Check out London’s great choice of dog-friendly restaurants with Squaremeal’s selection. If you’d rather not leave your pets at home, there are plenty of places in London where they’re welcome. Find out where to dine with your doggie via Squaremeal’s carefully selected list of the most dog-friendly restaurants in London. Every one of the restaurants featured in Squaremeal’s list of London’s most dog-friendly restaurants has been tried and tested by food critics and our readers, so check out the reviews and book a table with Squaremeal today.
Shadwell’s unkempt George Tavern may not be much to look at, but it has become a formidable cultural powerhouse under the aegis of artist-musician landlady Pauline Forster. It’s in a pretty
dodgy-looking locale and, frankly, it fits right in with its graffiti-ed loos, ramshackle smokers’ patio and scuzzy vinyl upholstery. As a boozer, it’s basic. Cheap grub (£5 lasagne or cottage
pie) and inexpensive drinks (the usual crowd – Guinness, Stella, generic spirits) are less of a draw than the scene itself. The George is best known for live music, but there’s a gallery and a
range of spaces for theatre and cutting-edge performance. Both staff and venue are friendlier than they look.
The George Tavern
A quiet neighbourhood hostelry in the heart of ‘Abbeville Village’, The Abbeville has been given the full gastropub makeover. There’s mismatched furniture, painted bare-brick walls, French windows
and a mezzanine dining area. The menu doesn’t stray far from the tried and tested gastro stalwarts, but the kitchen isn’t shy of using up-to-the-minute flavours such as beef onglet given a burn
with horseradish paste and served with fries and spinach, or sea bream teamed with potatoes and chorizo. The bar menu has a forte in fried fish. A decent wine list is helpfully divided into
varietals, but drinkers who prefer the grain have well-kept beers (including Timothy Taylor Landlord) to pique their interest. The local Olivers and Emmas love the place, and it makes a great
venue for parties.
The smartest of a trio of Belgravia gastropubs that also includes The Orange and The Alfred Tennyson, this perfectly proportioned Regency townhouse is appropriately named after one of London’s most renowned master builders. The ground-floor boozer (and a fair amount of the pavement outside) play host to drinkers and socialisers who can pick from an easy-going menu of pub staples ranging from chilli/salt squid to lamb burgers and fish and chips. Those wanting a smarter, more intimate repast head upstairs to the pretty Regency dining room, where the wine list takes precedence over the beer taps, and the cooking cranks up a notch – think seared scallops on radish tagliatelle or Middle White pork chop with black pudding, caramelised onions and some sweetly acidic gooseberries. Helpings are generous, but it’s worth bracing yourself for puds such as lemon and raspberry baked Alaska. “A really good local restaurant – not the cheapest, but a great vibe”, concludes one fan.
The Thomas Cubitt
Out of the same stable as The Thomas Cubitt in Belgravia, this light & airy kid on the block has recently added eight guest rooms, making it a good-to-know-about B&B spot as well as
pub/restaurant. All pale wood & oatmeal textiles, the street-level boozer serves an interesting selection of beers, including Meantime’s Union lager, as well as house cocktails, fresh juices
& a reasonable choice of wines by the glass. Sunday roasts are popular, & the rest of the time a mix of suits & Portman Village locals populate the bar or slightly more formal upstairs
dining room, eating simple but neatly presented dishes such as chicken-liver parfait topped with melting red wine jelly, warmly praised burgers or seared tuna with a smoked tomato sauce. Portions
are generous, making it more feasting than grazing.
The Grazing Goat
If The Brown Dog were any easier to find in the backstreets of Barnes, it would be even harder to get a table here in busy periods. Drinkers are welcome to prop up the bar in one room with a pint of well-kept local ale (Sambrook’s Wandle, Twickenham’s Autumn Blaze) or a glass of wine from the decent list. Diners make their way to the other room for pleasing seasonal soups (white onion with black olive tapenade, say) and a daily roster of dishes running from wild garlic, ricotta and lemon ravioli to chicken and chorizo pie with mash or whole grilled sea bass with samphire and Jersey royals. Steaks and burgers also have their say, while desserts might bring baked rhubarb cheesecake with ginger crème fraîche. The garden come into its own on sunny weekends, when staff often light the barbecue.
The Brown Dog
With a popular primary school behind and some of Richmond’s largest houses around the corner, The Victoria has its market on its doorstep. From breakfast to supper time, the place hums with activity, though is seldom overstretched. Celeb chef Paul Merrett’s menu ticks all the right boxes – properly poached eggs and decent coffee to start the day, moving on to appealing bar nibbles and snacks (almonds, king prawns a la plancha, chorizo) or a full-on menu. Merrett’s cooking has always been a draw, and with the likes of pan-fried sea trout on mussel and celeriac chowder, high-quality steaks with proper béarnaise sauce, and a Sunday slow-roast pork with apple sauce, he’s keeping everyone happy. The large enclosed playground allows children to let off steam at the weekend while their frazzled parents pore gratefully over the wine list or sample one of the cask ales from a choice line-up.
