Day 3 cntd (19th Dec 2008)
The Metropolitan (Baker Street) ½ Good Elf, ½ Elf Esteem, ½ St Nicks Porter, ½ Courage Best £5.39
Things we like about JD Wetherspoons:
– They are always cheap
– They usually have lots of different ales on
– They are quite often conveniently located
– Er, they’re cheap
Things we are not so keen on:
– The smell
– The carpets
– The almost total lack of anything resembling atmosphere
– The average age of the clientele
– The fact that they ruin a lot of beautiful, historic buildings
– The food (two meals for a fiver is a false economy when you consider the ordeal of actually eating them)
Still, I cannot deny that I have been in worse pubs than the Metropolitan Wetherspoons at Baker Street. Just not many of them. It’s probably easiest just to refer to our notes at this point – it seems we were in no mood to be messed around:
“An horrific place. (Incidentally, we were clearly outraged, because I don’t think I have EVER used this method of putting ‘an’ before a word beginning with ‘h’. I don’t even think it is grammatically correct. Oh well.). Awful entrance, leading into a barn. Completely soulless. A beautiful room made awful by what it has become……not as bad as The Earl Haig though! Very cheap and very full.”
And, to be fair, that last comment kind of sums it up. It’s never going to win awards, but as long as it keeps selling super cheap beer, the punters will continue to roll in on a Friday night. Or, quite often, a Tuesday morning.
Further credit where it’s due, if ridiculously named festive ale is what you are after, then at this point, The Metropolitan had it in abundance, and some of it was fairly good. Honestly, there seemed to be more “elves” on the bar than at a Lord of the Rings Convention (cue forlorn drum/cymbal combo, denoting a really, really crappy joke).
It is possible that, had we not been on a tight timescale, we would have stayed and sampled all the beers available for the rest of the night. Or possibly not. Onwards!
The Chapel (Edgeware Road) 4 x ½ GK IPA, £6.40
Another Green Man on the Circle Line? Our research said so. There is a big, extremely uninspiring looking pub called the Green Man right next to the most visible exit of Edgeware Road station. It’s the place you can see when you look to your left from your car, as you sit in yet another godforsaken traffic jam on the Marylebone Flyover. The one that you think “I hope I never have to go for a drink there”.
How lucky for this jaded yet determined band of Christmas Beer Hunters then, that the Circle Line entrance to Edgeware Road station brings you out nearly quarter of a mile away, only a few steps away from a delightful (or at least delightfully strange) little venue called The Chapel. A tidy looking corner pub, painted white with some interesting interior and exterior lighting options which left it, as Dave accurately remarked, “bathed in a pleasant green glow.”
It was very festive looking inside, and our notes said that there was a “nice, subtle tree” in one corner – looking back, it was probably a bit too subtle because I cannot for the life of me remember what it looked like.
Only two ales on, Green King and Adnams, and having rather flustered and inattentive staff was the only real downside to what could be a very good pub.
At this point somebody (and I suspect Pilot), came up with the quote “All reality TV is basically the opium for the masses”, and there followed a very serious discussion covering both music and reality TV, then music on reality TV, and music which would thankfully never be on reality TV – all of which could well have been the basis for an Essential Pub Conversation, had I remembered to record any of what was said.
Suffice to say I think the general gist of it was: Music – we really like it. Reality TV – not so much.
Sloe Bar (Paddington) 2 x ½ Guinness, ½ x Staropramen, ½ x Carling £7.05
Ah, The Sloe Bar. Paddington is a proper terminus train station, and as such deserves to have a proper station bar. In this, the Sloe Bar succeeds because it is a classic – ie it looks like it’s made out of perspex and plywood and is just a little bit rubbish.
The members of staff we encountered were all perfectly polite and pleasant, and the customers gently supped on their pints with an air of quiet desperation as they contemplated their surroundings and the beginning/end of their train journey.
You have about as much chance of getting a real ale in one of these places as you do of finding an empty seat on the rush hour train to Reading, so we plumped for some stout and some lager and settled down to review our notes so far, and some of the extremely impressive photos that Dave had taken so far. In fact most of them were so good that we decided that we should use almost none of them on the blog as they would clearly show up the amateur efforts we had taken on previous days out. Time to jog on.