When Zulu arrived in Middlewich I was pretty alarmed to find that the Big Lock pub was closed. Apparently the pub chain which held the lease had gone bust in September the tenants had to leave. A pub without lights is a terrible sight and with so many closing for good, this didn’t look a good omen.
Punch Taverns, the owners, were quick to react by putting in a temporary manager, but for the last couple of months it has only been open for beer lager and not much else, and then only when they felt like opening. The ominous signs were plastered over the outside “You could manage this pub” and it didn’t look good.
So I am delighted to be able to report that the Big Lock has fully reopened for business as from the end of November. Tonight I ventured in for the first time, dreading being the first customer to order bitter but far from the expected creamflow, I was offered draught Tetley, Spitfire, Bombardier and Black Sheep, all as guest beers and starting at two pounds a pint. And very nice it was too. So good in fact that I stayed for another, and since most of the customers (yes it was quite busy) seemed to be eating, I joined in and had the home made chilli.
Pickles Family Get Keys to Big Lock (Middlewich Guardian) 8-Dec – it even got a mention in the local press, which goes on to explain that a former local landlady (ex Narrowboat pub) and her son have taken the challenge, which is a good sign indeed.
“Would you like that mild, medium, hot or hotter?” Now thats a first! It was also extremely good home made chilli served with half and half, rice and chips and nachos and all for £5.50. Most other dishes are from 5 to 9 pounds, and many come with a separate side salad or fresh vegetables and all I heard from other tables was how nice the food was; everything I could see appeared to be home made too, apart from my chips which had been frozen and then kept warm too long.
The pool table is gone and the front room is now more of a bar than games room and whilst a little bland under a welcome fresh coat of paint, the place is quite nice considering it is in its first couple of weeks of opening. However the huge industrial carvery unit plonked in the restaurant area looks like something beamed in from a 60s function room, although the prices seem equally dated, at only £3.95 for a carvery lunch. I wonder if this is really going to pay?
But please let me be first to congratulate the new tenants online – and let me recommend to any passing boaters that they leave their past impressions behind and give it a try. Value for money: 10/10. Food Quality:8/10 (let down by the chips). Beer: 9/10. I will be asking if they can sort out wifi for customers (and boaters, since 3G is so bad in the area) and maybe turn down the music, although I have to say that the thumping disco beat was quite uplifting and certainly wasn’t lift music!
With Zulu’s moorings right outside I’m quite proud to be able to call it my local.