The Victoria - Sheen
A smartish pub that seems comfortable in its own skin, The Bolingbroke is well-used by Wandsworth denizens who drop in for a glass of wine, homemade elderflower cordial or locally brewed beer (the small pubco that owns the place even has its own label – Three Cheers Summer Pale Ale). Many punters pop by on their way home from work, and then meet friends and stay for the evening, grazing on bar snacks such as hummus, guacamole and flatbread, or a plate of charcuterie. Others book a table in the romantic conservatory-like dining room at the back: ideal for dates and special occasions. Cooking here is pitched towards the top end of the gastropub spectrum – check the blackboards for specials of the day, but expect the likes of homemade terrines with cornichons, lovely fresh salads, and seared scallops with spiced lentils. Chocolate pot with white chocolate sabayon makes a sweet finale.
It may look gentrified, but The Drapers Arms is a lively place, with the ground-floor bar humming like a good ’un when the locals flock in. The Georgian building’s fine features have been left well alone, which makes for spaces of generous proportions and classic design. To drink, there are real ales at the bar and a wine list offering glass and carafe options. Head upstairs to the serene dining room to escape the hubbub (assuming it’s not booked for a private party). A patio garden provides another alternative in summer. The kitchen satisfies with its mix of modern comfort food, such as the house cheeseburger, but is equally happy knocking up duck breast with roasted black plums, or packing guinea fowl, bacon and mushrooms into a pie. To finish, gingerbread pudding competes with Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses with crab apple jelly
(is it OK to have both?).
The Drapers Arms
More of a daytime drop-in than a full-on restaurant, this soothing space on quiet Clerkenwell Close is what's modishly referred to as a ‘kitchen'. Limited weekday-only opening times suggest that
it’s aimed primarily at locally based architects and media types, who regularly take advantage of the cafe’s neat wooden tables and sunny terrace out back. Shelves of cookbooks and a ‘homemade'
ethos emphasise serious foodie intent, which shows in a modest daily roster of unintimidating lunch dishes such as watercress soup followed by char-grilled squid with roast potatoes, green beans
and marjoram, plus poached pears and pannacotta for afters. Cakes, pastries and classic sandwiches on organic sourdough flesh out the offer, while drinks run from homemade lemonade to a fistful of
wines. Note that the café is now open for supper on Thursdays.
The Clerkenwell Kitchen
It’s hard to beat the riverside location of this historic Greenwich boozer (dating from 1837). At high tide, take a seat in a bay window projecting over the Thames – ideally with a pint from the
choice of guest ales – & you’ll feel like you’re practically in the water. The atmospheric bar, with its dark-green walls & oil paintings of naval battles, seems to have changed little
since Charles Dickens & William Gladstone drank here. By contrast, the large Collingwood Restaurant (fish is a forte) feels rather corporate, packing in tourists & displaying special offers
on wine. All this history comes at a price; whitebait with paprika mayonnaise, the house special, costs £7 & you’ll pay upwards of £15 for mains, including baked haddock & Welsh rarebit, or
spiced leg of lamb.
The Trafalgar Tavern
A neighbourhood bolthole and gastronomic destination rolled into one, Daphne’s is the very personification of its Kensington clientele – handsome, refined and utterly assured. From the dark-pink marble bar with its green leather stools to the European modern art and baroque conservatory for private dining, this space resembles a tasteful and expensively clad Italian townhouse, complete with classic Jags and idling chauffeurs parked outside the concertina doors. The kitchen specialises in bold regional flavours: creamy burrata with intense cherry tomatoes and grilled focaccia; octopus carpaccio with crispy soft-shell crab; pappardelle with wild boar ragù; roast rump of lamb with caponata and salsa verde; seared slabs of tuna atop sweet peperonata. For dessert, the strawberry gelato is guaranteed to clear any rainclouds away. As you’d expect from Caprice Holdings, flawless and personable service is a given, while waiters “with a good sense of humour” take pleasure in steering drinkers through the exhaustive Italian wine list.
