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BITE user comments - Hodsthorn

Comments by Hodsthorn

The Sanctuary House, Westminster

A great setup behind the bar, with a large number of pulled ales available at any one time. The pints I've had there were in very good shape, with little to complain about.

The pub itself is a bit sprawling, but can still get quite crowded. It's quite modern for the most part and not the most characterful place in the front, but things rapidly improve the further back into the seating area you go. I recommend going at a quieter time, since some of the details of the place (like the copies of manuscript illuminations on the back wall) are best appreciated with a clear view. Overall, a very nice pub with an obvious commitment to getting things done right.

22 Mar 2006 19:04

The Cock and Bottle, Notting Hill

One of the best pints of Guinness in London, a friendly staff, and a back room that's all I could ask out of a pub.

Not the widest beer selection--the kind of place where you pick a drink and stick with it. Not the cheapest pint around by a long shout, either--but worth it when a good beer and maybe a chat with the managers or a quiet place to read the paper is what you're after. The pub quiz on Tuesdays is good fun as well!

3 Mar 2006 08:47

The Duke of Albemarle, Mayfair

An unexceptional pub. My pint of Adnam's was so-so (with rather more of a head than I'm used to getting on that particular beer), and the manager left a clearly-still-learning-the-ropes barmaid on her own for far too long on a Friday evening, so that barside was crowded with punters gasping for a drink while the rest of the pub was fairly empty. Fortunately for all, entertainment was provided by a group of drunken lads, one of whom was loudly talking about beating up another for spilling beer on him.

Overall, not a terrible place, but I agree with the previous comment--it just doesn't feel like a pub you'd want to spend more than a half-hour or so in.

3 Mar 2006 08:41

The Old Shades, Whitehall

A nondescript but pleasant enough pub to duck into if you're in the area. We had drinks and a bowl of chips, and both were good but not overly memorable. It's a Nicholson's, and all the usual suspects were available on tap (including what seemed to be a well-kept Landlord).

The decor, like everything else about the place, is pleasant enough. The only real surprise about the Shades was the very friendly barmaid, probably one of the nicer people I've met behind a bar in that area of the city.

3 Mar 2006 08:32

The Argyll Arms, Oxford Circus

A nice selection of beers in a beautiful (if chokingly smoky) setting, largely spoiled for me by the astoundingly poor service. A danger of going into a pub located, like the Argyll, on a tourist strip is that everyone hearing my accent assumes I'm on vacation. Sometimes that means I get friendly questions, sometimes it means people studiously ignore me in the hope that I'll go away, and sometimes it means I get treated like dog droppings by bar staff. At the Argyll, I was treated like someone who'd stolen the thrice-blessed goblet from which the barmaid drinks virgin blood to stave off the icy hand of death.

This is doubly a shame because the place really is a beauty, and the beer, when I was finally permitted to buy one, was well-kept and fresh (there's a beer festival on at the moment, with a selection of five real ales to choose from). But I won't be back again--there are too many friendly pubs to waste time in a place like this.

3 Mar 2006 08:25

The Tom Cribb, Piccadilly

I've been to this pub a couple of times now, and it's invariably crowded but friendly, with locals and tourists mixing at the tables and the bar. If you ignore the signs plastered everywhere warning about bag thieves, you might forget you're right between Piccadilly and Leicester Square. Of course, ignore those signs at your own risk...

The beer is consistently good, and the staff clearly cares about giving satisfaction--I've seen the middle-aged man at the pumps toss out a Guinness he'd just poured that wasn't to his own standard. A rare sort in the heart of the city. Definitely worth stopping in if you're in the area and thirsty.

2 Mar 2006 09:03

The Red Lion, St James

A nice pub, with a very pretty little interior on the ground floor (there's more seating upstairs, but the atmosphere's not as nice). A good selection of ales in reasonable condition--nothing show-stopping, but the usual range of bitters for a Nicholson's.

