The Great Beer Pull

I have blogged at length about our friends at The Marksman, I believe. But did I tell you that the landlady operates a barter system on a chosen night about once a month? A patron may make an offer to the landlady, usually for an item on her Wish List. If she likes what you offer, she might just buy you a pint! Apparently, an unnamed food stuff from the states and a few certain cds are a valuable trade indeed. The landlady graciously agreed to allow me to pull beer for myself and my lunch guests, Drew and Lauren, in exchange for her overseas treats. I am not sure she came out ahead in the deal, but I am really pleased to have memories (and photos) to share with you – and some day my kids.

Speaking of kids, the pitter patter of two more little feet are soon to be heard at The Marksman! Dawn and Gary do make a beautiful baby, so I look forward to meeting the January babe when mom and baby are out and about.

Why beer pulling? Yeah, I understand why you might be confused by my desire to learn this skill. It’s all part of my quest to understand the culture of the community pub. I couldn’t think of a warmer, more fun place than here among these people to learn about the art of pulling beer and pub ownership.

Just look at the glow. Doesn’t it just look like “the old” and “the new” got cozy here together in this pub?
marksman bar

First, there was a brief lesson on glasses.
lesson on glasses

Then, we started with the most complicated pull of the day: Guinness.

And then I waited for the Guinness to settle.
waiting on guinness

Lauren ordered a Red Stripe. Easy. (Please, forgive the face that I am making.)
lauren and red stripe

David, Gary – I can’t thank you enough!

Thanks also to Michael for the unexpected lesson in cocktail making! Can you bring the crew ’round to our new place for dinner and another lesson? Let’s say… housewarming party? I’ll provide dinner and materials.

My little blog is not much in the way of PUB-licity (hahahaha!) for my friends at The Marksman, but I am pleased to sing their praises nonetheless.

Hey there facebook friends, check out our entry on the web to really make my day! (Oh, and become a fan of The Marksman on Facebook.)

Dolly Parton and Ladyhawke

What do Dolly Parton and Ladyhawke have in common? Well, I know that they both get airtime at my favorite local pub. Do you know how much that pleases me? Consider this your informative bulletin.

Emily is back from Madrid and Lauren survived her big press release on Friday so we headed to The Marksman to celebrate.  (Ok, maybe we would make up any ‘ol excuse to take people to The Marksman.)
em and lauren

And we sang 9 to 5 followed by My Delirium, ate too much, laughed, shared, rolled out the door blowing kisses to a handsome Australian food expert… Ah, yum. 

Drew took his leave after lunch to work at home (ick, bleck, eww. Yes, I said ‘work’ on a Sunday). So, the ladies and I wandered through the flower market on Columbia Road. Lauren treated me to beautiful yellow and golden orange Gerber daisies. They really do a lot for my stark white flat.

We popped into a couple of really great shops. I got Drew a little present – I got one for a lucky blog reader as well, so it must remain a surprise until the next Giveaway…

*Emily treated me to Cava sangria later that evening, which we served in my new, hot little retro pitcher.

Emily, Drew and I sat in our pajamas sipping sangria as we watched the first episode of this season’s Dr. Who – LIVE. We have finally gotten on the British Dr. Who watching schedule…  Seriously folks.  I think we are really in London.

* I was totally spoiled after a few hours with my girls… And if you have Emily as a house guest, she makes you tea and does your dishes. Lauren will arrange your flowers if you’ll have her over for some tea. When are you ladies coming over again?!

Pretty please, visit our website.

Oh. My. Marksman.

You may or may not remember how much we love The Marksman. We’ve only mentioned it several times.

We have an excuse for bringing it back up – the menu has grown, a new chef is in residence, and we can. Because it’s our website.

This Sunday we were accompanied by two lovely ladies, Emily and Lauren. Lauren assured me that the Bloody Mary is the best she has ever had. And the presentation delivered on its promise.
blody mary

David recommended the roast to our meat eating friends. It mysteriously disappeared from their plates as the conversation wandered in circles. Let’s be honest, ladies don’t clean their plates. (Or do they?!)

