Thursday 21 June 2012

Farringdon walkabout

Now that I'm working in the Farringdon area it would be rude not to visit the pubs nearby for research purposes. There are certainly worse areas to be in for an after work drink. Indeed there is a pub located practically across the road from our new offices, The Blue Lion. A former tied house this is now a indepenedent pub with a decent rotating selection of four ales. Sadly the frontage does not include a picture of a lion looking a bit depressed. Despite having a large bar there only ever seems to be two bored staff members pouring pints and glasses of Pinot Grigio for the ITN journos who work nearby. The beerintheevening review promises a goth barmaid with mammaries of appreciable size but sadly she must have left because I've never seen her - believe me I've kept a lookout. The place gets very busy on Thursdays and Fridays and frankly the staff can't cope but it's a nice enough place to pop into if it's not too manic. The ale is well kept and there's usually something pleasant to try.

Next up is The Gunmakers, a quaint little pub tucked in the arse end of nowhere. Nearby are grimy warehouses, some kind of grotty factory, and worst of all, the Ben Sherman headquarters. Inside however this is a welcoming little pub. I've only visited once so far and unfortunately it was during a Tyneside beer festival. I say unfortunately because every Geordie beer I tried had the taste of what I imagine water gathered from a freshly wet and muddy dog would taste like. The Geordie Pride from the Mordue Brewery was the best of a bad bunch and it still wasn't great, with a rather weak hoppy taste. The pub itself is a pleasure to drink in though, even if the beer was not great, with a conservatory in the back that had a friendly beer tent feel to it. I'm looking forward to returning when they aren't selling beer from our Geordie friends.

On Leather Lane is the Craft Beer Co, a well known mecca for ale lovers, with a tremendous selection of booze. Countless handpumps deliver well kept ale and a mind boggling selection of largers. On my last visit I was greeted with the pleasent sight of five Thornbridge ales on handpull, and a splendid pint of Crux went down very well indeed. Reminiscent of Kipling but with the tropical fruit juice flavours toned down a bit, I actually enjoyed this more than Kipling. A great pint. The only downside of Craft is that they choose to charge £5 for half a slice of pork pie. This is absolutely ridiculous. For that kind of money I would expect a pork pie made from REAL GOLD although I imagine that would be disgusting. The pork pie they do serve is inevitably delicious but the high cost does sour the taste.

Ye Olde Mitre is a charming little pub tucked down the most easy to miss side alley in London. A Fullers pub they usually have the full range on plus a couple of guests. I had a pint of Ilkley Black which sadly tasted a bit like coal but I don't think this was the fault of the pub. A taste of Fullers new Wild River went down well, a pleasently hopped summer ale, using American hops. It's a good attempt. The pub is small although you may be able to find a seat in the cosy upstairs room. The opening hours seem to be erratic, as being in Farringdon everybody leaves at around 9pm so don't be surprised if they've called last orders at 10pm. Pork pies are a much more reasonable £1.80 or so although they do appear to have been purchased from the nearby Sainsburys.

The One Tun is a strange beast. It feels like it should be a council estate pub but instead it's slap bag in the centre of London next to an incredibly busy train station.. It's got a lot of things I don't really like in pubs - TV's everywhere, sound deck and disco ball, Thai food and a snow machine(?!) But the ale selection is good and the beer well kept, and it has a weird feel of community spirit even though it's full of office workers. It was certainly a fun place to watch 22 men flail about on a grassy field for 90 minutes while desperately trying to kick a ball into the back of a net. I like the place but I can imagine it's a bit of an aquired taste.

I'm not going to say much about the Sir John Oldcastle except to say it's pretty much your bog standard 'Spoons and my lamb rogan josh was fine.

There are plenty of other places I need to visit in the area including the Jerusalem Tavern. A 10-15 minute walk away is the Holborn Whippet which I've been hearing great things about. There also seems to be a lot of places I need to avoid as well judging by the braying suits on their Blackberries standing outside. I shall no doubt keep you updated on any further pubs I visit!

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