"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Years ago, when I was at the nascent stage of my managerial career at Penguin Books, I recall overhearing one of the young publicity girlies talking to her colleagues and saying

“ I had supper with Giles/Piers/Rupert/interchangeable chinless inbred idiot etc etc last night. The food was awful, but it was cheap so it was really great.”

I thought about that tonight when I ate at The Eagle Bar & Diner just off Oxford St.

I was meeting up with my bestest chum, Paul ( mentioned on these pages before ) and, foolishly, rather than staying safely on home territory, we had decided to revisit old haunts from 10+ years ago in the West End. Stupid. Really stupid.

First to the Pillars of Hercules. A pub that I used to frequent all too regularly when I was a rep for Penguin as it was situated right behind Foyles. I am certain it is no worse now than it was then but, my tolerance of shitty beer is a lot less and the presence of an “ironic” DJ playing tunes from the 60’s did not help. We scarpered from there as soon as the first pint was over.

Trudging up through Fitzrovia avoiding the other similar pubs all of which seemed to have The Artic Monkeys blaring from their sound systems, we found an safe haven in The Duke OF York just off Goodge St and had a couple of perfectly acceptable pints of Greene King IPA with nothing to bother us but the sound of an increasingly angry man playing ( and losing ) on the slot machine.

Around 8pm, we needed refuelling and headed to The Eagle Bar and Diner for supper. A mistake. A very grave mistake and one that was evident the moment we walked in and had to start screaming to be heard by the waiter.

This was just two people out of place and out of time. We were by far the oldest people in the place ( including the staff ) by at least ten years. The music was pumping out some tuneless thumping nothingness for simpletons and there was a thick fug of smoke.

As far as I could tell, not being able to hear a thing they said, the service was quite friendly and we took a table to the side of the bar.

A standard menu which has had some good reviews. I cannot imagine why unless it is because the paucity of such diners in London means that anyone who offers an 8oz burger is legally obliged to get a good review.

There is nothing on the menu that excites. But, that would be perfectly fine if the standards were any good. They are not. In fact, they range from just about acceptable to “ don’t make me come into the kitchen and slap you silly”

We ordered two 8oz burgers. One with Monterey Jack and one with the same plus bacon ( I will leave you to guess which one of us had the pork ) With this, some cheese fries and some coleslaw and a couple of Brooklyn Lagers.

All, actively horrid. The coleslaw was gloopy and sloppy. The chips, while stringy as advertised, were as floppy as a 90year old on his wedding night and the burgers while promisingly tall were as blah as beef can get without becoming Quorn.

No two ways about it. This was a horrible, horrible meal. The scary thing was, it was packed with young folk who all seemed to be enjoying as if it was the second coming. I guess, the combo of lousy beef and pumping house passes for a good time these days if you are closer to puberty than death.

£35 for two. I would rather lay prone and offer my gonads up to be kicked soundly by 100 burly Milwall fans than ever ever set foot in that dunghole again.

Afterwards, feeling thoroughly dispirited, Paul offered to buy me a nightcap. So, we walked down to The Chancery Hotel Bar. Here, some of the best and best value cocktails in London are being made and we indulged in a perfect, Perfect Manhattan and a very good Old Fashioned with some exemplary snacks which restored our humours somewhat. They cost about the same as the meal.

We finished the evening by discussing the lyrics of Thin Lizzie’s “Jailbreak” and the basic flaw there in.

“tonight there is gonna be a jailbreak. Somewhere in the town” er, how about in the jail?

You see, young folk would never be able to have that kind of intelligent conversation about all that thumpy thumpy music.

Now, where the hell are my slippers?
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