Some Great Traditional Pubs in London, England (5)

The White Horse
1-3 Parson’s Green, SW6 4UL

Located in an imposing white-painted Victorian building, The White Horse features wood and flagstone floors and open fires,  comfy sofas and tables and chairs at the front of the pub, plenty of standing room round the central polished mahogany bar, and a dining area beyond the kitchen at the back of the house. Stylish contemporary lighting adds to the ambience of what is otherwise a fine traditional pub.

The White Horse has a deserved reputation for serving both fine food and having an array of well kept beers, both on draught and in bottle. It leans toward the gastro-pub designation with very fine fare such as a pink and meaty rack of lamb or a  large fresh salmon and dill fish cake with a lemon mayonnaise sauce and a rocket and onion salad but, there is still plenty of good atmosphere to soak up along with the fine cask ales.
Usually on tap, are three very well recognized quality cask ales, Oakham JHB from Cambridgeshire,  Adnams Broadside from Suffolk and Rooster’s Yankee from Harrogate, Yorkshire.  The peppery hop bitterness in JHB dances a merry tune across my appreciative palate as I savour this distinctive bitter ale, a former CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain.

Some Great Traditional Pubs in London, England (4)

Argyll Arms
18 Argyll Street,  Soho, W1F 7TP

After walking along lively Oxford Street, home to many splendid shops, the stunning Argyll Arms provides welcome respite from the demands of shopping among the hordes of glassy eyed shoppers from all over the world intent on snaring gifts for themselves, and maybe even tossing in a few trinkets for loved ones back home.
The main hallway, which is richly decorated with cut and etched glass and handcrafted woodwork, as most of the pub features, has three cosy mahogany wood snugs or cubicles opening off it. A single long bar with polished etched mirrors as a backdrop serves all areas with a good selection of real ales on hand pumps.
Adnams Bitter from Suffolk was in magnificent form, hitting all the right hoppy notes, encouraging one to sit a spell and sup a few before the cask was finished. Time may not have stood still but I sure wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry with a brilliant beer ‘on song’. Having beer this exquisitely good is like being on the perfect first date, all enjoyment and not a question to be answered.
This glorious 18th century pub is noted for having survived both world wars intact when many London pubs were bombed out and or, having survived, were pulled down by over zealous builders. It is on CAMRA’s national inventory of listed pub interiors.

Some Great Traditional Pubs in London, England (3)

The Lamb
92 Lamb’s Conduit St.,  Bloomsbury,  WC1N 3LZ

Originally dating from the 1720s, The Lamb, a classic Victorian pub, is a real charmer, an energetic, welcoming, friendly local, one of those pubs that is absolutely not to be missed when visiting London. Deservedly, The Lamb is often full to bursting, especially on Friday evenings.

Snob screens, or privacy screens, with inlaid etched glass, are a unique architectural design feature of the central bar. The snob screens, which swivel,  were designed to protect the identities of customers who may be having a business meeting or assignation with those with whom they shouldn’t.

Under a bright red painted ceiling, green banquettes along the length of most of the outer walls are fronted by three-legged pub tables that have a brass safety ring to keep the drinks on the table, and padded stools for the late arrivals.

This is a Young’s Brewery pub having all of the Young’s cask beers on hand pump, especially the Young’s Bitter, in excellent form.  There is a good restaurant upstairs, though a range of fine food can also be had in the pub.

My most recent visit in the summer of 2011 proved to be a struggle as the beers were warm and what I would call soft, not expressing themselves to their fullest. And while they were not off in flavour. as in infected, they certainly were not sparkling bright and zesty. Would I go back? Most certainly but I would be cautious in my ordering. Perhaps a half pint to start?

Some Great Traditional Pubs in London, England (2)

Ye Olde Mitre
1 Ely court, Ely Place, EC1N 6SJ

A bit harder to find is Ye Olde Mitre, which is located up an alleyway off its own private square, Ely Place. Look for leaded windows and the tan oak front door, behind which you will discover a pub bursting with genuine character in the heart of this historic pub dating from around 1772.

Two dark paneled rooms, the front bar being the smaller of the two, featuring antique settles and a cozy atmosphere, are located either side of the tiny central bar, meaning that if the front bar is too busy, you have to exit one door and come in by another door off the alleyway, which also leads to the men’s toilet.

Fair enough. It’s not that far to the other side of the bar. The rewards are great as the cask ale list is ever changing, with beers always in tip-top form, beseeching your full attention even as you are tempted to  stray and survey the warm and welcoming room and its occupants.  With excellent beer and comfortable surroundings in perfect harmony, it is easy to put the world right or forget it altogether.

Food is limited, featuring tasty toasties, toasted sandwiches on white or whole wheat bread with such fillings as ham and cheese or ham and tomato. At lunch time, the grey-haired barman was knocking out six of these at a time from a stainless steel toaster that held racks of sandwiches side-by-side. On one visit, a generous regular in the front bar served a few of these toasties to a nearby table and retrieved the hot mustard from another table to accompany my Scotch egg.

