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BITE user comments - AleKing

Comments by AleKing

The Sun, Carshalton

Oh, and a shameless 20p hike per pint? I'd rather go to The Hope. Even The Greyhound is starting to look an attractive option. Heck, I'd rather go to the Fox and Hounds, find a quiet corner and save £1 per pint.

VAT or no VAT, this hefty rise and the previous issue means The Sun has lost my custom.

22 Jan 2011 13:42

The Sun, Carshalton

The Sun started off strongly but is starting to decline.

Firstly, the ale selection - which once rivalled The Hope - has become quite uninspired. Secondly, the food, while of a high quality, is getting very expensive for what is glorified pub grub.

Finally, the patrons. When the place opened up the guvnor said they were targetting the more discerning Carshalton drinker. Sadly, the lower demographic has started to infiltrate. There are often either groups over very loud (and drunk) people blocking the bar or, worryingly, annoying, loud teenies.

The Sun has gone from being the best pub in Carshalton to slipping towards its medicore peers. I hope they chuck out the chavs and sharpen up the focus.

30 Dec 2010 10:07

The Fox and Hounds, Carshalton

Cheap but not that cheerful and faily rough. Still, at £2.35 for a pint of Beck's Vier (well over £3.50 for an Amstel in The Greyhound and The Woodman), you've got to take the rough with the smooth.

5 Jul 2010 16:06

The Woodman, Carshalton

March 2010: Pint of beer £3.40.
June 2010: Pint of beer £3.70.

Yet another price hike, this time by 30p. No justification and such increases are actually pretty dismissive cynical towards punters. Dare I say even a hint of contempt? The place seems to be in decline. The once busy quiz nights are a trickle (in fact I think the quiz has actually not taken place some weeks) and Friday and Saturday nights are no longer jam-packed.

I will no longer be frequenting The Woodman. Hopefully they will sell up soon and someone with the same customer service, verve, quality and innovation (as seen in The Sun) will take up the reins.

5 Jul 2010 09:39

The Woodman, Carshalton

October 2009: Pint of beer £2.95.
March 2010: Pint of beer £3.40.

45p in six months? No reason for such schocking price hikes. No reason to drink in here either.

5 Apr 2010 17:00

The Sun, Carshalton

Exactly what Carshlaton needed. Nice interior, good ale and beer selection, reasonable prices and clearly aiming at the more refined demographic in the area rather than, er, “rougher” patrons. Hopefully they will remain in the tranquillity of the Coach and Horses or the Fox and Hounds rather than venture to The Sun.

The pub has a lot of potential and may well lead some of the other rivals in the area (notably The Greyhound and The Woodman) to up their game. It also seems female-friendly (lots of groups of women in there) which is certainly something that can’t be said for most of the drinking establishments, which seem to be geared towards builders and trademen.

Good luck to the new guvnor and I hope the willingness to show that Carhsalton can do a decent pub for a decent demographic pays off.

30 Nov 2009 11:38

The Greyhound, Carshalton

I thought I would try dinner and the new menu so went in a couple of weeks ago and make use of my “two main course and a bottle of wine for £20” voucher. If I did not have that voucher I would’ve felt totally conned.

Two soups, two pies and mash and a bottle of plonk would’ve been over £45 without the voucher. The food was middling to average but how can they charge so much (£11 for a pie) for what is pub fare. Perhaps the chef does make his own pastry, dices the finiest beef shipped in that day and also lovingly prepare the freshest of daily vegtables?

The place has declined significantly over the years. The prime example is the Swan Bar’s demise, which has gone from the hub of local community to an almost deserted soulless bar.

4 Nov 2009 17:06

The Harp, Covent Garden

Not sure if that was a rhetorical challenge but the Market Porter in Borough Market.

5 Jan 2009 18:11

The Harp, Covent Garden

Is it me or is this place losing its glory? The last few times I have been in there they have the same, run of the mill ales on with only one uninspiring guest ale. Maybe I've been unlucky but it is a worrying trend.

28 Dec 2008 13:32

The Lemon Tree, Covent Garden

Bar staff were pulling shamefully bad pints, with a good inch of head on them.

19 Dec 2008 10:07

The Greyhound, Carshalton

Despite a fulrry of slightly suspiciously overally positive reviews in the course of half an hour or so, this place is getting worse.

Service: I went into main bar the other day and stood for at least two minutes without a flicker of service. Bar maid walked past and blanked us. Tried my luck in the Swan Bar but it was totally empty and nobody was serving. I left.

Aside from the usual chap in the Swan Bar (if he goes then the place could well struggle), the other staff members are poor, insincere and even lazy. I have been there when empties clutter tabls and I've even had the "Bombadier is only being served in the main bar" as the bar maid has been too bone idle to a) change the barrell, or b) go next door and get one for a paying customer.

Food: Eating is also a risk. I have some order that have been incorrect or incomplete and invovled a lengthy wait. The quality of the food is average at best yet overpriced. Chips used to be chunky and tasty, now they taste like they have been cooked from to frozen.

Beer: Not sure about the "cracking" or "stunning" selection of beers. Usualy nitrokeg sh1t - most over £3.50 a pint - and a rather plain and unflinching selection of Young's, Special and Bombadier.

A lowly two.

17 Oct 2008 11:11

The Sun, Carshalton

Closed; yet again. It now appears - from the signs in the window - that it is going to be a wine bar, with some bedits above it.

Not sure if some of the thugs who drink in Carshalton are quite ready for a wine bar...

17 Oct 2008 10:58

Whispering Moon, Wallington

I don't know what they do to the ale but it is forthy, cloudly, ice cold with a creamy head. As the cheap, differing ale is the only reason to go to any Spoons, without that then it becomes just a doss house.

22 Sep 2008 12:08

The Hope, Carshalton

I've ventured in a few times recently and it is nowhere near as bad as I thought. The ales are okay, and cheap, and the staff seem friendly enough. They have a few interesting ales on too.

Occasionally there a strange man who stands outside and heckles you as you leave. Not sure if he is the guvnor or just a bit odd.

22 Sep 2008 12:04

The Porter House, Dublin

Unlike its London cousin (in Covent Garden) I have to give this one a 7. This is simply because it was the only pub I went into in the whole of fecking Dublin that had cask ale.

A pleasant alternative to nitro-kegged Guinness or US lagers.

27 Aug 2008 17:02

Kehoe's, Dublin

Decent bar but, like the rest of Dublin, dull and synthetic beer lets it down.

27 Aug 2008 17:00

Gravity Bar, Dublin

Oh dear. Yes, the views are great but the beer is shameful. This bar only serves the the (free) pint of watery Guinness gloop that has been pumped full of nitrogen and forced through a sieve to get the "surging" and "creamy" experience. Not only that, it was pretty bland (as in blander than almost everywhere else in Dublin).

I went to the downstairs bar and had a bottle of Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Export instead which is REAL GUINNESS and not laced with chemicals and articifical taste.

Guinness, a stout for people who don't like stout.

27 Aug 2008 16:58

The Gin Palace, Dublin

Pretty good place. Usual array of bland, nitro-keg drinks but the food was decent enough and the staff friendly.

27 Aug 2008 16:52

The Dawson Lounge, Dublin

Best pub I went into in Dublin. The only one with a bit of soul.

27 Aug 2008 16:51

The Greyhound, Carshalton

I went in there last week and, lo and behold, a Young’s pub with a guest ale. Not only that, but it was the stonking Deuchars IPA. Alas, they only had one barrel and they won’t be getting any more because “the locals really didn’t like it” so it took ages to shift.

All I can say to the locals of the Greyhound (whether lager-swillers or supposed ale fans) is; shame on you. Deuchars IPA is superior in essence to almost all of the distinctly underwhelming Young’s brews and your lack of taste and appreciation has ruined any chance of a refreshing change. Hiss and boo. You haven’t got a clue.

Anyway, aside from that I do like The Swan Bar although have reservations about the main bar. The Special has been on good form of late, although as mentioned, the pub is generally pricey.

9 Apr 2008 17:16

The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross

I've not seen mice in the Sherlock Holmes, Gordon's Wine Bar, Motion et al. In fact, I've never seen a mouse in a pub, whether near a river or not.

Oh well, I guess I am in the minority. Perhaps if they had cockroaches, maggots or pigeons running around too then that would add even more character to the place.

