This is a series of my impressions of the very highest rated London Pubs according to CAMRA, Cask Marque, Time Out London andViewLondon.com (along with some other very pleasant surprises along the way)
See part one for the criteria for a New Old Pub; http://lodeplus.com/beer-in-boston/this-old-new-england-beer-examiner-examines-the-new-old-london-pubs
Porterhouse – 21 Maiden Lane Covent Garden London
This 3 level Dublin-based pub is one of the largest boozers, area-wise, that I’ve had the pleasure to visit during my on-going London Pub Crawl series. It was awarded the CAMRA/English Heritage award for conversion to pub use in 2002.
Neatly tucked away on narrow Maiden Lane, you first come upon a large garden patio (smokers paradise) preceding the fancy pants double-door entrance. The doors lead to a dramatically vast interior anchored by an immense wooden L bar. It’s sort of like stepping inside a massive old wooden ship that a band of flamboyant, beer-loving pirates invaded, and then decorated.
The stairway down to the left leads to the basement level where the restrooms (more on them later), TVs and an entertainment stage are the focus. To the left of the bar, a wide stairway leads to a quite foyer nook halfway up the stairs. The top level provides you a more spacious seating area. Extensive (and expensive) wood and brass-trimmed brewery-related piping and plating run throughout. Even the hanging light fixtures are brass-trimmed. A very cool brass clock hangs over the upstairs balcony and can be viewed from most any place in the top floors. The wall nooks and windows are lined with Porterhouse beer bottles and knick knacks. It must be a bitch to keep clean! It’s a bit cluttered. I’m trying to spy the tap handles, but all the little doodads and bric-a-brac catch my eyes, forcing me once again to concentrate on the task at hand…deciding which beer to try next.
The seating choices are varied enough to suite any individual or group needs. Hang out near the bar on simple wooden stools, or relax upon cushioned leather armchairs and/or coach-style benches, or just stand around gawking, beer in hand. Choice is yours. Enjoy your surroundings early in the day, before the after work crowd arrives…unless you enjoy mob scenes. In that case, arrive at 7pm (1900) on a Friday night.
The on tap selections are brewed mostly by Porterhouse and poured under pressure. There are always a couple of “Real” ales and guest beers (Erdinger on this day) available. I can highly recommend the Plain Porter and the Turner’s Sticklebract Bitter on cask. Lovely stuff! There are plenty of bottled selections from the wonderful world of Beerdom plus a solid selection of wines and mixed drinks for the folks not very interested this article.
The food menu is fairly extensive. A mix of pizza, burgers, fish & chips, standard Irish and gastro-pub food is available. The best option might be the fresh Rock Oysters. ½ dozen for 7 pounds is a very fair deal by London standards.
Now to the restrooms as promised; My wife felt a little uncomfortable going to the lady’s room because a group of guys were hanging out by the door. We’re sure they meant no harm, but creating a little separation between the restrooms and the lounge area would be smart.
All-in-all, an interesting pub with a bounty of very good beers to try. Place Porterhouse on your ‘Should’ visit London Pub list.
Quote: “For every wound, a balm. For every sorrow, cheer. For every storm, a calm. For every thirst, a beer” – Unknown Irish Author