Thursday, 19 July 2007

Bill Blunt's Guide to Wetherspoons: No 1: Birkenhead: The John Laird


Following recent requests from my loyal readers, I have decided to launch the Bill Blunt Guide to Wetherspoons.

This occasional series will chart my own personal view of this pub chain. It already ranks quite high in my esteem in general terms, since it offers its customers free wi-fi access. This has often been a life-saver to old Bill, as I zig-zag across the country in search of all the news that isn't news, to keep my readers happy.

I must confess you don't see many Wetherspoon regulars using their laptop while having a drink. But I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

I'm kicking off my guide with a pub that I came to know well when I worked on the Birkenhead Beagle: The John Laird. Birkenhead is blessed with two Wetherspoon pubs, and I'll be covering the The Brass Balance at a later date.

The John Laird
takes it's name from the shipping magnate who helped make Birkenhead the thriving industrial centre it once was. It's located just behind the rather ugly shopping centre that dominates the town centre. Wetherspoons practices differential pricing in it's establishments - and The John Laird is most definitely one of the cheaper places in their chain.

It's not one of the biggest Wetherspoon's you'll ever go in, and it's clients are most decidedly among the more hardened drinkers of Britain. It's not unusual to see half a dozen elderly men taking a pint or two at breakfast.

The place is still suffering from the pre-smoking ban days, but a lick of paint will no doubt freshen up the decor a little.

But it's an honest enough place, with plenty of characters to meet. The staff are some of the friendliest you'll find in a pub, and they're equally happy serving Bill his 79p cappucino as they are the regulars with their pints of Marston's Pedigree at £1.39.

Wetherspoons keeps its prices low by fast rotation of stock. As a rule, you'll find a wide range of regional, guest ales, too.

The full English breakfast costs just £2.10 - a bargain, in anyone's language. Don't expect haute cuisine - but what you'll get will be well-enough executed, and pretty healthy for a cooked breakfast, with the preference being for grilling, rather than frying.

I've never had a problem accessing the wifi signal from this site (would that this were true in every Wetherspoons).

And so, to the score:

Decor: 7/10
Food Quality: 9/10
Value for money: 9/10
Location: 5/10
Wifi Access: 10/10


70steen said...

great review Bill, the Wetherspoons must smell a tad sweeter in the am than they once did since the smoking ban. I am alas a smoker but not a 'must have one as soon as I get up' one. It is a good few hours later before I can light up my friend. I had the misfortune not long ago after a very early morning shout to go in a wetherspoons for breakfast... to say I felt sick would be an understatment.... not just the stale fag smell but the pint of bitter merchants at 8.30. I await to add to my list of WiFi venues from your excellent (for the greater good of your readers) research.

Shinade said...

It simply amazes me how you can take something as simple as a review of a local pub and turn it into a lovely piece of writing. Simply incrdible...I have no clue as an american where this place even is and I was enthralled and compelled to read the entire post. simply incredible!!~Jackie

Julian Syngen-Smythe said...

I have a feeling that your pub guides could prove as useful to us drinkers as Egon Ronay's restaurant guide is to eaters.

Good work, Bill!

Shinade said...

Would you please so gracious as to visit my meager blog where I have something waiting for you. You deserve much more...but, at this particular time this was the best that I could manage. ~jackie

Bill Blunt said...

70steen: someone's got to do it!

jackie: that is very kind of you - I'll be off to your blog now to see the surprise!

julian: as I find Egon Ronay as useful as a chocolate fireguard, I could easily be offended if your comment had been made by anyone else!

70steen said...

& you are just the man Bil with your objective, yet whistful vent/view on it

Gail said...

Wetherspoons is the hostelry of choice for my mother (aged 75) and her friends, mainly because it doesn't have that accursed "old fat" smell that you often get in pubs or restaurants where fish n chips are on the menu.

the domestic minx said...

With my pounding head and slow wit this morning, I'm quite sure I would benefit from one of those full English breakfast and at the price I'd be buying yours as well, Bill!!
And the capuccino!!


Bill Blunt said...

Thank you, Gail and Domestic Minx!

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