If you happen to venture into Surbiton for a night out, you may be befuddled by the sheer volume of pubs populating the high street, like middle aged women at a One Direction concert. Well spend no more time wondering which of the bars you should drink away your troubles in, and instead simply walk into the building closest to the train station.
The Surbiton Flyer considers itself of a higher quality than your usual drinking hole, evident from the first time you walk in and gaze on the leather seats (which, unlike most British pubs, are actually as comfortable as they look and won't tear off a layer of your coat when you have to pry yourself free), rich interior (that doesn't look like the usual cheap imitation found in most Wetherspoons) and, as with all pubs of this sort, once you observe the numbers alongside the drinks on the menu.
Yes, it is an expensive place, but then again isn't it worth forking out an extra few pounds just to spend at least one night in a pub, where the decor isn't improved by the extra splash of colour given by the generous donation of vomit offered by the clientèle?
No, you might say. And fine. I am usually inclined to agree with you, being barely able to scrape enough pennies out the gutter together to buy a pint that is less poured and more pissed into a glass from your usual dive myself.
But whenever the purse-strings attempt to drag me away from the Flyer and into the off license, the soothing musical selection just keeps drawing me back in. Rather than ignoring good music in favour of simply shoving any current sporting event on the TV or drowning out all conversation in whatever current club "classic" (probably spelled with a "k" instead of a "c") that's oozed its way into the charts, the Surbiton Flyer plays a selection of old favourites from myriad genres played at a volume that sets an ... okay, I hate to use the phrase adopted by middle class snobs to describe anywhere that acts as a "poor people free zone", but that doesn't make it any less appropriate: the Flyer has an atmosphere.
And it is not just in the surroundings, both in the appearance and sound, that set this, but in the drink as well. The Surbiton Flyer has, and always has, several good ales on tap, something that is quite the novelty in Britain's "drink any swill to get smashed" culture. The spirits they have are too mainly of the more expensive brand, and so you realise it becomes impossible to be in there and not drink something actually enjoyable to drink. The food they have there is an assortment of your usual pub food, but is made from good ingredients and prepared well, rather than just being heated from frozen and slapped on a plate that truly pushes the definition of the word "clean". Even the pork scratchings are good quality. Think about that; I just used "pork scratching" and "quality" in the same sentence completely unironically. The staff are also friendly, and I don't mean in that American imitation friendliness that means you can see the cold hatred in their eyes behind the smile across their face, I mean in that genuine not afraid to talk to you but will leave you alone if you want kind of way.
Again though, I will emphasise that this is the most expensive pub in the Surbiton high street, and so one blurry forgotten night there will leave your bank balance with several less figures than it had prior, but I don't see the Surbiton Flyer as aiming to please the person aiming to end their night in a bin. Instead, it aims more for the person wishing to have a few quiet drinks in a place that's actually pleasant, to converse with friends whilst sipping at an ale to relax your head.
A place less for the drunk, but more for the hungover, if you see what I mean.