Sunday 26 October 2014

Outskirts of the City (of London)

I recently had some free time on a weekday around Holborn and Cannon Street. This gave me the oppotunity to visit some pubs that I'd been meaning to visit but never had the chance because they're either closed on weekends or it would involve going on a weeknight when the pubs are filled with suited, loud City men barking at each other and into iPhones while the three women unfortunate to be there look bored beyond tears. I got to visit some lovely pubs but the downside is that I became the "single bloke sipping halves while checking in to Untappd" guy, a stereotype which seems to be getting more and more hated on the interwebs. Well screw it, I enjoyed myself anyway.

A happy punter at the
Seven Stars
First up was the Seven Stars, a small boozer on a side street off Chancery Lane. Located among the courts and barristers chambers, this pub has a legal theme inside. Even the pub cat joins in the fun, wearing a rather fetching ruff while enjoying a fuss from the doting landlady. I enjoyed a half of Topaz Gold from Adnams, which was a refreshing golden ale with a good dry finish, and was in decent form. I perched on a stool and the cat joined me on the bar for a few minutes, enjoying some treats from the cat bowls placed there. On a Tuesday afternoon the pub was quiet and peaceful, but I imagine this small place can get quite packed on a Friday night. Overall I thought it was a lovely little boozer and I'd be happy to go back.

Next up was the Devereux, a Taylor Walker pub down a side alley off Fleet Street. Deceptively spacious inside, there were around five ales on offer. I tried the house ale, Taylor Walker 1730 brewed by the Westerham Brewery, who seem to be doing rather well for themselves. There's the chance it's a rebadged beer, but it was a tasty, well hopped and very suppable session bitter. I sat in one of the booths were my seat had a weird constant vibration - a little bit exciting at the start but it got unneverving after a while. Generally this was a rather nondescript pub, fine for a pint after work if you're nearby but not worth making a special trip for.

Just around the corner from the Deveraux is the Edgar Wallace. Walking in there were a small collection of besuited customers enjoying sandwiches. Notices on the tables asks customers not to use the pub as a meeting room or to use their mobiles - which tells you all about the potential clientèle in this part of London. I ended up having a small taster of around four beers courtesy of the friendly barman, and settled on the Raspberry Blone from Saltaire Brewery. I'm not usually a fan of fruit beers but this was rather good, with the sweet raspberry notes making way to more traditional bitter flavours. I was going to order a half but a pint was poured for me before I could say anything, and not wanting to appear rude I drank it all. Good job it was a pretty tasty beer. I had a quick look upstairs which was more airy than the traditional, wood boarded downstairs, and sporting a large collection of Edgar Wallace novels on bookshelves at the back. A nice little pub and definitely the pub I would choose to have a drink in if I was in the area.

A quick jaunt on the District Line and I was in Leadenhall Market, to visit a pub I'd been meaning to go to for a long time, but as it's only open weekdays and I don't fancy being crammed in with the City's finest on a weekday evening. Old Tom's Bar is a basement bar, and despite the traditional look from outside it was surprisingly modern inside. There were a fair few beers on keg and in bottles, but sadly the cask selection was limited to Youngs Special or Bitter. I went for the Bitter which was below par. No fault of the pub, it's just not a very exciting beer. There was a funky vibe to the place, and the mix of traditional tiling with more modern fixtures worked quite well. It was the busiest of the pubs I'd visited by far, with a lot of punters enjoying lunch. I quite liked the pub - just a shame that the (cask) beer selection was a bit boring on my visit.

Last up is a place that couldn't possibly be criticised for having a boring beer selection, the Pelt Trader which is down the side of Cannon Street station. Owned by the same guys as the Euston Tap and Holborn Whippet, the bar is similarly set up with a "wall of beer," with taps protruding from the large back wall behind the bar dispensing a wide range of ales. I went for a half of Moor Envy and found a table in the round alcoves to the side of the room. I've walked past this place plenty of times in the rush hour and it always looks horrifically crammed, which has put me off visiting before. But as the place doesn't serve much in the way of food with only pizza on offer, it was nice and quiet in here at lunchtime.

I boarded the train from Cannon Street back home tipsy and quite satisfied - I'd be happy having a pint in any of these pubs but the Seven Stars won out for me, although I'd be interested to see just how busy and potentially uncomfortable it gets in the evenings. Until next time!

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