Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase 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. And as a critic 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!

Friday, August 23, 2013

BV London Pub of the Year 2012-13 - the results

And so, here we are. The big one.

It's the Daddy. The Double Rollover. The Granada Coupé.

The big, fuck-off analogy of your choice. Yes, it's the Pub of the Year results!

We've revisited last year's top five. Over and over again in some cases. Good pubs, all of 'em.

And we've scoured fan recommendations, the beer press, the blogosphere and our own little travelogue of adventures to come up with five brand spanking new contenders.

So what it all boils down to now is: Who won? Who the fuck won?!?

I know some people have been eagerly awaiting this result for some time. At the GBBF last week I was accosted by friendly representatives from two of the top five pubs, wanting to know if the decision had been made yet.

At the time I was honestly still undecided. How do you pick just one winner when the standard is just so bloody high?

Looking Up

Overall scoring was higher than last year, meaning, in all likelihood, that London's pubs are getting even better. Two pubs scored 7/9, and given that my marking system is stricter than a headmistress who moonlights as a dominatrix, seven is a damn good score.

And three pubs tied on a colossal eight points, which made choosing the winner unbelievably difficult. Things were further complicated by the sad fact that one of the contenders effectively has no future in its current form.

But let it never be said that Ben Viveur shies away from tough decisions (like whether to choose a chocolatey dessert or the cheeseboard option from a set menu when I want both!) 

So here goes:

Firstly, in fifth place... a great achievement for a fantastic local that surely deserves greater prominence on the London beer map. It's the Ravensbourne Arms in Ladywell.

In fourth, perhaps just as surprisingly, we find last year's winner. The Craft Beer Company in Clerkenwell.

And third place goes to a pub that scored a hefty 8/9, and improves on last year's fourth place - yep, the truly unique Southampton Arms, Gospel Oak.

The winner unveiled

All of those pubs are cathedrals of beery gorgeousness. After all, they're the 3rd, 4th and 5th best pubs in the whole of London.

But it gets even better, and as with our inaugural contest last Summer, it's a photo finish.

The BV 2012-13 London Pub of the Year
The 2012-13 runner-up is the Craft Beer Company, Islington, completing a remarkable double for the Craft team who now have two pubs in the top five.

And this means, of course, a most bittersweet result.

My Pub of the Year for the past 12 months is the Catford Bridge Tavern.

A truly wonderful local, transformed by Antic into a place where everyone feels at home. Where an inviting range of beers is always on hand. Where the quality and heartiness of the food puts any restaurant in the area to shame.

Having impressed in just a few short months to take third place last year, it's continued to grow to become a vital community hub and a worthy winner of the award.

And yet, the place is closing. Very soon. Which is an undoubted tragedy.

Whatever it's like when it reopens, it won't be the same. So enjoy the last few days of the place while you can.

To be fair to the new owners, they have promised to keep up the traditions and there is even talk of a microbrewery starting up on the premises - but ultimately we don't know what the Catford Bridge will be like a year from now. Alex, Theresa and all the staff have put together something very special indeed, and it's such a shame that their hard work, commitment and passion can be swept away like this.

It's a bit of a sombre note to end on, I know, but that's it for another year.

Recommendations are already starting to come in for pubs to include in next year's award and five new contenders (or possibly some that failed last year) will take on these five awesome pubs.

Maybe, in some pub somewhere in London, the CBT team will be back to scoop the award for a second time.

We can but hope.

Congratulations guys!

1 comment:

  1. Well done Catford, shame I shall probalby never get to visit this good pub


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