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right...my top ten London pubs, sorry it is soooo long, but there is a quick guide for each venue! Enjoy your read...might see you in one of them one day (I'll be the drunkard in the corner!)
~No 1 THE ROSE, 123 SNOWFIELDS, SE1 3ST~
~Location~ 3 mins walk from London Bridge Station (and the Guys for any drunken mishaps!)
~Smoking~ Yes definitely, can't imagine the place will be the same when the ban comes in!
~The Rose In General~ Ok so you are walking past, maybe on your way to Bermondsey Street or SE1, and you probably glance over at The Rose, or in through the window and think nothing of it. It sort of blends into the background and has an "old man" pub look about it, dimly lit and opposite a bookies. This is now my local, and I really only discovered the joys of The Rose when looking for my new local, I thought I should try out every pub in the vicinity, no matter how old man looking it may seem.
So anyway, take your first step into The Rose and you are greeted by a beautiful wrought iron bar, and bar staff that are definitely not old men! The pub is divided into 2 rooms, there is no difference between them, but there just happens to be two rooms. The front room, the one that you step into first when coming through the door, has a couple of small tables and a really long one, oh and there is plenty of seating space at the bar. On evenings when there is a large sporting event on a big projector goes up on the wall and you can watch the game (if that's your thing). The second room (my fav part of the pub) has a couple of really comfy armchairs and the most comfortable sofa you have ever sat on in your life, right next to an open fire which has those little seats round the edge that you can perch on and warm up. There are also two bar stools, where you can look through a little hatch into the bar.
The whole pub is really dimly lit, I am not sure if there is any artificial light except for dim bar lighting, each table has a candle on it, which really lends to the atmosphere. This is a great place to share a bottle of wine with your loved one (cheesy I know). There is not a wide selection of wines or beers here, this is just your typical honest english pub!
The pub staff are really nice and friendly and regularly come round to empty ashtrays and clear you empties, the landlord, or manager is a really nice guy and really friendly...they knew my name after my first trip there! The other drinkers in The Rose are all really nice too, there is a real mix of people and you know that you can have a chat to anyone. The music is good too...not too imposing, they tend to play real classics, last night I heard Joy Division, that Fever song, you know "you give me fever...! fever when you hold me tight"...there is a juke box too so you can decide what you want to hear, but I don't think I have heard anything too appalling in there!
Unfortunately they don't serve food here, but there is Champor Champor down the road which is really good far east fusion stylie food, but you defo don't leave the place full, oh and for the less fussy, Guy's Maccy D's is just round the corner!
~Toilets~ A bit grubby, but no worse than your average boozer - I rate them as 5 (out of 10)
~Quick Guide~ The Rose is a really friendly place, you really need to go in and have a drink, really lovely atmosphere, stays open til 12:30 on a school night and 2am Friday & Saturday!
~NO 1 THE ROYAL INN ON THE PARK, LAURISTON ROAD, E9 7JH~
no no I can count, but this is joint first with The Rose
~Location~ In the "village" area of Hackney, next to one of the main entrances to Victoria Park
~Smoking~ Yes, but there is a none smoking section too, although I think this is the restaurant area, I have never ventured in
~The Royal Inn On The Park In General~ This is my boyfs local and a really popular place. The crowd seems be different to the one you would find at The Rose, the crowd generally seems to be older and although still friendly, it is not as friendly as The Rose, not the sort of place that you would just decide to start chatting to the person next to you. This pub is quite well lit, there are really lovely high ceilings and lots of seating, although it is a very busy pub and at times can be difficult to find any seating if you arrive later on in the evening.
There is food on the menu, and it always looks amazing, although I have never eaten here, so I couldn't tell you. Royal Inn is definitely a place that caters for the more discerning alc-amar-olic, there is a wide range of beers, some on those hand pump things and there are a lot of continental beers too such as Litovel, Zubr and Leffe on draught. Being in the fashionable East End and next to a park they also stock my boyfriends fav tipple, Magners. The wine list here, although not extensive is good, we have not had a bad bottle of wine here, and the staff are happy to help and advise.
The staff are all really friendly, which is always one of the main things I look for in a pub, you are always greeted warmly when you come in and the staff tend to remember what are drinking...which is always handy towards the end of the night when I am not really sure what I am drinking! Music is always good, pretty similar to that played at The Rose, again there is a juke box but the noise does tend to drown it out and most of the time it is just a faint drone.
There is a seating area outside, and in the summer it is packed, so this will be a plus point when the no smoking ban comes in. Every Tuesday there is a pub quiz which costs a pound to enter and there is a lovely jolly fat man that heads the quiz. Everyone wins a prize that takes part, normally a chocolate orange or matchsticks (yummy!). But be warned these pub quizzes are pretty tricky (either that or I am a lot less intelligent than the rest of the community).
