The Monkey Puzzle in Farnborough is the latest competition contender
The return of the tree that gives the pub its name has been met with approval by patrons of the Monkey Puzzle in Farnborough.
A monkey puzzle tree that once stood in the garden gave the Ively Road pub its name decades ago, but was removed around nine years ago as it was deemed to be poisonous. However, a month ago, a fresh, new tree was planted in the same spot in the garden.
“I had to save hard for that bad boy,” said manager Kate Hayden.
“People were unhappy that the last tree had to be removed, but we told them it wasn’t our fault.
“Everyone loves it now, and I planted it in the exact same spot as the last one, which I thought was important.”
Before the days of its tree fame, the pub site was a pig farm and then a plant centre. When it did become a pub, a 13-year-old Miss Hayden took on a Saturday job at the bar which started a career path that would see her return as manager five years ago.
“When I cam back, people recognised me from when I was a kid,” she said. “I think that’s why I get on well here. We like to know the names of people.”
By popular demand, the number of ales offered at the pub has been increased to three. London Pride is a permanent fixture at the bar, accompanied by two guest ales, which are currently Boondoggle and Marston’s EPA. There are also pitchers of cocktails or Pimm’s to drink in the sun.
A jam-packed schedule of regular events is boasted by the Monkey Puzzle, with a quiz night with a cash prize on Tuesdays and themed food night throughout the week, including Chinese night, curry night, chicken on a Saturday and a Sunday carvery. A new Italian night will also be introduced, starting on September 24, which takes the form of an all-you-can-eat buffet.
To add to this, a brand new menu is set to be launched on September 17, which Miss Hayden said would offer classic dishes with a twist.
However, there is one meal that has not been updated, having remained on the menu for 20 years. The Smothered Chicken dish – a whole breast covered in bacon, melted cheese and barbecue sauce – is one that customers are fiercely loyal to.
“Every time we do a new menu launch it’s the one dish people say not to touch,” said Miss Hayden.
It is also in the pub’s two for £10 list, adding to its popularity.
A breakfast buffet is also available every morning from 6.30am.
Given its location close to Farnborough Airport, it has been known for the pub to serve its popular meals to visitors flying in or out of the town in the early hours of the morning. It is also a regular party venue for staff at nearby businesses.
Miss Hayden said: “We’ve done birthday parties, big weddings and all sorts here. I haven’t done a bar mitzvah yet, but I’m waiting.”
Regular charity events in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London are held at the pub as well as OAP days in which staff at the pub and children from nearby schools entertain and sing for elderly guests.
Miss Hayden has focused on providing a family atmosphere, and a bouncy castle is available all summer along with two play areas for children all year round.
“As far as I’m concerned this is my living room and I invite people in to enjoy a safe and family-orientated atmosphere,” she said.