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Simon Majumdar

The Best Pub in London

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I was having this argument with a friend last night as we sat drinking St Peters organic Winter Ale in The Jerusalem Tavern on the Clerkenwell Road last night.  

With the possible exception of The Wenlock Arms, I can't think of a better pub in the whole of the city

It seats about 20 people and serves all the St Peter's range which is quite something.  Their Honey Porter is unmissable.

Apparently their has been a pub on this site for about 900yrs and it was a stopping off point for Crusaders on their way to kill infidels.

If anyone haas any better pubs than these two, I would love to hear about them

S

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I haven't been to those you mention, but just to add a name to the debate, what about the Nags Head in Knightsbridge, opposite the Berkley Hotel? I had a very enjoyable after lunch drink there the last time I went to La Tante Claire.  

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Could you give me a hint as to how to find this pub on Clerkenwell?  I'll be in London in Jan. and again in July for a month while my husband teaches.  We stay in a UCL flat  called Langdon Close a few blocks south of Euston Station.  We have a Young's pub at one end of the street and the Paddington Arms at the other--it's right across from a large central post office, and we enjoyed drinking pints in there on Friday nights with the postal workers after work.  We liked drinking in this pub because the ales rotated [it's a "free house, " yes?]--we're always looking for something different, so we'll take any suggestions for a pub worth seeking out--we don't mind having to cover ground to find it.

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I have to agree with Simon's two choices of absolutely top rate pubs.  The Jerusalem Tavern, in particular, is a very special place with some great beers.

However, although the Jerusalem Tavern rotates its St. Peter's ales, it still does confine itself to St. Peter's, and as such (and because of its tiny nooks, which are usually stuffed to overflowing with banker boys on work nights), I still say the Market Porter is a better place for everyday.  Although the ambience is not up to the Jerusalem Tavern's, the beers rotate at least weekly (sometimes hourly), in the winter, the fireplaces are great and in the summer, what could be better than sitting outside on the curb munching Neal's Yard Dairy cheeses washed down with one in a series of pints?  It is also not generally as crowded as the Jerusalem Tavern.

The Wenlock Arms is also a beer lover's paradise (and have great salt beef sandwiches, putting all else I have tried in London (including Gaby's) to shame), but it is extremely difficult to get to by tube and I have found not as friendly on a day by day basis as the Market Porter.  Again, a good place to venture to once in a while, but a little much for the everyday consumption.

Not in the same league as the previous three, but all great in their own right:  the Lamb (Lamb's Conduit), Cross Keys (Endell Street)(the ale selection is not particularly special, but centrally located and always seems to be full of a diverse crowd having a great time), the White Horse (Parson's Green) (for beer only, the food is generally overpriced, and unless you are looking for love from a popstar wannabe, the clientele leaves much to be desired), the Engineer (Primrose Hill)(good food, good beer), the King's Head (Islington)(again, not the best ale selection, although they generally have a nice pint of Adnam's, but the theater is fun, and more importantly they are open until one), the Dove (Hackney)(added benefit of being right down the street from Armadillo).

But the best pub in England?  now there's a question.  My vote?  The Fleece in Bretforton, anyone ever been?


Thomas Secor

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I just discovered Neal's Yard the last time I was in London--I dream about the cheeses--thanks for the tip.  Do you mean The Lamb that is in Bloomsbury--or not too far from Bloomsbury?  I like that pub--great back patio.

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In reply to Stella Bella, it's actually 55 Britton Street - it's a bit tricky to find but this shortcut will help you avoid a longish walk. Turn left out of Farringdon tube (there's only one exit) then sharp left onto Turnmill Street. Almost immediately across the road (Turnmill) is an alley - I think it's called Benjamin Street. Careful not to get hit by speeding motorcycles or taxis. Then take a left onto Britton Street, and Jerusalem Tavern will be a few yards up the road, on the other side of the street.

