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.