The Hunter S, De Beauvoir Town
This post was first published in February 2012
There’s been a lot of excited Tweeting lately about the opening of a new pub, The Hunter S., in De Beauvoir Town, so as I was heading down that way to check out the new Honey Drizzle cooking school in Hoxton, it seemed natural to pay a visit. Given the concept, I was expecting to love it: Hunter Thompson was one of the first literary voices I connected with, his work helping to instil in me the idea that journalism was about more than just reporting three-car pile-ups. While I’ve long since given up my futile attempts at gonzo writing, I’m nevertheless instinctively pre-disposed to like a pub in his honour. What a surprise, then, that I’m writing my first negative review. It’s not just that I can’t really see what the fuss is about – I actually actively dislike the place.
Again, maybe I’m meowing at the wrong milkman here – The Hunter S. is obviously not pitched at the CAMRA crowd. But nor are the aforementioned pubs that manage to serve an interesting selection of beers, pull in a diverse crowd, and decorate in line with 21st century standards. Despite the best efforts of many a London gastropub to disprove the following statement, modernity and quality are not incompatible. Even the New Cross House, with which I have issues that go deeper than overpricing and beer selection, manages to pull off the balancing act: a couple of unique ales (though Sharps also appears with alarming regularity), good food, and a beer garden which puts many leisure centres to shame.
Yet judging by the frenzied response to The Hunter S., it would seem that De Beauvoir Town wasn’t just crying out for a good pub but had recently emerged from a prolonged period of prohibition. People are waxing lyrical about everything from the Sunday roasts to the toilet facilities. For me, it’s not the saviour of De Beauvoir Town’s thirsty masses but an average boozer at best. Calling it a ‘local’ would be a travesty, as everything about The Hunter S. embodies the opposite of community: it’s pricing is obviously designed to promote the kind of exclusivity and elitism that has no place in this part of town. Hunter Thompson may have helped to inspire this place, but I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t approve – a drinker of his capacity would be skint in under an hour. Invoking one of anarchy’s greatest sons is always going to be a risky business, so if you must insist on having a go, you better have some idea what you’re doing. At present, it seems like The Hunter S. don’t have the faintest.