Of course, by the time I got around to actually putting this little thing into action, not only has the credit crunch brought my industry to its knees but worse I seem to have been afflicted by 'boring pub' syndrome, as my unemployed, or soon to be, crews keep insisting on 'cheap as chips' venues.
Which brings me nicely to the Bull Inn in Bishopsgate, which is where Friday night drinks kicked off. We were there to meet the Spaniard, who incidentally is English, and was over for a weekend of indecently bad behaviour. The beers flowed freely as he regaled us with stories about his recent 'adventures'. Not to be repeated on a site like this, but certainly enough to make yours truly physically (as opposed to metaphorically) blush. The Bull itself is everything that people dislike about they city - male-dominated, suited and conservative. However it's not entirely without merit. Great service, a decent selection of wine and beers, and a very nice atmosphere despite the 'cityness'.
The Northerner and I decided it was time to move on for food and headed for Shoreditch. En route we dropped into Jamies wine bar on Bishopsgate to have a cheeky vino with the Senorita who is actually Spanish, who was surrounded by a gang of fawning men, of which only one was her boyfriend. The fact that Jamies is, and markets itself as a 'wine bar' in the city probably tells you all that you need to know about it. I don't think I'm doing it a disservice by describing it as a downmarket Corney and Barrow. Nevertheless it does all those things that city bars do so well, with great service, a stonkingly good selection of top notch wine and beers, and a post-work atmosphere of splendid denial of the financial crisis, meaning that it certainly was a festive and fun stop.
We said our farewells to the Senorita and headed up to the Diner on Curtain Road. The place has successfully transposed the food and ambience of a Manhattan diner right to the very heart of Shoreditch - great food and drinks all served by local hipsters and pretty young things, waiting for their big break into the music, fashion or film industry. The ambience is good although a little on the tourist side as Europeans and non-local Brits try and get a slice of cool East End action. I have a couple of rather pretentious friends who have stated that Shoreditch is no longer 'cool' and going out on a Friday night is like being in a Disney theme park. Two points to make here. Given that these guys live in and frequent pubs and bars around Islington probably undermines any credibility they have as to reliable judges of what's 'cool'. And also, I don't know what Disney theme parks they go to, but if it has the number of great bars, music and funky well dressed people as the Ditch, then I'm packing my Mickey Mouse ears and heading for the Eurostar.
Back to The Diner, which is a superb place to drop in for a drink and food and is the perfect spot to observe the hip and wannabe cool kids of East London. It's also the perfect antidote to the City and a great place to round off the week. Roll on Saturday night.