Well, this has come as something of a uplifting surprise: Canterbury’s Shakespeare pub is one of the best in the country.
One of the best 11 in the country, to be precise, according to men’s style magazine GQ.
It praises the Shepherd Neame boozer for the “warm welcome” it offers the huge variety of customers it attracts.
And it quite rightly points out that The Shakespeare has two faces in Canterbury: the pub in Butchery Lane and the wine bar in Buttermarket, which are linked to one another through their respective backs.
The magazine states: “The Shakespeare is in the oldest part of town and offers a warm welcome for a huge variety of customers, mixing locals, tourists and, at the weekend, an influx of revellers from the surrounding countryside.
“The menu is conservative but full of good things, such as the shredded pork and mustard croquettes, while the rich and varied butcher’s board and seafood board are – to GQ’s mind – a more interesting option than the regular main courses.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with the burgers, steak, sausages and other turbo-charged classics on offer.
“But the best thing about The Shakespeare is the wine bar that can be reached through and well-worn courtyard – packed when the weather heats up – between the two buildings.
“It’s here you really get a feel for the age of these shambling streets and the bar itself is cosy, intimate and has a great range of wines and flights to suit a long, lazy evening.”
What’s nice about the GQ list of 11 is that it has opted for pubs in small or smallish urban centres – like Canterbury. It includes such watering holes as the Ginger Pig at Hove, the Green Man in Chelmsford and the Three Oaks at Gerrards Cross.
Pubs in big city centres can be anonymous beer sheds, big cavernous rooms with long bars at which you’re discouraged from standing or sitting at.
Yes, we all know Canterbury has one of them. But almost all of the rest are intimate, friendly and full of history – just like The Shakespeare…