Sunday, 17 May 2015

BRAPA - Tottenham away day

Pub of the day - London Fields Brewery Tap Room (man on the left loved being in the photo!)
With Hull City's relegation looking more and more likely by the match, much of our pre-match planning centred around how to make the most of this day, BRAPA-wise.  The Tottenham area is a total real ale desert, but the Liverpool Street-White Hart Lane line offered up many options.

Firstly though, we needed a pre-11am opener.  And it wasn't even a Wetherspoons!

647.  Wilmington, Finsbury - My preconceptions meant I'd been expecting one of those busy, sticky free-for-all style commuter boozers but nothing could have been further from the truth as me and Dad made our way from Farringdon tube the 0.5 miles to a very clean, well to do area of the city.  At 10:15am, we were pretty much the first customers and despite the obvious feel  of refurbishment, it kept a comfy, homely feel with exposed brickwork.  The beer range was also good, though my Sambrooks was predictably London tasting like it had just come up from a well underground.  It was a grower and Greene King did an ale for the pub, plus these were handled glasses even Dad could enjoy - not dimpled but straight and he'd have stolen one given the chance.  The blackboard made you remember this wasn't just a beer drinkers pub, with lots of wines and food choices listed, plus the boast "best Bloody Mary's in town!" Some Geordie chaps shuffled in and sat right next to us despite having a whole huge building to aim at.  I chatted to them, they were surprisingly civilised though Dad had already made up his mind, he was off to the loo and already putting his jacket on.

Arriving in leafy Finsbury for a surprisingly good pub experience.

648.  Woodin Shades, Liverpool Street - The "busy, sticky free-for-all style commuter boozer" I'd been anticipating a pub ago was more suited to this place, just across the road from Liverpool Street station.  With both Tom Irvin and Dan Midwood telling me they'd been before, it was one of those "Si, how can you have never visited?" places.  It was an 11am opener, we arrived ten past but it was already heaving, with only about two tables left.  Still, for a Nicholson's house, it was quite small and narrow but had that usual dark wood feel.  Staff were friendly and the beers were very "Yorkshire" with things like Ilkley and Daleside, I thought I'd found something local and unusual but it was a Black Sheep collaboration.  And £4,30 a pint was ridiculous!  Tom was soon on the scene, and we presented him with a pack of biscuits he'd been promised for a while.  We'd got a decent seat right at the back of the pub, but even so, I felt a but crowded and was glad when we moved on.

Where's Si?  I am on the right of the pub with my arms folded.
649. Dove Free House & Kitchen, London Fields - London Fields felt as 'bohemian' as you could get outside Camden, with a busy street market and pretty green area (London Fields?) making for an interesting but frustrating walk to our next "pub".  I use inverted commas because it felt very much like a cross between a Brown Cafe in Amsterdam mixed with one of the modern bars we visited in Barcelona last year.  Dad and Tom had already gone in a colourful little cafe next door by mistake.  Luckily, the Dove had a calmer atmosphere.  Barman with an element of Danny Rose struggled to get our pints of Saxon out, but he assured us it was absolutely fine.  He also said the Blackcurrant had run out, but before Tom was forced to suffer Lime, his mistake was realised.  We found a "very dark" downstairs area which wasn't ideal for my End of the Premier League Picture Quiz.  The loos were unisex, which I don't think I'll ever get used to!  Early sulphur tones on our ale cleared by half way down, but returned with ferocity late on for easily, the worst pint of the day.  Unimpressed.

Busy market street Euro cafe fun/despair at the Dove

650.  London Fields Brewery Tap Room, London Fields - Another modern style drinking place, but much more like it and a nice way to achieve the mini-landmark of 650 pubs.   Pretty much under a railway arch, the right hand side of the pub was full of tourists starting a guided tour of the brewery (and possibly surrounding area), but we found plenty of room on the other side.  The London Fields beers were done in both cask and keg form, but as Tom pointed out, many of the casks were turned round thus dampening Dad's over enthusiastic clams for a "pub of the season" contender.  The staff were a jolly bunch too, but charging 60p more for keg products than cask seemed bizarre to a man such as me.  The description on the menu of cask v keg even made cask sound much superior.  It was Tom's turn to do a quiz as I settled down with a lovely pint of the red ale "Love not War" and had an inspired/lucky spell in answering the q's correctly.  3p for three Tesco items of food?  Only Tom could do that.  More unisex loos followed, and our 'peace' was shattered by a group of men dressed as Robin Hood about to start a tour.  It was time to get on the tube to White Hart Lane.  Pub of the day.

A pint of "Love not War", hopbines, and a general scene at the LFBTR.

651.  Sebright Arms, Cambridge Heath - Glossing over the football match, we had time for a post-match pint back along the same train line (it could've been more if Dad hadn't booked us as early as 7pm but we won't blame him too much).  Cambridge Heath seemed to not be able to make up it's mind whether it was scuzzy down & out London or ironic shabby chic youth paradise.  The pub looked pretty plain, and Dad summarised it felt very much like so many post-match London pubs we've been in of late.  Elaborate, over priced food menus everywhere, one room fairly soulless, good beer range but slightly disappointing due to Southern taste.  Well, he had a point but wasn't completely right as it has two rooms and he's being harsh on the ale.  I loved my Hop Stuff Pale and enjoy most of these new London microbreweries.  The barmaid, foreign anyway, had a mouth full of a vegan pie which she then pointed out to us on the menu, I wondered if it was an OTT attempt at advertising their food menu?  Time had ticked on so we had to drink quickly and couldn't really savour the pub and get a feel for it,  The strangest thing though, they had a lunch menu though the pub doesn't open until 5pm - how bizarre! 

Time for a quick post-match pint in Cambridge Heath.
The journey back was okay, not too comfy due to a large Geordie presence, but overall, a great day out and I've now done 15 pubs for the month with plenty still to come.  Alas, I'll be cancelling WY BRAPA Tuesday again due having to do 9-5.  I expect that to resume on 26th.  Next Saturday sees our monthly trip to Bedfordshire, it is Dunstable this time in an attempt to finish "page 3" of the GBG. 



  1. The three items for 3p were ASDA, not Tesco.

    For your trip to Dunstable, you may find a Luton Plus Bus ticket useful, as it is available for travel within both Luton and Dunstable, as well as between the two. Priced at £2.80, see details here:
    York booking office should be able to sell you one, I expect they will know what to do, but if they don't, tell them to input:
    Origin: Luton
    Destination: Luton+bus
    and it should come up.

  2. Asda, of course! Silly me. Thanks re Plusbus, will ask tonight. Hoping it covers Totternhoe too. I caught the Irvin lurgie!

  3. Si,
    Totternhoe is just outside the Plusbus area. If you stick to Arriva buses (they operate the 61 out to Totternhoe, as well as some of the Luton-Dunstable buses), then a £7.50 Shires & Essex All Zones Day Saver would do you, see
    It would depend on how much bus travel you do, as to whether you shell out the £7.50 for the rover, or pay individual cash return fares. What I think I would do is email Arriva and ask for the fares for the journey you wish to make, and then add them up to see which comes out cheapest. There is a contact form here: