“ Address: 18-20 St Annes Road / West Lytham / FY8 1RF / Tel: +44 01253 712515 „
Though not within sight of the beach, the Sandhills is certainly within sniffing distance of the sea front. It's located in St Annes Square, down towards B&M bargains though on the other side of the road. It's a Smith and Jones pub which means it has a generic chain pub menu, but also means it falls within the Tesco Clubcard Deals offer which is why we decided to go for lunch. It's not the first time we've been, but it's been a while and the place is fairly unmemorable so previous trips weren't fresh in my mind. Still, for a free-ish meal, we thought it was worth another shot.
The Sandhills seems to have all sorts of things going on at once. We went about noon on a Saturday and there were people there drinking coffee and reading the free papers or taking advantage of the free wifi, others drinking pints and watching the football which plays silently on wall mounted TVs around the place, and yet others stopping by for a light lunch as we were. The place looks comfortable and friendly as you walk in, with a mixture of seating including booths, half-booths, sofas and low tables, stools and high tables, and regular dining tables and chairs. We chose to sit by the window where it was a bit lighter than further in. The seaside can be nice in winter as long as it's a bright sunny day with clear blue skies, and since it was one of those we decided to take advantage of it with a window seat.
The menu is typical pub grub. There are sandwiches and jacket potatoes and burgers, all with different toppings / fillings. There are a number of pies served with chips and peas, and other things like pasta, scampi, faggots (ick), gammon and steak. They also had starters and lighter bites, like nachos and chip bowls. They offer two children's menus, one for under 5s, and one for under 10s. These include a drink, main course and pudding, and an activity pack, and are £2.49 / £3.49 respectively.
The prices are reasonable anyway, but their two-for-£5.99 offer seems especially good value as it includes a nice selection of dishes (with more than one vegetarian option). Because we were using vouchers, we couldn't take advantage of the offer, and ended up ordering dishes that didn't come under it. We had one cherry tomato, red onion and mushroom melt, and a mushroom and spinach pasty. My main comment about the menu would be that although there are a few vegetarian options, almost all of them feature mushrooms which are not my favourite thing. Out dishes were just under £5 each, so I didn't get the few pence change from my £10 voucher, but I knew to expect that. While I was at the bar I also ordered our drinks - including a fancy blackberry concoction from their non alcoholic mocktails menu. The drinks seemed reasonably priced and much better than at a local restaurant we went to a few weeks ago, but I also noticed that they didn't have everything listed on the menu and although they advertised Costa Coffee, they didn't say what kinds or how much they cost.
One of the bar staff came over bringing us cutlery, condiments and sauces, and the food arrived shortly afterwards. It was simply presented but looked nice and was lovely and hot. I had the melt and it didn't include as much cheese as I had expected (the word "smothered" made me think it would be a massive mound dripping down both sides of the baguette). Still, it had plenty on, and the mushrooms were massive and all on the top so easy to pick off and deposit on my mother's plate. Her pasty was large and round and very tasty - an interesting mix of ingredients (it included hazelnuts where pine nuts would have perhaps been more usual) and well spiced.
I went back to the bar to order our puddings. The desserts menu is not massive at just 4 items, but the thing that jumped out at me was the description of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups. These are small rounded cookie 'dishes', with ice cream in top, finished off with crumbled flake and toffee sauce. Because we had another voucher to use we ordered two of these and a fudge cake to share. I had £15 of vouchers as the new Tesco offer is 3 times the value, with a minimum £5 -> £15 redemption. These are generic tokens that can be used in most of the bars and restaurants in the offer. The second voucher confused the bar staff as it was for £5 and the till only accepted £10 or £2.50 vouchers...and apparently she couldn't put it through as two £2.50s as then there would be only one voucher in the envelope, not two. It all seemed a bit odd, but she took it without argument, just with a confused frown on her face.
While we waited for the desserts, the loos were investigated. These are upstairs, but a disabled cubicle is also available on the ground floor. The ladies was rather dark, depressing and ugly, with brown tiles like bricks, plaster damaged in some places and rather peculiar adverts for their food on the back of the doors - I'm not sure I'd want to pick a dish to eat while sitting on the bog.
Back downstairs, the puddings appeared but only one cookie cup was delivered. Even though we'd not been given a receipt, I knew she'd keyed in an order for 2 due to the price of the bill, so we raised this as an issue. She disappeared and came back eventually (a longer wait than between the initial ordering and wrong delivery). Unfortunately by this point the fudge cake wasn't warm. You could tell it had been because the ice cream had melted into it, but it must have cooled while its sister dessert was prepared. The cake was still nice, it would just have been nicer with the frosting oozing into a sticky mess. The cookie cups were a bit of a let down. The ice cream, flake and sauce were nice, but the cookies were rock hard and too thick: we could barely break into them with a spoon and fork. Again, the menu said they should have been served warm, but they weren't even tepid. Desserts are well priced at £2.99 for apple pie, £3.19 for the fudge cake and £1 for each cookie cup, which worked out well with our voucher.
In the end we paid just £2.18 for the meal and one drink (I was on water), on top of the £15 vouchers. We probably wouldn't have bothered with puddings if we'd been paying, and I don't think £5 each is bad for a hot main course, as the portions are generous and the food tasty. It's the sort of place where you could sit all day, should you wish, and some people seemed to be taking advantage of that fact. Despite its town centre location, it's clearly a place with regulars. As I ordered the food, the man in front of me was asked by the girl on the bar whether he'd been away, as she'd not seen him in a week. Other people were greeting each other on entering, and the average age of the clientele seemed to be about 65 which is typical for this town...
