Pot of Gold
…So we got to London, Louise and I, ready for a weekend of food, drink, laughs and relaxation. It was our wedding anniversary weekend, which we were combining with seeing Wembley for the first time and catching up with dear friends transplanted from the north to the south. I was extra-excited because I was looking forward to introducing Louise to some places (and by that I mean Pubs) I’ve grown to love on my (admittedly more frequent than hers) visits to the Capital. This wasn’t a pub tour, you must understand… this was about joining the dots; bringing people a little closer.
Despite the glitz and the glamour of the countless new breweries setting up in London, only one held a shining beacon in the forefront of my mind as one to ‘tick’, you will; Truman’s. I’d been following the progress of the revived ghost brewery with a little more interest than most, for what reason I’m not sure. Maybe it was the new-yet-old backstory, the chance to perhaps taste something with an echo to the past. A pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; something to seek out. I wrote the word in heavy, capital letters in notebook: TRUMAN’S. I even underscored it to give it the weight it deserved.
I was introduced to The Queen’s Head last year by Mark Fletcher. We were in London for the Beer Writer’s Guild Dinner, and as soon he uttered the words ‘…It’s a well-kept secret, if you ask me…’, I was hooked. We made the short journey from King’s Cross to the pub, my fingers crossed in my coat jacket that it would remain as charming as the first visit. It was. Friendly staff, good beer and a comfy chair to relax after the journey south. The Queen’s Head is my kind of pub; endearingly scruffy, genuinely affectionate about beer without feeling elitist or try-too-hard, and Louise was impressed, too. I clocked within seconds that there was no Truman’s on offer. Still, early days yet.
The Parcel Yard manages to combine function and style without going too overboard in every department; big enough to ensure a seat (well, when I’ve been in, anyway), nice decor and, of course, that exhaustive range of Fuller’s beer on the bar. This place had the grand honour of providing our pre-game lunch – an occasion which it rose to without breaking a sweat. More super-friendly staff (who says London is cold?) and the likes of Pork Sandwiches (my own personal catnip), Eggs Benedict and Fish Goujons, all washed down with pints of the muscular Bengal Lancer and sprightly Seafarer’s Ale. Every ounce the ‘Train station pub’ without feeling it, The Parcel Yard is now a comfy option for me when visiting King’s Cross.
We met our friends in The Stapleton Tavern; a pub that had already reached out to us via Twitter as they caught on to our conversation – despite sounding a little strange, this was actually reassuring. A large pub with a huge dining room attached, we soon caught up over a few pints and a tasty lunch with huge portions (maybe they heard we were from the north, and thus piled the food on to satisfy our barbarian needs). Beer-wise, my pint of Dark Star’s Hophead were as familiar as the company; an old friend that, despite seeing it from time to time in Leeds, never tastes as good as it does in the south.
My eye was still searching for that Truman’s eagle, however… but he hadn’t landed in Finsbury Park, it would seem. Hardy’s & Hanson Bitter – itself a heritage brand now owned by Greene King – was surprisingly good, too; sweet and chewy with a snappy finish. Dilly the Jack Russell sat diligently with an air of someone who found this all incredibly interesting.
Bellies full and jaws aching, we took the dog for a walk around the park before saying our goodbyes for the day. Not before, as my friend suggested (surely knowing that there was no way I would say no) ‘one last pint?’ in his local. The local, in this case, was The Faltering Fullback, a ‘Rugby’ pub if ever there was one, and one of the most individual pubs I’ve ever supped in. After gawking at the exterior for five minutes – a suburban pub festooned in greenery, replete with fountains flanking the door – we ventured inside to find a pub packed with drinkers watching the game on a screen in the back room, and the tables full of people enjoying themselves. The foliage outside makes you feel as if you’re drinking in a greenhouse; but one where everyone in the street has invited themselves over for a beer.
This was not a quiet pint; this was a lively, jolly drink in a pub that should be full at this time on a Saturday. My round; I ushered our group onto a just-that-second vacated table and turned to the small bar, only to be confronted with the Truman’s Eagle, wings spread, ready to take off. The pot of gold (well, glass of gold) had been found; through no concept or design, just good ol’ fate. We dispatched the shimmering, sweet beer with a smile on the lips and raised a glass to the Faltering Fullback and serendipity.
Posted on 04/11/2013, in Beer and tagged Bengal Lancer, Fuller's Brewery, King's Cross, London Pubs, The Faltering Fullback, The Parcel Yard, The Queen's Head, The Stapleton Tavern, Truman's Brewery. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.