Ah the swinging sixties. Beatlemania is at its heady peak, man will soon land on the moon and rubber faced baboon man Mick Jagger is still in the first decade of a career of leg wiggling and gurning. It’s fairly easy to argue that things have gone downhill a bit since the sixties, Beatles replaced by Bieber and The One Directions, nothing more exciting than a remote control car has landed on the moon in twenty years and Jagger’s face looks like an overcooked omelette garnished with eyes and a crap wig. One of the few enduring images of the era however is Carnaby Street; a bastion of British style and glamour for the past 60 years and a destination high on the list of any London visitors and this is where we find Shakespeare’s Head.
Rather than waste anyone’s time I’ll let you know now that this pub is painfully mediocre. If you want to stop reading at this point that’s fine you’ll just miss out on more witticisms but will still be drawn to the same conclusion that this is nothing special. Possessed of all the standard things which make an average pub it fails to excite in any meaningful way. Beers = standard fare. Food = uninspired British staple grub. Decor = archetypal faux ‘olde worlde’ pub.
However when bearing in mind the location I can hardly blame the proprietors for playing it safe here; the passing trade is composed almost entirely of people expecting a slice of the England they see in Richard Curtis films and all they want is a warm and cuddly imagining of a British pub. More than half of the punters probably expect Hugh Grant to pop in and spill something on them in an ever so charming way or have a nice gaze at Martine McCutcheon’s hooters as she pulls their pint. As I supped my Bombadier I noted that I was flanked by Germans, Italians and Japanese and whilst I was trying very hard not to mention the war it dawned on me that in its own way this pub is perfect but it’s just not interested in catering for London dwelling punters like me.
Shakespeare’s Head is for the London visitor and does a very good job of what it’s setting out to achieve. If you went something quirky, historic and different or fancy a wide array of beers to taste then go elsewhere and leave this for those wanting a risk free delve into pub culture.