Tottenham Court Road (north)

29/09/2018 at 18:45 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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We returned to the Tottenham Court Road area for a crawl in September 2018, led by Phil.

We met up at the Northumberland Arms, on Tottenham Court Road itself but close to Warren Street station. This is a smallish pub with a small bar, but service was fast and friendly, with a small range of decent ales (e.g. Purity’s Mad Goose & Ubu). We were able to drink in the small outside drinking area, which was pretty pleasant despite the fairly close proximity of the evening traffic passing by.

Once assembled we headed all of 70 metres to the next pub down Tottenham Court Road, the Court. This had a much longer bar, on which were a slimmed down cask selection (seemingly normally a wider range, but reduced on our visit to Doom Bar and Pride), and behind which operated one of the slowest barmen in London. We stood inside (there is outside seating, but it was pretty full). The bar was pretty busy, with a rapid succession of people coming and going.

Bada Bing

Soon enough it was time for us to move on too, and we crossed into the environs of University College London, one of London’s largest universities, and the Jeremy Bentham, now branded a Simmons Bar. The old sign remains though, showing the famous philosopher and reformer after whom the pub was named, and whose body now lies in nearby UCL. Inside, the pub is aimed squarely at the affluent student, with loud DJ music and no cask ales (though the kegs were at least decent Meantime offerings). The interior though is nicely done, and we particularly liked the neon signs (Top of the Pops, and the Sopranos’ Bada Bing!), but it was definitely one to stand outside rather than in, being about double the age of everyone else in attendance!

We passed next the plaque marking the efforts of Richard Trevithick in developing the steam engine, and paused to look at the Eisenhower Centre. This rather brutal structure, defacing what is otherwise a lovely crescent, is a pillbox sitting atop the deep level shelter which was built during World War 2, which had been intended to form part of an express Northern line for London Underground, but was used as a shelter and headquarters for General Eisenhower, Commander of the US Army.

newman-passage-london-w1-13

Close by lies the College Arms, on Store Street. Last time I was here this was a fairly run of the mill place, fairly old fashioned, but it’s since been refurbished and opened up, with lots of fresh air and light from the street. The bar’s small but had a couple of ales on, one standard (Doom Bar) and a more interesting Ringwood Razor Back. They also get brownie points for having a couple of decent alcohol-free beers (Erdinger and Nanny State).

newman

For the final stop of the night we headed to a pub we’ve visited before, but knew had been refurbished since, the Newman Arms. This sits alongside a narrow passage, which older readers may remember for its bent lamppost, which Arthur and Terry pretended to hold up in the Minder titles, now sadly gone. The pub’s got a much more modern look, with Truman’s beers on the bar. The downstairs room looks particularly cosy, and the place was doing good business at the time of our visit.

Finally, the matter of Pub of the Crawl. After some protracted discussions on recent crawls, this evening we had a very fast unanimous decision (albeit reached as people were leaving, so perhaps weren’t in a mood to debate!)… congratulations to the College Arms!

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Charing Cross Road

04/08/2018 at 15:24 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a hot evening in August 2018, Tim took us back to Tottenham Court Road, only this time we headed south down Charing Cross Road.

We started out at the Royal George, conveniently close to Tottenham Court Road station, just just down a side street. I’ve seen it many times but never been in; it’s fair to say the building lacks kerb appeal and has in recent years borne the brunt of being next door to the extensive Crossrail construction site, but it was in fact pretty pleasant inside, plenty of light and fresh air coming in, and a small but decent range of beer on the bar. In the fridge they even had Big Drop Brewing’s Pale Ale and Stout; these are decent craft low alcohol beers, and went down well to start with on a hot evening – I must be getting responsible in my old age! Fear not, there is also a good range of cask, keg and bottled beers too, and sometimes a tap takeover.