25 Mar 2008 16:32

The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross

UPDATE to my last review.

I am having a fantastic pint of Hoppy Hare when a mouse...yes, you heard me A BLOODY MOUSE...runs across the pub floor and nestles under a table.

Totally shocked, I approach the barmaid to point out that there are rodents scurrying around their pub. To which she replied, even more shockingly, they've known for the last few days and are trying to sort it out.

Sort it out? I'm not expert, but surely if food and drink are being served in a place where mice are running around freely, that must cause some issues with health and satfey legislaton.

We left very quickly after seeing the rodent.

Do not go here unless you like a nice pint of vermin faeces...

23 Mar 2008 00:44

The Dukes Head, Wallington

Been back a few times and a mixture of good and bad. Lunch time and quiet evenings are fine and the food/ale is well priced and nice. Friday and Saturday evening though are awful.

I've actually had to walk out on one Friday night, not because it was that busy, but because - and actually quite a few places in the area - the local clique congregate around the bar and blocks off other customers wanting to buy a pint.

Generally, why do people do that? You have to shout over these pea-brained plebs to get served and even then they don't allow you clear access to your drink.

What is it with these idiots, who mainly appear to be of the middle-aged, manual-working male mould (sic)? I guess sitting at a table would be way too civilised and huddling around the bar like some child-like chain gang must give them a sense of belonging.

Anyway, it is very annoying and places such as The Duke's Head is a prime example. The Windsor Castle and The Woodman is also prone to the practise, although not quite as bad.

5 Dec 2007 11:55

The Sun, Carshalton

Oh dear, oh dear.

Went there last week for the first time. It is "under new management" but the place was totally dead. Also, they had some ghastly dance music blasting out at deafening levels and there were actually sizeable cobwebs in there too.

Only had two ales on, which were both satisfactory , if not remarkable, and priced fairly.

It is a shame as the place has a lot of potential but I definitely will not be returning.

26 Oct 2007 10:56

The Moon on the Hill, Sutton

Like most Spoons no redeeming features other than some interesting ales. Had to wait 25 minutes for lunch (and we only ordered a baguette). Other than that drab, random and frequented by the great unwashed, a bit like the rest of Sutton really.

28 Aug 2007 13:11

Bishop Out Of Residence, Kingston Upon Thames

Typical Young's pub but with more of a river view. Usually gets very busy and the food is certainly on the dear side of expensive.

24 Aug 2007 16:19

The Gazebo, Kingston Upon Thames

Probably the least dingy Sam Smith's pub I've been in but still has a feel of bar in a Spanish holiday resort. The food is nothing amazing although the beer is the usual SS standards and quite cheap.

The main selling point is the view od the river, which is great.

24 Aug 2007 16:18

The Woodman, Carshalton

Deceptive from first impressions. I thought that this would be an old man's pub but there was a good selection of punters, although including some of the rougher elements of the area.

The pubs seems to have a lot of events and a nice view of the ponds. A guest ale was also a welcome addition.

One concern is the posters warning against drug dealings on the premisies. Not a good indication.

20 Aug 2007 11:29

The Racehorse, Carshalton

Quite good. Had some interesting ale on - Full Steam Ahead - and the menu looked good. One of the better pubs in the vicinity.

20 Aug 2007 11:26

The Phoenix, City Of London

Fairly big but a run of the mill Greene King pub. Only had Abbot Ale and IPA on when I went. Generally I'm getting a bit bored of GK, its ales and its pubs.

2 Aug 2007 11:08

The Railway Tavern, Carshalton

Like many pubs in the area, men tend to be the dominant demographic. Not that this is a bad thing but I wonder where all the Carshalton women are?

I find this pub to be a pleasant enough little place. The staff seem friendly and I think the ale is well kept. The Discovery is nice and crisp.

I don't think £2.75 for a pint is unreasonable at all.

20 Jul 2007 11:27

The Bear and Staff, Leicester Square

I was surprised how not busy it was when I went. There were plenty of seats available. The staff were friendly enough.

It is not that indistinguishable from other Nicholson’s pubs, which are becoming a lot more common throughout London. They are practically an identikit chain with a rather faux-historic approach. That said, having a reasonable selection of ales (including guest ales) probably makes them preferential to Fuller’s or Young’s.

6 Jun 2007 15:58

The Porterhouse, Covent Garden

Bouncers on the door, which is never a good sign. It was dingy and devoid of charm.

I am not sure about these “exclusive” beers they have on. They band around the term “ale” and “stout”, yet from what I could fathom they were all keg stuff and they certainly were not cheap.

It is not quite the synthetic “Aaahh bejees tis a gran craic” faux-Irishness of O’Neills or Waxy’s, but there was nothing to persuade me to come back.

1 Jun 2007 11:19

The Angel and Crown, Leicester Square

Run of the mill West End pub. Ale was adequate although there was nothing that really made this anything more than an average experience.

1 Jun 2007 11:15

GJ's, Colliers Wood

Went back for the first time in ages and found it a slight improvement. Still no ale on, but a handful of slightly less common keg lagers – like Star and Becks Vier – went down surprisingly well, seeing as I’ve not had a pint of lager in a pub for years. A pool table is a nice addition too.

Still not particularly remarkable and still on the pricey side, but not as disagreeable as it used to be.

31 May 2007 11:04

Bertie's Bar, Wimbledon

Technically a separate entry, although “the downstairs of the Prince of Wales” would suffice as a description. I’ve been in here a few times and they only tend to have one ale on. The wine list is the same as upstairs, which is not overly rousing.

The place gets offensively clogged with smoke; roll on July 1 when – to ape the classic 90s anthem – I am as serious as cancer, when I say that the smoking ban will be an enhancer. The sofas are also quite low.

A slightly more relaxed and dingy version of upstairs, so not worth a detour.

31 May 2007 11:03

The Prince of Wales, Wimbledon

Pretty smoky and wasn’t too comfortable as the clientele were a bit rough around the edges. The bar staff seemed to be the perquisite Eastern European mould and the music was way over the top, although not ear-bleeding it was still distracting.

Still, the plus side was that four ales were on, including Adnams Explorer, which was excellent.

31 May 2007 11:02

The Enterprise, Holborn

The ale was good – Old Hookey and Deuchars IPA – although very busy for a Tuesday and nowhere to perch inside other than by the bar. As such, we were forced out onto the street like dogs.

When I went, it seemed to be full of Hooray Henry students, which wasn’t too appealing.

Even so, a pretty decent place and a solid six, assuming I’m not standing in the street engulfed by the posh unwashed.

24 May 2007 16:55

The Duke of Devonshire, Balham

Blimey, it isn’t that good. It is a larger than average Young’s pub, nothing more nothing less. It was a bit of a free for all on the Saturday night I was in there and would prefer the slightly more refined Clarence as my Balham venue of choice.

DoD is alright, but not much more than that.

24 May 2007 16:49

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

Bods, the staff have always said goodbye to me - not that I am charmed or anything. But have you tried saying thanks and bye to them when you leave?

Rex, most people feel the same on their first visit - I did. I think it has more to do with the reputation as a very cliquey place. After a few more visits you realise it isn't The Slaughterd Lamb and you get more comfortable. Then it really starts to emerge as one of the best pubs around.

11 May 2007 09:45

The Chandos, Trafalgar Square

The ale is solid, if unremarkable, Sam Smiths stuff at the usual sub-£2 prices.

However, I found it offensively smoky. Also, as the beer is so cheap, the patrons tend to be a mixed bunch. This is fine if you don’t mind being surrounding by scraggly-haired students pontificating on Marxism et al. I saw two clowns in there recently with a Lenin and Mao t-shirts on.

I think from now on, the extra quid on a pint of beer is worth a nicer atmosphere. Cheap but not too cheerful.

2 May 2007 10:20

The Market Porter, Borough

Tried it again on a Monday night and it was even better than before. After Top Dog Stout and Buffy Mild I settled on Crown, which was corking.

Like so many of these great pubs it is better to go at “off peak” times and it was not as uncomfortably heaving as my previously visits.

24 Apr 2007 09:32

The Dukes Head, Wallington

Practically identical to The Greyhound up in Carshalton, as you’d expect from a Young’s pub.

