Category Archives: A Capital Pub

The Angelic

Address  57 Liverpool Road, Islington, N1 0RJ Tel. 020 7278 8433

The blurb  There’s something rather inviting about the exterior of The Angelic and the sense is maintained as you walk through its doors: a book-case, open fire, large sofas. It all looks very welcoming, comfortable. A place you can feel at home. Sadly it is in the aesthetics that the comfort factor ends. The bar has 4 cask ales on tap, none particularly unusual, all kept very badly. I have lost count of the number of drinks I have sent back – quite a feet when you consider I’ve only visited 3 times (the latter two not out of choice). The pub’s website declares that “nothing is too much trouble” although clearly that philosophy doesn’t extend to getting a refund on a disgraceful pint….Food fares little better. The pub has an extensive Tapas menu, very little of which is Spanish and even less that is edible.  It’s location, a stone’s throw from Angel Tube (and I pray it is merely down to location. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the majority of people visit because they think that this is a good pub) means that it becomes inhumanly busy almost every night of the week. The large windows and high ceiling turn the place into a cacophony of scraping chairs, clattering plates and crashing glasses and unless you arrive before 4pm there is never a free seat on which to sit. There are 7 kegs, all doling out the usual suspects and a pint will set you back £3.50 at best. All in all it’s not a good pub. Service is rushed, inattentive and dismissive, no doubt a result of the levels of business, something which is certainly not justified by the experience. Angelic in name only this is one to give a wide berth; If only to mark yourself out as an individual .

 The Scores: Beer: 1.5, Food: 1.5, Ambience: 2, Accessibility: 3.5, Value: 1

 Total: 9.5/25 Pints


Mason & Taylor

 

Mason & Taylor Hop Festival

Address  Mason & Taylor, 51-55 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

The Blurb:  Beer doesn’t have a cache. It isn’t like wine. People don’t treat it with the same respect or deference or wide-eyed wonderment. It isn’t considered noble. It is the preserve of the labourer; the man toiling in the field returns from his manual, earthy grind and is refreshed by the simple, utilitarian drink of the land. Even the Royal Family, guardians of all things English, refused to serve this country’s greatest contribution to the drinks cabinet at their latest little party. Why beer has never been able to raise its profile is a question too baffling for somebody as lowly as me to answer; I am after all merely a beer drinker…All I can do is report the facts and beer’s pedestrian reputation is an ordained fact. Until now. One of the best things to come out of my quest for London’s greatest Pub is not only the perpetual booze-tinged perspective I have gained of the world but the realisation that there are people who believe beer is capable of delivering a truly great experience. They recognise its variety, its ever changing character, its diversity and they champion its artisanal qualities. They go to the greatest of lengths to brew, source and showcase the very best of beer, flying in the face of Royal dictum – a veritable act of treason no doubt – and all because they, unlike so many, believe beer is worth it. Mason & Taylor is a pub run by said people: it is, quite simply, a brilliant place to drink beer. Everything about Mason & Taylor is great. The staff, the layout, the food and what else? Oh, the beer. The beer is just amazing. The range and quality are staggering. Micro-breweries are clearly a priority here – their beers proving how truly diverse the styles and flavours can be. But the care and attention doesn’t stop there. The whole place has been designed to attract pretty much any demographic – none of your dingy, insular, off-putting nicotine-stained back water tavern here. Instead we are given light and glass and wood. If beer is ever going to reach a wider audience and in doing so move up the social ladder then such surroundings will be instrumental in its progress. And who knows, if places as good as Mason & Taylor keep springing up then maybe, just maybe, one day a Prince will appear on a balcony with a pint of Brodies Citra…my money’s on Harry…here’s hopping (my apologies but I just had to get that in).

