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