By Euan Ferguson
The Bell has been ringing the changes. Ever since Victorian times, the Bell has been a big, busy pub on one of those big, busy London crossroads. A new husband-and-wife team took over late last year and made it the sort of place it’s hard to walk past. It's usually buzzing.
The refurbishment revealed a few choice bits of nineteenth-century interior design, to which the owners have added a few sympathetic touches – there’s a wall of William Morris-style wallpaper, a nod to the museum in his memory just along the road. There’s also a pub garden. All this has produced an open, welcoming boozer, free of too many fripperies and full of seating.
On our visit there were couples tucking into the home-cooked pub grub (burgers, steaks, several more ambitious dishes), groups of pals on sofas kicking off a night out, beer buffs on barstools working their way through the excellently kept selection of six British real ales.
The Bell was amiably loud, pleasantly packed and as hard to leave as it was to walk by. To add to the general festivity, a DJ wearing one of those flat caps only DJs wear played records from a collection that seemingly contained nothing recorded since Thatcher moved into No 10. There was even a friendly doorman who showed us where to get the right night bus home. Saved by the Bell.