Despite scores of pubs shutting down in the region, some still do a roaring trade that makes the demise of the watering hole hard to believe.
A first-time visit to The Grey Horse, in Whitburn, was proof of this.
The pub is deceptively small from the outside.
Step inside and there is a lounge, bar and dining area, as well as a newly-added patio.
The more recent additions such as the patio and raised restaurant area don’t quite fit with the traditional interior, but seem popular with visitors.
Rather than sitting in the dark lounge – which is full of cosy armchairs and a fire – on a sunny day, I chose a table in the brighter eating area in the new raised section.
There were quite a few drinkers in on a Saturday afternoon – though it wasn’t noisy.
Beers and lagers, priced from £2.40, include bottles of Sol and Carlsberg.
Ale lovers can opt for a tipple of the real stuff, though there is only one choice, Greene King IPA.
Wine drinkers can also sample white, red or rosé wine, priced from £9 a bottle.
Many of the guests were choosing to drink cider on the patio and enjoy the sunny weather – a bottle of Bulmers will set you back £2.65.
There was a queue at the bar, but the helpful staff apologised for the delay in getting served.
I wasn’t just drinking on this occasion, but also tested the menu.
I opted for home-made soup of the day, which was mushroom (£2.50) and the seafood platter (£6.95).
My companions chose fish and chips (£6.95) and the daily special, which was pork steak in apple sauce (£4.95).
The service was fast and the food piping hot.
The soup was fantastic. I could have eaten it twice and ditched the seafood platter, which was a little greasy.
The pork steaks were a hit with my old-fashioned grub-loving grandad, who also indulged in a couple of halves of Guinness (£1.65).
The consensus was that the home-made food is better than other options on the menu.
I swerved dessert, but my grandparents chose a sticky toffee pudding with ice-cream (£2.95) and apple crumble and custard (£2.95).
Both produced “mmmm” noises and they said the puddings were delicious, though the generous portions defeated them.
I discovered the pub is famed in Whitburn and beyond for Sunday carvery, and after sampling the Saturday delights, my grandparents decided to return the next day for another sitting.
The Grey Horse is a little mismatched in appearance, however, reasonable prices and friendly service keep visitors coming back.
The clientèle may be a little older, as this isn’t a bar that would attract young drinkers – there aren’t the shots, trebles and cocktails to entice a rowdy crowd – but for a quiet drink and no-frills meal, it is a winner all the way.