In my article on Clerkenwell pubs in February's London Drinker I featured three pubs in WC1 that had extended licensing hours. Since I wrote the article the Pakenham has got even better by adding a range of Belgian bottled beers. I did say that no games available but further inspection has revealed that both darts and cribbage are . However Churchills only uses the extended hours if there is sufficient custom to justify it, otherwise they close at 11p.m..
also advised of several other pubs that were entitled to these hours I have now been able to check on.
The Blue Lion, 133 Grays Inn Road, WC1 is open from 12 noon to 1.m. from Monday to Friday due to the proximity of the ITN building where most of the staff work late. It is closed at weekends but is available for hire. The pub is run by Greene King and the full range of their beers is available. It is a slightly up-market, city centre pub with a pool table at the back and the normal range of pub food is available. Most of the memorabilia decorating the pub is of a show business nature.
The other pubs are in the Exmouth Market area in EC1 on the other side of the Mount Pleasant complex. On some weekday mornings there is apparently a French Market here although I have never been there for th.
On the way to the Market I pass the Union in Lloyd Baker Street, WC1 and the Easton in Easton Street WC1. The former is a Victorian style pub with a heavy emphasis on food and wine. However three real ales are available, Courage Directors, Greene King IPA and Fuller's London Pride. The latter, which was formerly called the Queen's Head, is a keg pub with no handpumps.
The Wilmington Arms in Rosebery Avenue, EC1 is a fairly ordinary Greene King pub with IPA and Abbot. The only extension to normal opening hours is an extra hour to midnight on Thursday and Friday. It is a large pub with two separate bar areas and there are two pool tables in the back area. The barmaid has the odd habit of serving halves into a half-lined pint glass.
Further down Rosebery avenue is O'Hanlon's, where two beers from O'Hanlons and Young's Winter Warmer and Brakspears are available. Last year it was refurbished in a more modern style and all the rugby memorabilia removed. The pub opens normal licensing hours with no extensions and may close early on a Sunday if there is no trade. They did try opening early for breakfast but failed to attract sufficient custom to make it worthwhile.
Leaving O'Hanlon's brings me into Exmouth Market itself. At the eastern end of the Market was the London Spa, a former Young's and Finch's pub, now a keg only tapas bar and the Rosebery, now a Pizza Express. Next to the Pizza Express is a Greek restaurant where I notice a poster that apparently says Keg beer gives you strength. However closer inspection reveals that it says Keo beer, Keo being a Greek lager brand sometimes available in Greek and Greek Cypriot restaurants.
Further down the market is the Cafe´ Kick bar which is open normal licensing hours. This is a basic continental style café bar with a lot of football memorabilia and three table football machines. No real ale or draught beers of any sort are available but bottle-conditioned Hoegaarden is available, served with a slice of lemon. Although this not a real ale establishment it is an interesting place to visit and if you did enjoy playing table football in your student days you might enjoy a trip here. It was certainly quite crowded on the night I visited. The owners have another such bar in Shoreditch High Street.
Opposite the Cafe´ Kick is a closed shop called Medcalf. Applications for a licence and planning permission have been made for a bar but no work has started on it yet.
Carrying on down the Market I come to the Exmouth Arms, a small basic locals pub with Courage Best and Fuller's London Pride. A large number of pump clips of previous guest beers decorate the bar but no guest beer is currently available. There are a few articles about the pub from local newspapers displayed on the walls. One of these bemoans the fact that of four traditional pubs that were in the market only the Exmouth is left. The others are about the pubs involvement in the annual Market Festival. Although the Exmouth does not open late it does open at 9.30 a.m. for breakfast.
Just past the Exmouth is Al's Bar, a modern keg only bar and at the western end of the Market is the Penny Black which closed as a pub over two years ago. The upstairs floors have been converted into flats but nothing has happened to the ground floor yet and it may reopen as a bar. Next to the Penny Black is the Golden Fish Bar, a fish and chip shop that I can recommend if you want something to soak up all the beer you have drunk.