The work of a former employee of Vice magazine, the Ben’s Canteen mini-chain more or less had a mandate to be cool from the word go – but it also manages to be a laid-back, welcoming hangout whose Aussie vibe and expansive menu fit the bill for every time of day, from breakfast to one-for-the-road cocktails. Brunch is a strong point, with a trio of celebrated burgers (try the buttermilk chicken version) competing in the calorie stakes with the likes of pulled pork and poached eggs slathered with hollandaise sauce, plus Down Under drinks that range from a tongue-in-cheek glass of ice-cold Berocca, to rum-heavy iced coffee. The over-indulgence continues into lunch and dinner via ‘nduja-studded mac ‘n’ cheese, peanut butter-laced milkshakes and yet more burgers – all of which come with pairing suggestions from the dynamic global wine list. The dining rooms have a folksy, cosy feel, with lights strung around the ceiling and patchily whitewashed walls and furniture. Don’t be surprised to arrive for brunch and find yourself still there, soaking up the atmosphere, come bedtime.
Ben's Canteen Clapham Junction
CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT. REOPENS AUTUMN 2019
With animal heads on its walls (nothing endangered, mind) and a bucolic finish, The Bull & Last has the feel of a country pub in the big city. The ground-floor bar can generate quite a buzz at busy times, so diners might prefer heading up the stairs to the (relative) poshness of the restaurant, where there’s more room to kick back and take in the menu.
Some appealing nourishment is on the cards, treading a line between hearty rusticity and metropolitan refinement. The charcuterie and fish boards offer sharing possibilities, or you could keep scallop ceviche all to yourself. Steak and chips or fish and chips crank up the comfort factor, with the likes of rump of English lamb with Jerusalem artichoke purée and lamb pastilla, and a dessert of black fig Tatin, revealing the culinary chops of the kitchen. London’s microbreweries get a good outing at the pumps.
Bull & Last
The latest branch of the Soho-based Fernandez & Wells mini-chain finds it in the auspicious, tourist-hungry surrounds of Somerset House on The Strand. Occupying three sizeable rooms in the
recently refurbished East Wing, it has been slickly fitted out with swathes of New York stone, wood and metal, wire baskets of citrus fruit and an entire wall arrayed with legs of top-grade Spanish
jamón (a signature motif); also check out the specially commissioned contemporary murals and the views over the fountain courtyard. Tuscan cured meats, artisan cheeses, rustic sandwiches and cakes
are the daytime staples, with brunch yielding additional treats such as fried organic eggs in olive oil with a sprinkle of za’atar on sourdough toast. F&W is known for its coffee, but the
drinks list also extends to single-estate teas and some interesting European wines from organic producers.
Fernandez & Wells Somerset House
Primrose Hill was once nicknamed Greenberry Hill (a punning reference to the notorious hangings of Messrs Green, Berry and Hill back in the day) – hence the title of this eclectic, all-purpose
eatery. Flexibility is the name of the game as the kitchen goes on a globe-trotting tour taking in everything from viennoiserie for breakfast to all-day ‘traiteur’ plates of Ibérico Bellota ham,
salt beef sandwiches or pickled herring zakuski with beetroot, horseradish and sour cream. The full menu also stretches its legs, promising the likes of sea bream ceviche, miso-glazed aubergines or
breast of Creedy Carver chicken with imam bayaldi, ahead of tarte Tatin or raw and roast pineapple with pain d’épice, coconut and kaffir lime sorbet. The food is supported by a lively list of beers
and terroir-led wines that also goes walkabout in search of quality.
‘People think I’m going to read them a story,’ says the barmaid, as she opens the Rupert Bear annual to reveal the wine list. It’s just one of the touches that bring character to this quirky spot.
The sibling owners grew up in the area, and the fun they’ve had creating their own pub shows. Two Guinness factory pressure gauges flank the entrance, and there’s Greene King and Truman ale,
and Addlestones cider on tap. A big screen for football and live band nights also attract punters. Food is carefully sourced, with chutneys, jams and ice creams made in house.
Sit in the dining room or on the leafy terrace and tuck into grilled asparagus with poached egg and Parmesan, rump of lamb with mash and buttered sprouting broccoli, and lemon tart with
The Scolt Head
With a low-key, all-black frontage setting the tone, this Soho evergreen isn’t about to flaunt its near-legendary “romantic” charms. Space is at a premium here, but once you find a candlelit table, settle in for starters of plump confit pork cheeks with almond, peach and fennel or perhaps a delicate lobster bisque. The eclectic handwritten menu changes daily and “good value” mains keep things simple via a chunky Old Spot pork chop or fillet of stone bass with pine nuts, while puds might bring textbook pavlova or fresh figs drizzled with labneh, honey and walnuts. Personable, expert staff help to ease the digestion, while expertise and reliability characterise the superb selection of Old World wines – in fact the whole outfit is a friendly celebration of old-school restaurant values. The dimly lit, split-level premises may eschew anything remotely grandiose with its shabby, dated furnishings, but Andrew Edmunds delivers comfort and character in spades.