Ye Olde Mitre is on the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) national inventory of listed pub interiors.     Please be advised that the Mitre is open Monday to Friday, only opening a single weekend (12 to 5 PM)  during early August to coincide with the Great British Beer Festival, a grand celebration of cask conditioned ales and bottle conditioned beers put on by CAMRA.

This pub was purchased in 2009 by Fuller’s Brewery of London, but happily the Scottish landlord, Scotty, has been allowed to carry on with his Scottish beer festival during the GBBF, though the bar does now sport a few beers from the fiercely independent Fuller’s.

On my most recent visit in 2011, Scotty had just returned from the GBBF and he plunked down the program in front of me and said: ‘there’s your homework, lad’, knowing that I had come over to attend this fine cask ale event put on by CAMRA.

Some Great Traditional Pubs in London, England

Even with the emergence of gastropubs, many served up with over the barrel prices, you can still find authentic  pubs serving a selection of fine beers and decent food in central London. In fact, London offers a myriad of historical and architecturally brilliant pubs that also have on tap England’s traditional beverage, cask conditioned ale, real ale. Cask ale is a living beer, that is, beer which undergoes a secondary fermentation in the cask, producing both fine conditioning and a light carbonation. This is beer in its purest form. Unfiltered and gently pulled from the  cellar by hand pumps, with more than a splash of hops in its makeup, this is beer that is served at cellar temperature, not bone chilling cold, and certainly not warm. Cask conditioned ale is beer to die for, or at the very least, beer to have before you die. Especially now, following the smoking ban in pubs, that you can smell the fresh hoppy beers to their fullest effect. Enjoy.

Anglesea Arms
15 Selwood Terrace,
South Kensington, SW7 3QG

The Anglesea Arms, a true free house dating from around 1825, is the kind of comfortable pub with a reliable ambience you could spend all day in drinking fine cask ales and talking among friends and not have one regret about your actions. Dark wood and fine art on the walls, abundant tables with partial wooden dividers separating sections, a fine bar at which to stand, and most importantly, well kept cask ales are the main attractions. Most notable on the beer front, the Brakspear Organic Ale, Archers Gold and Hogs Back Bitter, all highly drinkable golden coloured session ales that delivered forthright hop bitterness with just enough malt for balance.

The Anglesea Arms was one of the notable holdouts, serving cask ales back in the 1970s when big British breweries, which were backed by large advertising budgets, were pushing keg ales such as Watney’s Red Barrel, an insipid beer lacking character and hop bitterness. Across the industry, the big breweries left real ale to languish in obscurity but for the few, a handful of breweries and a few select pubs, that believed in this most traditional of English beers. Their belief has been richly rewarded, saving a beer style and a way of life that included popping down to the pub for a pint or two of cask ale and a chat.

Food is available every lunchtime and evening from a very interesting menu in the bar and the dining room tucked away in behind the bar, which provides a full restaurant service, and where booking tables is recommended.  Try the tender pink grilled duck sliced thinly and layered over and between a bed of crisp greens with an Asian-influenced dressing for a real delectable treat. There’s a sizable outdoor drinking terrace in front of the pub that is busy weather permitting, of course, and now, it sees more use as an outdoor smoking venue.

Museum Tavern
49 Great Russell Street,  Bloomsbury,  WC1B 3BA

A busy pub located on a corner directly across from the British Museum, the Museum Tavern is ideally situated after a visit to the venerable English institution for a jar of cask conditioned ale in good nick, say the hop happy Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter or a pint of the distinctly hop bitter Timothy Taylor’s Landlord from Yorkshire, a former CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain and the most decorated real ale in all of England.

The pub features a bar running along most of the length of one wall, with an ornate wooden back bar and plenty of decorative etched glass mirrors, giving the place a sense of inviting warmth.  Believed to date from the early 1800s, the Museum Tavern is the work of architect William Finch Hill. The pub was originally called the Dog and Duck.

The Museum Tavern revels in its proximity to the British Museum, welcoming a good mix of tourists from around the globe during the day and locals dropping in for a pint of an evening.

San Diego Images

Crystal Pier as seen from level three of Tower 23, Pacific Beach.

A red rose in the Rose Garden, adjacent to Balboa Park, home to San Diego’s galleries and museums.

Pacific Ocean surf breaks sharply under Crystal Pier, some 872 feet from shore.

Over the course of a day, the price for mimosas steadily rises at the Bare Back Grill, Pacific Beach.

The old Point Loma Lighthouse, now a museum, overlooks San Diego’s inner harbour, some 427 feet above sea level.

Red wine and a setting sun at Jordan’s in Tower 23, Pacific Beach.