Friday 19 October 2007

Aberystwyth - Yr Hen Orsaf (The Old Station) AKA Wetherspoons

Address: Station Buildings, Alexandra Road, SY23 1LH. Tel: 01970 636080 [gmap]

Last APG visit: 04/03/2011

Background: A Wetherspoons pub, which opened to great fanfare in July 2001 on the main part of the old railway station (built by the Great Western Railway in 1924) which had sat derelict for a number of years previously. Overlooking the bit of the station still in use, it’s an ideal place to wait for your (inevitably delayed) train back to civilization or Shrewsbury. Flashy (for Aber) on opening, it’s settled down into the all-to-familiar Wetherspoons mould: cheap drinks, all-day down-and-outs drinking away their giros and the perennial background smell of grease in the air. Over the last couple of years standards have taken quite a nose-dive; tables left filthy for hours for example. After a period of very poor management, things seemed to be picking up in March '11.

Student factor: A student paradise when it comes to prices, you can wine and dine here on a tenner if you eat and drink from the myriad of special offers, such as the Thursday night curry club. Opens until 12 during the week and until 1am Friday/Saturday.

Atmosphere: Being part of the old station, it’s a cavernous affair inside. Clientèle are usually a 40/60 mix of students and locals, Friday and Saturday nights can be more of a townies affair near the bar. Always busy in the afternoons because of the aforementioned cheapness. The outdoor heated patio which backs onto the station platform is excellent and packs in a great atmosphere on a weekday night (especially if you want a few jars before the football). Watching the trains come and go gives it a quaint sort of charm you don’t get in most ‘Spoons outlets. 

Drinks range: You know the score here – there’s something for everyone, the best overall choice in Aberystwyth by a mile. The ale had a period of neglect and can still be a bit ropey on occasion but choice and quality seem to be improving, with an added emphasis on local (for Aber!) beers. Service is usually grindingly slow, be prepared to wait 10 minutes at the bar on a Friday/Saturday night because of the bizarre single-file queuing (presumably because of that damned pillar by the bar).

TV/Music: There are a couple of TV’s usually switched to Sky News on mute unless Wales are playing, in which case it's full-on. No piped music at all, which this writer thoroughly applauds because it makes a nice change. 

Other stuff: The staff have a penchant for tying the front door wide open in all conditions which allows Arctic gales howling through the interior, meaning half the punters never take their coats off. Looks like my moan to Spoons HQ got that sorted :) A well-used quiz machine along with some interesting and historical Aber facts are dotted around the walls. Bogs are handy for a splash-and-dash during the day and it's one of the few pubs in Aber that is wheelchair-friendly. The usual 'Spoons food is served - usually slowly, half cold and with integral portions of the meal missing or substituted without warning. I've vowed not to eat in here again after my last experience, it's that bad.

Quinno’s verdict: Whilst it's cheap, it's rarely cheerful these days; a decent manager needs to get a grip on this place.  Worth going because of the cheap drinks which is why it's always busy. Hopefully the improvement in standards is permanent and we can attempt to forget the pathetic omnishambles of 2010.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ale situation is massivly improved these days - the ale is always at a decent temperature now, the pub has Cask Marque accreditaion and is back in the Good Beer Guide.

Combine that with the two massive real ale festivals every year, sub £2 ales all week, £1.49 pints on a Wednesday and I reckon Spoons is a winner for ale drinkers nowadays.

Top review though, loved the bit about the down-and-outs too.