Friday, 14 March 2014

Newman Arms - Fitzrovia, London

The most obvious pubs in Central London tend to be tourists traps, luring the Germans, the Japanese, and day-trippers in for pints creeping every closer to the £6.00 mark and food rejected by Findus. There are some hidden gems though, tucked away along alleyways off the main thoroughfares, they sell a relatively-reasonably priced pint from a brewery other than Samuel Smith. Finding them is tough, unless you're a 'local'.

The Newman Arms on Rathbone Street is one such pub. To get there from Oxford Street requires a map, a compass, good boots, and traversing one or two narrow Dickensian passageways lifted straight from the pages of a Hollywood script. The pub itself has an equally narrow door - a sliver of a thing that bars most American tourists from entering - opening in to a single roomed bar, featuring a range of different ales on tap, and that classic of all London pubs: the dank basement toilet. 

While a good drinking hole, the real beauty of this pub lies upstairs. In a small but ornate room, ten tables sit arm-rubbingly close to one another, surrounded on every wall by china bowls, collections of cigarette cards, and memorabilia from the Crimean War - the last one that is. Here, they sell pie and pudding. The pie wouldn't pass the test of the Pierateers: a ceramic bowl of stew topped with a puff pasty lid is always a poor excuse for a pie. The choice of the real connoisseur is the pudding: a lump of suet surrounding boiling hot and delicious chicken and leek innards. Accompanied with crushed potatoes and various vegetables, this could be a contender for healthiest pie served in London. A second pudding to follow is a must. This time in the non-traditional sense of the word, the pudding is a no-nonsense bowl of sticky toffee pudding - a mound of sponge and sugar - drowned like a cat in either cream, ice-cream, or custard.

After two courses and a pint, all for under £20, to leave via the front door is tricky and the alleyway back to Oxford Street feels even narrower.

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