The Queens Head WC1X 9NB (Tube: Kings Cross)

This pub starts very well. Looks cracking from the outside – sort of squeezed in like Grimauld Place in Harry Potter. From the outside it all looks quite 1950s with the large glass front, downturned spotlights and colourful hanging baskets.

Inside there are some nice worn leather sofas around a low coffee table. I say ‘worn’ now, but a couple of years ago I would have said ‘grotty’ or ‘old’ or ‘shit’. But, times have changed and I’m all for them changing, so I’m saying ‘worn’ for now; thinking about starting to say ‘vintage’ but still trying to work out what that means. Anyway, it’s a lovely convivial nook in which to have a newspaper and a pint and a chinwag.

You move a little further back and you come to the bar; nice, long, wooden, curved bar. There’s a small piano which I wager has had more drunken renditions of ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ played on it than I care to imagine. From the look of it – my detective skills told me the lid was up and the keys visible – this probably still sees some action, and I bet this place is jumping when it does!

The bar curves back wallwards as you go deeper into this pub. On the bar at this point there seems to be a bunch of jugs of water filled with peeled cucumber. Usually this would annoy me – cucumber in drinks!? – but I am impressed by both the skilful peeling, and the apparent length this cucumber must’ve been pre-shave. Long vegetables – always a laugh. There is also a set of everyone’s favourite game – “World’s Best Rockets” Top Trumps.

If the pub stopped here, it would be a four or five star. But sadly, much like this review, it goes on…

Perhaps it was budgetary, perhaps it was a lack of effort. Perhaps the expectation is that by the time people have got to the back of the pub they are so pissed they don’t care.

But, and not to put too fine a point on it, the back of this pub is a bit ‘worn’; only in this instance I actually do mean ‘shit’. Tired, grey and wilting, it gets worse in phases. The bit near the fire place is okay and when the fire is lit I’m sure the atmosphere changes. The back room feels like a shrine to St Patrick – all green and wobbly photos. And right at the back is the toilet which smells like, rather than trying to eliminate the smell of widdle with bleach and air freshener, they’ve just given up.

A bit like this review, the pub trails off towards the back end, which isn’t really good enough for somewhere that calls itself the ‘Best Pub in London’ on popular search engine number one.


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