Market towns are always great for pubs. They have thrived over the years on the weekly trade and work-driven thirst. The thing I like about Ashbourne’s selection is that there is a pub for all moods. My own preference, The Smith’s Tavern, is just one of the pubs on or near the Market Square with great beer and a “talking” pub atmosphere. There’s carol singing on Christmas Eve and an occasional piano singalong.
The Vaults is the late night venue and a good bar for sitting outside and people watching, as is the Horns. The Wheel is a real local’s pub with good teams and sports TV. The Bridge is a pub with good views of Shrovetide if the ball goes in the river. On a summer’s evening sitting outside is a great way to spend time with friends.
I’d still like a really good regular music venue – the George and Dragon occasionally has bands – but is this an opportunity for the pubs out of town centre – the Miraj, the Royal Oak, or The Beresford Arms to make a mark with something approaching the Flowerpot fare? I’d also like a better choice of dining pub. The Horns seems to have a pretty good menu but there are a lot of good dining pubs in the surrounding countryside which draw trade away from the town currently.
All in all, Ashbourne is a great town for going out and having a drink.