Saturday 20 October 2007

Aberystwyth - Varsity

Formerly known as The White Horse, parts of which are still quite evident on the façade: (see pic) 

Address: 48 Upper Portland Street, SY23 2DT. Tel: 01970 615234 [gmap]
Pubs Galore page

Facebook page#1
Ceredigion CC historical pub info page

Last APG visit: 20/05/2011

Background: This was once the future back in the pre-chain bar mid-1990’s Aberystwyth. A classic sanitized interior and a favourite hang-out for the Home Counties ‘plastic’ brigade, sporting a cut-price rip-off of whatever Victoria Beckham was wearing in Heat the previous month. In its White Horse days this used to be two bars on two floors with a large games room; no longer. Has had a recent interior refurb and is certainly less of a barn than before - there's now divided seating areas. Quite nice inside now.  Although one of their fancy light fittings above a table came crashing down, luckily no one was sat underneath...

Student factor: 95% of the customers are students as are the bar staff. A favourite haunt of the American Football team and other loud lager-swigging sporty types. 

Atmosphere: Nicknamed ‘the Goldfish Bowl’ for its large encompassing windowed frontage where everyone can see in as well as you can see out. Can make for much fun watching the people inside spill dinner over their tops or accidentally flash their low-grade knickers at you when sitting down by the window as you walk past. Very busy at weekends and Pound Party nights, so very noisy as a consequence. The upstairs seating area gives a nice view and a more relaxed vibe during the week.

Drinks range: Good but very expensive (except for the infamous Pound Party night on Tuesdays) unless you buy a ‘V’ card early on, which only reduces the prices to normal levels on most drinks as far as I can see. So it's basically one of the most expensive bars in Aber, unless you are a very regular card-carrying customer (and even then it isn’t the cheapest in town). Often seems understaffed at random times. After an 8 year period without ale (used to be electric-dispense Banks back in the day), there are now three to choose from - my Brains was pretty good and the Greene King IPA was, well, GK-like; both served in a handled beer mug. However, whilst my pint was poured well, I noticed another barman top up a pint with slops from the drip tray. There was beer festival on in May with some decent choices. However there was clearly a lack of knowledge - southern beers fitted with sparklers and the ones on stillage having no obvious cooling (so don't touch those!). However they are at least trying, unlike those lazy bastards over the road.

 TV/Music: Piped MoR and Rn’B, plus whatever Now! Album is out, after 8pm. 

Other stuff: Menu has changed as has the service - food used to pretty good for what you paid for but our most recent visit found that if it wasn't deep-fried, it was 'off' the menu. Five yards away from the legendary Istanbul kebab house and the 24-hour Spar. Now open until 12pm. Wheelchair accessible. Some wonderful period decoration remains on the exterior, see pics below.

Quinno’s verdict: It’s a safe bet, though its expensive prices and bland middle-of-the-road clientèle means that there’ll be at least one person in your group who’ll hate it. No doubt that there have been significant changes for the better over the last couple of years, mind.


Anonymous said...

This used to be a lovely little pub called the White Horse before they knocked it down and "revamped" it into this souless travesty

Anonymous said...

A good place to meet up with friends to chill during the day specially during summer being the only pub in aber with descent air con. A relaxed atmos most nights but can also put on a good party, def. my local.

A. said...

The fact that Varsity is now boasting a new menu, part of which is served in a big dog food bowl, sums up aptly the quality of this establishment.

CMStudent said...

A choice of three ales here last week, Greene King IPA, Bombardier and Black Sheep Bitter, all cheap, and all served in proper mullion-glass beer mugs, the only place to find them in Aber according to the student guy behind the bar. Nearly makes up for the general crapness of the place in all other respects..

Anonymous said...

Revamped beyond recognition. Any one remember when it had the off licence and Gerald (before he ran off)

barney said...

I was a bar maid here from 1990 to 92 when it was a lovely pub the locals always stayed downstairs and students upstairs it had real character

Anonymous said...

Used to play Irish Music here in 1975 til about 3am when John would kick us out. Many happy memories of a lovely little typical pub - shame to see it turned into another Wetherspoons clone.

Anonymous said...

Can get very loud and packed on evenings. Loud annoying music often on. Can get some decent deals on pints though so it fills a purpose as long as you go elsewhere after drinking.

Alright during the day and early evening, decent enough price for okay food.

Anonymous said...

Used to the the top pub in the early 70's when there were some great student barmen working there. MK and RG !!!!