So The Bedford won the Evening Standard Pub Of The Year then. I had another trip down there at the weekend and it is an impressive pub. Two bars, two (or is it three) function rooms ‘ one with a club/late licence. It truly is all things to all men. Which is of course why while I’ll admit the place is phenomenally successful and gets a lot of things right ‘ I don’t actually like it that much as a pub.
It is a victim of its own success and if you were there at ten pm Saturday night you could be mistaken in thinking there were no other pubs in Balham ‘ or even South London. It was eight deep at the bar, and at 10:30 people started queuing to get to the club upstairs (in keeping with the age and demographic it was on the hip side of cheesy). I joined this queue at 11pm and left it at midnight working out that even the finest venue in London could not be worth queuing an hour for. Security were just unhelpful and there became an odd kind of testosteroned scrabble in the queue ‘ mainly from women. It has all the trappings of a pretty trad pub, is even grotty in places, and yet they have managed to provide a venue which is very popular with women. Food looked very good too and freshly cooked in from of you (not such a good idea with the very stinky fish) but in all the whole place is trying too hard. Fine, reward them with an award and then let them settle down ‘ the place won’t be as big in two years time and then it probably will become a really nice pub.