A pint will set you back 99 pence and the food arrives faster than you can get a Big Mac – whatever you think of Wetherspoon, you can’t crush the business model.
I had some special shopping to do with the apprentice, but before either of us had a chance to spend a dime he had dragged me into the Thomas Ingoldsby, just inside the Canterbury city walls.
I skipped the 99p Ruddles option completely and spent big on a pint of Festive 5.2% Three Kings, Coach House Brewing Company, £ 1.99, but at the last minute I got the munchies so I combined it with a jacket of tuna mayonnaise and spent £ 6.65 on the combo.
My potential young reviewer was even more extravagant with a Punk IPA, again 5.2%, but at a shockingly low price of £ 3.19, so I insisted he eats too – he chose the pizza pepperoni.
The drinks were transmitted instantly by a guy who was fully on the mic and presumably in direct contact with the kitchen, his manager, or a waffle further down the line.
The food was silently placed on the table of our choice less than 10 minutes later by another employee at the microphone. The apprentice can’t even make a sandwich at this point!
I was slightly disappointed that the food arrived so quickly as it stole my favorite spoon hobby – people watching. Three Ensign bus drivers had left when we arrived, but it wasn’t long before a hi-vis jacket came in and a few young girls started ordering shots of cherries and fell at the bar.
I let the apprentice pick up the young girls and took a trip upstairs to visit the lavish facilities – these looked awesome but when you got closer there was the aroma of usual and recognizable ammonia.
The upstairs bar, which also includes the check-in counter for the 13 hotel rooms, is almost as large as the one on the ground floor and the capacity of this place must be enormous, numbering in the hundreds.
Left alone on the table 64, the apprentice had obviously not wasted his time during my absence and had some deep thoughts to share on my return.
After looking around, he concluded that no business is run more effectively and efficiently – he believes this is the perfect business model delivering exactly what his customers want.
The food and drinks, in his opinion, were perfectly acceptable and the fact that they were delivered in nanoseconds by staff who didn’t say a word was once again a bright spot for him.
“It does,” he says, “exactly what’s written on the box” and it does it at very competitive prices.
In keeping with Wetherspoon tradition, there is of course no pool table, dart board or jukebox.
And, unless I’m wrong, there weren’t any big TV screens showing endless, silent reports with captions. In fact, there was also no background music – definitely a bonus as we move into the Christmas season, although I’m not sure if that’s still the case.
There are at least six monster electronic fruit machines that constantly flash and are almost as bright as the carpet.
Wetherspoon, renowned for having a different carpet design in every pub, has certainly gone for a hectic pattern here.
I took a pic for you to enjoy too and maybe even share with the guy who wrote a book on the subject and created a website in tribute to the upholsterers of Spoons.
The variety of different drinks available was impressive and without the parking charge of £ 2.80 per hour (which must be particularly off-putting for hotel visitors) we could have stayed longer.
However, I reminded my accomplice that besides the fact that I would need a new mortgage to pay for the parking fees, we had major anniversary purchases and the consequences of not producing gifts. could be disastrous.
Le Thomas Ingoldsby, 5-9 Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HG
Decor: The pub is comfortably furnished and although the Christmas decorations have increased, they are not as ridiculous as some pubs this year. Special mention must go to the design of the integral carpet. ***
To drink: The Three Kings fully deserves a four-star upgrade – a very decent, slightly spicy, reddish winter beer. The Punk IPA was just as good according to the apprentice, who rates it very well. ****
Food: You get exactly what you pay for, the sweet potato and thin crust pizza was hot and filling without being spectacular. ***
Price: With a pint starting at 99 pence and two meals with drinks totaling 15 pounds, how could anyone challenge the prices? The Pizza and Punk IPA was £ 8.45. *****
Staff: They did exactly what was expected of them, no arguing, no time to hang out and no nonsense – the bartender and waiter just delivered the food and drinks to order. ***
Read all the reviews of the Secret Drinker’s Kent pub here