It was Benjamin Franklin who said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes and having a slightly shameful pint in a Wetherspoons.” The kite flying loony was correct and so it was I ended up in two Wetherspoons pubs over the past few days.
Wetherspoons are a odd beast. They sound in theory the perfect pub – big spaces with plenty of ales fairly priced and cheap food. Unfortunately something gets lost in translation and most 'Spoons end up having all the personality of an aiport lounge. Especially the ones in airport lounges. The cheap beer means they can attract some “colourful” characters - mainly scary old men and scumbags. Still 'Spoons are good in an emergency and you're generally guaranteed an OK pint. The breakfasts are also pretty good as long as you don't look any of the other customers in the eye – the customers usually consisting of two old blokes nursing a whiskey at 10am and a tattooed bruiser on his fifth pint of Fosters.
Last Thursday I paid a visit to the Crosse Keys near Bank station which is considered a sort of flagship Wetherspoons. Granted “flagship” Wetherspoons probably means as much as a “flagship” Cash Converters but it was actually very pleasant. A former bank it's a massive open space with plenty of seating, huge marble columns and a bar in the middle with around 20 handpumps. Despite being in the city it was refreshingly free of wankers, and despite being a 'Spoons all the ales were on. I enjoyed a very tasty pint of Iceberg by the Titanic brewery. This refreshing hoppy ale is not always seen in London so it was a pleasure to have a decent pint of the stuff.
On Sunday The Lovely Jemma and I visited a newly opened 'Spoons in Bromley called The Greyhound, a rather pleasant pub with a large airy seating area in the back. I sampled two ales: The BOB by Wickwar and the Rutterkin by Brewster's. The BOB was suppable but not a standout. A golden brown ale the malty taste wasn't spectacular and the aftertaste was a little unpleasant to be fair. The Rutterkin was much nicer with a good citrus flavour coming through nicely.
As this was a new 'Spoons we had about five people in a row asking if we were being served. Not sure why as they were all in earshot of each other and must have heard me say “Yes I am” over and over again. Still at least they were keen. And as this new 'Spoons was in Bromley there was a argument at the bar as some kid tried his luck getting served before being kicked out. No doubt he wandered the streets of Bromley lost and confused before finding a bin where he could vandalise the “Gum” sign to read “Cum.”
Overall both pubs were a pleasant experience and had something missing from other 'Spoons – a bit of character. However one word of warning if you go to a 'Spoons – don't ever ask to look at the nutritional information guide of the food served. The Mixed Grill with a jacket potato is an amazing 1800 calories, and the Wetherspoons sharer is a heart destroying 2400 calories. Have one of those every day for a week and you'll never need eat again. Because you'll be dead.