- 34 Park Street, Bankside
- SE1 9EF
- Nearby Tube stops: London Bridge
Recently refurbished. Views seem to be mixed on how badly this has spoilt it. Refurbishment was completed at the end of April 2002, so beware of any reviews you see dated earlier than this.
Courage Director's, Marston Pedigree, Strongbow, etc. A pint each of Director's and Strongbow was £4.95. [Prices as of May 2002]
Pre-made baguettes are £3 from the downstairs bar until either 8pm or 9pm (can't remember). Advertised on the menu are: egg and cress; cheese and onion; pastrami; and chicken and mayonnaise; I had the unadvertised tuna mayonnaise, which was rather decent, if a little grey around the edges due to me ordering it at the end of the evening.
"Traditional English favourites" are available on the first floor and cost around £5.50. Choices include fish and chips, home-baked pies, "succulent" sausages, and daily specials such as barbecue chicken with chips, roast parsnips, and sweet potato. The food is not delivered to your table; you have to hang around at the servery until it's ready. Much of it is prepared in advance and kept under heat lamps at the servery; it looks kind of nasty by the end of the evening. I had fish and chips one lunchtime, though, and it was cooked freshly, and was perfectly competent if not hugely exciting.
There's also an "a la carte restaurant" on the top floor, as yet untried.
[All prices as of May 2002]
Service and Ambience
I've been here three times since the refurbishment, and the service has been worryingly incompetent on all occasions. The first time, the bartender was unable to make a Bloody Mary without help from me. The second time, Jon observed a different bartender who didn't seem to be able to get anything right: again having trouble with a Bloody Mary; seeming completely unaware that it helps to tilt the glass when pouring a pint; forgetting parts of someone's order and charging them for it anyway; and not knowing how to give cashback and then giving the wrong amount (once finally helped by a colleague). This suggests that someone in management really doesn't know what they're doing. Surely it's not too much to expect a minimum of staff training -- it takes all of 10 minutes to teach someone to pour a pint without getting five times as much head as beer -- and new barstaff should certainly be supervised until they at least know roughly what they're doing.
As for ambience, I'm not at all fussed on the new large standing space by the right-hand bar; it smells far too much of chains like All Bar One or The Puzzle. I think some of the old, nook-like rooms off to the left are still there; I really hope so. The new bar, built on top of the old walled courtyard, is somewhat ridiculous. It has large Olde Worlde rectangular-cross-section black beams up by the ceiling -- but you can see from the seams that these are in fact made from four planks stuck together.
Perhaps the best bit is the riverside patio -- which must be able to seat over a hundred -- with a good view of St Paul's cathedral, and also of London and Southwark Bridges, and the Millennium Bridge (well, if you squint a bit), Tower Bridge and the Canary Wharf towers further away. (It has had a bit of a pigeon poo problem in the past, but they seem to be trying to alleviate this now, with notices warning you not to leave leftover food unattended.)
Another person's view on the refurbishment:
New bit upstairs okay (but they try to throw you out of it way too early), new bit outside great - you can see the river and everything. New bit downstairs is a great big pile of poo.
There seem not to be any toilets on the first floor. There are two sets downstairs, but one of these is through a function room that is sometimes closed or booked out. There is a disabled lift up to the first floor, but it wasn't working when I tried it; perhaps you have to ask behind the bar for it to be switched on, or perhaps it was just not working yet.
The refurbishment included the building of a 55-room Premier Lodge hotel on top of the pub.
- pubs.com review (updated since refurbishment)
- fancyapint review (updated since refurbishment)
- Go Britannia review (mostly focusing on the history of the pub and the area)