Lifestyle & Culture

Pauline Lemaire: My six favorite London pubs for a cold pint or a Sunday roast with friends

Pub culture is unique to the United Kingdom and is an integral part of social life. Whether you are a student or you work, finishing your day by grabbing a cold pint at the pub is a great – albeit unhealthy – way of unwinding with your friends or colleagues.

Part of the pub culture is the Sunday roast. If it is undeniable that English gastronomy suffers from a terrible reputation – and rightly so – one meal redeems it: the Sunday roast. Indeed, as I sat down one Sunday in front of a traditional Sunday roast in a London pub, I heard a French voice proclaim: “There actually is good food in the UK!”

Served at home and in pubs, it is the traditional English meal that brings families and friends together on Sundays. It consists of roast meat, gravy, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes and vegetables. For vegetarians such as myself, most pubs offer an alternative to roast meat.

Here’s my list of the best pubs to grab a pint or a Sunday roast in London:

No. 6 – Passione Vino

85 Leonard Street, EC2A 4Q

(Author’s note: A bonus for the poor souls living in the UK who don’t like beer.)

Are you a wine aficionado? Then this is your paradise. The wine selection, coupled with how cute and small this place is will give you the impression of sipping a glass of wine in a small Italian street. This place is super cosy, welcoming and laid-back, which you can tell by their wine menu that boasts sections such as “Unpretentious.”

This place is particular as it does not have a wine list; the waiter is here to answer your questions and find the wine for you among their 300 wines on offer.

The Financial Times described it beautifully by stating that “If Lewis Carroll had designed wine shops, they would probably have looked like this Shoreditch osteria.”

It is open from Mondays to Fridays from noon to 9 p.m.

No. 5 – Cat & Mutton

76 Broadway Market, Hackney, E8 4QJ

Cat & Mutton is often referred to as one of the best Sunday roasts in town. Located in London Fields, it is the ideal place to head after the weekly dominical pilgrimage to Columbia Flower Market, as it is only a 15-minute walk.

It’s got the authentic old pub feel to it, and the staff is lovely and very attentive. The food stands out because of the quality of the ingredients and their association, culminating in a delicious meal.

Their drink selection is typical of pubs, with a nice draught beer section, popular cocktails and a modest but good wine selection.

It is open from Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 1 a.m, and on Sundays from noon to 11 p.m.

No. 4 – The Whitecross Tap

142-146 Whitecross St, London EC1Y 8QJ

This pub has a great atmosphere and is very cosy on quiet nights but gets quite packed on Thursdays and Fridays. It offers a lovely beer selection and more than 100 gins if that’s your thing. The outdoor area is lovely and decorated with fairy lights, which gives it a back garden intimate vibe.

It is very central as it is located within a five-minute walk from the Old Street tube station, but it is in a quiet street. The couches are as comfortable as they look in the picture.

It is open from Monday to Wednesday from noon to 11 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 11:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.

No. 3 – The Old Bank of England

194 Fleet St., London EC4A 2LT

A staple pub in London. If the incredibly elegant decorations and ceiling height inherited from its history as a bank might seem intimidating at first, this place is in fact very welcoming and laid-back. The prices reflect this as a pint costs 5.5 pounds on average.

No Sunday roast here but their mouth-watering food selection that goes from a 28-day aged sirloin steak to grilled sea bass will satisfy your desire for a succulent meal.

It is open from Sunday to Tuesday from noon to 9:30 p.m.; Wednesdays from noon to 10:30 p.m., and on Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 11 p.m.

No. 2 – The Oak

137 Westbourne Park Rd, London W2 5QL

Fancy traveling back in time to the Roaring Twenties? This pub’s decoration is out of this world, with beautiful dark red walls and massive chandeliers in the bar upstairs, whilst the restaurant downstairs is candlelit. Not to mention the cocktail selection, which is amazing.

You won’t be able to order a Sunday roast here, but their Italian food menu will ravish your tastebuds.

It is open from Tuesday to Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays from noon to midnight, and on Sundays from noon to 10:30 p.m.

No. 1 – The Mayflower

117 Rotherhithe Street, SE16 4NF

My favourite pub in London. Its old genuine English pub vibes are just great, and the view on the Thames is unparalleled – although it might be by their Sunday roast and beer selection that include Camden Hells and Neck Oil, my two favourites. The low ceilings, comfortable seats and warmth that characterise this pub will not disappoint you. The cherry on top is that it is candlelit at night, which adds to the cosy feeling.

Given the view and the setting, the prices are low; the Sunday Roast costs between 14 and 17 pounds depending on which meat you pick, and a pint costs on average 5.5 pounds.

It is open from Monday to Saturday from noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday and Bank Holidays from noon to 9 p.m.

About the author:

Pauline Lemaire is a Digital Anthropology Masters student at University College London (UCL), and is thus currently based in London. She grew up in Singapore and Morocco, but her family has now relocated to Paris.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in French Literature and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.

After completing her Digital Anthropology Masters at University College London (UCL) Pauline Lemaire currently is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Pauline grew up in Singapore and Morocco, but her family has now relocated to Paris.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in French Literature and Philosophy from the University of Oxford.

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