Crowns and Chairmen

10/01/2016 at 09:27 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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For the end of 2015, Tim planned a pub name-themed walk rather than our usual neighbourhood themes, in a walk stretching from St James’s Park to Soho.

The evening started out, as it often does, with some stomach-lining at the excellent Regency Café, scene of many a film and TV moment, and incredibly for a greasy spoon café, voted London’s 5th best restaurant. The first official stop was the Two Chairmen, on Dartmouth Street, a pub I walk past virtually every morning but rarely visit. It’s a small and busy pub, at least it is busy during the post-work rush, tucked away on a lovely quiet backstreet in the heart of Westminster. Although it was the end of November it was mild enough that we were able to escape the crowds and drink outside in the street.

Just a few metres from the pub lie the Cockpit Steps, bringing us down to Birdcage Walk and into the gaslit St James’s Park. We crossed the park and its lake and got a brief history of the park, including the bizarre coterie of animals that were kept here under James I, including crocodiles! Heading out of the park we crossed the Mall, passed St James’s Palace and Marlborough House, and into St James proper, and on to the next pub, the Blue Posts. This is another Taylor Walker pub, but unlike the previous venue, this one is almost brand new, the block it sits on having been recently rebuilt, but fortunately with the pub reinstated on this corner. This new version is smarter than the old incarnation of the pub, and is bright, airy and busy.

Next, we followed London’s traditional centre of gentlemen’s shirts and other high-end tailoring Jermyn Street, to the Three Crowns. This was pretty busy, though fortunately much deeper than it is wide, and we found some space to stand down the side of the pub, though it was too busy to linger in comfort.

xmas lightsSo we fairly quickly drank up and left, heading via Vine Street, of Monopoly fame, and across Regent Street, into Soho for the Crown, on the appropriately named Brewer Street. Like the previous pub, this was very busy indeed in the bar area and wouldn’t have been much fun, if it hadn’t been for some very fortuitous timing which allowed us a whole table towards the rear, next to the bookshelf with some interesting beer tomes on it.

Heading north across Golden Square, we came to Kingly Street, visited previously, and headed for the Blue Posts. This is a busy (again!) corner pub in the Greene King family, but again we were lucky and managed to grab a table upstairs.

billabongBack across Soho now and past some lovely Christmas lights and the huge murals on Broadwick Street, to The Blue Posts. Yes, it’s another Blue Posts, complete with a ‘The’ this time, and for a change for the West End it has avoided becoming branded by a brewery/chain/pubco and still has a very traditional feel, complete with sticky carpets and small (but perfectly fine) choice of ales.

A short walk further east, including passage along Meard Street with its unusual sign on the door formerly belonging to Sebastian Horsley, brought us to the final stop of the night. If the theme of the walk hadn’t been clear enough already, The Crown and Two Chairmen perfectly ended the crawl, bringing together the clutch of Crown and Chairmen-themed pubs.

So, to the pub of the crawl, and the beer of the crawl…

Not influenced by the venue of the vote I’m sure, as it stood out as a great, lively place with good beers on, The Crown and Two Chairmen was voted the Pub of the Crawl – congratulations! They also supplied the Beer of the CrawlBillabong, a lovely Aussie Pale Ale from Tiny Rebel!

Victoria Pub Crawls

24/01/2012 at 00:09 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Well we’ve had a few of these criss-crossing the area.  In the early years Paul took us on two crawls that appeared to end and start in the same place.  Below is an attempt to piece it together:

The Victoria cr@wl started in the classic Shepherd Neame “Cask & Glass“, one of the smallest pubs in town and yes we did stand outside, not a pub to meet in if the forecast is rain.  It’s nowhere near New Scotland Yard, as Paul would say.  As the rain started to fall we moved swiftly on.  It’s on Palace Street and you can’t miss it for the hanging baskets.  Next was a pub called Colonies (where a bloke followed us from the Cask & Glass claiming to be an odd-job man for the Queen).  This “banter” ended using the old toilet trick, i.e. swiftly drinking up and moving on when the stalker had disappeared to the loo!  Next up the fine Buckingham Arms, appearing in every edition of the GBG, finishing in the Old Star.  Finally a break with tradition – we went to Zanzibar as we were running late and it was still open.

The St James cr@wl a few months later (also led by Paul) started in the now familiar Old Star, Adam & Eve, The Albert, The Strutton Arms-  at which point Paul fell ill, leaving us with a map.   We managed to find The Two Chairman and finished in the Westminster Arms, around the corner from the Abbey.  But it turfed us out abruptly after the bell and that was it

The area was covered by Gez on his St James’ crawl and also Paul himself capped off the area with his “Passport to Pimlico” crawl, which sounded different until we realised we were in the shadow of an all too familiar Victoria Station.  At least we had been spared some of the pubs closer to this hub!

St James’s Park – Westminster

05/06/2011 at 15:07 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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Jez took this Friday evening crawl, and unwittingly followed an earlier crawl along pretty much the same route – to be fair though, he hadn’t been on that one! It’s a pleasant and easy stroll through the back streets of St James’s Park, and never more than 500 metres from the tube so very accessible.

We started in the Cask & Glass, or more accurately, outside the Cask & Glass – it’s a surprisingly small pub, but if the weather’s OK there is plenty of room outside on the pavement. From here, it’s a short stroll east to the Good Beer Guide stalwart the Buckingham Arms, then the Two Chairmen, then the Westminster Arms, where we learnt that Jez would be leaving us for a long stint in the Caribbean. (I mention this in passing, but I’m afraid it doesn’t mean that you’ll be paid to go to the Caribbean should you follow in our footsteps.)

From here it is but a brief stroll via Parliament Square to two famous Parliamentary pubs, the Red Lion in Whitehall, and the delightful St Stephens Tavern, which lies under the watchful eye of Big Ben and is conveniently almost next door to Westminster tube station for the ride home.

West End

04/06/2011 at 17:47 | Posted in Crawls, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Phil took this West End Friday evening crawl, although the closure of Oxford Circus station in the rush hour threatened the quorum at first!

The starting point was very close to Oxford Circus at the Clachan, with a second stop just down the road at Sam Smith’s Red Lion. From here Phil gave us the history of the Bag O’Nails, with just the odd correction by the shop’s owner who was standing outside it at the time!

From here to the Leicester Arms – where I watched the barman pour drip tray slops into someone’s pint, so don’t recommend you stop there – and across Regent Street and Piccadilly to St James’s. Went to several good pubs (mainly with a Lion theme!) in St James’s, before ending at The Clarence, off Piccadilly.

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