Pub Quiz! Which pub is this?
"Perpendicular to the bar, in the large alcove area, movies and local student's films are shown on the big-screen projector. Come here any weekend afternoon, sit with a beer, and watch some trashy, cult movie - ironic considering [this pub] sits next door to a building that until 1999 was a cinema."
Referred to by Charles Dickens in A Tale Of Two Cities, there has been a Pillars of Hercules on this site since 1733, the present pub dating from 1910 although it's stylised to look much older. When Dickens knew this pub the chances are it wasn't full of crusties and dreadlocks, as is it today.
What would have been familiar to Dickens is the junk everywhere, highly desirable items in days gone by. The Pillars of Hercules is jam-packed with jumble. There are no notices on the walls to suggest there's a house-clearance sideline for the pub, although it's as through a recently deceased OAP's house has been stripped by a house-clearance firm who have displayed everything to look like a pastiche of The Pickwick Papers. There are umbrellas in Chinese vases, phrenology heads, books, clocks, ceramic dogs, decanters, old beer bottles, dusty trunks and everything else apart from the kitchen sink. The only original feature of the pub appears to the candle-shaped lightbulb chandeliers in large glass condoms above the bar.
"The Pillars", as the pub wants to be known, serves Hobgoblin ale to the grebos and dropouts and adverts throughout the pub criticises lager drinkers for their lack of taste, literally. Food is served at the Pillars of Hercules and details of the 'New Menu' painted on the wall invites you to share with a friend "over lunch or afer (sic) work"!
The walls in the Pillars of Hercules, which are covered in old photographs of Hyde Park, are a pukey yellow colour, as would normally be seen on the toilet walls, and several small partitions opposite the bar resemble wide telephone booths. A small snug at the front of the pub, nestling between the window and the entrance, is slightly raised to allow drinkers to get a birds-eye view of the tat. The rear of the pub is filled with tables and chairs on various levels.
On warmer days, standing out in the street, obstructing the pavement is the drinking area of choice for most people who can't obtain one of the few seats indoors. The benefit of this being that most pubs in the area also have hordes of people standing outside, so a pub-crawl can be undertaken without needing to buy a beer in each - just walk between the pubs with your existing beer.
There are no signs in the pub to indicate where the toilets are, and as this is a single room the only logical place must be down the stairs opposite the bar. You will soon be back in the bar after going downstairs, as they're evidently not down there. Ask at the bar and you'll be sent downstairs again, through an unmarked door that doesn't give any indication of what it is. It might as well have been a broom cupboard for all the good a lack of sign does...
Review by mr_psm