Soho crawl (3).jpgSo, once assembled, we came back out past the construction site, where once the Astoria stood, and before that the Crosse & Blackwell building, and headed into Charing Cross Road proper. We paused at the entrance to the old St Martin’s College of Art, where Jarvis Cocker famously met a girl from Greece in the iconic Britpop anthem Common People, and continued into the Montagu Pike. Originally a Moon Under Water when I first frequented it in the 90s, this Wetherspoons was formerly a cinema, and then a home for the Marquee Club. The original Marquee a few streets away played host to a Who’s Who of late 20th Century music, and this venue was opened by Kiss.

After a quick round here we left the morning drinkers’ favourite and headed out the back exit to Greek Street, named after a 1677 Greek church (now long gone), and described by a police inspector in 1906 as “the worst street in the West End of London, some of the vilest reptiles in London live there or frequent it”. By the 60s it was at the heart of London’s creative quarter, and just next to the Montagu Pike was Peter Cook’s Establishment Club, a ground-breaking satirical comedy venue.

Soho crawl Old Compton St (2)Where Greek Street meets Old Compton Street sits the Three Greyhounds, its name harking back to the days when Soho was a rural hunting ground. This is a fairly small Nicholson’s pub, but has plenty of room for al-fresco drinking outside, where you can watch the crowds wandering past, together with the traffic that the City of Westminster inexplicably insists on allowing to dominate the thronged streets of Soho.

Soho crawl Spice of Life (4)A few doors down the street lies the Spice of Life, Hertfordshire brewer McMullans’s London outlet, which has been very nicely modernised and has a wide range of their ales on the bar, and a large area of street outside to stand and drink while the sun goes down. The pub was originally called the George, first opening in 1686, though the current building is late Victorian.

Directly across from the Spice of Life lies another venerable pub, the Cambridge, first opened as the King’s Arms in 1744, but was again last rebuilt by the Victorians. This is another Nicholson’s pub, pretty small inside but retaining a lot of character, not least with its highly decorative ceiling. Some good ales on, and as all Nicholsons pubs, St Peter’s Without in the fridge for those looking to pace themselves – particularly handy during this heatwave, it was hot out there!

Across the street we paused outside 84 Charing Cross Road, site of the famous bookshop recalled in Helene Hanff’s wonderful book chronicling her correspondence with shop worker Frank Doel, now part of McDonald’s. Well worth picking up the book if you haven’t read it – used copies are available from just 1p on Amazon, or better still pick one up from a real book shop, ideally one of the few remaining ones on Charing Cross Road!

Brewdog (1).jpgAfter a few minutes admiring the architecture of Cambridge Circus, especially the lovely facade of the Palace Theatre, which is easy to miss if rushing through as I normally am, we headed to the newest pub in the area (at the time of writing!), a new branch of the BrewDog empire. Although it was inevitably pretty busy with tourists, and may therefore not be the fastest place to get served if the people in front of you have no idea what to order, the range of beers was extensive (over 20 on draft), and the live version of Dead Pony Club, which I hadn’t had before, was excellent. While BrewDog focusses on keg beers, the live Dead Pony is very close to a real ale and well worth trying. It’s a big venue and there was plenty of room even late on on a Friday despite its central location.

And so to the final business of the evening; after a short vote, the BrewDog Seven Dials was voted the Pub of the Crawl. Congratulations!

Fitzrovia to Euston

22/10/2017 at 14:18 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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On a mild November evening Dave led us around some lesser visited pubs in Fitzrovia and a final farewell to an old favourite.

We assembled in The Hope, next to Pollock’s Toy Museum.  For a busy Friday night we didn’t have to wait too long to be served.  It is a smallish pub – or ale and pie house according to signage.  We can’t vouch for the pies, but the Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale was very nice.  There was space inside but we opted to stand outside as the weather wasn’t too chilly and none of us were particularly interested in the American football game being shown.


It was a short walk to our next stop, the appropriately named Fitzrovia, a Greene King establishment.   We managed to get a table in this cosy pub.  The ale selection was limited, the usual Greene King IPA and London Glory was on offer though pleasingly there was also Starry Night which most of us went for.  As we walked out on to Goodge Street we paused to note a minor piece of trivia: that the tube station of the same name was not in fact on Goodge Street itself.  More interesting was the street’s reputation in the 1960s for illicit substances.

