This pub is about 300 years old (1623) and the oldest pub in Covent Garden (some say it is the oldest pub in London). I first came here in the summer, my boyfriend took me here after a long hard day of shopping! This is apparently a very famous pub and has a rich history. Many a poet and dramatic have been said to have enjoyed a tipple here, and there was even bare-knuckle boxing! Dickens is even said to have drunk here!
The most famous story is I think of John Dryden being beaten up in the little alleyway that runs alongside the pub (1679), which goes to Rose Street, when it was known as The Bucket Of Blood, by some men sent by King Charles II because he had dissed one of his missus in a verse or two!
First impressions of the pub were it's tiny and very old man esq, but that's not a bad thing, these tend to be my favourite types to pub, you know the kind where you could never imagine smoking being banned!
You can definitely tell that this is a very old pub, wooden, uneven flooring and low ceilings. There is quite a limited selection of drinks, I am not saying there is nothing to drink but that there is just your average selection, regular spirits and regular beers & ales on tap - if you like your real ales, then this is probably a great place for a jar or two!
The closest tube station is Covent Garden, but if you want to go I would highly recommend multi-mapping/street-mapping it, as it is quite difficult to find (either that or I am really bad at finding places!).
The pub is set over two floors downstairs (which more often that not tends to be very full!), during the summer months there tend to be quite a lot of Americans, I don't know whether they found this place in a guide book or whether we always just happened to end up next to some Americans!
As you can see from the picture, there is outside space, but this consists of leaning up against the front of the pub and using the little ledge to perch your beer on. This is were the bare-knuckle boxing apparently used to take place! If you can get a space inside the pub, I would highly recommend sitting at the front window (which you can see in the picture) and looking out down the road, this will give you a good view of the courtyard where the fights used to take place!
If you get here and find that it is too crowded and there is no where to hover, I would definitely recommend trying your luck upstairs, it is hardly ever as busy, but I think this is somewhat to do with the atmosphere, when you are upstairs you could be almost anywhere, and it is nothing special. I really hate to say it, but it sort of reminds me of a wetherspoons (sorry!).
Food is served here, I have never eaten here, but only because the menu has never appealed to me, not to say that I haven't read some pretty decent reviews about the food here, I think it's just because I have never come to this pub to eat or ever been particularly hungry whilst here. The food is extremely traditional pub food, ploughman's, jacket potatoes, fish and chips, roast on Sundays - you get the picture!
The only thing that I can say against this pub is that it would be quite nice if they had little cards lying around so you could read about the history of the pub as you were having your pint of real ale!
So in the style of my top 10 reviews:
Can't comment on the men's, but the women's is tiny, don't try and take your shopping in her with you, make sure you leave it with your mate at the bar, they are really small! If I am going to rate it just a run of the mill 5, nothing special, nothing crap ('scuse the pun!)
Traditional English pub in the middle of Covent garden, hard to find, steeped in history and definitely worth a visit, just because there is so much history. Probably stay clear at any time that could potentially be (really) busy, but it will always be busy!