Beer and Loathing: Probably Every Slug and Lettuce Ever
Slug and Lettuce, City of London
My first memory of a Slug and Lettuce is being about 13, walking through Ealing with my dad and commenting on one of their branches, saying that it had a funny name and asking what it was. He told me that it was a ‘wine bar’. Now this is tenuous as fuck but stay with me. At the time on TV there was an advert for some bank where at the begining some bird complained that half her branches had turned into “Trendy wine bars.” Thus I, being 13 and knowing less than fuck all, assumed that all wine bars were trendy. And, once again, being 13 and being a useless little shit with no grasp of anything, assumed that ‘trendy’ people were basically just pop stars and film stars. As such I assumed that in any wine bar you could see Leonardo Di Caprio rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ronan Keating (this was 2001.) Obviously, this assumption that all wine bars are basically Hollywood coke orgies subsided as I grew older and actually drunk some wine in a bar myself. But the illusion that Slug and Lettuces were in some way classy remained with me until literally last week.
I had entered with my ladyfriend because it was cold and we were tired and really just wanted a place where we could sit down, preferably on some variety of soft furnishing, and drink a cold alcoholic beverage. The day is Wednesday. The time is 4pm. The place is the city of London, near enough to Spitalfields market that we walked from there. Far enough away from Spitalfields market for you to not see any hipsters walk past the window on their way to/from their internships.
First impressions were bad. It looked like an airport pub. But more depressing, and with less luggage and suntans. The place was fairly dead minus four suits watching some sport and drinking Coronas. They laughed at me a bit. Or maybe they just laughed at something else. But I felt like it was aimed at me. So was immediately on edge. Like a cat. On a high shelf. In a wine bar.
They had no good beer on, instead opting for your bog standard mass produced lagers and London ‘drink this because my name is James May and I’m on a huge billboard’ Pride. I took a stand and got a cider. The woman behind the bar cared not a jot about my protest purchase and ID’d me as hard as she could. Were I into my wines and this column was called ‘Wine and fucking everything up’ then I would have probably taken a similar stand in reaction to their selection of wine in this ‘wine bar’. They had Jacob’s Creek or something on draught. I know about as much to do with wine as my 13 year old self did about people who were trendy, but I’m pretty sure wine on tap is frowned upon.
Before long the City of London started kicking out and the place filled with besuited boys and girls and we started seeing who exactly the clientele were in your average S&L. I learn more and more about the subcultures that divide the office bound community as I write these things/hang about in the city drinking beer and judging people with my beady eyes. But, yes, they too are riddled with different types of suit as we are riddled with different types of hair cut sporting festival attendees. Where we have vintage jumper sporting shoe gaze purists they have bachelor-Bond salesmen who are so keen on the latest gastro-fad that they will travel across ‘Vodkarverie’, where you can drink vodka that is filtered through a live cow’s face. And then you can eat the face of the cow. Where we have Primark Mr Men t-shirt sporting ‘T4 on the beach’ fodder they have Geoff the IT guy who will go down to his local Slug and Lettuce and drink a pint of Fosters and relive the latest episode of Embarassing Bodies with his mate. Take note. Not mates. Mate.
They had also come up with some brilliant/awful idea where if you signed up your company to (I think) receive e-mails as a group then you got entered into a prize draw where you may or may not win a free buffet. It’s the sort of surprise I imagine your shit, out of touch boss would spring on you all in an already depressing office. ‘That’s right guys, we won the Slug and Lettuce office of the Month prize draw!’ Oh go fuck yourself Darren, I’m not coming.
If I craned my neck I could see a road that I know hipsters walk down. But being able to see a road you have once seen a kool kid on and actually being on a road you have once seen a kool kid on are very different things. Also this place was to cool stuff what salt is to slugs.
Normal ‘we serve to salaried idiots’ pub prices. Like £4.70ish for the stupid bottle of fruity Magners I bought selflessly. They have to learn.
Grubby side road, non-descript building. Not an excuse though in a part of London that is hotching with people who are well monied and are searching for the next place to drink vodka through the face of a live animal. Do something interesting and different and within no time you will be rolling in the dollar bills of your enemies. Don’t do that super awesome Vodkarverie idea though. That one is mine.
More like shat-mosphere, amirite? No, but really. It was bad. I think the only reason that I didn’t get super depressed was how excited I was about coming over here to the internet to tell you how bad it was.
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