Three of London's popular pubs hit West London CAMRA's radar in the last month when branch members votes for Pub of the Year were counted and confirmed.
In as wide an area as West London, stretching from Holborn and Covent Garden to the outer reaches of Chiswick and Kew Bridge, there is no shortage of good if not excellent pubs to be considered with over five hundred known to serve real ale.
Of the six finalists (in alphabetical order Cask Pub & Kitchen, 6 Charlwood Street, SW1; Cleveland Arms, 28 Chilworth Street, W2; Harp, 47 Chandos Place, WC2; Queens Arms, 30 Queens Gate Mews, SW7; Star Tavern, 6 Belgrave Mews West, SW1; and Uxbridge Arms, 13 Uxbridge Street, W8) it was always going to be a difficult choice.
All are gems in their own distinctive way. A good selection of quality real ales are assured, naturally, and the friendly welcome of good local pubs. With refreshment then, good company, and however small or large the pub, and however basic or elaborate, there'll be conviviality, and nibbles if not something a bit more substantial.
First equal were the Cleveland Arms in Paddington, a 1852 Grade II-listed pub with its tiled ends, and the Harp, Charing Cross, a small friendly local dating from at least the late 18th century. Coming in 3rd is a previous year's winner, the Cask Pub and Kitchen in Pimlico a real ale destination pub for office workers and visitors from around the world.
The Cleveland Arms was sold shortly after the branch announced these results, and in view of this development the Harp now goes forward as the West London nomination for Greater London's Pub of the Year.
Later this summer will see certificates presented to the respective licensees, and we'll no doubt be looking forward to helping them celebrate together with their regulars and staff.