Sunday, 26 August 2012

West India Quay

WEST INDIA QUAY – 25/07/12

Once again it’s been a long time since we were out drinking on the DLR.  Our last venture away from more familiar surroundings in the City was actually on the night of the European Championship Final.  Eager to go out and see the game (I had a few cheeky bets on – which of course I lost) but without the tenseness or pressure of England taking part we decided to head over to Stratford High Street.  It was a bit of an impromptu visit to be fair, the evening began with a bit of necessary shopping (my annual trip to buy a new shirt for work) and ended with 4 DLR pubs ticked off.  This was of course over a month ago but laziness means I have once again not blogged our findings.  To try and think back and re-cap then I know that we started in King Edward VII (King Eddy’s) although this pub actually fell outside the jurisdiction of both Stratford DLR and Stratford High Street DLR.  But seeing as I used to briefly live in the area (very briefly, my flatmate hated me for feeding her cat and we never recovered from that causing me to scarper back to Benfleet sooner than intended) I insisted on taking Tindall there because it proved to be one of my favourite pubs. 

To be honest from there on I’m not entirely sure of the path we took, I’ll have to check with Tindall but I figured it best to jot down what I can now and I can always alter it later.  I know we watched the game across 2 different pubs, the first being The Princess of Wales.  A dingy pub this one, with a less than enthusiastic barmaid and some extremely worn furniture.  It wasn’t particularly clean either as emphasized by the two flies that were buzzing around and trying to mate in front of us, I would say obscuring the view but that would be going too far.  Nevertheless we moved on at half time to Ye Old Black Bull and watched the second half of Spain’s demolition of their opponents in the comfort of a lovely little beer garden with an outside TV and sound rigged up.  After that we ended across the road in the Langthorne for one last drink, a pub that I can neither recommend nor put down seeing as all I remember is it containing what is most probably the world’s largest disco ball hanging from the ceiling just outside the toilets. 

Of course I’m supposed to be writing about West India Quay right now, and that does stick more firmly in the memory as it was only 3 days ago that we were there.  Many of the pubs at Canary Wharf fit into the West India Quay radius but we decided to leave them to their parent station and just concentrate on the bars that form a line from the converted docklands warehouses.  So then, each pub was pretty much exactly the same in terms of facilities!   We started at ‘Via’ which after much discussion and marketing analysis from Tindall we decided was a dreadful name for a bar.  I think they were going for ‘Via – a place to visit on your way home’ but it came across more as ‘Via – this isn’t your final destination for the evening as this bar is a bit shit and you’ll soon want to move on’.  The food did look fantastic, although almost certainly overly expensive considering the area we were in.  There was also a very uncomfortable ‘table for two’ situated on a tiny balcony above the entrance to the bar – fine for a romantic meal with a loved one, if that is the couple envisage sipping wine with a crowd of pissed up city workers in suits standing just metres below them as being romantic. 

As I said each bar on this strip was much like the one before, Henry’s next door was much of the same although a touch less ‘covey’ as I seem to have written in my notes.  A let down too, it was one of those bars with nobody trying to order yet seemingly nobody getting served either.  The barman seemed busy, but I’m not quite sure what he was actually doing.  After wandering about for a bit he did finally serve us, and proceeded to pour quite possibly the world’s worst pint of Strongbow, to say the tide was out a bit on that one was a huge understatement. 

It turned out that most of the bars here were indeed predominantly restaurants so we were saved from having to enter them all.  So before long we were sitting in the Wetherspoons at the end of the row of bars, tucked away as it was behind the German Camp for the Olympics.  Due to our crazy rating scheme this pub (The Ledger Building) would actually end up being rated as the best pub in the area, purely down to the fact that it being a Wetherspoon meant that the prices were so much cheaper.  Clearly being in the land of sticky tables and no background music should mean it’s not a great pub, but our ratings tell us otherwise.  We opted to eat here though, the menu was standard as expected but they do microwave a good meal for you! 
Over all, Via bar received an average rating of 3.1, Henry’s a marginally worse 3.0 and The Ledger Building a probably a bit preposterous 3.7. 

