Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Bites: Cask and Bricks

The fourth stop on the brutal tour manages to mix two of my favourite things; Modernist architecture and the pub. Quite literally in this case, as the pub has actually been built into the Lillington Gardens Estate in Pimlico.

The corner spot is currently occupied by craft beer champions the Cask Pub Co, although previously it was an old school boozer called the Pimlico Tram. While some may be sad that the old guard are being replaced by the new wave with their big hops and bigger beards, judging that we recently walked for a good half an hour from Primrose Hill to the Alexandra and Ainwsorth Estate in Camden and didn't pass a single pub on the way, they may feel lucky to still have a licenced establishment at all.

But before we get down to the drinking, first a bit about the architecture. What is immediately apparent, in stark opposition to the previous buildings on the tour, is the lack of concrete. The estate, built in three stages between 1964-1972, is dominated by neat rows of red brick quite unlike the stark swathes of grey that I have seen before. In fact, I'm not quite sure what categorises this as Brutalist rather than Modernist, but you can read some more informed stuff about the estate here.

Seen here in the distance and matching the brick found across the estate is St James the Less, an Anglican church built in 1858–61 by George Edmund Street in the Gothic Revival style. While Lillington Gardens is Grade II listed, this goes one better being Grade I and described by Pevsner as "one of the finest Gothic Revival churches anywhere".

While St James is worth a nose around, my beliefs are firmly beer-based and Cask Beer and Kitchen is a fine place for an afternoon's worship. There's a daily changing menu of cask and keg beers, a large selection of bottle and cans - including many Trans-Atlantic and hard to get hold of, a wet dream for a hop head like me - and a decent selection of wine and spirits for the non believers. Truly an all-inclusive church.

They also offer a tempting third off beers to takeaway - even if my last take out purchase, a bottle of Evil Twin's Ashtray Heart, ended up smashed on the pavements of Stockwell in the early hours of the morning. But that's another story....

Beers I've enjoyed recently here include the failsafe Thornbridge 'Chiron' American pale ale; Siren's 'Dippy and The Equinox' douple IPA, and a lovely half of Pressure Drop 'Street Porter' London porter. I also managed to grab their last can of Beavertown's Skull King last summer; which gave me a frisson of excitement that only a beer bore geek will understand - the cask Bone King I tried at their sister pub, Craft Beer and Co, may be one of the best beers I've ever drunk. Like Um Bongo on steroids.

Although I stuck to peanuts on my most recent visit, they also offer food from Forty Burgers and back in the summer I visited for dinner with Stealth. Then I tried the Heat Burger - a beef patty, topped with blue cheese and iceberg lettuce and double dipped in buffalo hot sauce. While they proudly advertise their meat as being 'a rare and unique blend of 67%, forty day aged rib and 33%, thirty day aged rump', the magma like flow of sauce cascading everywhere meant the predominate taste was vinegar and chilli.

Stealth also had the Heat burger, this time with a chicken patty replacing the beef, and thoroughly enjoyed it. But she's also destroyed her palate with a diet of scalding black coffee and Menthol Vogues, so make of that what you will (Stealth has no palate to destroy). We both agreed the chips were great, though.

Overall, surfeit of chilli sauce excepted, I think this might be one of my favourite London pubs. Inside may lack the charm of the exterior, but the beer's good, the staff are friendly and it's especially nice on a weekday afternoon, when you get the whole place to yourself and you can sit drinking bitter (cask fans, as the name suggests, are not forgotten) and reading Orwell. 

If you want a fag, as George would have done, you'll of course have to go outside now - but at least there's some nice buildings to look at while you're out there, and their hanging baskets look great all year round.

Beer, burgers, bricks and my love for alliteration. Cask is giving it with both barrels.

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