Beer and Loathing

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Pepper St. Ontiod, Crossharbour

Thinking of untouched places to go and hunt for gross pubs filled with hilarity took some buddies and I to the docklands this week. At first the aim was to find one in Mudchute, mainly because it had a name that vaguely sounds like a childlike euphemism for anus, but also because we knew nothing about it and as such got off the DLR with no pre-conceived judgements regarding the place.

What we hadn’t reckoned with was how near to each other the stations are in Docklands, so via the simple act of wandering about gawping at the water like idiots we managed to walk up an entire stop. Our task of finding a pub looked pretty difficult in this landscape of homogenous early 90s red brick office blocks and houses that looked like early 90s red brick office blocks. But eventually, peering out through the mist (there wasn’t any mist), we saw what looked like an early 90s red brick office block with a big banner draped over it saying “DRINK.” It’s just as well it did have that banner draped over it because we would’ve walked past it otherwise. It looked like the sort of small office building you’d get on a small business estate on one of those roundabouts just off a motorway. Depressing little affairs that probably house the admin department of a local timber firm or some shit. This is, in all likelyhood, what it was originally built to house. But some beautiful twist of fate turned it into a pub instead.

And was it a rad pub? Well actuallly it was. Fucking rad. We weren’t expecting it to be rad. We were ready to be spending most our lives drinkin’ in a banker’s paradise. Howevs, you had junk shop lamps everywhere, mismatched furniture, crap nailed to every available space of the floral wallpapered walls. And the hipst-o-meter was buzzing away in my pocket giving out a steady reading of 7. What’s going on here? This didn’t just happen. This pub did not just organically grow this rad. We went to the bar and demanded answers. Answers and beer.

Turns out it’s another Antic pub. FFS, I’ve reviewed half the places they run now. This is less a pub review column and more a weekly Antic pub company advert. I apologise. To counter this I should give the place an awful review but I really can’t because it was awesome. MundoAwesome McRadical. It was, to date, the first pub I have ever experienced to have fully opening sliding glass doors that take up roughly a third of the wallspace. This must be sick in the summer when you effectively have an open-fronted pub, but oh my, it must have sucked in the winter when it was colder than a pack of bastards. They probably just locked them actually. Fucking geniuses. Always one step ahead. And did I mention this was the case on the bottom floor and the top floor? No, I didn’t. But there was a top floor. The loos were there. But more importantly (or less importantly depending on how much you need a wee) there was a balcony outside the aforementioned sliding doors. On which a selection of gentlemen such as ourselves could (and did) stand and drink hyper delicious cask plum porter and discuss the new extreme sport we will be bringing to London’s waterways this summer. It’s called Urban Canoeing and you’re not ready for it. It’s basically just canoeing around docklands drinking beer. The twist is that if the police see you and tell you to stop drinking beer in a canoe you look them in the eye and sip your beer and wait for their next move. That’s about as far as we’ve got. I don’t know if it warrants the prefix extreme yet. Certainly not the even more edgy ‘Xtreme’. Actually, I’m not sure if it warrants being called a sport either. It’s more of an activity.

Hipst-o-meter – 6/10

I know I said it was giving off a seven but that was because we had just turned up and it was getting all excited and giving off readings it couldn’t back up with cold, hard facts/Supreme hats. It wasn’t just the Hipst-o-meter that was a bit baffled, we were having the hardest time working out the situation here, too. There were hipstish kids about, but there were also the inevitable young bankers lounging about, talking about how they know what American Express cards are/do and generally ruining the vibes for everybody. And these hipstish kids I speak of, they weren’t quite right. A – Why are you in Crossharbour? B – What is all this Bape you have on? From what we could gather from a mild reccy of the area there was an international graduate school next door to the pub so maybe this answered A and B. As foreign people seem to think those massive Bape hoodies are the height of chic.

Price – 4/10

I spent £28 in here, man. I can’t afford that. What made me think I could afford that? Delicious plum porter that was probably like 8% or something made me think I could afford that. Honestly, after we left the pub all three of us parted ways and not one of us remembers making it home. We got drunkkkk. And drunk people love getting more drunk. Which is what I think happened here. Because we turned up a little drunk. I am alloting a 4 solely because when I looked at my bank account the other day and saw how much I spent I was shocked and angry with drunk me. It may well have been spent on excellent beers (only remember the plum porter I’m afraid, like I say, I got drunk) but £28 is a bit of a hefty price tag for a Thursday evening where I went to bed before midnight.

Location – 9/10

You know what? Docklands is fucking tight. Yeah it all got built in ten years so everything looks the same but there’s gnarly water features everywhere and everything is clean. It feels like the future. It feels like you are walking around in the bloody future. And just as you’re thinking this, whoosh, a monorail train driven by a robot goes past your head. Docklands, and its Light Railway, are the future. So, just for providing me with the option of drinking an interesting beer whilst marinating in this sci-fi wonderland, I give you a 9. Don’t spend it all at once.

Atmosphere – 9/10

I had an excellent time. I think the other two did too. The décor inside did exactly what it was designed to, attract stupid twenty somethings who think they’re cool and in doing so strip them of all the money they need for rent. Everyone inside was having a good time and not being depressing or alcoholic. There were even distractions from the Herculean task of ‘drink the beer you just bought.’ The most notable being one of those ‘boys toys’ coffee tables with an 80s/90s arcade machine built in underneath the glass. We had a couple of goes and it was one of the most unfathomably difficult things I have ever played. The fact that this is the sort of videogame the generation before us were mastering may go a long way towards explaining why they all have jobs and are laughing at us from their office blocks like the unemployable idiots we are.

