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!

Millbank

16/12/2012 at 09:29 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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A week before Christmas, Artie took the final pub crawl of 2012 from St James’s Park to Pimlico via Millbank .

albertI have to confess that I was a little disappointed with the choice of opening pub, the Albert on Victoria Street, a stone’s throw from St James’s Park station.  Not that there’s anything much wrong with the pub – it’s a smart late Victorian pub and a very popular stop on the local tourist trail, and often busy. My only problem was that it’s literally next door to my office – very handy you might think, but sadly I was on annual leave for the day and was hoping not to have to travel to exactly where I commute every day! Still, it was a very handy meeting point and we assembled there for our walk towards Pimlico.

The second stop was the Speaker, a very nice pub tucked away on Great Peter Street and a short walk via my usual lunchtime haunt of Strutton Ground market. The Speaker is well known locally for its good beers and good value food, and its only drawback is that as with all small and good pubs in an officey area it can be very busy in the post-work rush, so highly recommended but best enjoyed during the day or later in the evening. Luckily for us a table was being vacated as we arrived so we were able to settle in to enjoy our ales, including Landlord and a Christmas beer with a name involving Santa (can’t remember more than that!)

From the Speaker we headed south past the Channel 4 building, its large 4 on the forecourt sporting its Christmas look, to the Royal Oak on Regency Street. Almost opposite the famous Regency Cafe (where three of us usually grab some food before a crawl), the Royal Oak is a Youngs corner pub, and was very busy when we called, doing a brisk trade in Special and Winter Warmer.

Marquis of GranbyWe headed east next, choosing to skip past the Loose Box and saving ourselves for the Marquis of Granby, just off Smith Square with its famous concert hall which was formerly St John’s Church. This is a Nicholson’s pub which has been very recently refurbished, and we focussed straight away on the decent range of beers on handpump; my Nutty Black was delicious, but too late we noticed that there were three ales being served by gravity direct from the cask. We have to keep moving on these crawls to try as many places as possible so we didn’t get to taste the ales on gravity but I shall certainly be back to try them another time.

Towards the Thames now, and past the imposing bulk of the MI5 headquarters which looks across to the newer MI6 building upstream on the other bank at Vauxhall. We walked along the riverside to take in the views (and be blasted by a bitter wind) and admire Tate Britain, built on the site of Millbank Prison. Artie may be Australian but his ancestors didn’t pass through the doors of Millbank Prison, but many of the early settlers of Australia did, as this was a major point of departure for prisoners sentenced to transportation. Very near the gallery lies the Morpeth Arms, another Youngs corner pub, which was busy with workers while we were there, and receives a steady flow of gallery visitors by day. It’s allegedly been haunted since 1845, but although we arrived later than that (at about 2130) there was no sign of a ghost as far as we could see.

Further along the river finds the Grosvenor, our next stop and another lively pub, which felt more like a community pub than many others in central London, lying as it does in a fairly residential area. After a brief missing bag false alarm, we settled into a pair of sofas and cracked open the box of Family Fortunes which was lying under the table, although sadly the quizmastering skills were somewhat below the standard of the television version.

For the final stop of the night we stopped at the White Swan for a swifter-than-planned pint before they closed their doors. Another good range of beers here but they were very keen to sweep everyone out the doors before midnight.

All told a great night and some places I’ll definitely be back to before long!

Belgravia – Pimlico

15/08/2012 at 19:58 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In July 2012 it was Tim’s turn to sneak in a quick crawl before the Olympics started, and for his first crawl he found a gap in our coverage on the Belgravia/Pimlico borders just to the south of Victoria station.

This month’s meeting point was a pub visited once before, the Duke of Wellington, fairly close to Sloane Square station. The Duke is a fairly traditional Shepherd Neame corner pub, with a single room around a central servery. The first few of us to arrived sampled the nice Whitstable Bay, and improvement I think on the Spitfire and Kent’s Best.

We headed east from here, past Noel Coward’s house on Gerald Road, to Elizabeth Street. Walking downhill on Elizabeth Street took us through two worlds, with the first section gorgeous, with a gorgeous looking street, and lots of affluent people patronising expensive looking restaurants. East of Ebury Street the street turned to shabby tarmac, the people turned into backpackers, and the food offer changed from smart restaurants to a chip & kekab shop!

Why the sudden downhill turn? The smart money’s on the presence of the coach station, offering buses to all parts of Europe for a few pounds or euros, and a magnet for the budget conscious traveller. Their presence was certainly felt at the Travellers Tavern, a large Taylor Walker pub right next to the arrivals section. We mainly settled for Doom Bar with the odd London Gold as we settled into an outside table adjoining the path from Arrivals. After what seemed like a long time listening to wheely cases being hauled along the alley, the stragglers arrived from the rain-delayed Oval, and we pressed on to pub three.

We headed south, passing the 1938 former Empire Terminal of Imperial Airways, and then turning back of the main road past (fortunately without stopping) a large branch of Rileys, before arriving at The Belgravia. While the name conjures up an image of enormous stuccoed villas, the Belgravia is actually tucked under a block of council flats, but they have made a good job of the space available, offering an unpretentious pub with some decent ales and a sheltered beer garden which includes an outdoor TV for watching sports – very unusual touch for London.

After this we headed west along Ebury Street, which changes its name briefly to Mozart Terrace after its most famous past inhabitant, to Orange Square, where a statue to its composer can be found. This is also very close to the spot where the Bun House stood (note Bunhouse Lane just off the Square), home of the Chelsea Buns until it closed its doors for the last time in 1839.

Across the street is the next pub, The Orange. Now somewhat gastroed, it nevertheless has a pleasant (if busy) bar with some nice ales on, though there is no longer a microbrewery on site.

After these we headed east, over the busy railway lines into London Victoria at Ebury Bridge and crossing over from Belgravia to Pimlico in the process. The next pub was the White Ferry House, another with a backpacker link, serving as it does as a hostel. Downstairs though remains a lovely traditional two-bar pub.  The first beer drawn was actually off, but to be fair to the staff it was changed with an apology and no fuss.

After these drinks we began to move back towards Victoria station, calling next at The Greyhound, a pub which has been closed for 10 years but thankfully has recently been fully refurbished and reopened, with a nice bright interior with white walls and interesting paraphernalia and some nice beers. I had the Bateman’s Summer Swallow while I’m told the Tim Taylor’s Landlord slipped down very nicely.

Final stop of the evening was just along Hugh Street, the St George’s Tavern, a large Nicholson’s pub which was already beginning to empty by the time we arrived, though luckily we were just in time to catch last orders before being ushered out into the summer evening and (for some) a late curry.

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.

Pimlico – Victoria

04/06/2011 at 18:13 | Posted in Crawls, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Paul started this Friday evening crawl, the third of his Victoria Trilogy of crawls, in unusual style at the Pride of Pimlico, a lager den with no real ales. Fortunately, after just two dodgy pints, the crawl proper got underway, with the next stop being the marvellous CASK. No brand names here, lots of ales and if you want a lager, there’s a fine selection of good German and Belgian varieties.

We then went to several decent pubs in the area; I’m struggling to recall 18 months hence exactly which ones we went to, as having worked in the area I have been on various pub treks in the area in my time, so the map may be updated in due course!

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