The best pubs for when you want to eat as well as you drink.Less
The George is a delicious and decadent take on a pub. The downstairs bar is Fitzrovia’s usual mix of slurring suits and those trying to ignore the slurring suits, while the upstairs dining room is a hideout for anyone looking to part ways with a stupendous amount of cash for scampi, steak, sausages and mash, and the like. All of it is perfectly debaucherous. If a certain kind of British excess gets you going, then The George isn’t just extravagant. It’s extremely enjoyable.
For a pub named after a giant predatory bird, this old school Farringdon pub is actually pretty laid back. It’s got a dark green front, dark split leather, and a simple dining room with lots of mismatched wooden chairs. This place serves some truly excellent dishes, and whether you come for lunch or dinner, you need to get involved in their steak sandwich. It’s basically a whole meal between bread and is completely worth £13.50.
We tend to like our pubs how we like our dogs. Old, scruffy, and loyal enough that you don’t mind their scent. But we’ll make an exception for The Wigmore. A glossy green pub inside The Langham Hotel, this place is less rowdy boozer and more sophisticated sipper. The menu has got that whole Modern European croquetas-to-crumpets thing going on but you should know that the best thing here is the burger.
The Guinea Grill is a tiny pub on Bruton Place in Mayfair, and perhaps owing to its size or the fact that it’s a bit out of the way, it doesn’t often attract huge crowds like other Mayfair pubs do. People do come out of their way for the food here though. They serve a limited menu of pie and oysters in the bar, as well as sandwiches for lunch, but if you’re looking for somewhere more spacious, you should head to the very old-fashioned and sedate restaurant in the back.
Few London pubs are as well known as The French House in Soho: this place is a classic and the food very much follows suit. While the downstairs of this drinking institution is still kept to mostly that, if you walk up the creaking stairs you’ll find a red-walled, yellow-lit dining room. This place is made for consumption. Specifically terrine, steak, coffee mousse, and, of course, wine. You’ll be leaning over the table and stage whispering conversations before you know it.
After their storming success in the kitchen at the Compton Arms, the fellas from Four Legs have their own pub in the shape of The Plimsoll in Finsbury Park. What was once an Irish boozer that let Guinness rightfully rest with Arsenal on the projector is now the kind of pub that lets Guinness rightfully rest while serving a whole lemon sole from the kitchen. Make sure you book ahead if you want dinner in the week because the popularity of their famous cheeseburger hasn’t waned at all.
The Clarence is another gastropub from a lineage of excellent London gastropubs. Older siblings the Anchor & Hope and the Canton Arms are two of the most consistently delicious pubs around that still maintain a feeling of comforting pub-ishness. There’s no danger of seeing a mini shopping trolley full of chips here. The Clarence is their latest venture that somehow feels like it’s been making fried pumpkin, roast brill, and slow-cooked lamb shoulder with dauphinoise forever and ever.
The Compton Arms is a little boozer off Upper Street that used to be frequented by Arsenal fans and is now frequented by Arsenal fans, as well as those seeking very good food. The weekly changing small plates menu, served by current chef residency Belly, is generally very enjoyable—be it a whole dressed crab or pork chop with apple sauce and chilli oil. Book ahead whatever you do, especially if you want a seat in the garden.
Knowing about the Norfolk Arms means never ever having to choose between your love of cold pints and eating goat’s cheese. This place still has its Victorian tiled exterior and retro stained-glass windows, but these days it serves charming little tapas dishes in a warm, candlelit room. The tzatziki rightfully packs a serious punch of garlic, the octopus comes on a bed of rich hummus, and ‘Grandma’s meatballs’ will have you contemplating whether you can feasibly ask a pub to adopt you.
The Drapers Arms is an Islington stalwart, down a residential street, that’s suitable for drinking, dining, and drowning your sorrows. The food is classic, comforting stuff. Baked camembert, sardines on toast, pies, chops, and the like. It’s stuff you might make at home if you could be arsed, but even then it would never be as good as this. Whether you’re pitching on a stool at the bar for pints and snacks, or you’ve booked a table on a Sunday, this is a pub that will always stay in your mind.