Fleet Street

29/09/2013 at 23:05 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In September 2013 we returned to the Fleet Street area, visited previously but with so many good pubs well worth a second explore.

We met at the Devereux Arms, in an alleyway just outside the gates of the Middle Temple, a small legal enclave which is well worth an explore (though beware, most of the gates to it – indeed most of these pubs too – are closed at weekends). It is a Taylor Walker branded pub with a few beers on, including Wainright which was good, but a pint of Martsons EPA was off and had to be replaced. (Had to send my pint back last time I was there too, so the beer isn’t kept in the same standards as the nearby excellent Edgar Wallace.)

Once we were all present, if not quite correct, we made for the second port of call, the Old White Horse tucked into a small street behind the LSE (London School of Economics). This was busier than the first, with the street outside trebling the capacity of the pub and providing ample standing space for the young crowd – fortunately we didn’t have the customary rain this time. The pub itself is fairly small and traditional, with the high ceilings and red colour scheme giving it a Victorian feel. The beers were interesting, with Holt’s Two Hoots and LW Lees’s Bitter amongst more common ales such as Landlord, and all slipped down very nicely.

We next went past the Old Curiosity Shop – reputedly the inspiration for the 1841 Charles Dickens novel of the same name and long the southern side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and the home of the Hunterian Museum, which is within the Royal College of Surgeons and well worth a visit (and it’s free). Passing the entrance to Lincoln’s Inn, we headed to the wonderful Seven Stars. (If you’re doing this on a weekday you can cut through the Inn and exit onto Carey Street, but it’s closed at night and weekends).

Seven StarsThe Seven Stars is a wonderful old pub, opened in 1602. So wonderful in fact that this visit gave it the unique distinction of being the only pub visited on these crawls three times (albeit only one person was on all three crawls!) Sadly since we last visited, the gorgeous pub cat Thomas Paine has passed away, although apparently he has a replacement (although we didn’t see him on this visit). Four ales were on offer, and we split between Truman’s Runner and Sambrooks Wandle.

The next stop was the Castle, which was originally established even earlier than the Seven Stars (in 1541) but was rebuilt into its current form in 1901. It is a smallish corner pub typical of the era, and being tucked away in an office area largely caters for the local workers. It is part of the Redcar pub estate and as such has a great range of beers; we largely went for the Umbel Ale, Everards Beacon ale and Oxfordshire’s Harvest Moon.

Exiting the Castle, we passed by the Jewish Chronicle (the last surviving newspaper in this area which until the 1980s was the beating heart of the industry) and down across Fleet Street itself into Whitefriars Street, and the Coach & Horses. This pub looked fairly bare on arrival, high ceilings making it feel large and a deficit of other customers by the time we arrived. Nevertheless, the welcome was friendly, the snacks were good, and while the beer range was fairly small in comparison to some places, it more than made up for it in quality. The Redemption Hopspur went down beautifully I’m told, as as for my Moor Hop – wow, delicious, best beer I’ve drunk in quite a while.

The shortest walk of the evening brought us a few doors downhill to the Harrow. This is a Fullers pub with an upmarket feel, and when we visited it was a lot busier than the Coach & Horses up the road, giving it a much livelier atmosphere. The beer here was excellent too; on Artie’s recommendation I tried the Fuller’s autumn beer Red Fox and it was delicious.

HoopGrapesThe next stop was due to be the St Brides Tavern but we’d missed last orders, so headed a little way north to the Hoop & Grapes, which we knew was open late. This has a fairly small frontage onto Farringdon Street but extends quite a way back, and has a small beer garden out back, and another bar upstairs with an outdoor terrace, which is where we retreated with our beers, including a nice autumn ale from Shepherd Neame, Queen Court harvest ale.

Finally on to the business of the Pub of the Crawl. There were a few good candidates but Artie nominated the Castle for its range of beers and friendly staff and I can’t disagree!

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