11 Comfort Foods to Enjoy at London Pubs

December 7, 2018

British pubs are known as an ideal place to meet old friends, and make new ones. You can imagine the scenes portrayed in movies, with groups huddled around their pints of ale as they sing-long to the juke box. Some pubs have live music, and that would be even better! Lots of pubs run quiz nights which are open to all. FUN FUN. But if you go the pub earlier in the day, the scene is a different one — people are there for the delicious food.

On our recent travel to the UK, our London Connection Team tried several pubs at all times of the day. We learned some facts through our experience:

  • Pub is short for public house
  • They stop serving dinner at 8 or 9pm
  • Pub food is comfort food at its best
  • Most have no table service, you order your meal at the bar
  • Meals are usually paid for when you order

What are some of the best meals we ordered in London pubs? We are ready to tell you. Plus,   we asked our vacation apartment guests and received their suggestions to share. Here is our Top 11 list:

Sunday Dinner: No. 7 Market Tavern in Mayfair’s Shepherd Market served the perfect Sunday roast beef with fresh vegetables and Yorkshire pudding (which is not a dessert, but the golden puff pastry pictured above). And the good news, you can order the dinner for take-away and enjoy eating back in your own flat — don’t forget a traditional English dessert. In fact, the sticky toffee pudding was so good there, we went back another day for seconds!

Meat Pies: You might usually think of a meat pie encased in a crust. The Guinea Grill in Mayfair has had a pub on the site for almost 600 years and their recipe for steak and kidney pie has been the same for over three decades — it is that delicious! If you want another variety of meat pie, try the iconic Shepherd’s Pie at The Ivy. The original Ivy in Covent Garden, opposite where The Mousetrap is playing, has been there for many, many years and is very popular. You may need to book three months in advance. They have now opened up a lot of Ivy Brasseries around town and elsewhere and a table is more easily obtainable.

Burgers at The Mayflower were good, and the outside seating on the Thames was great. One of the oldest pubs in London, it is rated as one of the top five along the river. If you’re going to be in London, why not enjoy the view every meal possible!

Fish and Chips are excellent at Marlborough Head on North Audley Street, or try Brown’s on St. Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden. The crispy batter surrounds the flaky white fish, served with fries — the portions are large enough to share. Nothing like fish and chips in London; it is almost worth the trip just for a plate of these golden beauties!

Hunter’s Chicken from Two Brewer’s in Covent Garden was tasty. It was a grilled chicken breast with bacon and cheese, topped with BBQ sauce. Served with onion rings and a green salad. Yummy!

English breakfast: including eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and toast. We found that the English tend to prefer eggs with runny yolks. If you want your eggs cooked a bit longer, just request it. Another option is Bubble and Squeak for breakfast, which is a traditional English dish made from leftover mash (potatoes), cabbage, and other vegetables that are all pan-fried together until the outside is crispy.

Ploughman’s lunch at The Buckingham Arms, which is just around the corner from the palace. It is a cold traditional English meal, usually eaten at lunch. It usually consists of bread, cheese, onion, and a pickle. You can add ham and a cold drink (often a beer), and a green salad.

Bangers and Mash: Another traditional English main course includes a variety of large sausages, grilled to perfection, with a side of creamy mashed potatoes and onion gravy. Also, watch for Toad in the Hole on the menu, which are sausages cooked in batter. We recommend Bunch of Grapes near Harrods in Knightsbridge where you can find fabulous British foods. They also have a lovely brunch.

Christmas Dinner is available at most pubs and many restaurants; you will want to book a table in advance. One of our guests had Christmas Dinner at the Star Tavern in Belgravia last year, and loved it. You could also try the Hung Drawn & Quartered, their Christmas menu looks divine! Near the Tower of London, the dining is reasonably priced with such a wide selection of holiday cuisine. Be careful what you order though, since the sign out front states, “Well behaved children are welcome — others will be turned into pies.” You will be relieved to know that Sweeney Todd’s Barber shop is nowhere in sight!

Appetizers: Order a plate of cured meats or nachos to share. The Porcupine on Charing Cross Road in Covent Garden in the great place to have that sing-along and enjoy making new friends. It is one of the Nicholson’s many pubs throughout the UK, and the menus are the same or very similar. If you stop by, one of our guests suggests you say hello to George. Be sure to try a side of mushy peas at least once, you might just love them!

Desserts: You can’t go wrong with a pub dessert in London. We found that sharing one dessert between two of you is a good idea, especially after a full meal. Try the Lamb & Flag on Rose Street in Covent Garden that is known as one of Charles Dickens favorite “watering holes.” It is a history hunter’s dream, but has stepped into the modern times — they have both a vegetarian and a children’s menu.

Do you have a favorite food or pub that you have experienced while in London?  We would love to hear about them and give them a try when we are there next time. Post your comments on our Facebook page, or send an email to SheilaF@LondonConnection.com.

It would be easy to visit a London pub every day you are there; half of the fun is trying new foods at new places. Isn’t that why you left home — to see and experience new things? You have the list and some suggested places to get started, so off you go!