~Toilets~ Again, a bit grubby, but generally always clean and well stocked with loo roll. I give a massive 7!
~Quick Guide~ A really lively pub, with a nice atmosphere....good pub quiz, really worth avoiding in the summer as it is packed!
~No 3 THE EAGLE, 159 FARRINGDON ROAD, EC1R 3AL~
~Location~ Easy to find, just after The Guardian HQ, but a bit of a trek from the tube station (talking 5-7mins)
~The Eagle In General~ Apparently the first gastro pub in London. I really like this pub, but the seating is quite limited, although, this could be down to the fact that it is really busy. There is outside seating but sitting next to Farringdon Road on a week night is probably not so appealing. There is also very limited seating at the bar. This is the kind of place where if you want a seat you are just going to have to perch on the end of someone's table.
The food here is amazing the steak sandwich (Bife Ana) is highly recommended, the kitchen is attached to the end of the bar and open so you can see all the food being prepared, and it normally means that if you just wanted a drink you will probably end up eating, just because the food smells so wonderful. Oh, do not request a packet of crisps here, they "don't do bar snacks dah-ling" if you are peckish, you will need to order some olives, some bread, or some tapas. There are normally about 8 dishes to choose from and for the growing number of veggies out there, there is always a veggie option available. The food here is honestly priced, for London and what it is, and you definitely always get what you pay for!
The wine list is extensive and the staff are very knowledgeable (as most of them are drinking a glass of it) and will be able to point you in the right direction. There is a good selection of beers here, they serve Belgian Beer on tap and there is a speciality non-alc-amar-olic drink - Rock Shandy (lime, angosturas, lemonade and soda).
The people are all pretty friendly, the majority are The Guardian crowd who live right next door, you can definitely have a chat to someone at the bar here, again a laid back and friendly atmosphere.
~Toilets~ Down some steps, which are a bit difficult to navigate when a bit tipsy, again, a bit grubby, and often a lack of toilet roll! Another 5
~Quick Guide~ Brilliant food, nice atmosphere, although can be a bit crowded at times, and if you want to sit outside, you are on Farringdon Road!
~NO 4 THE DOVE, 24-28 BROADWAY MARKET, HACKNEY, E8 4QJ~
~Location~ Broadway Market about 3/4 of a mile from Bethnal Green Tube Station...closer to the canal end of the market
~Smoking~ Smoking at the back of the pub and non-smoking at the front (bar area)
~The Dove In General~ The dove is like a little bit of a rabbit warren, a dimly lit pub, filled to the brim with people, little single steps going up and down - quirky! There is outside seating here, but the benches always look really rickety and it's just not the same atmosphere as inside.
At the front of the pub there is the, now, non-smoking area, lots of little tables scattered around so plenty of seating. As you move further back into the pub there is a little "mezzanine" style level, before you go down 6/7 steps to another seating area...this is unfortunately not as good as it used to be. There used to be lots seating that ran round the walls with cushions in rich colours and then randomly enough gingham plastic covers for the tables?! Looking around you can see lots of lit up signs (oddly enough for thai beers - which I don't think they even serve, but i guess it all adds to the eclectic decor!
There are two separate restaurant rooms, but you are just as welcome to eat the same food in the bar areas, and I find them more atmospheric! The burgers here are what makes this place famous and a pint of chips! The staff are friendly here, but not as friendly as my top 2. The other drinkers are friendly enough, again a slightly older crowd, but really not as friendly or community type atmosphere.
There is lots on the drinks menu, I think the drinks menu may be bigger than the food menu, apparently around 100 different types of beer, surprisingly I have never drunk the wine here because the bloody mary's are amazing (ask for a shot of Guinness to be added).
~Toilets~ U 'n I sex toilets - men go right, women go left, also a bit grotty, but the most spacious so far! I award a 6
~Quick Guide~ Brilliant food, nice atmosphere and location, good for beer drinkers!
~NO 5 THE LEGION, 348 OLD STREET, SHOREDITCH, EC1V 9NQ~
~Location~ Old Street Tube Station - just go towards hoxton square (but for the love of god don't go to Hoxton Square)
~The Legion In General~ Ok...this place is a really good find, yes it is in really close vicinity to that God awful hell hole they call Hoxton, but the atmosphere is nothing like being in Hoxton Square (you are in spitting distance!) - it definitely has the same vibe as most of the other bars on Old Street.
