De Hems is back up and running I noticed on a quick trip around London. Its a pub I have very mixed feelings about. To all intents and purposes it is a theme bar after all. The big exception is that there aren’t an awful lot of Dutch theme bars around. The peril of the theme pub is that they peddle a very one sided view of the nationality they represent, and often the stereotypical drunkenness of said culture. This can be the only explanation for the bizarre popularity of Irish and Australian theme pubs.

The Dutch on the other hand have a reputation for somewhat different forms of recreation (korfball and marijuana both spring to mind) and therefore there is not a similar boozy culture to be exported. Instead what you get is a selection of Dutch premium lagers, well served and a fair bit of history dotted about the place. This pub was apparently the home of the Dutch resistance in London during World War Two, which isn’t bad going when it comes to picking a home base I suppose. Possibly not as handy for Chinese food in 1941 though.

The worst aspect of De Hems is how full it often is. Its long thing shape is not conducive to milling about and the care taken with pouring the Oranjeboom often means the average round takes a lot longer than it might do elsewhere. So if the bar is three deep your often going to have to employ tricksy shimmies to get back to your uncomfortably propped friends. Upstairs is a touch better when it is open – which is not often. The refurb appears to have merely cleaned a few aspects up, nothing major has changed in the pub. Not a place I go to often but central London’s drinking culture is improved by its existence. When it was shut during Trig Brother 2 a quick decision had to be made for the nearest pub as a replacement. The fact that we picked The Dive Bar – equally idiosyncratic if in Dantian terms – shows something about the pubs in the area.