I'm not a beer fan but it definitely has loads of atmosphere, and the sandwiches are wonderful. I'm told the original "old Jerusalem" pub was on the ground floor of the medieval arch in St John's Square.  

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What I'd do for a decent pub. I've found zilch in New York.

I'll suggest four.

1. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet St. It goes back to the 14th Century. Dr Johnson and Dickens frequented this place.

2. Lamb & Flag, 33 Rose St. Used to have fantastic cheese (maybe still does).

3. Bunch of Grapes - 16 Shepherd Market. Oh the days. I'd skive off my university classes and spend an entire day at the Vidal Sassoon training school, which used to be on Queen st.  It took an entire day for a cut b/c the trainees had to get permission to cut each and every hair, but it was with worth the 5 quid. Well, maybe.  Anyway, I'd meet my chums afterwards at the Bunch of Grapes, and they'd say. "That's different".  By closing time, it was, "How did they get your hair to look like fluorescent orange duck feathers?"

4. Been mentioned above, but The Lamb, Lamb's Conduit St, is worth a visit.  Very pretty bar. Pity about the Young's beer.

Some pretty pictures of pubs:

'>http://www.gotennis.com/wimbledon/travel/pubs.asp

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Ah, Yvonne.  Happy memories there, but loving pubs is a heartbreaking business.  I don't know whether they still have the good cheese in the Lamb and Flag: what they no longer have is the wall separating the two bars.  It's been knocked right through.  Absolutely criminal.  And although the Lamb in Lamb's Conduit Street seems in good order, I recently discovered that the Sun opposite, which used to be a rough sort of place with one of the biggest beer cellars and widest selections of real ales in London, has been refurbished and now sells mainly lager.

I think this hits ex-pats like us hardest - it seems every time one goes home, something wonderful has vanished.

I think the French Pub in Dean Street is worth a mention.  In many ways unlike a pub (won't sell beer in pints, forexample), it has retained its eccentric character over the years, and still sells an excellent selection of wines by the glass.

I would like to take you up on your comment about pubs in New York, but I guess I should do so on a different Board, right?

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Anybody see the brief two page article in Time Out regarding real ale?  It was a pleasure to see the magazine champion ale over the piss that passes for lager (giving true meaning to the phrase "getting pissed").  I noted that both the Market Porter (my favorite, if only because you can quench your thirst while noshing down Neal's Yard Dairy cheeses and whiling an afternoon away) and the Wenlock Arms (Simon's favorite, and I repeat what I have said in the past, should you ever find yourself at the Wenlock Arms, it would be a crime not to avail yourself of one of the Salt Beef sandwiches, which are close to exceptional and very reasonably priced) were held out as exceptional real ale pubs.  Presumably Jerasulem Tavern did not make it since it only sells St. Peters, not all of which are real ales.  

Any thoughts on the other two mentioned (I dont include White Horse which was also mentioned but has been picked over a number of times), the Duke of Cambridge and the Royal Oak?  


Thomas Secor

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Simon and Thomas, you have changed my life.

I was in London last week, for no good reason other than to say a brief hello to my favorite city.  I decided one morning that I would have lunch at the Crypt and then hop the tube and, with the help of my trusty and indispensible London A-Z, find the Market Porter, the Wenlock Arms, and the Jerusalem Tavern.

After a nice chat with some butchers in the Borough Market, and a sniff in Neal's Yard Dairy, I had me a pint of Archer's Blackjack Porter at the MP.  A pretty mixed crowd in the pub, and larger selection of real ales than I'd ever seen.  Thus fortified, back  on the Northern line  to Old Street, and a brisk walk to the WA.  The minute I walked in I nearly fainted with joy: the warmth, the fireplace, the small knots of men laughing over their pints, some in ties, others in flannel shirts.  Three people were behing the bar pulling pints.  One's name was Stephen, I think.  Was he ever nice to me!  I first had a pint of Church-End-Brewery Grave Digger's Ale, which Stephen said one doesn't see very often.  A young man sitting next to me at the bar was eating what I knew had to be the salt beef sandwich--and I had to have one, too.  The way the hot meat melted the butter spread thickly on the bread--I can't talk about it.

