London's Best Pubs and Inns
best pubs offer the chance of great ale and good food. With the help of
this guide, you can be sure of a super time in superb surroundings - we
offer an impartial review of the pub and its food. If you have any
suppliers "at" london-visitor-guide.com
West London Pubs
A gastro-hotel off Ladbroke Grove - bar, restaurant, internet cafe and fun
place to stay. Sit out on the pavement in wicker chairs and watch the
trendies stroll by. Or hook up at the bar with an organic lager and a
plate of Cajun jumbo prawns. In the bar are tiled floors, an open fire,
monthly, exhibitions of photography and live music on Sunday evenings
until ten. At the back, the restaurant with its retractable glass roof
feels like a comfortable jungle. Dine to the sweet song of canaries on
Aberdeen Angus steaks, delicate seafood dishes and four styles of oysters.
There's a large bar menu and all-day Sunday lunch. Linda writes about wine,
so you'll drink well too. Redecorated bedrooms have good beds, 'Wet' rooms
and flat-screen TVs, and the roof terrace apartment comes with a foldaway
four-poster and small putting green! Broadband is free to hotel guests.
Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate.
Michael Bell and Linda Johnson-Bell Portobello Gold, 95-97 Portobello
Road, Notting Hill W11 2GB 020 7460 4910
The warm glow emanating from the
windows is enough to tempt anyone into the Ladbroke Arms. Cream-painted
and ginger hessian walls, benches plump with autumnal-hued cushions, long
shiny tables, paintings, books, good wines and beers to please
enthusiasts: Fuller's London Pride, Greene King IPA and
Abbot Ale, Adnams Bitter. The intimate Ladbroke takes its food seriously,
the chef buying cheese twice weekly from a touring supplier and placing
orders with a fishing fleet every day. The bar sparkles with olive oils,
vinegars and bottled fruit; in the raised restaurant area, stylish diners
savour richly flavoured dishes such as chorizo and chickpea broth, warm
salad of pork confit with salsa verde and rib-eye steak with green
peppercorn, garlic and herb butter. Sunday roasts are a favourite among
those who live close by; the hot chocolate fondant pudding is legendary.
Sup under the parasols in summer as Notting Hillbillies smooch by.
Nearest tubes: Notting Hill Gate; Holland Park.
J Shubrati Ladbroke Arms, 54 Ladbroke Road, Holland Park W11 3NW
020 7727 6648
floorboards, no fuss, tables squeezed around the main bar, delicious
smells from the hatch and a noisy friendly crowd. When pubs are this
popular, service can be slow but waiting is no hardship here. Settle in
with a pint of fragrant Flowers or an aromatic Cotes du Tarn, order from
the board, start on the crusty homemade bread and prepare for some of the
freshest, most flavoursome food in London. They do pancetta, potato and
rosemary soup, Thai green tiger prawn curry with coriander and greens,
chocolate brownies, English cheeses. It's as cheap as chips (rather good
ones) and the only downside is it's cash or cheque only
Nearest tubes: Shepherds Bush; Hammersmith.
Jonny Haughton Havelock Tavern, 57 Masbro Road, Shepherds Bush, 020 7603
Paradise by Way of Kensal Green
The name was poached from G K Chesterton. Locals may have been taken aback
when the arty bar first opened; now the area is full of trendies who
little realise that The Paradise - all fairy lights and candles,
background jazz and blues - stands on the site of the oldest pub in Brent.
A statue of a fallen angel on the wall stares down in surprise on the
battered reproduction Regency sofas, wrought-iron garden tables and
chairs, and vast palm fronds growing in even vaster planters. The bar
itself is small and not the most comfortable but there's still a pubby
feel. The place doesn't take itself too seriously in spite of attracting
the odd C-list celebrity; pop in for a pint of real ale and to look at the
papers, or stay for a meal (must book). The menu is modern European with
an oriental twist and the food extremely good: Thai green curry, penne
with grilled aubergine, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and black olives, beef
fillet with peppercorn sauce. A great place to spend a Sunday.
Nearest tube: Kensal Green.
