The Queen Charlotte (formerly The Draft House Charlotte Street), Fitzrovia, W1

The only constant is change and change is not always for the better. Nowhere is this amalgam of clichés more apposite than the remonikered Queen Charlotte, a once fine if slightly brash boozer on the corner of Charlotte and Goodge Streets. In truth, not much has changed. But sometimes it doesn’t take much to go from acceptable to barely passable. And passing it seems the most appropriate thing to do these days.

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There was a time this crafty corner bar boozer passed muster thanks to its imaginative beer selection, its terrific location and its distinctive yet subtle décor. And that despite its somewhat ungainly layout. But no more. A lick of red paint here and a spill of varnish remover there and the place now looks like a weird pub-diner-abandoned Post Office hybrid. A shame, as most of the remaining endearing features are still intact: the beer is good, the music is adventurous (bordering on outstanding for the area). And there are still handy places to charge your smartphone should you be caught short.

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They still do ‘Daily Cask’ too – an offer on real ale that’s stupidly cheap for this part of town. It’s also a great place for people watching with its wide windows on the world. A real feast of characters and no-marks drift past every second.

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But it’s a place that has had its edges sharpened. Its accents accentuated. Its blurred lines brought back into bold, primary coloured focus. And though the music is no longer blared out at ear-bleeding volume, everything else conspires to make it less comfortable and welcoming than it wasn’t before. A disappointment. Things didn’t need to go this way.

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