19
Aug 09

Ben Crouch’s Tavern

FT + Pumpkin Publog6 comments • 2,155 views

The world of pubs, as we know and have heard, grows ever more homogeneous over the years, as the big chains move in, so surely it’s hardly the time to be mourning the passing of one of them. Farewell then to Ben Crouch’s Tavern, just off Oxford Street, a stalwart of the Eerie Pubs stable.*

It was for the most part a horrible place, filled with ersatz gothick decoration (think thick cobwebs, chains, rusty steel cages, big fake spiders, book cases, and lab testing equipment), a meagre range of drinks and truly awful music played far too loudly which didn’t even conform to the rest of the pub’s decor theme (generally, it was bad AOR rock music).

And yet, and yet, a bit of nostalgia creeps in for the old place. It was like some branding consultant’s idea of the student drinking experience, all-caps and underlined, with bright ‘cocktails’ made from cheap vodka looking for all the world like a terrible Aftershock experiment. It was an oasis of dependability, for some value thereof, in a desert of despondency. It was certainly preferable to the Green Man across the other side of Oxford Street, itself every bit as loud and obnoxious. It made ridiculous claims about the quality of its food, “best in Soho” it said on multiple sandwich boards outside, cue derisory laughter: it was in Noho ahem, Fitzrovia.

And now it’s being converted by Geronimo Inns as The Adam & Eve (after the little alleyway that runs behind it). They run a few decent drinking places in Heathrow Airport, as well as the Betjeman Arms in St Pancras, locations which should suit them well to the transitory environment of Oxford Street. But it won’t be the same, really. It won’t be the same kind of naff that Oxford Street really deserves, that can stand proudly alongside the t-shirt sellers wedged into Adam & Eve Court and all the cut-price discount stores.

(* Eerie Pub fans in London can console themselves with the London Stone, opposite Cannon Street station.)

Comments

  1. 1
    Mark M on 20 Aug 2009 #

    What I can’t remember is when it went gothick… It’s very close to what Mappin House, home of Q, Mojo, Kerrang, Smash Hits (RIP), Select (RIP), Neon (RIP) etc etc, but never seemed to be a favoured drinking haunt for anyone there, but I could be wrong. Maybe the Kerrang lot liked it? (but since I once caught them listening to Belle & Sebastian in the office, who knows?). The Select pub was definitely The Champion; the Poland St Coach and Horses another favourite.
    The only memory I can really sum up of the Ben Crouch is seeing some of Spain-Tunisia in 2006 there – not really conducive for football watching and I left long before Torres won the game.

  2. 2
    AJ on 2 Sep 2009 #

    We will miss you Ben Crouches Tavern! Yes it was a bit cheesy but at least you felt that somewhere there was someone who had a hint of originality. Despite the conflicting themes it always hosted a friendly crowd a unique mixture if business types and Goths, a fantastic place for a nice bevvy away from the brainwashed masses. I enjoyed a number of new years eves there. Great staff too. Yet another sign of the steady deterioration towards pithy soulless conformity. Yup just what London needs, another allbarone clone. McPint anyone? I’m off to the few remaining islands of individuality. Intrepid Fox, Cro Bar, Garlic Shots, The Ship, Let us hope the rot does not spread further!

  3. 3
    Tom on 2 Sep 2009 #

    #1 Dunno about music mags, but the one time I went there I saw a bunch of HMV staff having an after-work drink, so maybe it was their boozer.

    It was gothickal by that point.

  4. 4
    Alan on 2 Sep 2009 #

    sinker would be the authority, but i’ve read various people ref The Champion as the NME pub, pre the move to Tharg’s spaceship of course.

  5. 5
    Lorena on 5 Feb 2010 #

    That was a truly wonderful place…whenever we walked in we felt at home, wonderful decoractions and wonderful music…..most definetely I will miss this place and new one does not even come close to what it used to be…..will not come to a new modern design place again…

  6. 6
    Simon on 19 Aug 2010 #

    I’ve been away from London for a couple of years and am pretty gutted that The Crouch that we all knew and loved won’t be there when I return next month. Had so many good nights there, especially in the early 00’s when they used to have the Heavy Metal disco on Sunday nights (what was the name of the Aussie DJ who looked like James Hetfield?).
    Someone once described it as a Yuppie “Intrepid Fox” but I always liked the wider range of people that you got there. Can’t say I’m surprised that they called time on the Horror-theme, here’s to many good years there. Maybe the new owners have fixed the holes in the plaster walls in the gents?

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