Great Portland Street to Euston

05/04/2014 at 18:32 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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Dimo was back in the lead for April 2014, with a crawl along the northern edge of central London from Great Portland Street to Euston.

We met at the Green Man opposite Great Portland Street tube station, a pub I haven’t been in since 1994, and now a Taylor Walker branded venue. It is fairly large and had a few ales on offer, a couple of standards and a couple of interesting guest ales. Very tempted to try the Shoreditch Triangle IPA but at 6% that was a bit much to start a long session with so we largely went for the rugby themed Old Hooker (cue lots of hooker double entendres). It is a handy meeting point but nothing special, and was rather too full of loud people knocking back some post-work beers. The large but fairly dark interior (only the front has any windows) would be difficult to imbue with much character.

Almost next door though, the Albany – which rather modestly describes itself as ‘one of the best pubs in Great Portland Street’ – was much more bright and open, with large windows on two sides and a gastropub feel. Quite a different crowd in here too, much younger, trendy beards pretty much compulsory. Good rotating selection of ales, of which we mainly went for Windsor & Eton’s Knights of the Garter, with a couple of Doom Bars thrown in.

artichokeCrossing north now and heading away from the busy Euston Road, the next pitstop was the Queens Head & Artichoke, a smallish wood-panelled Victorian corner pub. Its pedigree is much older though, originally being a ‘ramshackle old tavern’ which was one of a number of old pubs pulled down when Regent’s Park was built, and relocated onto this site in 1811 (and later rebuilt again). Though it was small and quite busy inside, we were able to enjoy the beginning of spring at an outside table.

A few minutes walk to the east and down an unpromising-looking alley we found the Square Tavern, a Young’s pub tucked away on the ground floor of a 1970/1980s development. Although they handily stocked London Drinker magazine, the ale range was poor when we visited, there were a couple of ales off and only Eagle IPA on offer. The clientele seemed to consist largely of local office workers celebrating the end of the working week. It wasn’t too busy when we visited, but there was a large courtyard/square outside to spill into if it is busy.

A couple of minutes away on Drummond Street (north London’s best street for a curry) we came to the Crown & Anchor, very nice and well decorated with subtle pop art, and a great selection of ales on the bar;  we had a mixture of Ilkley’s Mary Jane, Woodforde’s Flagondry, George Gale’s Spring Sprinter, and Adnams’ new Mosaic Pale Ale. All of these were good but the Mosaic Pale Ale was the best beer of the night, with a beautiful aroma.

Around the corner lies the Exmouth Arms; it broke poor Dimo’s heart when he learnt that we had been here once before, on a crawl which predates this website and isn’t fully recorded! This is a traditional pub with friendly bar staff, fairly quiet by the time we arrived, and we whiled away our time losing money on the quiz machine.

breeThe final (and longest) stop of the evening was the Bree Louise, a well known and well respected pub which not only has several good ales on draught, but also several racked in casks for ultimate quality. The wooden cask 6X wasn’t a hit, but the others were great, and the landlord (ex Harlequins player Craig Douglas) was very chatty and joined us for a pint. We stayed here for a second final round, and before we left were kindly given some free beer to take away from Brains’s experimental craft brewery.

The final business of the evening (apart from grabbing a burger in the station and catching the last tube!) was voting for the Pub of the Crawl. There was a close vote but in the end the wonderful Bree Louise took the honour, congratulations!

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Euston to King’s Cross

28/04/2013 at 11:41 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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It was Tim’s turn to take the lead for the April 2013 crawl, heading back to the railway terminal-dominated areas of Euston, Somers Town, St Pancras and King’s Cross areas.

As ever, we met at a station-handy first pub (although all pubs in this area are pretty station-handy) in the form of the Euston Tap, which is housed within a Grade II listed Portland stone lodge at the entrance to the station from Euston Road, a rare surviving relic of the original Euston station. It is a small, square building, most of the ground floor of which is taken up with the bar and its incredible range of craft beers. There’s a huge selection of craft keg beers, many imported from America, but also about eight cask ale taps offering an interesting selection of ales. We stuck with the session beers given the long night ahead, with most going for the Burton SPA, while I plumped for Fyne Jarl. None of us were disappointed with the beers, they were in tip-top condition, as you’d expect here, and we joined the crowds standing outside while we enjoyed this first drink.

Next up, the Royal George, just across from the station’s eastern entrance on Eversholt Street. It is a fairly standard pub now operating under the Taylor Walker brand; pretty decent and there were some interesting ales on when we were there, we had a mixture of Brit Hop and Spring Sprinter, the current seasonal offerings from Fuller’s.

An interesting walk north now along Eversholt Street to the Prince Arthur, taking care not to head into the wrong premises by mistake along the way. It’s a largish locals’ pub and was doing a fair trade without being too busy on a Friday night. My Landlord was fine although one or two others weren’t so keen on their guest ale.

Leaving the Prince Arthur we turned east into the heart of Somers Town and to the Somers Town Coffee House, which as you can probably guess is rather less a coffee house and more a pub.  And a very nice one it seems to be, too. It’s surprisingly large, and was lively without being too busy, and a decent selection of ales, although I can’t remember what any of them were at this point!

Back down to the Euston Road after this, and across to the Euston Flyer. It’s OK on paper, decent selection of beers to be had, but the premises entail a large modern rectangular box, so there’s not much character to the place, and by the time we were there it was somewhat bereft of atmosphere.

IMG_6529Never mind, onward an upward, and back across the Euston Road and into St Pancras, by way of the new hotel entrance (which the Spice Girls famously danced through in the video of their breakthrough single Wannabe). We passed through the beautiful lobby area of the hotel and turned right, through the lovely bar which was doing a lively trade. We carried on out to the station concourse, past John Betjeman’s statue, to the Betjeman Arms, tucked into the corner of the station. Excellent ales as ever, I went for the Redemption Trinity, a fantastic session beer at 3%, and we sat outside admiring the station’s vast train shed and watched a Eurostar arrive from the continent.

To round off the evening, a final station pub, the Parcel Yard, a new Fullers pub which opened with the new King’s Cross station concourse in 2012. It is fairly well concealed, accessed from the northern end of the concourse by way of an escalator, and looks small. But walking through it is amazing how far the place goes on, with a narrowish but very long interior split into many smaller spaces, and an upstairs area too. There was a range of ales on offer, with some seasonal offerings available alongside the regular Fullers fare. All in all a very good new station pub, and worth missing your train for!

New pub review: the Euston Tap

18/06/2011 at 14:57 | Posted in pub reviews | Leave a comment
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Close to the long-standing and excellent Bree Louise (which is also highly recommended), the Euston Tap opened in 2011 in one of the listed gatehouses of Euston station, one of the very last remnants of the old station which was shamefully demolished in the 1960s.

So what about the pub? Well it is pretty small, as you can imagine, but not quite as small as you might expect, with an upstairs room inside and a seating area outside, fortunately on the other side of the building from the busy Euston Road.

The beer selection is outstanding. It is the only pub I know of in London with a huge American craft pub-style tap wall, serving 20 keg beers. Don’t let the keg reference put you off though, as they are all craft beers of great diversity. But there are also eight real ales on at any time, despite the lack of handpumps visible on the bar; they are served by taps at the bottom of the main bar.
The beer range doesn’t stop there though, as either side of the bar are large drudges containing an array of bottled beers from all over the world, including small local London brewers.

All in all, highly recommended.

To see what’s going on at the pub and what beers are on, you can check their Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/#!/eustontap
For more reviews of new pubs, see my New Pubs page

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