The original intention was to head into London, but with the weather on the brink of turning the capital into one giant paddling pool, we decided to head to a pub in Harrow for a bite to eat. Okay, technically still London but sufficiently far from the Thames as to downgrade the wetness status to verruca pool.
The place we were aiming for was up near the Grim's Dyke hotel, a name which conjures up dark images of tattooed, cookie-wielding lesbians, tempting innocent folk into their den of iniquity. I'm sure it's actually a nice place...
Pulling into the dark, muddy, pothole-laden, water-logged car park opposite the hotel, you'd be forgiven for thinking we'd just pulled into either a dogging site or a drug den, judging by the randomly parked cars with steamy windows, though the odours wafting through the air-con suggested the latter. Needless to say, we found a parking spot away from all the action and nearer the pub we were heading to.
The outside of the place, looking from the road, didn't look too bad and that's when I saw the name: The Case is Altered. Bizarre name, to be honest, but it looked alright and didn't seem like a loud and busy place. So we went in.
We were greeted by a friendly young lady who confirmed they were still offering food and led us into the bar area, asking where we would like to sit. Oh, such choice. There was a reason the place didn't seem loud and busy: it was emptier than space. I half expected a vacuum to form and suck us out into the darkness beyond the conservatory. Mr F and I shared an 'oh, shit' look but picked a table anyway and sat down as the menus were placed in front of us.
The menus were the first clue that the pub couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be. We were each given three menus, clipped together. The main menu was a menu normally found in an Indian restaurant, which this place certainly didn't seem to be. Tagged onto the front of this were a smaller menu and a sheet of paper with three burgers detailed on it. Neither of us were in the mood for curry, so opted for a burger, which we ordered with a couple of glasses of wine (we stuck with glasses as the wine menu was full of wines available at the supermarket but being charged three times the cost).
Indecisiveness wasn't limited to the menus either. Looking around the place, the ornaments ranged from classic English-styled pottery to representations of Buddha, whilst the music ranged from Brit pop of the 90s to French performances of Opera performed by famous Italian artists (well, famous in Italy, at least), all presented in the whites and pale greens normally found in wannabe wine bars.
When the food came, there was far more of it than I expected and it was actually hot: though considering the number of customers in the place, there was no excuse for it not to be. Although the burger bun was more air than bread, the food wasn't too bad, at a level you would expect from any half-decent pub. Which begs the question: why was the place so deserted? At 9pm on a Friday night it should have been busy with people spending their wages on a relaxing evening with their friends. Even when there are high-profile events on, there are usually a handful of people that still go out and socialise. There are only three things that come to mind to explain the lack of clientele:
- Perhaps the place had developed a bad reputation from the previous owners.
- The rather eclectic (and indecisive) nature of the place may not put people at ease.
- The rather dodgy car park you have to park in
It could be any one of these, or a combination of all of them. Either way, if they don't do something effective to get people in there soon, then they could be changing their name yet again, to The Case is Closed.