Pub number three is one I’d been in a couple times before, at least. When I was staying in the lovely hostel known as the Generator in Bloomsbury back in late August, I had stumbled upon Lamb’s Conduit Street on my walks around the area. The street was popularised in an issue of Monocle, and since reading about it, I had wanted to go to Lamb’s Conduit Street and see the place myself.
During a wander I had coming from Holborn, I was walking along a little street before realising I was on the street I had wanted to visit. Near the end of the street, leading into Guilford Street, was The Lamb.
I think The Lamb was the first pub I went to in London by myself. It was pretty early, so the place was pretty empty. I ordered a pint of ale and, after studying the menu at great length, an order of chips. To me, it was the best bowl of chips I’ve had in London, but part of that could be for the specialness of being in a place I had read about in a city that was brand new and exciting and seemingly full of endless potential and magic.
Since that day, I had popped into The Lamb once or twice for a pint and an order of magic chips, but when I had a moment of extreme brokeness during September and October, my pub visits were extremely limited, especially when it involved eating in a pub. Once I was able to get my student loans sorted out and started earning money through part-time work, the pubs I wound up in were pubs I went to with friends from SOAS (whenever I can drag people away from the SOAS pub in the basement) and other friends. The Lamb was never a pub to go to for whatever reason, mostly because I wasn’t in the area really.
It was only recently I made a visit to The Lamb again, as the Christmas party for the SOAS Anthropology postgraduates was held at The Lamb on the 9th. For some of my colleagues, it was their first visit to The Lamb, despite going to classes somewhere around a 5-10 minutes’ walk. I had gotten to the party late, so the bar tab that was put up for the anthropology students was well-exhausted by the time I had shown up. I was hungry (of course), and there was a chalked advertisement for pies, with an illustration. I saw the roasted vegetable option and was sold.
Because the anthropology students and professors had partially mobbed The Lamb alongside their standard evening patrons, the place was packed. When I finally was able to order my pie and pint, I was a bit stunned at the total price: £12.63. I paid, but as I fought my way back to the table, I thought about the cost of the pie I had at The Black Friar the previous week, and also an advertised sign outside of a pub on Chalk Farm Road, “A pie and a pint: £8.”
Ah. Lesson learned. At The Lamb, there is a premium for being in Bloomsbury, and also for the atmosphere of The Lamb. The walls are filled with memorabilia, and it is thus far the only pub I have seen with “snob screens” intact. The glass screens at the bar were once used back in older times when the genteel guests on one side of the pub wanted to obscure the shenanigans of the rougher crowd on the other side of the pub. The screens were turned to prevent one side from looking through to the other, but now the screens are kept as a decorative testament to the heritage of The Lamb.
Anyway, my pie arrived about halfway through my pint, and it was good. The roasted vegetable pie was served with a tidy pile of mashed potatoes and some pale-looking green beans. As I ate my £9.50 pie, I talked with two other Americans about a pub with good 2-for-1 deals in Islington, as well as discussed my recent gift of canned boiled peanuts from my darling friend Jeannette. It was a good pie, and I love mashed potatoes, and I was happily full. But I probably won’t be ordering a pie again at The Lamb unless my income increases drastically, considering the many other comparable options available at pubs elsewhere in London.
My pint was a standard amber ale that was marketed under the name “Director” that went well with the pie. After I finished it, though, I abstained from another drink, as by then I was engaged with one of my professors about educational prospects in the US and the UK, and the reasons why her daughter wants to go to university in the US and why I chose to embark on postgrad work in the UK. After someone accidently knocked a pint glass onto a table, which in turn knocked a wine glass onto another professor, I went in search for the other Foodies (aka Anthropology of Food MA students) and chatted with a few of them a bit about music and dissertation ideas before heading towards Theobald’s Road on the other side of Lamb’s Conduit Street.
The Lamb is a nice place, definitely a winner in atmosphere provided it isn’t being taken over by anthropology students bent on drink. The regular clientele seem to be more mature on the whole, except for the interesting crowd of young things who were walking around with fake moustaches–and a fake beard, for one woman. All in all, I’m sure I will visit The Lamb once again, but not so sure about the pie. Chips, though, are a definite yes.