Brewers Fayre is a chain of pubs, and those using any establishment bearing that name can hardly be unaware of this: it’s slick, the uniformed staff are all under the age of 25, and it can feel a bit soulless.
But does the security and order of a branded venue make for a good experience? For some time Matt and Cat thought not, and have had some rather poor meals there in previous years. But in keeping with their policy of revisiting establishments, they recently made a reluctant return visit to the place they had previously described as ‘dismal’. This time they were pleasantly surprised.
The meal deals were tempting, the menu was bright and chirpy, and perhaps most bright and chirpy of all were the perky young ladies behind the bar who seemed positively delighted at the prospect of having customers to entertain. Almost before Matt and Cat were in the door a girl bounced out and helped them to a table, explaining what was on the specials board as she did so. Cat enquired about how long the food would be, as the two were off to the cinema afterwards and did not want to miss the start of the film. They were reassured that the wait would be a short one – and so it transpired.
The Medina Quay is not bad, but it does have one feature shared by many generic carveries and chain pubs: it seems to be patronised by the extremely old and the extremely young. Not that either is a problem in moderation, but when you’re looking for a quiet drink and maybe a bite to eat, not everyone wants to be entertained by screams, shouts, and dribbling. And the babies are no better. Maybe it’s the large, clean, toilets, with disabled and baby-changing facilities. Maybe it’s the ample free parking. Maybe it’s the safe and predictable food. But somehow it’s always a fair bet that someone will need their nappy changing on the table right next to you.
On this particular visit Matt and Cat were obliged to overhear the conversation of a hard-of-hearing old Geordie couple who were obviously visiting the Island on a coach trip. During the meal their amiable bellows were interrupted by an even older fellow of their acquaintance who eventually managed to shamble over to them – then proceeded to recount at high volume and in excruciating detail the many, many medical procedures he had undergone since they had last met. It’s an interesting experience for the compulsive eavesdropper, no doubt, but not to everyone’s taste when they are settling in for some dinner.
Predictably, Matt ordered a burger, whilst Cat went for chicken. The meals came quickly as promised, and were piping hot and freshly cooked. It was standard fare, but actually it was pretty good. On three different occasions the eager waitress passed by and enquired about the welfare of her charges – when not doing this she was pacing the room like a caged tiger, waiting to unleash service on unwary diners. In fact, Matt and Cat were mentally preparing a review which might gently mention the over-eager service when she disarmed them as they prepared to leave by asking about the film they were going to see, and sharing her own views on it. Not only had she remembered that they were going to the cinema, but also had some genuine repartee to send her customers off with a cheerful feeling. She certainly earned the tip which your reviewers gladly left.
Medina Quay Brewers Fayre, Newport