38 Red Lion Street,
(020) 7404 8461
The ViewLondon Review
For anybody that has knowledge of His Dark Materials, the polar bear on the ice glaring up at the large sail boat on the sign outside the pub will take their minds straight to Northern Lights and, like the story, The Enterprise has a little fantasy about its grandiose interior.
Located on the corner of Red Lion Street, The Enterprise is the pub world’s equivalent of a magic eye puzzle. Its simple tiled sign, with accompanying polar bear and ship, and its fairly narrow facade, give only a few clues to the lavish cave of emerald tiled walls and mirrored depths within.
Look closely inside and you’ll notice that the wall’s beauty comes flowing from the glossy green patent glow of the ceramic tiles. However, between the halls of mirrors that are mounted on these tiles, there is little to remark on. The dark wooden floorboards retain a buffed shine, the tables and chairs could belong to any old pub and the bar is a grand extension of the floor. From the black and white Tudor-style ceiling, however, hangs the faint orange glow of lamplights that look like orbs of burning embers and an old model aeroplane that once again stirs up memories of Dust and journeys to the North.
Despite the secrecy of the facade, most people in the area are well aware of the charm emitted by The Enterprise. Well to do groups swarm on the pub during the evening and food is often on the agenda before the nights get going. Office types in sharp suits visit during the day, flashing knowledge of the pub and lending unwanted smugness to the atmosphere.
On arrival, the music is classical and the dainty sounds mix with the venue to give that fantasy feeling; however, after the disc has presumably ended, the sounds of strings are replaced with the awfulness of what would probably be described as ‘chill-out’. The change to the ambience of the pub is startling and it is as if everything that was floating suddenly crashes to the, noticeably duller, floor. Some will appreciate the change, but these people gave up imagination and dreams long ago, merely settling for the life that exists in front of the conscious mind’s eye. The classical touch does more for the pub’s soul than a thousand fresh fifties in the till from plump Louis Vuitton wallets ever could. Passion can still be mustered with the screening of Six Nations rugby on weekends.
The pun will have to be excused, but real enterprise has been shown with the food in this public house. The prices are high for what is very much a standard pub environment but the food is good quality. Smoked haddock fishcakes and rocket salad are £8.95, whilst chargrilled rib eye steak and homemade fries is £9.95. There are also interesting sandwich concoctions on offer and a collection of other anti-pub dishes.
The Enterprise holds all its charm in its decor and there is unfortunately a bit of a shortage on the drinks menu. Carling, Staropramen and Amstel make up the best of a rather limited draught selection but there is the ever popular Timothy Taylor Landlord, Black Sheep and Old Hooky Bitter from the casks. The wine has a list of its own and the house white is below the average Central London prices and a very good quality, too.
The Last Word
The Enterprise is a mixture of fairytale and deceptive decadence. Hopefully it will lean more towards the fairytale side of things and stay classical for an alternative and enchanting future.
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