Saturday, 25 August 2012

Pall Mall

So we turn the corner and begin our progress along the side of the board from the Jail to Free Parking. The first square, Pall Mall, also allows us to indulge in some more pub facts with which you can bore your friends and enemies alike! Firstly, Pall Mall takes its name from the croquet-like game of “palle-maille” which used to be played on the site of the street in the 17th century. And if you haven’t bored your audience to death with that one, try telling them that Pall Mall was the first public street to be lit with gas street lamps in 1807. I thank you and good night…………….!

If you check any of the other blogs or sites about the Monopoly crawl, you’ll see that they nearly all visit either The Red Lion or the Golden Lion pubs when visiting this square. These pubs lie either end (almost) of the Crown Passage, a little backstreet connecting up Pall Mall to St James’s Street. Needless to say I was delighted when I checked the Cask Marque website to find that both of these pubs have Cask Marque accreditation, as does the nearby Blue Posts in Bennett street and a Friday evening after work drink, ready for the Bank Holiday seemed like an ideal thing to do especially if a 3-scan haul of pubs could be achieved.
Raking up the regular old soaks from work was fairly easy, with Aussie Pete, Charlie and Rob all leaping onto the merry Monopoly band wagon. But a last minute substitution had to be made when we had to replace Spiky haired Ed with New Guy Mickey as Ed had “got a better offer”. Well Ed, all I can say is I hope she was worth it! Splitter!
Alighting from Green Park tube it was an easy stroll along Piccadilly, carefully stepping over the sleeping bagged homeless outside The Ritz, and cutting down St James’s to find the Blue Posts.
Getting our hearing back outside the Blue Posts
Well easy that is unless you’re Aussie Pete, Rob and New Guy Mickey who went bowling up Piccadilly until they reached Regents Street, failing completely to see Charlie frantically waving his brolly like a demented tour guide. Finally gathering ourselves together we entered the Blue Posts to a cacophony of noise and crowded bar to squeeze ourselves behind the table with the tiniest amount of leg room in the world. The Blue Posts is another Taylor Walker pub and it looks like they had also been given the same delivery of country flags as had The Royal George (see Euston Road) but despite the jolly decorations the place was so full and so loud, conversation was impossible. Obviously the bar manager had also decided he thought the level of chat was too much so he whacked up the volume on the stereo system and made even hearing your own voice difficult. The beer choice was pretty basic also with the standard offerings of Wells’sBombardier, Young’s London Gold and another two equally ubiquitous ales. There was also Meantime’s Pale Ale but unfortunately Charlie and I only spotted this as we were leaving clutching our bleeding ears. “Where’s your Cask Marque certificate?” I yelled at the barmaid as we made our escape. “It’s out the door by the stairs” she replied, speaking through a megaphone. I knew at this point that it wouldn’t be. This has happened in the past, the person thinks you mean the Cask Marque plaque outside the pub and hasn’t got a clue about the certificate or the Ale Trail. The only thing Aussie Pete and I could find were the leaflets advertising the Ale Trail but by now with the tinnitus ringing in our frontal lobes we elected to forgo the scan and go somewhere quieter.

The somewhere quieter was the Golden Lion on King Street although with the Friday night crowd spilling out on the street from this tiny little pub we’d hardly found a silent oasis. That said the first improvement was the beer range with another Meantime product, London Lager being the choice of Charlie and myself. This instantly got a thumbs up from the BGC side of me as it came in a handsome stemmed goblet.
Either I like the glass or I've just heard Mickey's cousin owns a strip bar!
Rob was slightly less enamoured with his bottle of Bud. As someone who thinks he’s being adventurous when he puts two sugars in his tea Rob is very much a person who prefers the safety and standard of American Budweiser and when the pub could only supply the far superior Czech Budvar I thought he might enjoy the change. He didn’t. J
Anyway, back to the pub, which is a tiny but beautiful thing with its stylish stained glass and lovely semi-tiled bar. The Cask Marque certificate was proudly displayed behind the bar but was screwed to the wall meaning the assistance of the bar staff would have to be called into play to obtain the scan. My lovely barmaid was only too happy to take my phone and scan it for me meaning I’d captured what could be one of the harder to get scans. I bet there are not many pubs who keep their certificate nailed behind the bar!
When we joined the milling throng outside there was then the realisation that this was a seriously posh area of London. I’d commented in the last post that there were some seriously “nice” houses in Islington but this area is a class above. There’s money and there’s old family money belonging to the rich and privileged who wouldn’t think twice about spending the price of a family hatchback on a pair of red stilettos………and that’s all I’ll say on that matter.
Front of the Golden Lion - I've just spotted the shoes.
So finally after repeated photo calls we made our way down the Crown Passage to the Red Lion and stepped into a different world. Firstly we gone back 30+ years in terms of d├ęcor with a swirly pattern carpet and wooden and wrought iron bar but also gone somewhere else complete geographically with a pub that could easy fit into a backstreet of any town or city the length and breadth of the country. This wasn’t central London surely? There was no pretence, no bunch of “suits”, no young and beautiful admiring Prada handbags, in fact there wasn’t many people at all………….but it was heaven!
And for my next trick I will pour a pint of stout whilst mixing a Bloody Mary!
We spotted the certificate but wait, what’s this? It also fixed to the wall in this pub but this time right at the back of the bar, hiding behind some bottles of spirits and an electric fan………..what are the chance of that happening (yeah, I know I’ve done that joke before!) “Any chance I can scan your certificate?” I asked, feeling fairly sure the barmaid would refuse to let any old stranger behind the bar. “Yeah, no problems” she calmly replied as she turned to serve someone else. “How many times have you had to let people do that?” asked Charlie, “Oh, you’re the first” she answered. Oh……….WOW!
Outside the Red Lion
Feeling very privileged I then bored everyone rigid by explaining that the Adnams Southwold Bitter didn’t smell off but rather this was how it was meant to smell (a Southwold Snatch rather than a Burton Snatch)  before we all negotiated the steepest stairs in the world to make relieve ourselves in the downstairs loos. The Red Lion is worth a visit for these alone!
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited  = 55
Three scan haul? = No, but two very select ones!
Message for the barman? = Turn it down guv’nor!
Next Stop = Electric Company

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