You know those authentic, dark old boozers that reek of years of drinks spilt emotionally into indistinct carpets? This is not one of those. Look away now if that is your unshakeable definition of a good pub.
Still reading? OK. This is the Waitrose of pubs. Self-consciously upmarket, nice food, a cut above. A little bit cavernous downstairs, but well laid out, with friendly (if ditzy) staff. Admittedly Waitrose doesn’t have a real fire. Nor the kind of quantity of oak wood – floors, walls, chairs, stairs, ceilings – that makes you feel vaguely guilty of breaching some environmental regulations. We met friends for Sunday lunch on 30 January and stayed for several hours in the upstairs restaurant, slumped over roast dinners and token fish order, but we’d been a couple of times for casual drinks, since it’s newly opened in our neighbourhood and we naturally feel we should support local enterprise.
That said, it’s looking increasingly likely that it will struggle by without our patronage. It’s always busy, and has powerful backing. It’s owned by the Thomas Cubitt group, which runs similarly bourgeois establishments like the more atmospheric Orange in Pimlico. And its opening was the result of some social engineering by our landlord, the Portman Estate. The Estate owns, oh, everything north and west of Selfridges, and it decided the area needed a stronger community heart. So it commissioned the opening of two new pubs, including this one. I’m a confirmed republican (small r) but that’s the kind of aristocratic meddling I like.