Mercifully, it seems to have so far escaped the attention of the hordes on Piccadilly St., at least during the week--we last went on a Thursday evening and found the place not at all crowded, though from the comments of others on this page we may have just been lucky. On the weekends, I wouldn't count on a seat.

2 Mar 2006 08:54

The Seven Stars, Chancery Lane

A classic case of having to choose between good, well-kept beer, and a comfortable place to drink it. The Seven Stars might be a nice place to sit down and relax if you're the only patron, but it gets crowded in a hurry, and the pub's denizens aren't in the least interested in making room for one more. Try to hit it in the off-hours to enjoy a pint of any of the guest ales on offer (mostly Adnam's).

1 Mar 2006 23:06

The White Hart, Bishopsgate

I was not at all impressed with this pub. Not exceptionally ugly or pleasant inside, and might be fun for people-watching out the window, but the clientele are loud, obnoxious suits, and the staff seemed to be almost completely without a clue. I had to engage in a guessing game with the barmaid as to which beers were actually "on". It took four guesses before I got one that was actually available (actually, I cheated--after three wrong guesses, I finally asked her what she was able to sell me, and she said, "I think the London Pride isn't empty").

With several better-looking or better-run pubs within a few hundred yards, I strongly recommend giving the White Hart a miss in your Spitalfields pubgoing.

1 Mar 2006 23:00

Dyvel's, Corbridge

My wife and I had dinner and a pint at Dyvel's, and both were pleasant and served quickly. The owners are a very nice family who also run a hotel above the pub, but the place feels very much like a local's local (the conversation around the pub that evening revolved around recent floods in the area and another pub in town that's a friendly rival of the Dyvel's).

The pints were in good condition--nothing stunning, but they did have several hand-pull options available. If you're in the area and can find the place (it's a bit out of the center of town, near the train station, as the street name implies), it's worth stopping in.

1 Mar 2006 22:50

The Fettler and Firkin, Paddington

This place is surprisingly quiet and little-known considering its location (half a block from Paddington Station). A decent selection of ales and some filling (if not inspiring) food of the heat-and-serve variety on offer. Mainly a sport pub, with a huge projection screen dominating the main room. Don't try to get served while the match is in progress!

1 Mar 2006 22:42

The Feathers, St James's

Sadly, it really is as bad as it's been made out by others. The staff seemed vaguely annoyed by any request, nearly all the decent beer was out (on a Friday lunchtime), and my wife and I had to make do with a cider and an unappealing Staropramen.

The jackets were puny and came with slopped-on toppings, and the whole experience seemed designed to convince us not to come back. Mission accomplished.

28 Feb 2006 15:08

The Blackfriar, Blackfriars

Rightly known more for its decoration than its ales, this is a pub to show people rather than one to treasure for a quiet pint. That said, it IS a heck of a show, with a ludicrously overdone interior that gets a chuckle out of me every time I stop in. Definitely a hub for any pub crawl of the area.

The beer is average, and I've had more than one iffy pint there--the London Pride is usually in shape, though, so stick to that. The staff is changeable from one visit to the next, and I've met very friendly and borderline sociopathic barstaff there.

28 Feb 2006 15:00

The Marquis of Granby, Fitzrovia

Not a bad place, and one of the pleasanter pubs in the area (which has many pubs, but few with a particular interest in being welcoming). Stay away on weekend nights, though, unless you're looking for a DJ and a show--for some reason, the pub's managers think that setting up a weekly dance night in a medium-sized pub is a winning idea.

The beer is what you'd expect to find in a Nicholson's pub--if you don't like bitters or bubbles, stay away. Nonetheless, this is a nice pub for a pint if you happen to be in the area.

28 Feb 2006 14:52

The Tottenham, Soho

Mostly the usual Nicholson's beers, served in a competent manner but without a great deal of enthusiasm. Not terribly exciting, other than some nice original decoration on the right-hand side wall as you enter. The pub gets an extra point just for existing, however--hard to believe it's the only one on Oxford Street...

