A bold move, this one – in an area where lager-swigging office workers throng pavements outside pubs every workday evening, this venture grabs the current London trend of serving only craft beer and runs with it.
The oddly shaped corner bar room, knocked through from three smaller units, has been cleverly configured to give it a perfect 1950s austerity feel, with globe pendants, brown tiles and paintings of dogs in pubs. The name apparently comes from the ‘folk of Bloomsbury and Holborn parishes’ indulging in whippet racing in the nineteenth century – I can’t imagine such a pastime occuring in the pleasant squares of that area, which were mainly laid out in the 1700s, and haven’t been able to find any verification of it, but more dogged research might yield results.
The Whippet is open for customers, but it’s also very much a work in progress. The pizza advertised on the website took a few weeks to actually appear in the venue.The cellar that houses the toilets and kitchen was a bit of a building site on our visits, although we were assured big screens would be in place for this week’s Euro 2012 kick-off. And not all the staff seem to have the levels of enthusiasm and expertise a pub like this needs. Enquiring about the Thornbridge Brother Rabbit, I was told: ‘It’s a bitter. An ale.’ Further details or incentives to purchase were not forthcoming.
But still, it’s a cracking beer selection, and perhaps the only pub like it I’ve seen that sells only draught. Sixteen beers and ciders on constant rotation are dispensed from a central column, upon which blackboards advertise the current offer in a rather abstruse way. Decode it though and you’ll find the superb likes of Adnams, Bristol Beer Company, Dark Star and Williams Bros from the UK, and Konig, St Bernardus and Maisel from over the German Sea.
Any negatives are hopefully only down to the fact that the Whippet’s still a puppy. It’s a great thing to visit on a sunny evening, as I did, and see crowds of thirsty revellers with pints of proper cask and craft keg beers from independent breweries. If Holborn goes to the dogs, it can only be a good thing.