Our visit to St Cross bar didn’t start on a promising note, stumbling around Pusey Lane, vomming at the sight of the Oriental Institute, mistakenly wandering into Regent’s Park, and then wondering whether St Cross does in fact exist at all. Luckily it turns out it does – behind a clusterfuck of scaffolding and shattered dreams. We managed to find an access door designed for construction staff and tailgated some rando postgrad on a bike into the hallowed college. Our first sight was of an abandoned supermarket shopping trolley casually left round the back of the chapel – maybe some masters students got a bit too smashed on intellectualism while writing their irrelevant theses on thirteenth-century Lithuanian puppet theatre and decided to go to Tesco and loot the place dry. Or maybe not.
Once inside, we were briefly distracted from our mission by the surprisingly pretty archways, and got lost in one of their quads. When we eventually managed to break in without a key card, we found the bar tucked away down a stone spiral staircase. The bar’s décor is striving to be Titania’s leafy Midsummer’s Night Dream glen or Poison Ivy’s lair, with sprigs of fake greenery and parsley hung from the beams. Instead, it hits the note of a cheap shitty Italian chain that you used to go to with your mates when you were fourteen (they just need Frank Sinatra playing on loop), and the token plastic plants are as impressive as bop decorations. The floors were tiled with cheap red tiling that would seem more at home in a public lavatory than in an establishment that supposedly serves the neeky elite. In one corner sits a crummy-looking upright piano reminded you of a tragic low-end backpackers pub going out of business. This is the only bar to have a piano, although maybe that speaks volumes about the clientele.
On to the positives – they serve two pound cocktails that include Dark ‘n’ Stormys, margaritas and daiquiris. And to be fair, they were the best cocktails we had ever had outside of Raoul’s. The beer selection is akin to the Turf Tavern – a selection of IPAs, all your classics, and even a couple of local brews. Lagers and ciders are in the mix too so we’re all happy, even your decrepit aunt. Trying hard to fit in with the geriatric vibe and pretending to be boring post grads, we ordered their drink of the month, a Singapore Sling, which was fantastic. On Sundays they also do brunch, a welcome respite from breakfast.
If St Cross was actually interesting, it would make a for a great bar. Shame, to be honest. I won’t be returning.