Paul and Sarah Halpin, Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, 19 Kilburn lane,
Kensal Rise W10 4AE 020 8969 0098
We can be grateful to the French builder who believed Napoleon
would invade and built The Scarsdale as living quarters for
the French army. The immaculate Edwardes Square could only
have been built by the French. This is a delightful little pub
with a summer terrace of hanging baskets and bags of Victorian
character. The old stained glass, dark panelling and burgundy
walls provide a distinguished foil for old paintings in
heavily gilded frames and various empty magnums of champagne,
while the happy hum of drinkers flows from cosy corners as
easily as the ales. Fabulous smells emanate from the kitchen
hatch heralding the arrival of Aberdeen Angus rib-eye steak
with sauce bearnaise, expertly followed by hot chocolate
pudding. Eat in the busy bar or in the swagged dining room;
sit in the garden and feel you're in the country. You could
happily go on a first date here, or bring the parents.
Nearest tube: High Street Kensington.
Ray and Sarah Dodgson, The Scarsdale, 23a Edwardes Square,
Kensington W8 6HE 020 7937 1811
Kensington - Churchill Arms
It's hard to say which comes first in the popularity stakes,
the publican or the pub: Gerry O'Brien is an influential
figure and this is a terrific pub. The Churchill is not only a
shrine to the great prime minister but to Gerry's collection
of memorabilia and his irrepressible Irish humour. To the left
of the counter in the bar - cosy with open fire - is Chamber
Lane (115 chamber pots suspended from the ceiling) while the
walls of the leafy, glass-roofed Thai restaurant - once,
unbelievably, a garage - display his prized butterflies. Never
mind the tourists; come for great Guinness and beers, oriental
feasts that don't break the bank, bags of atmosphere and a big
dollop of tradition. On the annual celebration of Sir
Winston's birthday unsuspecting drinkers are amazed to see
everyone dressed in 40s style; sausage and mash can be bought
for a shilling and the evening's takings go to the Cabinet War
Office Museum. You have been warned!
Nearest tube: High Street Kensington,
119 Kensington Church Street, Kensington W8 7LN 020 7727 4242
The Anglesea Arms
The raised heated terrace, historic lamp posts, wooden benches
baskets are a temptation for any passer-by. And one can't help
wondering whether Dickens, who lived at No 11, and Lawrence,
at No 9, were similarly drawn. Original panelling5 etched
glass, dark floral wallpaper, heavy velvet curtains and
scrubbed wooden tables - it's wonderfully, traditionally cosy.
down to a pint of Adnams or browse the Sunday papers over
creamy hot chocolate.
The little restaurant downstairs, away from the lively main
bar, is a quiet snug in which to savour traditional English
cooking. Daily lunch and dinner menus, built around fresh and
local supplies, list crab, chilli, parsley and garlic
linguine, aged club steak with garlic and rosemary
butter, battered haddock with homemade chips and pea puree,
and hearty roasts on Sundays. Puddings are equally
down-to-earth - apple and plum crumble, bread and sticky
toffee pudding with caramel sauce. Deeply, comfortingly
Nearest tube: South Kensington.
Jenny Podmore The Anglesea Arms, 15 Selwood Terrace, South
Kensington SW7 3QG 020 7373 7960
Hidden down a pretty mews in one of the smartest parts of
town, the little whitewashed pub with black shutters and
well-clipped topiary is an easy walk even in your Manolos -
from the Harvey Nichols-Harrods drag. Escape the crowds and
rest weary feet in the warm, yellow-and-blue interior where
wooden floors and swagged curtains make a fresh and glamorous
alternative to the heavy trimmings of your usual Knightsbridge
pub. The attractive tiled conservatory at the back - less
noisy than the main bar is a delightful spot in which to tuck
into scared king scallops with lemon dill sauce or roast
venison with crushed sweet potatoes. The food is stylish,
modern and very good. Staff are full of smiles and, if it
takes an explorer to find this little place, the wonderful
photograph of Nare's Arctic expedition of 1875 - a present
from landlady Annemaria to her husband - is a fitting first
reward for your perseverance.
Nearest tube: Knightsbridge.