Drew and I enjoyed omelets from the brunch menu. I had no idea what David was talking about last time when he said that breakfast and beer were good company for one another, but I think I understand now. When breakfast is eaten in the afternoon, it does make sense – whether or not there was a bender the night before.

David also recommended the Chocolate Fondant. (It’s what some of you Americans might call a molten cake with a side of cream whipped so long it’s the consistency of butter.) Order it. Trust me. I could not get a photo before the spoons starting flying!

choc fondant

Both of the owners stopped by to say hello – and we heard the good news that their daughter will soon be a big sister! I am not sure I could love them more. And I barely know them… It’s just so nice to feel at home.

DrewandJengotoLondon. Simples.

That’s What I Love About Sunday

On Sunday we got quite a late start. We still made it to the Columbia Road Flower Market before the crowd had thinned for the afternoon and managed as well to stop in two funky shops for art purchases. By then our stomachs were growling more loudly than we were speaking. I was so happy to sink down at our (newly) regular table for lunch at The Marksman!


We’ve been asked where to find the best fish ‘n’ chips in London and haven’t been able to produce an answer, but we are happy to report that we’ve found it! Just look at this plate…

fish n chips

Their secret might be that they start with sea bass… It’s served with a really yummy homemade tartar sauce (and David played us a little Dolly Parton so that we would feel at home).  Unfortunately, you may not find your favorite main on the menu as it is seasonal and often rotates so that patrons don’t get bored; just ask them what’s on the menu for the day when you book your table.

lunch at marksman

It’s so swank and local to say that we got to meet both of the owners, Dawn and Gary and their beautiful baby Marlowe.  Dawn made time to talk to us despite the fact she was enjoying her own Sunday lunch!  Don’t worry. If you missed it your first trip, we’ll get there on your next.

After lunch, we wandered along the east side canal until it started raining.  There are so many great old and new buildings to see along this section – on the east side there less pubs and crowds of people, though there are still interesting bits worth the wander.  I think Megan picked out several flats with patios that she’s ready to let.  When Emma gets ready to open in London, I know the first girl who will be on the boat over the ocean!  Bring it.

One Pub, Two Pubs, Three Pubs, Tums

Last Sunday we took our lovely Nashville friends to the Columbia Road Flower Market before hitting The Marksman of Shoreditch for a proper pub lunch.

flower market

marksman pub

With full bellies we wandered to Holborn for a round at The Ship. (Ok, I may have had sparkling apple juice and a hand full of Tums. Whatever.)

ship drinks

After drinks, we visited Whittard Tea in the Covent Garden Piazza. Of course, being in proximity to Covent Garden warranted a trip to Porterhouse Pub.

porterhouse drinks

A short walk away to Soho and we couldn’t resist our favorite little Japanese skewer restaurant Bincho Yakitori. I wish I had photos of the food! Drew and I had the tofu – I had the very yummy vegetable rice as well. Yeah, that’s my party pooping water. Laugh if you must.

bincho drinks

After dinner we retired to the flat for ice cream, chocolate cupcakes, video games, and planning for J & Q’s trip to Paris the next day (Monday).  Yes, Paris and back in one day.  Crazy.  (Shakes head.)  They got a cab at 3am, flew at 8, and arrived back at the flat around 11pm with yummy Parisian treats.  I must admit that I had not done much in their absence besides surviving my first day back at work.  Once again, I was very thankful to be with friends.

Columbia Road Flower Market

In Shoreditch there is a lovely Sunday stroll squeeze I recommend: the Columbia Road Flower Market.

I couldn’t help but think about how much my mom (and her mother) loved peonies.


But I also started thinking about Danielle’s bouquet…  Did I mention my oldest younger sister is getting married?!  Yeah, the wheels are already spinning in my head…  (No, pressure Danielle.  Rock that NCLEX and we’ll talk then, haha!)