Unless you live nearby, it’s a ‘bit of a mission’ to get to The Spencer Arms, on the edge of Putney Heath. But locals count themselves lucky. Drinks as well as the food are good here; the wine list
has plenty to offer the curious, though most punters stick to the ‘very decent’ house wines or one of the beers on tap. The reasonably priced menu of ‘gutsy’, ‘tasty’ food changes regularly, but
quality and lack of pretension are watchwords. Select several tapas-sized dishes to share – devilled whitebait, grilled asparagus, and Cornish yarg with pickled onion all might feature – or eat
more formally by ordering pies, sausages, risottos or Sunday roasts. The normally efficient and friendly service can slow down under pressure on summer evenings and at weekends, so arrive
Standing on a slightly scruffy Clerkenwell side street, the diminutive Gunmakers makes an agreeable if unassuming bolthole for a pint and some sturdy pub food. Apart from a mini-arsenal of
antique firearms mounted on the walls, the interior is a conspicuously stark affair, although the bar is loaded with some less regularly encountered ales – Mad Goose Purity or Hobsons Mild, for
instance. Head for the cheery conservatory out the back to sample some gimmick-free pub fare, perhaps beef and stout pie with celeriac mash or a veal chop with spring greens and portobello
mushrooms, rounded off with a luscious banoffee pie. Be warned: the tiny space can get pretty packed at peak times, so you may end up drinking on the pavement.
View94 is a new and exciting fine dining restaurant & lounge bar based just a few yards away from the River Thames, in the cosy neighborhood of SW18.
With its hotchpotch of trinkets, high-backed antique pews, wicker baskets, dried flowers and dripping candles in wine bottles, redoubtable Maggie Jones’s looks like a set from a Richard Curtis film – although the food “feels like it predates Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Appropriately, the kitchen plays it straight, and the cooking is old-school British to the core – think asparagus with vinaigrette, steak and kidney pie or stuffed roast chicken with bread sauce. Fish fans might go for grilled salmon with hollandaise and there’s game in season too, while old-fashioned desserts could feature Cambridge burnt cream, apple crumble or bread-and-butter pudding. French house wine is served from a magnum, and diners are merely charged for what they drink – a cute touch. Added to that, Maggie’s “friendly prices”, set deals and easy-going charms ensure regular full houses.
Upmarket pub chain Geronimo Inns have applied their instantly familiar, signature look to this corner boozer deep in Ed Miliband-land. What Champagne socialists can expect along with their bubbles is a plush, comfortable take on nu-Victorian that would thrill the Interiors editor of a mid-market woman’s weekly. Choose from a decent range of draught ales and
a wine list that has plenty of interest either side of £20 – Slovenian Pinot Blanc and Australian Barossa Valley rosé, for example. Lunch and dinner service favours a mix of hearty Anglo-Med ideas:
roasted tomato mozzarella and thyme tart; sea bream and squid stew with polenta; wood pigeon with bacon, pearl barley and red wine jus, plus burgers, deep-fill sandwiches, puds and cheeses. A
roaring open fire and a smart garden (with barbecue) are to be commended.
The Lord Palmerston
If ever there was a corner of London that embraced the quintessence of central Paris, it’s Sloane Square – which makes it a perfect home for Messrs Corbin and King’s homage to the Gallic brasserie. From the black-and-white floor to art-deco flourishes and cream walls emblazoned with film posters, this spot has been fastidiously designed to look as if it’s been around for a lifetime. There’s the odd concession to current tastes on the all-day menu (crushed avocado on sourdough toast, say), but this is really a place for lovers of dyed-in-the-wool bistro cooking, from garlicky escargots and steak tartare to veal viennoise, herb-crusted hake with béarnaise sauce and desserts such as rum baba. Waiters in suited aprons are expertly drilled in the art of dutiful hospitality, while the oak bar is perfect for soaking up a Cognac or two. “Great local restaurant, buzzing from breakfast to midnight, love it”, says one fan. We wouldn’t argue with that.
Inspired by their road trips across America, Joy and Simon Brigg decided to bring the ‘sweet tastes of southern soul food’ to Camden with this funky joint dedicated to smoky porcine pleasures and
rocking Tennessee tunes. After a ‘warm-up’ of cheesy corn hush puppies or a mug of chilli, move on to the ‘main act’ – slow-cooked meaty ribs with the house sauce, 18-hour pulled pork, half a BBQ
chicken or ‘good licks’ such as spicy fried catfish, all served in classic enamel dishes. The ‘sideshow’ comprises creamed spinach, fried sweet potatoes and suchlike, while ‘encores’ might feature
baked vanilla cheesecake or apple cobbler. To drink, expect picklebacks, craft beers, bourbons, a fistful of wines and various Americana cocktails such as jam julep or spicy chihuahua (Sauza Plata
Tequila, espresso, agave syrup and chilli). “Giant portions, fantastic value”, exclaimed one convert.
