Day 7 cntd (April 25th 2009)
Cock and Dragon (Cockfosters) ½ Abbott Ale, ½ Cumberland Ale £3.10
We thought the Cock and Dragon was only round the corner from Cockfosters, but it turned out to be an awful lot further than that. Still, the sun was shining and it was a pleasant walk down a meandering country lane past a cricket and bowls club – well it was pleasant until the point that we got to the end of the lane it should have been on and then still couldn’t find the bloody place. Thankfully a couple of local residents came to our rescue when we asked, and pointed out the pub hiding just behind a hedge to our left. Hiding is probably the wrong word though – the place is huge, and I think we were both fairly embarrassed that we hadn’t seen it yet. Pub radar obviously on the blink.
The Cock and Dragon is a great big destination pub, and I expect most of Cockfosters comes here regularly. It is both an English pub (Cock) and a Thai Restaurant (Dragon. Geddit?). The overall feel was nice and relaxed and the food certainly smelled good. The pub also had some nice touches around the main bar, like a wooden framed cubby hole/seating area around the big fireplace, and a little raised library area in one corner where you could chill out with the Sunday papers or a book.
The beer was in good condition too and as we wandered outside, glasses in hand, we suddenly discovered a huge back garden area full of wooden furniture and ornaments all carved in an oriental style, and they even had a big Thai dragon parked in the foyer. “You just feel like they’ve made a bit of an effort” said Keith, and he was right. You can even park your car here overnight, and you don’t have to move it until 5pm the next day – gives you plenty of time to work through the hangover.
We moved on back in to the sunshine with a happy attitude, and the sound of leather on willow ringing in our ears as we passed the cricket club again.
The Maze Inn (Oakwood) ½ Carlsberg Export, 1 x bt Corona £5.30 (eventually)
Well this one has had some serious money spent on it. Like the Cock and Dragon it is a big destination pub, but unlike the Cock and Dragon, it is seriously ostentatious. They’ve taken the original shell of the pub building and filled the main bar with mirrored mosaics on the ceiling, silk drapes down the walls, crazy ornate furniture and huge chandeliers. There’s also a big function room to one side and a huge restaurant area at the back, which in turn led out to a courtyard garden area with comfy looking sofas in it.
The look suggests that someone invested heavily in a big old local’s pub to bring it bang up to date and make sure that they attracted a new and sophisticated clientele. Which made it even funnier when the dishevelled tramp-like bloke who has probably been going here for twenty years shuffled in and demanded Stella.
It all looked very nice, and the food menu looked good, but something was definitely missing. Perhaps it was the service, which was as slow as continental drift and as efficient as a chocolate teapot (the barman accidentally tried to charge us over £9.00 for two drinks, and it took nearly five minutes to get it sorted out). Or perhaps it was just the drinks range, which consisted of very basic draught beers that didn’t fit the intended image of the bar, plus a single handpull of Greene King IPA hidden behind a pillar – when we asked for two halves, all we got in response was “Oh, I don’t think that’s worked for ages”, before being presented with what looked like a thimbleful of minestrone soup and asked if that looked and smelled ok. It didn’t.
Maybe we are doing The Maze a disservice and it’s absolutely kicking at 10pm on a Saturday night, but Keith and I left with the impression that the place probably wasn’t making money. It just seemed to be a bold attempt at changing a tired venue, which unfortunately hasn’t quite worked for them.
The Sun Lounge (Southgate) 1 x Gordon’s and Tonic, ½ Guinness £5.85
And here’s another one! The Sun was definitely a normal pub once, but has had the full makeover – lots of laminate wood flooring, pristine leatherette banquette seating and palm trees in tall wooden crates up the central aisle (it looked better than it sounds). The picture was completed by odd looking stone tablets as wall art and some art-deco glass chandeliers. Again it seemed to be a modern look where the reality doesn’t quite live up to the original vision (or maybe it does, and the original vision just wasn’t that great).
Of course hoping for some cask ale was always going to be ridiculously optimistic, but it turned out so was hoping for any sort of English beer or cider at all as per the mission. Still, not to worry, Gin and Tonic always tastes pretty good on a sunny day. They even had a little courtyard garden to enjoy it in. A nice touch.
No time to linger though, we had a long way to go in the sunshine today, and we were making ready to receive our first guest of the day – a second innings from our friend Hazel, who was looking to meet us at Arnos Grove. Onwards!
Harvester (Arnos Grove) ½ Strongbow, ½ San Miguel £2.86
Have you been to a Harvester before?
If you have, then this won’t be a surprise to you: they are generally quite dull and formulaic. This Harvester was no exception (I’m sure this pub had a name once, but we couldn’t find one anywhere). Pretty much everything is bog standard. The decoration, the food and the drinks range. No real ale of course, and the one thing you can say about the draught beers is that they were cold. Extra Cold, in fact. Everything was served in this fashion, presumably to ensure you can’t actually taste the beer. They did have a wine range that was served out of wooden casks racked up behind the bar, but we couldn’t tell you whether these were genuine, or just a front for a bit of bag-in-box vino. I know what I suspect, though.
There was a quote on the wall that said “He that drinks well, sleeps well” from someone called Thomas Wilson. We couldn’t work out whether that was someone famous or just a regular from the pub, but I reckon it wouldn’t be difficult to come up with something a bit less obvious than that. True, but hardly an earth shattering observation.
Hazel was waiting for us when we arrived, what with her being a punctual lady and us, well, not so much. She agreed with us that it was all fairly bland, and suggested that we didn’t linger any longer than we had to. It was a good point, well made. We drank up, declined a visit to the salad bar, and got on our way, barely even pausing to get the photo outside.