The ale was like many Young’s tipples nowadays, slightly above average, and the food, although pricy, was decent enough. It seemed to be mixture of restaurant and bar.

I didn’t face any disparaging remarks or any other sort of inappropriate sprawling from plebeian locals, but I went during the Bank Holiday afternoon so probably escaped lightly.

Even so, it was fine on my visit.

13 Apr 2007 16:51

The Coach and Horses, Carshalton

Oh dear, this pub was quite disagreeable.

From the outside it looks quite nice but on venturing in, it turned a bit sour. The drink was nothing too bad but the patrons were a bit rough around the edges and somewhat intimidating. It also acted as a sort of day care centre judging by the amount of kids frolicking in the place while there parents/grandparents seemed to get trollied. The layout of the place wasn’t very good either.

I won’t be venturing back in a hurry and it is certainly in the more ragged “Fox and Hounds” category of Carshalton pubs than the Greyhound or Windsor Castle.

13 Apr 2007 16:46

The Windsor Castle, Carshalton

I liked this place. They had a number of slightly different ales on – Tiger and Hancock – that were nicely-priced. With beer mats practically acting as wallpaper, it showed the place has some history in sampling different ales.

The staff and punters, although quite “local”, seemed alright, The pub was large enough, with a courtyward and garden. It is one of the better places in Carshalton alongside The Greyhound, but the real plus is it a bit more personal and has alternative ales to Young’s.

13 Apr 2007 16:40

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

Visited for a second time and this time managed to bag a seat downstairs, which was significantly nicer than the upstairs. The Deuchars IPA was cracking and served with just the right amount of head. It was bustling and busy with a lively atmosphere. I suppose the small, divided nature of the place means that it doesn’t quite become the sea of humanity that you can find say in The Harp.

Definitely gone up in my estimation, although it was pretty high to start with.

4 Apr 2007 11:10

The Hoop and Grapes, Aldgate

It’s been revamped and it is a bit smarter and tidier inside. It now has a specific dining section. Prices are still reasonable and there are going to be guest ales. Currently it is Black Sheep, but Deuchars IPA, Harveys, 6X and Old Hookey are promised.

Anyway, it has certainly raised its game and looks promising, plus – one last great move – it is now a no smoking pub.

30 Mar 2007 12:07

The RSVP, Wimbledon

Closed. Now becoming a Slug and Lettece.

29 Mar 2007 12:15

Baobab, Colliers Wood

Now a blues/jazz music placed called, er, Blue. This is exactly what it was before Baobab. Not sure if it will this time around.

27 Mar 2007 17:24

The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross

I do like this place a lot, although the last few weekday evenings it has proven Harp-esque in it crowdedness.

However, venturing in down there on Saturday afternoon and the slightly quieter, more spaced atmosphere was a hit. The seasonal ale – Hoppy Hare – was excellent and served in very groovy glasses, although a bit of a push at £3.

Definitely worth a visit.

26 Mar 2007 09:59

The Harp, Covent Garden

Following on from my previous positing, I went on a Saturday afternoon and my previous thought proved right. It was busy – but not uncomfortably so – and there was plenty of room. The ales – Caledonian XPA, Black Sheep, Titanic and Jousters were on top form and well poured and well-priced.


26 Mar 2007 09:56

The Trafalgar Arms, Tooting

I guess I must’ve mistaken the platter of salami, parma ham, pepperoni, olives and ciabatta (that I ate in the Trafalgar Arms in Tooting with my girlfriend) with scampi and chips then?

Is it conceivable that the last time I ate in here was before you – sorry the pub – changed the menu? Well, it was was because it was when that pleasant Northern chap (from Doncaster if memory serves), who used to live above the pub, worked there. He was markedly nicer than the current crop of staff.

Read the reviews of your customers (or indeed former customers) rather than quibbling over previous incantations of your menu. According to the punter, the “straight facts” are that you should be more concerned with sorting out your revolting third-world toilets and badly-kept ale.

23 Mar 2007 17:11

Ye Three Lords, Aldgate

Very well kept ale – for Young’s – when I’ve been in there. It has been both chilled, fresh and crisp. The food is also decent and reasonably priced, so you should get lunch and a pint for under a tenner. It does get quite busy in there, so the earlier you arrive the better.

Overall, one of the better Young's pubs I've been to.

23 Mar 2007 15:30

The Salisbury, Leicester Square

The guest ale - Pride of Pendle – was the only slightly distinct drink on offer from the six hand pumps, but it’s nice enough. Still, it the pub had the ever-dependable Deuchars IPA to counter the London Pride, Young’s, Bombardier and OSH.

The service was decent – chatty and helpful – and the staff pulled some decent pints.

There was an abundance of tourists when I was in there, which I suppose ties in with the “traditional boozer” approach of the place. Not that I am complaining too much, it is better that they came in here and sample some ales than go into Yates’s or the Pitcher & Piano.

Overall, I liked the place and certainly would return.

6 Mar 2007 10:38

The Clarence, Balham

Returned recently and even more impressed.

It seems to have really carved out a strong identity and invested in staff and products. Service is very good and the staff are chatty, friendly and considerate – it makes such a difference.

Although still only two Adnams on (Oyster was lovely though) I did give the other stuff a go and the selection of keg and bottle beers was refreshingly varied and interesting. The beer is on the pricey side (£3 for a pint of Oyster is one of the most expensive ale I have ever bought), although compared to the rest of Balham, the few pence extra is worth it. I haven’t eaten in there but the menu looks wide-ranging and interesting (i.e. venison lasagne) and acceptably priced.

Head and shoulders above everywhere else in Balham and definitely one of my top 10 pubs; quite a statement from an ale enthusiast but that is the mark of quality.

PS. Found Budvar Dark a bit lightweight for such a dark beer, lacking the body and wholesomeness of porters or stouts.

1 Mar 2007 12:29

The, Wimbledon

Closed and gutted (the building, not me, as this was an awful place).

27 Feb 2007 13:03

The Moat House, Taunton

From my recollection, aside from the Adnams, the place had the usual nitro-keg glop as well as the standard collection of wines one would expect at an average bar, although very expensive for an outpost such as Taunton.

The layout of the place, including the first floor, made it spacious enough, but it just felt a little too contrived and orchestrated. In general, it seems to be trying to fuse a pub, wine bar and restaurant into one and not really managing to be any. That is not to say it is a hovel, but merely a distinctly average drinking establishment, even if these gushing, one offs postings are complimented by unnecessarily verbose and disjointed entries.

26 Feb 2007 11:00

The Bedford, Balham


I went in on Saturday night and it was over-crowded, noisy, smoky and generally unpleasant. The ale was pretty dull – and served in plastic containers – although the £2.50 price tag was a sliver of hope. The place is grotty, the toilets were revolting and the patrons left a lot to be desired. Overall, very poor and one of the worst pub experiences in recent memory.

26 Feb 2007 09:42

The Trafalgar Arms, Tooting

Going downhill fast.

The standard ale fare of GK IPA and Spitfire is no longer well-kept. The staff are by no means offensive, but they are not as friendly as previous workers.

As for the food, last time I went in there I had an "Italian platter", which was identical to the contents of the packed "Italian meat plater" from Sainsbury's. Of course I am not claiming it is packaged stuff, just pointed out the similarity.

Anyway, go down to The Garden House or up to Spirit Bar.

19 Feb 2007 13:25

Trafalgar Freehouse, South Wimbledon

At long last, I finally got around to visiting. The selection of ales was excellent. Six offerings on tap, most of which were new to me, and, the couple I had, were immaculate and well-priced at £2.50. Friendly staff too.

It is small, so much so that it cab feel a bit intimidating (regulars are also spread across the bar) and it lacks a bit of space and privacy.

Even so, I’d definitely go back, and this pub is top class and should be saluted for its ales portfolio. A worthy rival to The Sultan (which probably edges it as it is closer to my house) and a great find.

19 Feb 2007 13:07

The Moat House, Taunton


19 Feb 2007 12:59

The Moat House, Taunton

Not a pub. Only served Adnams when I went there. One of those typical, quasi, London-wannabe bars that you get out in the sticks.

It's fine, but simply having read comfortable chairs doesn't make it a top-drawer establishment.

