Day 3 cntd (19th Dec 2008)
Bayswater Arms (Bayswater) 2 x ½ GK IPA, 2 x London Pride £6.20
The Bayswater Arms is another pub that turned out to be an awful lot better than we remembered. Having spent a good deal of time around the Notting Hill/Bayswater area, I previously visited this place when it was a Rat and Parrot, another one of those pub chains seemingly designed to appeal to everyone, but in reality appealing to almost no-one. It was truly horrible, and considering the number of seriously good pubs within crawling distance, I was always amazed at how busy it was.
Now it is has had a tidy up and a change of name – it’s still presumably owned by the Spirit Pub Group, but is infinitely more cheerful than it used to be, and (at this point) very festively decorated indeed. It also had the first proper branded staff uniforms of the day! Ok its not that exciting, but to be fair they were very natty black shirts with the pub crest on them. Very smart.
What the range of ales lacked in originality (get something interesting in guys!), they made up for in quality – everything was fresh, well served and at the right temperature. It’s always nice to see a managed pub where they keep the cellar well. It was also nice to have briefly retrieved Pilot back to ale from the world of Vodka too, even if it was only for one pub…..
The Gate (Notting Hill Gate) ½ x 1664, 1 x Corona, 1 x Vodka Coke, 1 x Strongbow Sirrus £13.20
If you stumbled on the top step of the Notting Hill Gate tube station entrance, you would probably fall straight through the front door of this place. It really is that close. We wandered in and discovered a very relaxed and informal bar, all low seating and quirky chandeliers, but not quite pretentious enough to call itself a “style” bar.
We settled in and perused the bar menu. It should be noted that we are, of course, true “repertoire drinkers”, willing to experiment with a number of different beverages according to our moods. Although what possessed Lewis to order a Strongbow Sirrus I’ll never know. Surely there must have been something else English on the list.
“It’s a bit like a cider, but with a whole load of sugar dumped in it” was his verdict.
Still, artificially sweet pink apple-fizz aside, The Gate was a very pleasant stop. We couldn’t afford to linger, however, as it was becoming apparent that we might just be able to get round the whole line, in the time we had originally planned. Time to speed up the reviews.
(NB – Authors note: It is with great sadness I report that the Gate is no more – having driven past recently I discovered that the bar has gone completely and in its place is a shiny new Foxtons Estate Agents – which is frankly ridiculous, because surely no one is actually buying houses at this point in time.)
The Prince of Wales (Kensington High Street) 2 x ½ Old Peculiar, 1 x ½ Young’s Bitter, 1 x Vodka Coke
This was possibly the longest walk of the night, but not necessarily an unpleasant one. A short stroll down Kensington High Street brings you to Barkers shopping centre, and the building that houses Kensington Roof Gardens – which is a truly fabulous place, but unfortunately for us, consists of a restaurant and a private members club, and is therefore disqualified from a visit according to our extremely strict rules. Hmmm.
Just over the road from here, however, is The Prince of Wales, a long thin pub stretching back from the road at the junction of Kensington High Street and Church Street.
The immediate recommendation for the POW is that it had Old Peculiar on tap, in considerably better condition than the last pub we tried it in (which I think was the Courtfield, not too far up the road). Nice drop of Youngs too, but I couldn’t really vouch for the flavour/condition of the Vodka and Coke.
We supped up our beers and gazed around the “lived in” interior of the pub (it was about as traditional as you could get – the usual mad carpet, wood panelling everywhere fruit machine in the corner, pubby drawings and pictures on the wall, none of which looked like it had been touched for several decades).
By this time, you could almost feel the sense of excitement building, as our weary but brave group started to believe that even after our slow start, we could really do this……