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‘Genuinely warm and personal welcome’ becoming a rarity in Britain’s pubs

381 pubs in the UK were excluded from this year’s Good Pub Guide for a variety of reasons following complaints from members of the public about them.

381 pubs in the UK were excluded from this year’s Good Pub Guide for a variety of reasons following complaints from members of the public about them.
Thousands of pub-goers contact the Guide each year with praise for some pubs but condemnation for others. Editor Fiona Stapley says, "There are pubs which have never been in the Guide which readers feel they simply must warn people against".  Among criticisms from pub-goers: a very smelly roaming dog, grubby or cheerless surroundings, overpowering TVs, piped music and a poor choice of beers plus a whole load of shortcomings in food.
What drew the line between all the great pubs in the new edition of The Good Pub Guide and those not included was plain and simple – bad service.  A higher proportion of disappointed customers, four in 10, cited poor service this year.
One of the most damning sins was deemed to be short-staffing.
Not only does the Guide report that service could be slow but one in nine complaints concerned unwelcoming and uncaring staff.
The genuinely warm and personal welcome found in the Guide’s top pubs is becoming a rarity in many of Britain’s hostelries.
“A further one in 15 of the thumbs-down reports describe surly, insulting or even aggressive publicans or staff,” reports the Guide.
One reader wrote, “My father has been marvelling at the fact it has taken him 86 years to get barred from a pub!” after a surly publican reacted badly to a complaint.
With the economic downturn, the hospitality industry there has cut back jobs by four per cent.
“This over-economising on staff has led to service delays and other related problems”, reports Fiona Stapley, “The genuinely warm and personal welcome found in so many of the Guide’s pubs has become something of a rarity”.
Pub food prices have gone up, costing on average five per cent more this year than last, according to Guide’s 2011 price survey. With running costs rising in pubs, chefs have had to inject a lot of thought into their food to justify the higher prices. Ambitious dining pubs have transformed the old favourites with dishes such as fish and chips being changed to mussels, pork being swapped for lamb and beef burgers becoming venison burgers.
Ham, eggs and chips becomes home-reared rare-breed gammon with free-range eggs from their own hens and triple-cooked chips. Sausages are now teamed with unusual mash, perhaps gravy made with caramelised red onions and beer or red wine. The triple-cooked chips turn up again with beer or tempura-battered fresh haddock with home-made tartare sauce.
With one in three of the main entries in this year’s Guide holding a Wine Award, offering good wine in UK pubs is all the more important.
Despite this improvement, there are still concerns when it comes to glasses.
“Almost all pubs insist on selling wine only in big glasses, refusing to use the standard 125ml measure even as an option,” states Fiona Stapley, “This is crazy when all the guidance on sensible drinking used 125ml as the standard unit."

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