Annemaria Boomer-Davies Swag and Tails, 10-11 Fairholt Street,
Knightsbridge SW7 1EG 020 7584 6926
Down a cobbled alley on the Grosvenor estate, the tiny
Grenadier is unmissable with its fanfare of patriotic
paintwork, tumbling flowers and sentry box - a , magnet for
tourists and cameras. Uneven' steps lead to a charismatic
interior with a military theme, a reflection of this little
watering hole's past. Originally the Duke of Wellington's
officers' mess, it later became a popular place for King
George IV to enjoy a pint; later it was frequented by Madonna.
The dimly-lit Mess Bar, with smouldering coal fire, is stuffed
with memorabilia: gleaming breast plates, swords and bugles.
Behind, in the restaurant, squeeze in and settle down to beef
Wellington or fish and chips at battle-themed bench seats and
tables dressed in starched linen. In September, the ghost of
an officer - accidentally flogged to death after cheating at
cards returns to haunt the place, while the infamous Bloody
Marys are best sampled on Sundays, from a specially erected
bar. A small place with a big heart.
Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner.
Cynthia Weston The Grenadier 18 Wilton Row Knightsbridge SWIX
7NR 020 7235 3074
The Thomas Cubitt
This pub could be a metaphor for Belgravia itself: tasteful
and well upholstered. The handsome ground-floor bar has high
ceilings, oak-block floors and polished tables, a bit of
panelling thrown in for good measure, and floorto-ceiling
windows opening onto tables in the street. A well-heeled crowd
is drawn by the classic, sophisticated, country-house feel,
the real ales, the fine wines, and the kitchen, which puts
more thought into what it produces than many a full-blown
restaurant. In the bar is a reassuring selection of pub
favourites all-organic beef burgers, grilled sausages with
roasted red onion gravy and buttery mash - while the food in
the very elegant, white-clad dining room upstairs is fiercely
modern: roasted wood pigeon with smoked puy lentils; sea bass
fillet with creamed wild mushrooms, bacon and chicory. It's
always full, and the friendliness of the staff, even under
pressure, is a pleasure.
The Thomas Cubitt, 44 Elizabeth St, Belgravia SW1W 9PA
tel 020 7730 6060 web
The Builders' Arms
You wouldn't expect such
an exquisite little pub in the back streets off the King's
Road. Enter and be seduced: the country -living-room feel is
so enticing you'd happily move in. Settle down to a sauvignon
or a pint of London Pride to a background of large puffy
armchairs, low table lamps, walls in soft greens and creams
and a ruby-red snug behind the bar. 'Never trust a builder
without a tattoo' reads the sign on the wall, but the people
here (and their pooches)
are as immaculate as the interior. The Builders is a stylish
pub even if labelling the loos Builders and Ballerinas is a
touch twee, and the food is delicious modern British well
presented: pea and ham soup, roast salmon and basil risotto,
and peppered sirloin steak with wilted spinach, mash and
pepper sauce. The area is a shoppers' dream - but avoid the
Builders on Friday lunchtimes: it's packed!
Nearest tubes: Sloane Square; South Kensington. Behind King's
Road, between Sydney Street and Chelsea Green.
Rupert Clevely The Builders Arms, 13 Britten Street, Chelsea
020 7349 9040
A quiet residential street off the Lots Road seems an unlikely
place to find a corner pub bursting with bonhomie. It used to
be a junk shop; now the fine arched shop windows with etched
glass are complemented by soft and subtle sage green and
terracottas, tongue-and-groove cladding, a dark green wooden
bar and colourful local art. A carpeted area to the back has
small alcoves, soft lighting and shelves of thumbed books an
intimate spot in which to be treated to some enticing food.
Salmon fishcakes with crab and citrus bisque, perhaps, or
confit duck leg on roasted garlic mash and braised red
cabbage, followed by sticky toffee and banana pudding with
butterscotch sauce. The scrubbed wooden tables are a great
place for lively card games (please bring your own) over
coffee. Close to the large storage depot of Bonhams the
auctioneers, this popular pub is well worth the few minutes'
walk from the end of the King's Road. Nearest tubes: Fulham
Broadway; Sloane Square.