28 Feb 2006 14:48

The Magpie, Bishopsgate

A good pint of Landlord, and several other real ales on offer. The pub's a Nicholson's, with all the good and bad that implies.

I was there on a Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 and couldn't move for the crowds. Is it always like this? The guys-in-ties were all over the place, and frankly I was sick of their conversation in about five minutes. The staff were doing a good job to keep up with the orders, but finding a space to relax in once you'd got your pint wasn't an option. A nice pub, but try to hit it when it's less crowded.

28 Feb 2006 14:44

The Black Bull, Corbridge

We stopped in here for supper and a couple of pints, and found the place to be much more of a gastro-pub than we'd expected. The beer was good and the barman quite friendly, but the food was mediocre for a standard pub, and not very good at all for a gastro. The meat dishes were just okay, and one of the ordered dishes, a vegetable pie, was still frozen in the center. As there was no staff to be found once we'd been served there wasn't a lot we could do about it.

The selection of drinks wasn't terribly exciting, but they seemed in good condition. Just don't go in expecting a culinary experience or exceptional range and you'll enjoy the place's friendly air.

23 Feb 2006 11:15

The Woodman Inn, Durham

This was right down the street from our B&B and we stopped in at the end of the evening for a last pint before bed. I immediately regretted wasting time in some of the other, lesser pubs around town. Great ales (which apparently change regularly--we had two local ales and enjoyed them thoroughly), warm staff, and the elusive quality of a local that's still open to visitors coming in. This pub has a no-nonsense boozer quality that I really enjoyed. Definitely worth the trip up Claypath!

23 Feb 2006 11:07

New Inn, Durham

A soulless, uninteresting pub with overpriced drinks and little to offer in the way of decent food or company to make up for it. We ducked in here while walking around Durham, and stayed for a drink--a definite mistake.

I suppose this place might be acceptable if your main goal in going out is to drink indifferent beer in a student-friendly atmosphere, but otherwise, there are a lot of superior options in the middle of town.

23 Feb 2006 11:01

The Perch Inn, Binsey

This is a great little out of the way pub, with low ceilings, a thatched roof, and a healthy dose of character inside. A great pub largely because it's not trying to impress anyone.

The beer selection is nothing special (Adnams, Guinness, Stella, and a few others), which is about the only negative thing I can think of to say. The Guinness was in top shape, well-poured, and served by a friendly and cheery barman (who couldn't have been much over 20). Overall, my group and I were very happy to have spent an evening here.

17 Feb 2006 00:34

The Angel, Soho

Great place, great Samuel Smith beer served in great condition. Nice and quiet--and it's a minor miracle that it's survived where it has--if you stuck a big needle in the center of the city, it wouldn't miss the Angel by much.

I had the finest pint of Extra Stout I've had in a long while, and I'll be back there for another very soon.

13 Feb 2006 19:48

The Bierodrome, Kingsway

A case of a really exciting beer list completely and utterly ruined by crap surroundings. This pub is noisy, uncomfortable, and, due to location, full of an obnoxious jumble of drunken students and drunken suits. In half an hour in the place, I went from raving about the beer choices (including some very unusual selections for London) to wanting to get the hell out of there. When my group finally got up to go, a group of drunken suits were setting a pile of beer coasters and napkins ablaze on top of a pillar candle on their table and shrieking like banshees.

Possibly worth stopping in during the day for a lunch (the chips were good, and my friend who had the mussels was pleased with them as well) and a taste of Belgian brew, but otherwise a place to avoid.

13 Feb 2006 19:42

Ye Olde White Horse, Aldwych

An acceptable place for a drink if you're in the area--I didn't find it a terribly welcoming place to settle in to (lots of stools, no chairs), but the decor is dark and nicely un-tampered-with.

The beer was just okay--I had a Wherry, and while I didn't exactly regret it, I've had it better in other pubs.

