Pubpaper 801 – The Streets (and Pubs) of London

Posted: 28th March 2015 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

Last week I had the pleasure of spending 3 nights in London, giving me plenty of time to explore the city and its pubs.  A few points for the uninitiated, you very quickly get used to the fact when you order a pint of a decent ale or beer, you will get very little change from a fiver, if that covers it at all.  It is however very easy to find a decent beer by the sheer number of pubs.  The second thing you realise is the point of an integrated mass public transport system.  I was staying out in Welling, about 11 miles outside of the heart of London, to get there or back, it takes at least 2 trains and a bus, followed by a short walk.  This takes about an hour, tube trains are every 3-4 minutes and buses every 10 minutes.  Imagine this is Calderdale, you’d be waiting for an eternity for connections, and the Oyster Card is a godsend if you ever visit for more than a couple of days.

The size of the centre of London seems quite daunting initially, but you soon get used to it and learn rough bearings to most areas, both on foot and by tube.  It makes for an interest nights drinking, the varied scenery being a big bonus after dark.  The first night I did a pub walk via Parliament Square, Soho, Covent Garden, Embankment and London Eye.  The second ended up being a pub crawl back in Soho, with the third night involving some very good food and drink in the Tower Bridge area.

deanswiftStarting with the last night, me and my host went to the Dean Swift, a craft beer bar on a side street off the river.  The beers were excellent, with a good selection from our local breweries such Summer Wine and Magic Rock and nice collection from the capitals many breweries.  The food was as good, with the jerk chicken being as good a meal as I had in the city.  The service was excellent and I’d not hesitate to recommend you visit if you are ever down there, with beers typically between £4.50 and £6 for a good real ale and craft beer.  The walk back to London Bridge station along the river gave amazing views past Tower Bridge and onto the distinctive office buildings which are dominate the skyline.

The_clarence_pub_london_may2005The first night, I started my night with a pint of Camden Hell at the Clarence just off Trafalgar Square (part of the 35 strong Geronimo Chain in the Capital).  The ale selection was also good with 4 pumps, with some solid local brews as well as a number of respectable craft keg taps.   The bar is your typical modern pub, stripped wood, but it has kept the original dark marbled frontage from 150 years ago.  The food offerings looked good as well, but my dinner that night was at a Lebanese restaurant down near St Martins in the Field where the national beer which came with the meal being pleasant but not very interesting.

dog-duck-pub-soho-london-photosThe second bar was the Dog and Duck in Soho.  I returned to this pub for dinner and a number of drinks the following night to meet up with the friend who I was staying with.  This is part of the Nicholsons chain who have 45 pubs in London (and operate 3 pubs in Leeds including the Scarborough Hotel near the station).   The first night, the beer was very average there, with the My Generation Session Pale Ale, not really standing out.  The second night there I moved onto their craft beer range and had some nice beers, although my drinking colleagues were on the real ales and seemed to have no problems with their beers.  The Ultimate Chicken Burger also hit the spot nicely for dinner, with the rest of the menu typical chain pub fare. Beers were £4.50 to £5.00 similar to the Clarence.

phot499On the way back to hotel at Old Country Hall I popped into Gordons Wine Bar (the oldest in London) on the embankment on recommendation of Hugh at Cross Keys, the inside of the bar is small, but the drinking space entirely honed out of low rounded vaults.  The wine is not cheap starting at about £6 per glass and going up to silly money.  Sadly the inside was full, so I enjoyed a glass of the “house red” on their long outside terrace area.  I’m no expert but if you enjoy your wine, sherry or madeiras , the range on offer would more than keep you happy.

The second21156640 night started at the aforementioned Dog and Duck before taking a diversion into O’Neills, the craft beer I had doing the job, before finding ourselves in Crobar.  This pub really takes it rock and metal seriously and I loved the place, the beer was a mix of decent session ales and a range of mainstream and craft beers, with slightly more reasonable prices than other pubs I visited.  A totally different atmosphere, but friendly never the less, and one I’d recommend if that is your thing.

Back to good old Calderdale next week, but for now Happy Supping..