02 July 2012

Pubs: The Red Lion (Lacock)

28 May 2012 - The Red Lion, Lacock, Wiltshire

Our visit to this pub was part of a Mad Max tour from Bath to Stonehenge, Avebury, Lacock, and Castle Combe.  It's been a lifelong ambition of mine to see Stonehenge and so it was really great to be able to do so, even though the weather was pretty miserable!  Avebury, a lesser known stone circle was also a really interesting site.  The tour stopped in the picturesque village of Lacock for lunch and the Red Lion was one of the suggested pubs.  We initially were going to try to go to The George Inn because it dates back to the 1300s (ridic!) but it was far too packed and we ended up at The Red Lion instead.

The Red Lion

Lacock is unique because it is made to appear as though it is straight out of another time.  You don't see utility wires or other modern innovations on the roadways because the village is often used for films and the film companies paid to have all the wiring put underground.

The Red Lion

Anyhoo, the pub itself was quite busy and we were lucky to get a table when we did.  It ended up getting packed shortly thereafter.  To eat, I had the fried halloumi and chips.  Halloumi is a type of mild cheese that doesn't really melt and is good when fried or sautéed.  I'd never heard of it before moving here, but it's fairly common and can sometimes be found deep fried on menus as "vegetarian fish and chips."  My vegetarian fish and chips were just ok.  I would have to say that this meal might have marked the beginning of my disillusionment with British pub food.  This was back in May.  It is now July, and the disillusionment continues.  It's just a lot of heavy, starchy blandness, and I'm just over it.

The Red Lion

The Red Lion

I had a pint of the Swordfish.  Took a while to get through, so not a fave.

08 June 2012

Pubs: Nell of Old Drury

24 April 2012 - Nell of Old Drury, Covent Garden, London

I visited this pub on a Tuesday prior to an American expat burger dinner in London.  I met up with a couple of expat friends right when the pub opened at 5:00pm.

The place was super cute.  The ground floor was very tiny (more seating is available upstairs) but since we were the first people in the place when it opened for its evening hours, we got the choice velvet bench by the window.

Nell of Old Drury 2

I had a pint of Wandle.  One of my friends had a super expensive cider (almost £5 I think).

Nell of Old Drury 3

We had a nice chat for about an hour.  The girls I was with are a little bit louder than me and thus sound a little bit more typically American, especially in a small and empty place, so... I think we made an impression.

Nell of Old Drury 4

This pub is neat because it apparently has an underground tunnel connecting it to the theatre across the street.  This tunnel was allegedly used by Charles II for secret rendezvous with mistress and pub namesake, actress Nell Gwynne.  Shocking!

Nell of Old Drury 5

I liked this pub.  It was a bit pricey, but on par with other Covent Garden pubs.  I think I'll be back sometime, maybe for a pre-theatre pint.

07 June 2012

Pubs: The Barley Mow

18 April 2012 - The Barley Mow, Marylebone, London

Damn, I'm behind on these!  But have no fear, I have been faithfully visiting at least one new pub every week.  I have some serious catch up blogging to do!

I stopped by The Barley Mow in Marylebone after my first visit to the US Embassy.  The Embassy was an experience in itself, but a good one overall.  Security was, understandably, a little intense.  But once I got past security, the Embassy staff was super nice and helpful.

Anyhoo, The Barley Mow was on my way back to the tube, so I ducked in for an afternoon brew.

The Barley Mow

I took it easy, it being about 3:00pm and all, and had a half pint of the John Smith's Extra Cold.

The Barley Mow

I'm always interested to see who is at a pub in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.  Usual there's a regular or two and maybe one or two randoms like me.  That day I got a couple of stares from the regular in residence, but it didn't rise to the level of staring that annoys me.

The Barley Mow

Apparently The Barley Mow was shot at during a terrorist attack against a neighboring hotel in 1976. Scary stuff!

The Barley Mow

Although I had a nice time at the pub, and enjoyed my half pint, The Barley Mow didn't really stand out to me, and I probably won't be back.

The Barley Mow

12 May 2012

Pubs: Lamb & Flag

12 April 2012 - Lamb & Flag, Westminster, London

I met an American expat friend at the Lamb & Flag in Westminster for a pre-dinner pint.  As per usual, pre-dinner drinks take place right around the same time as the post-work pub rush, so the pub was full to the brim and spilling out into the street.


This pub is allegedly the oldest pub in Covent Garden.  Like most old pubs it has a dark and convoluted wood beam interior that can get almost oppressive when packed with people.  I procured a pint of Peroni and we headed upstairs in hopes of finding a table.


The Peroni was pretty good.  What was not good was the lady at the next table who stared at me and my friend the whole freaking time we were there.  Okay lady, we're in the middle of London, is it really that unusual to hear two Americans talking to each other?  I suppressed my usual, don't-stare-at-me scowl, since I was with company.


I probably won't go back to this pub.  It didn't really stand out enough to me to warrant a repeat visit.  

11 May 2012

Pubs: King Henry VIII

7 April 2012 - King Henry VIII, Hever, Kent

We visited this pub in Kent after spending a Saturday afternoon at Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn's childhood home.  This was my first actual castle experience since being here, now that I think about it.  And it was a good one.  Hever Castle is a good starter castle, if you will.  It's not too big, but still there's a lot to see, it has beautiful gardens, it's associated with a historical figure I actually know.  Definitely a good day trip.


The pub was fairly busy at about 6:00 on a Saturday evening, so there weren't too many free tables.  My husband wanted to sit in the quieter back room area, and so we put our stuff down there before heading to the bar.  This resulted in us being chased down by a staff member telling us that the table is reserved (there wasn't a sign out).  And that's fine, no problem.  But then, as we gathered our things, the staff member continued to make several loud and overly effusive statements of explanation and apology which really just made the whole situation about 5 times more awkward than it needed to be.  It's like okay, no biggie, I'll just find another table.  No need to make a scene.


After we re-seated ourselves, I procured a pint of the Master Brew.  I can't really recall what I thought of it, but I think it was a little bitter for me... maybe.  It's been awhile, but I don't recall liking it in particular.  We had some bar snacks and a pate and cheese board, I think.  All I know is I was starving so any food would have tasted divine to me at that point.


I liked the pub overall.  It had great ambience, with tons of candles everywhere and even a dog or two (always a plus).  Doubt I'll be back over this way anytime soon, but I'd recommend the pub to anyone visiting Hever Castle.


08 May 2012

Pubs: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

3 April 2012 - Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Temple, London

The last pub on our Hidden Pubs of Old London Town walk was Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub.  This pub was also hidden back behind some buildings and accessed through an alleyway.  It was a very cool and very old pub with lots of levels and dark tucked away rooms.


Allegedly Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mark Twain drank here.  I had a Samuel Smith Pure Brewed Lager.


I really liked the vibe of this pub and would go back to explore more of the hidden dungeon-y rooms and find out more about its history.

Pubs: Old Bank of England

3 April 2012 - Old Bank of England, Temple, London

The next stop on our Hidden Pubs of Old London Town walk was The Old Bank of England pub.  We entered through a random door in a back alley.  I'm hoping there's another entrance, because otherwise I may never find this place again!  The pub is, unsurprisingly, an Old Bank of England building that was turned into a pub.  A gorgeous pub.  I mean, c'mon:


I was really blown away.  It was just lovely.


Unfortunately, we could only stay for 20 minutes since we were on the tour.  I had just enough time to enjoy a half pint of Discovery and a chat with a fellow Meetuper.


I'll definitely be back if I can find it!