As for the ban on students--I'm a believer in a pub being able to decide what it wants for its clientele within reason, but this place may end up having a hard time staying afloat if it actually enforces the "No Students" sign--for a fair part of the day, there's virtually no one else around there. I was in for nearly an hour and the only other punters were three people who'd got there ahead of me and didn't order a round the whole time I was in.

13 Feb 2006 19:34

The Holly Bush, Hampstead

Went in for a pint on a Sunday night and found the place near to bursting, but we were able to find a seat in a back corner and settle in. Nice place, very comfortable--I hadn't been there in years, and it's a high compliment to say they haven't done a thing with the place.

Really nice beer, at what passes for cheap prices in Hampstead. A definite place to visit if you're in the area, and it might just be worth going out of your way for.

12 Feb 2006 22:36

The Wells Tavern, Hampstead

This place has gone gastro in a big way, with very little room in its new world outlook for pint-drinkers. I could barely hear myself think for all the self-impressed types braying at each other, and had to actually shove past a woman on a mobile who apparently expected me to stand in the rain while she finished her conversation in the small entryway!

That said, I had fine service from the barman, who poured a fine pint (though at 3 per, it ought to come gift-wrapped), and if you're a fan of gastros, the food smelled quite good. I didn't stick around long enough to have any.

12 Feb 2006 22:32

The Prince Edward, Bayswater

A very comfortable, pleasant place for a few rounds and a conversation with friends. Not a place for people who need eight televisions or twenty music speakers to qualify as a night out.

The beer is generally quite good (I did have one iffy pint there, but that seems to have been an anomaly)--not a ton of selection, but enough that you won't be bored. And if you stick around the bar, you'll more than likely get drawn into conversations with the bartenders or the other patrons.

I've not yet been to Karaoke night, but I've been told that it's quite good for those who like it. I'll stick to drinking...

12 Feb 2006 12:11

The Hand and Shears, Barbican

A really nice, unreconstructed pub interior, and well-hidden enough not to be on people's pub crawls and guidebook radar. Well-maintained if unexciting beer selection.

This place ought to get an 8 for its feel, but drops a couple of points for being so much a local's place (on the night I was there, anyway) that stopping in for a beer on one's own doesn't feel like a welcome thing. Gets one point back, though, for a friendly barman who actually greets newcomers as they come in the door.

12 Feb 2006 11:54

The Hoop and Toy, South Kensington

A nice enough place for a pint--I first happened on the place by accident, but I've since been in for a quick one after time at the museums or wandering around by the parks. As other have said, not one to travel across the city for, but a nice enough place.

Their ale was in iffy shape last time I was there, but I hope that was an abberation...

7 Feb 2006 00:07

The Shakespeare, Bayswater

Good food in generously-sized portions. They've got one of those twofer meal deals (in this case, two meals for 7.99). The place is usually not crowded, and the staff is friendly and quick. The beer is cared for (one barmaid poured out my Guinness because she wasn't happy with the quality of the leftover beer in the keg, and switched out a fresh keg before pouring my pint).

Unfortunately, the pub itself seems to be suffering from the area it's in--tourism makes up a lot of the area's economy, and the place feels like a place people go to eat or to have a single pint and then wander on to somewhere else. Not a bad place, just...transient-feeling. I stress that this is not the fault of the staff, who seem to be working hard to keep the place friendly and pleasant. Try to sit up the stairs on the right-hand-side as you go in for a slightly cosier experience.

6 Feb 2006 23:39

Founders Arms, Bankside

This place gets its rating almost entirely for its view of the river. These are best enjoyed from the patio outside the pub, which, as a bonus, saves you from having to notice the hideous, garish interior of the place.

That said, the beer is okay (not special, but not the noticeably-poor quality stuff a few places around the area seem to delight in serving to tourists), and if the music's not on when you're in, count yourself lucky. Again--stepping outside with your pint improves the experience immeasurably.