A few minutes to the west we found ourselves in The King & Queen on Foley Street, a lovely corner pub with a real old fashioned feel – wood panelling, thick carpets and plenty of pictures of kings and queen (unsurprisingly) – though not so old fashioned as to actually still serve Watney’s Red Barrel.  They had a good selection of beers on five hand pumps, Marston’s 61 Deep Pale Ale being a nice session ale.  We again chose to stand outside and enjoy the weather.

Heading along Howland Street we stopped outside the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre to appreciate the overhead décor and the window displays about the workings of the brain (not impaired by our visit to three pubs, of course) before reaching The Carpenter’s Arms which has a small room downstairs and an upstairs terrace.

The latter was full so we again took our drinks – the very sessionable Yulu Loose Leaf Pale Ale was a popular choice – out on to the quiet street corner to learn some hotly debated (and badly guessed) trivia about the nearby BT Tower.  Most memorable amongst the facts was that the circular design was intended to withstand a nuclear attack and that for decades the building was covered by the Official Secrets Act, meaning it was technically an offence to reveal the location of this 191 metre high tower…

We then moved on to The Marlborough Arms, another corner pub and another Greene King pub though with a wider beer selection than usual.  We settled around a table towards one corner of this spacious pub, concluding that despite its size it still felt cosy and traditional.

Our next stop came after a 10 minute stroll towards Euston to the much loved Bree Louise on Coburg Street.  This visit was tinged with sadness as it will shortly be demolished to make way for the HS2 rail link.  The good news is that the landlord is
looking to relocate so hopefully we can return to its new premises soon.  Amongst the large range on offer, the Bree Louise 4.2% session pale ale was a good choice.

Our final pub of the evening was The Resting Hare, which in contrast to the other places we’d drunk in this evening was very modern.  The range of beer was good, including some less commonly seen on tap such as Kernel’s Table Beer (very tasty yet light in alcohol) and Beavertown Neck Oil (though in fairness we’d also seen that at the Marlborough Arms).

And after some discussion we also decided that it was pub of the crawl.  Congratulations to The Resting Hare!

10th Anniversary crawl around Marylebone

18/12/2016 at 10:54 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In November 2016 the crawl celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Phil marked the occasion by retracing (almost) the route of the very first crawl back in 2006.

We met at the Masons Arms, close to Regent Street, which was pretty busy with the whole ‘Black Friday’ thing in full swing in the West End. The pub was busy too, and very warm, and perhaps would be better visited at a time other than 6 in the evening on Black Friday! It’s a fairly small and cosy Greene King pub with the familiar GK ales on tap (including one badged for this establishment).

After a little background info on the history of Mayfair, we headed next to the Iron Duke, a Fullers pub selling their standard beers plus the odd guest, with a nice Cascadian pale ale on offer when we visited.

As we left we heard a brief history of the River Tyburn, one of London’s lost rivers, which flows beneath the street and whose course we would roughly follow for the evening.

We continued past the neighbouring former homes of Jimi Hendrix and George Handel, marked by blue plaques and now subject of a small museum, to the Spread Eagle. This is a fairly standard West End Taylor Walker pub, busy with some decent ales (such as Old Hooky) but nothing too exciting.

We crossed a very busy Oxford Street and past the showroom of Steinway pianos, to the Cock & Lion, visited on the first crawl a decade ago, where we found a very handy table in the nicely appointed upstairs room, with some interesting old cricket and football pictures on the walls.

A short stroll up Marylebone Lane brought us to the Coach Makers, which was also visited on the first crawl but which was then called the O’Conor Don, and has since been nicely refurbished, and upped its beer range to include more interesting ales such as Canberra, Lubricant and Truman’s Zephyr.

Outside the pub, Phil surprised us all with a set of T-shirts commemorating the 1o years of these crawls, which was a lovely gesture.

