ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

BV London Pub of the Year - the results

It's time to whip out my trusty old bugle and start practising fanfares in earnest.

Yep, the moment has come when I reveal the winner of the first ever Ben Viveur London Pub of the Year competition. I'm sure everyone involved is quite literally tumescent with excitement.

What I find rather fascinating is that just two years ago, I hadn't been to a single one of these pubs. Indeed most of them didn't exist in their current guises. Even six months ago I hadn't visited three of them. The London beer scene is improving with an almost frightening rapidity!

There are, of course, some very good pubs that haven't made the top five and which won't be in the 2012-13 competition next Summer, but this is the business end of things and we're only interested in the very, very best now.

So, in fifth place... one of several pubs that scored 6/9, and decided by asking myself the question 'which of these pubs would I most like to go to for a beer right now?'... it's the Euston Tap.

View from the (Catford) Bridge...
In fourth place, the slightly less excellent of the two excellent pubs that merited 7/9... hang on, let me set up a small drumkit alongside my fanfaring bugle, upon which I can perform a drumroll... yes, it's the Southampton Arms, in Kentish Town, home of the greatest pork pies in the history of, err, pork pies.

Third place next, and it's a big win for the Antic Collective and the Catford area in general... it's the Catford Bridge Tavern. You guys rock and can feel deservedly proud of yourselves here.

The Winner unveiled!

And so, we come to the head-to-head between the two pubs which managed to bag shitblisteringly impressive scores of 8/9, and it's been a really difficult decision trying to separate them.

Again, I resort to the method of closing my eyes and imagining that I could be transported to a pub right now, about to 'choose my weapon' from the ales on offer. Where would I rather go? Where do I wish to be?

BV Pub of the Year 2011-2012
In a photo-finish, the runner-up spot goes to last years CAMRA National Pub of the Year, the Harp near Covent Garden, a great little traditional pub which I wish I'd discovered earlier. It's awesome.

But modernity trumps tradition on this occasion, and the BV London Pub of the Year is, as I thought it might be some weeks ago, the Craft Beer Company in Clerkenwell.

Put it this way: If you died and went to beer-heaven, and had previously been to the Craft, you'd probably be thinking 'Hmm, this place feels familiar, I'm sure I've been somewhere very similar before!'

So, congratulations Will, Tom, Martin and everyone at the craft! I've spent countless happy hours drinking your excellent beer and you've set the bar higher than the Pole Vault world record.

It was a much closer competition than I anticipated though, and by this time next year there will, I'm sure, be a raft of new contenders on the scene, bidding to make drinking in London even better.

Now, stop reading and go and drink some beer in one of these fucking great pubs!

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