The Milestone (Mile End) ½ Strongbow, 2 x ½ Bulmer’s, 1 x Pint 1664, 1 x Baileys/Sambucca shooter £10.40
We moved ever closer to the city, and our final destination for this evening at Aldgate East. Next in line though, was a quick stop at Mile End in search of a pub next door going by the name of “Virtue”.
Or the Cornucopia. Or was it perhaps the Horn of Plenty, The Flautist and Firkin or even A Matter of Time – it seems that this particular East London gem has had more names than Puff Daddy, and we seriously doubted that it was of any real quality under any of them. These days it goes by the name of The Milestone, and boldly claims to be London’s premier DJ Bar/Indian Restaurant combo – a claim which we didn’t have enough knowledge of the competition to refute in any way.
On this particular Saturday it was buzzing, full to the brim with maybe eight or nine punters, arranged randomly around a very neat and tidy but somehow desolate looking interior. Still, no motorbikes on the dance floor, which was a relief. There was no real ale available, but then we hadn’t really expected any, and unfortunately even the draught lager was a bit rubbish – Liam was so put out by his Kronenbourg that he was moved to take the unprecedented step of writing in our notepad, “1664 not good. And served in the wrong glass!” The horror.
Of course, our visit was saved by the fact that at the back of the room a celebration was in full swing for Jade’s 22nd Birthday. We knew this because Jade came bowling over and told us so, and demanded that we buy her a drink – waving around the large personalized shot glass that was on a ribbon around her neck and had until very recently been wedged uncomfortably in her cleavage.
Being the polite, pro-celebratory chaps that we were, we duly caved into her demands, and were immediately rewarded with a paper plate with four pieces of not entirely unpleasant Birthday cake. Jade, we salute you. She didn’t salute back of course, because by this point she had already thrown her shot down and gone over to the DJ to scream out her demands for special Birthday song requests. Definitely time to make our excuses and leave…..
The Old Globe (Stepney Green) 1 pint Red Stripe, ½ Red Stripe, ½ Eagle Smooth, ½ Strongbow £6.10
This one has been around for a long time (the clue is in the name), and we were under the impression that it was something of an institution. Unfortunately, when we arrived it just seemed a little bit tired and, well, careworn. It was a Charles Wells pub, but unfortunately there were no real ales on tonight much like The Milestone up the road, and even the Red Stripe was a bit crap.
Now, I had also never heard of a previous reputation for the Old Globe, and none of us are particularly observant, but our collective Gaydar was going into overdrive at this point. There was a very well turned out DJ playing Euro-pop dance tunes in front of a giant poster of Marilyn Monroe, but that wasn’t a clincher in itself – it was actually the point where one of the regulars came over and ever-so tenderly placed a flower behind my ear with a barely audible “there you go dear” that confirmed it. Still, everyone was having fun, and it looked very fetching, so I left it there for a while.
So, to sum up The Old Globe: Scruffy around the edges, pleasant atmosphere, a sad lack of decent beer available, and many opportunities for Saturday night dancing. Oh, and the toilets stink, according to Liam. Or at least they did – sadly it would appear that The Old Globe is another victim of the times, as a recent check on abeerintheevening.com has a recent post simply saying “this place is closed”.
Grave Maurice (Whitechapel) 2 x ½ Strongbow, ½ Fosters, ½ 1664 £6.40
The what? Having been completely unaware of anything regarding this place other than it sounding odd, we were surprised to discover the level of history that surrounds it. Firstly, the name – it is apparently a corruption of Graf Morritz, a tribute to the Prince of Orange who fought with the English in the 17th century. Secondly, this place is steeped in gangland history – it is only a stone’s throw away from The Blind Beggar, and was apparently the place where Ronnie Kray came after shooting George Cornell in the aforementioned pub. Thirdly, it has some music folklore surrounding it, as professional pop-miserabilist bloke Morrissey was a bit obsessed with the Krays and used a photo of himself outside the pub for the cover of one of his singles.
All of which is hugely significant and interesting, but just cannot disguise the fact that these days the pub is pretty soulless and dull. Everyone in there was very pleasant – Jo, the lady that served us, and Sam the owner – but there was a distinct lack of punters filling the space that had so clearly been cleared in anticipation around the bar. “Maybe it’s about to get busy”, our notes said, rather charitably. Even William, who was a strange young man in a flat cap who may or may not have worked there, was trying to persuade us to leave with him and go to the nearest strip pub. Tempting, but the end was far too near to be distracted now. We took one last look around at the billowing red drapes, flat screen TVs and pool tables stacked into the corner, thanked them for their service and left before all the coach loads arrived.
The White Hart (Aldgate East) 1 Pint Stella, ½ Spitfire, ½ Stella, 1 x bt Corona £10.90
Aldgate East is a fairly large station with multiple entrances, and there was some debate about what was going to be the nearest hostelry. Fortunately we were saved by some fairly scary looking but ultimately friendly locals outside the White Hart that all but bundled us through the door whilst insisting that of course this was closest.
Aah, the final pub of a busy, busy day, and after a dodgy hour or so it was nice to finish up in a proper London boozer. Long, thin and traditional looking, it was an alehouse in the front and a strange sort of library bar at the back. It also had windows that Keith described as “distinctly Dickensian”, and, he said, “The floorboards creak satisfyingly when you walk across them, as befits a proper, old, pub.” There was a Thai menu on offer, and it had plenty of ale pumps (although several unused), plus a refreshing blast of Curtis Mayfield coming from the stereo.
We settled back on bar stools (that I was convinced had been lifted from my grandparents old pub in Hemel Hempstead), and debated whether or not to write anything on the “Who was the Ripper?” Chalk board. We also debated the many features of the day – still feeling smug about our magnificent celebration of the Ultimate Rock Group on the one hand, but also frustrated that our “Best Ever Biopics” conversation had floundered. We knew this one was going wrong when I suggested that the film “Ray” was a heart-warming tale about the adventures of a curly haired Arsenal midfielder.
So relaxed were we to have triumphantly completed another arduous section, I must admit we may have stayed for another beer before we made our way into the night. But we deserved it – we had struggled through the wilds of Essex, faced down thousands of West Ham and Napoli fans, and come through Kray territory unscathed. Bring on the Eastern Central Line.