Wednesday 17 August 2011

The Pubs of Kings Cross and Euston

Kings Cross once the regeneration is complete (hopefully)

Working in Kings Cross is not a lot fun. The area has been going under a “regeneration” program for about 20 years and apart from the magnificent St Pancras station not much seems to have got done. Nothing says “Welcome to London” like a tatty row of shops, the horrific Camden Town Hall, and depending on the time of night, some ratty looking whores. Luckily most tourists don't get beyond the hastily cobbled together Harry Potter “Platform 9 3/4” photo spot at the front of the station. Here they can queue up to get a photo of the amazing spectacle of half a luggage trolley leaning against a wall. I'm surprised one of Kings Cross “ladies of loose morals” hasn't had the idea of dressing up as a witch and offered to handle tourists wands until they produce their patronus. Personally I like my idea of plying a dwarf full of booze, dressing him up with a suit and monocle and offering tourists the chance to take a picture with Griphook from Gringotts. But I digress.

The most criminal thing about the hovel that is Kings Cross is that there are precious little decent pubs around. In the local area there is Smithys which serves below average pints of Harveys Best and Doom Bar. I haven't dared tried the Landlord there for concern of my stomach. It also has one my biggest pet peeves in a pub – a separate area for diners where drinkers are not allowed. Places that do this should just become a restaurant and be done with it. What's the point of having a pub with areas you can't drink in?

The Harrison is a passable little boozer which serves an OK pint of London Pride and the aforementioned Landlord. However it's surrounded by some grotty council estates and can sometimes be full of wankers. I once saw a girl there dressed as a tiger. It wasn't halloween and there was no childrens party in sight. Anyway the crowd was so full of hipsters nobody even thought of saying “YOU LOOK LIKE A BLOODY IDIOT.” I did say it but really quietly under my breath while staring at her (turning away quickly when she looked back at me) because I'm a Londoner and proudly passive aggressive.

This was my favourite image when
doing a search for "Mabel"
To get a decent pint after work I have to head down to Euston Station where there's a cluster of good real ale pubs. First up is Mabels Tavern which is a decent Shepherd Neame boozer. The Kent Best, a satisfyingly malty bitter is always well kept here. As is the Master Brew, a session ale with a cleaner, crisper taste that goes down well. The prices are a little expensive and it's always tremendously busy on a Thursday and Friday night but it's worth stopping by if in the area.

Next door to Euston Station is the Doric Arch, which used to be the pretty good Head of Steam. Sadly the old bar billiards table that used to be there is long gone but it's still a nice pub with a good selection of Fullers and guest ales. I had a great pint of Bitter and Twisted by Harviestoun there last week, the hoppy flavours in this delicious blonde ale coming through wonderfully.

Across the road the Euston Tap is a great boozer which at last count had a selection of 27 beers and ales on offer. The place is tiny and it's impossible to get a seat. If the weather is nice though it's fine to stand outside and watch the buses whiz in and out of Euston bus station, sometimes narrowly avoiding hitting some toothless smackhead that has wandered on to the road. There are a couple of drawbacks with the Tap – to get to the toilets requires a scary climb up a narrow spiral staircase, and the beers look like they are being served from a urinal. Luckily most of the beers don't taste like piss. I enjoyed a perfectly pleasant pint of Festival by Dark Star there recently. This strong ale has a good caramel flavour, the heavy malty aftertaste might not be for everyone though.

The Bree Louise is nearby but I shall review that at a later time as I haven't visited recently. Also I've typed up more than enough and am starting to get a headache. Until next time!

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