Bird in Hand pub
'"How is it?" I asked my dining companion. "Bland" was his reply.'

The Bird in Hand

Open midday–11pm daily; food is served Mon–Sat midday–3pm and 6pm–10pm, Sundays midday–10pm

The style:

Bland: the obligatory light wooden floors and wooden tables, with beige walls interrupted sporadically by the odd bit of funky wallpaper. Lighting is functional and installed without thought of the ambience it would create. There is a cool black and white shot of Francis Bacon on the steps of the Tate near a dresser which houses a few board games, but apart from that the prevailing nondescript feel of the décor seeps into the atmosphere. David Beckham playing for Milan on the big screen in the corner was the focus of most of the drinkers: understandable as he was the prettiest thing to look at here.

The crowd:

Reflective of the décor – uniform and uninteresting. All late 20 or early 30-somethings. The title of Sex Pistol John Lydon’s autobiography could describe the clientele [No Irish, No Blacks and No Dogs]. Bar staff were mostly perfunctory. The antipodean who brought our food was polite but when we asked what made the soup taste so good we were given a couple of excuses (‘I can’t find the chef’ being one) before one last offer to get an answer was made as were heading out of the door.

The food:

Deep-fried brie was heavy and looked like an enlarged lump of Dairylea with a thick crust of breadcrumbs. If too much cheese was the problem with that, too little was the fault of spinach and mozzarella-stuffed chicken. Our experience here had started to develop a theme. ‘How is it?’ I asked my dining companion. ‘Bland’ was his reply. My caramelised pork would have been exactly like the mass-produced school dinners I was obliged to eat but for the saving grace of the red wine sauce that injected some flavour. Otherwise it was dry and dull. We tasted one good thing; the tomato soup starter was pleasing and wholesome, slightly sweet and given a new take with the addition of just enough cinnamon. It was delicious. Apart from that you’d be saving money and better fed eating at a Wetherspoons.

The drinks:

Care is taken over the Guinness – always a good sign. There are also 30 wines to choose from, covering all the geography and variety of grapes that you would want it to. On tap around the bar is everything you would expect but an absence of any interesting ale.

The Bird in Hand, 88 Masbro Road, London, W14;; 020 7602 3060

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