Friday, 30 November 2012
#092 Shady Oak, Tarporley, Cheshire : 1996 to 2012
Our first visit to the Shady Oak was on our way to Chester after our first ever trip to Llangollen. It is situated in the middle of nowhere and is the only pub for several miles along this stretch of the Shropshire Union canal. Because of this isolation we stopped there twice.
Friday 30th August 1996.
Sunday 1st September 1996.
Both of these visits were lunchtime stops and as I recall they were both perfectly satisfactory.
We didn't cruise along this stretch of the Shropshire Union for quite a few years and we again visited twice on the way to and on the way back from Chester.
Friday 26th August 2005
Sunday 28th August 2005
The first stop was on the Friday evening and we only had one pint there as they weren't doing food that evening, so we took a stroll into Tarporley which is over a mile away. We had a pleasant evening in Tarporley and got a lift back courtesy of the good people in the Chinese Restaurant in the village.
On our way back from Chester we hadn't intended to revisit the Shady Oak. We stopped at Crow's Nest Bridge (No. 113) only to find that the pub listed in our (20 year old!!) canal guide was shut. So, reluctantly, we headed back to the Shady Oak. As I recall it wasn't such a pleasant experience as the pub seemed to be populated, mainly, by the owner's family who seemed to treat it like their home rather than as a pub. Needless to say the service wasn't great either.
Our most recent visit was on Easter Monday 9th April 2012. The pub is under different ownership and so it was a more pleasant experience than 7 years earlier.
However, I still feel that something is missing, but it's difficult to put my finger on what it is. I suppose, to sum it up, there's a general air of indifference about the place - the food was OK, the service was OK and the décor was OK. In this day and age, to survive as a pub, I think they need to try harder to make the Shady Oak a place that people want to go back to again and again. The reviews on TripAdvisor make interesting reading, particularly the owner's responses which never take on board the criticisms, but always give some excuse (or just criticise the reviewer!)