After three hours shuffling around Camden Market on a freezing afternoon I was ready for a pint.
I’d seen enough spotty teenagers with nose rings, pink hair and quirky attire to last me a lifetime, as well as bags, hats, candles, mirrors, scarves and wood-carved giraffes.
I was keen to swap the overwhelming smell of incense for the faint whiff of alcohol as I turned my back on the market and headed to the Spread Eagle, Camden, London.
I ordered a pint of Winter Warmer but unfortunately it tasted very much like I’d expect my dad’s sweaty old walking socks to taste after they’ve been stuck in a food blender.
It was a sock smoothie, if you like.
I am not usually quick to criticise but after a few sips I had to throw in the towel and ask for a pint of Young’s Special which is no bad substitute.
A poor pint is one of those things which happens once in a while but I have to be honest, the pub itself left me feeling a bit deflated too.
It was busy with punters ranging from businessmen to rugby fans and leather-skinned old soaks to yummy mummies. The Spread Eagle is certainly a functional pub, but it lacks a real heart and that certain charm I look for.
It wont live long in the memory, unlike the sideburns sported by the young chap behind the bar who looked remarkably like the standard-bearer for such fashion statements, Wolverine out of The X-Men, minus the blades, of course.
This superhero came to my rescue when he could see me wincing after taking a mouthful of that woeful Winter Warmer. He apologised and replaced my drink without fuss.
However, it’s not all bad. There was a small selection of board games for punters to play which included Cluedo, Kerplunk and Connect 4 and a couple of screens showing live rugby.
Thankfully, there were no wood-carved giraffes. That would have tipped me over the edge.
For me, the Spread Eagle is a one-pint pub, then it’s time to move on.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: 141 Albert St, London, NW1 7NB. www.youngs.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: *** It was lively with those attracted, no doubt, by a reasonably-priced lunch and others by the live rugby.
DECOR: ** Wood-pannelled walls mixed with antique rose-coloured paintwork which was chipped and swirling patterned wallpaper. There were framed streets scenes of Camden on the walls and decorative candles, but to be blunt, there was no character to the place.
SELECTION: *** The usual Young’s staples such as Bitter, Special, London Gold and Winter Warmer, as well as Bombardier.
PRICE: ** £3.50 for a pint which tasted like a blended sock was not good. Staropramen was £4.05.
SERVICE: **** Very nice bar staff, it has to be said. Cheerful and helpful. It’s a major feather in your cap when the barman looks like Hugh Jackman. Well, I’ve got to be honest, a poor woman’s Hugh Jackman.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: It’s good to end a review like this on a positive note. So, here goes… Wednesday at the Spread Eagle is Best Friend Day where burgers are 2-for-1, but check ahead just to be sure.