Saturday, February 26, 2011

What has London got to offer in 2011, part 1

As is well known, Yorkshiremen love a bargain, so seeing Grand Central were running an offer for £25 day return to London, with around 10 hours in the capital, it was too good to miss. So two intrepid travellers, armed only with a London beer guide, a London bus map, and a Zone 1 and 2 travel card set out for the 'Smoke'. This is what we found.

Robin and I had made some plans before we set out, of which pubs to visit, and how to get there. We decided to take in some of the less well known pubs, and where possible travel overground to combine a bit of 'bus bashing' with visiting the pubs.

The first call, at 1100, (about a hour after the train arrived), was a Brodies pub, the 'Old Coffee House' on Beak St, just off Regent St. Neither of us had encountered the brewery before but had heard good things about it, and we were not disappointed. Armed with halves of 'Kiwi' and 'Amarilla' we settled gently into the day. The pub is a classic, set on a corner down a back street near Carnaby St, with a tiled exterior and a wonderful interior, with plenty of old wood and mirrors. The bar had 4 offerings from the host brewery and a guest and the 'Kiwi' was a superb beer, full of New Zealand hops. The rest of the day had a lot to live up to.

Next we set off to Pimlico, and another pub we had heard lots about. The 'Cask' on Charlwood St was easy enough to find, a few minutes south of Victoria. It was covered in scaffolding so did not seem to promise a lot from the outside, but inside was a another beer drinkers paradise. Totally different to the previous pub, it seemed more like a cafe - bar but the pumps promised a selection from Dark Star, Otley and plenty of Brewdog, but we opted for another new brewery; our halves of Kent 'Black Gold' were very acceptable but cost us £1.85. We were somewhat surprised to see 7 Summer Wine beers on the beers to come list, seems we were not the only ones to have made the journey south ! Nothing else on the bar was new so it was up and off again.

Back North again and in search of 2 pubs in Covent Garden. We found one, but my intended visit to the Camra 2011 pub of the year, 'The Harp' was in vain. I knew it was not easy to find, but this became impossible when I realised I had foolishly forgotten to write the address down !!! Nevertheless, the 'Cross Keys' on Endell St, was an adequate compensation. Another Brodies pub, again ornately tiled, this one felt more like a local. It has a long,thin interior, and seating was at a premium at lunchtime but we succeeded in squeezing into a table with 2 more beers from the house stable, 'IPA' and 'English Best', both decent beers but lacked the zing of the previous two we had tried. Again a very acceptable price of £1.60 a half though. After a quick chat with the barman, who seemed to think we were a bit weird in our quest we headed south of the river.

There is a very convenient, although poorly advertised, bus service, RV1, that goes from the edge of Covent Garden down to Tower Gateway. We managed to find the stop and were greeted by the sight of a hydrogen powered single decker. Another tick. So off to sample the pubs round Borough Market. So far, we had not travelled underground at all.

Borough Market was heaving and we were assailed by a myriad of smells and sounds as we wandered through. We grabbed some food and Robin came across a bottled beer stall which nearly kept him there for the rest of the afternoon such were the delights on offer, but he managed to make a selection and we were off again in search of pubs.....but more of that next time.

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