14/12/2014 at 21:47 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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At the end of November 2014, Tim took us back to Bloomsbury for a pub crawl towards King’s Cross.

For the first time (I think) we met not in a pub but in a hotel bar, Bloomsbury being the heart of London’s hotel district. But the Tav Bar was a decent meeting point, easy to find (on Tavistock Square) and not at all crowded in the peak Friday evening time slot, so handy to nip to the bar as people arrived. The bar – turn right on entering the Tavistock Hotel – was actually built around 1950, but is in the Art Deco style, feeling very 1930s, as if Poirot might walk in at any moment. If he did he’d probably find a better selection of beer than he would have in that era, with London Pride, Courage Best and Young’s Winter Warmer on offer when we were there.

The next pub of the evening was one I’ve been past many times and never been tempted into, the London Pub. As if the name wasn’t clue enough, it sits on a busy road beneath a mammoth hotel and looks for all the world like a tourist trap. But to be fair, once inside it really did feel like a normal central London pub – busy, and yes plenty of tourists in there, but a fair few local workers too. The beer selection was the same as at the Tav, as both premises are managed by the same company, and we went out the back to drink them, where the pub’s terrace sits within a surprisingly large courtyard belonging to the hotel, where you can watch the hotel’s comings and goings out of earshot of the traffic on the other side of the pub.

PKS Architects

Image: PKS Architects

On the way to the next venue we paused to admire the former Daimler Hire garage in Herbrand Street, a classic Art Deco building from 1931. This was used as a base for Daimlers for hire, a business later bought out by Hertz, and included a ramp within the building to get cars up to its upper levels; urban legend has it that it is the inspiration for the Fisher Price car park! It has now been tastefully converted to offices, but with the ramp still clearly visible to the right.

Soon we came to the Marquis Cornwallis, a large and rather lovely corner pub on Marchmont Street with a gastro vibe. Some more interesting ales were on offer here, and we mainly went for the Exmoor Ale and Sharp’s Atlantic.

Passing by the blue plaque marking an early home of Kenneth Williams a few doors along, we headed next for the Lord John Russell, a smallish and busy pub with a few good ales on, the pick of which was Truman’s Gold. We sat at a table outside the pub in the small alleyway to the side, where a surprisingly vociferous debate raged as to whether this counts as a mews pub. For the sake of the peace I’ll sit on the fence on this one!

Next up, we headed past Kenneth Williams’s childhood home to McGlynn’s, a backstreet pub close to King’s Cross we’ve called at before, where the usual Courage Best was joined by New World from Fuller’s, which I’d seen in keg form before but not cask; very nice it was too.

Skinners ArmsThe penultimate stop was the Skinners Arms, a bustling corner pub close to the Euston Road. A very good range of ales was on offer here, with us mainly going for the Moor So’Hop and King’s Brewery’s seasonal Red River, which washed down a large pile of crisps, nuts and pork scratchings.

The final stop was a surprise, being the O’Neill’s opposite St Pancras station. It was a bit too rammed but was open suitably late (last orders being called elsewhere by now) and actually had some proper ales on in the form of Rev James, London Pride and Doom Bar.

Once we could hear ourselves think, it was time for the Pub of the Crawl vote. After last month’s three-way tie, there was a clear winner tonight by 7 votes to 1; the Skinners Arms. Congratulations!


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