I’ve had the great pleasure of reviewing Kent pubs for five months now, but so far haven’t brought you the delights of a Spoons.
I almost popped in the ‘newish’ monster Wetherspoon in Ramsgate last week but wandered into The Crown before I made it to the seafront. So, this week I’m putting the omission right with the Samuel Peto in Folkestone.
From the outside you could be forgiven for missing it – not that it’s not impressive, it just doesn’t look like a boozer.
Walking up the steps I passed the usual smattering of smokers and overheard one on the phone say: “You want to get yourself down here, it’s freaks' day today”.
Not put off I went inside to experience Freaky Friday – which seemed just like any other fish Friday to me.
But, we need to take a moment to recognise and enjoy the full effect of walking into this place – it is incredible, without doubt the most impressive Spoons you’ll visit and one of the most spectacular pubs full stop.
It has everything you’ve come to expect from this chain – decent, well priced booze, fast and fresh, good value food, a few dropouts at a corner table and a massive amount of self-promotion. But, and it’s a huge but, this one has so much more.
The scale of this ex-church is breath-taking, forget for a moment the three chandeliers, the beautifully painted ceiling and the fact the kitchen is hidden behind the old church organ, if you sit upstairs you’ve got 94 steps just to get to the toilet and back – now, that’s a monster pub. Fortunately, after all the effort to get to the gents, there are two humorous signs to raise a smile – hymns and hyrs.
Though whether the old congregation would find it quite as amusing that their old church now has a machine selling vibe rings and pills for sexual stamina I’m not so sure! There is also CCTV operating inside the toilets, which incidentally were very well kept, fresh smelling and, from a design point of view, fitted in with the rest of the place.
Our food arrived in super-quick time but was, nevertheless, incredibly fresh and felt as if it had only just been prepared. A tuna melt with a fresh green salad and a Pepsi was just £4.69, while a halloumi wrap with chili jam and chunky chips, plus a pint of Barn Dancer bitter was only a quid more.
I think you’d struggle to find better food and drink at prices like this anywhere else – I was seriously impressed by both the level of service and quality.
And, while I’m waxing lyrical, Chloe the barmaid was also a cheeky, friendly breath of fresh air – what a lovely, helpful young lady, she even loaned me her pen (on pain of death I returned it) and called me darlin’.
Much else is what you might expect in a Spoons, no pool or darts of course, but a large fleet of incredibly bright electro fruities. From my vantage point upstairs I could only see one screen and, surprisingly, it was showing Parliament, in silent mode, the whole time I was in. Some might argue our current group of MPs are best set to silent, but I couldn’t see the point in having it on at all.
What I did notice though, was quite a few people using the Samuel Peto as a base to do some work - there were several folk either on a laptop or making business calls.
I must also give the world’s biggest real ale festival a mention that was happening in all Wetherspoon pubs the week I visited. It was celebrating 40 years of Wetherspoon with 40 great beers, I was recommended to try the festival ale, Barn Dancer (4.5%) from the Belhaven Brewery and this traditional Scottish brown ale was superb.
In many ways you know what to expect from Wetherspoons but despite the commonality, there is still an opportunity for a particular pub to stand out. The Samuel Peto has taken this chance and is a top class boozer.