I noticed that most everyone was going for the Slater's Supreme.  One man bought a pint and offered me a taste.  So I had to have a pint myself.  I was taking notes, and the father of the young man next to me said, "It's quite unusual to see a woman in a pub drinking pints on a Thursday afternoon."

"What a shame!"  I replied, then explained to him that I was doing some field research so that my husband and I could come back during the summer, while he's teaching at UCL, and enjoy the trulyt exceptional ales.

He laughed and said, "Even more unusua--a woman researching ales for her husband!"  His son chimed in, "The pub is where we go to escape our wives!"

My obvious response,"And where do your wives go to escape YOU?"  They laughed, and thus began the most delightful afternoon I have ever spent in London.  I never had to pay for another pint; one man approached and saidm "Young lady, seeing as you're sampling, what would you like next?"  I tried the Adnam's.  Then as my new friends and  I began to delve deeper into our hilarious discussion about American politics and "idiotic" SUVS, I was presented with a half [i insisted, really--I am not accustomed to drinking so early in the day] of Brakspear's.  One of the other publicans--a dark-haired man in a Greek fisher cap, pulled it for me and said, "Well, it would appear that your pub crawl has come to an abrupt end!"  Indeed I could not move, nor would I have wanted to.  So I never made it to the Jerusalem Tavern, which everyone hearilty recommended, in addition to the Royal Oak on Tabbrad St, the Seckforde Arms, [whose address I must have forgotten to write down] and, for food, the Eagle on Farringdon Rd.  Allof these are within a stone's throw of my London residence.  I can't wait to go back In july.  My husband is going to be SO happy he married me.

Previously in the thread I mentioned the Paddington Arms right across from the General Post Office--it is right around the corner from our flat.  Their ales rotate, and their selection is respectable--but a far cry from those at the MP and WA.  Nonetheless, it does have a real neighborhood feel to it, which is almost as important to me as the drink.  It's close and convenient, if we can';t make the longer walk or tube ride to the others.

Amen.  I won't be drinking in the Marlborough Arms, Mabel's Tavern, the Green Man again.  The Museum Tavern, the Lamb--yes, especially on the walk home from a concert at St. Martin's.  I feel enriched and blessed.  eGullet rules.

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Is the Fox & Anchor just a tourist trap? It is certainly well-documented in the guidebooks. But when I visited for a late breakfast I saw nary a tourist in sight, the ambience felt wonderfully grimy, and I thought it was one of the best breakfasts I'd ever had (if a bit overwhelming), with beer of course. I was a bit annoyed at the refusal to provide water -- it was insisted that the only way we could get water was to buy it in bottles -- and I also expect that when coffee is served in that sort of percolated, watered-down format the refills will not each cost a couple of pounds (I was not the one who ordered it, though), but overall I found the place noteworthy.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Stella

It is heartening to read a) such a well written post b) such an affectionate reflection on my favourite pub in the city

It seems as if you have truly experienced the magic of a London pub, something that cannot be replicated anywhere else on the globe.

Next time you are there, I would be happy to shout you a pint or three of Adnams mild.

Fat Guy

The F&A is not a tourist trap, but is now on the regular tour of the city for visitors in the know so has become increasingly popular.  Mind you when I suggested meeting there for the last Egullet Dinner at St John, it was boarded up, so who knows what is going on there

S

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Simon, as I was leaving the WA, one of the pub-owners, Stephen , presented me with a King & Barnes Mild Ale tap label:  it's brewed in Sussex, and he wanted me to have something with the word Sussex on it--after a long story about geneology and whatnot.

I also got their email address and the phone number of the man and his son with whom I spent hours trashing Bush.  I'll be back for the month of July, and I plan to make my presence known.  As I enter the pub, I'll shout your name!    

