Day 2 cntd (25th Oct 2008)
The Springbok (White City) ½ Strongbow, ½ Guinness £3.00
We headed off from the East Acton Snooker Club with our tails between our legs and went in search of free entry and non-rancid beer.
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking that a pub called the Springbok would be some sort of backpacker heaven, full of loud Southern Hemisphere types laughing about the state of European Rugby. How wrong you would be.
We had a clue as to the real nature of this pub from the websites, which suggested that it was a locals only pub if QPR were playing at home. Fortunately we had already clocked that they were away at Reading, so the coast was clear for us to visit what turned out to be a spectacular shrine to the Hoops.
In fact it wasn’t just the coast was clear, the pub itself was too – I guess they were all still in Reading.
To call it a shrine is by no means an exaggeration – the entire interior is painted light blue, with Loftus Road signs on the wall and various team shirts in frames all over the pub.
The staff were all perfectly nice, and other than the colour, this pub is not a bad place to be. We even ventured into a general conversation about QPR and their prospects for the season, the game against Reading today, and the fact that it was clearly the most one sided 0-0 draw ever seen. I think we got away with it for quarter of an hour or so, but wisely decided to leave before we were finally exposed as imposters.
Ginglik (Shepherds Bush) 1 bt Honeydew, 1 bt Kirin Ichiban £8.20
We were stoked to discover that this little club on Shepherds Bush Green is actually fractionally closer to the Tube than the Belushi’s on the South side of the road. No disrespect to Belushi’s of course, but I had been to Ginglik before and was keen to include it on the tour.
It’s a cracking little late night bar and member’s club (you can actually join on the door though), actually built into some old public toilets under the Green itself. It’s not big, but it is clever – two rooms and a couple of extra cubby holes give it the feel of a “secret” illicit drinking den, only for those in the know. It’s got a great range of bottled beers, too-cool-for-school bar staff, and a constant flow of funky sounds coming from the DJ room.
The problem they have is that there is huge redevelopment going on all over Shepherds Bush at the moment, including the Green itself. This would mean that the building that houses Ginglik would need a whole host of renovations to fit it in with the new development. Unfortunately, the council had decided that it would actually be cheaper to fill the whole thing with concrete than to do the necessary work. (Editors Note: Since we were there, they have now been taken off the demolition plans, but are being bullied to pay for all the renovations themselves).
There is so much conformity in pubs and bars these days, it would be a tragedy if a place like this disappears – it is truly unique.
Go and visit. And if you like it, then sign the petition at www.ginglik.co.uk.
The Castle (Holland Park) ½ Morrissey Fox Blonde, ½ Kirin Ichiban £3.15
This is a cracking pub. It’s a lovely corner building no more than 50 yards from Holland Park Tube, and is now owned by Mitchells and Butlers pub group as part of their Castle chain (which is basically a series of historic old boozers, given a full makeover in terms of style, decoration and the range of products on offer – they are usually pretty good pubs).
The Castle has a very chilled out feel to it, and a very Holland Park/Notting Hill-trendy feel in the bar area, plus it has a great looking menu and a decent range of beers – including something fairly new, and just a bit different……
We weren’t quite sure what to expect from the Morrissey Fox ale, as the TV show about it hadn’t aired at this point (so all we had to go on was Neil Morrissey’s dubious reputation) but it did in fact turn out to be a really decent drop of ale, packing alot more flavour than either of us expected.
Lets be honest here, considering the ridiculous distances travelled, some rank lager and the general lack of real beer that we had endured up to this point – The Castle and Ginglik between them effectively rescued a day that was otherwise fairly hard work.
The Black Lion (Queensway) ½ London Pride, ½ Guinness £3.15
If we had wanted to finish the day on a high note, then we probably should have stopped at the Castle and continued
drinking more of Bob the Builder’s finest.
That’s not to say that there’s anything seriously wrong with the Black Lion, there’s just nothing massively right about it either. It’s another big old boozer, and although it wasn’t completely lacking in soul, like your average high street chain for example, it still strayed just the wrong side of dull.
It was a shame the beer wasn’t in the best condition either, ropey Pride and warm Guinnes giving us a slightly disappointing end to this part of the tour. Still, like the true pros that we clearly are, we knew there were bigger challenges ahead, and so we duly supped up and got the hell out of town, ready to come back refreshed another day.