PUBSPYING has to be the best job in the world and I love it when fans of this feature ask me to visit their local. It doesn’t matter whether they think it’s good or bad, they just want to share their experiences with others.

But, just as enjoyable is when I occasionally come across a boozer completely by surprise – which is exactly what happened this week.

Wandering back from the station I looked left and saw lights I hadn’t noticed before cutting through the dusky gloom.

Drawn to the light I found myself on the threshold of the Earth & Stars. Well, it would have been rude not to pop in.

The pub sits prettily on the corner of Church Street and Windsor Street, though its address is the latter. It’s immediately obvious this is a place specifically redesigned to be in-keeping with all the best old-fashioned pub traditions.

Of course, there is a stack of stripped wood and grey and green paint spread liberally around the place which instantly marks it out as a trendy establishment.

There were quite a few folk in but the upstairs area was clearly marked ‘Sorry, we’re closed’. This was a pity as there was a pleasant looking outside seating area, complete with its on-trend plastic grass and strings of retro white lights. I assume it would have been open if the weather was a tad warmer.

I’d opted for a pint of Laine Ripper IPA at 4.9 per cent and my spying apprentice chose a pint of strawberry flavoured Wobblegate cider called The Dame at 4 per cent dead.

The locally-brewed IPA was a delight and delivered a stack of grapefruit/citrus flavours. If anything, it didn’t taste quite as strong as it claims to be – but this is certainly not a negative. And, with the trendy décor I wasn’t too shocked at the £5.15 price tag.

The cider, on the other hand, was a lacklustre flat affair with few redeeming features and was, in my opinion, £4.75 wasted – even the cider drinking apprentice left half of it behind. If they’d sold ice cream I might have poured it on that.

All around this very pleasant, trendy pub are signs of the type of place it’s striving to be.

Sure, a number of places proudly boast they cook with sustainable, local fish and although it had to die for you, at least it was on a hook at the end of a line. Well, here they take it a step further and even name the boat – this week’s catch of the week, hake, was landed on Evie-Mae.

There is definitely not going to be anything politically incorrect allowed in here. No jukebox, no fruit machines, no pool table, no quiz machines, no dartboards, no skittles, no dodgy pics of wasted regulars in fancy dress and certainly no-one having too much fun. Even the music is played at a level I found disconcertingly quiet, now there’s a first. They do, as you would expect, think straws suck. Though someone has allowed a few beermats to be stuck to one wall.

So, whilst I’m on the subject, both pints were vegetarian.

And, to answer dear Mr John Knight, who’s been pestering me for weeks for extra information – yes, they do welcome dogs. I met one called Troy, whose owner told me he loved the pub, though to me he looked very sad and disconsolate.

Oh, and yes, disabled people are very welcome, there is a special priority table set aside for them and by moving a few chairs around access should be fine, though I didn’t see any easy way people in a wheelchair would be able to get upstairs, which incidentally is also where the kitchen is.

Actually, on the subject of the kitchen and food I was going to have a burger but unfortunately, as it had been a bank holiday, no buns had been delivered by whichever specialist bakery supplies them. I’m assuming buying a bag of buns from the Tesco Express around the corner would have been nowhere near trendy enough.

Our solitary barman was very efficient with a small goatee and a pale blue shirt. His trousers were rolled up just the right amount above his ankles and he was very friendly. When not serving he stood back casually chewing his gum and surveying all before him with great pride.

Funnily enough, when the pub phone rang it was, by far, the loudest thing in the place and, seeming to revel in the broken silence, he let this ring for some considerable time.

Despite it’s uber trendy ways I must say I liked the Earth & Stars and there is much to be admired. It is a proper pub, the fireplaces reminded me of a short family holiday on the Isle of Wight and while the toilet was bound to have black tiles and a bevelled mirror they were clean and sweet smelling.

It may even be that locals would want to keep this a place a relative secret, so they can preserve the haven they’ve created.

It didn’t surprise me to learn from a plaque by the door that this was Brighton & Hove’s Best Bar None in 2006 – praise indeed.

But neither did it surprise me the half dozen book club or drama group members on a neighbouring table looked offended by a short burst of laughter – they definitely weren’t going to welcome anything as course as, for example, a discussion about football, heaven forbid.

Earth & Stars – 46 Windsor Street, Brighton BN1 1RJ

Decor: 5 Stars

Fair’s fair, this is a proper pub, absolutely beautifully presented

Drink: Four stars

I’m just marking the IPA here, the cider is a pudding topping at best

Price: Three stars

It’s not cheap, but I wasn’t altogether surprised the beer was over a fiver

Atmosphere: Two stars

It’s a great shame, but for me it lacks a certain joie de vivre

Staff: Three stars

The barmen knew he was cool, but he didn’t mind serving uncool, older folks

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