Kenilworth Castle Review
The Kenilworth Castle has been my (extremely) local for the last three years, and I'm moving on - so it seems appropriate to give it a last hurrah...
This is one of the three "old man's" pubs in the area, but is somehow the only one which avoids being totally banal. This is the Irish one, the other more substantially bland ones being very uncomfortably English. Perhaps it's the fact that this is also the one most seriously in need of repair and a coat of paint. And some new furniture.
Kenilworth Castle has two bar areas - one with Sky, the other (out the back, entrance from the side street) with two fairly reasonable pool tables - and at only 50p per game they're a bargain. The pool table area also has a fruit machine that changes monthly (or so) - although I'm guessing at that frequency as I never play the lunatic machines. I'd rather be pouring that cash into the pool tables! Access between the bars is only via the toilets. Ladies one way, guys the other. Strange, but true.
Being an Irish pub there is no bitter available. The tap largers are Carlsberg, Stella and Fosters, and of course there is Guinness available, though not the extra cold variety - that would be way to posh for the Kenilworth. Basic spirits only. Prices though aren't bad. A pint of Carlsberg (probably safest) is £2.30.
Food consists of typical packet bar snacks, although very occasionally the owner has been known to produce trays of sausages, sausage rolls, or party pies close to closing time - on the house of course. A nice touch. Partake, OK? He's being nice, and it'd be churlish not to. Foods gets 2/5 because I dont think you'll get poisoned.
The crowd at Kenilworth Castle is a seriously local bunch. You certainly wont get your divas and DJ's prepping for a night of grooving. You're more likely to get Granddad and The Family prepping for a night of gurning - but at least he'll be toothless. The whole time I've been going I've only ever seen one fight, and that was a Family matter. Generally it's a very peaceful place. This is of course after about 7pm. Before this, tumbleweeds have been seen blowing around. Hence, 2/5 for atmosphere (averaged).
Saturday nights are a bit special, with a DISCO (sorry, it's in all-caps on the signs) consisting of two turntables, a stack of 5 coloured floodlights, occasionally a mirror ball, and whoever drew the short straw spinning the discs. Thankfully, it's free, and the jukebox in the pool-table side still has the volume turned up. Well worth a visit for the giggle factor, but don't let Granddad catch you laughing or he'll set The Family on you.
But does this make it all worth the effort? Yes it definitely does. I heartily and genuinely recommend a visit to Kenilworth Castle if you're prepared to put the time in to chat with the locals. They're a weird bunch, and you wont always believe (or understand!) what you hear, but it's a fantastic sociology lesson. You'll also get a great game of pool in here - a few of the locals can certainly hold their own, and if you can play a decent game you'll instantly get their respect, even if you lose. Tell Richie that Grant sent you. So, the free DISCO, genuinely interestingly odd locals, and the cheap pool playing to be had earn 4/5 for value for money.
Oh, and one last point. Stick, generally, to the pool table side. Granddad never goes in there. That said, they did have a wake a few months back, and I haven't seen him recently.
So, farewell Kenilworth Castle. I've had some fun and learned a bit about the underbelly of English society. The usual thanks Bob.
Kenilworth Castle features in our Guide to the Best Irish Bars & Pubs in London....read more
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