The grandly titled Lord Moon of the Mall squats provocatively at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall.
It’s a sanctuary for rain-spattered tourists, patrons of the Trafalgar Studios next door, and hang dog civil servants on yet another pay freeze. It’s an anomaly sandwiched between the auspicious landmarks of Nelson’s Column and The Cenotaph, and is a gladsome sight after a trying day.
3 colleagues and fellow Spoons fans follow me there at 5PM sharp one Thursday evening. The pub has 3 large areas – a pleasant front room of little tables that feels like a large living room, a central section dominated by the bar, and booths and long tables at the back. We settle at a coppery high table and are immediately overwhelmed by a waft of spices – yes, it’s curry night.
The round costs a work drinks friendly £13. Spoons-stories are swapped – including a children’s birthday party in The Groves Company in Swindon. We hear of a coming of age journey by train from Lands End to John o’Groats, eating in Wetherspoons all the way and trying to make back the cost of the meal from the quiz machines – which are conspicuously absent from the Spoons of today. (Apparently the biggest winnings came from the Wetherspoons of Penzance and Inverness.)
A pleasant evening of binge drinking follows. I rack up 5 mini bottles of Prosecco (noting that here it costs £4.15 – 50p more than at cheaper outlets). We’re so busy drinking that I almost forget to note the surroundings. Almost. It’s a rather good Spoons, warm, cosy and shabby genteel. A table of men in grey suits next to us are quaffing with equal enthusiasm. It’s a good pub for groups. Everyone’s getting drunker. No one mingles.
We order snacks, which take almost an hour to arrive. We get 3 apologies from the staff. And then we spot something fascinating. The Burns night A4 menu on each table has been doctored. Something has been redacted! We cunningly use the torches on our phones to uncover the mystery: “6 beer battered onion rings” has been blacked out on every menu.
There’s confusion at the bar too. The bar staff couldn’t seem to find the pale ale we wanted – a drink which one of us had definitely had at least 3 times that evening. I later spotted it at the end of the bar (we’d forgotten the brand, Shipyard). I also came away empty handed after asking for the Robert Burns special ale…only to see it nestling amongst the guest ales an hour later.
The Lord Moon of the Mall’s location filters out some of the characters that usually distinguish a Wetherspoons – there’s no lone drinkers, no disability carriages. But it’s not bland, indeed there’s an atmosphere of revelry, albeit fairly contained. One of our group stands to rehearse his Toast to the Lassies speech to us as our fellow punters continue to imbibe, unfazed.
Despite the slow service and having to persuade the bar staff of the drinks we knew they sold, this Spoons afforded an excellent evening. We ended it on an hysterical high with my first taste of a Jägerbomb. The bar staff displayed customary aplomb at civil servants the wrong side of 25 ordering Jägerbombs at 10:30PM on a Thursday night. As the drinks arrived, I was befuddled to see the Jägermeister nestling in a moat of murky brown liquid…these things are usually golden red? Then the cheap price is explained – Wetherspoons use Monster Energy rather than Red Bull. Even the Jägerbombs are budget.
Swaying onto the Tube an hour later, I’m filled with fond feelings for my work local. But this doesn’t skew the rating – this is firmly a 3-spoons Spoons.
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