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London pub recs?

Surprising my husband with a trip to London in May and he loves his food and his beer. He's never been to London and I've spent limited time, so I'm scouring the boards and asking friends (who can keep a secret!)

Pubs for atmosphere? How are gastropubs like Orange and the Grazing Goat?

Read good things about the Euston Tap and that the Bunch of Grapes is under new (and famous?) managment?

Saw the pubs that Anthony Bourdain visted on Layover...

Staying not too far from Waterloo Station, but more than willing to take the Tube to good food and drink.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. There are great food pubs and great beer/atmosphere pubs, and they aren't always the same. You'll get some excellent food recommendations from others here, but some favorite places of ours I'd recommend for the beer and/or atmosphere include The Churchill Arms on Kensington Church St , Dog and Duck on Frith St., Soho; the Market Porter by Borough Market, The Victoria (near Hyde Park at Lancaster Gate), The Grenadier in Knightsbridge; The White Horse at Parsons Green, the Lamb on Lamb's Conduit...

    The Layover really didn't discuss any pubs particularly noteworthy, IMO. And ordering Guinness in London -- come on, really!

    1. this is a reasonably good site: http://fancyapint.co.uk/

      and many folks feel the nominal membership fee is well worth it to gain access to the information here: http://www.camra.org.uk/

      1. Joan's right in that good beer pubs aren't always great food pubs, but there are quite a few very good ones near you.

        For traditional pub atmosphere, I'd suggest the Kings Arms on Roupell St, SE1, which is very near Waterloo Station. Food is distinctly average Thai pub grub though.

        The Royal Oak on Tabard St, SE1 is close to Borough tube, and is the London tap for Harveys, a small real ale brewery. Food's very good, it's got a local pub feel, but it's welcoming to new people. www.beerintheevening.com/pubs/s/28/28...

        The Harp, in Covent Garden www.harpcoventgarden.com is tiny, but the beer range is excellent, they also have cider, and it's very centrally located.

        The Southampton Arms, near Kentish Town, is a more modern real ale pub - I don't think they even really serve drinks that aren't beer! But that beer's very well kept, the sausage rolls are delicious, and it's possibly one of my favourite pubs ever. www.thesouthamptonarms.co.uk

        The Charles Lamb in Islington is a pub that manages to do both food and beer very well. They serve a really rather good sunday roast, and the Camden Helles beer is worth a try. www.thecharleslambpub.com/

        1 Reply
        1. re: babybat

          Don't forget the Anchor and Hope in Waterloo - excellent food.

        2. If single malts are preferred to beer, The Britannia in Borough has a massive selection of single malts. Food is not particularly compelling though.

          1. I can recommend a couple of places-- not foodie destinations by any stretch, but both have really great atmosphere and a sense of history, without feeling overly-touristy.

            The Pie Room at the Newman Arms pub in Fitzrovia does just that-- pies. You'll get a terrific pie served on a plate heaped with potatoes and veg for £10-12. They don't have a huge range of beers (it's a tiny pub), but they've got London's Pride (Fullers) and usually a decent guest beer. The puddings (dessert) are pretty fantastic too. After dinner you can hang out downstairs for a few more drinks. Note that this pub is only open on weeknights, closed on the weekend.

            Close to St. Paul's (174 Queen Victoria Street) is a wonderful pub called The Blackfirar. The pub is turn-of-the-century arts & crafts style, with incredible architectural details. There is a little back room with pretty vaulted ceilings and gorgeous tilework. It's one of my favourite pubs in London. They do a fine selection of beers, including several cask ales. They'll let you sample a few before you buy, if you can't decide. There's a basic food menu, leaning heavy on the pies. Nothing gourmet, mind you (and not as good as Newman Arms), but decent pub grub. If you're in need of lunch near St. Pauls, this is a nice place to rest your feet for a while.

            And if you've read any of the other recent threads for visitors to London, you've probably picked up the suggestion for the Bull & Last in Highgate, which is a pub with more emphasis on the food than the beer. But they do get some nice beers on. It's a nice finish to a wander around Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill (one of the best views of London).

            3 Replies
            1. re: gemuse

              Thank you all so much for the options thus far! Keep 'em coming!

              Although the trip isn't until May, I'll be sure to report back in full.

              1. re: gemuse

                Haven't been to Blackfriar's in years (mostly just because we've not been near by) but it is certainly worth seeing. Nice to hear that the beer selection is better than it used to be -- will have to check it out on one of our next trips.

                1. re: gemuse

                  I thought The Bull & Last had very good beer. Hook Norton on draught which is quite rare in London plus other good cask beers and Camden Brewary beers as well. I actually think most great London foo pubs are serious about their beer, the Harwood doesn't have a big selection but it does keep the two or three very well. The Anchor & Hope has a good bar area with well kept beers.

                  Never heard of the Orange or Grazing goat.....

