Saturday, December 04, 2010

Best Town Waterfront announced and Nominations for Best Pub

I should have invited the local mayors and the press for this one but I couldn't afford the banquet, so here goes anyway.  The Best Town Waterfront on our 2010 cruises is: (drum roll, tearing open of envelope, camear shots of anxious contestants)  Berkhamsted.  Very well done Berko, always nice but this year better than ever with bridges decorated.  I've even spelled it right today.  Maybe they'll put up another plaque.

And so on to one of the premier and most important awards.  Best Pub 2010.  This is of course the subject of diligent research and frequent sample visits, and I have to say it is a very difficult choice.  So what do you have to do to be nominated?

1. Be close to the waterway.  The closer the better.
2. Be friendly and welcoming
3. Serve very good real ale, preferably an interesting selection
4. Have atmosphere
5. Have locals that will talk interestingly to you

That rules out quite a few I can tell you.

So here is the shortlist

1. The Grapes at Limehouse - last year's winner, seen here from rear as the little balcony overlooks the Thames
The Grapes scores most highly on Atmosphere, and Ale.  One of the great old pubs of London, featuring in all the guides.

2. The Rising Sun at Berkhamsted.

A vastly improved pub since the present, very keen, landlords took over.  Known locally as The Riser, this small but perfectly formed it sits adjacent to the bottom town lock, and serves an ever changing range of real ales and real ciders.  We were lucky enough to be passing when their summer beer festival was on, and it was a delight.  No food except on special occasions like the festival when we had an exceptional ploughmans lunch with carefully selected speciality cheeses and English apples.

3. The Old Barge at Hertford

In a quaint spot right by the river Lea at the head of navigation.  This largish pub serves a super range of very well kept ales and has a good food menu.  Inside it is comfortable and it has character and a lively clientele.  Extra points for having newspapers too.  They do a particularly good Sunday night quiz although we missed it this year.  This is the sort of pub you could sit in all day reading the papers and not feel in the way.

4. The Anchor and Hope on the Lee Navigation at Upper Clapton.  What can I say?  A little gem that has somehow survived through the years whilst the surrounding area has been rebuilt.  I took this photo from the train as we passed bound for London on a day off.

Regular readers will recall our tale of being helped over the fence by the barman as we tied up outside.  It has a tiny bar and usually three real ales and no food.  Sadly we've never been there in the evening, but at lunchtime it seems to have people popping in and out for a quick pint and a chat.  Good conversation can always be had here.  This is a real old fashioned local.  Totally unspoilt.

5. The Black Horse at Greenford

Here we are moored outside.

The Black Horse is a big pub, but still friendly and, I have to say, often really helpful.  A friend of ours with an allergy had her meal specially tweaked by them at no notice.  At the end of a very cold day on the boat we called in for a nice hot dinner and were dismayed to find that kitchen staff had called in sick and they couldn't do food for us.  We did manage to get fish and chips up the road, but returned for a pint.  The landlady came over to apologise about the lack of food and gave us a voucher for a free Sunday lunch next day.  The Black Horse has comfy sofas, newspapers, a balcony overlooking the garden and the canal, and unfailingly superb beer.  It has served the best pint of Fullers ESB I have ever tasted.  In fact one of the best glasses of beer I have ever had.  It is also just about half way between our home moorings and Paddington , so a perfect stop for us.

6. Lastly, the lovely old Globe Inn at Old Linslade on the Grand Union.

You can moor right outside the door, and on summer nights the outside tables are a good place to chat with other boaters.  The staff are friendly, the food very good,  and they always have a couple of interesting ales.  This is a picture postcard pub, and very popular.  I can't ever remember passing without an overnight stop.

What a great selection, every one a winner, but not this time.  I have to choose just one.  Results tomorrow.


Ian said...

The Anchor and Hope pub is probably the only pub I have been turned away from on a weekday morning..."sorry, we're not opening til 12". Truely a proper pub, and I look forward to spending some money there the next time I take a walk along the Lee...remembering to leave the house at a later hour.
BTW, the letters in camear should be in a different order ;-)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic choice - gems all and mostly dog-friendly (our key criterion). I waa all for voting for the Grapes but then I saw the Black Horse, then the Globe, which does very good food....glad that you're making the decision!

Berkhamstead a very worthy winner of best town waterfront!

Sue, Indigo Dream

Vallypee said...

These all look stunning, but I must say the Limehouse one appeals to me the most. I've always gone for the warehouse feel rather than top to toe pretty.