Lucky north Londoners don’t have to travel far for prime Argentinian steak – Gaucho Hampstead is every bit as accomplished as its central London brethren. The chain’s reputation has been carved
from its impeccable beef, offered in a range of weights and cuts: from juicy rib-eyes to the most tender of fillets. The meat is so good, it’s hard to fathom why anyone would want anything else,
but the menu is an exhaustive read featuring ceviches and empanadas to start and spatchcocked chicken or slow-cooked lamb to follow. Look out for desserts featuring dulce de leche; they’re
bound to be a treat. Also of note are the sultry cowhide interiors, cool and confident service, and the far-reaching wine list including a ‘fine and rare’ section to match the best of the
A south-facing terrace overlooking Victoria Park makes this nu-Victorian revamp of a landmark boozer a prime spot for kicking back alfresco in leafiest Hackney. South African house tipples head a
list of a dozen unpretentious wines, while Hackney Brewery’s New Zealand pale ale and the pub’s own microbrews are among numerous hand-pulled pints on offer. Occasional glitches (no Worcestershire
sauce for our bloody Mary, for example) aren’t exactly deal breakers when dishes such as fish pie, pork belly and black pudding with caramelised apple and garlic mash or posh honey-glazed ham with
duck egg and truffled chips can be had for around a tenner. Open-mic nights, jam sessions, improvised comedy and alternative theatrical performances upstairs are further reasons to park up at this
People’s Park Tavern
A sequel to the highly successful Camden, this Bankside offshoot provides more of the same smoky
porcine pleasures and rocking Tennessee tunes. After a ‘warm-up’ of cheesy corn hush puppies or a mug of chilli, move on to the ‘main act’ – slow-cooked meaty ribs with the house sauce, 18-hour
pulled pork, ‘good licks’ such as spicy fried catfish, and assorted ‘hound dogs’ (British pork sausage with fried onions in a bun, plus assorted toppings), all served in classic enamel dishes. The
‘sideshow’ comprises garlic toast, fried sweet potatoes and suchlike, while ‘encores’ come in the shape of baked vanilla cheesecake or brownie sundaes. To drink, expect picklebacks, craft beers,
bourbons, a fistful of wines and various Americana cocktails such as Smokes and Rye (Peychaud bitters, liquid smoke, rye, egg white, lime juice and sugar syrup).
The second behemoth establishment from Martin Williams (ex-Gaucho) has landed in chain-heavy Victoria Street, incorporating cavernous basement dining rooms, public and private members’ bars and a mezzanine wine shop upstairs. As at the original City operation, dining is divided into two distinct areas: M Raw serves Japanese and Peruvian small plates from an open-kitchen; M Grill is devoted to meat, complete with an amphitheatre-style dining room. Choose either the raw or grilled route before taking your seat. A muted slate colour palette, softened by dusky blues and copper finishes, will please the corporate crowd, as will a standalone bar serving wallet-busting cocktails. The raw-bar menu of sushi and sashimi has been boosted by Wagyu steak tartare, which arrives under a smoke-filled cloche, laced with sweet-sour apple and topped by a glowing orb-like egg yolk. Over at M Grill, punters can opt for beef from one of six countries (Italian is a new addition); our rosy slab of USDA black Angus fillet (£49) sliced like butter. Delve further into the meaty menu and you’ll discover pig’s head served as salty crisp pulled-pork croquettes, slow-cooked cheek and moreish pig’s ear crackling. The dessert list is short yet not especially sweet; dulce mousse with buckwheat, bacon and sweetcorn ice cream is an acquired taste. Oenophiles fare better, thanks to a varied global wine list and the option to try before you buy. M looks set to nail the corporate market, but whether locals too will meet here remains to be seen.
M Victoria Street
When the British summer isn’t British winter under an assumed name, check out the pretty beer garden at this Cask Marque-accredited Hampstead tavern that nowadays promises around 20 speciality
beers and ciders from the likes of BrewDog, Sharps, Harveys, Brakspear, Camden Town and Brooklyn. Otherwise, summer quaffs such as Sipsmith’s fruit cup with ginger ale, elderflower fizz, British
kir royale or homemade lemonade with Chase potato vodka have patriotic, Enid Blyton appeal and play to the half-timbered pub’s cottagey Arts & Crafts vibe. Simple seasonal cooking yields
Gloucester Old Spot bangers on pea mash, wild salmon fishcakes with beetroot salad, risottos, fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding and salted caramel and chocolate tart with clotted cream,
as well as Saturday brunch, Sunday roasts and bar nibbles (whitebait, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, sarnies with fries).
