Pub #28: The Earl of Camden, Parkway

The Earl of Camden was one of those pub visits that had no plan, no rhyme nor reason to it.  I was in Camden, hungry, and looking to add to the list of pubs visited on this project.  I knew of one pub I mean to go to at some point or another, having stumbled upon it (but not gone in) on a rainy night looking for another pub that I never found late last year.  So, it’s fitting that on a walk in hopes of eventually bumbling into that particular pub, I wound up at another pub instead while walking up Parkway from Camden High Street.

I was drawn in because there was a menu displayed on a chalkboard outside, and I was hungry.  I was ridiculously hungry, actually, as I hadn’t eaten anything that day and it was already nearly 5 pm.  Some food blogger, right?  Anyway, I entered The Earl of Camden and, after a quick look at the drinks offered up, I asked for a pint of Gaymers Pear Cider along with a menu.  Unless I missed them, The Earl of Camden didn’t seem to have any of the hand-pumps for real ales, which was sort of a disappointment.  However, my little heart and starving stomach brightened at the price of a delicious sounding flatbread: £4.95.  I ordered it from the person behind the bar, who told me that I also get a free drink with it, but that the Gaymers wasn’t covered.

However, a pint of Strongbow was.  So I said I’d take that, but I think I was trying to convey that I would get that after my second pint, but instead the person behind the counter put another pint of cider next to my other one.  Oh dear, I thought, on an empty stomach?

Then I was told my total: £4.95.

But wait, I’m sure you’re saying, isn’t that the price of the meal with the free pint, and not including your pint of cider?  Did you say something?  Did you correct the person behind the counter?

Ah, no.

Okay, I’ll share a secret with you all: I suspect the individual behind the counter made a deliberate mistake in tallying my order.  This theory is due to the explanation I received that my Gaymer’s Pear Cider wasn’t included in the lovely meal deal from the same said bartender, and yet somehow I was served two drinks and was quoted my bill by the same person.  I don’t think the person would have made a mistake, as this individual seemed rather competent, and if he did (yes, it was a he), then he had ample time to have said, “Oh, sorry, I forgot to charge you for that pint of cider.”  Which he could have completely done.  But he didn’t.

Sweet.

Although this puts me in a bit of a bind, as now I cannot tell you how much a sample pint costs at The Earl of Camden.  But, I can tell you an excellent flatbread and pint of lager or Strongbow will set you back just £4.95, which is how much I spent.  I’m sort of testing my own official pub visit criterion here, but I feel that, well, I couldn’t help that I got a free pint.  I didn’t ask for it, and I certainly didn’t make any sort of insinuations in order to obtain it.  I was just being my usual self, which may be loosely categorised as “friendly American,” a term which can be at times construed as a bit redundant, considering that my countryfolk are generally friendly–unless we have a gun in our hands, or maybe even a Bible, an item which may at times have the same intent.

Oh, my mama’s going to pull my ear for that one….

So yeah, before I hear someone with a Y chromosome bitch about ladies getting free drinks all the time, I’d like to say that I don’t believe I got the free pint because I am a woman.

No, dammit, it’s because I’m cool.

Anyway, back to the pub.  The place wasn’t very busy, as it was during the workweek and some potential pub-goers were still likely holed up in their cubicles, and there is a lot of room with plenty of spaces to sit and have a chat with someone, or to read a book, which was what I was doing.  I remember the music being a bit odd–at one point The XX was playing, and then at another something else that was just bad.  Then there was more of the bad.  Odd, because I was looking at a poster that seemed to advertise… wait, I can’t remember… was it Jawbreaker?  Well, while I was waiting, I believe I must have texted three different people about my food deal find.

When the food portion of my lovely £4.95 meal arrived, it did not disappoint.

I confess I could have eaten way more than what was offered, but for £4.95 for a really yummy flatbread sandwich with pesto, mozzarella and tomato, with a salad accompaniment, this was a very fair price.  Throw in a free cider, and it’s a steal.  Throw in two free ciders, and, well, I’m converted.  The Earl of Camden is the messiah for a broke MA student.  Shall I go hunt for Osama now with a menu?  I am the choir!

Or at least I was until, after finishing off the last bit of the ciders, I understandably had to pop into the ladies’ room.  Well, yeah, it was very basic, and there was no loo roll to be found (luckily, I had reserves in the form of tissues).  I don’t even think the hand dryers worked, or worked properly.  It just wasn’t a pleasant experience, which contrasted with everything else I had enjoyed at The Earl up until then.

Thus, the Earl’s otherwise great potential with its great meal deal and delicious flatbread is marred with a restroom that was a thumbs down, along with the seeming absence of ale (again, I might have missed it), .  Alas, it was not the pub of my hopes and dreams, but still the pub of the afternoon/early evening, to be sure.

The Earl of Camden does have a website, which kind of illustrates how it’s a bit of an odd pub with possibilities.  Because of the pros and cons, it’s probably not a pub I would particularly aim to wind up at, but if I’m near the area and feel like having a nice little meal deal for under a fiver, then I would certainly drop by, although I doubt I’d be lucky enough to magically get an extra pint of cider like I did before.

I should say that the staff were all pretty friendly, not just the guy who “accidentally” gave me a free pint of cider.  There was another person who was walking past who nicely asked if everything was all right as she took my quickly-emptied plate away.  Good staff is a major factor in a pub–possibly more so than whether or not the ladies’ has toilet paper.

Yeah, I think I’d take an unpleasant bathroom over unpleasant service any day.  But it’s really stellar when you have both.

Oh, and can someone tell The Earl of Camden that they spelled “Desserts” wrong on their website?  Because, um, they did.

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