Contrary to what you might think, I’ve nothing against London. It’s one of the top ten cities in the South, with a musical heritage stretching from Adam Ant to Gary Glitter. Music drew me there on a super off-peak slow train on Sunday; a rare one-off gig by alt-country legend William Tyler and a very rare trip to Shepherd’s Bush.
No new pubs in W12, where nothing changes except real ale (arguably) tipping up in an unexpected place. QUIZ TIME – WHERE ?
But three new pubs close to underground stations on the Northern and Central Lines, a real bonus in the drizzle.
Using the loosest definition of “pubs”, anyway.
The Brewhouse & Kitchen model works perfectly at Angel, bringing in the overseas tourists with that classic combination of high tables, comfort food and shiny brew kettles. In fairness, the Les 3 Brasseurs chain impressed us in Calais with similar designs and prices, and looks a cheery place to meet your friends, which is their tagline. I don’t have any friends, apart from Mrs RM, so the concept doesn’t work for me.
In Sutton Coldfield recently the beer was dull-homebrew; here the Chaplin IPA was exceptional home-brew. The nice lady told me it was their fastest selling beer, which at 6% was a little hard to believe, but I always take the advice of the bar staff. By the way, the picture was taken after top-up.
Even at £4.55 (two pints of Prospect in Wigan), I rated this highly (NBSS 3.5), but it went down much too fast.
So this was what the Old Red Lion looked as I raced up Kennington Park Road in search of a comfort break. Sometimes dodgy camera work gets the desired effect.
Not many Beer Guide pubs in this tightly populated and much visited bit of Lambeth, but here you get two side-by-side.
QUIZ TIME – NAME TWO OTHER INSTANCES OF SIDE-BY-SIDE GBG PUBS
I really ought to revisit Cathy Price’s book of Red Lions, to see what she made of this place. On nearly every level it ought to beat the Oakham Thai-fusion gastropub next door. This Lion has an inviting Charrington exterior, mock Tudor stylings, Toby windows (top), Volden beer from Croydon, and good cheer.
Obviously I hated it for what will seem incomprehensible reasons that won’t be apparent from these pictures. Reasons like;
- Staff not knowing what beers were on, or how much they were.
- Dull beer not bad enough to take back (NBSS 2.5).
- Beer served in mugs automatically (locals seemed to be offered straights).
- A doll’s house.
- Dogs running around freely barking.
- All the customers cut from the same 25-35 mould.
- Mulled wine. In November.
- “Harvest for the world“. And not the Isley Brothers version.
- Hilariously fake toilet graffiti that looked like it had been provided by Antic.
- Did I mention the doll’s house.
On the way out I tripped over a tennis ball someone had just thrown at the bar for their dog to fetch. I expect more of South Londoners.
Sanity was restored in North Acton, a few yards from where Mrs RM spent a dangerous year of her UCL degree. She moved to East Ham after that, which says a lot.
The Castle is the only GBG for miles, and in a little pocket of new housing and hotels it feels a long way from Acton proper.
It’s so close to Chiswick you really have to see if the Pride is drinking well.
So I went for the Weird Beard, and it was the right choice (NBSS 4) Not being beer-literate, I’d always assumed Weird Beard came from Michigan, rather than Ealing. Despite some predictable craft stylings and an emphasis on food, I couldn’t fault the Castle, and stayed for an excellent, simply-presented burger.
William Tyler’s instrumental set was a quirky joy. I particularly liked the bassist’s hat.
A pleasingly straightforward beer selection at the ornate but tiny Bush Hall; bottles of Moncada’s Notting Hill Amber and Pale your lot. You know what I think of bottles.