Secret Drinker reviews The Ball House in Boston
Stumbling across a good pub by accident is one of life's pleasures.
I was fortunate to get one of those small wins when I visited The Ball House in Boston on a recent trip to the coast after the place I had planned to drop in on was uncharacteristically shut.
As one door was closed another was opened, or something like that.
Arriving in that pre-evening meal timeslot on a weekday, it was no surprise to discover my presence had doubled the number of punters in the premises.
In through the door and the words ‘The Robinson Family Welcome You’ immediately catches your eye from above the bar in that squiggly, joined-up writing nice, clean, modern pubs seem to have.
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And stood directly below was a man I took to be the patriarch who, true to his word, accepted me in with a kindly smile.
The Ball House is a Batemans pub so, naturally, I was guided to the brewery’s three ales whose pumps take pride of place at the front of the bar.
“What’s a good one?” I asked.
“They’re all good,” chipped in the third man propping up the bar.
Seeing as there were two pints poured in front of him and he had clearly put his money where his mouth is, I decided to take his word for it.
After an informative description of each I figured for Hooker, a citrusy pale ale rolled out for the Rugby World Cup, would be worth a try.
It was a tasty, smooth 4.5% pint that impressed me to the point that I’d knocked half of it back before remembering to take a picture.
Despite sitting in the shadow of the Boston Stump and being a swift stagger from Pilgrim Hospital (the first stop for any escapee, surely?), the Ball House – with its mock-Tudor frontage, log burner and orderly seating for both drinkers and diners – seems to offer a little for everyone. A homely country pub feel but also the clean, smooth edges expected from a shiny new venue.
You could pick this place up and drop it in the middle of the Cotswolds, on a wild Pennine road or even a new-build estate and it wouldn’t be out of place. In fact, it would probably greatly improve any of those areas.
Inside, everything from the warm lighting and snug colour scheme to the music – Daydream Believer, At Last, Brown Eyed Girl – presented that feel of comforting mass appeal.
It may not be first choice for the hipsters, but you could be just as comfortable turning up with your nan, your boss or someone you are desperate to impress after you both decided to swipe right.
And to the Ball House’s credit, it ain’t easy hitting that sweet spot as many lesser pubs have proven.
As the landlord invited the other drinker to check out his cellar (some service, I thought) smiling young employees shared stories as they put the finishing touches to the place before the evening’s diners began arriving.
The toilets are clean and welcoming with chintzy signs displaying those harmless, jolly-enough puns that are enough to raise a smile or an eyebrow, depending on your tastes.
Everyone needs something to believe in… I believe I’ll have another beer. Keep korma and curry on. You get the picture.
However, the one sign guaranteed to catch your eye in the gents was placed next to a baby changing table, reading: “Sorry dads. We don’t have space in the ladies for the baby change. Just once won’t hurt – lol.”
Some may call it sexism, political correctness gone mad or wokeness beyond control. I’ll just label it a fair deal, and I’m sure it helps make the place a hit with new-ish mums.
A peek through the window on the walk back to my table revealed a sizeable beer garden round the back – often popular with Scooter boys and girls on their way to Bank Holiday meet-ups at Skegness – to complement the tables out front.
As the landlord and punter returned from the cellar it became apparent he wasn’t a customer but a guy from the brewery carrying out an inspection. Thankfully for me, and the landlord, the place got the thumbs up.
And a thumbs up from me as well.
Friends have since told me the food at the Ball House is definitely worth a visit.
So I’ll definitely add the place to the list.
THE BALL HOUSE, WAINFLEET ROAD, Boston, PE21 9RL
DECOR: Comfortable, warm and homely. Enough to make all comers of all ages feel at ease. 4/5
DRINK: Good value and a decent smooth. 3/5
PRICE: At £4.20 you can’t grumble 4/5
ATMOSPHERE: Despite the nod-along music the atmosphere was flat. But you can blame that on me for arriving at the wrong time. Best to save my judgement for another occasion.
STAFF: Pleasant, polite, smiling and welcoming. How you like your bar staff to be. 4/5