QPR

                                      Hammersmith Bridge                                                              The Dove                                                  The Salutation             

QPR and it's environs is not a great area in which to enjoy good wine, food or ale, even the Springbok, close to the ground, that used to be a place for opposition fans to drink in, has now become a 'Home Fans Only' public house, though this is no loss to the ale drinking fraternity, as it only sells keg beers.

Before matches at QPR you need to decide if you wish to drink in a reasonably close environment, or to drink in the centre of London, eg see the Sam Smith's paragraphs of the London page, or even elsewhere that is easily accessible by tube, train or bus; Borough Market being an example for me last year.

If you wish to drink nearby there, are a number of options and routes to use heading towards Loftus Road, eg if coming from Paddington, Euston, King's Cross or St Pancras stations you can use the Hammersmith and City, Circle or District lines, or switch to the Central Line. However, to start, I suggest using the bar within Paddington Station itself, which, not surprisingly, is a bar run by the West London Fuller's Brewery of Chiswick, and there will be a few more Fuller's bars mentioned before leaving this trip to West London. Unlike Sheffield, where there is a good number of free houses selling micro brewery beers, West London's decent real ale scene is dominated by Fuller's Brewery.

The Mad Bishop & Bear, First Floor, The Lawn (no, there isn't a lawn here, the bar is up 2 flights of escalators above most of the shops within the station), Paddington Station, W2 1HB (0207 402 2441). This Fuller's establishment is a superbly designed station bar that integrates older features of the building (tiled floors, mirrors and glass and wood panelled partitions) with viewing sports channels on plasma screens, though with the sound usually turned down low. You also can buy great Fuller's beers and there is a good value menu, which is what we are seeking. There is a good mix of football fans in here on matchdays, behaving themselves and enjoying the facilities; I've regularly seen Arsenal and QPR fans enjoying friendly conversation!

From Paddington, the route can take 3 different directions, either going down to Hammersmith and coming back to the ground from there, going to Notting Hill Gate, or going to Notting Hill Gate, but via the Eastern end of Bayswater Road near Marble Arch. Bayswater Road follows the northern boundaries of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and the Central Line (Red on the tube map). Indeed, every tube station along this route from Marble Arch going eastwards leads you to Shepherd's Bush and White City (the nearest station on the line to Loftus Road). Between those 2 stations has been built the very well advertised Westfield shopping centre (and I thought Westfield was a health related friendly society!). The Central Line also has very regular trains and so ensures a speedy trip to QPR matches. 

      

                                   The Victoria                                                                         The Mitre                                            Leinster Arms          

Around the corner from Lancaster Gate station (the first station to the west of Marble Arch) is the Victoria, 10A Strathearn Place W2 2NH (0207 724 1191), another Fuller's public house. The Victoria is also only a short 5 minute walk from Paddington Station, and, when you see the pub, you appreciate reaching it. It is deceptively larger inside than it looks at first, and has stairs that take you to nooks and crannies, other seating areas and another bar that appears to often hold private functions. You get what you would expect here, good ales, good home made food, and pleasant company, though you may find, as I do, most are significantly better of than you are! It's the area...  

Move westward along the Bayswater Road, with Hyde Park, then Kensington Gardens, on your left (a walk through these, and around The Surpentine within, viewing the statue of another 'local resident', Peter Pan, or going to the Albert Memorial, is a very worthwhile deviation, if you have the time) and, a few roads before you reach Queensway tube station, you come to Leinster Terrace on your right.

Turn down Leinster Terrace and soon you will reach, on your right, the Leinster Arms, 17 Leinster Terrace, W2 3EU (0207 402 4670), previously well known as a pie house, but now, with a new landlord, having a different slant to the menu. The Leinster Arms sells 5 ales, including the ubiquitous Fuller's London Pride and Sharp's Doom Bar as regulars and 3 guest ales; on my last visit it offered a 5.5% Christmas ale from Skinner's, Jingle Knockers (the names people come up with!), an old favourite from my days in Sheffield, Kelham Island Pale Rider, and a newer favourite Dark Star Hophead. In addition to good ales, there is a not too expensive menu on offer, inlcuding their new speciality of sausage and mash at £8.95 a meal, eg Cumberland, Beef & Guinness, Wild Boar & Apple or Veggie sausages with mash of your choice from 'Simple Seasoned', Mushroom, Parsley & White Wine, Tomato, Basil & Parmeson or Chive & Spring Onion.  Whoever said 'mash' was boring?!? In addition, they still provide a 'traditional' pie of the day, salads, Ploughman's Lunch, sandwiches, puddings, and bar bites! This is a very friendly place and usually not too busy on a Saturday lunchtime.

Close by the Leinster Arms, over the road, is a Greek restaurant called Halepi, 18 Leinster Terrace, W2 3ET (0207 262 1070), which, I have read, Venus and Serena Williams recommend and enjoy meals at whilst they visit London.

