Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

The Proper Pub: London Edition

September 20, 2010 · 2 Comments

I like the way in which Orwell describes both his favourite and ideal pub, citing that those are two different ideas and, that as good as The Moon Under the Water is, it does not entirely meet his ideal setting criteria.  I think his pragmatism is admirable, therefore I have differentiated my ideal criteria from the pub that takes the number one spot on my list that I’ve visited during the past four weeks.

Here are my criteria:

1. Football.  Every good pub needs to have the match on.  There is nothing that lends itself more to a pub than football.  All the elements of a pub:  beer, argument etc. are present in a football match.  I have a great suspicion that sole reasons pubs have flourished throughout English history; but, as of yet, I lack evidence to support that claim.

2.  Pub Quiz.  Every good pub should have a weekly pub quiz.  The level of seriousness and competitiveness may vary, but there should be a weekly quiz nonetheless.  Also, the pub needs to have a quiz master that takes the quiz more seriously than their job, and this is mandatory.  In order for this trivia quiz to appear to have any significance in the lives of the pub regulars, the questions asked must be presented by the quiz master with the illusion that they are of endless importance to our human existence.  One can always tell how the quiz master has prepared for each quiz.  The recommend time is 18-20 hours a day, all week.

3.  Sunday Roast.  A Sunday roast is a cherished English tradition and every good pub should take it on as a priority.  Mmmm … Yorkshire puddings.

4.  The pub’s fish ‘n should be made with cod.  Ok, I have nothing against haddock.  It is a fine fish I’m sure; but, I think parliament should consider making a national law making mandatory for haddock fish ‘n chips to be CLEARLY stated on all pub menus.  Words cannot express the disappointment in ordering fish ‘n chips and having haddock arrive on your plate … tough break oh-ten.

5.  Drink specials, specifically 4-pint pitchers.  For those of us that are a bit new to the rounds-buying system of buying drinks in pubs, pitchers make things a bit easier, as well as save you a few quid.

6.  No live DJ.  DJ’s are alright, but what they’re really trying to do is turn a pub into a nightclub.  I’m not down with that.

1.  During my brief stay here in London, I have lacked sufficient time to judge each of the many pubs I’ve been to by all of these criteria.  However, I do have a favourite.  The Rising Sun, on Tottenham Court Road, has become my go-to pub to watch a football match, and for this reason, it probably takes my top spot.  Also, the show their games on Sky Sport 3D, and for a five quid deposit, you can get glasses to watch the match in 3D (Ok, I’ll admit, like any football purist, I scoffed at this idea at first, but after watching a 4-0 England rout of Switzerland in 3-D, I’m a believer).  The Rising Sun also offers pitchers that save you a few pounds here and there and they do well about steering clear of the problematic diversions, such as DJs that could damage the atmosphere of the pub.  The Rising Sun is not a place to spend a night out on the town getting wasted, but rather it is a great place to have one or two pints, and, if you’re lucky, check out the footy.

2.  The second on my  list is The Court.  The Court consists of a pool table, perhaps the best pitcher deal in the Bloomsbury area and a group of regulars that seem to have a decent taste in music.  Operated by a public juke box, The Court gains major points for a patronage that put 2 Bowie songs in a row, Prince, Otis Redding and Earth Wind and Fire all in a night. Well done.

3.  Third is The Rocket.  Quality deals on bottles of Becks, and Newcastle Brown Ale is never out of stock.  This pub offers later hours on weekends (2am) on Thursdays and weekends for the later crowd.  Thursday night live DJ threatens to ruin the atmosphere, but the he is pretty chilled out, realizes that he’s not DJing at a club and generally plays what people ask to hear.

4.  The last spot on my rankings, gaining an Honourable Mention, is The Bank of England.  My most recent pub experience offers great porter and a classy, elegant night out to the pub.  Decorated very luxuriously, The Bank of England makes it into the top four by means of a very positive first impression.  Not much on the drink specials, but its understated elegance, no music and great ale selection make no muddle of defining The Bank of England as another shining example of the “proper pub.”

Categories: 2010 Luke

2 responses so far ↓

  •   patrickmr // Sep 21st 2010 at 04:16

    The Olde Bank of England is one of the strangest pub cases I’ve experienced here. It’s absolutely gorgeous and elegant- it’s almost as if it doesn’t deserve the title “pub”.

  •   guya // Sep 21st 2010 at 04:55

    I wonder what the origins of the “pub quiz” are. I know that quiz nights at bars seem to be a relatively new trend in the U.S., and I’m wondering if they’re fairly new in the U.K. as well or if they’re an old institution like the Sunday roast. Also, were you able to go to any pub quizzes Luke? I was wondering what it was like.

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