ONE GEM AT LEAST IN THE CITY OF LONDON

 

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London has fallen

You might deduce from this blog that that I don’t much care for that London place, and you’d be half right, you’d be half right*.

If the town itself is a 9/10, and the pubs an 8, it’s only the beer that’s a 5 and lets it all down. Each year when the Beer Guide comes out I always take the first opportunity to take the train to the City to do the new pubs.  This year, there were more new buildings than new pubs to do.

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Being a skinflint, I walked from King’s Cross to Aldgate and back, saving myself the cost of a warm pint and a half.  On every trip I find different ways to navigate the capital without a map, and the architecture always dazzles.

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8-sided hell

But the pub visits started badly.  The Phoenix is tucked away between the Bank of England and Deutsche Bank, neither of whose staff were enjoying a liquid lunch in this plain Greene King pub.  Posing tables, piped music (it was Beirut’s Rip Tide though) and undrinkable beer, including the replacement.  The IPA (£4.30 a pint) I took back drew the response “It’s probably because I hadn’t pulled any through“.

City pubs (Spoons apart) close at the weekend; this tasted like 3 day old beer. Whose job is it to check the beer is drinkable anyway ?

I needed something decent, so headed out of central London briefly to the real East End, a startling change of scenery that takes place as you walk through Petticoat Lane.

QUIZ TIME – What’s wrong with that last statement ?

Tandleman has had good things to say about the Dispensary, and rightly so.  I missed the beer fest but the One Mile End Snakecharmer washed the taste of that IPA away (NBSS 3.5).   A tight and interesting beer range, with Big Job there to catch out the unwary.

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The place itself feels like a smart casual restaurant, with chandeliers and niche ’80s music (the Passions), but I judge it on the beer.

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The walk back to Liverpool Street takes you past a few real boozers, including the corker above.  London Pride and Harvey’s Best is often all you need.

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I really should have stayed in the Dispensary. the King’s Stores,  just down the lane from Williams Ale House, was another Greene King place with duff glasses, duff seating and duff beer (NBSS 2), Bermondsey Best this time. Wild Beasts on the stereo this time, which again was the high point.

Hardly any customers either, and clearly the City folk have given up lunchtime drinking for sandwiches and flat whites now. I should have done this trip at 6pm really.

Even Fleet Street was quiet.  The Ho0p and Grapes had a handful of suits ordering paninis and pints of Whitstable Bay with CAMRA discount.  It was one of the better beers of the day (NBSS 3), and at least felt like a London pub, with proper seating and confused tourists.

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I’d be looking forward to the Holborn Whippet for a while, and the beer choice was as good as you could hope.  I’ve had better Mallinsons though (NBSS 3), but it was cellar cool, which is something for London.  Again, virtually deserted at lunchtime.

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Back to Kings Cross, via this old favourite that keeps Messrs Dickens and Pregrine company.  Two points for this one Tom.

*A point for the song reference.

 

31 thoughts on “ONE GEM AT LEAST IN THE CITY OF LONDON

  1. To add to out Baggy friend’s answer, I would also state that the real east end no longer exists. It has become too upmarket, it has lost its routes.

    Where are you getting your pint and a half for the £4.80 Underground fare? Are you saving it up for a reasonably priced northern trip or are southern prices coming down?

    Octagonal glasses should be banned. They are regularly given to the teetotal amongst us. Weatherspoons are the worst offenders.

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    1. I think you are wrong in the real East End does not exsist anymore,ive done loads of pubs in the proper East End,go down to Mile End,Bethnal Green or Hommerton and you will find a real East End with the pubs to match and not much real ale.

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      1. It’s certainly much changed, but I agree Alan. The Pride of Spitalfields just off Brick Lane and Turner’s Old Star two of dozens of good boozers in E1, many keg.

        We’ll excuse Tom this one since he comes from the gentrified part of Grimsby and doesn’t see proper working men’s pubs any more.

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      2. With hindsight, I think I have been overly harsh. The real East End is indeed contracting, the likes of Shoreditch and west end of Whitechapel are becoming gentrificated, but you are right that gems like the Pride of Spitalfields still do exist and I hope they continue to do so forever more.

        There are very good suppliers of Indian sweets in both Mile End and Bethnal Green. I’m not sure I’d find them again if I tried though.

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      3. No barfi or any other Indian sweets are available in Grimsby. Nor are proper bagels, something I’ve never sampled. There are many other products that are unavailable in this Lincolnshire shithole and many that are only available in less than perfect quality.

        Is beigel the correct spelling of bagel then, perhaps from Hebrew? I’ve looked in the OED and it isn’t in, so I’m willing to be educated on that one.

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      4. I shall enquire at the shop next time I am passing as to the spelling conundrum. It may not be for a while as I have been informed of a shop which contains barfi near to Euston, which will be more convenient for Kings Cross.

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    1. I’m quite sure that there will be a number of bus routes that have been withdrawn from East London. However, the intent is clear and the other mistake I can’t think of a defence for so I shall report to the headmaster’s office for caning.

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  2. “No, it lost it’s routes i.e. it’s routemaster buses.”

    Are you deliberately trying to annoy us pedants there?

    Incidentally, nothing from the piece emerges as a “gem” to me. Am I missing something?

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  3. As we were saying the other day Martin, I have Greene King down in the same category as Marston’s, in so far as they are both lacking in terms of real quality in both their beers and their pubs. Something needs to be done or else we risk becoming a nation of homogenous public houses which are not entirely focussed on promoting quality wet trade; presuming one’s definition of quality wet trade includes the provision of quality beers, wines and spirits.

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    1. It may not quite be the extraordinary beer of a few years ago, but Pedigree remains a distinctive and memorable beer. Plus, unlike GK, Marstons have kept open the breweries they have acquired over the years in large part.
      I’m no lover of their soul-less new build pub eateries, but I think it’s unfair to bracket Marstons alongside GK, even if I really can’t take to Banks beers.

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      1. It was Banks’s who took over Marstons brewery and then decided to rebrand most Banks’s tied houses as Marstons,so in reality it is Banks’s brewery who kept Marstons brewery open.

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    2. Two thoughts on this one and your blog post the other day. First, I think there are a lot of nice Marston’s pubs: Woolpack, Beverly and Boot, Weymouth come to mind. Nothing homogeneous there. Second, on the Pedigree, 6X and Wherry front. (I also a fan of Abbot Ale which I think may eliminate my opinions for some.) I think if these beers were dropped into the pale ale and IPA environment in the US they would stand out more. After 15 years of seeing primarily Pale Ales and IPA in our market the three beers seem unique when we drink them. Based on our last few visits to the UK you are starting to see many more Pale Ales and IPAs. I suspect these will become less exciting over time. (At a certain point, to quote Ronald Pattinson, you can only be so inventive by throwing in more hops.) In my opinion beers like Pedigree will be something people will return to after the novelty wears off on the newer brews.

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      1. Clearly I agree with you, and I’m someone who’s quite taken to the newer craft IPAs.

        There are loads of good Marston’s pubs, including the two you mention (imagine the Woolpack was an acquisition from Burtonwood). Derby and Burton has loads. You can’t judge Marston’s by their newer eateries.

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  4. Although they have sold off 300 smaller wet led pubs. Their corporate strategy is about food and the “grey market”. Not sure what GK’s strategy is, other than getting bigger.

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