Social Media Buttons

Description

WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

What's new?

What's new?
We've just launched the first ever Beer Marketing Awards - click here for more details!
I'm doing a Masterclass in beer writing with the Guardian in February. Click to find our more.
My latest Publican's Morning Advertiser piece - some pub etiquette tips for Christmas visitors.
>

Sunday, 10 August 2008

From the sublime to the Ridiculous: The Piss Poor Pub on the Park, Hackney

Nice facade. Shame about everything else.

Each of us who cares about beer and pubs has a duty to warn the rest against the potential of being ripped off. After waxing lyrical about the Cricket Inn, I'm therefore compelled to bring attention to the Pub on the Park on London Fields.

It's a great building in a perfect location, with a beer garden and terrace looking out onto the park, across which lies Broadway Market - a lovely place to get your ricotta and sun-blushed tomatoes if Borough's a bit too busy. It attracts the shaggy-haired, ironically t-shirted artisanal bread-shopping crowd who love reading their copy of the Guardian while keeping an eye on the football, and markets itself accordingly: a charming array of mismatched furniture, and an excellent selection of ales and speciality beers on the bar as well as the premier league of 'world' lagers (you know the brands I mean, and I think most of them are decent beers. But if these are 'world' lagers, where do the other lagers come from? Space? Anyway, different topic).

So far so good - the perfect pub - until you order something to eat or drink.

They had Grolsch Weizen on tap. In bottle this is a stunning wheat beer, all the moreso for the low expectations you probably have when you see the word 'Grolsch' on the label. That'll teach you to be snobby about big brewers. So I ordered a pint of it. The barman had never heard of it before. I had to point it out to him on the bar. He gave it to me in a Stella glass. Nice touch there mate. I also ordered a half a Leffe for my wife, which was also served in a Stella half pint glass. And then the world turned upside down.

"Seven pound seventy please, mate."

"I'm sorry? I thought you just said it was seven pounds seventy for a pint and a half of beer just then!"

"That's right. These beers are a little expensive, just over five pounds a pint."

Over five pounds a pint is not 'a little expensive'. It's taking the piss. Even the Rake , often criticised for its pricing, wouldn't charge this much for these beers, and their staff warn you in advance if you've ordered something super-expensive. The only beers they charge this much for are those that are rarely available on draught, and beers that you shouldn't be drinking in pints anyway becauise they're above 7%ABV. By contrast, here were two premium, 'speciality' yet freely available commercial brands, served in the wrong fucking glassware by a man who wasn't even aware that one of them was sitting on the bar he stood behind for six hours a day. I had been well and truly robbed.

After all that, the beer was deeply average. It tasted like Hoegaarden, not Grolsch Weizen, and these are two quite distinctly different wheat beers.

I then made the mistake of ordering food. All the main courses were basic pub fare and every dish came with chips. In this situation, with nothing better to choose from, I usually order fish and chips. I've been lucky recently, getting fish in pubs how it should be: crisp, golden, light batter, soft flaky fish inside.

In Pub on the Park, my luck ran out. My fillet of fish - if indeed that's what it truly was - had clearly spent much, much longer in a cardboard box in a deep freezer somewhere than it ever had in its native aquatic environment. The batter was thick and wooden, the deep, shit-brown colour of the last thing in the bottom of a deep fat fryer that hasn't been cleaned for a long time. There was a thin layer of something white and runny inside it. The chips were carboardy oven chips.

I would have complained if I thought this was in any way below the standard they aimed for, but as our plates were wordlessly plonked in front of us by a scowling woman who answered our query about salt and vinegar by pointing to a table on the other side of the pub, where we had to go and fetch our own knives and forks and salt, vinegar and sauce, all in those unbranded, cheap, nasty little plastic sachets you only ever see in dives and dirty motorway service stations, I knew there was little point.

The whole meal was inedible. Given that I left it, any server who cared one shred about what their customers thought would have asked me if the meal was OK. As the scowling woman came back to collect our still-full plates, she didn't say a word.

Pub on the Park is a down-at-heel, no-strings, back street boozer pretending to be a well-run, modern food and drink pub. Judging by how busy it was yesterday, it's getting away with this deception. Don't go there. Tell everyone you know not to go there. If this blog post changes one person's mind about visiting this pub, and deprives it of the twenty quid I wasted in there, I'll be happy.

7 comments:

Fatman said...

I went there to a mates wedding do about 5 years ago and lo' and behold it was run by an old colleague & chum of mine.

I wonder if he has still got it. Judging by your experience Pete I suspect he does.

Ted said...

Never been here before but I'd only heard negative reviews so have steered clear - I'm glad I did.

If I'm in that neck of the woods, I just stick to the Pembury and Chesham Arms.

BLTP said...

I suppose I should go to pub rating site but I think I can beat you on a worse overpriced drink. On saturday we went to Jongleurs in Oxford for a stag do. Part of the offering for the night was "free" buckets of cold (bottled) beer. The hapless venue couldn't do even this, producing a bunch of warm "Foster's Ice". A drink so vile it passes beyond horrid, past ghastly and way in to the distant lands of dreadful and joy destroying depair. I know we know this already but it's worth revisiting every so often just for a sip to know how good things have got elsewhere!
Can i add that if a dish is advertised as coming with 3 items it's not being awkward to ask for all 3 and let's not get into the "patchy" comedy.
So it's offical "Foster's ICE" the worst beer-like drink on the market.

Boak said...

I've been past this a lot but never made it in. Sounds like a lucky escape!

Stonch said...

Great post, Pete!

Hope you enjoyed the fish and chips at my pub a lot more!

Lee J said...

I have paid 3 pounds for a small beer before... but i was at the Monte Carlo Casino!

There's thinking highly of yourself and there's just plain taking the p!ss.

Thanks for the advice Pete.

podge said...

We have only ever paid one visit to the place but left without drinking or eating. The service was non existant so we left after trying to get a beer for a good 10 minutes when there was no push on tne bar.
We nipped over the park and got a decent Belgian over at the Dove.
Thanks for the warning to all, I'm glad we got away lightly.
CHEERS! Podge