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Beers on the broadwalk

Stevie Eats Out : Hammersmith

14h ago

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Where is Hammersmith? Apart from a sprawling octopus roundabout in West London, the M4 gateway and a high street with seemingly infinite options with every single shop in the world known to man to visit, what else has it to offer?

Red bricked Victorian houses stuck together in regimental formation stand proud along the streets leading in and out of this seemingly unknown territory. Loud triple lane roads that haze in traffic from morning until night surround the homes that are filled with families. Boarded up corner shops are starting to become commonplace, coin flipping teenagers running riot after midnight are in the foundations of the rumours I heard. It could be a sign of regional ruin but I am told it is one of the best places in town to live, breed and grow wise.

I have been quite sheltered when it comes to the geography on my doorstep, more often than not I wilfully trap myself in my mile square zone, never to set foot too far out of the postcode. With everything in reaching distance or delivered to your door, why would I ever need to leave. Laziness is but a cloak I whip round my bloated bones in desperate times of feed.

I do leave every now and again, but those stories are for a different day. Let’s put aside the fact I am currently playing the role of mr toad, kissing far too many bright eyed princesses and letting them down when I don’t become the prince they’ve always dreamed of; only to slope back into my swamp living off Deliveroo dishes and party promises until the next foolish fairy tale reader comes my way.

But once in a while a little gold bell jingles in your ear and you must listen. An invitation of friendship must always be greeted in kind. Dinner with a good old friend is always a treat. No matter where they live, it is never too far, whether it’s east, west, down the road or over the moon.

So once the arrangements had been made, the postcode sent to my phone to confirm the actual whereabouts of said friend, I set on my way. To Hammersmith & beyond.

No Uber, no car, no tube. Powered purely by the soles of my feet I took off into the dusky night.

And before I knew it, half a podcast later, I was there. Jumping feet first onto my friends’ doorstep I knockety-knocked and wiggled myself in excitement at the evening we were to have.

What was planned was a tour, a great British pub crawl or sorts. With no lumbering or dilly dallying, we were to pop our heads into as many of these mid-century waterholes as we could on the way to our final destination. Lads on tour, post lockdown beers. Mission accepted.

It wasn’t long before the thought dropped into my lap, Bacchus would have scorned our attempts to swim in the finest of wines. Every watering hole we chose was full to the brim with thigh slapping characters, chortling their way through a course or two of food and what would seem to look like over filled vats and pints of the good stuff. We paused for a moment at an iron gated garden, sniffing the air at the sweet smell of the BBQ oils caramelising. It was a scene out of Oliver Twist waiting to happen; ‘please sir, may I have.... a seat ?!?’

With another couple of failed attempts behind us, I started to curse Rishi Patel for his ‘eat out to help out’ scheme. It was a Wednesday evening at sunset, and everywhere we saw full. Super full. Not quite as far as sardined, but as full as you could get with social distancing rules in place. We decided jam packed described the environment well. Annoyed managers would swing into the entranceway of their establishment with an eye roll, blocking our request to dine, bored of answering the same questions over and over.

“Do you have a booking, no no, we are all full, yes especially outside, yes you can come back later, but the waiting list is already full, probably best to book, it’s very busy tonight” they guff in one whole sentence without pausing or breathing.

Dog headed and the hangry bug growing, we ducked around a sharp corner returning to our pint sized pilgrimage when the world opened up.

With arms a stretch my friend turned back to me and warmly said,

“Now, this. This is Hammersmith.”

Smiling he pointed to my right and I realised what he meant. The Thames, with a purpling sky, reflecting the orange of the sun in its murky waters. It was beautiful and I was in awe.

Joggers, daters and diners all delirious at their location, the gentle pitter patter of languages from all over the world, the back and forths of life, love and everything inbetween can be heard in the air like well fed singing birds on a Sunday afternoon.

Could we get a seat anywhere? No. Did we try? With all our heart. Could we get a drink? Of course, take away cocktails served from a well constructed doorway of The Rutland Arms on Lower Mall helped us lean against a tall wall that had a peppering of shoulder rolling and bleary eyed characters enjoying all that the Hammersmith broadwalk could gift.

We perched, we drank, we caught up as best mates do. Over beers for him, a pint of lemonade and double tequila for me. Zesty, punchy and oddly expensive, just how I like it. The odd drink wakes up the heart and blurs out yesterday’s troubles until the morning hangover kicks in.

To soak it all up we found a gun metal silver burger van attached to The Rutland Arms on Lower Mall that couldn’t or wouldn’t seat us in their restaurant or well groomed pub garden.

Without too much bother we found a park bench to eat our gourmet burger which felt very Withnail, and it tasted better for it.

Delivered in a plastic box I didn’t think much of this patty at first. Greasy goodness with crispy bacon hanging out of it’s sides like a panting dogs tongue. After the first bite I finally remembered what it was like to be gluttonous again. A Juicy beef patty fried in butter that burst with flavour, chunky cut tomatoes help between a thick poppy seed bun. It was glorious, every single bite. A gentle tissue wipe of satisfaction and nodding heads of approval deemed this to be a fantastic way to return to the restaurant world.

Not only am I sold on Hammersmith and charmed by the parks, the people and the river views, i think I’m in love. And could consider a move. I can’t deny, the burger helped a lot.

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