Posts Tagged ‘The Keystone’

Afternoon in Guildford

June 13, 2015

First half of Friday afternoon, was a wild goose chase to find somewhere for lunch.

Options to eat in Guildford, at least somewhere decent, are rapidly vanishing.

Guildford Institute used to be excellent for Friday lunch, but no more as the lady who did the lunches has left.

I popped in Friday, to be accosted and told I had not paid. I was surprised, but, one can forget, and so I apologised and paid.

I left and gave it some thought.

How did the lady know, she was not there last week?

The amount I was told I owed, was not what my lunch cost last week.

And then I remembered, I had paid. The reason I remembered, as I had attempted to pay, as I usually do, where the food was served, but had been rudely told to go round to a hatch where they accept payment.

Something very wrong.

kebabs at The Royal Oak

kebabs at The Royal Oak

I was now on my way to The Royal Oak.

A few weeks back, I had popped in for a drink, and the chef had brought out an excellent kebab, put it on the bar, and suggested help yourself, he wished to know what we thought. It was excellent. So excellent that I popped back another day to try, only to find the pub had closed and changed hands, but the chef was still there.

Today I thought try again. Awful music playing, two sullen women behind the bar. I asked of the kebabs. They looked at each other. No, we don’t do kebabs.

I walked out with the passing comment, I have tried twice, there will not be a third attempt. I did not think to ask was the chef still there.

We are too polite. We accept second best. More people need to walk out.

It was then back to Guildford Institute.

I explained to the lady the situation. I asked what she thought I had had for the sum she claimed I owed. It was eight pounds and something. I then told her what I had had, main course, sweet and a cup of tea, which came to £10-50, more than she said I owed. Thus how could it be I?

And how did I know it came to £10-50? As that is what was on the bill I took to the counter to pay.

Begs the question who the bill was for, the bill it was claimed I had walked out without paying?

She said it was her daughter who made the claim. That I had tried to pay, had the money in my hand, but as I was talking, I walked off without paying.

Bizarre.

Luckily, she accepted something was wrong, and gave me my money back.

I asked could I get something to eat? She said no. They were packing up. Though I was offered a sweet.

But what is worrying this is the second time it has been claimed I had not paid.

The Keystone courtyard covered over graffiti covered wall

The Keystone courtyard covered over graffiti covered wall

It was then down to The Keystone.

The Keystone was an excellent pub, but the landlords fell out amongst themselves, the pub went downhill, and eventually a new landlord took over. A new landlord who has been a disaster. His first act was to lose a good chef.

It used to be pleasant on a sunny afternoon to sit outside in the back courtyard and have their excellent fish cakes. I found the courtyard covered over (now dark and gloomy instead of open and airy), awful music playing (it was bad enough in the pub but at least the courtyard was quiet), and the back wall covered in graffiti (an unbelievable eyesore which the local council should enforce a clean up). I asked for the fish cakes to be told they did not do them any more. It was burgers or nothing. I walked out.

Looking from the church (and there are arms houses further along), the back of The Keystone looks like something out of a Third World shanty slum. is there planning permission for the unsightly structures that have been erected? Jobsworth from the local council need to get out and about a bit more (their office a few minutes walk along the road) and carry out enforcement.

lunch at Thai restaurant

lunch at Thai restaurant

Back up the High Street and late lunch in the Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage. It was excellent. I should have gone there first.

We are losing many pubs every week. Too often it is greedy pubcos, selling them off for redevelopment. But it also badly run pubs too.

J D Weatherspoon, may be a chain, but their pubs are well run. That is why they are successful. If I go into Harris + Hoole for a coffee, the staff are always great, plus the tea and coffee and cookies are excellent too.

I contrast with the two pubs I visited yesterday. Bar staff who give the impression they are bored and would rather be somewhere else, indeed anywhere than where they were.

The two pubs empty. Harris + Hoole always busy, as it was today. Says it all.

Attitude is one problem. But awful music playing is another.

Both pubs had awful music playing. No, I do not wish to have the bad musical taste of other people imposed upon me.

Again, look to J D Weatherspoon, other than when full of roudy drunks, quiet, no music.

As it was a very warm humid afternoon, iced tea in Harris + Hoole.

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Lunch at The Keystone

September 2, 2014

Excellent chef at The Keystone has left, and sadly it shows. No, you do not serve hot food on a cold plate. No, you do not dump the fish cakes on the salad. Fish cakes were nowhere of the usual high standards of The Keystone. It also helps to alert the bar that you have sent the food down.

Lunch at The Keystone has always been good. Even when it went downhill, even with a change of owner, lunch was the one consistent factor. And now they have gone and lost their excellent chef.

