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Review: Union Square at The O2, Greenwich
Any visitors to the vast overturned salad bowl that is the O2 in Greenwich will have seen Union Square.
It's the first boozer you see as you enter the airy antechamber entrance hall on your way to see such greats as Olly Murs and the cast of Glee as they warble their hearts out in the world's most expensive New Year's Party venue.
A hardy few concert-goers will scurry past this hostelry eager to get to their seat four hours early lest they miss their idols peeking out from behind their curtain for a millisecond.
But a larger hardcore will stroll past the faux lawn and plastic fairy light lit tree and sink a few pints before the show meaning in the lead up to curtains up this pub gets seriously busy.
Sensibly I visited on a sedate Sunday afternoon so I had my pick of the leather sofas to sit on.
The wood panelled lounge bar is suffering something of an identity crisis.
It has the look of a drawing room from a stately home with fireplaces, large mirrors, heavy dark brown sofas and chunky curtains then throws in the contents of a Native American museum alongside items bought from a taxidermist’s closing down sale.
Pictures of colonialists and Indian chiefs hang next to stag's antlers and several stuffed animals’ heads with one particularly beady eyed moose above the bar looking as if it was about to erupt into a Big Mouth Billy Bass rendition of Don't Worry, Be Happy at any moment.
It is described as American West on its website and I will have to take them at their word that some corner of the States models itself this way.
Beer-wise it was firmly an English pub with the notable exception of two Belgian lagers which I had not encountered elsewhere.
No real ale on offer, but nobody with a beard and pullover combo within 50 yards either.
Prices were not cheap but that was to be expected in the captive audience cocoon of The O2.
Footballer's WAGs off to see Beyoncé or Lady Gaga are well catered for too as a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne will only set you back £550.
I blew the froth off a pint of Amstel and browsed an extensive menu ranging from classic pub grub at the bar to more fancy dishes including sea bass fillets at the upstairs restaurant section.
As a pre-show bar it works perfectly.
It's accessible, has plenty of seating and you can get a pint before Snoop Dogg gets his own Gin n Juice out on stage.
But as a pub designed to attract regulars it fails to inspire.
It's a little impersonal, a little chilly when it's empty and doesn't offer any return value.
How Union Square rates:
DECOR: *** (random mixture of stuffed animals, Indian chiefs and American West )
DRINK: **** (plenty of lager, champagne and cocktails)
PRICE: *** (Fairly costly, captive audience prices - bottled beer £3.95 and bottled cider £5.50)
ATMOSPHERE: *** (chilly and empty on Sunday afternoon but must be rammed and warm before shows)
STAFF: **** (very friendly)
Address: Union Square, O2 Arena, Unit 11, Greenwich, SE10 0DX