A visit to Clause (1 Lovat Lane, London, EC3R 8DT) served to prove that not even free drinks can save a drinking experience. It was a slow Friday afternoon when Vernon suggested a few after work drinks and a catch up. Knowing little about Clause other than its name and location I soon formed a picture of what to expect: something on a par with a posh Slug and Lettuce. I wasn't far wrong. Checking a review site the most I could derive apart from slow service, lack of draught and a wealth of "Essex totty" was that it was "a turd floating in the sewer of city bars". Having always thought of myself as having an open mind I thought how bad could it be?

I arrived at Clause to find Vernon and another friend already settled at the bottom of the stairs with a bottle of cheap white wine. Ready for a quick exit (I hoped). Apparently the wine was free, which explained Vernon's insistence on the venue. With the alternative overpriced bottled beer I poured a large glass. Immediate thoughts were that it would blend into the image of many bars that I have reluctantly agreed to meet friends in over the years (while dreaming of a decent pub). I'll however have no trouble remembering it. Within an hour we had witnessed the same person fall from his chair three times, attempt a Haka, grab a female member of staff and finally exchange words with Vernon for repeatedly kicking his chair. At 6:30pm this is never a good sign, nor is the apparent blindness of the staff to his state.

Another bottle of now half priced wine followed as did the obligatory silver plate. Providing a £1 tip for a £7 bottle of wine was enough to turn a forced smile into a scowl. Ending the evening with a free jug of cocktails from the Essex girls on the next table ("we asked for Sex on the Beach but we got Tequila Sunrise"... A joke here would be just too easy) was enough to make me oblivious to the speaker above my head pumping out light RnB at a volume akin to standing next to an air raid siren.

The next morning I awoke with a thumping headache and ringing in my ears; not surprising when you think about mixing cheap white with even cheaper Tequila. There was a time when some free drinks were something to be applauded. In fact there has never be a substitute for good service, choice, music, clientelle... i could go on but I think the point is made. Would I describe it as "a turd floating in the sewer of city bars"? Not at all, I'd describe it as a City bar. I knew exactly what I was going to get. And I got it. If only I'd remember to get the aspirin as well.

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