19 Feb 2007 12:56

The Coach and Horses, Soho

Only had GK IPA on, but it was bearable. There did seem to be quite a few patrons that resembled vagrants. Could’ve just been an off-night. It was okay, although probably wouldn’t be my first port of call if I am in the area and definitely not worthy of a 6.7 average score.

14 Feb 2007 16:48

The Rack and Tenter, Moorgate

There was plenty of staff on, and a sporadic table on offer, which kindly didn’t add a cheeky 10% tip automatically to. Three ales on (with Cumberland being the most “exotic”) although all served in Fosters glasses, which made me shudder with shame.

A major flaw is that it is very, very smoky. I can’t wait for the ban to come in; it will make such a difference to the pub experience and will hopefully cut the lung and lip cancer rate.

Anyway, certainly not deserving a 7.6, but a 4 (going up to 5 when smoking is banned).

8 Feb 2007 13:53

The Wheatsheaf, Fitzrovia

Adequate. Three ales on (tried the Brakspear and Young's Special, not Bomba) and they were drinkable.

Certainly nothing special and sort of mingles in with most of the other pubs of this sort near the West End, but could do worse.

7 Feb 2007 11:12

Pratts and Payne, Streatham

Grotty, gritty and grimy.

Still, offically the cheapest round I have ever bought in London: £3.40 for two Youngs, which were in reasonable condition.

29 Jan 2007 11:24

The Fox and Hounds, Carshalton

A stonking 10 handpumps, although only GK IPA and the better 6X were on. Everyone else was drinking lager though.

Certainly not as nice as some of the other pubs in the area.

29 Jan 2007 11:21

The Barrowboy and Banker, London Bridge

Although it was busy, when I went in they had plenty of bar staff on so the turn around was quite quick and smooth. Still busy and stanging room only.

Generally though, a rather middle of the road Fullers pub. The season ale wasn't on (not sure if it would have matched Jack Frost or not) so stuck with Discovery, which is light and drinkable, although not a patch on Honeydew, sadly only dispensed from keg meaning it has lost much of its taste in the process.

Indistinct, yet broadly inoffensive.

23 Jan 2007 12:11

Ye Old Mitre, Holborn

I finally got around to going to Ye Olde Mitre the other day - to complete the fabled London top quadrilogy of The Harp, The Royal Oak and the Jeruselum Tavern (not sure where the Wenlock Arms has disappeared to) - and it was pretty good; based on my first experience.

The friendly staff were chatty enough and the beer was of a good enough quality, although I probably didn't go when the best selection was on (what is the pub's stock beers?). The layout is quite quirky.

However, a small concern was the size of the head served on many of the ales. Sure, there is some ditty on the wall about how Northerners can request a head on their ale, but I am not a Northerner. I don’t wish to be short-changed and served a pint of Deuchars IPA that is approaching 10% head (or foamy by-product). I had to ask for it to be topped up, although most people seemed to be “Northern” in their approach to the head. Of course I could’ve gone on an “off” night, but a supposedly renowned ale house should know how to serve a suitable pint.

Niggling quibbles aside, it is not as astoundingly brilliant as everyone seems to think, but certainly a decent enough pub and one of the best in the area.

Probably have to go: The Harp; Royal Oak; with Ye Olde Mitre and Jerusalem Tavern vying for third.

18 Jan 2007 09:32

The Old Bell, Edinburgh

And I though Deuchars IPA was cracking south of the border. This pub was decent enough, and felt more than a little “local”, but the Deuchars was sublime. I thought the ale travelled well but within its home city, it is even better and that ineffable taste is even more distinctive.

15 Jan 2007 13:39

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

The last couple of occasions I have ventured into this excellent pub, there have been some loud groups of lager-drinkers, which did stifle the atmosphere a bit and is somewhat of a slur to the great Hop Back ales on offer.

Each to his own I suppose, but this is still one of the best boozers around and the beer has always been faultless.

15 Jan 2007 13:34

The Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden

It is a cliché but this is a very friendly, if undersized, pub, tucked away in an alley off the Strand.

The ales were nothing exceptional (Bombardier, OSH, Best and Directors) but it had a certain hum and buzz that is lacking in many places nowadays.

15 Jan 2007 13:30

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

Last time I checked, it was 9pm.

9 Jan 2007 09:18

The Manor Bar & Grill, Tooting

Six months since my last review and I’ve popped in a few times; I have to say it is certainly growing on me (although the beer garden in the summer was not the best as the bins were too close, so caused a bit of a pong).

It is still spacious but without being barren as a few plants, flowers, pictures, furniture, etc have brightened the place up and filled the vastness. It has a more relaxed atmosphere than The Trafalgar, which I am starting to go off big time, and the guvnor is a friendly chap who seems to care about what he is doing. Can’t comment on the food (and £22 for a bottle of Barbera is quite a lot) but the ale side of things is slowly moving forwards. Although three ales are usually on – Pride, Bombardier and the relatively rare Speckled Hen – I think there are quite “samey” beers, so it would be nice to see some ales in there with a bit more character but I guess it takes time to build up the market.

The place is certainly developing well and carving out a bit of an identity for itself. Good luck to it.

5 Dec 2006 11:14

Charles Holden, Colliers Wood

To give The Tup some credit (and despite my quibbles) it has done very well because it is a broad church, covering a large part of the demographic, and still gets regular visits from me.

The Tup can cater for all people, whether for a quiet drink, to watch sport, for a pint of ale (relatively speaking as none of its closest rivals serve any), for a party, to eat out, etc. The pub would never top a poll for any competitions, but as a whole package, and being so near a tube station, it has carved out a strong market. I think the distinct lack of competition has given it a monopoly as the closest mainstream rivals (Baobah, GJs and Venus) have struggled in creating the same perceived sense of “community” and “identity”, despite being more established.

I find it dull because it feels too similar to all the other Tups (not sure how much influence the chain has over the running of the place) and never emerges as anything other than ordinary. For instance, the ale potential is wasted. I think it has six or seven hand-pumps, but usually only the same three ales dispensed (Bombardier, the Tups own brew – not sure about the background to that – and the markedly superior Deuchars) and that’s it. Guest ales are sparse and, at £2.90, represents the second most expensive pint of ale I’ve have purchased in London; honestly.

In fairness, and to confirm my point, the Tup is clearly not aiming to be known as a top quality ale house (five minutes walk takes you to The Sultan, which serves better beers at a fraction of the price - £2.15) but it can cater for that market. I’m glad to see the guvnor has been encouraging ale drinking and I’ve notice a marked improvement in the pulling of pints. Sadly most punters seem to still prefer their bland nitro-keg fizz at over £3 a pint.

4 Dec 2006 13:49

Baobab, Colliers Wood

Looks like Punch Taverns is searching for someone to run it, according to a sign over the door. The new owners didn't last long then.

Just went on PTs website and it's on for capital costs of £28,500. Not for me, but hopefully someone will take the opportunity to give The Tup a run for its money, although nowadays I tend to stick to The Sultan.

4 Dec 2006 11:42

Vesbar, Shepherds Bush

My Shep’s sesh continued in Vesbar. Although not overly impressed, it was still a better option than O’Neills, The Green, The Slug and Lettuce or the dire Walkabout.

It was quite quiet and relaxed, although no ale. In a bout of naive optimism, I tried the draught Honeydew; awful. Fullers should be ashamed in turning a once supreme cask ale into syrupy fizzy crap. Such was my disgust, I moved onto Kirin, which is not a bad brew as keg go.

27 Nov 2006 12:36

The Defector's Weld, Shepherds Bush

The bouncers were a bit self-important, with the bizarre request that you needed a home QPR ticket to get in. Still, he waved us in.

Four ale pumps and only the dull GK IPA on, although served in a glass tankard which was a nice touch. It was very busy, the service wasn’t great and lots of guys with suits on, which is not Saturday night attire. I’ve been in here a couple of times during its previous guises and the space and layout were fine, but I think it is a place for an afternoon pint rather than an evening drink.

27 Nov 2006 12:30

The Market Trader, Aldgate

An honest, if smoky, pub. Only had two out of four ales on (the rather run-of-the-mill Youngs and Courage if memory serves) when I went in there. Bit of a strange layout and the large LCD TVs detracts from the more traditional feel for the place, but even so, pretty good and I would go again, perhaps even to try tha appealing lunch menu.

