For all of us who thought that Bangalore was the ultimate pub city, London sure beats it hollow when it comes to the sheer numbers of pubs that the city has. Practically every street seems to have one, with many of them looking quite old and attractive. I confess that I simply looked into the Lonely Planet for this one, and didn’t really bother exploring the many options available. For one thing, we were walking around so much, that we didn’t really plan to do any late-night partying. Instead, all we wanted was a comfortable, preferably atmospheric place where we could rest our legs and try some local brew.
The very day we landed, we had a couple of hours to kill before our train to the Lake District. What better way to spend a rainy afternoon (with heavy backpacks down our backs..) than to enter into a pub pronto, and sample some of the tipples on offer. Thus it was, that we landed up, at the Lamb, recommended as it was by the book, and most importantly, close to our train station. The Lamb was apparently named after philanthropist William Lamb who brough fresh water to the locality!
The draught beer (ale) that we had was excellent – light and refreshing. The nicest thing about The Lamb is the extremely friendly service, so it is a really nice place to go to. The food is good ttoo, if not extremelly cheap. (about 7 pounds per main dish). Another interesting thing about the pub, is that due to its Victorian times’ design (in the 19th C.), it has these “snob screens”, screens at head-level which would have concealed a drinkers’ identity. Talk about some serious drinking!
Another interesting pub we visited, was the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, which is reputed as one of “the” oldest pubs in London, a worthy achievement when you consider how old and preserved everything in London seems to be! Older versions of the pub apparently date back to the 16th C. Regulars included worthies such as Dr. Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. We searched quite a bit for this pub, although it is just a hop and skip away from the St. Paul’s Cathedral from which we went here!
The search was well worth it though. This is not as comfortable a pub as The Lamb, but what it lacks in practicality, it makes up by oozing atmosphere. The pub has many levels, although right now only three are open. Dark, narrow corridors and stairs take you through, and when we finally had our beers in the dark vaults below, we truly felt as though we were in some ancient time! I also tried some apple cider, one of those things which you keep reading in English books but have no clue what it is. I am happy to report that it tasted excellent, light and fruity, with just enough alcoholic flavor to make you feel that its not a fruit juice, but not too much at all.
Strangely, a small room on the right, as soon as you enter the pub, is reserved for men, and even proclaims on the door, “Gentlemen only served in this bar”! Truly, a relic of another era…It was also interesting to see how few people were having any cocktails, or even any stronger alcohol at all. Most patrons seemed to be drinking beer. Quite a contrast to the pub scene here….
Note: Drinking in London is highly affordable, with alcohol pretty cheap. I think we paid about 2 pounds for a pint, which is not bad . It is the food that is terribly expensive, especially if you are eating in a restaurent. Take-aways and fast food is much cheaper, though more boring ofcourse.
And, an interestingly written piece on British pub etiquette. Even if you’re not a drinker, its highly entertaining!