10 year crawl

We next moved onto the inspiration for the crawls, the Golden Eagle. When Phil first found the Golden Eagle, and its piano singalongs, he thought he should bring people here, and find new pubs – and so the crawls were born. The singalong is still going strong, although is perhaps a victim of its own success – it was rammed when we called in, although perhaps that was the ‘Black Friday’ effect. It’s certainly worth visiting, but perhaps try the Tuesday or Thursday if you want to be able to enjoy it without the crowds.

A few minutes north and we reached the King’s Head, where a lovely ‘then and now’ map on the wall highlighted our route along the River Tyburn, both as it would have looked about three centuries ago when the area was still rural, and how it looks today; pretty different, to be sure, but with a few constants, including the path of Marylebone Lane which still follows the river.

The Pub of the Crawl has to be the one which inspired 10 years of crawling… the home of the piano singalong, the Golden Eagle. Congratulations!

Leicester Square

27/08/2016 at 20:55 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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On a very warm evening in August, Tim took us on a short crawl around Leicester Square, in the heart of London’s tourist West End.

We started out at the London Beer House, a fairly new craft beer joint at the top of the Royal Opera Arcade, off Haymarket. The pub is the beer outlet of Pall Mall Fine Wine, a little further down the arcade, which opened in 1818 and is the world’s oldest enclosed shopping arcade. It’s also home to the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery, an incredibly talented autistic artist who came to fame as a child.

The pub itself is small, but benefits from plenty of room to sit or stand in the arcade or street. As for the beers, there were 9 craft beers on keg, and a wide selection of bottles and cans in the fridge. We had a mixture of beers from Time & Tide and Two Tribes breweries, which were all very tasty, although I should note that prices are above average (a two-thirds glass goes for about the going rate for a pint in an average pub) – although the quality is very high.

We walked next via Haymarket – once a hay market for the village of Charing before London extended this far – to the Tom Cribb, a small corner Shepherd Neame pub offering standard Shep ales and strangely incongruous music. Tom was a boxer, and the pub retains some interesting boxing artefacts on its walls.

A short walk via the Swiss Glockenspiel, just in time to catch the hourly chimes, took us to the Imperial, a pretty standard central London Taylor Walker pub. Fortunately we were able to bag a table out front to enjoy the summer’s evening before retracing our last steps to Leicester Square, and past the site of Thurston’s Hall, an early snooker and billiards venue, to the Moon Under Water.

This large Wetherspoon has been a West End feature since the 1990s, and although it was busy there was  room inside, we were able to find a table near the bar, where we had a George Orwell-themed quiz about the attributes of his favourite pub, the mythical Moon Under Water, after which this pub is named.

Another short walk – the pubs come thick and fast around here! – and we came to the Brewmaster, sitting atop Leicester Square tube station. This was the first time I’d been in here, though I’d admired the refit from the outside and wanted to check it out. Greene King have done a very nice job refurbishing this and turning it into something which looks a lot like a modern craft beer bar, which is obviously the market they’re trying to tap into.

Sadly they haven’t followed through with the beer or staffing; there were only four handpumps, two of them GK standards IPA and and Abbott. The only slightly interesting one was from Brentwood Brewery, which we all ordered. These were all poured one-handed by someone who’s clearly never been taught how to pull a pint of beer properly. Worse still, as soon as we tasted it, it was very apparent that the beer was on the turn, with a distinct vinegar taste.

Very poor Greene King, very poor indeed – and this is how you serve our national drink to visitors??

wisdenWe left soon for the final stop, the Porcupine, pausing on the way to admire the Wisden tiling in the terracotta tiles above the tube station, marking their former offices. The Porcupine is a Nicholson’s pub, where we mainly went for the ever reliable Tim Taylor’s Landlord.

Finally we got to discussing the Pub of the Crawl, which is often quite a lengthy process, but not tonight; the London Beer House won unanimously. Congratulations!

 

 

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!

Fitzrovia revisited

07/10/2015 at 19:47 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In September 2015, Artie took us back to Fitzrovia for a tour of some pubs largely missed on previous excursions in the area.

