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Aw, people make their jibes at All Bar One but the place continues to multiply their cardboard cutout chain stores and restaurants all over the country. Certainly, the bar has been equated with middle class values, unimagination, death to the mom and pop shop.
It may be all of these things but I find some comfort in the All Bar One chain. There seems to be at least one on every High Street in every London borough (still a sign, I believe, of up-and-coming trendy status of a town). Every bar will have the same look and feel- blonde wood floors, the marble counters, shelves of wine bottles behind the bar. Free newspapers and games available. The same All Bar One style writing on the wall blackboard which lists the menu.
I like it particularly because the beer on draft is good, the wines on offer are very good and it is all very predictable- the same no matter if I'm in Putney or Notting Hill. And the food is pretty good- with very generous portions. Perfect fodder for a comforting sort of Friday lunch time routine. It has its appeal.
If you don't believe it, just walk into your local All Bar One one rainy cold afternoon. Have the bangers and mash and a tall pint of Stella. Pull up a chair, tuck into one of the newspapers on offer and see if you don't feel absolutely cosy like a bug snug in a rug.