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Bar Essentials: The Hightown Hotel

A good place to park your bike, but what about the rest of the craic?

Written by . Published on January 17th 2012.


Bar Essentials: The Hightown Hotel

Where
Lower Alt Road, Liverpool, L38 0BA T: 0151 929 2650

What's the story?
Originally a hotel proper, the Hightown Hotel is essentially a late Victorian mansion and now a multi-purpose pub owned, for the last 10 years, by Geoff Miller.

It is two steps away from the Northern Line, which means it is easily accessible to the world.

In theory, Czechoslovakian stag parties can fly into John Lennon Airport (“Above Us Only Sky*TM”) and get on a bus and then a train here for a massive sesh,  clad only in Dukla Prague away kits.

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Here is where the River Alt meets the sea. Here Fort Crosby once housed Italian and German PoWs. Now, Altcar rifle range keeps the shore sealed off. Thus, most days, it's the racket of rapid fire gunshot from modern automatic weapons that can be heard above the cries of the Canada geese way down the Mersey coastline.

Apart from this, the Hightown Hotel is one of only four excitements in the district, the others being the pharmacy, the Post Office and the bread and wine store.

Why go there?
If you live in Hightown, see the last sentence.

For others, like us last Sunday, it is a handy place to park your bike if you happen to have embarked on the 20-odd mile Sefton Coastal Path. Come here when it's bleak, wild and windy on the dunes to best appreciate the warmth and buzz inside. Cheap food is the attraction for many who travel from far and wide.

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What's yours?
We sampled some very well kept Directors from one of nine cask ales ranging from £2.55 to £2.75 a pint. There are 10 wines to choose from at £9.95 a bottle and six lagers. Dive in, it won't just be your front wheel that's wobbly when you leave.

The roast boast
This was intended to be a Sunday Dinners review. As we mentioned earlier, the price of food here is a big draw, with two Sabbath beef roasts for an astonishing fiver. This has to be the best value anywhere. By the time we got our act together (around 4pm) they had long gone. But not to worry, they could do us a turkey and a lamb roast dinner for a fiver apiece. We duly ordered, but no chip and pin machine exists in The Hightown Hotel. “The nearest cash point is in Formby,” we were informed.

With two ravenous kids who had cycled miles to get here, it would be hard news to break. Luckily, in Hightown, no one can hear you scream.

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See a penny, pick it up...
Crestfallen, we emptied our pockets, scrabbled around a bit and came up with enough coins and a couple of notes to feed four of us and get the ale in too. We went back to the bar. “Aha!” we announced, like triumphant students in a taxi, but not soon enough. Roast dinner, any of it, was now pronounced “off”.

Think again
The Pound and a Penny deal is no more. Inflation has seen prices go up a whopping 150 per cent, meaning that you can eat here for £2.49 a head at best. All day, every day.

For this you will still get a perfectly good sausage, egg, chips and beans, or an ok-ish Holland’s meat and potato pie with chips and peas, and a heap more variations on the theme. At this price point it's never going to be gastronomic, but it's not astronomic either. You really can't go wrong.



From the 2 for 1 section of the pricer menu, however, it seemed we could.

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A £9.99 sirloin steak was thin, gristly and one for only the most experienced, habitual masticator. How did we like it done? Who knew? We weren't asked. In fairness, the best chef in the world could not have put this specimen right.

Meanwhile, that promising hearty pub staple, steak and ale pie (£7.95), was neither ale or hearty.

The beef was sparse and two waterlogged whole mushrooms waited to explode catastrophically, like a stray grenade from the barracks, once bitten into. Until then, they bobbed ominously in a thin gravy which simultaneously managed to have no flavour and yet leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Its cocoon was a suet-like crust which was grey, thick, hard with all the delectable appeal of a bank vault's walls.

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What's the craic?
The big attraction of the week is the Tuesday night quiz where the winner is rewarded with six bottles of wine. Afterwards there's the chance to win up to £300 cash in the raffle.

Entertainment-wise there is a pool table thoughtfully situated away down some stairs away from the main bars. There is a fruit machine, and several TVs for Premiership football and other big events are placed strategically high and out of the way. Above us only Sky, indeed.

Dogs and kids are welcome to be well behaved too, while you muse over all the newspapers or find out what's happening on the unofficial village noticeboard.

Bits are a little tatty, such as the toilets, but on the whole it's spotless.

Worth mention too is Merseyside's biggest beer garden, overlooked by a charming period wooden verandah that makes you come over all colonial as you lie back and think of England.



Verdict

Despite reservations about some of the food – the bargain sausage, egg and chips definitely won the dinners  – there is much to recommend the Hightown Hotel. 

It keeps its beer well and its friendly atmosphere ensures a steady supply of regulars are kept well too.

Knees up, everyone.

Hightown Hotel Pics 011

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23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2012.

It sounds OK - but 'oh, dear' seems to suit better. Let's face it, not as good as it could or should be. If pubs are going to do food and thrive the standard needs to be much higher. A mausoleum like this will not be brought back to life when so much is 'tatty'. If I'd been driven ashore in a gale or was escaping from Magwitch across the dunes I might find solace here. But who would choose this over, say, most places in the Good Pub Guide?

