2 Haverstock Hill, Camden, London NW3 2BL
The Enterprise is situated off of Chalk Farm Road, close by the road’s eponymous station, and is at present a deep blue inconspicuous building cradled in scaffolding and a giant industrial cagoule to protect it from the incessant downpours of high summer.
Inside I encounter a hoof-shaped bar with a pleasant-mannered barman who sings different songs to the ones playing through the speakers. Perhaps he is employed to provide musical counterpoint as well as being a drawbridge to the optics. I survey the bar, hoping something will pique gustatory sensations. The drinks on tap are run of the mill: Fosters, Symonds, Kronenberg, Deuchars, Carlsberg. It would be hard to think of a selection as bland. I spy also Boston Lager and Strongbow’s Cloudy Apple Cider, which is admittedly more refreshingly flavoursome than traditional Strongbow, though that is no mean feat. Unspoiled by lack of choice, I plump for Caledonia Coast to Coast at £4.60 a pint.
In terms of atmosphere, there are screens playing all Euro ’16 games to accommodate football fanatics. The donated books on the window sills are few and scattered and mostly pulp. There is an upstairs area where live bands play, though this is closed during my evening visit. The regulars seem to consist mostly of English and Spanish who, when not discussing the betting shop, are all eager to voice their divided and eloquent opinions on the recent EU referendum. There are tables out front on Chalk Farm Road for those who want to inhale smoke and exhaust fumes and listen to the snarl of traffic.
The people who drink here would perhaps dismiss what they perceive elsewhere as pretentiousness, which can include a dismissal of variety and novelty. A resistance to new-fangled and expensive craft beer is one thing, but I am disappointed at the lack also of traditional English beers, which need to be kept well to taste good: a discipline, or lack thereof, which can be telling in itself. The Libertines are playing through the speakers, but one pint here is enough to sate this libertine’s curiosity, for the place is all spit and sawdust, and I say that as one who quite likes seedy places; but there is little to whet the appetite here and it has less character than, say, the nearby Monarch or the Hawley Arms and the bars that populate Camden Lock, or, a little more than a stone’s throw, The Black Heart, The Dublin Castle, The Edinboro Castle and the whole nervous energy of Camden itself.
I sit with my beer and scribble a few notes while disconsolate sports fans vent their national annual gripes about our inability to excel at our national sport. All writers are regarded with suspicion, and this one, who is not even pretending to watch the football, doubly so. Far be it from me to leave a place in case something exciting happens, but it would not be, alas, the kind of excitement I want. A sign on the wall emblazoned with the word “Sobriety” points towards the exit, but that malady can be cured elsewhere.
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