22 Nov 2006 11:26

The Comedy, Piccadilly

The Comedy would be funny, if it wasn’t so tragic. The ground level part is really quite poor, with little charisma, character or class. No ales on, just S&N usual array of bland, tepid nitro-keg liquid. I doubt the other levels have much to offer.

Best avoided.

16 Nov 2006 10:33

The Royal Oak, Borough

Tucked away, I found this to have a nice, traditional décor and layout, with very friendly bar staff, who knew their produce, and a nice atmosphere. As for the second best pub in London (and the fifth best in the country), there is a vital aspect that, for me, stopped it progressing past “very good” into “excellent”. That, controversially, is the ale.

The indigenous Harvey’s selection was somewhat middle of the road, so when I walked in there, I didn’t have “Wow, I’ll start off with that and try that and then…” moment, something I've experienced in excellent boozers. Mild, Pale and Best were all pleasant enough but unremarkable. It is this lack of character that takes the gloss off an otherwise quality pub. If I compare other brewery-owned pubs that I have strolled into, the regular beers have a more distinct identity too them, which makes the pub/drinking experience more varied and distinct. Stripping out guest ales, the domestic/seasonal ales on offer at the Badger-owned Ship & Shovel (Tanglefoot, Fursty Ferret) or the Hop Back-owned Sultan (GFB, Stout, Summer Lightning) present a bit more flair, taste and personality, which I think gives them more of an edge.

Despite that quibble, it certainly warrants a visit and I will return. A great put but, according to my palate at least, the slight lack of character in the ales prevents it from attaining such a lofty and prestigious position in the Top 10 table.

7 Nov 2006 10:22

The Ship and Shovell, Charing Cross

Badger, Tanglefoot and Fursty Ferret (as well as the other guest ale, which I've forgotten) were all top-drawer.

The “split” nature of the pubs is quite interesting, although space is fairly limited in both. It was pretty busy but once things filtered down we got a place in the non-smoking side.

It is just a bit further along from the Sherlock Holmes (which I need to give another go) but I certainly will return to this place. A nice alternative option to the likes of The Harp or that Samuel Smith’s pub in the Charing Cross/Embankment vicinity.

23 Oct 2006 14:08

The Harp, Covent Garden

A very impressive range of ales; Black Sheep; Dick Turpin and, especially, IPA, were great and well-poured by nice staff. Didn’t sample Harvey’s, Bateman’s XXXX or Timothy Taylor as I’ve had them all quite recently.

While it is a great pub for ale (rightly regarded as one of the best in the area), I have to say I feel it is a tad over-rated – the seventh best pub in the land? There are a few quibbles that, at least from my perspective, knock a couple of points off.

Drawbacks are the slender layout, which although not on the minute scale of The Jerusalem Tavern, certainly creates “hustle and bustle”. Some people may feel is part of its charm, but – and maybe I am just getting too old – it inevitably ends up too crammed and cramped. Obviously it is incredibly popular (deservedly so) but each time I have been in there, I have felt like a sardine, floating in a sea of suits, students and everyone else – not my preferred means of sampling some quality beer. Although the staff managed the bar faultlessly, it was a bit of a battle actually getting to the bar (stuck behind plebs ordering lagers) and then a challenge to get the beer back without spilling it amongst the flailing elbows, jostles and obstacles, only to stand amongst these flailing elbows, jostles and obstacles and try to drink the pint.

I also thought the décor was a bit tacky, I'm also not a fan of high chairs, and the undersized toilet halfway up the stairs was a bit of a pain; even if some people would see that as “quaint”.

In conclusion, I would easily recommend The Harp, but probably try to go there at times when it is a bit less hectic to avoid the crush.

20 Oct 2006 11:17

The Elephant, Fenchurch Street

Traditional boozers? It's a Young's pub, which means it is kind of like a chain pub but with real ale.

Still, to be fair, I've never rated Young's beers, they tasted cheap and bland. This was until a year or so again, when I ended up sampling a pint as it was the only ale on and it was very nice. Likewise, the "Special" here was very good.

Certainly not a stand-out pub, but a solid 5.

18 Oct 2006 12:57

The Spirit Bar Cafe, Tooting

Solid, Continental-style bar/brassiere. Only nitro-keg beers (and the nitro-keg bitters they had – John Smith’s and Flowers – are usually not worth bothering with they are so vile) so went for this Becks Vier stuff, which was surprisingly bearable for fizzy lager. The menu looked interesting, and reasonably priced, and the place is a bit more spacious than the Hoochi Mamas a few doors up.

Not the sort of place I would tend to go regularly although it is alright to pop in as it is nicer than most of the establishments around Tooting Broadway and you don’t fancy going down as far as The Trafalgar.

16 Oct 2006 12:35

The Still and Star, Aldgate

I'm not sure what everyone is on about, this was pretty unimpressive.

The inside was grimy and felt a bit like a grubby social club. The ale was boring.

12 Oct 2006 15:20

The Plumbers Arms, Victoria

A fairly decent little pub. It was a bit cramped in there (especially for a Tuesday) and very, very smoky (bring in the ban now I say) but it had a buzz about it and felt lively. The bar staff were pleasant, although Caledonian 80/- was the only stand-out ale from Youngs, Pride and Bombardier.

Never had much luck finding pubs around Victoria, but this would be a place I would go again.

4 Oct 2006 12:17

The Southwark Tavern, London Bridge

Very busy and very loud – well, one particularly loud table of drunkards. The service was not the best, with the staff deploying the old “who’s next?” question to a sea of thirsty drinkers rather than actually keeping track of the customers. Luckily in this instance, the other punters were well-mannered enough to indicate who was before them.

They only had Pride (dull), although I almost missed the Caledonian Fully Monty. Luckily I didn’t and it was excellent, although one niggle would be that it tasted like a slightly heavier Deuchars rather than a distinctive beer in its own right.

Still, it is not a stand-out place. As with many of the pubs in the London Bridge vicinity on this board (The George and The Market Porter being prime examples), this place is not bad, but does not deserve such an above average score.

29 Sep 2006 09:48

Pommelers Rest, Tower Bridge

The only place outside of Somerset that I have found the excellent Pitchfork on tap. Scores a seven for that alone.

27 Sep 2006 15:43

The Poet Bar, Liverpool St

It was okay. Only one ale on, which was Morland Bitter but that was quite nice and well-priced.

Although there certainly are All Bar One/Pitcher & Piano undercurrents, the staff were friendly and it had a little bit more charm to drag it out of that lowly level.

Sadly the patrons were definitely from the ABO/P&P sub-species. As a result, plenty of plebs drinking Magners.

21 Sep 2006 10:00

The Masons Arms, Marylebone

I really liked this place; it is a nice, cosy, little pub with a friendly enough environment. The Badger beers were spot on, especially Stinger, which was great. The normal Badger ale was only £2.40.

As a mark of the kind of place it is, two plebs walked in and asked for Magners. The barmaid said they don’t have any, so, remarkably, they tried Stinger. There is hope…

18 Sep 2006 09:17

The Theodore Bullfrog, Charing Cross

Although the downstairs was being refurbished - meaning only the top floor was in use - it was quite unimpressive. I can't understand why it scores so highlyl. No ales on and the usual nitro-keg stuff - although the Budvar was alright.

Maybe I'll give it another go after the overhaul.

Lots of plebs drinking Magners, or whatever that other p1ssy Irish cider is.

14 Sep 2006 09:26

The Fox and Anchor, Smithfield

This is one of the best pubs in London, and I actually rate it above much-lauded The Sutton. The place is cosy and quiet, usually with a couple of decent or unique ales on. I’ve even found Smiles Blond in there before, which comes a close second to by London beer discoveries, behind finding Pitchfork in the Wetherspoons by Tower Bridge.

I've found the service is very good and chirpy, and the food is honest, traditional pub grub, which is also tasty.

If you want a lazy Friday afternoon blow-out lunch, with a few ales to help wash it down, you really can’t go wrong.

13 Sep 2006 10:05

Ship, Monument

Tucked down a little ally, this is a pretty good little boozer. The ale was well-priced at £2.55 a pint and served by friendly bar staff; albeit an over-sized head on a couple of pints. Not the best selection, with Pride and Spitfire, although both Timothy Taylor and Deuchars IPA were excellent. Also, no plebs drinking Magners, so hopefully that’ll fizzle out as a summer fad.

