Some pubs aren’t good for any particular reason. They just are. There is an indefinable magic to some boozers which has probably always been there and always will be. Maybe it’s a feeling that only you get. It’s almost always something intangible. But this happens and it’s a wonderful thing. For me The Doric Arch has this. It should be languishing down there in the Grim category with The Rake and The Blind Beggar but it’s not and I’m going to try and explain why.
Inelegantly deposited halfway down an alleyway steaming with the aroma of tramp piss The Doric Arch probably has the least welcoming approach I’ve ever experienced. To be honest if you weren’t looking for it you’d probably only know it existed if you were grabbing a last minute can of Tizer before dashing into Euston station. These obstacles overcome you head up the stairs to a second floor pub which probably laments the indoor smoking ban as much as Patsy Stone.
Decor can’t really be described as anything but ‘classic pub’. It has one of those carpets which is clearly chosen to disguise any stain you can throw at it and looks like it was designed in 1947 by a man with bad cataracts. The walls are covered in old station signs which is nicely fitting for the location and tunes in well to the gushy nostalgia that the railway seems to evoke. The rest of it is wood; I can’t tell you what kind of wood because it’s been varnished to within an inch of its life and is probably a good few millimetres thicker than it used to be.
The booze options are pretty standard with a smattering of guesties made easy to spot as the pump badges were rather conspicuous bits of paper with biro names scribbled on them. No expense spared. The presumably transient clientele sat glued to one of the various screens showing myriad sporting events amidst a welcome hum.
So where’s the magic?
No whiff of pretention. Nothing fake. A total absence of anything snooty.
The Doric Arch is just a pub. It just IS. It’s what I often crave when I’ve over indulged on places which serve chilli rice crackers in little bowls, only employ bar staff with waxed moustaches or have a food menu on a clipboard. A pint, a funny smell and a lack of anything that’s seriously at risk of disappearing up its own rectum; that is magic. Oh and will someone please tell David Blaine this so he stops dicking about and annoying us all.