The Grapes, Oxford   4 comments

Update 16 May 2014: The Grapes never became a restaurant and I’ve been in a few times in the last year–better crew and great selection of Bath Ales.  A little pricy, but who isn’t?

Update 24 Jan 2012: The Grapes is closing on Sunday (29 Jan 2012).  I was in with Pete, a mass spectrometrist and professor from Warwick that I’ve know the last 15 or 16 years and the place was packed.  Service was still shit, but it seems it is being turned into a bistro.  Even a bad pub deserves better than that.

The Grapes looks great, both inside and out, but I’ve gotten used to genteel behaviour in my short absence from East Anglia and was surprised that the Grapes’ staff exhibited the sort of passive-agressive hostility you come to expect from the eastern counties.  To be fair, it may just be that the arsehole I dealt with was sick of tourists (or from London).

I entered the nice bar and positioned myself in front of the taps, surveyed the offerings and pulled a tenner out.  As the barman passed he spat out, “You’re gonna have to wait a minute, mate,” and on the “mate” he stuck an inflection that implied a totally unwarranted threat (one that I assure you could not be backed up).

Eventually, he finished his chat with the three fat slappers at the end of the bar and returned to the collection of other customers waiting with somewhat less patience than myself.  He asked what I wanted.

Spring Frenzy, please.”

“Pint?!?” he asked/ejaculated with the same contempt one might reserve for someone beating a cripple.  My fault, of course.  Most places just assume that’s what you want and I am not used to this level of customer service.  I replied,

“Of course,” then under my breath added, “cocksucker.”

“What was that then?”

Buoyed and happier than I had been since entering this establishment, I repeated louder and with a genuine smile, “Cocksucker. I’m pretty sure I just called you a cocksucker.  It could have been worse but I thought I’d give you the benefit of the doubt.”  Fuck with me on a pre-bank holiday afternoon, will you.

He gave me the snake eye, but started pulling the pint which splattered just after half a pint, which he immediately dumped in the sink and said curtly, “all out,” then moved on toward the next in line.

“Whoa,” I said, still thirsty and a bit more pissed off that the perfectly fine half had been wasted so cavalierly.  “I’ll have a PINT of Old Sailor.  I bet YOU’VE had some Old Sailor before, I reckon, hmmm?”  The Okells was actually very good, but I couldn’t lollygag to enjoy it to thoroughly as I had a bus to catch–just have to leave the barkeep here on his own to gag on lollies.  But, if this sounds like the sort of atmosphere you’re looking for, I believe it is the standard fare.

Posted 2010/04/03 by Drunken Bunny in pubs

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