Tuesday, November 18, 2008

London Calling: Complete Control

After my walk around Westminster, I was famished. Truly hungry, I needed food and drink. I headed towards the Strand. The Strand has a reputation of being a pretty hip area. It’s an old theatre district, with several High Street Shops (chain stores), pubs, restaurants, and of course, some theatres.

From where I was coming from, you had to walk past the Horse Guards Parade, St. James Park, the Captain Cook Monument, another badass arch, and Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is a beautiful area, home of Nelson’s Column, the National Gallery, and several banks.

Horse Guards Parade, full moon, and the London Eye.

Captain Cook.

Love is not a victory arch.

Nelson's Column and the National Gallery

I could see the bright lights of the Strand, luring me in for revelry. I had to pee almost as badly as I was hungry, and thirsty. The first place that seemed appealing was the Coal Hole. I thought it was a great name, so I entered the underground bar. I was the only person in there, and it was obvious that it was a shift change; the day bartender hurriedly cleaning and cursing loudly to herself that her relief was late.

Approaching the Strand

What a great name.

Inside the Coal Hole

I ordered an appealing, perfectly pulled, real ale, and perused their stunning menu. What gastronomical mandate had not yet been fulfilled? Guts, check, real ale, check, cheese, check, ah! Fish and chips. I decided to get a starter of baked Camembert, and the regular order of fish and chips (with mushy peas, of course!).

The Camembert came out as I watched the night staff and day staff argue over the placement of crisps (potato chips), and it was served with a delicious real ale and apple chutney. I devoured its gooey deliciousness, like a raccoon in a hen house. Camembert is one of my favorite cheeses, so this was quite the treat for me. The chutney had notes of mustard seed, cinnamon, unctuous raisins and a nice acidic finish.

Yes, it was as good as it looks.

I ordered another pint of the Timothy Taylor Landlord that I’d had in Nottingham. This beer has a mellow golden color, and a great hop finish that lingered like an offal fart, which I’d experienced the night before. It was a typical Brit real ale, weighing in classic session style at 4.2% ABV. It was intensely easily drinkable, and very tasty. Proper pulls for life!!!

The Landlord

My first British fish and chips experience was an amazing feat of fruition. The standard portion was more than generous for £6.95, and was astonishing. The chips were thickly cut and perfectly fried, the mushy peas looked like something that spewed from Linda Blair’s mouth in the Exorcist, and were exceptionally green. The batter on the fish was superb, holding up to excessive amounts of malt vinegar, lemon juice and house green curry sauce. The curry sauce complimented both the fish and the chips. I’d like my fish batter to come out that way, very thin, but exceptionally crisp, proper like.

Yes. It was very dark in there. This is the best pic that came out.

After my meal, it was time for a central London Pub crawl. I was on the hunt for more pulled pints; beers that I wouldn’t be able to get at home... The adventure was just beginning.

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