A step from Blackfriars Tube station, this spectacular pub has an Arts and Crafts interior that is entertainingly, satirically ecclesiastical, with inlaid mother-of-pearl, wood carvings, stained glass, and marble pillars all over the place. In spite of the finely lettered temperance tracts on view just below the reliefs of monks, fairies, and friars, there is a nice group of ales on tap from independent brewers. The 20th-century poet Sir John Betjeman once led a successful campaign to save the pub from demolition.
174 Queen Victoria St., London, EC4V 4EG, England
Mar 12, 2014
The Blackfriar is undoubtedly one of the most unusual and indeed bizarre looking pubs you will ever go into. It occupies a tiny triangular site and is only just over 100 years old. It’s done in an Art Nouveau style to echo the monastery on whose site it was built, with dark wood friezes, mosaics and statues of monks; completely bonkers but completely fantastic. Various aphorisms such as ‘Haste is Slow’ or ‘Finery is Foolery’ adorn the walls.
There is magnificent and gigantic fireplace which was strangely not in use, which was a real shame. Nicolson’s pubs pride themselves on the variety of beers they provide, so if you’re into your beer then this is where to come. Lots of ciders too, if that’s your thing. Plenty of wines and a few too-cheap cocktails. The food here used to be really grim, but the pub is really pushing this aspect and it definitely has improved. I had steak frites (£9.95); the steak was quite small but beautifully char-grilled. They had no whisky sauce, which I found odd in a pub. The blue cheese sauce I had to settle for was a bit watery and there was far too much of it, but the frites were really nicely done. Given that people generally come here to drink real ale or to look at the décor, the pub definitely tries harder than it needs to to produce good food. The menu has fairly standard non-gastro pub food: usual fish & chips, pies, burgers etc; nothing too challenging.