London Bridge isn't my favourite area in London. It has always been a grotty little corner of the capital, dominated by the railway station which is surrounded by office buildings full of depressed workers who look longingly across the river at the City, thinking about the money they could be making if they were only a bit more smarter and/or cutthroat. The restaurants and bars in the area have always tended to be soulless food and drink dispensary's catering to people who don't really care what they're eating and drinking, just as long as they are consuming something. Things got even worse a couple of years ago when The Shard opened, a building devoid of any joy which dominates the skyline and looks like it's waiting for the Eye of Sauron to be installed. Some people say the £25 admission to see the view from the top of the Shard is expensive, but I'd happily pay that much to have a view of London without the bloody Shard in it.
However no matter how bad an area is I usually find there's a slight glimmer of hope somewhere. For London Bridge the shining gem used to be Borough Market, but sadly it is now a pale shadow of its former self, and is now mainly for tourists and monied office workers who want to spaff their money on artisan brownies. But inbetween Borough High Street and London Bridge sits The Miller, providing a much needed pub with a laid back atmosphere and plenty of decent ales - both traditional and craft. From the outside this place looks nothing special, a bog standard council estate pub sitting in the shadow of Guys hospital. Inside things are relaxed with shabby chic furniture and decoration.
On the handpumps is an ample selection of ales and ciders. The ales tend to be on the more traditional side, with Titanic, Skinners and Castle Rock seen in the past. In the fridges behind the bar is a decent selection of craft beers, including craft darlings Weird Beard, Siren and Beavertown. The ales are good value but the craft is expensive, especially considering it's usually in 330ml bottles - or cans. I struck lucky on my latest visit though as they had Weird Bear K*ntish Town beer in adult sized 500ml bottles! Even better it was an exceptional wheat beer, never sickly and going down very easily.
Titanic They Think It's Ale Over was a solid bitter from the ever reliable Titanic boys. Castle Rock Harvest Pale, which I've only had in bottle before and wasn't particularly impressed with, was better on cask but still not a knock-out considering the many awards it has won. I enjoyed the beers in a small, concrete beer garden to the side of the building. I tried the food as well, a meat and cheese plate plus deep fried risotto balls which I've completely forgotten the name of. The food was splendid, if again a bit expensive.
The Miller is a much needed respite from the humdrum pubs in the London Bridge area and well worth a visit if in the area. There's usually plenty of comedy and drama on in the large room upstairs as well. In fact I performed myself there a couple of times - I think I managed to make a couple of people laugh although it might just have been the sound of my own nervous laughter. Considering my best joke was "I found some chocolate in my belly button - ironically it was Lindt" I was lucky to make it off the stage alive. See you next week!