There is not much space inside, so throngs of people standing outside drinking, which is something I am not overly keen on.

Even so, worth a visit for a good and competitively-priced ale or two on the way home.

13 Sep 2006 09:53

The Sultan, South Wimbledon

This place is all about the ale.

I can’t believe I’ve been living in the vicinity for over a year, yet I never knew this existed until a month ago. Sure, the location is not great (tucked away in a residential are) and some of the patrons are, er, characters to say the least, plus it is smoky and cliquey, but the Hop Back beers are top drawer: GFB; Summer Lightning; Hop Scotch as well as guest ales. As previously mentioned, the £1.75-a-pint happy hour on a Wednesday is especially alluring.

Despite some minor niggles, at least the pub, and the regulars, feel genuine. The bar staff are all very friendly and know how to pull an almost perfect pint. They also have plenty of bottled ales as well as five litre mini-casks of Lightning to take home.

Highly recommended, especially ale lovers, although there are some of the usual ghastly lagers and bottled Magners p1ss should you prefer.

7 Sep 2006 10:22

Throgmorton's, Bank

A rather good find. We sat in the lounge, which was nice, spacious and very relaxed. Plenty of interesting beers, both ales and lagers. However, a couple of the ales were off (especially disappointed as I quite fancied the Black Sheep) so I stuck to Deuchars IPA, which was refreshingly served in glass tankards and spot on. The guy behind the bar knew what exactly what he was doing too, and the food looked great, although I only sampled a potato wedge.

All in all, one of the best watering holes I’ve been to in quite a while.

The paradox is that while this place deserves to be very successful as it represents a decent fusion of trendy and traditional, I fear it could loose its charm if lots of Magners-drinking plebs stumbled upon it.

6 Sep 2006 10:20

B@1 (Be At One), Balham

It was a big plus to receive a friendly welcome from bar staff for a change – albeit if a couple of them seemed a little like they were reading from a script, but that is just a quibble.

They also seemed pretty competent in rustling up the cocktails, which were very nice, although I am not sure if I would go outside of the “happy hours” as £12 for two cocktails is pricey – or perhaps I am just stingy?

On the downside, the music was too loud and it does seem to attract a large slice of Balham’s chinless wonder community. The tall chairs also proved uncomfortable.

Still, I would happily recommend it for a “happy hour” cocktail or two before heading off for dinner.

29 Aug 2006 10:35

The Fentiman Arms, Kennington

Not sure about this one. When I went there it was pretty busy, with a selection of ales (Deuchars IPA, Greene King IPA and Bombadier) as well as the likes of draft Magners – for the connoisseur pleb – and all the usual nitro-keg urine.

Anyway, the bar staff were chirpy and pleasant enough, although they were struggling to pull a decent pint of ale, with some pretty big heads dished out on occasion.

The décor is a split between some bohemian lounge and a rather cramped dining area, although the menu was certainly on the pricey side.

On balance, I suppose it was alright for a few mid-week drinks, but it certainly has nothing that would really inspire a second visit.

24 Aug 2006 10:26

East India Arms, Fenchurch Street

Timothy Taylor was spot on, well-poured and at £2.60 great value. The ale seemed to be going down well with the patrons who were drinking it, although the pub was mainly populated by suits - with about half the patrons drinking the rather pathetic Magners stuff - gimps.

Anyway, it is a tiny bar, so there is no real seating area per se, and punters tend to spill out onto the pavement.

Still, for a couple of swift, decent ales after work, it does the job.

18 Aug 2006 09:17

The Market Porter, Borough

A reasonably interesting selection of ales. I had the Harvey's and Blindman and both were pretty good. Lots of people drinking Magners though; plebs.

The bar staff could also pull a decent pint and were friendly enough.

Not bad at all.

28 Jul 2006 10:26

Soho, Christchurch

Even if this place is a tad on the faux-classy side, it is at least a decent alternative to the usual Christchurch pubs and can attract a younger crowd.

They tend to have one or two ales on (usually the rather drab Ringwood or Courage) but the real let-down are the prices, which are extortionate even by London standards. £3.10 for a pint of Becks?

21 Jul 2006 13:04

The George, London Bridge

The first time I went in here, I thought quite highly of it; I guess because I went at a quiet time with some decent ale on. Each progressive visit has deteriorated my opinion of the place from a good pub to a distinctly average – and overcrowded – pub.

Bar staff were friendly enough although really struggled in pouring a decent pint of ale – with a very frothy head in all but one instance. The selection was not particularly remarkable, with Greene King IPA and the pub’s own ale, alongside 6X, which was the better pint, although most people were drinking lager and the awful faddy Magners stuff.

Still, the “ye olde worlde” background to it makes it quite an important place in pub history terms, although it would help if the place tried to drag itself out of the quagmire of the mediocre.

20 Jul 2006 09:41

Dragon Inn, Weston Super Mare

Believe me, this certainly does not compare to the Spoons in Tooting, south London.

It has the best selection of ales (including the excellent RCH Pitchfork brewed in Hewish) in the whole of the Mare, although The London (old one, not new one) often serves ale from the barrel, which is a rare delight.

Sure, the Spoons is rough and ready (as is the entire town to be fair) but the worst Spoons in the world, it ain’t.

19 Jul 2006 15:16

The Monument, Monument

Another Hogshead/Greene King conversion, but this place is a bit more spacious and with a decent, long bar.

The interior is the bog-standard and the usual Greene King ales on, although the seasonal, citrusy Ale Fresco was an absolute delight. Alas my companion opted for this awful faddy Magners stuff (with added sulphates), which came in at almost a whopping £4. I love the fact it is served with ice: “Yes please barman, if you could water down my pint for me that would be great.” (Apologies, I’m a West Country boy used to proper scrumpy, so I am probably just being a bit prejudiced.)

Although when you’ve seen one Greene King pub you’ve pretty much seen ‘em al, they are at the higher end of the chain pub, er, chain.

19 Jul 2006 13:24

Gordon's Wine Bar, Charing Cross

Generally, the British don’t seem to have the same approach to alcohol as our Continental neighbours, so we don’t have the same hang-ups/sense of absolute horror at the thought of drinking wine without food.

As such, Gordon’s is probably one of the better places in London to try some excellent wines.

The choice is quite extensive (a lot more variety than the New World-dominated wine lists that most places have nowadays) but perhaps it would be nice to try to push some domestic British wine a bit more? After all, and rather like ales, as a tourist you like to sample the local delicacies rather than imports you can have every day.

The fact it is jam-packed most of the time goes without saying (if drinking wine without food wasn’t savage enough, we also do it standing up – although the number of tourists in Gordon’s would indicate that such guilty pleasures actually extend to foreign fields) but the crowded nature of the place does detracts from it benefits.

Although grubby in the light of day, the candle-lot cellar room is a fantastically romantic setting. Otherwise, the bustling and grotty parts of the place kind of dull the experience somewhat.

Still, it does make a decent alternative to the pub and is worth one visit, even if you don’t become a regular.

19 Jul 2006 13:11

The Railway Tavern, Liverpool Street

Indeed – although the crux of going to a pub to watch the football is about the atmosphere, drink and quality of the establishment, rather than the display on the TV. Otherwise you may as well stay at home and watch it on your own widescreen TV as you'll get a better view.

I mean, would you rather go to a hellacious pub that smells, serves disgusting beer, has extremely rude staff and is full of people looking for a fight (not the Railway Tavern I hasten to add) just because it has an LCD or plasma TV with 16:9 display? My vote goes for a nice, friendly pub, with good ales and a good atmosphere with a CRT TV with a 4:3 display.

Each to his own, but I think there are better pub-related issues to campaign for rather than the widescreen TV ratios; what will you do once they all make the switch? It is also interesting that you don’t mention other significant problems that affect pub TVs and are just as annoying, such as using composite rather than RGB display modes or plugging a HDTV into a digi-box using a bog-standard scart, causing pixilation and ghosting problems.

Anyway, I say we should be trying to get more people to drink real ale rather than p1ssy chemical lager, or stopping pubs from serving huge heads on the beer, or improving customer service.

13 Jul 2006 10:52

The Railway Tavern, Liverpool Street

A couple of alright ales on in this place, although it is indistinguishable from most of the boozers around Liverpool Street. Still, it is better than the Pitcher & Piano.