Jewelia and Andy at The Keystone

August 22, 2014
Jewelia and Andy at The Keystone

Jewelia and Andy at The Keystone

Excellent performance by Jewelia and Andy at The Keystone.

Monsters and Masks and Scars from her recently released album Monsters (which can be found on bandcamp). Spine chilling renditions of Beatles cum Paul McCartney classic Yesterday and Nina Simone classic You Know How I Feel.

The Keystone is not a venue for quality live music.

I thought only Jewelia, but it was something called Emerging Talent, where they were emerging from, I do not know, and talent was stretching the definition of talent to breaking point. Jewelia preceded by someone who was like a late night bad karaoke act. Basically it was an Open Mic night under any other name.

Her first song, Jewelia stunned them into silence, she was then drowned by rowdy drunks on a nearby table. Why they could not have had the courtesy to move around the bar into the corner, or maybe had the good manners to keep quiet. Why bother going to a live music night? You Know How I Feel stunned them into silence again. Jewelia was very professional and carried on.

Why do people behave like this, why a pub book live music? Maybe, it is that the pub has moronic music playing all day long (no lessons learnt from J D Wetherspoon), and for regulars, it is music something always there, always in the background, an annoying mush, something to be ignored.

One reason not to have background music, music is then valued, something to be listened to.

The Keystone clueless in their use of social media. No mention of Jewelia playing on their twitter feed, and yet repetition ad nauseam of a jazz night.

Jewelia and Andy deserved better and The Keystone needs to give a serious rethink how they do their live music nights.

Jewelia and Andy played an acoustic set at Staycation Live 2014.

Republished on Medium.

Lunch at The Keystone

July 26, 2014
fish cakes and salad

fish cakes and salad

As yesterday, excellent lunch at The Keystone, but unlike yesterday, not raining.

I gave the soup a miss. Leek and potato is a winter soup. Summer soups: pea and mint, watercress, tomato, courgette, to name but a few.

Fish cakes and salad as main course. Excellent.

The Keystone are participants in Guildford Independent’s Day, and I forgot to get my card stamped.

The Keystone is located at the bottom of the High Street over the bridge, behind St Nicolas Church.

Lunch at The Keystone

July 25, 2014
fish cakes and salad

fish cakes and salad

Dark clouds, a thunderstorm. That had scuppered eating outside at The Keystone, thought I. Luckily not, I was able to sit under one of the umbrellas.

Eating my lunch, fish cakes and salad, the sun cam back out.

Whilst I was there, a band was setting up for later. I think part of the Guildford Fringe, for which The Keystone is one of the venues.

The Keystone is also a participant in Guildford Independent’s Day.

The Keystone is located at the bottom of the High Street over the bridge, behind St Nicolas Church.

Hartwood Timber and Crafts

July 12, 2014
wood products from Hartwood Timber

wood products from Hartwood Timber

Hartwood Timber have a display of their wood products at the Beer and Cider Festival at The Keystone.

Although not on show, Hartwood Timber produce much larger wood products.

Lunch at The Keystone

July 11, 2014
courgette soup

courgette soup

fish cakes and salmon

fish cakes and salad

This is my third visit to The Keystone since it changed hands and the food has been consistently good.

Today, courgette soup, a summer soup. Generous portion, but sadly only lukewarm, not piping hot, but tasty. White bread, not brown.

Fish cakes and salad was good. Again doused in something unpleasant.

I learn the painted doors were all different artists. I assumed the same artist. One is by the same guy who has the two paintings of musicians on the wall. Apparently he only took up painting a year ago. An incredibly gifted artist.

I met the new owner. A really nice guy called Richard, keen. He needs to be as he has to rebuild the reputation of The Keystone whist at the same time being screwed by zombie pubco Punch.

The worry was, any new owner would ditch all the good things. Luckily not, he will build on them.

I floated the idea of alternative book festive to tally with the Guildford Book Festival. A Fringe Festival to tally was launched last year, a great success.

barrels of beer and cider

barrels of beer and cider

A large number of beer barrels outside. A beer and cider festival over the weekend.

The Keystone are participants in Guildford Independent’s Day.

The Keystone is located at the bottom of the High Street over the bridge, behind St Nicolas Church.

Lunch at The Keystone

July 4, 2014

I was eating at the Guildford Institute, but the lady who usually does the food was not there. It would have been nice if last week she had told people.

What was I doing in Guildford? It was too hot to be in Guildford.

I had shopped at the North Street market for fruit and vegetables.

I thought, maybe Thai restaurant in Jeffries Passage, but too nice a day to be stuck indoors.