And that’s where things get a bit complicated.  With time on our hands we chose to head over the water and mix it up with the ‘wankers in suits’ as I like to call them.  They are probably all lovely people of course (or not) but from working there for over a year, I’d seen enough to know that this area was not for me.  Months ago now we started on the Canary Wharf side, having a pint in Brodie’s bar (for which all I have in my notes is ‘smells a bit like a swimming pool’) and then moving on to Davys where I didn’t make any notes at all.  We decided to make some more headway at this station and so headed for one more pint in Corney & Barrow.  And maybe I’m being biased due to my aforementioned hatred of the area but this pub came in with possibly the lowest rating so far (an average of just 1.6).  Worryi0ngly too it scored very highly on Facilities, leaving much to be desired from every over aspect of the pub.  The drinks menu is best described as deceitful, advertising as it did a range of beers only for us then to discover that the only options on tap were Peroni and Guinness.  We opted for a Peroni and a Guinness and received this time the world’s worst poured pint of Guinness.  Now bearing in mind that Tindall is now a keen and expert Guinness drinker, (why, the man has poured his own pint back in Ireland – and he has a certificate to prove it), he was understandably perplexed and disappointed to see that his ‘pint’ was indeed about 1/3 ‘head’ once it had finally settled.  Drinking up quickly we headed home, another DLR station light.

Crossharbour and South Quay


A cheeky mid-week jaunt along the DLR enabled us to tick off 2 further stations.  This is yet to be officially confirmed though as more research is required to ensure that we have covered every drinking place at South Quay.  It appears that we have been remarkably quiet on the DLR Challenge front over recent weeks and whilst this is partly true, there have also been two visits to the Tower Gateway area which I have not thus far got around to writing about.  It was when studying this stop that we have discovered another stumbling block in our attempt to visit every pub at every station.  At first glance Tower Gateway seems to have no fewer than 26 drinking establishments.  We discussed potential ways of getting around this problem and perhaps bending the rules slightly (ideas ranged from just visiting the 10 closest pubs to the station, to just outright lying and pretending we went to each venue – all that would be needed for that would be a mischievously grinning shot of Tindall standing outside a pub and people would be none the wiser).  But no.  That would not be in the spirit of the challenge, so we’ve instead opted to visit that area on occasion and intermittently check off a couple of pubs.  I’ll detail those pubs at a later date but at this stage we have been to 4 places there.  Just the 22 pints to go then.

On this evening though, our thoughts were firmly on rounding off Crossharbour and South Quay.  

Crossharbour only has 2 pubs, one on either side of the water so we knew we’d be able to complete our 7th station of the challenge, and as far as we can tell South Quay only has one.

We began at The George, a very quaint and traditional looking pub that had clearly been there long before the DLR ever came into existence.  It serves as a perfect place for both local residents and suits who fancy dropping by for a quick beer on their way home from work.  This blend of customer was immediately evident on entering as we were presented with a local man (complete with local intimidating dog that spent the whole time staring at and unnerving Tindall as he sipped his pint) jokingly throwing an empty crisp wrapper at the barmaid, whilst at the same time a posh City worker could be heard approaching the bar and uttering ‘marvellous, great timing’ to his other upper class pals. 

It was certainly a fairly relaxed venue, which we initially marked down somewhat for facilities (it is a little grubby) until we left the pub and noticed that in all there are 3 separate bars that make up The George.  There is the main pub area where we sat where you can enjoy a pint and watch the football, or for the quieter drinker there is an option to wander on through to ‘Ma Bakers Bar’, a room that a sign confusingly but thankfully incorrectly shows that you can only get to by walking through the Women’s toilets.  And additional to both of these there is a third bar, complete with a conservatory and beer garden and an ideal place to sit and order food. 

The George Ratings

Facilities – 4

Atmosphere – 2.5

Cost – 2.5 – Seemed pricey but we’d switched to Guinness for the evening due to Tindall’s recent outing to Dublin and his new found love for the black stuff.  (He really has taken a shine to it, returning home last week in a Guinness T-shirt, and also hoarding a Guinness paperweight and Guinness keyring and Guinness shot glass.  He is also now the proud owner of a certificate detailing his ability to pour the perfect pint – of Guinness, naturally).

Entertainment – 3.5

Selection – 3


We ended up in The Spinnaker next, wandering off course slightly and over to South Quay (not a deliberate ploy, we got lost whilst trying to seek out any other hidden pubs in the area).  Although glorious in setting (the main drinking area backs onto the Quay), The Spinnaker is essentially a Wetherspoon in terms of style.  Slow service, a sticky bar and a lack of atmosphere really makes the pub difficult to recommend.  One real plus point though is the fact that it opens at 8.30am – ideal for alcoholics and those that fancy a huge breakfast before work. 