Anonymous commuterJanuary 17th 2012.

It does do a good pint, and it's got a warm, friendly place, but the quality of the raw materials in the food does need bringing up. They aren't spending any money and the result is a bit shabby, as stated.

That said, it could be much, much worse and if it was much, much better, with gastropub pretensions, it might alienate most of the regulars. And we've all seen that happen, haven't we?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 5th 2013.

Best comment of the lot! It does a good pint, the staff are always helpful BUT would I spend money on the food apart from the £1.01p snack? NO. It is a pub not a gastro pub.

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2012.

Don't be fooled by this article. The food is very poor.

The kitchen is situated between the gents and the ladies toilets.
The toilets themselves are very shabby & smelly and are decidedly not spotless despite what the article says, try going in the toilets on a Friday night at 11pm.

The food is of a very poor standard.

Quiz nights are a hit and miss affair, as sometimes the manager never turns up to do the quiz, other times he turns up & decides that there are not enough customers in the pub .... so he goes home again resulting in no quiz.

By the way the manager is a convicted criminal

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Twat o' the northern lineJanuary 18th 2012.

Agreed. The BIG clue is in the description and in the pictures, da the food isn't great.

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2012.

It does say the food is pretty crap, Anonymous

AnonymousJanuary 17th 2012.

By the way the nearest cash point is over the road in the Post Office.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Hungry for hookersJanuary 19th 2012.

Not on a Sunday it isn't....

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2012.

"By the way the nearest cash point is over the road in the Post Office."

On a Sunday?

AnonymousJanuary 18th 2012.

Worth mention too is Merseyside's biggest beer garden, overlooked by a charming period wooden verandah

Are you on drugs??

What charming wooden verandah? It was built for the smokers, who refuse to use it & block the entrace to the pub.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Liverpool WagJanuary 18th 2012.

You've been barred out of here, haven't you Anonymous?

Hightown SocietyJanuary 18th 2012.

Great community pub, this. Anonymous is clearly a drunken rambling and bitter fool, judging by the late hour of his postings.

Reader XxxJanuary 22nd 2012.

Say what you like about the Hightown Hotel but eat your heart out for the village "shops". Few communities enjoy the friendly and efficient service we (yes, I live here) get from the newsagents, post office, hair dresser and pharmacy. And which other village allows you to cycle there and get the train back?

Chris WilliamsJune 4th 2012.

The Hightown Hotel has gone downhill over the last few years, Poor food, Service and an owner who doesn't react well to anything !!! don't complain unless your prepared for an unhelpful, arrogant man giving you abuse over his pubs food or service *** AVOID *** i will never go back there again and after reviews on other sites neither will a lot of other people !!

George FormbyJune 5th 2012.

I've been there and it wasn't bad at all. Mind you, had it been on a hot sunny day the selfish, unpleasant anti-smokers would have been outside demanding the smoking seats.

Proper pubs don't sell food - well nothing more ambitious than pork scratchings, pickled eggs and pork pies.

Proper meals attract the wrong sort of people who bring children into the pub and loiter about sipping water occupying valuable chairs all day.

Burbo BanksJune 5th 2012.

Yeah! It's a PUB not a RESTAURANT!

If the correspondents above aren't happy with the facts they ought to go to The Shipping Forecast.

Darth FormbyJune 5th 2012.

I just want to point out that 'George' is no relation to me, and I suspect it's not even his real name.

The shightown Hotel, as I like to call it, is a good stop off on a bike ride. It's not a destination. It's one of those pubs where you can imagine what it was,or what it could be.

Dave CooperJune 5th 2012.

Is this place still full of divvy squaddies?

AnonymousJuly 14th 2012.

This place is terrible. My friends and I were refused service when we tried to order desserts from the menu on the grounds that we did not have ID. Well, I didn't think a UK passport was a requirement for ordering jam rolly-polly pudding! Upon raising the issue with the manager we were told in no uncertain terms to, 'like it or leave'. So we left. And will never go again. Awful.

Toby JuggMarch 18th 2013.

Ordering dessert? In a pub? It's people like you - who deny the table and chairs to proper drinkers - that are killing off pubs.

Sentimental SapMarch 18th 2013.

But the Spaniel's a cutie.

Paul SmithOctober 26th 2013.

At each of the entrances, there is a sign "OPEN ALL DAY" at 11:15 today The Hightown Hotel" WAS SHUT I think many will agree that 11:15 is daytime The attached pharmacy (yes really) was also shut. Best point is it is that it is very close to the best of Hightown's amenities which is the train station so you can leave.

Kiron ReidApril 14th 2014.

There is always a good pint, a variety of well kept inexpensive real ales plus some continental lagers. Some people like the cheap food, I've found it perfectly reasonable pub food but haven't eaten there for a while, I usually try and grab some pints of the excellent ale from the almost invariably friendly staff when I am back visiting family.

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