Walking down the High Street, I stuck my head in the Tourist Information and picked up a map listing all the indie retailers, pubs and eateries and coffee bars participating in Guildford Independent’s Day.

It was Friday. I thought The Keystone would be full of drunk obnoxious office workers, but luckily not the case. The pub was almost empty.

Inside moronic music blaring out, sufficient to drive customers away. I sometimes wonder, do pubs hate customers.

Luckily, outside quiet.

Soup was potato and leek, a heavy winter soup, the last soup you would wish for on a hot summer’s day. Why not light summer soups, watercress or pea and mint?

fish cakes and salad

fish cakes and salad

I ordered fish cakes and salad.

The fish cakes were delicious, the salad ok, could do better, but drowned with either vinaigrette or balsamic vinegar which gave it an unpleasant vile taste. Surely leave to the customer to add.

A little wooden box was brought whilst I was waiting, salt and pepper, knives and forks, but not extra virgin olive oil for the salad.

Whilst I was waiting, I looked at the map for Guildford Independent’s Day, and saw The Keystone was listed. I asked that it be stamped (two to go), which it was. Some are offering extars. If The Keystone was, I was not offered.

The Keystone used to be an excellent pub, then it went downhill when the owners fell out. Each time I visited it got worse. It now has new owners. This is my second visit under the new owners.

I was there about ten days ago with a friend. It was Sunday lunchtime, I expected it to be packed, as today, almost empty.

The dilapidated outside furniture has been replaced with new.

Luckily no one outside bar me and another guy, which meant I was not molested by smokers. But why not make the back courtyard no smoking? Smokers, if they really must indulge in their disgusting habit, can sit outside the front of the pub. Non-smokers should be able to sit outside a pub in a smoke free environment.

painting of a musician

painting of a musician

painted doors

painted doors

signed by Nick Mason

signed by Nick Mason

Inside a couple of paintings of musicians, and a collection of painted doors, one with a Pink Floyd theme had been signed by the drummer in Pink Floyd.

Two large widescreen TVs is a very retrograde step. Even more so a big banner outside advertising football.

When is free wifi not free wifi, when it is a scam to steal and abuse personal data. The Keystone is offering The Cloud, a Murdoch company. To use, register with name, address, e-mail address, mobile number. This is totally unacceptable and an abuse of customers. If you are offering wifi, offer genuine free wifi, not abuse your customers.

The Keystone is part of the Fringe Guildford Festival this year.

The Keystone is located at the bottom of the High Street over the bridge, behind St Nicolas Church.

courtyard overlooking St Nicolas Church

courtyard overlooking St Nicolas Church

Pink Floyd painted door

Pink Floyd painted door

Lunch at The Keystone

June 22, 2014
fish cakes and salad

fish cakes and salad

The Keystone, behind St Nicolas Church in Guildford, used to be a an excellent pub, until it went rapidly downhill, then new owners took over.

It was a lovely day, ideal to sit in the courtyard at The Keystone.

I thought I would look in, see what the menu was like, if the pub had changed, and if it was busy.

I thought it would be packed, luckily it was not, and so I decided to stay.

I ordered fish cakes and salad, and half a pint of a beer I cannot recall what it was.

The fish cakes were as good as they always were, in other words excellent. The salad needed to be improved.

I was going to order soup. Carrot and coriander? Boring. Summer they need summer soups, watercress or pea and mint soup.

The beer was good.

The pub?

Much needed renovation has been carried out. The broken and dilapidated tables outside replaced.

But a retrograded step, the introduction of a widescreen TV.

Two outside seating areas. They must designate that at the front smoking, making the rear courtyard no smoking.

The Keystone is located at the bottom of the High Street over the bridge, behind St Nicolas Church.

Dinner at The Keystone

October 22, 2013

Even by the abysmally poor standard of The Keystone, the service was appalling.

I walked in a little after six o’clock. Plenty of time to make a meeting at seven o’clock, or so I thought.

I ordered asparagus soup, followed by fish cakes. Although it is stating the obvious, you have to tell them one follows the other.

I waited, and waited, and waited. How long does it take to prepare a bowl of soup?

Eventually, after a very long wait, it was served, or should I say, it was plonked in front of me, the soup sloshing around the bowl.

I finished the soup soup. At least the next course would not be long. I was wrong, nearly an hour from when I had walked in and ordered, the main course arrived.

I would usually have enjoyed the food at The Keystone, and the fish cakes were excellent, but I was so annoyed with the extremely long wait, at then having to eat it quick as I was now late, I did not.

For a while I was the only one in the pub, so absolutely no excuses for the long delay. Ghastly music was deafening, though it did then get turned down.

Most pubs are being closed by pubcos. The Keystone is self-destructing.