The Scores: Beer: 5, Food: 4, Ambience: 5, Accessibility: 3, Value: 4

Total: 21/25 Pints


The Bree Louise

Address  69 Coburg Street, Euston, London, NW1 2HH

The Blurb: Tucked away in a shitty part of town sits The Bree Louise, a pub that serves a serious amount of real ale to anyone clued-up enough to know it’s there. That is pretty much all there is to say about this pub; The selection of beer is great – diverse, vast and well kept in the main (coming straight from the cask and flying out the door as it does there are some settling issues). The staff are quite good too: fairly knowledgeable. Everything else about the place is uninspiring. The food is poor, the ambience is negligible and it gets very, very busy. It doesn’t represent great value for money although if you are a member of CAMRA (I am not) you get 50p off a pint, which is vastly preferable to being repeatedly kicked in the balls.

The Scores: Accessibility: – 3, Beer – 5, Bar Snacks – 2, Ambience – 2.5, Value for Money – 3

Overall: 15.5/25 Pints


The D/C – And Then There Were Two

Little is known about The D/C: a Sociopath with impeccable dress sense he has a proclivity to grow his own facial hair, is quick to anger and always eager to drink. Upon their first meeting George Bernard-Shaw likened The D/C’s character to that of a Molotov Cocktail, just before he was stabbed through the face with a broken pool-cue. His inclusion as one of the Five Riders of The Booze-pocalypse is mandatory. Not only would it be far too dangerous to leave him out but his refusal to drive anywhere using major roads (The D/C is 7-times World Rally Champion and the only man to win the title before the age of 9 whilst sporting a moustache) and his total lack of a sense of direction make him the prime candidate to judge the accessibility of any given pub: if The D/C can find it then so can a pack of Hedgehogs trapped in a brown paper bag. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Rider No.2: The Despicable Cunt.


A Capital Pub – An Announcement

The popularity and success of A Capital Pub has proved phenomenal, of that there can be no doubt. So successful has it turned out to be that even the priapic genius behind this monumental quest has been taken by surprise. Its impact has been as profound as any religious epiphany, as sweeping as any Tsunami, as historic as any uprising. It has shaken society to the core. It is true that the widespread anti-government demonstrations that currently sweep the Middle East are about the peoples’ attempts to over-throw despotic and tyrannical autocrats in the name of democracy and justice. But they are also about A Capital Pub. The quest to find London’s greatest boozer has seized the imagination of the globe in a way that few expected. It is zeitgeist. It is real. It is essential. And it is boozy. The task seems almost insurmountable. Just as David, sling in hand, his feet firmly planted on the weather-beaten battle field of the Valley of Elah, must have peered up the towering six cubits and a span that was the Philistine Goliath and thought “Awwww Shitballs”, so too the architect of A Capital Pub stands before his tormentor: the 7000 Public Houses of this fair city. How can one man ever do justice to such a plethora of places? How can one man consume that much beer? How can one man be THAT attractive? The answer is with help. He is a popular man. A man of guile and spunk. A man of means and standing. A man with many friends. And it is to these friends he now turns. He will call upon four. Men upon whom he has relied. Men he can trust. Men who still have their own livers. Each has a skill, an attribute which singles them out as an indispensable compatriot. These will be utilised. The team will nourish the creator, as a babe sups on the engorged bangers of its mother. And there will be much rejoicing. Every week a different member of the team will be revealed. Each week the team will grow in strength and with each new addition the quest for A Capital Pub will inch ever closer. Ladies and Gentlemen the time has come. Publicans throw open your doors: the time is nigh. THE FIVE RIDERS OF THE BOOZE-POCALYPSE ARE COMING!


Ye White Hart

Take one....really?

