When my friend suggested we spend a day wandering around St Katherine’s Dock, I foolishly believed he’d had the good sense to check the weather forecast beforehand. Never again. Somehow, I ended up wetter than if I’d simply jumped into the Thames.
But the trip wasn’t a total wash. We did get to see this beautiful sight.
The Dickens Inn is an old warehouse from the 18th century, which has been restored, flowered, and converted into a pub and restaurant. The exterior really is beautiful, with each of the three floors lined with brighly coloured hanging baskets and flower boxes. It would have been even prettier if the weather hadn’t been so abysmal, but you can’t have it all.
Inside was a different story, however. The interior felt dark and dingy. There are plenty of pubs with limited natural light that still make a great job of it, choosing to show off a warm, cosy, welcoming interior. The Dickens, on the other hand, tries to brighten things up with some cheap, Pimms-sponsored bunting.
At the bar, I’m faced with a choice of London Pride, Greene King IPA, and Tribute – the guests are off. Now that I’ve passed the gorgeous frontage, I feel like I could be in any disappointing pub in the world.
And there’s a thread of truth in that. It turns out the owners/operators of The Dickens Inn is SSP, a company responsible for filling our train stations and airports with overpriced and disappointing concessions. Now everything makes sense – who else would have a sufficiently shrivelled, wizened heart to sell Tribute, the world’s most underwhelming beer, at £4.80 a pint? Who else would think £15.99 was a sensible price for a burger?
As I stepped back outside, however, I felt my (mostly non-shrivelled) heart soften. It’s anonymous and dingy and seriously overpriced, but The Dickens does have some redeeming features. Well, two. The view as you walk towards it, and the view as you sit out on the terrace. 2/5