8 Boozers Proving Fine Dining In Pubs Is On The Rise

While gastropubs have been around for years, there’s a new breed of London boozers that are pairing fine dining with a relaxed, communal atmosphere. Here are eight exemplary pubs that are doing things just right…

The Harcourt, Marylebone

This former boozer underwent a stylish Scandinavian makeover in early 2016, transforming it from a neighbourhood pub to an upmarket all-day dining destination. While the original wood panelling in the bar remains, it’s the two upstairs dining rooms that really grabbed our attention. Of the two, we love the ten person-capacity Black Room, where bright, modern art contrasts against charcoal walls and original details. The menus are Scandi-leaning – think Nordic reindeer with smashed swede, wild mushrooms and lingonberries, followed by white chocolate mousse with pink rhubarb.

32 Harcourt Street, Marylebone, W1H 4HX

Visit TheHarcourt.com

The Duke of Richmond, Hackney

Open since the end of May, this new launch from ex-Polpo chef Tom Oldroyd feels like a proper public house. Restored to its former glory and original name, within there’s a 30-seat dining room and a 20-capacity terrace, all smartly kitted out in tones of green. Bar food includes elevated classics such as crispy pigs ears; a Cornish crab chip butty with brown crab rouille; and a 6oz rib burger with Roquefort, confit shallots and béarnaise sauce, while the dining room serves refined French staples, including Cornish crab soufflé, crab bisque and gruyere toast and Swaledale lamb en croute with green beans and truffle butter.

316 Queensbridge Road, Hackney, E8 3NH

Visit TheDukeOfRichmond.com

The Coach, Clerkenwell

Established in 1790, this longstanding neighbourhood pub continues to be a cornerstone of Clerkenwell. Restored in January this year, The Coach has been taken over by ex-Racine chef Henry Harris and his partner James McCulloch. Now, it’s an upscale boozer (picture original stained glass, wood-panelled walls against statement glass partitions, bright artwork and a bold use of paint) that focuses on food – highlights from the menu include mussels, cider, leeks and bacon with chips; a pint of prawns with cocktail sauce; followed by rhubarb meringue with negroni syrup. A pretty garden hits the mark once the sun comes out to play, and the bar’s homemade sausage rolls are an event in themselves.

26-28 Ray Street, Clerkenwell, EC1R 3DJ

Visit TheCoachClerkenwell.co.uk

The Hero of Maida, Maida Vale

This stylish box-fresh spot, housed in the much-missed former Truscott Arms, is the latest revival by Harcourt Inns (the same collective behind The Coach, whose intention is to rescue noteworthy sites and conserve them as drinking and dining destinations). Once again headed up by Henry Harris, who’s overseeing the kitchen with Steve Collins (Les Deux Salons, Bellanger), the menu merges classical French cooking with British ingredients: dishes include calves brains, black butter and capers followed by pan-roasted chicken, braised lettuce, morels and peas. Independent beers from family-run breweries are served from behind a zinc-topped bar, alongside a variety of wines.

55 Shirland Road, Maida Vale, W9 2JD

Visit TheHeroMaidaVale.co.uk

The Marksman, Shoreditch

This traditional East End pub serves local beers, ales, lagers and ciders alongside a selection of fine wines and spirits, but is perhaps more well-known these days for its dining room – that might just be down to the fact that The Marksman became the first pub in London to be awarded the Michelin Pub of the Year in 2016. Its menus are inspired by the diverse culinary history of London – and change daily – but expect to eat the likes of curd dumplings with nettle and hazelnut; guinea fowl with peas and artichoke; and curried lamb bun with salt lime yoghurt.

254 Hackney Road, Shoreditch, E2 7SJ

Visit MarksmanPublicHouse.com

The Anchor & Hope, Waterloo

This no-nonsense pub on The Cut by Waterloo serves some of the best food we’ve had in London. A proper boozer with a chalkboard menu, this gastropub serves up comfort food such as hot smoked eel with celeriac and mustard; chopped veal shin with crushed Cornish new potatoes and spring onions; sheep’s ricotta and broad beans on toast with chilli and mint; followed by cherry and almond tart with Jersey cream. An impressive wine list complements its selection of local ales – it’s the perfect spot for a long Sunday lunch.

36 The Cut, Waterloo, SE1 8LP

Visit AnchorAndHopePub.co.uk

Smokehouse, Islington

This Islington dining room is a former neighbourhood boozer. And you can tell (in the best possible way): original wood panelling and a bar lined with dimpled glass tankards remain, as does its beer garden. Neil Rankin might have left the kitchen in 2016, but his region-spanning influence remains; many of the dishes that stole the show when it launched are still on the menu today (Korean chopped brisket roll with gochujang; pork tacos with green sauce and chipotle aioli; smoked gammon steak with jalapeño, pineapple and duck egg). We recommend leaving room for dessert – the white chocolate peanut cup is a sensation.

 63-69 Canonbury Road, Islington, N1 2DG

 Visit SmokehouseIslington.co.uk

The Fox & Pheasant, Chelsea

A ‘little country pub’ tucked away in a small corner of Chelsea, this hostelry began its life as the Bedford Arms in 1846. Now it’s undergone a huge restoration, becoming a snug pub in the winter (it has three fireplaces and plenty of armchairs), while summer sees the team wind back the roof in the olive-tree filled conservatory for long summer lunches. Tasty bar snacks span truffle, mushroom and brie toasties served with thyme honey through to buttermilk-fried rabbit with mustard mayo, while its a la carte offering includes the likes of Cornish crab with cured salmon, avocado and seaweed cracker, followed by duck breast and sausage with spiced carrots and spring greens. A darts board and unlimited biscuits for dogs complete the refined country feel.

1 Billing Road, Chelsea, SW10 9UJ

Visit TheFoxAndPheasant.com

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