|Photo by Paul Winch-Furness|
I was on my way to the ETM Group's pub crawl when I realised how long it's been since I've done such a thing. I am officially 100 years old. It seems like a lifetime ago that I used to have gigantic nights out inevitably ending with me hoovering down a giant souvlaki before collapsing into bed with my makeup and shoes on. I even had a fabulous business plan once involving taxis and a back seat "dial your nearest kebab shop" menu. Or it might have been chicken parmas. I was clearly drunk when I conceived it and I was too hungover most of the time to implement it.
Well, how times have changed. Now a night out involves a nice, cosy dinner (once thought of as cheating), picking wines by quality rather than maximising alcohol percentage, taking my makeup off rain, hail or shine with the full hot cloth routine (one can't be too careful about one's skincare regime), and only occassionally falling asleep with my shoes on.
Fortunately, the ETM Group has rather nice pubs. And they put on the poshest pub crawl ever, which was just my cup of tea - discovering lots of nice pubs without ever have to deal with that stale beer and old man smell of the traditional pub crawl.
Here's where we went - some lovely pubs to put on your radar:
|Foie gras canapés. Photo by Paul Winch-Furness|
The Chiswell Street Dining Rooms in Barbican still smelled of fresh paint (love..!) and feels airy and fun - we only had cocktails and some very nice canapés, but a swanky setting in the former Whitbread Brewery and I would genuinely like to try it for a meal from the classic British menu.
|Snail & bacon pie. Photo by Paul Winch-Furness|
Tucked down a little alleyway in Clerkenwell, The Hat & Tun looks more like your traditional, Victorian watering hole, and was the perfect scene for steaming hot little Hereford snail and bacon pies with Guinness and mushroom cream sauce. Accompanying 1er Cru Burgundy wines were gorgeous - one to go too for good English grub and a top wine list. This one wins the award for most likely I would return to regularly - I liked it a lot.
|Turbot. Photo by Paul Winch-Furness|
For a main meal, we were bussed off to The White Swan, on Fetter Lane, where the upstairs restaurant and menu is a little more elegant and refined. A terrific piece of line caught Cornish turbot came with Dorset crab beignets, turnip tops, salsify and bisque butter sauce. More stellar wines - a South African Semillon - were beginning to become a common theme.
|Desserts aplenty. Photo by Paul Winch-Furness|
The Botanist on Sloane Square followed for desserts, like fig pudding with Port roasted figs, and then it was on to The Cadogan Arms on the Kings Road for much not-needed Cognac and a game of pool. By this time, I'm quite a few glasses of bubbly under. I can't tell you much more than I had fun and everyone was my best friend. It may have been a while between pub crawls, but some things never change. See The London Foodie's blog for a more lucid account and some more lovely snaps.
In sum, put these pubs on your radar - the people behind them are lovely, there's a fab wine selection, and really good grub too.
Where indicated, photos used thanks to Paul Winch-Furness.
Chiswell Street Dining Room, 56 Chiswell Street, EC1Y 4SA (Tel: 020 7614 0177)
The Hat & Tun, 3 Hatton Wall, EC1N 8HX, (Tel: 020 7242 4747)
The White Swan, 108 Fetter Lane, EC4 1ES (Tel 020 7242 9696)
The Botanist, 7 Sloane Square, SW1W 8EE (Tel: 020 7730 0077)
The Cadogan Arms, 298 King's Road, SW3 5UG (Tel: 020 7352 6500)