Worst Local in London?

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One of the joys of moving to a new neighbourhood is choosing your local pub, and in my imagination ours was going to be a cosy job set on a quiet street with flowerboxes on the outside and a crackling fire within. There’d be a rum club on Mondays for sure, fall-off-the-bone lamb shanks all year round, and a cheeky jukebox in the corner. A meat raffle even, if you will. And we’d make lasting friendships there, with backslapping and beers all round. We’d be finishing each others’ sentences in no time.

Instead we get this.

It’s called The Favourite, and exactly whose favourite it is boggles my mind. Where’s the quality control here? On the outside it’s a virulent green stain on Holland Park’s splendid facade. A spectacular embarrassment.

In the spirit of open-mindedness though, we head inside for a froth.

Up at the bar it’s just us, a bleary-eyed bloke immersed in an episode of Emmerdale, and ‘Slim’, the chatty Irish barmaid who confesses she can’t add up. There’s no jukebox to speak of, just a couple of pokies, a dartboard, some empty velvet bench seats and a few old photos of racehorses hung along smoke-stained walls. “The place has gone a bit downhill lately,” says Slim. “Our old customers buy cheap beers from the supermarket and drink em at home now, cause of the smoking ban, see. Last Saturdee night only two people came in, and one of em was my partner.”

It turns out The Favourite doesn’t do lamb shanks, or even meals at all, so we purchase the only foodstuff on the premises; a packet of ‘bacon taste’ snacks. Slim tells us all about the pub’s heyday, when regulars – mostly elderly – smoked pipes and played friendly games of darts on Sundays. “We used ta hand out free biscuits and cheese,” says Slim, “but then the hygiene laws came in.”

To be fair, The Favourite isn’t a complete disaster. There’s a competitive darts team, a shelf of discarded novels and a motley crew of Fosters-drinking regulars who play cards in the backroom. Hell, there’s even a shoplifter who palms off his bounty here on the cheap. But I’ve heard of a pub just round the corner with flowerboxes and a fire, and it’s got our names written all over it.

The Favourite: 27 St Anns Road, W11 4ST

Nearest Tube: Holland Park, Shepherd’s Bush

Gretel Hunnerup
Gretel Hunnerup is convinced that in a past life she was a carrier pigeon, such is her love of taking fanciful flights and posting little stories about her discoveries to her independent online pigeon hole: www.thecarrierpigeonpost.com.

The Australian sticky beak now writes about the little-known delights that make London hum...stuff that wouldn’t make the papers, like quirky establishments, not-for-tourists pursuits, and ordinary folks doing surprising things.

A trained journalist with six years travel and lifestyle writing for print and web, Gretel has taken a new post heading up internal communications for STA Travel’s Northern Europe and Africa Division, geared for maximum on-the-road reportage. Oh and she’s a sucker for documentaries, dress-up parties and dolmades.
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One Response to Worst Local in London?

  1. Bethan December 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    This looks like exactly the sort of place my friends and I would frequent – I’m going to tell them about it on facebook to see if its worth a go. Do they do bad karaoke nights?

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