Perfectly positioned to explore The Lanes, inexpensive, looks like a real boozer and serves decent pub grub – so why didn’t I warm to The Market Inn?

It’s a big old square pub with a large central bar approachable on three sides.

It must date back more than 200 years but has obviously received a serious upgrade at some point.

To be fair, it has been well looked after and hasn’t sold out to become ultra-trendy in any way, shape or form – so why can’t I like it?

The abuse I received last week for even daring to say anything about barmen or barmaids almost persuades me I shouldn’t mention the fellow serving in the Market Inn.

But, at the risk of receiving more (completely unfair) abuse, he had greying hair and glasses, was dressed in a black shirt and jeans and was man of very few words.

He certainly wasn’t rude, but no one should be left in any doubt this is not a place for small talk.

The menu contains a fair selection of the usual pub fare at pretty fair prices.

I questioned mine host about several possibilities but all I could get from him was that the grilled minute steak with fried onions and chips would fill me up.

Filled up for £6.95 seemed a good deal to me.

I realised asking for his advice on the beer was out of the question so went for the 4.2 per cent St Austell Tribute Pale Ale.

This was clearly well kept and was equally well poured.

This was an excellent tasting pint with just the right amount of bite and a good balance of flavours.

Having plenty of choice where to sit this sunny afternoon – I was the only one in – I selected a seat by the open window to wait for my sandwich.

Outside in the alley there was a small collection of square yellow tables with plastic backed chairs.

The green plastic window box was packed with red geraniums, which I’m partial too – so why weren’t my spirits rising?

When it arrived the sandwich was toasted, a little more on the inside than outside, and filled with a great flat steak loaded with oodles of onions.

It came with really good, freshly-cooked chips and being a no-nonsense place nobody had troubled the plate with anything green.

It was darned good food, clearly cooked to order and excellent value.

It was so good that, despite Mrs PubSpy’s warning about my waistline, I even considered a pudding.

The vast majority were priced at £4.25 but a loss-leader type blackboard, proudly displayed right at the front of the bar, offered banoffee pie for £2 – what a bargain.

The postie popped in briefly, which doubled the clientele for all of ten seconds, but the word count in the place didn’t rise accordingly.

However, there was entertainment when the groups of tourists were shepherded into place outside the window by their guides – I was almost persuaded to pop out and join one group.

There is no pool or darts on offer, not surprising given the location, but there is a fruit machine blinking away in the far right hand corner.

BBC business news was showing on the solitary screen in the front corner, but the sound was turned right down.

Much about this one is traditional – the old wood panelling, a carpet that could only now exist in a pub, a lift for the food to arrive in, a polished brass doorstep.

And, it’s been refreshed where needed – the chairs have recently been re-covered and look good, the toilets are spotlessly keen and almost like a museum pieces themselves, though the tell-tale smell would inform a blind man where he was.

A CAMRA sign sits on one wall offering 10 per cent off cask ales, and a happy hour is advertised as 4pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday – although it’s not that happy at just £1 off each drink.

I assume the relatively well controlled prices here mean anything more would cut into profits too deeply.

On the positive side it sits right at the heart of The Lanes but hasn’t sold its soul or pretended to be something it’s not.

On the other hand it is traditional, but completely unremarkable, and does nothing to lift your spirits.

Perhaps I’m damning with faint praise and I did pass an hour here, but if I wasn’t writing this column I’m not sure I’d have bothered mentioning it to anyone.


Decor: ★★★★☆

Spick and span, looking exactly what a pub should look like.

Drink: ★★★★☆

A well-kept, well served pint and plenty of choice too.

Price: ★★★☆☆

Given the touristy position £4.30 isn’t bad at all.

Atmosphere: ★★☆☆☆

Not easy to judge, but the barman isn’t going to lead the festivities.

Staff: ★★☆☆☆

It was tricky to get anything out of him.