The Betjeman Arms, at last

Almost a year after it opened, we finally made it to the Betjeman Arms at St Pancras station.  It’s run by the Geronimo Inns lot and, like the other Geronimo pubs we’ve visited, there are a lot of glossy but dull Euro-brands, together with some nice cask ale.  In this particular case, they have commissioned their own house brew from Sharps.  It’s called Betjeman Ale and is pleasant enough, but unchallenging.  They also run the odd beer festival now and then.

We gather it’s supposed to be a bit ‘gastro’, but we didn’t eat there.  It’s certainly very good by the standard of lots of station pubs and we loved the roof terrace — even though it overlooks the busy Euston Road, it felt very peaceful up there, and the view made us feel a bit in love with London.

Lots of other bloggers have reviewed this place; see Stonch, Pete Brown, London Randomness,  and Tandleman for more.

Table Turning in pubs

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We had a nice afternoon in one of our favourite London pubs soured on Saturday when we were more-or-less asked to leave to free up the table for a reservation. When we queried whether it had to be our table, given that there were lots of others without reservation signs on, we got a very stroppy response from the bar manager.

The practice of moving people or hurrying them along to squeeze in a second sitting is annoying even in real restaurants, however sensible it might be from a business perspective. But the questions of whether you should be able to reserve tables in pubs at all is a sensitive debate for many British people — it’s a level of formality that seems somehow to undermine the very idea of what the pub is about.

People in Germany seem to cope with it, but maybe that’s because there the reserved signs appear (often with profuse apologies) four hours in advance of the booking, so you’ve got plenty of time to finish up, or just choose another table. In the Greenwich Union, we were given an hour — hardly enough time to eat desert and have another drink.

In the couple of hours we were there, we enjoyed cask conditioned Meantime IPA (7.5%, and not as good as from a bottle) and gained a new appreciation for the fruity, sherbety draught Meantime Helles (4.1%).

So, the Union continues to be both brilliant and annoying. God knows we love the beer, but it might be a while before we go back.

Porterhouse Chocolate Truffle Stout

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If you’re looking for an Easter treat, how about some Porterhouse Chocolate Truffle stout?  I gather it’s their spring special and it’s a beauty.  It’s smooth, bittersweet, and seems to have a hint of mint about it.

We tried it a couple of weeks ago when we were looking for the legendary Galway Hooker, without luck. The rather diffident bar man didn’t say whether they’d run out, or never took delivery, or give any explanation whatsoever.  There just wasn’t any, full stop. Perhaps it was at another bar and the effort of explaining this was just too much for him.  You only get a two second window to order a drink on a Saturday night at the Porterhouse, after all.

See here for an earlier article about the Porterhouse.

The week of new pubs #5 – the King and Queen, Fitzrovia

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Our eye was caught as we passed by the ancient Adnams advertising materials all over the exterior of the pub (1980s?). It looks like it hasn’t been properly decorated for a few years (this pub used to smell, apparently, until they changed the carpets) but was nonetheless crammed with students and media types.

We drank Adnams Bitter (pleasant) and Adnams Extra (best bitter, also pleasant, and apparently back from the grave for Cask Beer Week, complete with retro pump clip).

A bit of hidden gem, but not one to go out of your way to get to.

Picture nicked from EwanM; Randomness Guide reviews here.

Beer festival in South London

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Hoopers, a pub in South London, have dropped us a line to tell us about their contribution to Cask Ale Week. They’re running a beer festival from today (3 April) through to Monday 13 April. The beer list is here.

We’ve never been to Hoopers, but the standing 50-strong bottled beer list is quite interesting, with everything from Polish porter to sour Belgian efforts.

Any other landlords who want to tell us about interesting beer they’ve got on should feel free to drop us a line.