The Keys (once The Cross Keys) has been a fixture of Hoyland life for a good few generations. But, like so many other pubs in Yorkshire, it fell upon hard times and for a while was boarded up and looked almost ready for demolition. But those days are now behind it and, re-vamped and re-named The Keys, it is mercifully once again open and doing rather well.
There’s a nice welcoming log fire on chillier evenings, and the whole place has been given a complete overhaul which yells “style” at the top of its voice. The wine list is sensible, the real ales are plentiful (there was Double Top, Wentworth and Mucky Duck when I popped in) and a discount for CAMRA members.
The food comes from a solid little menu which shows an enviable combination of invention and tradition. And (clever touch this) there’s a Ladies Who Lunch menu and a Diner’s Club.
The staff behind the bar also know their stuff when they pull a pint. “And I’m still learning,” one of them admitted.
What The Keys could do with a little more of is character, one which doesn’t require the lanterns to be bang in the middle of the tables or the books on the mantelpiece to lean at precise angles. Even the logs for the fire look as if they have been stacked by a pernickety Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen.
What it all cries out for is a softening touch. Maybe a few bunches of flowers inside and some hanging baskets. With that it will be job done because the Keys wins on so many other levels.
The Keys, Sheffield Road, Hoyland Common, S74 0PY. 01226 824437, thekeyshoyland.co.uk
DRINKS SELECTION 5/5