Friday, 7 December 2007

It has come to my attention...

...that, like Private Eye's "Curse of Gnome", there is now a "curse of WPG". No sooner do I recommend a watering hole than it closes. (Actually, I have a habit of doing that to radio stations, too...)
This is the case for Shunt at London Bridge, closed for refurbishment until mid-January. Yes, during the Xmas period - that's how cool they are. They don't want or need your office party antics.

And Throgmortons in the city, from where a capitalisation-free Pub Guide correspondent writes "as you may remember, it was owned by Mitchells & Butlers, the same people that own the eagle, hen and chickens, island queen, etc, not to mention o'neills and my favourite chain of soul-less, identikit, lady-friendly italian bars, al barone - he's quite a guy. and as they usefully point out:
Every year we sell 600 tonnes of custard and 1000 tonnes of ice-cream. That's one heck of a party! indeed it is. anyway, it's been sold to a new company. [the manager] said they were called throgmorton leisure, but did so in a way that made it sound like he'd just made it up."

So, to disprove this kiss of death, I've been back to a couple of old Trafficlink haunts that actually remain open, and unchanged from the good ol' days of Centrepoint. The Toucan on Soho Square and The Angel on St Giles High Street are still exactly as I remember them, minus the fog of tobacco smoke. And in the Angel's case, the staff are still the same too. And with Old Brewery at £1.82, even the prices mirror 10 years ago.

But on Tuesday I revisited the scene of many Metro after-hours crimes against decency, the Phoenix Artist Club on Phoenix Street. This is a members club with a late licence that dates from before the onset of alleged 24-hour drinking - but all are welcome before 8pm. And once you're in, you're in. Unsurprisingly, it's thespian-themed, and there are plenty of unusual characters in there. But its great fun, and rightly deserves what the Time Out Bar Guide says - "a classic late-night West End haunt. Priceless."

The Phoenix thinks of everything. If you need to step outside for a cigarette, you can secure your seat with a handy beer mat.

On the other side, should you wish to make new friends, or indeed find yourself lost, it's all set out for you.

So swiftly on to the Doric Arch at Euston station. Before you ask, I'm not a trainspotter, it was a convenient place to meet. This used to be the Head of Steam - which had a great reputation for real ale - before Fullers bought it and re-named it. But again, thankfully, again, it's exactly the same as before - alongside the Fullers London Porter there were two or three other ales, and a particularly good pint of Archers Best all the way from Swindon. And the toilets downstairs still require a secret code from the bar staff to get in. Classy.

Catch 'em before the curse of Jackson gets them!