Apparently there is a happy hour until 8 at the weekends, but I normally rock up at around 10 o'clock. Entry is free, and the door men are pretty friendly, they greet you, ask your name, shake your hand and usher you in. Great idea, they get to make eye contact and find out who the real winos are!
More dim lighting, but a large open venue, there are lots of massive tables with sofa style seats around them (kind of reminds me of a Scandinavian sauna for some reason!) which are normally filled with coats and bags. If you want a table you can reserve one and it won't cost you anything - but if you are not going in a big group, if there are only 4/5 of you there is probably no need, you can just perch on the end of tables.
The bar staff are friendly, and the atmosphere is good, you get the occasional hoxtonite who has lost their way but generally there is a good crowd of "real" people. The music is okay, it is nothing to rave about, but if you want to shake yo thang then the music playing will serve your purpose. Oh and dancing on the tables tends to be a regular occurrence (unfortunately they are not professional dancing girls, they are your typical boozy birds who might just be trying to stand up).
Reading other reviews, people say that there is live music at the weekends, do they mean DJ's? I have only ever seen DJs play when I have been.
~Toilets~ Very grubby - typical "club/bar" stylie I give them a 2
~Quick Guide~ Really good night out, nothing offensive or even special at all, just friendly bar and door staff, laid back atmosphere and reasonable prices. Oh be warned there is a really odd black sticky gunky substance (like tar) all over the floor which coats your shoes and jeans!
~Location~ I always go from Holborn Tube, its about a 6/7 min walk
~Guanabara In General~ The only reason this bar was not rated as NO 5 is because they serve cocktails and I spent over £100 the last time I was there (so it is a price issue). Also when you arrive I think there is a cinema in the same building oh and it looks like a giant public swimming pool. The door staff aren't that friendly, you get your bag checked as you walk in, I found it quite intrusive to have a big burly bouncer rummage around in my bag - I could have had anything in there!
This is a really lovely bar, really clean feeling with really, really good live music. There is a big round dance floor in the middle of the room, tables round the dance floor, and a the bar on the edge. On a weekend, you can not get a table for love nor money, and a table is only available for booking if you are going to eat & you have to pay a 10squid deposit PER person!!! Oh and if you arrive 1/2 an hour late you will loose your table and there is normally a ma-hu-sive queue outside. The only good thing is that if you do want to eat they serve food until midnight and the 10squid is deducted from the cost of your meal.
School nights tables are available to anyone just to drink and no deposit is required. The best thing about this place is that there is a happy hour "sunset session" where drinks are super cheap these run from 5 - 7:30 on a school night and until 7:00 on a weekend, so if you drink loads of cocktails during happy hour, the rest of the night is ok for your pocket!
There is a party atmosphere, and a good crowd, the bar staff are really friendly and the male bar tenders are wonderful eye candy! Definitely the place to go for a really good night (maybe just after payday), but be warned when drinking the cocktails your bill really does begin to get a bit scary! Leave your credit cards at home!!!
~Toilets~ nothing special, but that's cus I can't really remember them - 1 too many mojitos for me! so sorry can't give it a rating
~Quick Guide~ Really fun place, great music and beautiful bar staff (of the male variety!)
~NO 7 FLUID BAR, 40 CHARTERHOUSE STREET, CLARKENWELL, EC1M 6JN~
~Location~ Farringdon Station, just down the road from fabric
~Fluid Bar In General~
Really funky little place, serves sushi during the day and is a DJ bar in the evening. Set over two floors, which means that you can have 2 DJs on at the same time. Upstairs is much more comfortable, with lots of sofas to sit on, downstairs has more of a dance floor space and there are little booths that run along the back wall so you can still sit down.
There is a really funky wrought iron stair case to get you between the two floors, the only problem (well its not a bad problem) is that it can make you feel a little more drunk than you already are! The back wall of the downstairs has a massive picture of Tokyo on it....see if you can find the green snarf!
The atmosphere tends to change depending on the DJs that are playing, but it is normally pretty packed, and I guess people use it before going on to fabric. I would say that it is generally trying a little too hard to be cool, there is a space invaders arcade machine in the corner and you can buy your beer from the vending machines. The bar staff are all pretty nice and so are the door staff, oh and to make it even better they are all pretty beautiful...think they have a policy not to employ uglys!
~Toilets~ A decent solid 6 (only because of the sticker machines outside and cute signs on the doors)
~Quick Guide~ Funky place to go - more of a novelty, not really a place you could turn into home, not much of a drinks selection
~NO 8 THE CAT AND MUTTON, 76 BROADWAY MARKET, E8 4QJ~
~Location~ Broadway Market, right next to London Fields
~The Cat and Mutton In General~ This is just up the road from The Dove (my NO 4) and is unfortunately no where as good as The Dove. It is still a nice pub to have a drink in of a Friday/Saturday night.
