Thursday 15 November 2012

Counting House, City of London and Red Lion, Bromley

I'm not a huge fan of drinking in London's Square Mile. For readers not familiar, the Square Mile is the financial centre of London, where greed driven looneys come together to wear seizure inducing stripy suits and piss away other peoples money. The last time I went for a drink in a bar near Moorgate, they had the cheek to charge £5 for a pint of Peroni, and £4 for a pint of so-so Doom Bar. I was surrounded by braying gents who had a better relationship with their Blackberry than the colleagues around them. What did people do in awkward social situations before smartphones came along? All across London bars are filled with co-workers desperately eeking out small talk before eventually giving up and retreating to the comforting glow of their iPhone screen. Did co-workers just use to stand around looking so awkward that one of them would eventually expire, giving the others something to talk about?

If you look hard enough you will find some pubs in the square mile that aren't filled with punters with more money than they know what to do with paying ludicrous amounts of money for swill and piss (or San Miguel to use its trading name.) The Counting House near Bank station is one of them. This is a large two floor and rather grandiose Fullers pub which used to be a branch of Natwest. It's an impressive space with an imposing domed roof. Rammed with the more down to earth city workers it has a good pubby atmosphere. Ale wise the large bar serves the full Fullers selection and not much else, I couldn't see any guest ales. I went for a couple of pints of Chiswick, a solid best bitter which always manages to hit the spot, thanks to its subtle fruity flavour which flourishes in the finish.

The striking interior of the Counting House. Photo from the Fullers website. I could never
take a photo this good.

As an Ale and Pie house I thought I may as well have a pie, and I tried the house pie which was very good and packed full of steak with a good portion of mash. Although the large space and high ceiling makes for a noisy pub, there's no blaring music which makes it fine to hold a conversation. The noise level is high enough that you don't have to listen to the absolute nonsense the suited and booted clan are no doubt wittering on about as they slowly bankrupt our country into the ground. There are a coupler of quiet nooks and crannies as well, especially on the upper level.

I have been house hunting the past few months. House hunting would be a great experience if it didn't involve estate agents. It amazes me just how much of a chancer occupation being an estate agent is. There is no qualification or entry requirement for being one, these people are just winging it and pulling selling prices for a pile of second hand bricks out of thin air. It's getting depressing on how many unkempt, unloved houses which are supposedly a "the perfect first time buyer home" I've viewed, where the agent has convinced the poor seller that the hole they're living in is worth a grossly overestimated sum of money. Anything in reasonable condition and sensibly priced is off the market in a matter of days. I know I'm not saying anything new but it is depressing trying to buy a house in London.

Me and the Lovely Jemma viewed a house in Bromley North. I knew we'd never buy the place as it was the size of a postage stamp, but I really like the area. The fact that there are four good quality pubs and a Chinese takeaway had no influence on this decision at all. When we viewed the house I could barely fit inside. I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland and I'd taken a bite of the "Eat Me" cake. My head was touching the ceiling in all the rooms upstairs. It was a glorified dolls house. We didn't make an offer but it apparently sold. I've no idea if it went for the asking price of £220,000 but I've got a horrible feeling it wasn't far off.

No picture of the Red Lion so here's a picture of
"Spongebob  Squarepants" which
The Lovely Jemma put together at
Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Out of the four pubs the Red Lion is probably the best. This is a friendly little boozer which is always a pleasure to visit. Although small it's got a good bit of character, with a large bookshelf against one wall bursting with books. The landlord knows how to keep an ale and I enjoyed a delicious pint of Caledonian Flying Scotsman. This was a pretty good specimen of a best bitter with a hearty hoppy flavour. The pub has won CAMRA awards in the past and it deserves them. A good place to stop by if you're in the area.

You may have noticed I've been reliable about what drinks I had at each pub. That's thanks to "Untappd" which I've recently downloaded for my Android phone. It allows you to record what you've drunk, where you had it, and see what other people thought of the ale. Well worth downloading!

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