@HonkyTonkLondon…. *sigh*

honky-tonk [ˈhɒŋkɪˌtɒŋk]n

1. US and Canadian slang

a.  a cheap disreputable nightclub, bar, etc.
b.  (as modifier) a honky-tonk district
2. (Music) a style of ragtime piano-playing, esp on a tinny-sounding piano
3. (Music, other) a type of country music, usually performed by a small band with electric and steel guitars
Chelsea, London: “Chelsea is an upmarket neighbourhood equivalent to that of New York’s Upper East Side, Los Angeles’ Beveryly Hills or the 16th arrondissement of Paris. This is shown in the average housing price in Chelsea which is above £1.3 million” says Wikipedia…
A very discombobulated establishment.

Honky Tonk is divided into two areas; the bar and the restaurant. The lights are dim and the exposed brick walls add to the ambiance. At the entrance, up against the window, there is a small space for live singing. I found it to be awkwardly intimate for that room, but I can see how other people would enjoy it.

The purpose of my visit was for dinner, but unfortunately the first 5 minutes were absolute torture. Both me and my dinner companion found it difficult to endure the unpleasant live singing in the bar area and to make matters worse, the dreaded sound made its way to the speakers in the restaurant area…. above our table. Thankfully we caught the end of the “show” and the real music came on, which was consistently awesome throughout the night.

The food was average, nothing to rave about. Chicken wings were decent, beef ribs were an unsuccessful attempt and the burger was good. The Mushroom Mac ‘n’ Cheese was the best thing we ordered. Our very polite waitress recommended The Gringo from the cocktail menu, which was both light and refreshing, making it the highlight of the meal. 

I have mixed feelings about Honky Tonk. On the one hand, I appreciate the effort put into opening this place up, and I must admit that I loved the music they played all night (NOT THE LIVE SINGING, that was awful). On the other hand, its impossible to overlook the fact that the crowd did not reflect the decor or the general theme at all. When waitresses dressed like Daisy Duke , serve BBQ chicken wings to crowds dressed as if they are going into a business conference….it just looks wrong. The vibe in the room was slightly uptight, and it was evident that this sort of place was not the norm for some. In all honesty, the music and our attentive waitress made the evening a success.

I would probably go back for drinks…but I’m still not sure if Honky Tonk will become a hangout for other types of people aside from the “Sloane Rangers” that frequent the area. Does the interior have a New York feel to it? Sure. Do you feel like you’re in New York when your there? Absolutely not.



The Most Ridiculous Policy In the World.

According to Wikipedia, there are 53,500 pubs in the UK (Click Here).  Obviously I haven’t been to all of them, but I can say that I have been to quite a few in and around London over the past 3 years.  However, a couple of days ago I stumbled upon one pub that wins the prize for having the most RIDICULOUS policy in the world.

A friend and I decided to go for a quiet drink. It was relatively early on a Tuesday night, around 9 pm, when we entered The White Horse Pub in Parsons Green. I had never been there before, even though I live a stone’s throw away. I had visited the pub’s website and was impressed by the range of beers, ales and ciders it stocked, so being a true “drinks snob”, I thought it was the perfect place for me.

When we got there, we noticed that it was quite busy, so we cued up at the bar, waiting patiently for our turn (as you do in the UK). After a good 30 minutes, we noticed that for some reason, the bar staff was intentionally avoiding us (that’s what it seemed like anyway). Finally, one member of staff mustered up the courage and approached us. I tried to put in my order but was stopped abruptly and asked for ID to prove my age. This happens often, so I smiled, and jokingly asked him to guess my age. He said 19, and I laughed, so I pulled out my ID card, and proudly pointed at my birth year that read “1984”… making me 27 this year. He smiled back and said I look so much younger… but unfortunately he still could not serve us (note: my friend is 26).

