A Pub Tour

Compiled by Ben Haines from Fodorís Forum

These are pubs listed as favourites in 2003 by readers of Fodor's Forum, starting with a pub walk from west to east

The Salisbury. 89 St Martins Lane, Covent Garden. Leicester Square tube. Glittering cut-glass mirrors and old-fashioned banquettes, plus lighting fixtures of veiled bronze girls in flowing togas, re-create the Victorian gin-parlor atmosphere in the heart of the West End. Theatergoers drop in for homemade meat pie or salad buffet before curtain. Wes Fowler: "Dates from the mid 19th century and is notorious for the bare-knuckle fights that were held there in that era. It s a stunning pub and you may find it filled with theatre people."

The Lamb and Flag, 33 Rose Street. Leicester Square tube. Wes Fowler: "This one is really old, being one of the few wooden structures to survive the Great Fire of 1666. It was once known as the 'Bucket of Blood' because of all the fights that broke out in it. It was also one of Charles Dickensí favorite spots on his pub crawls."

The Marquis of Granby, 51 Chandos Place. Charing Cross tube. Wes Fowler: "Dates to the 17th century when it was called 'The Hole in the Wall' and run by a mistress of the Duke of Buckingham. It is a friendly tavern which, like the others, attracts theatre people."

The Maple Leaf, 41 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. Charing Cross tube. "This is not a historic pub, but great if you want to catch up on baseball or American football news. It shows several live games per week of all American sports (baseball, hockey, basketball, football - pro and college)."

The Coal Hole, 91 The Strand. Charing Cross and Temple tube. Wes Fowler: "Now a popular refuge for theatre people, it took its name in the early 19th century from the coal haulers who unloaded boats on the river and went there to restore themselves."

Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, London, EC4 1YA. Temple and Chancery Lane tube. Mock Tudor frontage, long bar full of Victorian woodwork with lovely classical style pillars on the bar itself. One of the most famous taverns in the City of London and the oldest in Fleet Street. Built originally in 1549. The upstairs Function Room is airy with a stained glass ceiling. Old prints cover the walls.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 15 Fleet Street. Blackfriars tube. Very old historic pub with good but cheap beer. Great atmosphere with several different rooms in which to have a drink and something to eat. Have not tried the meals so I cannot comment.

The Cartoonist, New Merchant Centre, New Street Square, north of Fleet St. Blackfriars tube. Worth a look not for the pub but for the cartoons.

The Founderís Arms, Bankside, just downstream from the southern end of Blackfriars Bridge. Blackfriars tube. Good food, and views of St Paul s and the City

The Blackfriars, 174 Queen Victoria St. Blackfrairs tube. A pub designed within the Arts and Crafts Movement. It is an absolutely beautiful place with good food at reasonable prices and a very friendly staff.

The Viaduct Tavern on Holborn Viaduct and Newgate Street, Chancery Lane tube. Traditional interior with the added bonus of the remains of the old cells from the debtors prison in the cellars.

Centre Page. 29-33 Knightrider Street, London, EC4 5BH. Blackfriars tube. "Nobody has given an opinion on this. Old, classic pub, wooden floor panelling. Restored recently and is now warm and light inside. Beer is served in pewter tankards. Traditional, fresh English food served."

The walk ends here.

Other selections to the west

Scarsdale, 23a Edwards Square, Kensington. High St Kensington tube

The Grenadier, 18 Wilton Row, Belgravia. Hyde Park Corner tube. Arguably London's most famous pub, and reputedly haunted, the Grenadier was once frequented by the duke of Wellington's officers on leave from fighting Napolťon. It pours the best Bloody Marys in town, and filet of beef Wellington is always a specialty. Another comment: "The nicest thing about it is the location - great neighborhood, and as a mews pub it always feels cozy and "undiscovered" even if it turns up in every guide book (and can be occupied almost exclusively by tourists some times.) I don't know about the Beef Wellington, but my recollection of the food there was it was okay, nothing special, but pricey. Mid-week afternoon on a warm day, though, not a bad place." And a third: "I've been to the Grenadier. The ceiling is covered with banknotes and the wisteria was in bloom."

The St. George near Victoria Station. This discourages casual visitors. Further down the street is the 'Greyhound'. It is for locals.

The Albert, 52 Victoria Street. St. James Park tube. Good views of Westminister Abbey and pub food for dinner

Red Lion, Crown Passage, off Pall Mall to the north. Green Park tube

Lamb and Flag, 24 James Street. Bond Street tube

Red Lion, 48 Parliament St. Westminster tube

Gordon's Wine Bar, Villiers Street. Embankment tube

To the East

Hung, Drawn and Quartered. By the Tower. Interesting decor with a nice outside area. Fascinating

Dickens Inn, St Katherineís Marina. Tower Hill tube. An 18th century spice warehouse converted in the style of a 19th century balconied two storey inn. It has two restaurants, a snack bar, and traditional tavern. The beer garden and restaurant balconies are open during the summer. The setting overlooks Tower Bridge and the Marina with its boats and walkways.

The Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall. Wapping tube. Traditional pub with a small riverside garden, serving good food.

To the south

The George Inn, Borough High Street. London Bridge tube. Seventeenth century inn, the last in London to keep its pub yard with balcony. Undistinguished food.

And to the north

Hand and Shears, 1 Middle Street, Cloth Fair, London, EC1A 7JA. Barbican tube. Non-Fodors forum writers give good marks for this. Small traditional pub behind City of London's oldest Church - St. Bartholomew's the Great and originally built in 1123. Rebuilt in 1849 the bar is central to a square wooden panelled room which is split into four and is occupied by a mix of medical and office workers. In winter the open fires makes for a warm and friendly atmosphere where you can enjoy a quiet pint and good food while contemplating the 19th Century cartoons that are spread around the room.

Lord Raglan, 61 St Martins-Le-Grand, London, EC1A 4ER. St Paulís tube. Victorian London Pub. Reconstructed in 1855 on top of the original cellars. It then became "The Lord Raglan" to commemorate Lord Raglan the hero and Commander in Chief of the Crimean campaign. This pub offers a good selection of food, wines and beers in a relaxed atmosphere. Shakespeare and his friends visited it often.

The Union Tavern, 52 Lloyd Baker Street. Kings Cross St Pancras tube. Traditional Victorian Pub with gastro pub pretensions ie excellent food.

Perseverance, 63 Lambs Conduit Street, Holborn. Holborn tube. "Excellent gastro Pub, but have not been in a while. Environment and atmosphere of traditional boozer."

Pub Etiquette

Even a foreigner (I mean somebody not from London) can join a conversation in a pub. The technique is to greet a couple of people with a short nod and Good Evening as you come in, take the advice of people at the bar on which pint to order, stay at the bar, listen to the conversation, and after two minutes to put in your word of agreement. It is not yet your privilege to disagree. Agreement through an illustration of the point from your home town goes well. As soon as you can, fall silent for two minutes, then rejoin, and after five minutes you can even disagree, with great courtesy and hesitancy. Conversations at tables are normally private, but if people you are talking with at the bar move to a table you can readily ask whether you may join them. And away you go. Touchy subjects, best left till later, are women, religion, and politics. Boring subjects are the weather and how nice your home town is.

There is a good and detailed guide to pub etiquette at http://www.sirc.org/publik/pub.html

There are well judged pub reviews on http://ultimatepubguide.com/index.phtml and http://www.robspubs.com/rob/pubs.php4

Four other sites are:

http://www.pubs.com/
http://users.aol.com/sfhsliz/pubs.htm
http://www.visitlondon.com/html/index.php?pgd=59&grp=420
http://www.regularsreunited.co.uk/