Okay, so I now regret suggesting The Hillgate Pub as a destination for a casual night out. I am so disappointed with my last experience, and while it could be due to the large crowds a quiz night brings, I really think the problem is that The Hillgate Pub just doesn’t have their act together.
Quiz nights are huge in London. We have them in the States (usually referred to as Trivia Night), but not like this. Pretty much every single pub dedicates a night of the week to invite its patrons to participate in an evening of eating, drinking, and test-taking. I had been dying to see what it was all about, and finally got my wish on a Monday at The Hillgate Pub. I chose this pub for my first experience since I had previously had a lovely little evening with my husband there. The place was cute and quaint, the food delicious. I headed back expecting the same level of quality and service with my sister and a couple of friends.
We got there early so we could order drinks and eat before the 8:00 trivia festivities began. The bartender said he would be right over to take orders. After looking at the menu, deciding, and waiting about 15 minutes, I got up to place the order directly with him at the bar, as he seemed tied up there and incredibly understaffed. Instead of taking my order, he told me he would be right over again, and we proceeded to wait another 10 minutes. I got up again, this time making it extremely clear that he needed to take my order, seeing as we still didn’t even have drinks yet, we were all starving, and trivia was about to begin. I placed the order and drinks eventually came over. The evening progressed with all four of us constantly trying to grab the bartender/server’s attention to refresh drinks, clear old glasses and dinner plates, and to ask for meals and sides that either never came, came out wrong, or were just plain disappointing. The entire service and dinner experience was lame, but the main focus of this night was the trivia, so let me tell you about that.
Once we were semi-drunk and full (but already irritated with the place) the trivia began. It was only £2 or something to enter, so the turnout was pretty decent. There were probably seven teams competing for a free bar tab and a little extra cash. In addition to these seven teams, there was ongoing chatter from the dining side and the bar that made it impossible to hear any of the questions. We had to stand up and ask our neighbors to repeat questions since the heavy-accented English lady had a lame microphone and spent her whole time at the opposite end of the restaurant.
It wouldn’t have mattered if we heard the questions anyway. The game was extremely challenging for foreigners, but that aside, the place seemed full of cheaters. Most tables were using their phones and the lady in charge didn’t seem that concerned. My table was full of a bunch of rule-biding citizens, so this was extremely difficult for us to witness. The whole experience was loud, unfriendly, drawn out chaos. We obviously lost, not too bad because we had one English chap on our team, but bad enough. I still love trivia and would give it another go at a different establishment, but definitely not at The Hillgate.
In summary, if you’re looking for weeknight fun, perhaps a silly, easygoing game of trivia with some drinks, friends , and food, London is the place to be. The Hillgate Pub is not.
The Hillgate Pub
24 Hillgate Street
London w8 7SR