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They also have a website which is

http://www.wenlock-arms.co.uk/2.html

It gives a history of the pub and a list of all the beers they serve

Last time I was there, but a few days ago, there was a big fight going on between two full on East End villains with lots of shouts of "wanker" and worse.

Stephen threatened to bar them from the pub which brought them up short.  The threat of loss of real ale privileges was enough to make them dust themselves of and buy each other a pint.  I noticed them leave the pub about 4 hours later with their arms around each other as they lurched into the night

If you are there any night in June and July and you see a shaven headed asian gentleman of no fixed waistline

That'll be me

S

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Sounds like a very good excuse for an official (dis)organised eGullet summer piss up. Let us know when you are coming.

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Quote: from yvonne johnson on 3:00 pm on Dec. 18, 2001

What I'd do for a decent pub. I've found zilch in New York.

you're being a little rough on good ole NYC, now aren't you yvonne?  surely there's *something* in NY for you!?!

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You American girlies are something else.Stellabella almosts"faints with joy" when she walks into ...er...a pub (albeit a very good pub) and this makes Yvonne Johnson "drool with envy." This is gastroporn at its finest. When are we all coming together (no pun intended of course)

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Many men would find Yvonne and I rather INTRIGUING girlies, and you better SMILE when you say that, buster.  I faint with joy, but when I was younger and more impressionable I used to WRITHE.

I like the idea of eGullet people drinking together.  I'll give you a holler before I come in July.

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I really enjoy the word "writhe".  

Stella, what can I say, your post made me smile (and it was actually about food. well, beer. so liquid food).  I think the best part of your trip was that you never made it to the Jerusalem Tavern, so you can have a whole nother go at the pub crawl (although I suspect the Jerusalem Tavern may provide you with a different experience from the Wenlock Arms).

And to anyone who wants to do an egullet drinkfest, I'm more than game.  For those of you who enjoy real ale and cant wait for an egullet event, keep in mind that CAMRA also has social get togethers at pubs that have particularly good real ales (they have had numerous at the Wenlock Arms).


Thomas Secor

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Lush that I am, I am totally up for a pub crawl.

I would suggest

1) The Artillery Arms ( Bunhill Row )

2) The Jerusalem Tavern ( not open at weekends BTW )

3) The Wenlock ( natch!)

I am loathe to promote the stereotype of CAMRA but when they do take over the Wenlock, there does seem to be a preponderance of people in Arran with their fingers in their ears singing songs about leaving Liverpool never to return

S

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Quote: from Simon Majumdar on 9:02 am on Feb. 8, 2002

1) The Artillery Arms ( Bunhill Row )

2) The Jerusalem Tavern ( not open at weekends BTW )

3) The Wenlock ( natch!)

I am loathe to promote the stereotype of CAMRA but when they do take over the Wenlock, there does seem to be a preponderance of people in Arran with their fingers in their ears singing songs about leaving Liverpool never to return

Slightly unfair. I've been a CAMRA member since I was 22, and I've never owned an Arran sweater. But if you go to the GBBF at Olympia in August it's true that there are lots of fat blokes with beards.

On the subject of London pubs, I always liked the Warrington in Little Venice, though I haven't been for a couple of years. Lounge bar quite stunning, pub bar cheap and cheerful, excellent pint of London Pride.

Simon, do you know anywhere in London (other than the Dog and Gun on Greek Street, which is worth a try, because the beer is invariably excellent, but is quite tiny and has slightly eccentric opening hours) where you can reliably get Taylor's Landlord?

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I always look out for a pint of landlord after a particularly memorable day spent drinking it in The Spread Eagle in york.

The have it regularly at the Wenlock and occasionaly at the MP.  I have also had it once at The Head of Steam ( which I think you put me onto ) but was put off as the pub reeked of the old fat they were using to cook with in the kitchen.  Ugh

S

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