Sunday 28 June 2015

Old Red Cow, Farringdon

I work in the Farringdon, an area in London which is bereft with decent pubs. I've visited several in the past and you can read my thoughts in the blog archive. Last Wednesday I popped into a pub in the area that I hadn't visited previously which was highly recommended by the Craft Beer London app. The Old Red Cow is near Smithfields market, a two floor pub with a small area downstairs and a dining area upstairs. Walking in on a Wednesday evening the place had a smattering of punters in, and the cosiness of the room made it feel busier than it was. Similar to the Euston Tap there are ten keg beers dispensed from taps on the back wall, plus four beers on handpump. I was pleased to see a strong selection of beers available, with plenty of bottles to choose from as well.

All was looking good and there was even a tempting food menu. I was ready to settle in for the evening with a friend of mine who was due to join me and I ordered a pint of Blond from Nene Valley brewery, a refreshing session pale ale at 3.8%. Sadly the night hit a snag when I was charged £4.50 for the pint. Now I don't mind paying a premium for a craft beer especially if it has a high ABV, but £4.50 for a 3.8% cask session ale is, in my opinion, taking the piss. Even worse was that I couldn't see this price advertised anywhere, only the keg beers appeared to have their prices listed on a blackboard to the side of the bar. They were also very highly priced, averaging around £6 a pint for beers in the 5-6% ABV range.

Maybe I'm out of touch and this pricing is normal, but these were the highest prices I'd ever seen in a pub as far as I could remember, and I've had plenty of experience getting stung in Central London pubs. My friend arrived and although we reasoned that we could just stick to halves the prices were just too unpalatable to spend a lot of time in the Cow. Additionally, and although it's not the fault of the pub, a group of braying City boys hogging the bar were getting loud and spoiling the atmosphere. One of them bleated about ordering "the most expensive beer the pub had.' I hate to think how much he paid for it.

My friend and I ended up going down to the Wetherspoons near Farringdon station (The Sir John Oldcastle) which was as gloomy and sticky as usual, but at least I could enjoy a can of SixPoint for £2.98. We then moved on to Smiths of Smithfields for dinner, where I enjoyed a burger along with a pint of their house beer, a refreshing pale lager that went down a treat. Even though Smiths is a restaurant for those on expense accounts it still felt more reasonable than the Red Cow. It's a real shame that the Cow was so expensive, as it could be a lovely cosy respite away from the hustle and bustle of Farringdon, but the prices were bordering on exploitative. With so many other decent pubs nearby I'm a little bit surprised they're getting away with it.

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