Sunday, 9 September 2012

Limehouse


LIMEHOUSE (05/09/12)

It was finally time for a visit to Limehouse this week, a station we’ve been half-heartedly trying to get to for quite some time now.  It just seems that each time we finally get around to it we get a more enticing offer, which to be fair is not that difficult a feat as Limehouse is far from being one of the more appealing locations on the DLR.  Last time for instance Tindall asked me if I fancied staying in instead to watch episodes of The Big Bang Theory back to back.  Only kidding of course, I’d never watch that crap.  But tonight we took the plunged and I met Rob straight from work at our first pub for the night.  I entered the Railway Tavern to find him and a pint awaiting me.  He didn’t look out of place though, for this pub is ideal for the lone drinker with time to kill as they wait for their train or their DLR Challenge buddy to arrive.  Indeed, it seems highly unlikely that this is a place that you’d come regularly, and this lack of familiarity perhaps dampens the atmosphere slightly.  Having said that, as we’d move on to discover, The Railway Tavern is probably one of the better pubs in this area.

The Railway Tavern Ratings
Facilities – 2.5
Atmosphere – 2
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 3.5
Selection – 2
OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.6/5

We headed next in the direction of The White Swan, but instead stumbled across a tiny bar called ‘Jacks’ sandwiched in between a row of closed down shops (nothing much appears to be open in Limehouse anymore).  The owner (presumably Jack?) stood at the door and welcomed us in as we passed him.  Quite a homely feel to this place, it’s clearly a converted shop with a bar in it but was nevertheless very welcoming.  The only let down really is its location.  Situated on Commercial Road, the steady stream of traffic and blaring sirens, set in front of a backdrop of derelict buildings doesn’t really leave the drinker with much of a view.  Indeed, I actually preferred to look at Tindall than out of the window.  Perhaps this place had only just opened, there was no food menu but empty blackboards galore, seemingly placed there once either Jack or his wife had had time to do a big shop and rustle up some food.  One pint of Guinness each later and we were back on the road.

Jacks Ratings
Facilities – 2.5
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 1.5
Selection – 1
OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.2/5

It was then that we found The White Swan, although it had been boarded up.  Sadly this would become a common theme as the evening progressed, as we passed 4 more pubs that no longer existed.  Our next venue Brewery Tap had also seen better days.  Incredibly though it was still open.  Although it may score higher than others on our controversial and admittedly ridiculous FACES scale, this must surely be the worst pub that we’ve come across so far.  As we entered we were greeted by the fixed stair of an old man with one tooth who looked as though he spends every waking moment of his remaining days there.  In fact, I imagine he’s sitting there right now, propped up against the bar, staring at the door in the hope of a new customer to look at.  He had to make do with eavesdropping on the four guys occupying the table by the door on the evening that we visited though; another set of regulars who most likely are used to having the pub to themselves.  I’m not too sure the barmaid was overly pleased to see us either, she spent the whole time we were there eyeing us suspiciously.  Granted though, when two guys wearing suits come in and start scribbling notes on pen and paper she was probably worried we were from the brewery and had come to close her down. 

Brewery Tap Ratings
Facilities – 0.5
Atmosphere – 1.5
Cost – 4
Entertainment – 1.5
Selection – 2
OVERALL AVERAGE – 1.9/5

We chose not to stay for long, Brewery Tap really didn’t have anything going for it.  The d├ęcor was awful and probably hadn’t changed in 40 years, the atmosphere was non-existent, and the pint glasses were wobbly.  After 15 minutes or so of trying to drink whilst keeping one eye on a potential escape route and another on a gnat that had joined us for the duration of our stay, we quickly upped and left, safe in the knowledge that no matter where we ended up next, it would be more comfortable than here.

We were wrong.  The next pub, The Old Ship, was much nicer, but far less comfortable.  As we approached the venue things looked promising.  The Ship didn’t belong here, it looked nice, it looked clean, and it looked open.  All good signs.  Hanging baskets, erm, hung outside and a warm glow emanated from within.  This was better.  We entered, ordered our pints and found a table.  The barmaid informed me that she’d just changed the barrel when it came to serving me my drink, and things didn’t taste right.  I took a sip and decided I needed to switch, complaining to her that my beer tasted ‘fruity’.  As it turned out this was the wrong choice of wording as I then glanced to my left to discover a man wearing make-up.  We’d entered another gay pub.  And once again, such as it is in modern times I feel the need to add the disclaimer that we have no issue with gay people, nor with establishments that cater primarily for them, it is however a little awkward to be entering these bars, in a couple, with another man.  Why?  The crudeness.  Every single time we’ve been to one of these gay friendly pubs the clientele cannot seem to speak without every other comment being a sexual innuendo.  It does make for a slightly discomforting experience.  However, we’re here to judge a pub, not those that frequent it, and so we set about analysing our surroundings.  And we were pleasantly surprised.  It was a relaxing venue, it was clean and we didn’t feel threatened as we had done in the pub previous to this.  Entertainment was rife too, with a drag act once a week, it was so welcoming here in fact that for a second we thought we’d consider popping back in a few days time to watch ‘Saucy Sophie’ or ‘Slag in Drag’ perform.  And then we came to our senses and decided never to mention that rogue thought to anyone, anywhere, ever.

The Old Ship Ratings
Facilities – 3.5
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 2
Selection – 2
OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.7/5

Our evening ended with a visit to The Queen’s Head.  It ended rather abruptly too as the staff around us started to close up at 10pm.  In fairness to them at this point we were the only two left, and besides ploughing money into their quiz machine we were hardly worth staying open for.  Queen’s Head had seen better days.  It was a huge pub on the inside, but unfortunately had nobody there to fill it.  On the wall was a picture of The Queen’s Mother pouring a pint there in 1987, which incidentally may well have been the year that the Quiz Machine that we were playing on had come from.  After nabbing £3 from it (after only putting about £5 in!) we drank up and left before being told to leave by the waiting barmaid, off into the night, almost another DLR station light. 

Queen’s Head Ratings
Facilities – 2.5
Atmosphere – 1
Cost – 3.5
Entertainment – 2.5
Selection – 1.5
OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.6/5

There are still some pubs in the area to visit, fortunately some of which are on the south side of the station at the Quay, a much more enticing area.  Hopefully we can revisit here and wrap up any loose ends shortly.