“ 93 Warrington Crescent, Maida Vale, NW9 Tel-20 7286 2929. „
* Prices may differ from that shown
There are very few really excellent pubs in London. There are hordes of perfectly good pubs that you may have a soft spot for because you know the landlord and he knows you. Your local may be a very pleasant place for a few pints with chums. But it probably isn’t an excellent pub. Mine isn’t. London is also full of very mediocre pubs that you go to with colleagues after work because its where you with people from work. There is also a legion of very, very poor pubs that you will go to accidentally and never return. They go quiet when you walk in the door, serve you a decidedly dodgy beer and the bar-staff eye you suspiciously as you sip it. But excellent pubs, they are rare. What makes an excellent pub? I think there are five specific things you need to be looking for. Good drinks: seems obvious, doesn’t it? But how many times have you been served a short measure? Been stuck for choice? Not got your money’s worth? Quite often, I would suggest. Drinks are central to pubs, but we often take less than we would expect. Next, I expect good service. Good service isn’t necessarily quick. But it is polite, fastidious and friendly. It is a rare commodity. Good housekeeping is my next criteria and covers a multitude of aspects: the pub must be in good shape, comfortable, clean and the toilets must be decent too. Decent ice, clean glasses and ashtrays that aren’t overflowing are all signs of good housekeeping. Number 4 is Good Pricing. I don’t enjoy a drink that is overpriced and I won’t enjoy the next if I have to scrabble about for change to afford it. Many pubs, especially in London, have stratospheric prices that simply take the piss. I don’t stand for it because it dents the experience. The final criteria I apply is the X factor. An excellent pub must have something special that marks it out from the crowd. That could be a fabulous wine list, unusual beers or exotic tipples. It could be a delightful view or a delightful interior. It could be a historical link or a superstar regular. But an excellent pub needs a talking point. The Warrington Pub excels on all these criteria and is one of London’s truly excellent pub. As you approach it you are overwhelmed by its opulent and grand Victorian façade. It is what you expect the beer palaces of the 19th century to be like. A multitude of colourful tiles, palladian pillars, balconies, sand blasted glass and big doors. It is imposing. And once inside the impression isn’t dented. It is a double-salooned shrine to drinking. The ceilings are high and brass chandeliers that would once have gas lit the bar remain. The walls are decorated with extravagant Gaguinesque frescoes and gilt edged stucco. In one bar a huge staircase leads to a well-regarded Thai restaurant upstairs that I must confess I haven’t sampled. Both saloons are dominated by the round bar, that protrouds as a semi-circle in each. The staff are efficient and friendly and plentiful too, flitting from saloon to saloon serving customers in a typically jolly way. There is a fairly friendly groups of regulars too, who sometimes engage you in a chat as your order your group. Paul Weller is also, apparently, a regular. But I haven’t seen him in there yet. Despite the grandeur the Warrington is also comfortable. Sometimes there is a roaring fire and you can pull up some leather chairs up for a warming drink. There are bigger tables for groups and leather benches too. On the numerous occasions I have popped into the Warrington for a drink or two, I have never been disappointed. The London Pride is always excellent and costs £2.20. Guinness is on fine form when I have it, although I cannot recall how much it costs. They have an enviable wine list too. It is always a pleasure. The Warrington is a brilliant pub. The Warrington fulfils all of the criteria. It has an excellent selection of top notch drinks at very reasonab le prices. The service is excellent and the place is kept clean and tidy by the same friendly efficient barstaff. And the X factor? The Warrington is a feast for the eye. It is an architectural joy, beautifully done out with an eye to grandeur and comfort. If there were more pubs like the Warrington we’d all be happier people. But then again, if we didn’t have gems like this we wouldn’t know the chaff.