The Garden Gate
Situated away from the hurly-burly of Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove, the ever-popular Bonaparte continues to draw an attractive crowd of thirtysomethings with money to spend on real ales,
thoughtfully selected wines and above-average food. Oysters, Spanish charcuterie plates, rib-eye steaks and artisan British cheeses are year-round favourites on a menu that ticks all the boxes
for seasonality and provenance, from warm beetroot, walnut, Jersey Royal and rocket salad to slow-roast pork belly with pesto mash, spring greens and cider velouté or char-grilled whole sea
bass with sweet potato, chilli and avocado salsa. Desserts might feature summer pudding with clotted cream, and set lunches are terrific value at £9.50/11.50 for two/three courses. The upmarket
bar’s floral lampshades and exposed brick contrast with serious wood panelling in the dining area.
The Prince Bonaparte
Like its Clapham sibling, this Jam Tree has quickly taken root in its chosen neighbourhood. Technically it’s in Fulham, but the Made in Chelsea set is happy to slum it on the wrong side of the tracks for jam-flavoured cocktail jars such as Damson in a Dress or Jammy Dodger (served hot). Numerous takes on Bloody Mary and the bar’s ‘cowboy breakfast’ help habitual hangovers, while the sun-trap beer garden (complete with alfresco bar and hog-roast BBQs) is perfect for sipping Chardonnay in summer or bundling up warm, with a beer, some bowl food and mains on a colonial theme. Say ‘yah’ to Singapore laksa, shahi paneer, curried goat with rice and peas or vegetable rangdang, as well as old-school English pies and puds. Still, a 2am licence at weekends means this is primarily a serious boozing joint.
The Jam Tree
‘Free house’ proclaims a sign behind the well-stocked bar of this remodelled pub on a newly energised stretch of the High Street. To eat, there’s ‘unmolested proper pub food’ (fish & chips,
grilled rib-eye, Cumberland sausage), as well as beer and cheese pairing suggestions (farmhouse French Brie and De Koninck Belgian beer, perhaps) and excellent Sunday roasts. But The Jolly
Butchers is really all about the stuff on tap, and there’s a seriously good selection, changed frequently and Tweeted to fans. A cask has been known to sell out in a matter of hours thanks to
the thirsty flocking in. Will yours be an American pale ale or a weissbier from Germany? Or maybe you’ll stick near to home with the impressive selection from London brewers, such as the Camden
Town Brewery, Meantime in Greenwich and Tottenham’s Redemption Brewery.
The Jolly Butchers
Sitting on a quiet Islington backstreet, its weathered Victorian tiles sporting lovingly tended hanging baskets, this cosy corner pub is a congenial spot for lucky locals. Easy-going staff make
everyone (newcomers as well as the regulars) welcome. The landlady cut her teeth here before launching the award-winning 69 Colebrooke Row, & her care & attention to detail is evident in
everything: from the laudable list of Old World wines to the posh peasant food on the blackboard menu. English & French influences produce satisfying ‘simple but not plain, thoughtful but not
over-elaborate’ dishes: the likes of potted crab with aïoli & toast; steak, mushroom & Guinness pie with green beans & mash; & rhubarb syllabub. Beers are well-kept &
discerningly selected at this free house, with Dark Star’s Hophead & Meantime on tap, as well as bottles of Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada & Anchor Steam.
The front terrace of this handsome boozer could well be in the running for a Britain in Bloom award, so abundant are its well-tended floral displays. On balmy evenings, the crowds spill out onto
the pavement, armed with trays of liquid refreshment. A couple of seasonal ales are always on tap, but this is Notting Hill, so you’ll also find an extensive wine list, including a range of
‘natural’ reds from France. Inside, the airy bar gives way to a cosy raised dining room with a Gallic-influenced menu touting the likes of salt-cod brandade or sautéed kidneys with bacon.
Unfortunately, reports of long waits for food suggest the kitchen may be stretching itself too far. Stick to the drinks and bar snacks and you won’t be disappointed.
The Ladbroke Arms
Dating from 1585, the famous old Spaniards Inn is a must for literary buffs: John Keats apparently penned Ode to a Nightingale in the garden and the boozer even gets a name-check in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. Scrubbed up and rejuvenated a while back, it’s now a mix of gleaming oak-panelled walls, chandeliers, beams and log fires, with a revitalised menu served in the beamed bar and upstairs dining room: expect the likes of crumbed pig’s cheek with celeriac rémoulade, ahead of pan-fried sea bass with heritage potatoes, sautéed kale and thermidor sauce or shin of beef with tenderstem broccoli and bone-marrow sauce. Pub standards also have their say, and the extended drinks list covers all bases from British cask ales to global wines. Saturday brunch is a fillip for the heath-walking brigade, while the outdoor bar and BBQ are a must during ‘flip-flop weather’.
