Sunday, 9 December 2012

Trafalgar Square

Thought I'd start with a picture this week.

I think it’s actually a pretty good achievement that I’ve (we’ve) managed to complete two whole sides of the Monopoly Board and got nearly half way along the third side when finally we hit our first “venue issue”. Basically the nearest Cask Marque pubs to Trafalgar Square are the Silver Cross and the Lord Moon of the Mall, pubs we previously crossed off the list when we did Whitehall. The next nearest seemed to be The Harp, which again had already been  visited as part of Northumberland Avenue and going by the Cask Finder map, the next grouping of pubs were all centred around Leicester Square, a place we have yet to visit and therefore not one I wanted to encroach onto just yet.

Blue Peter never seemed to shut up about this tree - Now I've finally seen it!

Luckily though, Leicester Square has an absolute plethora of Cask Marque pubs surrounding it, so I decided that if we concentrated on the easterly side of this pub grouping we could still cover a nice little section of the pubs but still leave a sizable bunch to be done come Leicester Square time.
So although the location of the pubs was decided we took rather a hit on the number of attendees as come Friday when we finally decided to make the trip it was only Aussie Pete, Spiky Haired Ed, Charlie and myself on board. Buddy Rob had prior engagements, New Guy Mickey was feeling under the weather and No-nickname Michael was coming along all until the last minute when he bailed on us! And this even after his dry month had ended!
Never mind because although it was only the four of us who ventured into the biting cold of Trafalgar Square to take the all important photos – I successfully managed to ignore the encouragement of the others to straddle a lion – and have a look at the twinkling Xmas tree, both Charlie and I had been in contact with old friends who were hoping to make an appearance sometime during the night.
Ed wanted me to lie in the lion's paws! Yeah! Right!

From Trafalgar Square we dodged the traffic and made our way up St Martin’s Place to the first pub, a Taylor Walker place called The Salisbury. Absolutely rammed to the gunnels, as one might expect on a Friday night near the heart of Theatreland we never the less threaded ourselves through the throng and somehow I found myself nominated as kitty man, again! Amongst the more common ales (Bombardier, Tim Taylor & London Pride) I spotted a festive special from Solebay Brewery called Santa’s Spirit. Puzzlingly I cannot find anything about this brewery on both the internet and in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide and I wonder if this is a test-microbrewery from Adams? Any further information to the usual address please!
The Salisbury, all gleaming lights and brass.
The beer itself was fine, nice deep ruby red with a good bitter hop character and even lager boy Ed was kept satisfied with a pint of proper Budweiser. Although the pub was full, service was excellent and the polite barman even touched his heart after I paid for the round - I can’t even say the bloke behind me yelling in my ear “3 pints of Bomba mate!” put me off! Amazingly although the pub was a real squeeze we easily found the certificate, framed and on a pillar by the bar. We did need a little bit of extra light help to get the scan but it was soon in the bag.
The pub is one of Taylor Walker’s gems, all gleaming etched mirrors, low hanging crystal lanterns and bronze arte nouveau lamps so it was a bit of a shame that we decided to escape the squeeze after just one pint and made our way just round the corner into St Martin’s Court and another Taylor Walker place, the inappropriately named Round Table. I say inappropriately named because for starters, it’s not round and secondly there’s not many tables, and none of the ones that are there are round too!
The Round Table - not in the least bit round or tabley

Initially the pub was just as full as The Salisbury and it was a fight to get to the bar and get our order of 3 pints of Bombardier and 1 pint of Estrella. Spiky Haired Ed had the audacity to correct my pronunciation of Estrella (apparently it’s “estraya”) as we installed ourselves in a cramped little corner of the pub by a table (not round) with two Norwegians and the biggest camera in the world.
We spotted the certificate on the wall behind the bar but it was an old style out of date one without the QR code. Aussie Pete asked the barmaid why they had an expired certificate up and she raced to get the bar manager who explained how the new one was “in the post”.

