WHEN talking to my fellow beer-swillers, Wetherspoons always proves to be a contentious subject.

The Marmite of the pub world, my past experiences (similarly to those I’ve shared with the bottled beast from the yeast) have been far from positive.

But they do say variety is the spice of life, so against my better judgment I decided to duck into The Cliftonville Inn in George Street, Hove.

I swung the door open to be met with an impressive attendance for a Monday night.

A sea of silver-haired heads could be spotted across the pub as far as the eye could see.

Underneath each set of shimmering locks was a weathered face that looked like it had a yarn or two to spin, many of which likely started at 9am in the very same Wetherspoon pub.

As I placed my first foot on the carpet I felt an immediate adhesive quality to the pub floor.

My boot stuck fast in the well-worn floor and it took my best Chubby Checker impression to set my foot free.

Mrs PubSpy and I twisted our way across the pub to take a booth at the back of the venue.

We found ourselves sitting between a very pleasant mother and daughter, and an uncharacteristically young man enthusiastically explaining to his two cronies how to roll the perfect joint with unerring detail, complete with Blue Peter-esque actions.

Judging by the size of his pupils, he must have smoked one earlier.

We left him behind and visited the bar where Mrs PubSpy ordered a vodka cranberry.

I went to play it safe with a pint of Doombar, but as the words formed in my mouth my eye caught an aggressive looking logo attached to one of the beer pumps.

My impulsive nature got the better of me and I plumped for a pint of an intimidating looking German IPA called Moshpit.

I took a sip and immediately regretted my decision.

The warm ale, as the name suggests, tasted like the captured sweat of 1,000 moist ravers which had been strained into a pint glass for the sole purpose of torturing my taste buds.

I grimaced and, after returning to my seat, picked up the food menu in an attempt to cleanse my palate of this curious concoction.

Mrs PubSpy and I both chose a burger and, as is customary at a Spoons returned to the bar to order.

She went for a “Gourmet Tennessee Burger” while I picked a creation called the “Drive Thru Burger”.

Again we returned to our seats and I had just begun to regale Mrs PubSpy with tales of pubs past when the food arrived. It had been about five minutes.

The waiter dumped the plates unceremoniously on the table without a word and by the time I went to thank him he had already made it to the other side of the room.

Choosing not to question their methods, but instead appreciate the speedy service, we tucked in.

The use of the word “gourmet” for Mrs PubSpy’s meal may have been a push. The accompanying dip, which purported to be a honey and whisky barbecue sauce, had the consistency of badly made gravy.

My own burger was ample in size and, though not a stand-out culinary memory for the archives, was both enjoyable and satisfying.

And, as fans of the popular pub chain will always remind you, it was hard to complain for the price.

Two large burgers, chips, onion rings and drinks for less than £20 was not bad going.

We polished off our plates and went to head home, making a short trip to the toilet before we departed.

The toilets, unexpectedly, I must admit, were in quite good nick. The hygienic sheen was only let down by a Primark bag full of some worse for wear looking tissues sitting in the corner.

And that was my cue to leave.

The Cliftonville Inn, George Street, Hove

Decor: Three stars

Old school. Slightly worse for wear, but endearing.

Drink: One stars

Perhaps this was down to my impulsive and ill-advised selection method, but this was a far from enjoyable tipple.

Price: Five stars

No complaints here. This is what ‘Spoons does best. With £100 you could buy a round for everyone in the bustling pub and still have enough for a bus home.

Atmosphere: Three stars

An eclectic mix of characters including the good, the bad and the regulars.

Staff: Three stars

The bloke behind the bar couldn’t have been more helpful, but this place was let down by its mute and elusive food server.