5 Feb 2006 01:23

The Bishop On The Bridge, Winchester

A spacious, but somewhat sterile, pub indoors, with a really nice-looking beer garden around the back. the beer was in good shape and there were options enough that I needed an extra minute to make upmy mind. I also had a supper, and thought it was quite good, though not a stunning value for the money.

Staff are always the hardest thing to judge about any pub, especially on a first visit. I found the barman efficient, friendly, and attentive, and thought the staff in general were professional without being stuffy. I'd go back to the Bishop if I found myself in the area, but I wouldn't make a trip just to visit it again.

5 Feb 2006 01:12

The Wykeham Arms, Winchester

A nice, if kitschy, looking boozer with a number of places to settle down with a drink.

Or there would be, if getting a drink weren't such a project. I waited far too long for my pint, after having to try three different spots around the bar to even get my order in. When I got it, it was slopped over the side of the glass, and my change was then plonked down into the puddle, despite my hand being out for it. I'd been thinking of having supper there, but reconsidered and took my appetite elsewhere. I went away with the impression that the locals who love the place really seemed to enjoy it, but as a visitor (especially one who happened to be traveling alone that day), I didn't find it all that welcoming.

5 Feb 2006 01:04

The Pontefract Castle, Marylebone

I went to this pub not expecting much, just killing a little time while waiting for a concert to start--and was mildly surprised. A decent pint, good (if unexceptional) food, but overall not a bad experience in terms of food and drink.

Too crowded when I was there, but lucked into a seat at the counter and got friendly and fairly quick service. If I ignored the endless getting-bumped-into-from-behind, it was a relaxing place...I didn't explore the upper levels of the place, but I wouldn't complain about stopping in again to try them out. The place gains a point for the quality of the staff, but loses it again for the sheer number of annoyingly braying suits crammed into the place--not the pub's fault, but still not my favorite drinking environment.

5 Feb 2006 00:54

The Lamb and Flag, Oxford

Sadly, I wasn't impressed with this place at all, despite the good-looking interior and general air of a party-pub. The barman was nowhere in evidence when I arrived, and I waited (along with an increasingly large group) for five minutes until he wandered by to see what we wanted. He then, upon hearing my American accent, proceeded to give me a "tourist pint" of Guinness--i.e., one that gets poured in a single go, with no settling and foam an inch-and-a-half thick. This when others who ordered Guinness, presumably people he knew better, were getting the full treatment. I won't bother with the place again--the Eagle and Child is across the street, cheaper, and pours a better pint.

4 Feb 2006 08:45

The Eagle and Child, Oxford

A very friendly pub, and one with a good, if not overwhelming, selection of ales. My traveling companion tells me the wine selection was better.

The history of the place is undeniably a draw, but much to their credit, the managers haven't plastered up "THIS IS THE PUB WHERE THE INKLINGS MET" everywhere, or labeled the toilets "DWARFS" and "ELVES" or anything like that. In fact, it's entirely possible to spend a pleasant evening in this pub without ever knowing that Lewis, Tolkein, Williams et al. were not so long ago regulars.

4 Feb 2006 08:37

The Cleveland Arms, Bayswater

Friendly enough pub, and one I'd be inclined to visit on a regular basis. Bit of a "local's local" vibe--everyone seems to know almost everyone else in the place. It's best to go by with someone you know, since it's difficult to get up to any quiet activities (like reading a paper) in the somewhat dim light. Friendly enough staff, who know what they're doing. The kind of a pub that I suspect rewards repeat visits.

Update on earlier reviews: the snacks and peanut bowls are still around, but they're no longer free.

1 Feb 2006 23:03

The Sports Cafe, Haymarket

Like "yankeeprof", I rate this place higher than it deserves because it's a place to watch American football. I can still only give it a 2, though, because everything else about the place is terrible. Slow service, bad pours, crowded, inconsistently-applied door charge, and terrible music whenever a game's not on (and sometimes when it is, since whoever's running the music isn't necessarily watching the TV). Not a place I'd ever go to if I had another option for my games. Even then, I have to think hard about whether it's worth it...

