Day 1 cntd (Oct 4th 2008)
The Famous Three Kings (West Kensington): ½ Amstel, ½ London Pride £2.75
We weren’t 100% convinced that this Three Kings deserves to be more famous than any other, other than the spectacular curved glass window over the entrance that makes it look a bit like an old gramophone trumpet.
“Doesn’t look that famous to me” I said, which I’m sure is the first time anyone ever made that joke.
Christina was efficient but uninterested and the beer was ok. The main recommendation for this place is sport – they have big screens all over the place, on the many different levels, showing lots of different sports. This meant that Keith and I reached the mezzanine level just in time to see a superb try from Danny Maguire as Leeds stomped all over St Helens in the Rugby Super League Final.
The F3K (as those in the know apparently call it), has a fairly legendary reputation as a place to go when it comes watching football in London, and they do seem willing to show any alternative sports as long as there are people willing to buy drinks and watch them. Given the difficulty you usually have watching Rugby Union in any pub in St Albans on a normal Saturday or Sunday, I should have liked this place more for this offering. As it is though, we couldn’t help but think that something is lacking. Atmosphere? Customer service? Drinks range? Maybe we really are just turning into old gits.
The Courtfield (Earls Court): ½ Old Peculiar, ½ Landlord £3.05
I have long been in awe of Keith’s stoic unwillingness to take up any extra room inside with anything as tawdry as food. I, on the other hand, having run around all morning and missed all my breakfast opportunities, was totally starving, and having daydreams about the long-ago food menu from The Raven.
I was massively relieved therefore, to walk out of Earls Court Station and see The Courtfield tavern opposite, right next door to a Bakers Oven. A quick stop for a large sausage roll each (mine disappeared in seconds, but Keith still only ate half of his. In fact if you see him, be careful, as he may still have the other half in his pocket), and in we went.
The Courtfield made an instant impression on Keith, as it was stocking one of his long time favourites, Theakstons Old Peculiar. In fact they had five other ales on in total apart from this one, none of which looked quite as impressive on the bar as OP with its huge, metal, old school pump clip.
“I always like to see a beer badge you could probably kill someone with.” Was my sage offering at this point.
Unfortunately for Keith the beer was in fairly rubbish condition, a crushing disappointment when you don’t see beers like OP that often any more. At least my Landlord was a decent drop.
Otherwise it was a nice big pub, with Amy Winehouse being played in the background – and to be honest, we couldn’t decide whether this was a good or bad thing. This in turn led to an in depth discussion on background noise in pubs whether they have music or not, which was only finished when my learned friend offered the irrefutable piece of wisdom:
“The level of pub noise all depends on the soft furnishings they have”.
The Hand in Flower (Olympia): 2 x ½ Wychwood Big Bertha £3.00
Given that we were now making reasonably good time overall we decided to take the strange little offshoot of the District Line that takes you out to Olympia. Having been to many exhibitions here in the past, we were fairly confident of where the nearest pub was.
I used to like the Hand in Flower – it was always a handy refuge from the relative tedium of trade shows in the Grand Hall over the road, usually had a buzzy atmosphere, and there was normally a decent pint to be had.
How times have changed. Maybe we just got unlucky, but it has to be said the tables were dirty, the customers were drunk (outrageous!), and the beer was awful. Kelsey from Colorado served us with a big smile, but even she couldn’t make us want to stay there for long. We closed our eyes, held our noses, and supped up the warm and flat Big Bertha as quickly as possible.
In fact, probably the most interesting part of this particular visit was on the way out, when we were accosted by a couple of slightly wobbly revellers offering us tickets to go and see a “secret” Lily Allen gig at The St Moritz Club in Soho later on that evening. Only 20 quid a pop, apparently.
Tempting, but in the spirit of our mission we declined and moved on – this is the kind of dedication and moral fortitude that will propel us into the history books, I’m sure.