CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 London Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - September 4, 2000

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Marquis of Granby, 51-52 Chandos Place, London WC2

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The Phoenix, 6 Daventry Street, London NW1

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The Victoria, 10A Strathearn Place, London W2

A few months ago I took a day trip into London with a visiting friend. We were to meet another visiting friend that evening at Paddington; so Mistah Rick and I decided to go early and spend the afternoon at the National Gallery.

We arrived at Charing Cross just in time for lunch, so we decided to have a pint and a bite at the Marquis of Granby. This two-level Nicholson's pub, located close to Charing Cross Station and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, has a nice city atmosphere with a dark-wood feel, soothing wood floors, and rich leaded windows all around. The pub, which was rebuilt in 1847, consists of three rooms in the main downstairs area with another room upstairs. Besides being a pub it's also a coffee bar, serving breakfast and espresso drinks from its Coffee Shack. And the music is quite refreshing; I didn't hear one dance tune while we were there.

The real ales include London Price, Adnams Bitter, Tetley's and one guest ale. We were fortunate enough to stop in when the guest was Timothy Taylor Landlord (4.3% ABV, Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd., Keighley, West Yorkshire). It had a huge head and was quite nice, bringing to mind a friendly ET-like extraterrestrial. But considering we were headed for the National Gallery it seemed appropriate to start with a big-headed pint of beer. Our sandwiches were pleasant as well. I can't speak for the rest of the menu, but people seemed to be swarming in for the shepherds pie.

After finishing our gallery tour we headed off on foot toward Paddington Station. On the way we naturally became quite thirsty, so we stopped at the Phoenix. Located north of Oxford Circle at Cavendish Square, this is one of those big, youth-oriented pubs with TV screens everywhere. But they did have six handpumps with three real ales: London Pride, Tetley's, and Greene King IPA. For some reason London pubs tend to have two hand pumps per ale choice. I don't know what the reason for this is, but I'd like to think it's a good sign.

Unfortunately both London Prides were out, and I've developed a morbid fear of bad pints of Tetley's. So we had pints of the Greene King IPA (3.6% ABV, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk). It was okay and drinkable -- but, like the conversation we could hear in the pub, not even close to brilliant.

After meeting our friend Lou and two of her friends near Paddington Station we walked south to the Victoria. This is an attractive, ornate place with three levels including a sports bar downstairs. It's obviously a very popular place on a Friday evening. There's a nice long bar and a tiny garden out in front, and the Fuller's real ales include London Pride, ESB, Chiswick Bitter, and Summer Ale. My pint of London Pride (4.1% ABV, Fuller, Smith and Turner, London) was quite drinkable -- not the best I've had, mind you, but quite drinkable nevertheless.

When the five of us first arrived at the Victoria we became victims of the Tour Bus Effect. As we bought our pints and wormed our way down past the long narrow bar through the sparsely-populated room there were quite a few tables available for our little group. But in the course of one nanosecond between the time we ordered our pints and the time we sat down there had been a sudden jet-propelled dumping into the pub of enough people to pack it to overflowing. And then, after just enough time for all these people to gulp down a quick pint, they all made a simultaneous exit, leaving the place nearly empty.

How is it possible to fill a pub to well over capacity without causing any damage? The chances of this occurring would seem to be directly proportional to the duration of this extreme density: the quicker the pints are consumed, the sooner the density is reduced and the less likely it is that damage will occur. This would make an interesting scientific study, along with the corollary Tour Bus Effect. I would be very interested in participating in a study like this. Then again I'd probably be interested in participating in any study involving pubs...

Marquis of Granby Updates
(Last updated 13th February 2001)