Local Wanted – The Squirrel, Maida Vale

Of all the pubs I passed on my way home from The Union Tavern the other week, one stood out. The Squirrel.

The Squirrel exterior
The construction vehicles outside really add to the aesthetic

I was intrigued. Sufficiently intrigued to grab my flatmate and drag her along to try the place out. It’ll be fun, I said. There’s sure to be lots of exciting stuff going on, and loads of great drinks to try, I said. It takes a lot to convince the most judgemental person in the world to try something new, but somehow I managed. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince her again.

Squirrel looks nice enough – it’s beautifully decorated inside, with a mix of stained glass and floral wallpaper covering the walls, surrounding a horseshoe bar in the centre of the room. It looks new, but worn in enough that there are clear marks on the wooden floor where people have been shuffling about. And most exciting of all, there’s four hand pumps facing us as we walk in through the door.

That excitement soon fades. All ales are off. Every single one.

Well, perhaps that’s not quite fair. They do have Goose Island IPA on a chilled tap. But that’s not why I walk three quarters of a mile, get lost, and then walk another three quarters of a mile on a Monday evening. Goose Island is great, but I can get that at just about any half decent bar anywhere in London.

Beer notes: Goose Island IPA

Pale with a thick, lively head. Fresh aroma, like grapefruit, grass, resin. Similar resinous taste giving way to custard cream biscuits. A decent pint to resort to if your work colleagues drag you out to a Greene King hellhole.

Halfway through my pint, my ire has subsided enough to pay attention to the noises around me. The odd music blaring out over the bar is actually coming from the televisions at either end, both playing Hits TV. My flatmate has pointed out the four health inspection violations she has spotted from our table in the corner. It’s all a bit rubbish, really.

By some eccentric landlord’s whim the kitchen sits in the centre of the bar surrounding by tables on all sides, presumably to demonstrate to all there that the food is indeed cooked fresh on site. As a result, the whole place reeks of beefburger. This may well be lovely if you’re coming in for a bite to eat, but at 9pm after the chef has packed up and gone home, it just feels like you’re sneaking a bottle of beer in a 24 hour McDonald’s.

Squirrel was almost completely empty the night we came to visit, and having drunk there I can see why. Perhaps the burgers make up for it, but if you’re heading to the pub to enjoy a drink and a good night out with friends, this is definitely not the place. 1/5

 

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