Address: The Terrace, Barnes, London, SW13 0NR, 020 8876 5177

The Blurb: The pub is cavernous, split over two floors with a river terrace affording great views of…the river….Despite its size the place is surprisingly comfortable. There are 4 ales on tap – two by Youngs, two by Wells including Banana Bread beer which is ace. All are well kept. The more ubiquitous lagers are just that and therefore not worthy of a mention. Bar snacks are really good and available all day, everyday. The menu reads badly but the burger I ate was lovely. Service was good, in the main, aside from some militant Antipodean who told me that it was going to be sooooo busy in the pub due to the rugby that I might as well leave because there wouldn’t be any room for me….The rugby was indeed on, which we won, but it didn’t seem to impact on my beer consumption or enjoyment of the whole thing. It is, however, in Barnes. Did I mention that? Probably not because I don’t really know where Barnes is. I’m not sure Barnes knows where it is either. And that is a problem.

The Scores: Accessibility: – 2, Beer Choice – 4, Bar Snacks – 3.5, Ambience – 4, Value for Money – 3

Overall: 16.5/25 Pints

 


The Peasant

Address: 240 St. John Street
City of London EC1V 4PH
020 7336 7726

The Blurb: The Peasant has been merrily existing, in its present guise, on a corner of St. John Street for the last 9 years, blissfully unaware that its profile was to be  launched into the Stratosphere by appearing on this very website. You’re immediately put at ease as you enter the pub: the layout, furnishings and feel of the place are  homely and welcoming. There are papers to read on the bar and a roaring open fire in the grate. Plenty of space to sit down too. A good start. Step up to the bar and things get better. If you remember only one thing about this pub make it this: The Peasant has an excellent range of Beers. I counted 13 different pumps in all, which include four Real Ale taps that regularly change and one that serves as a house choice. The rest focus on continental Lager, mainly Belgian, German and Czech. Each of the Ale’s I drank was bang on. Looked great. Tasted great. The pub patronises Micro-breweries, of which I approve, giving a wealth of unusual and interesting stuff. A pint will cost you £3.50 on average, which is OK for London. Not content with offering a dizzying array of draught beer there is also a staggering range of foreign bottled Lager and Porter. Again all very interesting although some come in at over £5 which for 330ml  of beer is pushing it. There is a good wine list and a note-worthy range of Sherry and Port too. Everything else about the pub is good (but not in the same league as the drink selection) and it’s pretty close to Exmouth Market if you want to go on somewhere else after drinking your fill (not that you ever could because there is just so much Goddamn choice!).

The Scores: Accessibility: – 3, Beer Choice – 5, Bar Snacks – 3, Ambience – 4, Value for Money – 3

Overall: 18/25 Pints



The Compass

Address: 58 Penton St
City of London N1 9PZ
020 7837 3891

The Blurb: Had The Compass retained its original 2009 kitchen brigade and front of house team this competition may well have been wrapped up before it even began, so good were its homemade bar snacks (see stage left), its ever-changing beers and the general level of cheer with which you were greeted. Sadly this was not to be. It is still a good pub, doing decent bar food (when they can be bothered) and serving you in a well-mannered sort of a way, but the spark, the variety and the crazy floor manager with the military jacket and the girl’s bike have all disappeared, leaving in their wake a pub which I doubt will end up making my Top 3.

The Scores:  Accessibility – 5 (2 tubes: Angel and the very well connected King’s Cross), Beer Choice – 2.5, Bar Snacks – 3, Ambience – 2.5, Value for money – 2.5

Overall: 15.5/25 Pints (oh that pint thing is GENIUS)