There is not a massive selection of beers, but there does seem to be a good collection of wines and spirits. This is another "gastro pub", but I have never eaten here, so I couldn't tell you what the food is like, according to other reviews on this pub the service leaves a little to be desired and the food is not always up to scratch, I read the word "embarrassing" on several occasions.
Like the Eagle (NO 3) there is an open kitchen, but it is tiny compared to The Eagles, I think they are trying to copy a concept. Ok, enough about the food, drinking atmosphere in here is always nice, although sometimes can feel a little canteen esq, but I think this is because of the style of tables. There is now an upstairs (up a spiral staircase) but I must admit I have never ventured up. There is one sofa in the corner of the pub which never has more than 2 people (selfish buggers) on it. There is also outside space, which seems to be really busy during the summer.
The staff here are nice enough, but unfortunately the other drinkers seem to think that hoxton is somewhere in Hackney!
~Toilets~ Giving these toilets a 4 as they are really clean, but there is only 1 x female toilet....not good on a crowded summers afternoon or weekend!
~Quick Guide~ A pretty nice place, from reading other reviews, don't eat here. Staff are nice enough and it is a comfortable place to have a drink or 4!
~NO 9 THE REAL GREEK SOUVLAKI & BAR (BANKSIDE), UNITS 1 & 2 RIVERSIDE HOUSE, SOUTHWARK BRIDGE ROAD, SE1 9HA~
~Location~ On the River Thames, between The Globe & The Tate
~Smoking~ Yes, but there is a non-smoking section too
~The Real Greek Souvlaki & Bar In General~ Ok, not really anything like any of the other bars and pubs on my list, it is well lit and clinical, and to me, has almost a lack of atmosphere. The reason that I love this place is that it is great value for some fodder and a pitcher.
There is not really that much to say about this place, the staff are friendly and pretty efficient, when your meze arrive you can expect your souvlaki or mains to arrive just as you are finishing your meze.
As far as I can tell there is a happy hour, but I am not sure what is on offer, as I am never there in time, this is the place that I tend to take people when they come and visit me (and then we wonder down to The Rose - NO 1) as there is a great selection of food for veggies and you can share pitchers of beer which is always nice. Also it is a lovely walk along the river and for warmer evenings or the summer you can sit outside.
I would not recommend the wine here - we thought it was vinegar!!! There really is not much you can say about this place, outer appearances are pretty run of the mill and as it is in the city it is not that lively...er ever!
~Toilets~ Get a very high 8 - it is really clean, there are a lot of cubicles and there is no shortage of toilet paper!
~Quick Guide~ Good for a bite to eat and a pitcher of beer - avoid the wine at all costs (oh and the Greek coffee - its like drinking soil!)
~NO 10 THE DRAGON BAR, 5 LEONARD STREET, SHOREDITCH, EC2A 4AQ~
~Location~ Very close to Old Street Station but really hard to find if you don't know where you are going! If you are looking for it the name of the bar is on the doorstep.
~The Dragon Bar In General~ This one is a diamond in the rough, but it is sooooo hard to find. The dragon bar is set over two floors and there are lots of comfy sofas and seating on the first floor, downstairs has is more of an "open" feeling to it with not so many seating spaces.
There is occasionally a good vibe here, another dimly lit affair, it is really difficult to get a drink at the bar as it is so packed, but not such a bad thing. The last time I was here was on new years eve 2006 when it stayed open until 7am, everyone was really friendly and you could just chat to anyone. I do need to point out that as it is such a difficult place to find on a quieter night there is not too much atmosphere and there are people just trying to be too cool for their own good, and I think that most of the other drinkers are try hard hoxtonites. All the staff are really nice and friendly, there is not much choice for beer drinkers (the do stock Magners) but there are more than enough spirits to choose from.
~Toilets~ Like the idea of graffiti but really really grotty I give a big fat 0.5 (when I was in there you couldn't get to the toilets cus so many people were in there doing coke!)
~Quick Guide~ Brilliant on new years eve, and once every now and then (as long as you catch it on a good night) otherwise filled with try hard hoxtonites!
Good review, but have to disagree with your review of the cat and mutton, I found it an awful place when i visited last year. Service was woeful, the staff seemed more concerned with looking cool and trendy and talking to the other cool and trendy staff, rather than actually get off their cool and trendy arses and do some work. I won't be heading there again.
Thehonesttruth 30.09.2007 05:31
Great take on the subject, although for some reason you have 2 number 1 's ^^
tinac37 23.02.2007 19:47
wow, great review!!!!! so much to say about one pleace well done