PUBSPY: The Grapes, Sutton
I don’t know about you, but all this business about Chelsea making the Champions League final is enough to turn me to drink.
It seems everywhere I go at the moment everyone is talking about the Blues and their European adventure. Is there no escape from this torture? I think it’s fair to say I’m not a fan of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and co.
Personally, I hope Bayern Munich win the competition to spare me the purgatory of listening to fat, balding, middle-aged men in tight-fitting Chelsea shirts spouting off about how great their team is like kids in a school playground. Men, get a grip, you’re old enough to know better.
Let’s face it, if a Russian oligarch gave Sutton United a trillion pounds I’m sure they’d make the Champions League final too.
I hoped to escape all this nonsense when I dived into the Grapes in Sutton the other day, but no, the old soaks with red faces, missing teeth and smokers’ coughs stood at the bar heralding the achievements of the boys from Stamford Bridge as if they’d just saved the planet from alien invasion.
I ordered a pint of Hammerpot Brewery’s Oyster Pond Stout and went and sat in the corner, well out of earshot of the Chelsea chat. The Grapes is one of two - yes two - Wetherspoon pubs in the town. I think given half a chance pubgoers in this neck of the woods would vote with their drinking arms for a third one too. They certainly know what they like, cheap and cheerful.
This pub has had a number of incarnations over the years. Gone, thankfully, is that ghastly sports bar much-loved by Burberry cap-wearing chavs the town over, in favour of a tastefully decorated boozer adored by long-suffering husbands who dive inside the moment the wife mentions popping to Poundland.
Fruit machines keep those punters unable to hold a conversation happy while the rest of us can ponder life’s peaks and troughs without the intrusion of background music.
I know the rain has been lashing down lately but it’s worth bearing in mind that this boozer has a decent-sized beer garden in which you can sit back, relax and watch the 154 bus make its way from West Croydon to Morden while listening to another police car whizzing past in the distance.
Still, it’s preferable to listening to that Chelsea drivel.
The Grapes, 198 High St, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 1NR
Atmosphere: *** Despite the lack of music it was quite noisy as the post-work crowd piled in to begin a hearty evening’s binge drinking.
Decor: **** Dark purple paintwork and swirly patterned wallpaper almost give the impression you’re not in a Wetherspoon’s boozer. The St George’s day flags and balloons were still out, adding a tacky touch to the place.
Price: ***** Hard to beat. My pint cost me £2.20.
Drink: ***** A great choice of real ales which included Hophead, Abbott, Ruddles and Pale Rider.
Staff: ** Service was OK. I’ve had better and I’ve had worse.