A Pub For The Capital

In 1993, at the tender age of 13-and-a-bit, I was plucked from the womb-like safety of Mrs. Stokes’ Design and Textiles lesson (a class that required no more ability than it took to tie up your own shoe) and herded into my secondary school Gym Hall, along with my piers, to take The Morrisby Test. The test was divided into a number of categories, each focussing on a different part of the individual’s personality: Verbal, Numerical and Perceptual aptitudes, Abstract Reasoning, Spatial and Mechanical awareness, that kind of thing. The idea behind this new-fangled waste of conventional schooling hours was to divine exactly what job the individual taking the test was most suited to undertake. No doubt the rigours of the examination process would herald the next Captains of Industry, the beacons of creative light and the shit-shovellers of Dalston. That is not to say that the Morrisby test would pigeon-hole any one candidate: the result would be multi-various, offering a number of possibilities to which you were most suited. Or at least that was the idea. My own Morrisby result was uncomplicatedly focussed; After an hour and a half of integrated paper and pencil based tests just one conclusion was reached. One thing at which I would excel. My print out read simply: Sitting in the Pub. It appeared that my complex network of intellectual talents, preferred learning styles and manual speed and practical abilities singled me out as the perfect candidate to sit in a corner and drink beer. And how right Mssrs. Morrisby and Test turned out to be! I am brilliant at sitting in the pub and drinking beer. So good in fact that of late I have added eating Pork Scratchings to my skill-set. How do you like dem apples Morrisby?! Not just a one-trick Pony! And so, after years of visiting and drinking in Pubs all around the country, nay world, I have decided to launch a competition – a competition hell bent on finding the greatest pub that London, which is the capital, has to offer. The reasons I have limited my search to just one city is three-fold: A) I live here 2) London has more pubs than any other city in the world (this may not be true) and C) I lack imagination. Despite the daunting amount of Public houses that my fair city has to offer I do believe there is a real dirth of what I would call a really great pub. This is the real reason I’m undertaking this mammoth feat. I want to sort the wheat from the chaff – or the hops from the mugwort if you will. Which brings me neatly on to what I consider to be a “great Pub”. Obviously this is highly subjective so in order to establish an even playing field on which pubs can be compared I have set out a number of criteria by which the pub in question must be judged. Each criteria is to be scored out of five. There are 5 criteria which means that despite Morrisby’s damning conclusions about my mathematic ability, even I know that each pub will be scored out of 25 points – or as I have brilliantly devised, PINTS!!!!! That’s right – each pub can garner up to a maximum of 25 PINTS. But what are those criteria I hear you cry? Well my friend they are this and thus:

1: Accessibility – it’s all very well discovering an absolute gem of a place but if nobody else can find it then it’s not much good.

2: Beer choice – In this age of multi-media madness we are bombarded with choice at every turn. We no longer want the same thing all the time. The perfect pub will reflect this by providing a varied and quality driven range of beers, and other beverages, to suit the fickle and ever-changing moods of a restless and dissatisfied society.

3: Bar Snacks & Food – by this I do not mean that the pub must have a seasonal menu constructed from the finest ingredients,  all sourced within about a mile of the pub (where possible!). We aren’t talking gastro here – if you want a fully fledged meal then do it on your own time and don’t waste mine. This category focusses very specifically on food as an accompaniment to beer: bar snacks, be they Twiglets or a home-made Scotch Egg.

4: Ambience – comprises of a number of things including Music, Aesthetics, Staff, Furnishings, incidental idiosyncrasies which augment your all-round experience and, crucially, Seating. Nothing annoys me more than finding a great pub, buying a beer and finding you can’t sit down. That is a vital part of the equation. As all these pubs are in London you will probably want to visit each candidate at least twice: once in the week and once at weekends, to make sure that at all times the comfortable seating is available for all and sundry (very tough call this category).

5: Value For Money – in these times of austerity we are all looking for a good deal. Not necessarily an absolute bargain, but at least something that approximates value. £4.75 for a pint of Fosters, for example, is the polar opposite of what I’m going for here. And if you are ordering a pint of Fosters I don’t think you should be reading this….

There isn’t a time limit by which submissions must be made, but I would remind all participants that this competition/quest is entitled “A Capital Pub 2011” so really there is a time limit. The scoring system outlined above is to be undertaken subjectively but all finalists will be adjudicated and ratified by an objective, non-interested third party meaning that any attempts at Lobbying or prejudice will be exposed and dealt with in the most draconian of ways.

For my part I shall record potential candidates for the Golden and Wooden Pint awards as and when I see fit. Submissions can be made through the Comment fields that appear at the bottom of the “A Capital Pub” webpage on DLVdotcom.


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