This information shocked me, and immediately I asked : “why?”… and that was the golden moment where I was presented with ‘the most ridiculous policy in the world’…

Apparently, the policy that the White Horse Pub holds is that it only accepts UK Passports or UK Drivers Licenses. Here’s where the problems arose. I am Cypriot/American….and my friend is Palestinian/American…which means that neither of us have UK forms of ID….since we are NOT from the UK. For the White Horse Pub, this means no service. If you look young, and are not from the UK, you cannot drink at their establishment…(?@#$@#$?)

I asked to speak to the manager, and the bartender was reluctant, but went to get him. I watched him in a huddle with other staff members…and the manager. Then I noticed that the manager was totally uninterested to speak to me (his blank face and hand gestures were too obvious) and instead chose to send another member of staff our way. A new bartender approached us. This one was rude…so I guess he was the “tough guy” of the team. I re-presented my argument to him…and he gave me more stupid excuses, and tried to make arguments that were not valid, just to seem intelligent (something he lacked no matter how hard he tried).

I then asked him the golden question. “If I can travel between EU countries with my Cypriot ID Card, which means I can pass through UK Border Control, how is it possible that I can’t get a beer at the White Horse Pub in Parsons Green?!?”…he stared at me really confused, and tried to give me some inconsistent response which made no sense. After his soliloquy, he didn’t let me get another word in, and said “OK, sorry I cannot do anything else for you” and walked away. I stood there for 5 more seconds to allow it all to sink in, and then walked out, thinking that I shouldn’t be angry or confused, but that I should feel lucky to have come across “the most ridiculous policy in the world”…

We walked up the road to The Wheatsheaf where we got talking with the lovely bar staff, who were so polite and accommodating, and spent some time laughing at the ridiculous events that took place at The White Horse Pub.

What did we learn? We learned that companies like Mitchells & Butlers do not actually have any control over their brands like they claim they do on their website. It is also evident, that once again, the title of “Manager” in the UK means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING….and in reality, a barman has the same value as his boss. As for the overall experience at The White Horse Pub, I would have to give it an overall 0/10…sorry.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

So I woke up this morning feeling mentally and physically drained … I rolled out of bed and into my clothes and headed to the bus stop. With a flapjack in one hand and my bag & coat in the other – I ran to the bus and barely made it in. I stood crammed amidst a crowd of people, some yawning, some alert, some smelling of freshly sprayed perfume, some holding coffee and listened to the same voice I’ve been hearing for the past 2 years, announce the same stops on the same route I take each morning. ugh. I hate monotony but this is what it has come down to now.

And then it got me thinking – something I think about pretty often…. How awesome was it when I was a student?! It’s true what they say… Enjoy it while it lasts.

So to break my monotonous day at the office – I dedicate this post with some of my favorite ‘you are/ you’re no longer a student when’ jokes to my long lost student life – something I will forever cherish and miss as I get older and older:

You are a Student when…

A lecture at noon is considered “too early”

You say “I’m never going to drink again” at least twice a week

3 days go by before you realize you’ve not left the house or got dressed

A balanced diet means varying your takeaway choices

The Chinese delivery place you order from knows your address off by heart

You pull all-nighters writing up essays

You pull all-nighters chilling with friends

Your friends decide to bake cake at 5:00am

You can spend a lazy day reading a book or relaxing on your couch

You watch a TV series that airs at 4:00am daily

It’s ok to go out on a school night

You’re no longer a Student when…

7:00 am is when you get up, not when you go to sleep

You keep more food than beer in the fridge

You know all of the people sleeping in your house

You hear your favourite song in the lift at work

All nighters are no longer realistic or physically possible

You don’t pregame at home before going out to a club

You no longer go out to clubs

A lot of weddings are suddenly happening

You go from: 1 month at Christmas 1, month at Easter & 3 months summer holidays to 25 days of holidays a year

You get out of bed in the morning even if it’s raining

You no longer take naps from noon to 6 pm

You actually eat breakfast foods at breakfast time

‘I just can’t drink the way I used to’ replaces ‘I’m never going to drink that much again’

Over 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work

The Trafalgar Pub

I’m on the Kings Road, sitting in Starbucks, sipping a far-too-milky latte even though it’s about a million degrees outside. There is an informal interview taking place before my eyes, and if I were on the hiring end, this girl would get the boot. It’s not my concern though, so I’ll just go back to my own thoughts.

