The Curraigh (Queensbury) ½ Tetleys, ½ Stella, ½ Strongbow £4.50
Ok, so yet again our research let us down, but thankfully in a good way. We thought we were going to have to walk half a mile to the Flying Eagle (“a meeting place for gangs of youths to take substances in the car park” says Mr Angry on abeerintheevening.com). In reality we didn’t have to walk anywhere far since there was (you’ve guessed it) an Irish bar just across from the station called The Curraigh, which I suppose is quite appropriate considering our adventures with horses today. Well, it would have been more appropriate had it been called Aintree.
It welcomed us with an A-board outside, on which someone had amusingly written “Customers required. No experience necessary. Full training given”. Very good. Many a true word written in jest however, since there was only one other person in there, and he was serving us. Still, luckily for them, they were about to get a further customer boost, as we had just had a call from Liam. He was joining us, fresh from saving my bacon by putting the wife’s bet on, and was in fact about to arrive.
Since we were going to be there for a few extra minutes, we decided to pass the time by indulging in a quick frame of pool. Keith and Gareth went on first (my brother played one of the worst shots we’d ever seen and promptly pulled the old “I’m lulling him into a false sense of security” excuse). I wandered round the bar as the boys were playing and took in some of the very Irish bar touches – little shamrock shapes built in to the uplighters around the bar, a lack of any sort of real ale, and pictures of great Irish sporting heroes around the walls: Alex Higgins, Jackie Charlton, and, er, Stephen Hendry! I didn’t get time to take in more, however because at this point my brother had recovered from his earlier horrors, and actually had the “pub swagger” on. You know, it’s the point when all of a sudden you hit a couple of good shots, you feel invincible and start to stride purposefully around the table ready to nail every shot. It also usually comes just before it all falls apart. No exception here then. I couldn’t tell you who actually won in the end, but I can confirm that the quality was poor.
Fortunately, the lack of talent or entertainment on the pool table was compensated for by the music, which was some of the best so far today. In fact we were still humming Mr Blue Sky as we left, having seen Liam arrive and announce his return to the tour by knocking back a quick Stella.
Tonky Gorilla (Kingsbury) 2 x ½ Guinness, 1 x bt Corona, 1 x Pint Stella £7.47
Well, although it probably isn’t the absolute worst place we have visited, it’s certainly a long way from being one of the best. But in the oddness stakes, Tonky Gorilla is right up at the top of the list.
What can you say about a place that’s central feature appears to be a large silver gorilla accessorized to look like a gangsta rapper?
It wants to be all things to all people, but isn’t very successful as any of them. It’s a bar, but a fairly tacky looking one. It’s a club, also tacky (we had to fight through what was obviously going to be the door kiosk and cloakroom later, just to get to the bar). It’s a restaurant, and an Indian one at that. It also wants to be some sort of bargain booze emporium, with all manner of ridiculous drinks offers being advertised in both the bar and the loos. We sat down and nursed our drinks (which weren’t very good – flat draught lager), and looked around us with an air of gentle bewilderment.
“At least you could get some beer, have a dance and then a curry, all in one place!” said Liam. And probably a fight without trying too hard. Still we are refined adventurers, and we will embrace all manner of interesting venues on our mission. We just might try and leave some of them quicker than others.
The Crock of Gold (Wembley Park) 2 x ½ Strongbow, 2 x ½ 1664 £5.70
The temptation just to write “Crock of Shite”, and leave that as the entire review was almost overwhelming for us.
However, since it wasn’t nearly as bad or weird as Tonky Gorilla at the previous station, that probably would have been a bit mean. Pretty standard Irish Pub fare really – I think it’s getting as difficult for us to differentiate between these now as it is between different Wetherspoons. Trust us, you’ve been in this pub, or at least one very, very like it. Still at least they were rerunning The National on the several large screen TVs, so that we could relive our triple failure/Liz West’s triumph.
The pub is next to and slightly behind the tube station, but you still get a fairly majestic view of the Wembley Arch for your money. It is also sandwiched between a dentist and a barber shop, so as Keith pointed out, at least you can always look dapper as you slur over your eighteenth pint of Guinness. There’s even a bank and a bookies a few doors down – there really is everything you need right here!
I dread to think what this place is like on match days. Although being slightly in the wrong direction from the station, maybe it doesn’t get too bad. Definitely not one for the top ten list, it has to be said. Two dodgy pubs in a row, surely it’s time for a good one?
Charlie’z Place (Neasden) 2 x ½ Strongbow, ½ Carlsberg, ½ Stella £6.00
Two of the world’s greatest blunders that you should avoid, according to The Princess Bride, are “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”, and “Never go up against a Sicilian, when death is on the line!” Well, today the Tubeway Two would like to add another one to that, namely “Never try and cross the Neasden Lane roundabout at ground level”. Dear God, we took our life in our hands crossing this whilst looking for our next venue. As our notes said, “It’s a logistical horror show!” Not only were there far too many roads coming off the roundabout to be strictly fair, but everyone (in cars) seemed to be going round it at insane speeds. In fact, when we just about made it across to the central part itself, we lost our nerve slightly and went across the sensible looking footbridge, only to find that it somehow whirled around the road and took us right back to the middle. It is a truly horrific thing.
Several days later, we arrived on the other side – sweaty, terrified and out of breath – to be confronted by the beautiful fairy-lit paradise that was Charlie’z Place. It’s almost Caribbean in style, reminiscent of a roadside Rum Shack on a Jamaican mountain road. Only in Neasden.
Mildly entertaining if slightly odd, was our final verdict. No ales on (we hadn’t really expected any), “Clubland TV” blaring out of the set in the corner, and an awful lot of Polish beer in the fridge. And that’s pretty much the sum total of our observations on the place, although we may still have been in shock from the roundabout ordeal. We forced ourselves out of this sub-tropical paradise and walked very slowly back round towards the station using pedestrian crossings all the way. Dollis Hill next chaps – try and stay calm.