Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This old New England Beer Examiner examines the new Old London Pubs VI

Dirty Dicks – 202 Bishopsgate, EC2M-4NR – 020-7283-5888 -

This Wells/Young’s operated pub is located just opposite the Liverpool Tube exit on Bishopsgate, look slightly left across the street and you’ll see a portrait of old Dirty Dick hanging over a canopied, flowerbox–draped, dual brass lanterned entry to the pub by the same name.

On an ominous note; According to legend, as written in CAMRA’s London Pub Walks, the original pub was named after Nathaniel Bentley, whose bride-to-be died on the eve of their wedding. The poor grieving man locked the room he had prepared for the feast and let himself, his pub and his cats go to rot. Dickens was inspired to create the character of Miss Havisham, in “Great Expectations” based on this sad affair. Where the name, ‘Dirty Dick’ fits in is unclear to me.

An even more foreboding sign of things to come are felt (and smelled) as you approach the entry and find a designated smoking area under the overhang, because to enter the joint you must pass through an ominous cloud of choking smoke. And unfortunately, this smoke trails in behind you and stays in the air. Allowance of this smoking area is certainly a bad thing for anyone planning to experience the aroma and taste of the cask-conditioned ales. Very bad!

Once you’re at the end of the bar, and as far away from the nauseous fumes as possible, you will have the pleasure of taking in an authentic-looking pub with wide wooden floors and thick post and beam timber framed wood work. The long and straight brass plated bar has around 10 tap handles and 3 cask pumps.

A friendly mix of locals from all ethnicities and income brackets hang together and chat like long-lost friends. Near the entryway, a few electronic arcade machines emit frenzied banging, ringing, shooting and action noises associated with such games.

There are 3 levels. The top level balcony is more of a gallery of odd relics and memorabilia, including what appears to be the mummified remains of one of Mr. Bentley’s cats. The cellar is more of a traditional restaurant setting.

The Tribute and Bombardier Ales were in tip top shape. I wished the smoke would cease pouring in, but it never did let up and we were forced to pay up and escape.

This COULD be a MUST visit London Pub, and it is if you happen to be a smoker and/or are into video arcade games.