James Symington Chelsea Ram, 32 Burnaby Street, Chelsea SW10
0PL 020 7351 4008
Up high, golden letters on wooden panelling proclaim London
Stout, Burton Bitter and mild ales. The Atlas is a great
little place in which to delve into more modern brews:
Fuller's London Pride, Caledonian Deuchars IPA, Adnams
Broadside. A glazed wooden partition a prop for the 'Wine of
the Moment' blackboard - divides the bar in two. Other
Thirties' features remain: floorboards, attractive black and
white tiling around the foot of the bar and three brick
fireplaces, two of which add a glow in winter. The third, its
mantelpiece piled high with lemons and limes, has been
converted into a serving hatch for fabulous dishes that change
twice a day - grilled sardines and Tuscan sausages, pot-roast
poussin; the wine list trumpets 24 wines by the glass. Doors
lead to a walled garden where puffa-jacketed folk flock under
the rain cover. In spite of its modest frontage on a
residential street, the pub is next to a big Pay & Display;
not hard to find.
Nearest tube: West Brompton.George Et Richard Manners a Toby
EllisThe Atlas,16 Seagrave Road, Fulham SW6 1RX020 7385 9129
The White Horse
The pub on the green is reputed
to have the best-kept beers in Europe: Mark Dorber's knowledge
of real ale is the fruit of years working with the best
tasters. The ever-changing list of guest ales above the log
fire is within reading distance of some deeply comfortable
sofas, while bar food is of the best sort, from ploughman's
with unusual cheeses to fried bass with garlic mash. Even
better, the menu suggests the best accompanying liquor; how
about a crisp Bavarian wheat beer with your smoked salmon and
scrambled eggs... a delicious alternative to a macon
chardonnay. Inside, terracotta walls, slatted wooden blinds,
lovingly polished pumps and beer memorabilia; outside, a big
terrace overlooking the green and a Sunday barbecue. 'The
Sloany Pony' may be a hotbed of Fulhamites but it's also a
shrine to beer; come for the glorious two day festival in
November when enthusiasts gather from all over the globe.
Nearest tube: Parsons Green.
Mark Dorber The White Horse, 1-3 Parson's Green,
Fulharn SW6 4UL
tel 020 7736 2115
The Idle Hour
The trouble with the Rat Race
is, even if you win you're still a rat'. Thus reads the sign
outside. The Idle Hour is a small haven - tucked away down a
dark, secret alley - where rats don't race and time stands
still. The hour can all too easily be idled away over a
cocktail or Grolsch as you sit stylishly amid fat dripping
candles and a bizarre mix of clocks set at different times.
Stephen Thorp (relaxed owner/ designer/barman / chef) has put
as much thought and effort into the fresh, contemporary decor
as the predominantly organic menu. Sundays at the Idle Hour
are legendary; a delightful place to laze by the fire with a
Bloody Mary before tucking into whole roast organic lamb
served in the roasting pan and accompanied by utensils for a
carve-it-yourself meal. Just like home but without the washing
up... with sticky toffee pudding to follow who knows what time
you'll leave? A gentle, unpretentious and civilised place.
Nearest rail: Barnes; Barnes Bridge.
Stephen Thorp The Idle Hour, 62 Railway Side, Barnes SW13 0PQ,
020 8878 5555
Down a hidden backstreet, surrounded by new waterside
development, an unexpected gem. You'll sense an appealing
eccentricity here, as you sit among cosy-red walls, mismatched
tables, African masks, a disco glitter ball, a portrait of
Audrey Hepburn and all manner of flotsam and jetsam - presents
from regulars and treasures picked up on the family's travels.
It's mellow and fun and everyone and his hound pops by locals,
builders, business people. At night, moody candlelight and
chilled music - Bob Marley perhaps. In this part of town you
may expect good food and no shortage of delicious organic
meats and vegetables; try shrimp tempura with oyster sauce,
roast shoulder of pork, tiramisu. Red, yellow and green lights
in the stairwell lead to a lovely sash-windowed restaurant and
a small but lavish private dining room beyond. Extraordinary.
Roger Martin Cat's Back, 86 Point Pleasant, Putney, 020 8877
They're flying the Slow Food flag here with guts and passion.
