Posts from 16th December 2005

Dec 05

The Beauchamp Tavern, Knightsbridge

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 285 views

Knightsbridge may not strike you as the happiest hunting grounds for a good boozer and in the case of the Beauchamp Tavern you’d be right. Why mention it at all? Because it’s such an object lesson in how not to do a hybrid bar/pub. Its hybridity was why my colleague picked it – something to satisfy the bar types and the pub types, right? Wrong. The Tavern is pub-shaped and has a (meagre) selection of beers on tap and recognisably pubbish tables but the bar-style decisions it has made show no understanding of how pubs – or bars for that matter – work.

The interior of the Tavern is a big square space dotted with large pillars but with no dividing walls or partitions to create booths or nooks or subdivide the drinking area. This makes it seem bigger than it is, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Cavernous pub spaces are often said to ‘lack atmosphere’ which means both that they’re not particularly cosy but it also means that it’s hard to create atmosphere – such places tend to have pretty bad acoustics. Without subdivisions and partitions everybody’s noise tends to mingle and it’s hard to have any kind of non-shouted conversation: loud music obviously adds to this. This puts a strain on the kind of group conviviality one associates with the pub: you have to lean in close and shout to be heard.

In a bar there are generally good reasons to make the space noisy and demand this kind of intimacy – bars are often designed as places to meet strangers (& cop off with them) whereas pubs are mostly not. So the open space and close contact works in a bar. The Tavern makes a second big mistake with its choice of furnishing – very large chairs which each take up a lot of space. So a table of seven or eight people occupies a huge chunk of the pub floor. In itself this isn’t a bad thing, the chairs are actually very comfy. But the extra length of each chair – opposed to a normal pub chair or a stool – makes moving around the Tavern between tables quite difficult. Which wouldn’t be all that much of a problem, except the Tavern has table service – another bar import – and so is employing people to move around in exactly this way all the time.

None of the decisions the place has taken is a bad one in and of itself, but together they make for a stressy, irritable drinking experience. Though some would say that if you insist on going for a drink in Knightsbridge you can’t expect much better.


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 2,510 views

ALPINE BLOODY LAGER????? i mean , i’m not a lager drinker by any stretch of the imagination, but Sam Smiths have now finally lost any sembalence of the plot. the MAN is still there, though, of course, no longer in his box, but where it used to say AYINGERBRAU, it now says (in case you hadn’t guessed) ALPINE LAGER????

also, it’s not this, so they could be in trouble anyway…

clearly SOME ACTION needs to be taken, and just ordering AYINGERBRAU will only wind up the long-suffering SS barstaff. where is the all-party parlimentary beer group when you need them??? i DEMAND questions in the house!!!!

Is there even a word for it

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 3,164 views

There are lots of warning signs in pop: many of them can be easily paraphrased as “You Are Now Leaving Pop”. Getting in orchestras, concept albums, sacking the entire band*. But certainly when you find out that your favourite band has made “too much good music to fit on to one album”, you know the words double album are not far away. And there are very few great double albums. At least very few which could not be boiled down to a much better single album.

Now Chris Rea has not been pop for a very long time. But who knew that when leaving pop your compass can go so awry to end up in a truly audacious position. You see Chris’s latest project is so much more than just a double album. It puts The Clash’s Sandinista in the shade, if the individual elements are built into a wall. Chris’s new project : Blue Guitar : is an elevenuble** album. 11CD’s of music. And a DVD in case.

I would say hats off to Mr Rea for such an astonishing production. But I have to get it for my Dad for Christmas.

*Of course like any rule, there are occasions when these have been the best thing ever.

**Not a real word clearly.