Last time out we had to contend with Storm Dennis, so for this event I’ve stuck to the Principle of Least Effort (aka Zipf’s Law, apparently). This area is just about as central as it gets and the pubs are literally crawling distance from one another.
Anyway, we’ll be going to some of the best independently run pubs just to the south of Covent Garden, starting at The Harp, 47 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HS – http://www.harpcoventgarden.com. Although now owned by Fuller’s, it still feels more like a Free House with up to ten hand-pumps in use at any one time.
There’s normally more room in the alleyway at the back of the pub than there is inside or on the pavement at the front, so we’ll probably give that a try if the weather’s fine. The nearest underground stations are Charing Cross and Leicester Square.
The plan is to move on to The Lemon Tree, 4 Bedfordbury, WC2N 4BP – https://www.lemontreecoventgarden.com/ – at around 8.45 and then The Marquis, 51-52 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HS – https://www.themarquiscoventgarden.co.uk/ – at around 10.00.
The Lemon Tree is a small individually run pub, which had a particularly well thought out selection of real ales when I did the recce, and The Marquis is part of a family-owned group, which includes The Sun Tavern on Long Acre and The White Hart at the top of Drury Lane.
The nearest underground station is St. James’s Park. Take the Petty France exit (which may well be the only one open when we get there), turn right and then, after about 50 yards, turn right again into Broadway and you’ll see the pub just to the right of the Conrad Hotel.
The Grafton Arms, which dates from the mid-nineteenth century, is probably best known for being where Jimmy Grafton and the Goons wrote scripts for the Goon Show. The Albert, an ornate, listed, mid-Victorian building, now somewhat out of place in its surroundings, is named after the Prince Consort who had died in 1861, aged just 42.
As it’s Burns Night, I thought it’d be an idea to head off to an area with genuine Scottish connections, starting at The Parcel Yard in King’s Cross station – http://www.parcelyard.co.uk/ – which is at the top of the steps between platforms 9 and 9 3/4. We’ll be in the main bar area at the back of the pub.
The nearest underground station is London Bridge – take the exit for Borough High Street (east side), turn right, cross over the main road and you’ll find the pub about 30 yards or so along Bedale Street, just beyond the railway bridge. I couldn’t see a sign for Bedale Street when I did the recce, but if you’ve got Leon on your left and Borough Market Hall (a glass building) on your right you’ve found the right street.
The Porterhouse, 21-22 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NA – http://www.theporterhouse.ie/bars-london-coventgarden.php – is the London outpost of Dublin’s Porterhouse Brewing Company. It is reputed to be the largest pub in London, with 12 different levels, and there’s usually live music in the basement.
Being Twixmas, it’ll probably be a lot quieter than a normal Saturday night, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a suitable area on the ground floor. The nearest stations are Charing Cross, Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
For anyone interested in staying out a bit later, the Blues Bar – http://www.aintnothinbut.co.uk/ – which is almost next door to The Blue Posts, is open until 2am (but please note that there is a modest charge on the door after 8.30pm on Friday & Saturday nights).
This pub crawl takes us to an area just to the north of Piccadilly Circus, starting at The White Horse, 45 Rupert Street, W1D 7PB – https://whatpub.com/pubs/WLD/16488/white-horse-london – a Sam Smith’s pub with the usual blend of eccentricity and reasonable prices. The Old Brewery Bitter is apparently dispensed from wooden casks.
The White Horse is close to Piccadilly Circus underground station – take Exit 1 for Regent Street (East Side), turn right and then, after about 50 yards, turn left into Shaftesbury Avenue. Walk up Shaftesbury Avenue for about 200 yards until you come to the Gielgud Theatre on your left. Turn left into Rupert Street and you’ll find the pub straight ahead of you.
The plan is to move on to The Lyric, 37 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LU – http://www.lyricsoho.co.uk – at around 8.45 and then The Queen’s Head, 15 Denman Street, W1D 7HN – http://www.queensheadpiccadilly.com – at around 10.00. The Lyric is a locals type of pub – now few and far between in Central London – and The Queen’s Head is a free house dating back to 1736.
This is a new area for the group, suggested by Saj, our host for the event.
He’ll be taking us to three pubs, all conveniently close to Earl’s Court underground station (District & Piccadilly lines), starting at The Blackbird, 209 Earl’s Court Road, SW5 9AN – https://www.blackbirdearlscourt.co.uk/
Take the Earl’s Court Road exit, turn right when you leave the station and you’ll find the pub about 100 yards down Earl’s Court Road.
Turn right when you leave the station and after around 75 yards turn right into Goodge Street. Walk along Goodge Street for about 250 yards until you come to Goodge Place/Oxfam. Cross over into Charlotte Place (just to the right of “Fabrique”) and you’ll find the pub straight ahead of you.
This pub crawl takes us to three quite different pubs at the top end of Covent Garden.
The Cross Keys – https://whatpub.com/pubs/WLD/15930/cross-keys-london – still feels like a local, despite being only a stone’s throw away from Covent Garden, the Craft Beer Co. is a contemporary-style bar with a huge range of beers and The White Hart is probably best known for having music and dancing later on in the evening.
For The Cross Keys, the nearest underground station is Covent Garden. Turn left out of the station, right on Long Acre and then, after about 100 yards, left into Endell Street. The pub is around 150 yards down Endell Street. Tottenham Court Road, Holborn or Leicester Square stations might work better for those using the Central or Northern lines.