Borough Market is unarguably one of London’s real joys. It is a foodie paradise where you can acquire pretty much anything you like to put in and around your face. True testament to this fact is that I arrived to find that my drinking companions for the day had acquired some crocodile and kangaroo burgers a few moments before I showed up. The logic of why that it’s fine to chow down on Skippy but making lasagne out of Dobbin is not escapes me. If exotic food is the first reason to visit the market then people watching must surely be a close second and if you’re having a drink here that’s surely what you will want to do. Sadly this is something you definitely can’t do from The Rake.
Lurking on a street corner towards the back of the market area The Rake admittedly doesn’t benefit from a great position like the nearby Market Porter. However it fails hugely to capitalise on what is does have that so many central London pubs lack and that is outside space. The beer garden here feels like it’s been cobbled together from items found in the skip at the back of Homebase after the sale. Only the chairs seemed to have been acquired recently and as a result they look hopelessly out of place in structure that would look very much at home in a post apocalyptic dystopia. Relax and enjoy your beer staring at brown panel fencing, sad looking plants and a big blue boxlike building which appears to be a public loo.
Moving swiftly on from the car crash that is the beer garden and I’ll briefly touch on the aforementioned bog. It stinks. However it’s not the stink you might be imagining. Oh no. Here I encountered a familiar and unwelcome nemesis – The Urinal Cake (see The Star of Kings for my last run in with this neon nasty). Closer examination revealed urinal cakes so large that were they bobbing down the Thames rather than the gentleman’s piddle trough HMS Belfast might have reason to worry. Needless to say that this pong has permeated most of the pub and is a palpable presence even when ordering drinks at the bar.
The bar does in fairness have one redeeming feature. It has an extraordinarily large selection of beers and the staff are knowledgeable at the same time as being helpful. If you really are in the market for something truly unusual or have a hankering to go and sample beers off the beaten track then The Rake is for you. Just don’t expect to be doing it in glorious surroundings. The inside bar feels a little like a portacabin with a few fridges in it, reminiscent of a tent at a festival.
Given the other options in the area I’d steer clear. The Market Porter is within a few seconds walk and you get a much better feel for the market. Or you could walk a little further and head to The Anchor to alternate between top quality people watching or gazing across the Thames. If you watch long enough you might just see a gigantic urinal cake bob by on its way to The Rake.