Wetherspoons provide a good value hearty breakfast and so we decided to try the Spoons at Victoria station. This took some manoeuvring because of the state of the tube network but we were pleasantly surprised by it. It was smarter than the average train station pub and offered a mezzanine view of the scuttling passengers below. It also had a decent beer offering including Phoenix White Monk & Bitter and Twisted.
Suitably refreshed, we headed back to the hotel before beginning Sunday’s beer tour. Now you may have seen us on our tour-Eddie was the one with the very fashionable Manx kipper carrier bag. Well, it’s fashionable in Douglas, anyway.
We made haste to our first hostelry for an early lunchtime pint. Now I’m not saying Eddie likes a lunchtime drink, but if you want your will to be legible and legally comprehendible, try and catch him before noon. I’ll say no more.
The Charles Lamb was another new one to both of us and another one down to Boak & Bailey. It’s a charming Islington corner local of the kind that doesn’t really exist up North. Smart and contemporarily cosy, it looks to offer decent food and some good beer. There are three real ales-although the Butcombe wasn’t available on our visit. No matter, who can complain with Hophead and Hophead Extra on offer? This was Eddie’s favourite pub of the weekend-Cask just shaded it for me-and we will certainly be back.
In fact, that whole area was a revelation. Lots of quite posh boozers offering nourishment and real ale. Even the Prince of Wales, which seemed the least posh, was interesting. We eventually found our way to the Narrow Boat. This is modern and airy with downstairs dining and seating outside overlooking the canal. Price wise it was punchy and the beer choice seemed a bit pedestrian (Black Sheep?) but we were happy with our Harveys.
We were heading for Belgravia but our stop at the Eagle on Shepherdess Walk proved disappointing. The pub is scruffy both inside and out and the furniture really looked out of place. Now it isn't as bad as the Wenlock (what is?)-which is the most overrated pub in London, but I digress. We may have been tempted if the beer choice had been even vaguely interesting, but as it wasn’t, we moved on.
A lively crowd met us at the small bar of the undisputedly posh Grenadier. This is where Madonna cut her teeth on Landlord. She wasn’t in on our visit, but Eddie left his business card, just in case. After our Bateman’s Miss America, we made tracks for the Nag’s Head. This is a classic amongst London pubs, with its split levels, bric-a-brac and very unusual low bar. Adnams Bitter and Broadside were the order of the day here.
It was eerily quiet in the Star Tavern with the Czech barmaid (another one for Tandleman’s collection) eager for any company. Eddie and I were the only customers for quite some time-this surely can’t be representative of their Sunday trade? The pub itself is another of Belgravia’s gems and delivered up some nicely chilled Discovery.
There was just time for a couple of more pints at the Doric Arch at Euston. It was good to see a choice of guest beers but the Bitter & Twisted was so dull, it prompted a switch to Discovery. On the train home, the Manx Minx phoned to say she had just taken her first shower for three days. I think it’s great she’s finally overcoming her hydrophobia.
Back in Manchester, we decided to break our journey at the Marble Arch. Unfortunately, the Pictish Chinook wasn’t quite on top form but the Pint certainly was. And then the last tram beckoned. Once in Bury we enjoyed a delayed Sunday lunch at Pizza Pioneer before I burnt my mouth and encountered Joe Stalin-the two incidents aren’t related...