Pub Review: Tollington

Friday was not a successful day for me. In the midst of work and personal stress, I made a pretty substantial error in the subject of an email that I promptly sent round to about 10,000 people. Banging my head against my desk in frustration and shame was a good start, but what I really needed was a drink.

Two shots of brandy later (why I have a stash of brandy on my desk is a story for another day) I have stopped screaming at myself and am in a fit state to leave the office. I begin my search for a pub on the walk home and, in my stressed and tipsy stupor, I stumble across the Tollington.

Appropriately, it looks like the staircase you descend as you enter hell

First impressions were not great. While it’s not reasonable to expect every single pub to be beautiful on the outside, this place is ugly enough that it might have even won some architectural awards. As if that weren’t enough, it’s situated right next to a major road junction. There’s not a lot they can do about that, however, so I give the landlord a chance and head in. Maybe they make up for it on the inside.

The landlord of this particular pub, I should mention, is Greene King. Normally Greene King is code for “red flag”, but I decided to ignore that this time. Maybe it was because the Hatton Junction wasn’t that bad – after all, they had six ales on tap. More likely, my judgement was impaired by the two shots of brandy.

Inside, any hopes I had were rudely dashed to pieces. There is no good beer. I am presented with a choice of Greene King IPA and Abbot Ale (another GK beer). Reluctantly, I settle for the Abbot as the lesser of two evils.

I pay for my drink in cash and receive one of the shiny newly minted pound coins as change. This is the highlight of my visit.

There’s space to sit inside, but it’s so noisy and uncomfortable I can’t bring myself to stay. Somehow, without there even being that many people inside, it’s too loud to hear myself think. I realise the interior is decorated much like the outside – hard and Spartan, with no soft furnishings to absorb the echoes.

Outside I enjoy the fumes from the traffic. Having a beer garden is better than not having one, I suppose, but the benefits are limited when your view overlooks the A103.

I do my best to stomach the Abbot, but it’s hard. It doesn’t taste of much, and somehow the texture is weird. I have no idea if it was GK’s intention to make a beer that coats the inside of your mouth with a slimy film, but if so they’ve succeeded admirably. I leave the pint unfinished.

The Tollington is an ugly, noisy, sorry excuse for a pub in a poor location that serves crap beer. Avoid. 0/5

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