Another Division Bell pub within spitting distance of the Houses of Parliament which was a bit too busy at about 6.30pm to go ferreting about trying to find it, the bell that is. In fact I didn’t even wander to the upstairs floor and remained in the public bar on the ground floor.
It wasn’t the ornate, etched glass and heavy wooden interior that fascinated so much here as the clientele. There was obviously some Black tie event happening somewhere, well there would be wouldn’t there, in Westminster. I’m not going to go delve into the subtleties of Black Tie and White Tie, but without doubt the Scottish Formal attire always looks smart and striking.
By this time I’d met up with my mate and regular contributor to New Full Measure Warren Yabsley, and we soon struck up a conversation with a fellow lobbyist who’d recognised us from the CAMRA meeting. I forget where he came from actually, somewhere down south and the conversation revolved round how poor the beer was, considering they were shifting large quantities of it. And why was a pint £4.95 and a half £2.55?
I’m not sure how original the interior is? I read that it had undergone a refurbishment in 2003 after being closed for a good while. The pubs website says that much of the original fittings from the 1868 rebuild have been salvaged. To be fair they’ve done a good job. Take away the modern clothes and branding and you’re in a very Manet-esque scene.
The pub belongs Hall and Woodhouse who are Badger Ales from Dorset, hence all the cask ales were from their unremarkable range. We tried Red Ramble, a 4% Ruby beer that was warmer than I’d have liked and pretty lifeless. I’ll leave it at that, but you would have thought they would have made sure they were serving their own ales on top form?
Maybe they don’t have to bother, maybe tourists and people going to the Ball aren’t interested in beer quality and it’s just the atmosphere of the authentic Victorian pub they want to savour. But what about elected members from the House across the road? I didn’t see any I recognised. Maybe MP’s aren’t interested in pubs and beer and I’ve wasted an entire day? Ruth Smeeth MP mentioned earlier that she’d spoken to lots of MP’s who didn’t like beer. Mind you, they do have their own bar inside the Houses of Parliament.
Verdict; Tourist trap pub with crap beer that’s worth a look for it’s Pubitechture.