The Garrick Inn
25 High Street, Stratford Upon Avon, United Kingdom
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The Garrick Inn Stratford Upon Avon Reviews
Fine food in Stratford's oldest inn. Jul 16, 2008
Reputedly this is Stratford's oldest pub. Sources differ but the building itself dates back to between the late 1400s - 1595. It was not given over to the use as a public inn until the early 1700s, and did not acquire its present name until around the 1760s being named in honour of the famous Shakespearian actor David Garrick for his work in organising a Shakespeare Jubilee celebration as well as being recognised as a top-notch thesp. It is also believed to have been the starting point for the plague in Stratford only months after Will Shakespeare's birth. (The Great Plague would not kick off until the next century in London 1665) The inscription 'hic incepit pestis'("here is the beginning of the plague") was carved into its wooden door 3 months after his birth in July 1564. Luckily for literary posterity Will did not manage to catch a bad case of the sniffles! "Phew!"
It is a pub I always love to at least sit and have a pint in each time I am in Stratford because of the sense of time and history that this fabulous old, gabled, wooden-beamed building exudes. Admittedly on the interior this vibe has somewhat been diluted by inevitable acts of modernisation, decor change and a major refurb that concluded a couple of years back to bring it a bit more 'up market'. Still, there's no changing the wonderful exposed wooden-beam, low ceilinged 'nooks and crannies' feel to squeezing in for a meal here, before a trip to the theatre perhaps. (formerly it distinguished itself as the only smoke-free pub in Stratford which added to its pleasant feel, but of course all public spaces in the UK are now smoke free by law since July last year).
The atmosphere in the pub is cosy owing to the small, pocketed bars and seating areas for meals that fit themselves wherever they can around the wooden beams, and meandering main passageway. There is a fairly standard range of drinks, cask ales and usually a guest ale or two at one of the two small bars(a pint of Sun Dance for me today). If you are eating they will happily bring these to your table if you want to be lazy. The food is agreeable and of a fine enough quality. Eating out most places in Stratford can be expensive and The Garrick, whilst not cheap, is average for the target-market (wealthy theatre goers) and the food should not usually disappoint at anything between £8 - £10 for a main, unless you opt for one fo the many delectable sounding 'specials'.
Today is lunch for me so I order a plate of hand-carved Norfolk ham, free range eggs, chips and petit pois. A simple English classic combination ("eggs'n'ham" basically) but the taste is fabulous and the service friendly and attentive. I would definitely recommend a pint and a meal here with your friends, but just don't expect everything inside to live up to the romantic hopes of a true olde worlde Englande experience that the beautiful exterior inspires...I doubt there was a flashing Fruit Machine in Garrick's day :)
Part of the The Last Days of Brum (a prologue to the rest of the World...) travel blog
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