Which pub to choose?

Published on 2 March 2010 in , , , ,

When I lived in Ealing and wanted to go to the pub, the discussion between meself and Catherine usually went “Pub?” “Yeah. Go on then.” Then we’d leave the house. Near six years in Merton and the conversation still goes “Pub?” “Yeah. Which one?”

The Red Lion, Ealing

Ealing has lots of great pubs – it’s just that we always loved The Red Lion the most. There were a few scenarios where the Red Lion wouldn’t do – namely if we wanted to eat out on a Sunday evening (at the time, the Red Lion didn’t do food on Sunday evenings) or if we just wanted to go somewhere because we wanted a break from being a “local”. But most of the time, it was the Red Lion and there was absolutely no need to talk about it.

Merton too has lots of great pubs. However we have no standout single pub that we love the most, so we end up on a conversation weighing up the various benefits and drawbacks of each of our options…

The Sultan is nice and does good ales from Hopback. They have no TVs and one of their rooms has no music (result! I like a pub without TVs and music.) The beer is always excellent, however are usually golden. and whilst they’re good, I do prefer a malty ale to a hoppy one.

Down the road is The Traf which is great and has the most varied ale selection in the a however its tiny so if there’s a band on or if there is sport on the TVs, it dominates the whole place.

Then there’s the Princess of Wales. This used to have no music and the TV (a very old CRT with OnDigital box!) was very rarely on. And the TV was in one side of the pub and very easy to escape. However the old owners retired last year, and inevitably there’s been some changes – notably an increase in ale selection (yay!) and the arrival of background music. Plus there’s been a couple of extra TVs added recently, meaning it’s a tad harder to escape the screens when football or rugby is on.

There’s no one perfect pub in that mix – just three different pubs and I have to work out which mood I’m in, to decide which pub to go to.

That was all fine, however the status quo has now begun to be threatened by a fourth pub.

The closest pub to us is actually the William Morris, housed in the old Liberty print works. However for as long as we’ve been in the area it’s been a pub that you go in and think “this could be really great” and then you got bored of waiting to be served and walked out. Even when the place was dead, you’d spend 15 minutes waiting to be served. Tables were ofen sticky, it was untidy and the staff were usually useless. In six years in the area, we can’t have visited ten times.

Recently they got a new manager. And he seems very good. The ale selection is now far better than it was, with the handpulls containing Adnams Broadside and a selection of ales from the Westerham Brewery. The latter ales are not ones I’ve come across before, but they’re really good – the 1965 and Special Pale Ale are excellent.

And they do what none of the other three pubs do – evening food.

Food at the William Morris also used to be particularly dire (memories of coleslaw slapped on a single lettuce leaf fill the mind) however it now seems much improved. We ate there the other night, and true we had a Pieminster pie each, however the accompanying mash was tasty and well mashed giving me a feeling of optimism of actually trying something else there. Add to that that the service is now prompt and efficient, and you have another problem….

There’s now four pubs to choose from…