And it's all so delicious: the whole roast rainbow trout, the
rib-eye steak, the ham hock risotto, the 'British tapas'
(smoked duck with beetroot pickle, venison carpaccio, potted
shrimps). The lamb is from Cornwall because it tastes nicer
and they love their chutneys - take some home. The stage for
all this good humour is a pretty Victorian tavern with a big
open dining room of sturdy tables and painted boards, a
blackboard of wines and a sofa by the fire. Throw in
bookshelves and games chest, chilled music for quieter
moments, tailor-made orders for unfaddy children and cider
punch with calvados and you have one fabulous place. The staff
are brilliant and chef Adrian Jones (ex Shibden Mill) cycles
20 miles along the river to work each day, such is his
enthusiasm. May God bless the Spencer Arms and all who sail in
her.Nearest rail: Putney; Barnes.
Jamie Sherriff Spencer Arms, 237 Lower Richmond Road, Putney
020 8788 0640 web:
The Earl Spencer
Its spit 'n' sawdust days
are over, its Edwardian interior restored. Now, to a clean
backdrop of deep cream and dark blue, gilded ceiling mouldings
and a winter fire, you can discover some of the best pub food
in south London. Mark Robinson and his team bake bread twice a
day, have a smokery on the premises and a bunch of cookery
books on the bar. Above the central fireplace the blackboard
is chalked up with a seasonal menu and inventive dishes pop up
every day: chargrilled squid with chorizo, tomato and garlic;
duck rillette with gherkins and chutney; daube of beef with
green beans and horseradish; shoulder of lamb to be shared
among four; poached pear, honey and brandy parfait. Proprietor
jonathan Cox has not forgotton the drinkers, so there are good
wines by the glass and Hook Norton, Shepherd Neame and
Hoegaarden on tap. Fresh flowers and papers, laid-back staff,
happy drinkers, contented dogs - a place to unwind. Nearest
Jonathan Cox The Earl Spencer, 260-262 Merton Road,
Southfields SW18 5J1020 8870 9244
Drinking a pint of Young's Special next to a concrete works
doesn't sound enticing, but the riverside terrace by
Wandsworth Bridge is a dreamy spot. Chilly evenings still draw
the crowds to this super old pub, cosy inside with its
warm-red and sage-green walls, and its conservatory with
central chopping-board table and wood-burning stove. No music,
just happy chat, newspapers, tall blackboards and fresh
flowers. Chef Rob Clarson has a good pedigree and sources
ingredients from specialist suppliers to create his beef and
thyme stew (served with crusty bread), pan-fried cod with
sauteed spinach and garlic mash, and chargrilled beefburgers.
Summer barbecues find grilled swordfish and lobsters alongside
Angus rib-eye steaks. At peak times expect who can be the
loudest Fulhamites to pack out the front bar but don't be put
off. The Ship opens its arms to all, and families merrily
gather in summer. Nearest rail: Wandsworth.
Oisin Rogers The Ship, Jews Row, Wandsworth SW18 ITB 020 8870
The Fox & Hounds
As you pass beneath yet another dripping railway bridge you
might wonder if the trek from Chelsea was worth it. But the
moment the bright little corner pub comes into view you'll
feel spirits rise. With its excellent beers and its photos of
pints on cream walls, the place appears to be a shrine to the
golden brew. No longer the old boozer it once was, it's still
a popular hangout for the locals and, along with its sister
pub, The Atlas, a foodie destination. As Mediterraneanstyle
dishes flow from the open-to-view kitchen, food-loving
train-spotters will think they've gone to heaven and back as
they watch the Connex South Central trains whizz by. Try hake
and fennel tagine, smoked haddock and saffron risotto, and
rib-eye steak with sweet potato mash and salsa verde. There's
a great atmosphere here, and a good little garden for summer.
Nearest rail: Clapham Junction.
George and Richard Manners The Fox and Hounds, 66 Latchmere
Road, Battersea SW11 2JU 020 7924 5483 Web:
- The Holly Bush
This superb pub is one of
Hampstead's gems. It is tucked away in a quite
cul-de-sac, a stone's throw from the busy High Street.
It's a fairly plain and simple place, but what it
lacks in grandeur is made up in cosiness and charm.
It was originally the stable block of a nearby 17th
century house. Painter, George Romney, bought the
house and the stables in 1796, but after his death the
stables were leased to a victualler who converted them
into a tavern in the early 1800's. Additions and
alterations expanded the building we see today.