1 Feb 2006 19:42

The St Brides Tavern, Blackfriars

Sorry to say that I wasn't terribly impressed. A nice little room for the bar at ground level, but the atmosphere in the room was distinctly one of "business lunchers"--I was the only male customer not in a suit and tie, and the man and woman behind the counter did nothing to change my sense that I'd intruded somewhere I wasn't terribly welcome.

Beer-wise, nothing good or bad to say. It's Greene King--you pretty well know what you're getting when you walk in the door. Embrace the bland name or drink elsewhere.

31 Jan 2006 16:03

The Boot, St Pancras

A fine little place that hasn't let the passage of time and the various pub fads of the past few decades wreck its personality. Not a "cool" place, but also doesn't give a rat's arse about such things--it's just a really comfortable place to go for a pint and maybe a game of darts. Well-treated beer (one of the silkiest heads on a Guinness I've found in London) and a really genuinely nice couple as owner/managers. I've also been there for their Sunday roasts and thought they did quite a nice job of it. Definitely worth stopping in!

31 Jan 2006 00:36

The North Star, Finchley Road

I hadn't been to this place in a few years, and remembered it vaguely as a slightly quiet, sprawling place with plenty of room and a nice selection of beer.

Wow. It's really fallen off the edge since then. I don't really know what the managers think they're about, but my experience of too-loud music, too-hastily-poured beer and indifferent service means I won't be spending money there again soon.

31 Jan 2006 00:28

The Widows Son, Bow

Nice little neighborhood boozer--I showed up there not looking for much besides my pint of Guinness, and had a really fine time with a friendly staff and some of the locals. This is an actual local, warts and all. I'd go there again if I ever found myself in the neighborhood.

30 Jan 2006 23:10

The George, London Bridge

Eh. A place more interested in selling itself as an historical pub than in preserving itself as one. And the beer selection isn't much to take note of either. Probably worth stopping in at sometime, just because of its age and importance, but once you've seen it, go have a pint somewhere else.

Overall, a real shame and a missed opportunity.

30 Jan 2006 23:02

The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

A really nice-looking place, with some features (like the flagstone floor and the view of the Thames) that most of the tourist traps in town would kill for. The downstairs (especially by the back windows) is a nice spot to sit with a pint and a book, if you're there when it's not crowded.

The beer was okay, but not remarkable--two different beers were "kicked" when I was there, so I ended up with the same pint of London Pride I could've had anywhere. The barman was young, and clearly wished he was somewhere else--to be honest, my ranking of the pub has a point off it just because I didn't much care for listening to his mobile conversations while I drank. Overall, a place justly known for its views and decor, but not worth a long trip for the beer itself.

30 Jan 2006 22:42

Ark Bar, Hampstead

This was right up the street from where I used to live, and I went there once...only once. The downstairs bar was dank, unwelcoming, and generally unpleasant. Not the sort of place to go if yo've got other options. I haven't see it since it went through rehab, so to be fair, it might be fantastic now. But it sure wasn't last time I was there...

29 Jan 2006 22:11

The Toll Gate, Hornsey

I went to Hornsey last week intending to do a bit of a crawl and check out a group of pubs in the area. I ended up enjoying the Tollgate enough that I took up residence there for several rounds and most of the evening. A friendly atmosphere, a nice list of guest ales (even if half of them were the same Fuller's line that can be found a every second pub in the city) at a really good price, and a knowledgeable barman eager to talk about the different beers on offer. Overall, a place I wish were nearer by...

29 Jan 2006 19:28

The Princess of Wales, Primrose Hill

I spent quite a few nights in this pub back when I lived on Finchley Road--it was a bit of a walk, but the atmosphere made it worth it. One of the most relaxing places to have a argument about a good book or just sit around and talk about sport. Certainly the best pub in an area surprisingly short on serious competition.

