Given its prime spot in London’s theatre district, it’s not surprising that Covent Garden is home to a fair few pubs, perfect for those pre- and post-show pints. And some of them are a good option for dinner, too – here are the ones to check out when you’re craving classic pub food.
You don’t have to be a literary buff to appreciate Mr Fogg’s Tavern, which, as the name indicates, is inspired by the adventures of Victorian traveller Phileas Fogg, the protagonist of the 1873 Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days. The eccentric pub has all sorts of bric-a-brac (birdcages, suitcases, toy ships) hanging from the ceiling, weekly cockney sing-a-longs and a flower-decorated front door. The food isn’t quite as off the wall – sandwiches and salads during the week, brunch on Saturdays and Sunday roasts with all the trimmings plus free-flowing punch and gravy – but the cocktails are more inventive and come in a variety of sizes.
Great Queen Street looks like a pub, with its long dark bar running down one side of the room and craft beers in the fridge, but it feels more like a restaurant and certainly has all dining options covered, from lunch to pre-theatre dinner and Sunday roasts. The menu changes regularly but is always broadly European and more innovative than that of most other pubs in the area. Fun dishes like griddled quail with chermoula and monkfish saltimbocca with fennel purée complement more standard pub food, such as beef wellington and chicken pie. There’s also a nice selection of desserts.
Run by Fuller’s, The Round House is a classic pub through and through; hearty pub fare like sausage and mash, fish finger sandwiches and sticky toffee pudding all come out of the kitchen. Plus, great real ales are on tap at the bar. Thanks to its prime spot on Garrick Street, it always has a bustling atmosphere, and the interior, with its high ceilings and decorative pillars, is an added plus. The location is hard to beat, too – close to most of the theatres, as well as the English National Opera, the Royal Opera House and the London Transport Museum.
Right in the heart of theatreland, The Cambridge has been standing since 1887 (on the site of an earlier pub), and it has retained that traditional character. As well as serving pub grub, The Cambridge is also a speciality pie house, dishing up everything from classic shepherd’s pie and chicken pie to more unusual selections such as chorizo and cider and confit duck. And like all Nicholson pubs, it’s strong on both the ale and gin fronts.
The Marquis, close to Charing Cross, is family owned and located in a building that was run by a mistress of the Duke of Buckingham in the 17th century when it was known as ‘The Hole in the Wall’. It also boasts what is said to be London’s narrowest alleyway outside – possibly the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. The friendly pub is known for its music from a vinyl record player and has a large food selection, with classic pub dishes, as well as lighter salads and “deli-style” sandwiches. For beer lovers, there are some fun ones to choose from, including Blue Moon and guest ales.
There’s been a pub on this site since 1772, and it’s been called The Lamb & Flag since 1833. So, if you want to feel the wings of history, this is the pub for you. In the early 19th century, The Lamb & Flag got the nickname ‘The Bucket of Blood’, as it staged bare-knuckle prize fights. Today it’s less dramatic, but a great watering hole in the middle of Covent Garden. The pub is slightly hidden away down a small alleyway and has a good selection of food, including a few vegan and vegetarian options. As well as classic pub food, there are fun bar snacks like truffled mac and cheese croquettes and salt and pepper squid, for when you don’t want a full meal.