In the evenings it's more of a drinking place, with various offers on including buy two glasses get the rest of the bottle of wine free, and multi-buys on mini shots (½ shot of something mixed with ½ shot something else). It's not the kind of place I would have come when I was at school here (before or after I was legally old enough to drink), and I expect it attracts a middle aged crowd, looking for a drink and some laughs but not too boisterous a night.
I've not lived in St Annes for 10 years and with no plans to move back, I'm unlikely to be joining the ranks of the regulars. That said, if you are looking for somewhere to spend Tesco vouchers, I would recommend this Smith and Jones pub. The place was clean and comfy, and the atmosphere nice. The staff were helpful enough without being outstanding. It loses a few marks for the pudding palaver, but otherwise it sounds like my experience was better than that of the other reviewer to post on here
18-20 St Annes Road West
Lytham St Annes
Sunday - Thursday 10.00am - 23.00pm
Friday - Saturday 10.00am - late
The Sandhills pub, 18-20 St Annes Rd West (more commonly known as St Annes Square) opened in January 2008, it is part of the Smith & Jones Chain. As is the case with any new pub, it was extremely busy and was for a short time 'the place to be seen' in St Annes on a Friday/Saturday night.
It has become much quieter of late, although I think most pubs have seen a downturn in business in the last few months.
The lay out is pretty good. As you enter through the front doors there are seating areas to the left and right, you can watch the world pass by whilst enjoying a quiet drink.
There are high tables and seats opposite the bar in the central area, it doesn't get too crowed and there is plenty of room to manoeuvre. Towards the rear it there is yet more seating, diners generally use this area during the day. There are three or four flat screen tv's showing Sky Sports/News.
The small covered smoking area can be accessed via a fire door at the end of the bar. There area couple of tables and chairs but hardly luxurious - being an ex smoker, I still look out for these features! Normally so I can avoid them!! Or the visuals after a few pints :-(
Both sets of toilets are upstairs.
Drinks are competitively priced, although cannot compete with Wetherspoons round the corner! There is also a varied menu (more later) with various special offers. At the moment the pub is offering two for one Sunday lunches.
There are signs stating that children are welcome when dining but must leave the premises by 7pm.
In my experience, this is a bit hit and miss. I have been in during the day and there are children in prams with parents who have obviously had a few too many and there has been little evidence of food!
When it first opened, I had no complaints. Although busy, it wasn't too difficult to get served at the bar. The staff were polite and friendly and the food above average for the usual bar snacks. Unfortunately things have taken a turn for the worse.
We visited on Mothers Day at around 6pm. When I asked at the bar for a children's menu, I was told I had better get a move on as we had to be out by 7. The barman was not at all polite and very matter of fact. I didn't much fancy staying after that so didn't bother ordering.
As I left the bar I heard the barman say to his colleague 'that's one down, one to go' nodding towards another family sitting in the corner!
Unfortunately, Tesco then added Smith & Jones pubs to their Clubcard Reward Scheme. £2.50 in club card points = £10.00 to be used when dining. Hoping that my last visit was a one off, we converted our pints to vouchers, I think we has £30 in total.
A couple of weeks later we decided to try Sunday lunch.
My partner is a vegetarian, so I said I would enquire as to Veggie option. The barman shouted over to the chef who was standing at the end of the bar 'vegetarian Sunday lunch - we don't do one do we'? And they didn't!
Back to the table I went. On the menu was an all day breakfast. There was not a veggie all day breakfast but they did serve one up until 11am (ish form memory).
I came up with what I thought was a sensible idea - ask if it's possible to have a veggie breakfast and pay the extra £2+, the price of the regular all day breakfast.
The bar had become quite busy, so I tried to catch the attention of a member of staff to enquire. My polite 'excuse me' resulted in a finger being waved in my face and the bar man disappearing through a door at the edge of the the bar!
To cut a long story short - I was told in no uncertain terms that a veggie all day breakfast could not be served as there wasn't one on the menu. When I pointed out that there was, I was told the menu was out of date and they should not have been put on the tables.
Our final attempt to use our vouchers was about three weeks later. The bar was absolutely heaving. It wasn't particularly busy, the pub was pretty empty. It was the general lack of bar staff that caused the problem. Whilst waiting ten minutes at the bar, I was to learn that it was 'Steve's fault as he was pi***d up in town'.
The bar maid then left to phone Steve as he would probably answer her call and not the managers (I'm pretty sure he used to work in The Litten Tree in Blackpool town centre - so in theory should be able to cope with a busy pub!).
I eventually ordered drinks and food for myself, partner and son. When our meal arrived I realised that my son did not have his drink (part of a meal deal) so once again braved the bar! I was suspiciously asked who had served me. Would I really queue for another 5 minutes for the chance of a free lemonade?!
My mixed grill was appalling, I had asked for it to be cooked medium rare and it looked as if it had been left on a bbq overnight! It was inedible.
When the 'manager' cleared out plates, he looked at my barely touched plate and said to my son 'at least you have been a good boy and eaten yours'!
No query as to why I had not eaten it.
In any other situation I would have complained, in here there seemed little point. The staff are over stretched and really don't seem to care about what they are doing or about the customer service they provide.
They really need to get their act together, what once was a pleasant eating experience has turned into an inedible shambles.
We will use our vouchers more wisely next time!