Several people were missing or running late tonight so just three of us met at the Smugglers Tavern on Warren Street for the first drink. I’ve been past this place a few times but this was my first visit inside, and I was pleasantly surprised; despite the narrow frontage, the pub is larger inside than I expected. The bar is small and only had a couple of ales on, but they were good Cornish ales from Tribute – wonder if that’s a deliberate link to the smuggling reference in the pub’s name? Either way, they were good and we were lucky to nab a table outside despite the large number of people enjoying a sunny evening in the street outside.

BanksyNext we headed south towards the BT Tower and the Tower Tavern, presumably named after is skyscraping near neighbour. This 60s pub doesn’t have the kerb appeal of an older pub, but I was again pleasantly surprised inside; the pub was spacious, had efficient staff, and several good beers on; we tried the My Generation and Sadlers One Stop Hop, both were good. On leaving we saw a Banksy on the wall opposite, protected now by a perspex sheet to hopefully keep it there for some time.

Next stop, we were welcomed aboard The Ship, which was yet another surprise, as it seems not  to have changed in 30 years (in a good way – if it ain’t broke, etc.). There was a Cornish slant to the beers here too, with some distinctly average Doom Bar but some delicious Atlantic.

The next stop, the Crown and Sceptre, was a more modern gastropub, very large and very busy, though with enough room at the back to find a table to drink our very decent ales including Ilkely’s Rosa Ostara made with rose petals, and Wood’s rugby world cup special Tight Head.

Like the Ship, the next stop, the King’s Arms, is another traditional non-gastroed pub, part of the McMullan empire and a refreshingly normal pub just a few minutes from Oxford Street.

A few short steps away lies the next stop, the Green Man, another smallish corner pub, a little more in the modern gastro style, which is evidently working for it, because it was rather too busy when we arrived, and a bit of a struggle to find space to stand without being bumped into the whole time by people passing (and all the more difficult for those amongst us clinging onto a 1 kg tin of Milo for dear life…).  I’d certainly go back to the Green Man, but hopefully when it’s not quite so busy.

A slightly longer walk now to the Newman Arms, an older pub than most on this walk, dating from 1730 and rumoured to be the model for the “prole’s pub” in George Orwell’s 1984. There is a Cornish theme to the food and drinks, with some nice beers fro the Tintagel brewery.

We were thwarted in our final target for the evening, which was already closing by the time we arrived, so we headed instead for the still-serving One Tun, a part of the Young’s empire and serving its usual beers.

As ever, the last job of the evening is to choose a Pub of the Crawl. This month we thought that the Crown and Sceptre deserved the honour; congratulations!

Edgware Road

01/11/2014 at 13:26 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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As the dark evenings of Autumn 2014 arrived, Artie took us for a crawl around the Edgware Road area.

We met at the Portman, formerly the Masons Arms, close to Marble Arch. It is now a gastropub, retaining some decent ales on its central bar including Timothy Taylor’s Landlord as well as a much lesser-spotted Havercake Ale.  We stood outside watching the world, or at least a small but wealthy part of it, go by. It is a strikingly urban if genteel scene, with fairly narrow streets in a grid pattern, so I take the pub’s description of itself being in “Portman Village” with a large pinch of salt!

Once Phil had customarily joined us at the end of the first beer, we headed west, across Edgware Road for the first time, past the police guarding Tony Blair’s house, to the Duke of Kendal. This triangular pub forms the wedge between two roads, and is a traditional pub, with a small dining area on the Connaught Road side. The beers were decent but unexceptional, Greene King standard fare.

We soon left by the Kendal Street door (except for one who went to the wrong street) and headed back towards and across Edgware Road to the next duke, this time the Duke of York on Harrowby Street. This also had just some standard GK ales on, and was a bit lacking in atmosphere for a Friday night.

