Pub 3 – The Commercial, Stoke. 21/11/17
In attendance – DJT, Kate.
Reputations are a funny old thing. Once you’ve got a bad one, it can be tricky to shake it off. Unfortunately, the same goes for the reputations that some pubs get. Sometimes these are warranted, sometimes not. The Commercial in Stoke certainly comes with a reputation. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been this pub before and have even watched the odd Stoke City game here without incident. Not bad, considering I’m a Wolves fan! It was only the two of us in attendance again this week, I’m not accusing anyone of bottling out!
I’ll say it early. I like this “Spit and Sawdust” type of pub. The fact that it’s within walking distance is also a plus. There’s something honest about a place that you can just go, have a pint and a game of pool. It’s perhaps not to everyone’s taste, granted, but I always subscribe to the “don’t be a dick” method when in an unfamiliar establishment and this has served me well so far.
The Commercial then is easily recognisable as being a “Stoke City” pub, with it’s bright red and white exterior and sign proudly stating that every Stoke game is shown. If you’re not a football (or Stoke) fan, don’t let that put you off. Upon entering the pub, you are faced with a tiled floor and brick bar. To the right is more of a traditional bar area, with combination bench seats and stools, a pool table (more about that later) and fruit machine. To the left seems to be a more relaxed “lounge-esque” area which is on a couple of levels and there is a dartboard. On reflection, calling it a lounge would be over exaggerating the luxury levels somewhat, but it is functional and comfortable enough. Being a Tuesday night, no pub is really ever going to be bursting at the seams, and The Commercial was no different on our visit. There was a couple of (dare I say) older guys at the bar, a small group sat to the left of the entrance and a couple of the obligatory solo drinkers but everyone appeared to be in decent spirits and at no point during proceedings did we feel in danger of imminent harm. A number of mid-sized flatscreen TV’s were showing the European football with the commentary being played at a reasonable level into the pub. Overall, the pub as clean and light, fairly intimate but actually quite spacious.
The first thing to mention regarding drinks choice is that if you are a Real/Craft Ale drinker, you are out of luck. There were no draft ales available, other than Worthington Creamflow (which we all know doesn’t count). There is a bit more choice for any lager drinkers out there, with Stella, Carling and Staropramen on draft. The standard choice if you prefer your beer to be made out of apples is Strongbow. However, if you want a beer with more of a strawberry vibe, prepare to be disappointed as Fruli is not available. The barmaid was polite and acknowledged us quickly, we ordered 2 pints of Staropramen. Now, I’m not generally a lager drinker but if push comes to shove, this would be one of my choices. The good news is that the beer we had was really good, and the £3.30 cost per pint didn’t break the bank. We took our beers,and sat down in the bar contemplating a game of pool. A sign on the wall stated that it was free all day on a Tuesday and Wednesday. At that very point, three polish guys came in, had a drink and played a few frames. This actually added quite a lively vibe to the area near where we sat.
The Pork Scratchings were from Mr Tubs and retailed at a pretty standard £1. Although they were more of a “pork crunch” style product, they came in a nicely packed tub and were not too bad. As an alternative, there’s also a Spicy flavour available if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous. I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to my pig based pub snack though, I’ll be honest. I’ll mention at this point that it’s not the kind of pub that does food, either.
I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to vaping inside, and unless I see someone doing so already I will head towards the smoking area. To find the one here, you head towards the back of the pub and up some stairs where you will encounter a decent sized, first floor, decking clad smoking/patio area complete with gazebo for when the Stoke weather is doing it’s stuff. There aren’t any heaters but it’s adequately lit and we got a view of the street below whilst listening to the music that was being piped from the pub below via a couple of speakers. On the subject of music, one of the great things about this pub is the jukebox, which was on once the 2nd half of the football had started, replacing the commentary. We both felt that 5 songs for a pound is a good deal, and had no trouble going through a couple of quid putting some tunes on. The jukebox is one of those internet connected jobs, so you can be confident that there’s something for everyone. I initially thought that the music was on the loud side, but in hindsight that was because Kate put Oasis on. And I’m getting old. A personal highlight was when the Polish guys playing pool seemed to enjoy having a dance to Blur’s “Beetlebum” (which was one of my choices). Once the pool table was free, we had a couple of games. I’m actually impressed with the setup, plenty of room, good quality equipment and at 50p a game is decent value (although not free – that sign was a lie!)
The gents toilets had a trough style urinal, and one each of both cubicle and sink. If you are looking for a luxury experience, it’s not for you.Whilst not the cleanest these toilets did the job. After 3 pints of Staropramen, I didn’t really care. Following washing my hands, I found the “Bluedry” hand dryer to be quite feeble in it’s application. I could have actually blown on my hands to dry them as quickly. Again, I refer you to my previous comment re: 3 pints of Staropramen. I was informed that the wooden clad womens toilets were clean and that there are a couple of cubicles. There was nothing to add regarding this (3 pints of Staropramen etc), and therefore I can’t verify this information.
Overall then, we both agree that we had a good time in The Commercial, and would be happy to go to this pub again. The only let down for me was the lack of any choice for the real ale drinker, however the Staropramen was good, the pub was clean and friendly with good facilities and a cracking jukebox. All within walking distance.
It’s certainly done enough to get a recommendation from me, and definitely enhanced it’s reputation in these parts!
Beer choice/range – 1.5/5
Ambience – 4/5
Facilities – 4/5
Location – 4/5
Locals/Safeness – 4/5
Pork scratchings – 2.5/5
Fruli – 0/1
Toilets – 2.5/5
Other – 0/5