Fourth in the day’s Dereham adventure that Julian and I were partaking in was the JD Wetherspoon operated Romany Rye, a pub that I’ve visited many times before. I’ve always found it a reliable and well-run pub, it’s a 2011 conversion of a pub and hotel dating from the 1960s when it was known as the Phoenix. It remains a hotel today and I’ve stayed here before, the rooms are well appointed and I remember them being comfortable and reasonably priced.
In terms of the pub name, I’ve just pinched the text from JD Wetherspoon’s web-site:
“One of the most imaginative prose writers of the 19th century, George Borrow was born on the outskirts of East Dereham in 1803, the son of an army captain, who bewitched a local girl while recruiting in the town. Educated at Norwich Grammar School, Borrow later took to the road. He could speak 20 languages, with his travels providing material for his best books The Bible in Spain, Lavengro and Romany Rye. Borrow eventually retired to the Norfolk Broads, where he died alone in 1881.”
There was incidentally a pub of the same name on Colman Road in Norwich, but then Enterprise Inns purchased it, ruined it and it’s lost now.
Julian made himself comfortable in the pub’s rather decadent furniture.
There were eight different real ales available, I’m fairly sure that this is the widest choice available in the town. The service was polite, prompt and efficient with the pub being comfortable, inviting and organised. As would be expected from the chain, the prices were firmly towards the lower end of the scale.
And today’s entry in the blurred photo of the day award…. Anyway, this is the Summa That from Branscombe Vale Brewery, a well kept but slightly dull affair. We also got a coffee each and I went, unusually, for a caffeine option as we both needed a little energy burst following our lunches. It’s hard work this pub visiting, I’m not sure that everyone realises that.
I’m not sure whether or not Stephen Fry has popped into the Romany Rye, but he is a local man.
The pub is well reviewed for a Wetherspoons, so they’re clearly doing a lot right. I had a little virtual meander through the reviews to see what interested me.
“Went there for a meal and the 3oz American style burger and the 6oz American style burger. Absolutely delicious. My Friend had the chicken meal with the chicken bites and mini wings. Tasted off and later this evening was sick everywhere! Defiantly chicken as it was in the sick! Disappointed.”
This absolutely isn’t how food hygiene works and I have to give JD Wetherspoon credit for being one of the best rated chains in the national food scoring schemes that are operated by local councils.
“Would come more often if I could bring my dog along to sit inside, but opp for more dog friendly pubs.”
Just to balance this, I would come in less often if the pub resembled a doggery. I don’t think that’s actually a word, but I like it, so it’s staying.
“Shocked that even though they don’t close till 1 they stop letting in before 12:45! Any other spoons will let you in to buy a drink until the closing time at the bar! Poor service and too interested in getting out early than serving customers!”
I might incur the wrath of Julian by writing this, but this doesn’t seem an unreasonable policy to me. I’ve had many early mornings of clearing customers out of a pub and if you serve someone at 00:45 and then tell them to drink straight up and go then the customer is unlikely to be surprised and delighted. Well, surprised maybe actually, but definitely not delighted.
“3 teens were kicked out on Sunday for not carrying ID to prove that they were 16. Which 16 year olds carries ID!? They had already payed for their food so the staff poorly wrapped up their food in tin foil and shoved it in a pizza box then made to get out. They were then left out in the cold to eat their food in the freezing cold even though they had payed full price to eat in. The staff could have just warned the children to bring ID next time, it’s not like they were ordering alcohol.”
There are about ten reviews like this and this is indeed JD Wetherspoon policy. But, it doesn’t feel right, if the pub has served the customers and charged them money, this situation is clearly sub-optimal. There’s something rather nice about a group of mates going politely to a pub and getting themselves a meal without alcohol.
“Told couldn’t come down from our room till 7am bit stupid.”
I don’t understand this, the hotel rooms have 24 hour access. Unless the guest wanted to sit in the pub area before 07:00….. JD Wetherspoon don’t have a social media presence, which I personally think is a mistake, so they never respond to reviews like this and I’d quite like to know what actually happened here. I accept that I probably need to get out more, but I like listening to a bit of drama.
“Landlord if he don’t like the look of you send staff over to ask you too leave will not give a reason”
This is the sort of thing I want to know more about….
Anyway, I’ve got distracted reading reviews again, but this was in my mind a well managed chain pub. There was a wide choice of ales, they were well kept and the prices were low. The pub is comfortable, there’s wi-fi and plenty of power points, with the surroundings being clean and comfortable. Tim Martin might come in for criticism, but even though I don’t agree with his politics, I’d suggest that he knows how to run pubs.