As for the widescreen TVs, I am not over fussed as a pub is about booze, atmosphere and clients. I think going into a pub to review their TVs is the equivalent of going into a restaurant, disregarding the food, service and ambiance, and instead reviewing the lampshades.

12 Jul 2006 17:06

Waxy O'Connors, Piccadilly

Better than most plastic Paddy places, although the beer, including some nitro-keg Guinness and Caffrey's, is nothing to write home about.

The real selling point of Waxy's is the cavernous interior, which although a bit contrived, is spacious and quite unique in layout and layers.

12 Jul 2006 16:49

Yates's, Leicester Square

Most Yates's generally tend to be nasty, but this place rivals Tiger, Tiger in terms of awfulness.

Rancid, costly nitro-keg beers are only the tip of the iceberg, with the clients a distrubing mixture of bling and ming, and lads and slags.

Avoid unless you are a pleb.

12 Jul 2006 16:39

The Belle Vue, Clapham Common

I've had a couple of good ales in here, including Harvey's on my latest trip. The bar staff seem to know how to pour a pint (an almost dead art in London nowadays) and a quite generous on their wine measurements.

Also is not as full of hooray Henrys as other places in the area.

One of the better places in cliched Clapham.

12 Jul 2006 16:27

The Haven House, Christchurch

This is a great little place with quality bar food and a couple of decent local pints on (usually Ringwood).

It is probably better in the winter, with the roaring fire, as during the summer (especially in the day) it tends to be very, very, very busy.

11 Jul 2006 16:31

The Druid's Head, Kingston Upon Thames

Two pints of Deuchars IPA for under £5 is always a good starting point for a pub.

Staff were friendly enough, and apologetic about delays in food and wrong orders.

A nice pub and better than the over-priced Youngs establishment on the river, albeit without the view.

I am starting to quite like Greene King pubs - I've also been to the one in Monument and Wimbledon. Although they are pretty similar, you can usually get reasonable food and decent ale, well priced.

11 Jul 2006 16:28

Baobab, Colliers Wood

I hope the new owners see the opportunities with this place. It has a nice interior, is well located (surely an extra 50 metres further on from the Tup is walking distance?), and could be a real goldmine if it managed to carve out the niche that is not served in Colliers Wood.

At present, the area is divided between average, over-priced places like GJ’s, the Tup or Venus, which all charge over three quid a pint, and the slightly rougher places like the Standard or Kiss Me Hardy, which are cheaper but don’t have a great atmosphere.

There was a brief period, when it was open and had a few mildly decent beers on (Pilsner and Coors) at a reasonable price, that Baobab was my number one choice, despite the Tup being the only one of the above to serve ale.

Not that I have ever managed a pub, but if the new owners manage to firstly stay open, create a nice atmosphere, get some interesting beers in (and keep them on), and charge reasonable prices then there is no reason why it shouldn’t succeed. I'd give it another go.

That said though, the Tup now does Deuchars IPA, which is a world class pint. Although most people seem to stick to Fosters/Kronenburg rather than give it a go, which is a shame.

5 Jul 2006 16:21

Smiths Of Smithfield, Smithfield

Busy, pricey and over-crowded.

However, this is the place I experience a new low in bar etiquette

The chap in front of me ordered three pints of Guinness, which he paid for up front and got the change. He was most irked with the oversized heads on the pints that the barman pulled, said it was a disgrace and walked out, leaving the pints on the bar.

After some puzzled looks (and waiting to make sure he had left) I said to the barman: “Waste not want not. I’ll have these pints; it saves me a round.”

He replied: “Okay – I’ll give them to you for half price.”

I obviously pointed out to the cheeky begger the beers had already been purchased, but it shows you there sort of levels that some people and places will stoop to rip you of even more.

29 Jun 2006 15:05

The Gate, Smithfield

The Gate is a pretty good pub, which has enough charm to paper over the cracks. In fact, I remember the crazy days of its "pound a pint night" on a Tuesday, which soon stopped after attracting lots of kiddie-winkies (as in young studenty-types, not actual children).

Not a great selection of beers, but they usually have an ale or two on, plus Bitburger was a nice alternative to the clichéd lagers.

The food, and wait time, can be quite poor so I always stuck to the burgers, which were cheap, good enough and processed fairly speedily.

The aircon would often be too high in the summer, making it freezing cold, but for a couple of pints after work or a cheap and cheerful lunch, this is up to the mark.

29 Jun 2006 14:58

The Clarence, Balham

I came back here the other week (hadn't been since the Balham Arms days) and I liked what they had done with it.

The decor is a bid off - with some pubby kind of aspects with more traditional bar stuff - but it works.

Although there was only a couple of Adnams on ale-wise, there was an attractive selection of continental beers (I can’t vouch on the brewing standards as I stuck to the ale) that were new to me - such as the Budvar Dark. I’ll give them a go on my return though.

Speaking to the bar folk and apparently it is an independent pub, so no ties to big nasty breweries that tarnish watering holes with the likes of Fosters and Carling, meaning they are free to buy some interesting and rare beers.

It gets my seal of approval and I would urge people to ditch the dreary drudgery of The Bedford, The Exhibit or The Balham Tup, go here instead and try some of those beers.

28 Jun 2006 17:09

Charterhouse, Smithfield

Charterhouse used to be a nice, quiet little bar a few years ago. However, it has veered strongly into the “trendy” territory in the last couple of years, I guess to rub shoulders with similar neighbouring “trendy” venues like Fluid or and Fabric.

I found the service has got sloppy, the bland beer and lot more expensive and the bar became rammed and loud – which isn’t good for such a small venue. Still, if you enjoy this kind of thing, and know the finite differences between trip hop, acid-jazz, funk soul and the like, then you could do worse.

28 Jun 2006 17:00

The Cittie of Yorke, Holborn

Although a chain pub, I tend to hold Samuel Smiths in reasonably high regard because it stocks its own stuff, rather than the turgid nitro-keg brands that have colonised this country. Also, the cheap prices prove the huge mark-up that most places have on their £3+ pints.

This pub is a fair old size – divided into a front and back section – and the little rail carriage-esque compartments in the rear make for a nice, secluded spot to have a beer and a chat. This gives it a bit more character than the others I’ve been in, such as the one in Charing Cross (full of tourists) and the one by Smithfield (full of students).

I’ve never had a bad pint in here, although one criticism of Samuel Smiths is that its ale, whilst drinkable, is far from distinct. In fact, I probably say some of their lagers surpass the bitters – the organic lager was a real, crisp treat.

28 Jun 2006 16:50

The Butcher's Hook and Cleaver, Smithfield

Although I used to quite enjoy Fullers' pubs, especially when they had excellent ale such as the now saldy scarce Honeydew, I am starting to get very bored with their carbon-copied interiors.

It is a similar issue with Youngs pubs: the same ales; same menus; same layouts and same interiors. It becomes very ordinary and too familar after a couple of visits.

So, basically, it is one of the better chain pubs around.

28 Jun 2006 16:41

The Hoop and Grapes, Aldgate

This is one of the better boozers around Aldgate, and a nice change to the inane chains that are becoming more common in the area.

They usually have a few ales on, which although not inspiring (Pride, Bombadier, Adnams) does the job. It is also very competative with prices, the bar staff are friendly and the food, whilst not awarding winning, is solid, pub grub at good prices. You can have lunch and two pints for under a tenner.

28 Jun 2006 11:47

All Bar One, Smithfield

Ghastly, like all its brethren.

This is only place I have had to ask for the same pint to be topped up twice. Some clown poured an awful pint of Amstel (not my number one choice, of course but needs must) with a huge head. I asked for him to top it up, and he managed to hand it back to me with an even bigger head (we're talking a good inch, at least).

I pointed out that he was not serving me a Pilsner, and even if he was, he should serve it in an oversized glass. He shurgged, I think in a way that acknowledged he was a total chimp, and finally poured me a proper pint.

On the whole, I detest chain pubs. ABO is probably the worst...expect for those rather rancid Walkabout places.

26 Jun 2006 17:50

The Firefly, Balham

Although these kinds of bar are not usually my preference, I've had some alright (mid-week) evenings in Firefly. Granted, the beers are bland and over-priced (£3.10 for Amstel was the lesser of a number of evils), which prevents me from regularly visiting.

