King’s Cross Revisited

23/06/2014 at 21:57 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a sunny June evening during the World Cup 2014 Paul’s second crawl in as many months was a welcome reworking of his previous uncharted original crawl circa 2009-10, not previously recorded on our website and, according to Paul, a sort of reversal of the previous order.

We met in the Lincoln Lounge, formerly called the Lincoln Arms from its ironwork, and most, if not all of us, started off with Green King IPA. By the looks of it the building it had survived whilst the rest of York Way had been modernized but not without a name change. The pavement we chose to stand in close to the mainline station was crowded and in sunshine. By the time we left the pub England were out of the World Cup and out was time to forget the why and wherefore and negotiate the streets of this cluttered station hinterland.

image 3Next up the King Charles I was a small pub slightly hidden from the hustle-bustle on a side street and adorned with masks and deer parts. Paul recalls criticism of this boozer on the last tour but the feedback was much better this time, especially when our guide suddenly dropped four empties on the pavement and the bar manager seemed grateful that we had owned up to it and surprised that we hadn’t done a runner! The glasses had contained our choices of Clarence and Frederick s IPA and their rather interesting “strong mild”, again everyone was outside enjoying the summer weather albeit punctuated by the sound of breaking glass.

image 2And after that rather shattering experience the next choice – Millers on Caledonian Road – was more of a High Street affair serving a full range of trendy lagers and we had to settle for the nowadays-slightly-disappointing IPA/Doom Bar widely available standard. This a convenient pub very close to the entrance/exit of KX and the plethora of cheap eateries on a busy corner site.  Instant initial appeal but for sure aiming at the lower end of market. It was no surprise then that a cheap eatery was in fact the next, er, pit stop – a Burrito joint and a huge break with tradition, which when down exceptionally well, washed down with Coronas. Paul had dug deep into his pile of fantastic Groupon deals, and there was no need to late grab station food in a mad panic this time around!

On Leeke Street the next bar was a real (hard to) find classic – Smithy’s – technically a wine bar but serving a couple of real ales in an industrial-feeling setting. We stood outside, next to the railway bridge alongside the cut which forms the first ever section of the underground from Liverpool Street to Paddington. The Portobello Pale pump was hiding in the corner but not to be missed, beautifully sharp ale packed with flavour, some others were on the Caledonian Road to Rio a “seasonal” choice.

Wacky shop sign

Wall of fame at the Queen’s Head

We passed by the Water Rats and the Lucas Arms to find the Queen’s Head next – team choices were either the Arbor Triple Hop or the resident Trinity Redemption.  This is a classic pub with a classic pub interior; including an upright piano, hop flowers on the ceiling, beer badges on the wall etc. Our thoughts turned to Tony who had planned his own crawl on this night only to fail a late fitness test!

Final stop of the night was The Boot mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, a well laid out pub with a pool table and locals singing along to rock classics, there were two football real ale choices, neither of them memorable, except for reminding us of the plight of the country’s soccer team.  Not a bad pub at all to end the night, hidden away from the main streets again yet precariously close to the station.

Dickens recalls (1840) “This Boot was a lone house of public entertainment, situated in the fields at the back of the Foundling Hospital; a very solitary spot at that period, and quite deserted after dark. The tavern stood at some distance from any high road, and was approachable only by a dark and narrow lane; so that Hugh was much surprised to find several people drinking there, and great merriment going on.”

Dimo recalls (2014) “a special mention should go to those 3 minutes of euphoria upon entering The Boot and hearing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer and then beltering out the chorus”

We walked back to the ever sprawling station which is becoming ever popular and well known internationally; so this crawl serves as a reminder that there is no need to stay in the terminal lounges if you want to sample proper ales in real local London.

The pub of the crawl was voted as The Queen’s Head.


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