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Desperately trying to find traditional pub food in London

IsabellaD Jun 16, 2009 01:16 PM

Hi all,
This is my very first posting.

I just came across the website tonight. A Fantastic find:)

I am an Australian who has been working in London for the last five months ( a food tragic, Borough markets the only option for a girl to shop...forget about clothes!)and my contract is about to finish, so I am about to go home via France.( that is for another posting).

I have had the pleasure of eating in plenty of traditional english pubs in Wales,Gloucester,Oxford and Norfolk but I am yet to find one in London. I have friends coming to visit in a weeks time, who have not been to the UK for 20 years. They lived here and have a very romantic view of what it is like to eat in a pub( traditional English food). I have only experienced those average Gastro-Pubs! Who came up with that name??? Some of my experiences have been Gastro.... not Gastronomic!

Currently living in Clapham but I have heard that the 'Dove' in Hammersmith is good for a Sunday lunch.
Can anyone help?

  1. Paprikaboy Jun 16, 2009 01:54 PM

    Hi Isabella,


    Not sure form your post if you want an excellent gastro pub or are really looking for a pub that serves English pub food from 20 years ago (not advisable!)

    The Harwood Arms in Fulham serves excellent food, full stop. It maybe a bit restauranty during the week but does more of Sunday roast menu at Sunday luchtimes.
    It's my new fave at the moment & I would recommend it highly.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Paprikaboy
      IsabellaD Jun 16, 2009 03:41 PM

      Hi Paprikaboy,
      I was looking for english pub food from 20 years ago but I do take your advice....Don't do it!
      Food sounds fantastic.... I so far have not come across anything like it....I must be living in the wrong area for food like this in a pub as I have only come across it in restaurants.

      Thank you.

      Do you have any others as they are here for a week, maybe with more traditional looking decor. I know....I am being difficult but just trying to cover all my bases with the travellers:)
      For non pub meals I am taking them to Tsunami in Clapham ( brilliant if you like French/japanese food) and Galvins in Regent street( for good french Bistro Food).

      1. re: IsabellaD
        foreignmuck Jun 16, 2009 04:52 PM

        The Atlas in west brompton ( one stop on the overground from Clapham Junction) is a very traditional, English pub which serves excellent food with a Mediterranean twist. A bit more rustic and pubby than the Harwood. You cant go wrong...


        1. re: foreignmuck
          IsabellaD Jun 17, 2009 01:40 AM

          Another one for the list:) Thanks

          1. re: foreignmuck
            batfink23 Jun 17, 2009 03:13 AM

            I love the Atlas and their sister The Fox & Hounds...

            but they're both mediterraean food, with not a chip in sight - not quite traditional.

          2. re: IsabellaD
            pj26 Jun 17, 2009 03:36 AM

            I'm not sure what your budget is, but if I were you, I would give Galvins a miss (unless you are heading to their restaurant Windows for the view?) and head to Trinity in Clapham. The food is absolutely outstanding - I think it won restaurant of the year last year (which I was upset about as it meant getting a table was more difficult!).They have a pretty good deal on their meny prix fixe. Try to get there before heading back to Oz if you can.

            1. re: pj26
              limster Jun 17, 2009 03:39 AM

              To echo that sentiment, my meal at Galvin bistro de luxe was merely above average.

              1. re: pj26
                batfink23 Jun 17, 2009 03:59 AM

                i've never been sure about Trinity, just doesn't seem as good as when Byatt was at Thyme. but plenty of people do seem to like it.

                I love Racine for french bistro food though.

                1. re: batfink23
                  limster Jun 17, 2009 04:06 AM

                  Racine's food is excellent, but the prices are steep, which is what one would expect in that neighbourhood.

                2. re: pj26
                  IsabellaD Jun 17, 2009 07:51 AM

                  Budget is not a concern, as you only live once and Life is too short for bad food!

                  Love the look of Trinity and I have been to Galvins a number of times ( lHave been lucky ,not had a bad meal yet) so i think i will give Trinity a go. It is much closer to home as well:)
                  Thank you.

            2. limster Jun 16, 2009 03:39 PM

              How about giving the White Horse in Parson's Green a try? I had a very well made meal recently at the Duke of Wellington in Marylebone, basically a sunday roast.

              3 Replies
              1. re: limster
                zuriga1 Jun 16, 2009 10:09 PM

                A few reviews I've read of the Duke of Wellington call it a French restaurant/pub. Is that true during the week I wonder? It does get very good press, but the slant seems to be Gallic.

                1. re: limster
                  IsabellaD Jun 17, 2009 01:43 AM

                  Hi Limster, It does seem a bit more of a restaurant but we are looking for somewhere for the Sunday roast. How was it?

                  1. re: IsabellaD
                    limster Jun 17, 2009 03:01 AM


                    The downstairs part is basically a pub, where I ate; haven't been upstairs, so perhaps that might be the more "restauranty" part.

