26 June 2010

Seven pubs in Brentford

The point of the evening was to go make the most of the warmth and the late light to go for a long walk through Brentford, and that's what we did. Obviously we stopped at one or two or seven pubs along the way.

A long walk starts with a single step and our first one was to The Greyhound on Kew Green. This won the honour of being the starting point for the epic journey as it was left out of our previous tour of Kew on the grounds that it was closed for refurbishment. Talking to the barmaid, it transpired that this refurbishment was inspired by a fire.

The Greyhound has emerged much as it was before, in fact we struggled to think of a difference. At some point the clutter of the front bar was cleared out to provide the open space we expect to see in pubs these days and this helps to make the most of the beautiful windows.

The barmaid was a little dippy, somehow she heard "Ord-in-ar-y" as "Wa-ter", but when the Young's arrived it was very drinkable and, propelled by the warmth, soon disappeared.

From there we walked over Kew Bridge and headed left to Brentford. We were selective on which pubs we stopped at and walked past a few for about 1km until we came to The Old Fire Station.

Going in to The Old Fire Station is a bit like walking in to the Tardis, you cannot quite believe that the inside is related to the outside.

Here the gorgeous period exterior gives way to a modern bar with low square tables surrounded by low square red fluffy seats. As with many bars (as opposed to pubs) there is no real ale or bitter of any kind on tab but the Japanese lager was fine, if a little cold for my taste.

The Magpie and Crown was very different.

This looks like a traditional English pub inside and out and everything lives up to this image. It was the busiest pub we went to that night (not that that says a lot) and the public bar had the alluring sound of conversation.

It also had one of the best selections of real ales that you could ever hoped to see. I chose one unfamiliar to me (Bear, possibly?) and it was good.

Even better, when I went outside to take the photo the Landlord joined me for a conversation about the history of the pub and his approach to beer. A good locals' pub.

The Six Bells was the only Brentford pub that I had been to previously and that was five years or so ago when somebody I knew used to play in a band there once a month.

It has changed since then, but not for the better. The cosy bar has been replaced with a confusion of cloth and wood that conspire to make the bar as bland as possible.

This part of the evening was salvaged by two lads from Brum who were happy to engage in conversation which helped to make the time it takes to drink a pint pass measurably well. The beer was as bland as the pub to the extend that I cannot even recall what it was.

O'Brien's of Brentford was a welcome step up.

The bar is small, cosy and welcoming and as two strangers we were convincingly treated like regulars by staff and punters alike.

Cannot recall what the beer selection was like as our eyes were drawn to an unusual collection of spirits which we thought was the wiser choice after the pints before and the walking to come.

We had something approaching JD on ice that did the trick nicely, if a little too quickly, and so we moved on happy with what we had just experienced but wishing it had been for a little longer.

The George and Dragon was the last port of call on this stretch of the walk and we soon wished that we had missed it out altogether.

Inside and out is is designed for the World Cup and for the sort of people who like to go to pubs to watch it all. A bit chavy you might say.

Two swift halves and we were out and on our way.

At that point we started to retrace our steps, turning back towards the Brentford town centre that we had walked through and past. From the town centre we caught a bus to the north side of Kew Bridge, not far from where the journey started.

And the reason for stopping there was the Express Tavern that sits proudly on the busy and confusing road junction.

Sadly its geography made taking a decent photo of it in the dark rather problematic as the ideal place to stand is in the middle of five lanes of traffic. I settled for a poorer picture taken from a pedestrian refuge!

Because of its convenient location, the Express Tavern has featured in many previous walks and we were happy to go there again to have one for the road. You just feel comfortable there.

Overall it was a very successful evening. The walk went well in that we got the exercise that we were looking for and we also found a few good pubs to add to the itinerary for future walks.

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