The Spinnaker Ratings

Facilities – 3.5

Atmosphere – 2

Cost – 3

Entertainment – 2.5

Selection – 3.5


We didn’t hang around at South Quay for any longer than necessary and quickly headed back to Crossharbour to enter our third and final place of the night.  Called ‘Pepper Saint Ontiod’ this bar was a delightful place to drink.  Spread over two floors it would appeal to a range of people.  The ground floor is more relaxed, with books and board games and a decent menu for those seeking an evening meal.  But upstairs is where we headed and made ourselves comfortable watching the football in front of the big screen where we sat and relaxed for the rest of the evening.  We were pleased with ourselves for finally making a bit more progress as Crossharbour is now complete although displeasing for me as our inactivity gives me very little else to write about.

Pepper Saint Ontiod Ratings

Facilities – 4

Atmosphere – 3

Cost – 3

Entertainment – 3.5

Selection – 3.5


Island Gardens and Mudchute

Island Gardens and Mudchute (20/03/12)

Less than a week after wrapping up two more stations, we set out to complete both Island Gardens and Mudchute in one evening.  However, due to sheer incompetence and laziness on my part I’ve neglected to update the blog for over a month - it being late April as I write this - resulting in me forgetting many of the details about the night.  Fortunately though we did record the ratings of each pub we visited and it did result in the conclusion of two more stations. 

Four places were visited that evening, three of which belonged to Island Gardens, and the other being the one solitary pub that would have the weight of a whole DLR station resting upon its shoulders.

The four pubs were as follows
Great Eastern – A pub/hotel with an open planned bar and a relaxed atmosphere


Facilities – 3 – looked as though it had recently been refurbished, but the budget seemingly didn’t stretch to include improving the toilets.  Strangely, seemed to have opted to install many wobbly tables as well.

Atmosphere – 3 – Friendly barstaff who whistle as they pour you a pint (although admittedly this may have been a one off), mixture of guests and regular drinkers

Cost – 4 – Cannot argue with £6 for two pints!

Entertainment – 3.5 – Came with a TV for viewing football, a jukebox and a weekly quiz night. 

Selection – 2.5 – Disappointing.  ‘Pre-wrapped wraps’ is all that was on offer from a counter at the bar


The Ferry House – A splendid little pub; warm, cosy and with a local feel to it


Facilities – 3.5 – Completely wooden interior, definitely the pub with the most nooks and crannies on show so far

Atmosphere – 3.5 – Friendly quiet chatter from the locals, friendly barstaff

Cost – 4.5 – Just £5 for 2 pints!

Entertainment – 4 – Came with a separate games room with old fashioned pub games and a Bar Billiards Table that we pretended to know how to use but instead made up our own rules

Selection – 1.5


Lord Nelson – A sign outside offers the punter a ‘Warm Welcome’, but turns out you have to pay for it.  Cold inside, and an outdoor heater that charges you 20p for every 5 minutes of use


Facilities – 3

Atmosphere – 1.5 – The barmaid pulled off the incredible feat of being able to serve me without actually 
communicating with any words.  Some furniture seemed out of place and had seemingly been borrowed from an American Diner.

Cost – 3.5

Entertainment – 3 – Came with a pool table with not enough room to play around it, but there was an organised weekly pool tournament on offer, of which the Eggles are the current champions.  Many minutes were pondered over whether they were a married couple or siblings.  One of our better conversations that one.

Selection – 3.5


The Ship – Mudchute’s only pub.  Situated on the periphery of our radius, it actually makes sense to visit it from Island Gardens.  Just so you know.


Facilities – 3 – All pretty standard save for a cubicle in the mens that was so cramped you almost had to stand on the toilet itself in order to close the door behind you.  Would probably win the ‘Toilet you are most likely to get trapped in on the DLR’ award if there ever was such a prize.

Atmosphere – 3.5 – Friendly barman although he did seem to be trying a little too hard.  Asked if we wanted food and continued trying to sell it to us even after we’d politely declined.  He did however take the time to recommend other pubs in the area.

Cost – 3.5

Entertainment – 2.5 – Just one TV – and West Ham were on it.  Live music on weekends

Selection – 3.5 – A fairly decent ‘less is more’ menu and a range of beers on offer.


Island Gardens is a quiet area, aside from the 3 pubs there are a couple of restaurants, one of which that had been converted from an old fire station.  On the downside, there is no longer a fire station!  There is very little else in close proximity to the DLR although there is easy access to Cutty Sark and Greenwich via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel that runs beneath the Thames.

Area – 2.5/5

Mudchute is extremely quiet, primarily residential with only one pub, but here is a picture of a nice sunset to prove how picturesque the area can be.

Area – 1/5