                    Here's a link to an older post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620390

                    I basically had sunday roast there and liked it.

                    I've only been there on a Sunday, but cimui (in the thread I linked) thinks that it's "run-of-the-mill pub-style" although whether it's also the sunday menu is not clear.

                2. m
                  miss chicken wing Jun 17, 2009 12:39 AM

                  Try The Beehive in Crawford Street, W1, The Grenadier in SW1 or The Charles Lamb in N1.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: miss chicken wing
                    IsabellaD Jun 17, 2009 01:40 AM

                    Thank you:) The Grenadier looks like a great on to take them for a drink. Has all the right looks about it!

                    1. re: IsabellaD
                      zuriga1 Jun 17, 2009 01:58 AM

                      The Grenadier was the first-ever pub I went to... back in the Stone Age. If it's still the same (and I'm sure it is), the atmosphere is perfect for a visitor. It's tucked away on a side street and is very picturesque. I can't vouch for food there - it was good when most of the food in London was not. :-)

                      1. re: IsabellaD
                        millema Jun 17, 2009 02:06 AM

                        the grenadier's mews location and rickety , old school decor is almost what one would hope to see in the country but its slap in the middle of the city , fantastic . It oozes character ,and yes ,most customers are monied american businessmen but maybe said american businessmen know a good thing when they find it ! On the other hand it doesnt have quite the same atmosphere as it used to , the infamous bloody mary is not upto the grade since the past landlord left but most importantly -- the food is poor (but to be honest thats always been the case ) . I still love the pub but never to eat in . Its usually a great place for an early sharpener before the bargain priced lunch menus at marcus wareing or zafferano .

                        1. re: millema
                          IsabellaD Jun 17, 2009 07:55 AM

                          I will take your advice and go for a drink if only just to take in the decor:)

                          1. re: IsabellaD
                            Robin Joy Jun 18, 2009 12:22 AM

                            The Grenadier is not at all a bad spot, but it's a bit like having a drink on a film set. More real world are The Antelope in Eaton Terrace and The Star Tavern in Belgrave Mews West (Star does excellent non-Gastro pub food).

                    2. b
                      batfink23 Jun 17, 2009 03:12 AM

                      most traditional pubs never served food beyond scratchings and a pickled egg.
                      maybe the odd pork pie.

                      I'm not sure its clear what you're looking for.

                      1. j
                        Joan Kureczka Jun 19, 2009 02:11 PM

                        Actually we've had some very good pub food at The Lamb on Lamb's Conduit, which is a superb pub at any time.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Joan Kureczka
                          IsabellaD Jun 21, 2009 01:26 AM

                          Looks great! Thank you for the suggestion. Added to the list:)

                        2. penthouse pup Jun 21, 2009 11:44 AM

                          Along with the Lamb, try Marquess Anglesy in Covent Garden, 39 Bow Street.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: penthouse pup
                            PhilD Jun 21, 2009 11:06 PM

                            The menu has "may contain nuts, or traces of nuts" at the bottom. This is usually a good sign that much of the food is frozen and is bought in from one of the big wholesale caterers. However, theses days, that is a good indication that it is genuine "traditional" pub food....!

                          2. oonth Jun 22, 2009 03:53 AM

                            Might as well plug my part of town:

                            Holly Bush - http://www.hollybushpub.com/

                            Spaniards Inn - http://www.thespaniardshampstead.co.uk/

                            2 legendary North London boozers with pleasant locations and a certain amount of Olde England charm. I'm told that the food at both places has improved in recent times.

                            You might also want to search for the recent Guardian article on best pubs in the UK which lists a number of London's usual suspects.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: oonth
                              batfink23 Jun 22, 2009 03:55 AM

                              prince of wales in putney is very good.

                              1. re: batfink23
                                oonth Jun 22, 2009 04:30 AM

                                .........as is the sister Bull & Last on Highgate Road.

                                1. re: oonth
                                  batfink23 Jun 22, 2009 06:08 AM

                                  have you been to both? any thoughts on comparisons?

                                  1. re: batfink23
                                    oonth Jun 22, 2009 09:03 AM

                                    haven't been to PoW but would like to especially as east putney is an old stamping ground of mine so would be a nice walk down memory lane.

                                    B&L, I've enjoyed mostly for weekday lunchtimes as evenings and weekends, it becomes a real mob scene. trying to recall which dishes have stood out, probably pork cheeks and the choc orange fondant from recent visits but everything i've tried has been well and simply executed using ingredients with good provenance which I guess is their modus.

                                    1. re: oonth
                                      justmarried Jun 26, 2009 04:04 AM

                                      what about the Gunmakers Arms? Up near Marlybone, old fashined food but home made - scotch eggs, steak ansd chips etc. Winston Churchill used to drink there too so there is a bit of heritage! Food isnt amazing but is reasonable priced,.

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