Monday, January 15, 2007

The Black Friar (London, UK)


If in London, just go and see The Black Friar, and you'll find out what's so cool about this place. Incredible decorationunique and beautiful mosaic designs on the walls and ceilings from the early 1900s makes it simply a joy to drink in. My wife and I got in just before last call on New Year's Eve, about 7 pm and had an Adnams Broadside and a London Pride. Beer was adequate  fresh, and well presented but not the main attraction.

New Year's Eve fireworks by the London Eye
While admiring the incredible features of the pub, a nice Irish man chatted me up about the various features of the pub as compared to others he's visited. Back at the table, he came over with a small CAMRA booklet that lists bars across the UK with similar historical significance and architecture. He was as passionate about the pub as many of us are about our beerseemed like a cool hobby, if you live a bit closer to the UK than I do in frozen Minnesota.

We went to The Black Friar on the recommendation of a London BA that I had cold contacted ahead of the trip. Beyond helpful, not only did we get a pint but I don't think we would have gotten the timing right to get on the Westminster Bridge for the display.  Nor, would we have known that bars in London close early on New Year's Eve.  As it happened, we had only a small amount of drama when I couldn't get back on the bridge after a potty break, a consequence of a couple of pints and a small bladder.  A one-stop tube ride under the Thames and I found Gloria again, and we passed the time talking to a guard from the Iranian embassy and his family while waiting four hours for the midnight fireworks.

My last day of 2006 was an afternoon at The Market Porter followed by feeling like a regular at the Royal Oak and ending with a draft in The Black Friar, possibly the most beautiful pub I've raised a glass, and a spectacular fireworks display over the London Eye.  In short, a day that is my best argument for beer travel.

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