Although the pub isn’t anywhere near as decorative or attractive as The Salisbury we decided to stay for another round and passing the kitty over to Pete I asked him to get 3 pints of Abbot Ale as this was the last beer we hadn’t tried. “3 pints of Abigail?” repeated the antipodean special one. So maybe I can’t pronounce Estrella but there are limits…………….!
Just as we were half way down the pints of Abigail, Charlie reported that his old schoolmate One-Time Tom was in the vicinity of the pub, and he wasn’t wrong as One-Time Tom joined us with a pint and an immediate download of Cask Finder as soon as we explained what it was we were actually doing. He then went on to demonstrate his uncanny party piece of being able to list the highest chart position and number of weeks on the chart for any 80’s song. A very impressive if not a little bit worrying talent.
And then talk about good timing, just as we were pulling on jackets to leave my old Army mate, Romanian Reg appeared! No time for a drink Reg we’re off to the next place!
The next place was The Angel and Crown which meant retracing our step to The Salisbury and crossing to the other side of St Martin’s Place as the two pubs are opposite each other. The Angel and Crown is one of a small chain of 9 pubs across London run by the ETM Group, or brothers Ed and Tom Martin. The pub is a cool trendy venue, attracting a cool and trendy crowd, which means I certainly don’t fit in, but the beer range was excellent with a couple of pints of DoubleDark Oatmeal Stout from Caledonian and a couple of pints of Jugged Hare from Sambrooks Brewery. Ed got the lovely treat of a pint of Bitburger Pilsner, a real German classic and one I hope he enjoyed!
Charlie took the plunge to ask the barmaid about the certificate but it was one of those occasions when we could have been asking if the chiropodist was free as the poor woman didn’t have a clue what we were going on about. So we escaped the cool and trendy throng and stood outside to drink our pints which enabled Reg and myself to catch up on old times and for Aussie Pete to get someone to take our photo whilst we were all still standing.
Outside the Angel & Crown - L-R, Romanian Reg, Spiky Haired Ed, Charlie, BGC, One-Time Tom, Aussie Pete - I win the best turnups competition. The others didn't know that was happening.

We pushed on up the narrow and winding New Row to the junction of Garrick Street and Bedford Street and the corner pub of The Roundhouse, a Fuller’s pub which at least has the decency to be round, well at the front anyway. One-Time Tom led the rush to the bar and secured pints of a Fuller’s special limited edition ale called Traitor’s Gate. The website says it’s only been brewed in limited supply and only stocked at a handful of specially chosen pubs, which on the one hand is great because I now feel privileged to have tried such a lovely pint, but on the other hand a shame because it’s such a nice tasting brew it’ll be a shame to not see it regularly.
It was about now that the evening started to get a bit wobbly and I can remember getting a handful of bottles of Fuller’s Black Cab Stout (I’d asked for London Porter, but they didn’t have any) and a single shot of Jägermeister for Ed because he wanted a bomb but the barmaid told me it was a waste of money for the can of Red Bull for just one shot – so I drank it.
Next thing I know I’m sat on the floor amongst the coats, jackets and bags.
Taxi for BGC time; Aussie Pete kindly guided me to the Leicester Square tub station but that still didn’t stop me making a torturous route back to Paddington, via Euston Road where I dashed through 6 lanes of traffic and vaulted over a central reservation and somehow didn’t die.
Paddington saw me board a sleeper train to God only knows where until I realised that I might be better to get off this one before it left and instead take the last proper train home instead and someone or something must have been smiling down on me as I managed to wake up at the right stations to change trains and eventually successfully navigated home.
I blame the food.
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited  = 126 - It was a scan disaster. Only one added - TREVOR!
Walking tip = Bouncing from one curb to the other increases your distance by at least double.
Is Spiky Haired Ed original? = Well apparently not. Charlie found this blog and this character. The resemblance is uncanny! I’ve mailed Debbie, the owner of the blog, to see if she agrees!
Next Stop = Fenchurch Street Station
P.S. We didn’t have any food.

No comments:

Post a Comment