On the plus side, it does have a reasonably relaxing vibe similar to some Continental bars, although I make quality beer my main priority in watering holes rather than atmosphere - after all, food is more important in restaurants than atmosphere.

Also, as with all such undersized bars, some of the limited relaxation is lost on Fridays and Saturdays because it gets heaving.

If you like bars, then it is it worth a visit.

26 Jun 2006 17:01

Blithe Spirit, Balham

It is a bit of a shame that "because it is the only place in Balham I can usually find a seat on a Friday night" is the number one draw of this place.

They usually have one ale, which is not very well kept, plus the usual nitro keg crap. The food is extremely expensive and unremarkable. Why the hell do pub roast dinners cost about £10 these days?

Still, I don't find it as unconvincingly shallow as other bars/pubs in Balham.

26 Jun 2006 16:52

The Brewery Tap, Wimbledon Village

I've been in here for lunch twice recently - pre and post-decorating - and I think it is a decent little place.

On both occasions they have had a couple of ales that I've never heard of before (always a better idea than the rather dull and common Pride, Greene King IPA, etc) and the beer was spot on, at a reasonable price.

The food, although nothing special was good enough and well-priced.

It was a bit dingy on the first visit, but has been brightened up with the redecoration.

Also the patrons were a mixed bunch, some young people, some old people, some families, which gave it an unthreatening and unpretenious vibe. Obviously it was in the afternoon, so I can't really speak about the other reviewers problems with the loud music.

It is a great little find, at least for lunch and an early afternoon pint, in the otherwise sterile and shallow Wimbledon Village.

26 Jun 2006 13:26

The Wibbas Down Inn, Wimbledon

I used to go there on late Saturday afternoon (the only decent time for a Wetherspoons) for a couple of decent ales (the only decent reason for aWetherspoons).

However, the last two times I went in there, the service was shoddy. I was waiting for ages to be served, to no avail, and walked out on both occasions (I gave it a second chance). This is nothing short of criminal for a pub and I've not been back since.

Now I go to the Hand & Racquet, which has decent ales served directly from the cask as well as good service.

20 Jun 2006 16:50

The William Morris, Merton Abbey Mills

I've always had a soft spot for the William Morris. The only bad experience I had in there was recently with some sarky, unprofessional and inept new barmaid who pulled a rather ugly scowl when I requested she top my beer up. If only she pulled pints (a quarter of a pint of head love is taking the piss) as well as she pulls pathetic faces.

Anyway, the other staff are usually nice and have the uncanny ability to pour a pint. They have ales on, the location is nice and, aside from some slightly "rough" locals, it is a fine place.

20 Jun 2006 16:32

Baobab, Colliers Wood

After the on-going beer debacle, I thought I'd give it a go on Friday but it was shut. On a Friday.

The place has tested by patience so it no longer gets the benefit of the doubt. Incompotent, useless and I will not be going back there again.

20 Jun 2006 16:25

The Greyhound, Carshalton

Popped down here at the weekend and, although quite similar to most Young's pubs, it seems to have an edge on its brethren.

Staff we friendly and the the four pints of St George's we had were cracking - and under a £5 a round. The food was quite decent, and no way near as pricey as many Young's places I've been into.

19 Jun 2006 15:24

The Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell

Good...but not that good. A diverese selection of ales is hampered by having no space to drink in, and it also gets somewhat lost in its hollow "isn't this historic?" image.

Still, if you are there when the beer is on and it is not standing room only, this pub is worth a visit.

15 Jun 2006 15:05

The Red Lion, Soho

I went there last week and it was quite a quiant little place.

Not a bad pint of ale, although the stock Pride, Greene King IPA and Adnams is not the most inspiring of choices.

13 Jun 2006 17:23

The Toucan, Soho

This place does have more than a taste of the "it's a great craic" tourist rip-off about it, although bizarrely transferred from Dublin to London.

It reminds me of the Jeruselum Tavern in that it is tiny (I suppose they must think that is charming?)with a "ye olde worlde" kind of vibe to it, despite only being a decade or so old. It's actually quite fake, although a very good forgery. BTW, as JT has some excellent ales it gets my vote.

Best left to tourists or people wanting to spend a large amount of money on a slightly above average Guinness...or Guiness Extra Cold, which is definitely a nitro-keg.

13 Jun 2006 17:10

Charles Holden, Colliers Wood

Quite a dull and costly place - kind of exactly the same as every other Tup in existence.

On the plus side, they occasionally have some decent guest ales on, which are still very expensive at (just) under £3 although, as mentioned, they stil try to skank you out of a full pint. The garden is spacious and nice, except for the pylon.

Even so, that is still not enough to warrant a visit to this, or any other Tup for that matter.

6 Jun 2006 17:03

The Regent, Balham

Is it me or are all Tups over-priced and over-rated? After all, there are essentially a slightly upmarket chain pub.

The plus side is the aforementioned big screen sports, although the toilets are nowhere near large enough for the venue when it is jammed for the big events.

Shame the beer, and food, is so expensive.

6 Jun 2006 16:55

The Bishop's Finger, Barbican

Can get very busy with lawyer-types on certain days, especially lunch time (in which case it is a cramped little place), but other times it is quiet (in which case it is cosy and relaxed).

Shepherd's Neame is a pretty consistent brewrey and the ales on offer are usually of a high standard. The bangers and mash are also great, although traipsing up the stairs for the toilet is a pain, unless you fancy using the diabled one?

On the whole, one of the better boozers around Smithfields and a nice antedote to the overpriced bars that are cropping up around there.

6 Jun 2006 16:50

The Emma Hamilton, Wimbledon Chase

I think that the clientele in a pub is highly important as it creates not only the atmosphere but also the character.

In this instance, the Emma Hamilton is probably one of the worst pubs I've every been into. Loud music coupled with intimidating locals who give of the impression they want a fight, unpleasant interior and unfriendly staff really don't help it.

It gets a mark for having ale on though.

2 Jun 2006 13:08

Kiss Me Hardy, Colliers Wood

Good points: 2 for 1 on meals, all day, every day. Cheap.

Bad points: Grotty, lots of kids running around, dull beer and the patrons are a bit on the rough side.

2 Jun 2006 13:04

The Manor Bar & Grill, Tooting

The revamp is a bit hit and miss. There tends to be too many cast empty spaces around and the bar itself is also quite sparce.

Not an inspired selection of beers (although there are some stock ales on, occasionaly) and expensive too.

It's still early days though and it will be interesting to see how it develops.

2 Jun 2006 13:02

The Trafalgar Arms, Tooting

I like the Trafalgar, but only on the weekends. The weeknights tend to be ramed full of hospital types, who crowd the bar and order drinks indivdually, which really slows down the service.

The weekend tends to be quieter, with a more relaxed vibe.

2 Jun 2006 12:58

Tiger Tiger, Piccadilly Circus

Hell on Earth. Dragged in there for someone's leaving party.

Not only is it loud and offensively overpriced, but the bar staff serve pints which are a quarter head.

As for the patrons; if you can't make your way up to Regent's Park, this is a viable alternative to London Zoo.

1 Jun 2006 14:53

The Hand and Raquet, Wimbledon

If anyone else knows of a pub in the vicinity other than this one that serves real ale directly from the barrel then please tell me. Recently had Decuhars IPA there (straight from the barrel) and it was the nicest pint I've had in years.

Get's an 8 for that alone.

1 Jun 2006 12:05

Baobab, Colliers Wood

I like Baobab's location, style and atmosphere but it is dragged down by its beer selection, or lack of it. For a start no ale, but they have a wide selection of your stock lagers and so on, but every time I've been in there, at least one is not on. In fact, I went in there recently and they only had one beer on.

This is probably a problem with the supplier, but if they sorted that out (I doubt whether they would venture into real ale territory) then it would really compliment the positives.

1 Jun 2006 12:03

GJ's, Colliers Wood

Pretty average, if expensive pub and I only tend to go there as it is the closest to my house.

Down sides include the beer selection, which is your usual bland, nitro-keg fare - priced over £3 a pint - with no decent ales whatsoever.

Plus points is that it is large, has a nice garden, the food is okay and it is good to watch the football in.

1 Jun 2006 11:58

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