“ Victoria Embankment, London, WC2R 2PP. Tel: 0207 240 9404 „
One day a couple of years ago, I discovered that some of the boats moored along the Victoria Embankment in London were not, in fact, simply decorative. Some of them are pubs. What a brilliant idea I thought. All the fun of a boat trip without actually going anywhere!
The first of these pubs which I visited was the Queen Mary. Since discovering it I have been back numerous times, and it remains one of my favourites. Access, however, may not be ideal for the disabled or those with mobility problems. My parents and I chose not to visit, as there are stairs up from the pavement to the gangway onto the boat, and at that time the tide was out - so although it would have been downwards slope into the pub, when leaving my mum would have seriously struggled to get back up the steeply sloping gangway.
The Queen Mary is an old paddle steamer, and is full of interesting photos from its heyday, including loads of old photos of groups of Glaswegian pensioners off on their day trips on the Clyde! Inside, the engine has been preserved and you can view this through a viewing gallery - a nice touch which adds to the feeling of authenticity which is prevalent on board the Queen Mary.
You can reach the Queen Mary easily from Embankment, Charing Cross and Temple stations, and it isn't far from Westminster or Covent Garden either.
The main bar area has a selection of tables of varying sizes, so you can get a table just for your group or you can take a section of one of the larger tables. The interior isn't pristine, but it's not dirty. There is also a small deck area where you can take your drink outside, but I've never eaten out here.
The drink selection is fairly standard, and you can expect to pay standard London prices. Pints are upwards of £3, and soft drinks aren't exactly cheap either. I've never had any problems with drinks from the Queen Mary - the draught cider and lagers are always fresh and fizzy, as are the soft drinks.
Having visited the Queen Mary many times, I have sampled the food a lot and the standard never varies. It is not anything special, but it is good pub grub, and you won't go wrong with it. The portions are of a decent size, and the sides are always very good quality (chips, salad and vegetables). I normally go for a fish dish when I'm eating in a pub, as I think that you just can't beat pub fish and chips or scampi. I've never been disappointed at the Queen Mary, and in fact when I have the fish, the size is so generous that I am unable to finish it! And I do have a reasonable appetite. The various friends I have visited with have sampled other dishes, including burgers, steaks and sandwiches, and no one has ever been let down. In fact, the burgers come very highly recommended.
The food is good and the drinks are good, but for me the real selling point of the Queen Mary is the location. From the windows you can see the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, the South Bank, and if you're in the right spot you can see east towards the Gherkin and St Pauls. Even just watching the river is fun - it can be very relaxing watching the boats and clippers going past, and I find the large glass dinner cruise boats hilarious, they look like floating greenhouses. There's always something to see - from the Queen Mary I once saw the river police chasing a kayaker at a very slow speed.
The Queen Mary is not, in my opinion, the best of the Embankment boat, but that doesn't mean it's bad, far from it. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.