  £6.00 makes the Pump House look cheap!

Now, on to the real reason I chose this end of town, an overdue first visit to Hooters:

A controversial one this, with some people - who've probably never been in - strongly objecting to the formula of attractive young ladies in slightly skimpy uniforms.  

I've not been in a Hooters since I lived in Pittsburgh more than twenty years ago, we had two to choose from.  And it hasn't changed at all.  Umpteen screens were showing the footie, with United now 2-1 up. (Ha! Told yer.) The enormous space was mostly full of younger blokes watching the match.

I read somewhere that this is the biggest Hooters in the world, if that is true it must upset the Americans, who always place great store by "biggest in" claims.  The main room certainly is an impressive space, but it's not as much floor area as, say, Blackler's.

Emily (They always make sure you know their name by writing it on a napkin) brought me another pint of Neck Oil, at the even more exorbitant price of £6.75!  Plus service!!!

Once the match was over some of the lads departed and the place got a bit quieter, and the young ladies were busily tidying up ready for the next rush.

I was intrigued and surprised to see a number of family groups coming in.  Why would they pay over the odds for beer and bar food, no matter how good the quality of service?

Where next?  Just round the corner is the Slaughter House, not ticked since '15:

Pretty busy in here just after three on a Saturday but I soon obtained a pint of Guinness and found the last free table.  The downstairs part that I had noted before was shut, I think it's only for live music?

BT Sports was on lots of televisions, fortunately silent, while I could hear music and mainly chit-chat.

After a tourist trap and two sports bars it was a great contrast and quite pleasing to find myself in a proper pub, and gratifying to find it busy.

Everton scored in their season-defining match.  Here goes the unknowledgeable expert again:  If they can't beat the bottom team at home then relegation beckons.  Will Bramley-Moore be the biggest ground in the Championship?  

The music moved on to Little Ole Wine Drinker Me, I haven't heard that one for a long time.

About time I headed towards home, but perhaps one more on the way?  I have to pass the Saddle, where I unaccountably forgot to take a photo.

This is another proper pub.  Traditional decor, traditional drinkers, this is what we want. It wasn't jam packed, but doing well at four.  The main sound here was lively chatter, as it should be in all pubs.  It was pleasing to see customers ranging from much younger than me to much older.

Gosh, there was an icy blast when the door was opened, I nearly had to put my coat back on.

Definitely time for home now.  I've had an enjoyable afternoon in contrasting styles of alehouse, although on reflection maybe I should have exploited a 3pm Goodison kickoff to tick a few pubs near the ground before Everton move.  Actually, on checking t'internet it looks like I've got a couple of years to do that, as they are expected to move during the 24/25 season.  By the way, has their new home got a name yet?  How about the Dixie Dean Stadium?  More likely a sponsor will get the rights, someone local perhaps: B&M Stadium?

Pub of the day: Saddle
Beer of the day: Big Bog Stog
Miles walked: 2
Maybe coming soon: New Ferry

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