Next up in the day’s pub visiting for Julian and I was the Gemini, operated by Greene King. First opened in 1965, I wouldn’t say that it’s the most beautiful building from the outside, but it looked neat and tidy from the exterior.
There was a bit of a wait for service (I took the photo when it was quieter) as a number of people came in at the same time, but the barman’s awareness was excellent and he ensured that everyone knew they had been seen at the bar. He was then engaging and conversational, so the first impressions here were very positive.
There were two real ales available, Greene King IPA and Greene King Old Speckled Hen. Again, this isn’t a beer that I’d write home about, but it was well-kept, served at the right temperature and in a clean glass, so the pub was doing everything right. They also pro-actively mentioned that they gave 10% off to CAMRA members, not something that is usually offered. I was also interested to hear about how if they could sell 180 pints a week then they could justify a guest beer, otherwise they were a bit more limited. They’re not at that level yet, but at least they’re taking good care of the beers that they have.
It’s a cavernous sized pub with a large function room area, a pub constructed to serve the estate around it. I’d say that they’re fulfilling that aim very competently, which was evident with how busy it was. They serve a relatively large food menu and a number of customers were eating as part of the pub’s “meet and eat” branding. They show sports, they have a pool table, a separate eating area and they seem to be catering for quite a wide audience.
The reviews are a bit mixed, but this exchange seemed reminiscent of the JD Wetherspoon Paltry Chips Facebook group….
“Used to be great but last time we went in we queried why my daughter only got 4 chips with the children’s meal and was told that it was the new portions? Never been back since. Rather go to wetherspoons now. Lost our custom after that.”
This is seem a little sub-optimal to me, the pub’s response:
“Hi Paul, I’m really sorry to hear this, our portion sizes don’t specify 4 chips but are weighted so I do apologise if you felt the portion was short.”
Although this isn’t the only chip based complaint….
“Very few chips..when i mentioned this the waiter just tutted and walked off”
But, my favourite review involves the chef kicking the fridge and breaking his toe:
“One of the bar staff who were also bringing the meals to the table, said “I am going to kill him (the chef,) because of the amount of meals which had to be returned to the kitchen and cooked again. The same bar staff came back to the table to say “The chef got himself in a tantrum and kicked the fridge and has broken his toe.” ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING BEHAVIOUR.”
Anyway, I won’t digress too much…. The whole experience was more positive than I anticipated, showing what can be achieved with keen and enthusiastic staff, even if they are slightly manacled by the whole Greene King arrangement with the limitations that this brings.