Much like the subject of my last post (The Dacre Arms), this pub, The Richard The First, used to be a proper ‘old man’s pub’. You would often venture into the small front bar and find your only company to be two old timers playing dominoes (ok, the dominoes may be a figment of my imagination, but you get the gist). It was great. But with my fears about The Dacre’s survival in mind, The Richard The First probably couldn’t really go on as it was. Apparently pubs can’t survive simply on my annual visit, no matter how much I spend at the bar.
As a result, they’ve given the place a makeover, and have added a large dining area at the back plus an equally large beer garden complete with on-trend beach hut-style seating. It’s all been done with great care and looks really good. The food – pub grub with an upmarket twist – is lovely, too. Expect to find dishes like duck cottage pie and pheasant Kiev on the menu, for example. But the best part is that they have somehow managed to maintain the homely feel of the two front bars so that any passing domino players will also still be satisfied. Brilliant.
Grenson and I found ourselves a prime position in a window seat at the front and settled down with a pint of Young’s Royal Hill, one of the various special Christmas/Winter Ales on offer. Little touches like this make this pub one of my favourites during the festive period. It has become a traditional Christmas pub-crawl destination for the family ever since we ended up singing carols in there one Christmas Eve afternoon.
To be fair, it was probably the locals doing most of the carol singing (possibly the fella in the checked suit behind me in the picture above; top sartorial choice), but we definitely hummed along to The Holy and the Ivy…and may have even clapped in time to We Three Kings.
Anyway, I am very thankful that The Richard The First is still around this Christmas, because yes, it is a chain pub, and yes, it could probably be called a gastro pub, but it’s still a blimmin’ good pub. When you think of the alternative – maybe turning it into luxury apartments – then a good spruce up and the addition of delicious dining facilities is no bad thing at all.
Grenson and I like it very much, (he fell asleep again), and to top if off, on our way out we noticed a picture of the Queen Mum pulling a pint hanging on the wall. I mean, that’s almost as good as Mickey Pearce…almost.
The Man and The Dog.