In honor of being on Kings Road, I’ve decided to review a place on this very road, in the heart of Chelsea. Recently renovated (I think more than a year now); The Trafalgar Pub definitely has its own unique personality. It’s also a massive waste of a perfectly good spot on this famous road, where someone with half a brain could start up a really great pub in its place.

Before I go on, I have to mention that my criteria for a good bar/pub do not revolve around price.  My critique stems from an extensive background in the Hospitality Industry, where I’ve held every job under the sun. Hence, my judgment is not clouded by fancy patterns on the carpet or cheap drinks, but is focused on the level of professionalism possessed by all the members of the staff.

The day in question was St. Patrick’s Day and the bar was quite full (it usually is). We managed to get a table over in the “restaurant” section, and sat down to wait for another friend. Immediately, I noticed that the table was stickier than flypaper. After looking for the waitress for about 20 mins, I called her over and asked her to collect the dirty glasses, and to wipe down the table for us. She said, “OK”, and vanished. I held down the fort while my friend went to get drinks, and when she returned she was laughing at the fact that the barwoman didn’t know what Weiss bier was and kept telling her that they don’t serve “Rice”….. :O

Our friend finally arrived, but the waitress that was supposed to clean the gross table must have gotten lost somewhere on the way. Finding her had now become essential because my friend was hungry and wanted to order food. Found, captured and reeled in, the waitress finally came to the table. Her first order of business was to clean the table…which she did, badly, because it was still sticky after she finished. Bored and puzzled she then took the order:

Prix Fixe Menu two courses – £9.50 – Starter: Salt and pepper squid with lime mayo – Main: 8oz West Country beef burger with smoked bacon and cheddar served with chips

I usually advise against Prix Fixe Menus but there was no other choice at that time. Knowingly, I didn’t expect much…the hungry person was hopeful. While we waited for the food, we went to the bar to order drinks. There was a lot of confusion at the bar and an extremely clueless barwoman tried to take orders from the thirsty customers. She skipped us a couple of times, and as I was about to make myself noticeable (not in a good way), the manager came and asked us what we wanted. I did my usual “Let’s talk ales” number, and the manager was amused, so I tried a couple and decided on Franziskaner on tap, a Weissbier that is usually my Plan B when available. Happy and stocked with alcohol, we returned to the table.

The food was not there when we returned but came soon after. The appearance of the squid served on a wooden board was appalling and the burger had the familiar “rustic” look, served on another identical wooden board. The grease was already saturating both boards and I was very reluctant to try, but I bit the bullet and went for it. The squid successfully coated my mouth with oil, bad oil, and being Greek, I felt aggravated. I tried a chip from the burger board and of course it was brown solidified oil, so that was the end of that. I didn’t try the burger that was falling apart after one bite, but my friend was not impressed either.

Summary so far : Food sucks, service is non-existent, waitresses and barwomen are on different planets and the whole place looks like a college kid’s dorm room because no1 taught the staff to pick up & clean dirty tables. Great…

I was getting bored with the situation and my last stop before departure was a trip to the toilet. I entered and found the clueless barwoman resting on one of the sinks, rapidly tapping away on her blackberry. She looked up…and then looked down. I went to wash my hands and she didn’t want to move, but had to so that she wouldn’t get wet. I found all this extremely funny, and so I went to tell my friends… We left soon after, crossed the road and waved “Goodbye” to a confused, unorganized and indifferent Trafalgar on Kings Road in Chelsea.

The Trafalgar Pub Chelsea – 200 King’s Road, SW3 5XP (The Trafalgar is a trading name of Mitchells and Butlers Leisure Retail Limited)