The two front bars have worn oak flooring, simple
painted settles and wood panelling; one bar has an
open fire. Original gas lamps hang from the nicotine
brown ceilings. The cosy wood clad snug is a favourite
and at the back is a later addition, a room converted
from the landlord's living quarters.
The Holly Bush has a reputation for fine ales and
great food. A changing menu of freshly prepared
traditional dishes, using mainly organic ingredients,
are given a new twist; be it a hot sexy big scotch egg
or lamb shank slow roasted in beer. There's a wide
variety of fish, poultry, pies and sausages to suit
all tastes and vegetarian options.
22 Holly Mount, Hampstead, London, NW3 6SG
020 7435 2892
Fax: 020 7431 2292
lslington - The Albion
The front bar area is pastel painted
and bright, the matchboard ceiling painted white. Much
of the 'cosy pub' stuff, such as the wooden ceiling
lights have been removed, presenting a clearer,
uncluttered area. Although less traditionally pubby,
it is much more Georgian. It was the Victorians who
Similar redecoration has been carried out through
most of the ground floor, presenting a smarter and
more modern looking interior, but one which is more
suited to the building, However, the intimacy and
atmosphere has not been lost and the dining room, in
particular, is still pleasant and charming. Some much
for the decoration.
Food for most pub is a vitally important part of
their business, but in so many cases pubs have become
restaurants in all but name, which means less choice
for those of us who love pubs. The intention here
appears to be a balance of a good pub which serves
exceptional food, so no complaints there. It's perhaps
a good opportunity to praise the staff who, on our
visit, were both cheerful and helpful, even though
they were still settling in.
The Albion seems to have pitched itself well above
'pub grub' but without making it an occasional treat.
Refreshingly, all the ingredients are English, free
range and will change according to the season.
10 Thornhill Road, Barnsbury, London, N1 1HW
Tel: 020 7607 7450
Islington - Albert and Pearl
wood panelling gives the venue character and make it stand out
from the rest of the drinking dens and eateries along this
popular stretch of road. The bar is the first feature youíre
presented with as you enter, and it draws you in with its
large collection of high market alcohol and the attentive bar
staff. To the left is where all the Tuscan food is prepared
and the servers work together to bring some sort of cohesion
to service. Although there arenít many seats and the bar
itself is quite small, it does make for a cosy, intimate
affair, with small wooden tables suited for two, stools at the
bar and larger communal areas.
During the week, Albert and Pearl is more of a low key
affair as punters meet here for food and wine after work;
however, come the weekend the DJ booth springs to life and,
being Upper Street, the bar fills with party revellers washing
away the week with some fantastic cocktails. The low lighting
and small candles scattered around the bar add to the relaxed
vibe Albert and Pearl is trying to portray.
The best feature about this bar, however, are the warm,
friendly staff who try their best to help you out in any way
possible to make your experience enjoyable. They chat with you
because they want to and are eager to help out with the food
and drink selection - they even let you try before you buy
just in case itís not the sort of thing youíre after.
The food at Albert and Pearl is authentic Tuscan cuisine.
All food either comes from top London markets or is imported
direct from Italy, so you know youíre getting only the best
quality. As to be expected, there are a lot of meats, olives
and wonderfully flavoursome bread.
he main emphasis at Albert and Pearl isnít on how many beers
they have or the cheap drinks, itís all about quality and
premium brand alcohol. The drink menu mainly consists of
cocktails but there is a small wine list that they have
carefully selected primarily for accompanying the food.
A nice touch to the menu are their cocktails for two, which
makes drinking more of an experience when youíre with a
partner or friend. Highly recommended is the Pearlís Punch
(fresh strawberries and raspberries mixed with passion fruit
and mango vodka, apple juice, and Champagne). Especially good
is the Tropical Nonsense, which is a devilish blend of
Jamaican, Cuban, Bermudan and Guyana rums with fresh mango,
pineapple and passion fruit. Albert and Pearl is a welcome
change to the hoards of party bars on Upper Street. Itís a
very chilled out place to spend an evening and to indulge
yourself with mouth-watering dishes and unique cocktails.
181 Upper Street, Islington, London, N1 1RQ Phone:
020 7354 9993
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