As is now tradition, I will start off my “Best of the Year” awards with the most interesting, significant, compelling, and most of all, beer-glorifying bar or restaurant I visited in 2013. And unusually for me, it was this year past a place I enjoyed for far too short a period.
CASK Pub & Kitchen on Charlwood Street in London’s Pimlico district was one of those places I recognized immediately upon entry as something special. When I arrived for a lunch meeting with my World Atlas of Beer and Pocket Beer Guide co-author, Tim Webb, last June, the room was nearly empty and the scent of the cleaners hung still in the air. Despite these handicaps, however, the environs seemed welcoming and hospitable, an impression that was confirmed almost immediately by the staff, who rather than plunging their noses more deeply into their newspaper or social media obligations, noted my presence with a quick and friendly “hello” and kindly endured my lengthy examination of the bar’s 10 casks and multitude of taps.
Oh yes, the beer. When they opened in 2009, CASK was one of the first places in the U.K. to embrace equally traditional British cask-conditioned ale and new craft beers from the island and abroad, and they continue to be one of the best. Combined with numerous fridges filled with various imported and domestic bottles, this results in an abundance that may prove daunting to even the most spirited of beer adventurers. And unlike any number of beer places, they do this not at the expense of, but in addition to a more than respectable selection of wines and spirits.
While Tim and I did enjoy our lunches – not the best burger I’ve had in England, but certainly up there amongst the best – it was the hospitality, comfort, service with a smile and, of course, the marvellous (if sometimes pricey) selection of beer that won me over to CASK, and rated it as my Best Beer Place of 2013. I only wish that further obligations that day had allowed me to tarry longer, rather than needing to rush off after only a few hours.
CASK Pub and Kitchen, 6 Charlwood Street, Pimlico, London; caskpubandkitchen.com