I walked past this place by chance, hiding down Devonshire Street, a trendy side street, off Chiswick High Road in West London. It wasn’t open at 10am because it doesn’t open till 6pm during the week but I made a mental note to drop by on the way back.
It wasn’t the fact there were only a couple of people in that killed any atmosphere. No, as I ordered a drink, at not quite 2235hrs on a Thursday evening, it was the words, ‘It’s last orders’, that killed it.
I guess the genuine Italians confused me for a fellow mediterranean and expected me to sit down and make one drink last for hours. The reality being, at just gone half ten, I can see no reason why at least two drinks can’t be sunk.
Thing is, a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking London is a trendy all night place that never stops. It might be if you’ve got plenty of cash and you know all the places to go to, but if you just wan’t an honest drink in the week you can get caught out and even if you get one, you might not get home easily. I’ve been refused a drink many times in London at twenty to eleven. And on one occasion bought cans in a nearby 24 hour supermarket and drank them in the flat; telling me it’s a staffing issue rather than a licensing one. Anyway, the Italian lasses behind the bar wanted to get off on time, telling the other two people who came in exactly the same. Shame, because they were nice lasses.
So what is the Italian Job? First ever Italian Craft Beer pub in the UK when it opened on February 13th 2015. I know that because there’s a information board on the wall telling you all about it. It also says they’re going to start Crowdfunding and further branches are planned in the UK.
If you believed all that you’d be wrong. Well, not wrong exactly, just out of date because they’ve now got branches in Notting Hill and at Mercato Metropolitano, which is one of those trendy, organised, semi-permanent street food, foody market places near Elephant & Castle.
Good job the Crowdfunding works, because they’re not taking much money here, there’s only six of us in and two of them are young Italian guys who aren’t drinking and are obviously connected to the company. Mind you, at the full on London prices they don’t need many customers. The beer is £5.50 a pint and all stops north.
Surprisingly, to many regular readers, the cheapest draught drink is a Lager type beer at £4.90. For the sake of detail, there are ten keg lines, plus loads of bottles, and they do food, until 10pm on a weekday. Thinking about it, the food was the two Italian guys sat at the bar discussing with the girls what they needed to order.
We tried halves of Freeride and Violent Femme both from Birrificio del Ducato whose founders are the people behind this UK venture. The brewery started in 2007 in Soragna, near Parma and in 2017 produced 6700 hl of beer. Freeride is a West Coast IPA styled beer, slightly hazy, all their beers are unpasteurised and live, despite being keg beers. The Violent Femme, a saison, was chosen by Mrs C. Both beers were quite pleasant, but had that signature Belgian taste to them, something I’ve found before in Italian beers who look all over the place for inspiration.
I must have been at my most charming because I managed to get another round out of them. Gypsy Hill Hepcat, fancying something less funky this time, £8.25 for a pint and a half. Decent, but not as good as what I remebered when it was in a wooden cask. Talking about casks, them unbroached kegs standing in the hallway can only have been deteriorating in the near 30° heat we had been experiencing.
Anyway we sat chatting, watching the rain falling on the nice seating area outside, thinking it’s not very Italian is it? It’s more like a craft beer bar, but isn’t that what this sort of place would look like in Italy? Er, yes. At that we supped up and left and we weren’t the last to leave neither. Ciao, mille grazie.