Hot on the heels of the sourdough revolution, this tiny-but-mighty pizza joint is a lively addition to invigorated Upper Clapton Road. The two young owners discovered the magic of wild yeast at the
nearby E5 Bakehouse, and have spun it to create a short menu of four crispy thin-crust pizzas plus a weekly special. Sit at one of the chunky tables and tuck into a ‘winter goat’ (tomato,
mozzarella, goats’ cheese, walnuts, caramelised onions and olives) with a green salad from the urban gardeners at Growing Communities. There’s tiramisu to finish, and the drinks list includes beers
from East London brewers, homemade ginger ale and a few bottles from Borough Wines. Prices are as friendly as the vibe, and Clapton station is just an olive’s throw away if you fancy a trip out
Out of the same Drake & Morgan stable as The Folly, The Drift, et al, this “eclectic” bar/restaurant behemoth in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral pulls off the please-all style of its elder siblings. Busy but gimmicky postmodern decor, “frantic” loud music and tricksy detailing are right on target for a young City crowd, and we’ve been impressed by the “absolutely pristine” upkeep of the place. It can seem a bit like style over content, but The Happenstance wins approval with its comfy surrounds, “imaginative” drinks and “extremely varied” menu. Food kicks off with 'fully loaded breakfasts' before plundering brunch classics, small plates, sharing platters, “thick and juicy” burgers, salads, steaks and much more besides, while tipples range from big-name lagers and wines to a range of cocktails.
Following a change of ownership and some sympathetic surgery, this backstreet boozer and beer garden has been restored to its green-tiled, stripped-back, Victorian prime – and it’s now an indie free house well worth seeking out. Vintage speakers blare out a muso-cool playlist, while punters sip affordable wines, spritzes, fizzes and a trio of seasonal cocktails made with locally distilled spirits, homemade syrups and cordials. There’s also a useful range of traditional London-style craft ales from the likes of Beavertown and Hackney hopmeisters Pressure Drop. The sensibly short daily menu of heritage-inspired pub grub might promise home-cured charcuterie or raw mackerel with sea purslane and potatoes, ahead of charred spring vegetables with sheep’s cheese and herbs, Stilton burger or onglet and chips, with fresh strawberries or baked vanilla cheesecake for dessert.
The Prince Stoke Newington
North London’s real ale fans should celebrate the reopening of this tastefully refurbished olde-worlde Highgate landmark. With Dan Fox (formerly of the White Horse, Parsons Green) in charge, it now
comes complete with its own microbrewery. Over a dozen draughts might typically include Jaipur IPA or Tottenham’s Redemption Trinity, and there are plenty of arcane brews to investigate – check out the Halloween
pumpkin beer. If bottled brews are your bag, look for the likes of Torpedo or Vital Spark from Scotland’s Fyne Ales. Food might range from beer-battered cod to pulled pork and carbonnade of beef.
The Bull - North Hill
Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack has been wowing them stateside since 2004, and now the New York restaurateur has brought his modern-day ‘roadside burger stand’ to London. Set in Covent Garden’s tourist
honeypot, the new venture features eco-friendly dining areas within the South Hall of the Market Building – an enticing draw for locals and American expats who are lured by a self-service menu of
all-natural burgers, flat-top hot dogs and that US classic ‘frozen custard’. Native sourcing and ingredients from London’s artisan suppliers play their part in recreating the transatlantic
repertoire – think layered burgers with soft buns and lashings of sauce, plus a host of other crowd-pleasing favourites partnered by crinkle-cut Yukon fries slathered in nacho-style cheese sauce.
As for drinks, expect shakes, iced teas, fountain sodas, root beers and wines, served by staff who dole out Yankee hospitality with a big fat smile.
Shake Shack Covent Garden
Debonair Kensington Wine Rooms has a fun, buzzy feel that’s no doubt fortified by the copious quantities of wine by the glass it dispenses – some four dozen are available via an Enomatic system. Pitch camp at the bar, charge up your special pre-paid card, then sip your way through a list that runs from everyday sips to serious ‘event’ vintages at intimidating prices. Wine matches appear alongside each dish on the evening menu in the adjoining dining area: Cornish crab, avocado and spiced crackers with a Gusbourne Estate Chardonnay from Kent; sea bass atop crab, pea and crème fraîche risotto with a 2014 Puligny Montrachet ‘Les Enseigneres’; onglet steak and hand-cut chips accompanied by a 2104 Stellenbosch (RSA). ‘Bar plates’ and lunch specials for a tenner offer the best value, brunch brightens up the weekend, and regular wine events are a big draw.