The prices are quite competitive and the flowers seem to be of such good quality.

random 3

I guess that’s what happens when vendors sell so close together.  It’s also probably the case that these flower are direct from the farm.

random 2

I wonder what kind of flowers are Andrea’s and Ashlee’s favorites, too…

random 4

Ah, how I love how simple and messy this little bunch is.  Kind of like me : )

random 5

You can also get great pottery and vases along the way.  Other specialty shops line the streets, though I couldn’t see everything that was featured while fighting the crowd and trying to keep an eye on our friends.  I do highly recommend the flower market, even if you just wander through for an eyeful…  Then, head over to The Marksman for a pint or a Sunday Roast (the vegetarian options are quite good as well)!

Columbia Road
E2 7RG
020 7377 8963

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The Marksman

The Marksman, a lovely pub in Shoreditch, is a gem of a find.  Our aim in wandering that way was to give Jane and Quinn a local east side Sunday experience, complete with the wonder that is Columbia Road Flower Market and a proper Sunday roast.  We squeezed through the flower market with grumbling bellies and an eye on the threatening sky.  (Thankfully, we did not need a reservation, though next time I may make one, now knowing how popular this spot is.)  You might not have guessed that a Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette song would be playing as we sat down or that Willy Nelson would serenade us through our pre-dinner convo…  David (as our fantastic server is known by day) quickly assured us that he did not know that we Nashville natives were coming  – the locals just request a little country music now and again.

David lined up a round for us and was kind enough to give us his recommendations. He also coined my new favorite phrase, “When in London, do as your friends from Tennessee do in London”.
marksman drinks

Jane and Quinn chose the traditional Sunday Roast option. After all, that was the point.

sunday roast

(Jane and Quinn enjoyed the roast.)

sunday roast leftover

Drew had a delicious pastry filled with oyster mushrooms and cream cheese.

marksman veg plate

(I can’t recall why I didn’t get a photo of my hummus salad, green beans, and fat chips!?)

So, the verdict on The Marksman? Book a table this Sunday. Take or meet friends. The food is tasty and a very good value. If you are lucky enough to meet David, engage him in conversation. He is a riot!

Marksman Pub
254, Hackney Rd
London, E2 7SJ
020 7739 7393

Yes, Like Mozart

Slightly east and ever so north of our neighborhood lies another that is host to busy weekend shoppers and pub crawlers.  Shoreditch is home to our new friend, and on this occasion our tour guide, Wolfie.  (How cool is it that we know someone named Woldgang?!)  He led us past the Moorgate area and beyond Liverpool Street Station to the Spitalfields Market.  It’s less fruit and veg than Borough Market south of the river and more of an urban, covered, trendy flea market.  The vendors are surrounded by restaurants and shops to break things up.

Surrounding the market are well known locations like S & M (Sausage and Mash, of course!  Get your mind out of the gutter; our grannies read this stuff!) and The Ten Bells pub.  The Ten Bells looks like it hasn’t been touched much on the outside since the 1600s when a regular patron was rumored to be a victim of Jack the Ripper.

A few short minutes away is the open air market of Brick Lane, home of The Big Chill and Rootmaster, as well as the very best in affordable Bangladeshi cuisine as previously mentioned.  I have to go on record stating that Brick Lane is overrated – for my taste.  Crowds, hustlers, and dodgy street vendors are intimidating to little ‘ol me.  The shops that line the street on either side are, however, more manageable at a good time of day.

Beyond Brick Lane is the Flower Market.  I wish, I wish, I wish that my camera had not pooped out by the time we got there!  Orange trees, bamboo, God-knows-whatsits, oh my!  There’s a fantastic smell and color for a mile.

Tucked in alleys all along the high street are cozy pubs with great food for sharing or for keeping to yourself…  There are people in the streets playing badminton and kids on bikes.  When the door of the pub swings open as you walk by, there is a rush of sports on the telly and laughter; it must still be early in the match and everyone’s rooting for the same side!