I admit to never having been blown away by their beer (either in selection or in quality), but I've never had a truly bad pint there either. Nice (and fairly-priced) pub food as well.

23 Jan 2006 19:57

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

A really nice little pub, though I sometimes feel like a certain amount of its popularity is that everyone thinks no one else can find the place. It IS tricky the first time, but it's so crowded after work that it's clearly not a complete mystery. I have to admit, even so, there is a certain fun in bringing people there for the first time...

23 Jan 2006 19:50

The Eclipse Inn, Winchester

Nice local, with a very friendly barman and an assortment of types around the room enjoying their beer and conversation. The kind of place where people will look up and acknowledge a newcomer when the front door opens. I felt at home right away, and will be back in there as soon as I get back to Winchester.

The beer was good, serviceable stuff, with a few local brewers in with more familiar brands. All-around good place for a pint.

23 Jan 2006 19:42

The Cittie of Yorke, Holborn

A really enjoyable pub with snugs, fires going, and massive casks above the bar. It sounds like a great little local, but it's also a spacious place with a heavy (and somewhat annoying) clientele of yuppies from the business districts. The staff was friendly and took their time getting the beer right--always a big plus in my book.

I'm partial to Sam Smith beers, so this place is a real treat for me, especially as they somehow manage to be a relatively inexpensive place for a beer considering its location. If you can tune out the suits all trying to chat each other up in the evening, this is a great place for a drink, and a must on any Holborn-area pub crawl.

23 Jan 2006 19:35

The Prince Alfred, Bayswater

A nice-looking pub, with a separate, lounge-y upstairs bar to boot. Not a huge selection of beers, and the staff was pleasant enough but not very efficient.

My biggest complaint with this place is the obnoxious way they conduct drinking-up time. They herd drinkers from one room to another, snatching notquite-finished drinks off of tables and loudly insisting that everyone get out as soon as 11 rolls around, without any drinking-up time being allowed at all. I took a friend there, and was embarrassed by the rude way in which we were shooed out right after I'd finished explaining the concept of "drinking-up time" to him. They're the closest pub to where I'm living now, but I don't think I'll be in a hurry to give them any more of my money.

23 Jan 2006 19:28

The Prince Bonaparte, Westbourne Grove

I won't be back here in a hurry. Skeevy place with couches that look none too clean, a barmaid who acted as if getting my beer was interfering with her work in the back on a cure for cancer, and a fug in the air that was as much about the uncleared plates lying about the place as the smoke and mildew. Others have commented that this place used to be better, and that may be true, but it's a pit now.

23 Jan 2006 19:22

The Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell

This is my favorite pub in all London. I'm afraid to recommend it to too many people, because it already gets too crowded when the five-o-clockers show up. Go in the early afternoon, especially early in the week, and try their fantastic sandwiches. The staff is friendly and know their beer (and the St. Peter's line is just excellent). There's no annoying TV, the pub is small without feeling cramped (except for the later afternoon) and while I'd like it even better if smokers were confined to the outdoor seating, I've not yet found a better place to really sit and enjoy a good beer in relaxing surroundings.

Just do me a favor and don't tell anyone about it, okay?

23 Jan 2006 19:16

The Swan, Bayswater

This is a good bar thoroughly spoiled by shilling for tourist dollars. The signs out front all scream TRADITIONAL FOOD and FRIENDLIEST PUB IN LONDON. Inside, there are so many sign trying to sell tatty souveneir nonsense (does the world need ready access to Swan lighters?) that the actually-quite-good beer (well-poured by a competent, if not effusively friendly, staff) is almost completely forgotten.

I suppose it's better to scrabble for tourist money than to go out of business, which has been the recent fate of an excellent pub (the Archery Tavern) just down the road that apparently didn't have sufficiently garish signs. But it's hard to enjoy a beer in a place that feels like everyone in it is primarily there so they can tell their friends back home about going out to a pub.

23 Jan 2006 19:07

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