                2. Hi frenchprof - the Orange is the one in Pimlico, right? I'm not sure it's that great, to be honest...

                  I'd say that not a million miles from Waterloo are the Draft House on Tower Bridge Road, and the Canton Arms in Stockwell, both of which have some fine ales and great food... not to mention the Anchor & Hope, but that barely counts as a pub.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bodessa

                    Anchor & Hope may not count as a traditional pub, but as others here have said, it's an excellent gastropub (some of which are more restaurant-like than gathering place-like).

                  2. Here's a Google map I made of London Beer pubs. Some have good food. I recommend exlporing the web looking into these. The ones I mainly go to are Craft, Euston Tap, Cask, The Rake, Mason & Taylor and the Old Fountain. All have great beer selections with Mason & Taylor apparently having decent food although I have not eaten there. The White Horse does have decent food and beer. It's very popular on Saturday and Sunday during the day as they have a cookout and it's situated on a beautiful green.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: amini1

                      Give Mason and Taylor a miss for food, it's pretty average and there are much better places nearby. It's also not a pub, but a bar that serves beer.

                      1. re: pj26

                        Thanks for the food clarification. As far as pub vs bar the line has gotten pretty blurred and in many cases is fairly interchangable. It also depends on what the person your talking to thinks a pub vs a bar is..but that discussion is for another forum.

                      2. re: amini1

                        Looking for feedback on a few specific pubs outlined as "historic" in the Rick Steve's guide. Any thoughts on if any of these places are worth my time-

                        Ye Old Cheshire Cheese
                        Princess Louise
                        Black Friar

                        Thanks in advance for your help!

                      3. All very helpful.... thank you! Of course, we're still a month out but the suggestions (and esp. the map!) have been great.

                        1. 32 Great Queens St. has it all, great food, cute waiters, excellent drink selection, AND you can see "War Horse" in it's original (almost) theatre incarnation, around the corner.

                          1. I agree with The Market Porter at London Borough Markets, a foodie destination totally in itself. You can spend a day there eating your way around, tapas, deli's seafood restaurants, you name it. Bliss! Although not strictly a typical English pub, my fav is the French House in Dean St. Soho. Full of characters from the theatre. Great bar staff, 50/50 beersa and a great selection of French wines by the glass. Upstairs a fabulous Italian/Sicilian tapas style restaurant Polpetto.
                            The Salisbury in St. Martins Lane, Covent Garden has beautiful stained glass and mirrors. Great pub for people watching and good lunches. Roast beef.I'll be there in June so I'll look at the other pubs mentioned. I just hope the chains don't destroy one of the best attractions of England.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Mojopac

                              Having been a Chowhound lurker for years I am moved to sign up and post an answer here, the pubs of London being a topic that I am unfortunately well versed in.

                              The gastropub revolution aside (and apologies if this sounds precious), I’m generally wary of eating in a pub – especially one that actually calls itself a gastropub. By all means go for it if your research is solid, but the chances of eating well can be rather slim, especially in central London. The city is awash with amazing restaurants at all price levels, so by and large I’d say play it safe and eat in those and drink in the pubs.

                              However, one of the places where this definitely isn’t the case is the Anchor and Hope, already mentioned. Seeing as it’s round the corner from you in Waterloo, this seems like a no-brainer. Avoid peak times though, as the wait for a table will be long. Don't let that put you off.

                              I assume you’ll be in central London at some point, so pop in to the Red Lion, on Duke of York St, just off Jermyn St. This is an absolutely beautiful Victorian pub full of bevelled mirrors and general Victorian glam. The beer is good, but it’s about the place really. Avoid lunchtime and just after work though, as it’s tiny and gets very full.

                              Just down the road from you in Borough / Elephant and Castle (one stop on the overground train from Waterloo, or a 5 minute bus ride) is the Royal Oak on Tabard St. This is a lovely locals’ pub with great ale. Nothing glamorous at all, just a real neighbourhood place. (Note the “u” in neighbourhood – that’s how authentic it is).

                              My favourite pub in London, because the beer is lovely and the décor is like my granny’s old front room, is the Pride of Spitalfields, just off Brick Lane.

                              About 80% of the pubs in Britain advertise themselves as Britain’s oldest pub. One near where I grew up dates from (I think) 1400, and they had to stop calling themselves that because the Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham is a couple of hundred years older. The Jerusalem Tavern in Farringdon / Clerkenwell – not that near to you in Waterloo, but not that far either – is as old as the hills, and does very good and varied beer from St Peter’s brewery.

                              The range of beers at the Craft Beer Co, also Farringdon, is vast.

                              For proof of what has already been mentioned above, pub food is confusingly variable these days. The Harwood Arms, in Fulham (probably 30 mins from you by tube) is an excellent restaurant, doing the very poshest of posh pub food, in a pub. But “pub food” it hardly is: http://www.harwoodarms.com/. All the others can be found on www.beerintheevening.com.


                              1. re: Londontom

                                Thanks so much for all the insight. We leave tomorrow, and it turns out that we're NOT staying in Waterloo, but rather south of there near Clapham Common. We will be touring about on Friday and Saturday evening when we return from Ascot. I'll be sure to report back.