Marylebone and Maida Vale

17/08/2013 at 13:46 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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We returned to the Marylebone area in August 2013, for a crawl by Rich along the north-western periphery of zone 1.

Close to Baker Street station, we assembled at the Volunteer, a few doors up from the Sherlock Holmes museum and within sight of Regent’s Park. The pub has been refurbished and now sells itself as a speciality beer pub, although of the promised four cask ales, only two were on offer. Although a black IPA was unusual and tempting, for the start of a long evening we plumped for the slightly lower strength Doom Bar. Not sure whether the beer has changed or it’s something about this pub, but it felt quite heavy and I wasn’t overly impressed with it.

Anyway, moving on now to the Swan & Edgar, a very small backstreet pub towards Marylebone station. Although small, it has huge potential to be a wonderful little pub, but sadly it was let down by its beer range, if you can call it that, of just Becks Vier or Asahi. Seriously, that was it, without even any bottled beers. What a shame, give me the keys to the place and I’d turn it into London’s finest micropub.

Leaving the Swan & Edgar, we walked down Balcombe Street, scene of the famous 1975 siege, and through Dorset Square, site of the original Lord’s cricket ground, built in the rural fields of Marylebone by Thomas Lord for Islington’s White Conduit cricket club, which became the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The first match played here was White Conduit v Middlesex in May 1787, with Middlesex playing Essex a few days later for a prize of 200 guineas.

Passing by the front of Marylebone station, possibly London’s most charming terminus, we crossed over to the Perseverance in Shroton Street. Just a couple of beers on offer, Doom Bar (again) and Harvey’s Best, which most of us opted for. And what a good choice, whether it was the disappointment of the previous drinks or whether it was genuinely well kept, the Best slipped down very nicely indeed. And top marks to the friendly barman and his home-cooked crisps, which were made on the premises and were excellent.

LordsFrom here we had a longish walk north along Lisson Grove, where there is a temporary departure from the genteel affluence of Marylebone. We paused to take pictures of the plaque marking the second, short-lived Lord’s cricket ground; as we did so some youths emerging from the estate behind suddenly scarpered back into the estate as a police van arrived, so we moved swiftly on, and were very soon  back in plush surroundings, dipping our toes slightly into St John’s Wood. This brought us, not coincidentally, to the Lord’s Tavern, famous pub in the corner of the “new” (since 1814) Lord’s cricket ground. It’s a nice pub, recently refurbished, and is accessible from the street as well as from inside the ground on matchdays. Its outside terrace to the front was quite busy, although it was surprisingly quiet inside, and we had the interior terrace (overlooking the back of the ground) pretty much to ourselves. Nice ales were on offer, most of us going for Thrashers’s. Cricket was showing on TV, and cricket fans would appreciate the wallpaper inside the pub, which comprises copies of numerous interesting historical objects from the Lord’s collection.

There followed another slightly longish walk west to the next pub, taking us from St Johns Wood into Maida Vale, but the destination was well worth it. The Warrington was originally built in 1857 as a plush hotel, and remains stunning, with many beautiful Victorian features preserved today. It lies on the corner of Randolph Crescent, a haunt in Victorian times of high-class ladies of the night, and apparently the origin of the word “randy”. Importantly the beer was good too, including Westerham’s Summer Perle, which was top notch.

A pleasant (if slightly roundabout) walk brought us next to the Truscott Arms. The Truscott was fairly busy but we still got a table, from which to enjoy some interesting beer; I had the local Moncada brewery’s Notting Hill Summer, which seemed appropriate and was very nice, while others enjoyed a summer seasonal beer from Truman’s.

We were thwarted at the next target, the Warwick Castle, as last orders had been called before we arrived. No matter, we were just a couple of minutes from Little Venice’s Bridge House, a very pleasant pub just across the Regent’s Canal, serving well kept ales including Landlord and Windsor & Eton’s Knights of the Garter. After much debate about whether we were still in zone 1 (no) and the names of Australian cheeses, we got down to the serious business of voting for the Pub of the Crawl.

There were some strong candidates tonight but prestigious Pub of the Crawl prize was eventually awarded to the Warrington. Congratulations!


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