Carrying on westwards along Bayswater Road you reach Notting Hill Gate after passing Kensington Palace Gardens. with its array of Embassies, foreign residences, and the accompanying armed police guards. If you then turn left up Kensington Church Street (second set of lights) and up on the right hand side, on the corner with Sheffield Terrace, is the Churchill Arms, 119 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LN (0207 727 4242), another Fuller's house, but one that is hard to beat.  Not only does it sell Fuller's ales, but it also has an excellent Thai restaurant, as referred to in the novel White City Blue. The Churchill has a great interior, wooden panelling, decorations heavily influenced by Churchill and Gaelic sports and rugby. There are a couple of screens to watch Sky Sports on (including football), and a whole load of Irish and wartime memorabilia (WWII) hanging from the ceiling. 

If you cut back through the side street, ie Sheffield Terrace, this takes you to Campden Hill Road, where, there is what we call the "country pub" of the area, ie the Windsor Castle, 114 Campden Hill Road, W8 7AR (0207 243 8793). Inside the inn, the bars are separated by panelled wood with low doors to duck through when switching bars. The Windsor Castle does sell Fuller's London Pride, but also sells Timothy Taylor's Landlord Bitter and guest beers, and is another pub selling decent food for you too.

  

                      The Churchill Arms                                                       Uxbridge Arms                                                          Windsor Castle     

If, however, you want to visit Portobello Road whilst in the area, you need to head in the opposite direction from the Churchill Arms when reaching Notting Hill Gate, and head North. Another Sam Smith's pub (they have taken over some great pubs/buildings) on the corner with Westbourne Grove and Portobello Road is the Earl of Lonsdale, 277-281 Westbourne Grove, W11 2QA. This is yet another Smith's purchase of a pub with a very interesting interior, and providing the usuallow cost drinks, and food. I love visiting this pub, but, sadly, it is a bit out of my way when in the area, however, should you wish to visit Portobello Road (with its plethora of tourists), then the Earl of Lonsdale is well worth a visit too, and it doesn't break the bank!   

But, then again, if you are taking my third option, , ie going via Hammersmith, there are 2 more Fuller's houses to visit. The Dove, 19 Upper Mall, W6 9TA (0208 748 5405) is on the River Thames, with a view from the terrace that looks down to Hammersmith Bridge and back up the river towards the Fuller's Brewery in Chiswick. Like all good managed Fuller's houses, there are fine Fuller's ales, last time there I drank Seafarers (3.6%) for the first time, a very pleasant session ale brewed by Fullers, as you would expect, and also the Dove sells good value good food, indeed, this is a place to eat. Great interior, good terrace overlooking the river, great history, etc etc...  I have seen a review recently unhappy with the 'restaurant' side of The Dove, I believe they have a relatively new manager there, but, usually, I have only seen decent reviews.  This is a pub, and kitchens in pubs are not really designed for the sale of great cuisine, but I'd be interested in more feedback please, I've not been there for a couple of months now, many thanks.

The Dove is a 17th century inn with a long history of visits from dignatories and famous names from history, writers and artists, and not to forget Charles II and Nell Gwynne. Fuller, Smith & Turner purchased 'The Dove Coffee House' in November 1796, and have owned the pub ever since. William Morris, the partisan of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th century, and a radical political thinker and writer, lived a few doors away, and I regularly think of him visiting The Dove whilst living there, surely he must have, though I have never seen any supporting evidence to say he did visit, oh well.

From The Dove, and heading back to King Street in Hammersmith, is the Salutation, 154 King Street, W6 0QU (0208 748 3668), the final Fuller's pub I am suggesting before you go to Loftus Road, or to Chelsea or Fulham for that matter. The Salutation has a striking tiled exterior, with tiles leading through to the bar as well, oh yes, and it sells Fuller's ales and a good value food menu is provided.  The manager from The Dove took over here a few months ago, and, when I complained about a short measure here on my last visit, later, I had 2 pints of Pride brought out to me in the garden gratis, thank you!

I haven't mentioned any Weatherspoons bars for this part of London yet, but on the way to the Hammersmith & City tube station, and just opposite it, is the William Morris, 2-4 King Street, W6 0QA (0208 741 7175), you will have already got the gist that Morris was a historic figure who lived in the area in the 19th century. It would be interesting to know how many of the regulars here are aware that Morris wrote New from Nowhere, a utopian story that, near the beginning, has a river journey beginning from his house near The Dove. I shall not describe what the William Morris offers, other than Weatherspoons usual fare and cask ales.

On Shepherd's Bush Green, opposite the Central Line station, ie over the other side of the Green to the station, is The Central Bar, West 12 Shopping Centre, W12 8PH (0208 746 4290), this overlooks the Green and is not above Westfield Shopping Centre, this is far smaller. Last year I was on the way out of the bar and I saw Fenella Fielding looking just the same as I remember from 'Carry on Screaming' and wearing a great leather coat, oh the memories!  Again, this is a Weatherspoons pub, selling the usual fare and real ales, I recently had a pint of Butcombe Mendip Spring, superb pint. I've even seen an Aussie lad have a cup of coffee that lasted him ages using his laptop, and the generously provided free wifi, to speak face-to-face with his girlfriend in Australia, and numerous friends around the World. Great value!

 

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