Monday, February 27, 2012

#151. The Brewmaster, 37 Cranbourn St, London


The Brewmaster is a Greene King pub located just off Leicester Square amidst all the West End theatres. Conveniently located next to a tube station to make a quick getaway from the lack of cask ales on tap. I settled for an Old Speckled Hen.


People are in a bit of a rush in London compared to Paris.

#150. The Tate Modern, Sumner St, London


London's modern art gallery is housed in the former Bankside Power Station on the south bank of the River Thames. Meghan quipped that she thought her visit would have been more interesting and memorable if the building was still being used as such and included a tour and explanation of how the turbines worked.


On the top floor is the Restaurant and Bar, with a fantastic view of The City and St. Paul's Cathedral. The beer selection was better than expected. As you can see, I drank a Brew Dog, imported from Scotland.

This was my favourite piece on exhibit:


It turns out it was an actual crowd control device and not a work of art. I am joking. Only sort of. But here are a few of the pieces that I did quite enjoy.




Who said modern art was a big wank?


That was an excerpt from Seedbed, staged in 1972 by Vito Acconci, champion of the performance-artist-as-wanker movement of the 20th century. Click on that link if you think I'm being a philistine. I guarantee you it will be the second time you read the phrase "spiritual sphincter of his art" (this being the first).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

#149. The Wellington, Waterloo Road, London


We actually stayed the night at this pub, just like people used to do centuries ago. Waterloo Road is quite busy at all hours of the day and night, so the pub was kind enough to supply complimentary ear plugs.

#148. Momentum, Eurostar, Chunnel

Ever wondered what the Momentum Bar on the Eurostar from Paris to London looks like? Me neither, but here you go.


Going through the chunnel on the Eurostar is something I have always wanted to do. When we entered the tunnel, I was a bit disappointed they didn't make an announcement along the lines of "Ladies and gentlemen please remain seated and fasten your seat-belts while we transit the English Channel." Given the high speed at which the train travels, you are only under the ocean for about 10 minutes. The trip itself between the two capitals only takes a little over two hours. More than enough time to enjoy a French beer: the famous Kronenbourg 1664.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

#147. The Harp, 118 Boulevard de Clichy, Paris


Just down the road from the famous Moulin Rouge is this Irish pub, run by a Swede, and home to fans of Scottish football club Celtic.


I drank a Kilkenny and a Guinness, of course, while Meghan had Strongbow.


Earlier that day we fell in love at the Eiffel Tower.


#146. Obododo Cafe, 28 boulevard Menilmontant, Paris



Friday, February 24, 2012

#145. Café Benjamin, 53 rue de Rivoli, Paris


Night time in Paris.


This cafe was more like a bar and quite a lot of fun.

Earlier in the day I had noticed people drinking what looked like pink beer on the patios of a few cafes. It turns out the drink is a Tango -- beer and grenadine! It was quite good.


#144. Café de Flore, 172 boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris

This cafe situated in Paris' left bank is famous enough to have its own Wikipedia entry.


I have to admit that I went through this existentialist phase when I was in my early 20s. I read a lot of Sartre and Camus. Therefore, having a glass of wine here was a bit of a big deal for me.


They brought us salt and vinegar chips with our wine.


I have to say that Paris is underrated. It's better than everyone says it is. Oh, sure, the mopeds are noisy and the traffic is a mess and there's dog poop where it shouldn't always be... but it is beautiful in its use of space.





#143. le Québec, 45 rue Bonaparte, Paris

Holy crap we're in Paris! And when in Paris, one must put down the pub and adopt the cafe culture of sitting at little round tables enjoying café allongé. The city is littered with these little restaurants that feature patio seating, tabac (tobacco), coffee, and wine.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

#142. Black Bull Tavern, 43 Leith St, Edinburgh

A rocker hangout, with loads of tattoos, a busy pool table, and loud Metallica-esque music playing. Too loudly, I'm afraid, as it made conversation with Tobi and Agathe nearly impossible.

The beer selection was minimal, leaving this pub relegated to the memorable category only because it was unique within Edinburgh as a boisterous, rocker bar. It has character, but no charm.

It was a very black day for us. We went to Black Medicine Coffee, Blackwells Bookstore, Black Bo's for vegetarian dinner, saw a black comedy (The Descendants), and drank a Black and Tan at the Black Bull.

In Edinburgh, black is the new black. Everything is being painted black here, particularly main door businesses and New Town wrought-iron fences. It's a good thing the sun shines so much here or it would become a bit depressing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

#141. Under the Stairs, 3A Merchant St, Edinburgh

As befits its name, this bar is under the George IV Bridge, and below street level. It reminds one of The Mint from back home, but it's actually quite a bit nicer. The service was shambolic, however. After being served a rancid pint of something on tap that I'd never seen nor heard of before, I switched to Wessex Craft Brewers' Slap and Tickle Ale by the bottle.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

#140. Malone's Irish Bar, 14 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh

Malone's Irish Bar probably holds over 500 people. It was at 1/500th capacity while I enjoyed my pint of Tetley's Smooth Flow.

Despite its size, the pub is reasonably charming. There is booth seating that reminds me of a pew, and the ceiling is not unlike a church. A balcony rings around beneath the steeple, completing the sense of worshiping before Guinness and Celtic.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

#139. Plockton Hotel, 41 Harbour St, Plockton

This pub (along with the other one in town) was written up in the AA Pub Guide as a "pick of the pubs".


What did I drink? More Plockton Bay Ale, of course.


Plockton was very pretty, peaceful, and so quiet.




#138. Plockton Inn, Innes St, Plockton

Next up on our Highland adventure, a picturesque train journey to Plockton on the northwest coast.


We stayed at the Plockton Inn. It specializes in seafood, and Fleetwood Mac's greatest hits played on the shuffle setting of an iPod situated in the corner next to the coal-burning fireplace and the wi-fi router.


The pub is next door to the Inn.

When in Rome...

Plockton has its own micro-brewery: the Plockton Brewery. What an inspiration! Here is the entire operation, wedged into a converted garage.

Friday, February 10, 2012

#137. The King's Highway, 72-74 Church St, Inverness

Apparently Tim Martin, the Chairman of J. D. Wetherspoon, is a Euro-skeptic. As such, he approved of Prime Minister David Cameron's December 9th, 2011 rejection of an EU resolution to change the rules in the eurozone treaty. So much so that Mr. Martin commissioned the Veto Ale to commemorate the event. Here is my pint, mid pour.


And here is an action shot of the bartender finishing it off.


The Prime Minister rejected a deal after "European leaders" refused to concede the safeguards Cameron was looking to secure for his Oxbridge banker buddies in the City of London. An analysis of why the chairman of a chain of brewpubs thinks this is a good political strategy for the UK is beyond the scope of this blog.

#136. Blackfriars Highland Pub, 93-95 Academy Street, Inverness

Meghan googled "best pub Inverness" and the interwebs responded "Blackfriars!" She celebrated with a victory-disco pose once we located it.

Blackfriars features a fine array of both local cask ales and ciders. We ended up standing at the bar chatting with a guy that teaches Gaelic, and later with a retiree who manages holiday homes in Bulgaria during the summer. Since we were there for so long I got to sample both truly local beers: the Cairngorm Black Gold Imperial Stout (the well-deserved 2005 champion beer of Scotland); and the An Teallach Brewery Crofters' Pale Ale. After a couple of pints of these beauties, you'll be dreaming in Gaelic, just like my Grandpa Ovans used to.

Meghan tried the Thistly Cross, but it wasn't bubbly nor strong enough for her liking.

This pub is for sale. You should buy it.