Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Midas Well

With 'The Midas Touch' set to open its doors later this week, The Worcester Park Blog brings you an exclusive sneak-preview of the town's newest drinking establishment!

When 'The Hunstmans Hall' closed its doors for the final time earlier this year there were undoubtedly some who shed a tear for the passing of Worcester Park's oldest pub and one of the last visible reminders of the origins of the area.

There were perhaps more who were relieved to see the end of an institution with a troubled recent past, along with the promise of a new and revitalised future for the premises.

For the last seven weeks round-the-clock work has been underway to transform 'The Huntsmans Hall' into an exciting new venue - 'Midas Touch'.

The original bar has been retained, but painstakingly stripped down and restored. Out has gone the faux-traditional clone pub interior and in has come a new decadent (and occasionally bling) interior with indulgent browns, luxurious black leather sofas and splashes of gold (as, of course, befits to the Midas name).

Turning a profit from an established pub is tricky at the best of times, let alone starting afresh in the current gloomy economic climate. For the new owner Vicky (whose background is in running a nightclub in the West End) and her husband, setting up and running the 'Midas Touch' is already proving an exhilerating but exhauasting learning curve.

So what is 'Midas Touch'? Vicky admits that the vision for the establishment has changed since its inception, moving away from the traditional pub concept to more of a lounge/bar feel (complete with cocktails). Her vision is for a comfortable informal atmosphere where Mums meeting up during the daytime will feel as welcome as families, couples and evening drinkers.

There is talk too of introducing WiFi Internet access (and who could resist the opportunity to catch up with Worcester Park Blog over a relaxing pint or two).

The vision of a 'home from home' is a laudable one, although perhaps slightly incongruous with the opulent feel of the new establishment. It will be intersting to see whether the daytime trade and families more accustomed to cafes and traditional pubs will feel at home in the slightly upmarket 'evening venue' feel of the Midas Touch.

Along with 'meet' and 'drink' comes 'dine'. The menu of the Midas Touch comprises surprisingly traditional pub fare at accessible prices, although a range of more 'funky' and adventurous specials is promised. With time and an undoubted amount of 'trial and error' with various menu options, the food could well prove to be the making of the Midas Touch (and it is certainly well placed with little competition locally in this market).

What sets the Midas Touch apart is that it is unique and personal, driven by the passion of its creators and not by the edicts of a franchise or the soulless vision of pub-chain owners. The new creation is hard to define, and I suspect its uniqueness will prove either its crowning glory or Achilles heel (if you'll excuse me mixing my Greek myths).

Either way, it is an exciting new departure for Worcester Park. If its new and energetic owners can succeed in breathing new life into this old building then I'll certainly drink to that!