Over the last ten years, I must have spent fifty evenings in the Huntsman Pub, located in the basement of the Landmark Hotel. Good service, decent food, and a great selection of drinks, but none of that really matters. The real reason I go there is the bar band, Sweet Inspiration, which to my mind has been, on and off, the best bar band I`ve ever heard.
This is a big room, which probably can seat a couple of hundred people. The tables are large, and the seats and booths comfortable. Most have a reasonable view of the stage, although those at the far back not so much. I have never been in when there were less than 25 customers, nor when there were more than 100. Perfect.
There are quite a lot of servers, and usually the service is quite good. Every once in a while it can get inattentive, but that is the exception, not the rule. I haven`t been able to track why it goes south. Seems random, and the only answer (that works) is patience.
Food is a fairly broad selection, with some decent British pub food, plus a number of other European and North American selections. I particularly like the vegetable samosas, but I also had a pretty good cottage pie there the other day.
It`s true that there are often a few working girls sitting at the bar, regulars who are a bit older. However, they won`t bother you if you show you aren`t interested. It isn`t that type of place.
And then there`s the band. This Filipino group has been there every night as long as I`ve been coming here, which is many years. The four guys playing the instruments (two guitars, drums, and organ) appear to be the same since the beginning, although honestly I have never paid as much attention to them as to the singers.
Of the two female singers, one has been there since the beginning, and although getting a little older (aren`t we all) can still take a song and make you wonder who sang it before her. For the longest time, she appeared to be the leader of the group, and there were a number of other singers that worked with her, sometimes one other and sometimes two. Now there is one younger singer who has been there for the last couple of years, and has what amounts to equal billing. She can also belt it out, although she still has to learn a bit more from her older partner.
Their range is unpredictable, which means that they play what you would expect, but then songs that you don`t expect. All good. Their best song (for me), Bohemian Rhapsody, is one of a few Queen songs they do. But, they also do covers of a number of diva-type songs - from Beyonce, Mariah Carey, etc. - as you would expect with two exceptional female voices fronting the group. Just when I think I can pin them down, they will sing a song that is completely out of left field. Still good, just unexpected.
You`d think by now they would have lost the room. You can only perform in the same place so long, before you aren`t new any more. And, indeed, if I were honest I`d say that they are probably a little tired today compared to when I first saw them years ago. (However, that could be me getting a little tired, not them, I suppose.) That having been said, they still get the joint hopping every night, and they are still my favourite bar bad anywhere.
That sums up the Huntsman. Go for the music. The food, service, and atmosphere are added benefits.
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