Last weekend I went to London for the weekend to catch up with an old Uni friend and used the time to visit a few different venues in Greater London.
At the top of my list to visit was the Harp Bar, near Covent Garden. As they proudly advertise, the are the holders of the CAMRA Greater London Pub of the Year which meant it was a must visit.
Using the Good Beer Guide app on my Iphone we headed in it’s general direction, popping into the HUGE Apple store in Covent Garden of course!, looking into the various other pubs along the way.
The biggest thing that I noticed was that despite it being a Saturday afternoon the trendy “bars” were very quiet – very surprising considering the huge amount of potential customers and the huge proportion of marketing spend that the big breweries allocate to those bars!
The Harp is in a very unassuming position with a very traditional town bar frontage – the inside was clearly brimming with people, a stark contrast to the surrounding bars!
Upon entering we were greated by a large variety of clientele, not the typical CAMRA crowd that my friend was expecting! There was a blend of city workers and the older generation – it helped create a great positive atmosphere for new customers.
After working our way to the bar, passing people primarily drinking real ale and real cider, I admired the selection of seven real ales on offer, covering the range of styles. There was also a selection of real ciders available from Bag-In-Boxes in the fridge – my only issue was that they may be a tad cold to completely appreciate their complexity. I chose a pint of Dark Star‘s “American Pale Ale” which is probably my favourite hoppy bitter, which was in a superb condition and explained why the pub was in the Good Beer Guide!
Whilst we were there the Landlady, Bridget, introduced herself and asked how our beers were – a superb bit of customer service that you so rarely see in pubs today – so much so that my friend actually commented later that it was the first time that he had ever been asked how he was in London! She had just found out that the Harp had won the National CAMRA Pub of the Year – a superb achievement which from my experience is very much deserved.
I think many traditional pubs could learn a lot from visiting the Harp – especially with their strong focus on customer service and quality.
I wish Bridget all the best at the Harp – I will be back soon!