Efes, Dalston

Uh oh, this is going to be a contentious one. It’s all fine and dandy me writing about some godforsaken pub in Rotherhithe that nobody has ever been to and nobody will ever go to. I can say what I like and the general response will be “he’s probably right, I do not have the time or energy to go and see if he’s lying” which is good for me and my many lies. Unfortunately I imagine a fair percentage of you will have been here and already have some pretty solid opinions on the establishment. As such what follows is just a description for those of you who have not had the pleasure of climbing up that set of harshly lit stairs at 2 in the morning after you’ve decided that you cannot handle the crush at Alibi or something. There might be a couple of opinions thrown in too but you can probably ignore them as they are based on about 4 visits, all of which have been too drunken to form the sort judgements that anybody should pay any heed to. Ever.

So. For those of us not in the know, Efes is the current poster boy drinking/partying establishment in Dalston. Which itself is currently the lolcow of the alternative press (google ‘Dalston Superstars’ for details) and hotly-tipped-up-and-coming -supa-cool-omg nightlife hot spot for the normal press. It isn’t a pub. Nor a club. It is a Turkish poolhall. By Turkish poolhall I don’t mean that they play Turkish pool there, whatever that is (sounds rad). They just play regular pool, but it is frequented by Turkish people and Turkish people run it and I imagine own it. It is also frequented by ridiculous amounts of cool kid Dalston locals who generally seem to dance about getting in the way of people playing pool and doing drugs in the toilets. The reason behind their frequentation is (I think) that it’s open late. It’s not really much to look at other than that. The bar is pretty grim and the décor is what I would expect from a poolhall. No frills here. I can’t remember what is on draught but it’s certainly nothing interesting. I don’t think it’s Efes, although that would make sense seeing as the place is named after the beer. Efes is an alright beer.

Unfortunately I can’t drink Efes because after a recent trip to Turkey where I drank so much of it that a special section of my liver has been allocated the job of stabbing the other organs repeatedly in protest whenever any enters my body. But it’s a fairly good pilsner, I would recommend it. Plus there is no bigger ‘when in Rome’ moment than drinking an Efes in Efes, I suppose.

There is a massive screen down one end of the hall that plays music videos and is generally the most distracting thing ever. I haven’t seen many music videos. And the ones I have seen aren’t by the R&B chart divas/boybands that are being played here. This means that I am forever staring at it drunk whilst somebody is trying to talk to me. Resulting in my response to whatever it is they said being “who is that on the screen? what do they sing?” Oh yeah I should’ve mentioned, the music playing in Efes is not what is being played on the screen. So I basically have no idea what whoever is on the screen sounds like and have to make a mental note of who they are to YouTube them later. This mental note is always swiftly forgotten because of drunk. But that screen is both the saboteur of conversations and the who’s who guide to current chart music. Watch out for it.

Now, whilst the crowd in Efes may look like an XX single launch taking place in the Ottoman empire I don’t think the clientele is actually the most interesting twist here. I would put forward the motion that the most unique thing Efes is offering us is that it is seemlingly trying to create the, previously unheard of, mix of pool hall and after hours nightclub. The resulting difficulties and pressures that one has to overcome are worth noting, I think. For one, it was not designed to accomodate both people who have come to play pool and people who have come to get drunk. The tables are so near to the bar that once the place gets busy enough and the bar gets 4 or 5 people deep, to join the back of the queue you are effectively standing on the green felt of a pool table and constantly getting jabbed in the side of the head with cues trying to pot you. I completely side with the people playing pool by the way, why shouldn’t they continue to play the game they paid for and are here for. I empathise with their plight of a forever interrupted game of pool. However, whenever I have been to Efes I do always seem to be that person ruining it by standing in the fucking way. Also I once saw some drunk kids winding up a group of people desperately trying to play in peace by singing the theme to ‘Big Break’ at them. I did a laugh. Probably not a good idea to wind up burly men clutching big sticks though.

Hipst-O-Meter 10/10

Fairly obviously, it’s high. If you warrant parody in Vice then there’s got to be a ridiculously high percentage of ridiculously dressed youngsters. I would be interested to see how much the pool hall’s attendance by 18-25 year old ketamine fuelled fashion students rose after that was aired though.

Location 6/10

I know it would be supa-kewl here to rip into Dalston and say it doesn’t live up to the hype but I’m afraid I have to let you down. It’s alright. It’s a place with a few alright clubs with some alright stuff on and I’ve always had a laugh when I’ve been there. My only issue is that whenever I do go I always have to deal with the knowledge that my journey home will take approximately the rest of my life. But that’s only a problem for me and everyone who lives in Saaf East Lahndahn so feel free to ignore me if you live literally anywhere else.

Price ?/10

I don’t know. Yet again. I don’t know. Once again my piss poor excuse is that I am always drunk upon arrival and drunker upon exit so am not the best person to consult. It’s probably really expensive. Feel free to correct me if you know better.

Atmosphere 7/10

It’s always been pretty rammed when I’ve been there, and whilst the likelihood is that if you are reading this you are going to be one of the semi-unwelcome kids ruining pool competitions, I’ve never seen any trouble or anything. The bogs here must be one of the few in the country where there is more stuff entering peoples bodies than leaving them. I’m talking about drugs by the way. Not penises.

Do you have any god awful pubs in mind for Jack to go to at some point in the future? If you do please harass him on twitter @beerandloathinz

Read more Beer and Loathing here.

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