WargraveThat couldn’t be said of the next pitstop, the Lord Wargrave, formerly the Wargrave Arms but now a modern pub, specialising in whisky, with a choice of around 200 from around the world. The beer selection it pretty special too, with a wide range of ales as well as some interesting craft keg beers, including the tasty Hackney Hopster from London Fields. The formula is obviously working, the place was certainly pulling in the punters compared with the previous couple of places, and was very lively.

Around the corner we paused for Phil to tell us about the Cato Street Conspiracy, an 1820 plot to assassinate the British cabinet, which was broken up when the conspirators were arrested in this alleyway.

Just across the street now for the Windsor Castle, an oldie but a goodie, visited on a previous occasion but worth the return, as this pub is a classic old London pub, full of memorabilia, especially royal stuff, to attract visitors but nevertheless retaining its traditional pub atmosphere. The beers were traditional too, and we had a nice mixture of 6X, Bombardier and Broadside.

Just across the road lies the Larrick, which was fairly empty by this time of the evening. The Bombardier Burning Gold slipped down nicely but we had to move swiftly on to the next and final venue to get another in before closing time.

ISISThe Thornbury Castle, just off the busy Euston Road, had the best ale range of the evening, and between us we drank a wide range of ales including Westerham’s General Wolfe, ELB Pale Ale, Rebellion Photo Finish and others – very impressive, and a high note to end the evening, though West Berkshire’s ISIS Pilsner was an unfortunate choice of name to pick this year.

Finally, it was time for the Pub of the Crawl debate, which was finely balanced this time with a three-way tie! However, there can only be one winner, so after a hearty debate and second vote, the Windsor Castle was declared the winner. Congratulations!

 

Marylebone revisited

23/08/2014 at 12:05 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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It was time for Alan to take the lead in August 2014, with a return visit to the Marylebone area.

We gathered outside the front of the Beehive, a mid-terrace pub tucked just off Baker Street. There was a smallish-range of beers, with Loddon’s Gravesend Shrimper the only ale on offer; I enjoyed it but without a paler ale on offer some took advantage of the Meantime beers on tap, including their tasty London Pale Ale.

Next up, the Barley Mow, a cracking heritage pub, which I think has somehow managed to fall between the cracks of previous local crawls.  It is famous – and indeed listed on CAMRA‘s National Inventory of Pub Interiors – on account of its unique drinking boxes, small compartments adjacent to the bar allowing for very discreet liaisons while still being alongside the bar to order fresh drinks. On this occasion, arriving as we were on a Friday evening, the boxes were unsurprisingly already taken, but we took our delicious beers – all Dark Star Golden Gate – to the back room, where Dimo proceeded to reveal a surprising talent for hustling people at chess.

A short walk down Manchester Street brought us to the Tudor Rose, a fairly old-school pub which has so far definitely escaped the gastropub trend, still offering such 1970s delights as spam fritter burgers! The ale was good enough if a bit unadventurous, with Pride, Rev James and Adnams on cask.

gunmakersWe called next at the Gunmakers, overlooking the car park-cum-farmers market behind Marylebone High Street. This is an attractive pub, with some interesting ales on offer, including a couple of offerings from London Fields brewery, their IPA, and Love Not War, which seemed appropriate given the current strife in the Middle East.

Continuing east, we skipped a possible venue on the High Street as it seemed pretty rammed, and arrived at a pub with the opposite problem, the Dover Castle, which was pretty deserted by the time we arrived. As with most Sam Smiths pubs, it’s a great place, in this case a little mews pub which was frequented by the Who ‘back in the day’ when they used a recording studio opposite.

Not far away lies the Stag’s Head, a nice little corner pub below an art deco building, which we sat outside while we enjoyed some Tring Side Pocket.

albany

From here, we headed back towards the tube, and the Albany, opposite Great Portland Street. We visited this recently and it’s still a lovely pub, and I love it’s modest self-declared as ‘one of the best pubs in Great Portland Street’!

But which pub deserves to be the Pub of the Crawl this time?

As ever a lively debate was had to pick the winner, but in the end the wonderful unique interior won it for the Barley Mow, congratulations!

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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