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!

Monday, July 6, 2020

It's back...

So, I went to the pub on Saturday. Actually I went to three.

I broke my lockdown with a few at two-time London Pub of the Year The Hope, then checked out the newly refurbished bar at the Cryer Theatre, before finishing up at Wallington's Wetherspoons.

I drank several pints over the course of the afternoon, the sky didn't cave in, nobody died, and I'm fairly confident that nobody is going to die as a result of my actions. I don't think I actually came within a metre of another human being, without there being a giant plastic shield between us.

So, the pub is back. Sort of.


Do I absolutely have to drink that?

In this particular part of South London, people were generally being sensible, none of the pubs were as crowded as they'd normally be on a Saturday. The new rules, frankly, felt like overkill and were, to some extent, being judiciously ignored.

Yes, we had to book ahead, but nobody enforced time limits or told you exactly where to sit. Only Spoons were handing out contact detail forms to fill in, and they were (extremely) optional. Hand sanitiser was freely available. Tables and chairs were sanitised as soon as folks got up and left.

The biggest issue - which on a selfish level is the one that I really feared - was the lack of interesting cask beer. Wetherspoons in particular had an absolutely dire selection.

I actually drank some of this...
Given that we all missed out on the Spring festival, and Tim Martin hasn't exactly covered himself in glory over the past few months, I'd have hoped that they might've made some effort to welcome back the 'me' market, but I guess not.

This situation is made worse by the fact that under the current book-ahead rules, it's not really possible to turn up at a pub and then walk straight out because the beer range fails to inspire. Yes, I know. First world problems and all that. But it is an example of how we are not all affected equally by this.

My views on the measures taken to combat COVID-19 have always been that it's overkill. The chance of encountering somebody with the virus is relatively low. Even if you do, the chance of you catching it from them is relatively low. And even if that happens, the chances of it becoming serious is, yes, relatively low.

So unless you're snogging loads of strangers in Spoons to celebrate your 83rd birthday, you'll probably be OK, statistically.

But you probably won't get to tick lots of new cask beers.

It was good to be back drinking in a pub, and it felt entirely safe, but I can't see myself going back to my usual drinking habits just yet.


  1. Excellent post Ben, combined with a sensible take on the virus. Like most things in life, it’s all about assessing and managing risk.

  2. Seriously? People are dying and your biggest concern is that you can't tick new beers? Jesus Christ.


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