The Kensington Wine Rooms
“Great pub, lovely food and friendly staff”, notes a fan of this gentrified Georgian pub – a fetching asset in the green and pleasant Hampstead hinterland. The ground-floor bar is well stocked with real ales, board games and comfy sofas, while the smart upstairs restaurant cuts a dash with its white linen tablecloths and a menu of aspirational assemblages. A plate of confit duck with celeriac purée, greens and devilled sauce is pure gastropub; alternatively, keep it traditional with smoked haddock kedgeree and a soft-boiled egg or Cumberland sausages and mash. The char-grill knocks out dry-aged steaks and posh burgers, while daily specials might bring venison fillet with butternut squash purée, parsnip gratin and blackberry jus. To finish, play it safe with strawberry pavlova or dark chocolate pot. In keeping with its gastronomic ambitions, The Wells’ wine list runs deep, with plenty of desirable options by the glass or carafe.
Attracting a younger crowd than its swanker sibling The Thomas Cubitt, this huge Belgravia gastropub earns its keep with plenty of buzz on the boozy ground floor and the wood-fired oven pumping out fresh, crisp pizzas, while the bartenders pull pints of Canopy beer and mix the odd cocktail. Upstairs, others make reservations for dinner and there’s proper table service in a serene space that resembles a country pub dining room. The kitchen does a good trade in pizzas up here too, but it also turns its hand to more cheffy dishes such as grilled sardines with coddled egg and sheep’s cheese, balsamic braised lamb pie with sour-cream mash, or gingerbread with port figs and brown bread parfait. Order ahead if you want your own joint to share for Sunday lunch. “Very moreish” says one fan, who is also quick to praise the “very accommodating, helpful and patient staff”.
Sitting snugly on one of Camberwell's finest Georgian streets, this high-ceilinged, high-spec gastropub looks the part with its worn floorboards, metro tiles, vintage lighting and Toile de Jouy wallpaper. The kitchen delivers “consistently good food” and fashionable plates ranging from crispy salt-and-pepper squid with spiced mayo to mackerel with white beans, courgettes and chorizo or pork belly with sauté savoy cabbage, sage and apple purée. Sharing dishes such as chicken, leek and wild mushroom pie or pineapple sponge with golden syrup also make this a great choice for a dinner à deux, while midweek lunch deals (Tues-Fri) offer two courses for a tenner. Ales from the likes of Butcombe and Whitstable Bay get the thumbs-up and the wine list ventures beyond usual pub clichés. The Crooked Well also has some of the “most friendly and welcoming staff in London”, according to one regular.
The Crooked Well
The ‘no reservations’ policy, dishevelled interiors and jam-packed tables aren’t enough to deter south London’s dining cognoscenti from patronising its best-known gastropub – although recent
reports suggest the Anchor & Hope is getting ‘tired’ and ‘trading on its longevity’. Once you’ve negotiated the scrum at the bar and secured a coveted spot in t he no-frills dining room, you’ll
be rewarded with a short (and rapidly depleted) blackboard menu of unreformed grub with a trencherman British accent – perhaps a ‘flavoursome’ warm salad of snails and bacon, Middle White pork
faggot and mash, grilled lemon sole with samphire, or fried ox cheek. The enticing wine list has plenty below the £25 mark, although not everyone is happy drinking out of cheap tumblers. You can
book for Sunday lunch, with a single sitting at 2pm sharp (very civilised).
Anchor & Hope
Author and foodie go-getter Philip Dundas created PipsDish as a garage pop-up in Islington before going permanent. This new venture is more ambitious than its Hoxton predecessor, although it’s a quirky world away from Covent Garden’s slick chains and old pros such as Joe Allen next door. The dining room has been kitted out with a “memory lane jumble” of movie posters, photos and a Narnia-esque wardrobe, and the cooking struck us as equally chaotic, with some poorly judged flavours and sloppy presentation – although others have fared better, praising the smoky ham hock terrine with sweet onion chutney and an aromatic “soupy” goose curry with chickpeas. There’s no menu, so you eat whatever Dundas is cooking that day – perhaps lemon chicken with fennel or oxtail with preserved bergamot. No reservations, though you can book for theatre suppers and Saturday brunch.
PipsDish Covent Garden
With polished wooden panelling, inviting wing-back chairs and handsome church pews inside its graceful Georgian premises, The Albion welcomes winter visitors. But come summertime, you won’t find
a spare inch in either the front courtyard or the large, comely, wisteria-draped beer garden out back. Both the kitchen and waiting staff can sometimes struggle to stay calm and match the
demand. Food is traditional British with a tweak. At lunchtime, yummy mummies nibble on purple sprouting broccoli with poached egg and truffled hollandaise, followed by treacle orange tart with
crème fraîche. In the evenings, the charcoal grill sizzles, and on Sundays there are roasts (for one, or to share). Prices are more restaurant than pub, but so is the wine list – and there are
the usual ales and lagers behind the bar.
The Albion - Thornhill Road