Perhaps it is time for a name and shame award. Those lousy restaurants, ones which always seat you by the door, or most persistently underseason your food. In pubs, the most hotly contest category has to be the “worst staff award”. Previously reported holders of the 2005 award was The Golden Lion in Kings Cross. But now we have some new nominees for the 2006 award: The Albany.

I cannot comment on a fellow traveler who got so irritated that the staff were ignoring her that she started to fiddle with the taps (though an honesty self service tap story will follow). All I can report is my experience. A reasonable wait (five minutes) during which I saw the three staff constantly getting in each others way. Repeated my order twice (two pints of Staropramen, a half a Kriek, a red wine and a V&T). He starts with the star. It is coming out at the rate the Fleet river flowed in the Georgian era – and probably tastes as good as we are clearly at the bottom of the barrel. He twigs when the pint is half full and goes off to change the barrel. He then attempts to top up the half full pint with new, heady, spluttery beer. I correct him on this, and eventually the two pints are delivered.

He needs reminding of the order again, which I do so. The Kriek is served pretty well, with a massive head – though it is supposed to be like that. However they lack suitable glasses for a V&T and use a Hoegarden glass instead. Which would be acceptable if they gave me a bottle of tonic, but instead make the barman judgment on the pre-mix, which since the class is half a pint is considerably more tonic than the usual 100ml.

And finally to the red wine. Nice fancy on bar glass washer, good for Belgian beer, not so good for delicate wine glasses. When the wine comes to me I point out the glass is quite seriously chipped (probably be the glass washer). Barman apologises, and then tips the wine into another glass. As I point out, possibly with the broken glass in it. He huffs and gets me another glass. All the while, the lovely head on my Kriek has diminished to a pathetic blamanche.

Fifteen pound ballpark for the round to be expected, but I sympathise with the anger of the previous friend. Except I wouldn’t have just played with the taps. I would have forced my finger over the spigot to spray them with high pressure Kuipers Kolsch.

Pumpkin Publog