Quick bleg: That London.
Yes, I know it’s a big place (see above). But for this trip, just to make things more interesting, I’m working under a set of arbitrarily-imposed* constraints, viz. and to wit:
- Nowhere that doesn’t serve cask, I don’t care who you are.
- And I’m not going to bloody Hoxton. (Let’s face it, I wouldn’t like it, it wouldn’t like me.)
- In fact, let’s think central. Bloomsbury, West End, South Bank, that kind of manor.
- Only not the City. Tried drinking in the City. Didn’t like it. (Great scrums of Agent Smiths outside every single pub.) Ended up in a Spoons.
- Oh, and (IMPORTANT) I’ll have three non- or occasional drinkers in tow, one of whom is aged 14 & gets uncomfortable in predominantly male environments (see previous).
- And (ALSO IMPORTANT) we’ll be looking for food, more often than not.
- And we don’t want to end up in Spoons, again.
Have at it in comments, you who know these things.
Update We’re back. Where did we get to? Glad you asked. We got to
The Holborn Whippet. Wow. Saved the best for, er, first. I had a fair-to-middling winter ale whose name I forget and a Redemption Trinity, which was fab. This was from a choice of eight cask and as many keg beers, which I could have happily worked my way through had time allowed. We were there for lunch & had a 16″ pizza and a plate of chips between the three of us; it was all good. Great beer, great food – reasonably priced, too (the beer was cheaper than at some of the pubs in Chorlton, which is quite something for central London). I’ll go there again as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Many thanks to Reading Tom in comments for this recommendation.
The Grafton Arms was the next day’s lunchtime destination, chosen (a) because it was there and (b) because it didn’t look rammed (a cursory search for pubs on Tottenham Court Road had been called off the previous night for lack of (b) qualifiers). The food came 35 minutes after ordering – not particularly remarkable, except that we’d been warned that it would take an hour; not sure if this was inefficiency or cunning expectations management. I had Portobello Star, which was fine if not especially memorable, and Meantime Pale (keg), which was a bit thin (and fizzy). The food was good and, again, cheaper than we’d expected. (The G. A. is a Taylor Walker pub; not a chain I’d seen before, but there seem to be a few of them in That London, complete with identical food menus. I think you could do a lot worse.)
The next day’s early-afternoon stop was the Elgin, which is now run by a chain called Geronimo, although at one time (according to Somebody On The Net) it was “the second dodgiest pub in Ladbroke Grove”. Whatever – it’s a big place with what look like some genuinely old fixtures and fittings; the overall effect is somewhere between a junkshop and a small stately home. We weren’t lunching that day (two words: Premier Inn), but I had a Young’s Special, which once again has failed to make any noticeable imprint on my memory (I ought to make notes, really).
And then there was the near-obligatory station stop, which in our case means the Doric Arch. Bengal Lancer was on draught, and very nice it was too.
Summing up: some nice pubs, some good food, some oddly unmemorable beers. And the Holborn Whippet.