August 1, 2011
Alongside going to the pub, the one thing most British people love to do is grab every available ray of sunshine. If we can manage to combine the two, that almost amounts to heaven. But where are the best London spots for supping in the sun? Well, avoiding the obvious central locations for a more authentic experience, we’ve picked two favourites from each point of the compass. Cheers!
Not far from the famous Heath, Hampstead’s The Garden Gate has one of the finest and largest beer gardens in all of London. Perfect for a pint after a weekend ramble, it even has sheltered areas just in case the weather does turn. It’s pretty damn good inside too and the wide selection of draught lagers, cask ales and ciders means all tastes are catered to. Get down to this upmarket bohemian locale on a Sunday for a classic al fresco roast.
Transport links: Hampstead Heath rail or Belsize Park tube. Covered in ivy on the outside and all manner of knick-knacks (guitars, flags, vintage posters) inside, The Faltering Fullback is a pub of many facets. They also have a rather good Thai food menu, but it’s the outdoor area that’s the real draw on a sunny day. Not having much space to work with, the management decided the way to make a good garden was to build upwards. The wonderfully designed multi-levelled decking system – affectionately known by all as the ‘Ewok Village’ – is deceptively spacious and adorned with beautiful potted plants and hanging baskets.
Transport links: Finsbury Park.
There are a few nice benches outside The Windmill but its unofficial ‘beer garden’ can’t really be beaten. Opening out onto glorious Clapham Common, the pub offers about as much outdoor drinking space as you can get in London. Operated by Young’s Brewery, the beer and increasingly upmarket food menus are certainly decent, but it’s the location that makes it.
Transport Links: Clapham South or Clapham Common tube.
Situated at the eastern edge of South London’s Brockwell Park, The Florence is a modern, but homely and family-friendly boozer. There are a couple of tables out front, but you want to head for the bright conservatory or amply seated garden. This is a place sunny city weekends are made for; savouring treats from the Mediterranean-inspired menu along with one of the pub’s own excellent microbrewed ales.
Transport links: Herne Hill rail.
The Britannia sits at the edge of East London’s lovely and historic Victoria Park. A very large traditional 19thCentury pub, its décor pays homage to the queen that gave the park its name and its fare reflects a certain Britishness, with pies, steak and fish & chips on its affordable menu and a number of fine UK ales on tap. Its equally huge garden has a ton of seating and hosts live music events and outdoor grills during the summer months. And if you overdo it in the afternoon there’s all that space to walk it off.
Transport links: Homerton or Hackney Wick rail. Mile End is the closest tube.
Hidden down a backstreet off Bishopsgate, The Water Poet is much bigger inside than it first appears. On top of a comfy sofa-lined bar area, separate pool and dining rooms, it also has a very decent sized plant-filled garden, which runs down the side of the pub and opens out into a nice seating area. The pub often hosts barbecues during summer and there’s live jazz every Sunday evening. A great location with easy access to nearby Spitalfields and bustling Brick Lane too.
Transport Links: Liverpool Street.
The Crabtree is a favourite of fans of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and it’s easy to see why. Set on the bank in Fulham, its gorgeous green-filled terrace offers some of the best river views. Being classy West London it has a very creditable wine list alongside its well-chosen ale and cider offerings. Naturally, posh pub nosh is also available including upscale variations on classic Brit fare like sausage and mash, fish & chips and roasts.
Transport links: Hammersmith tube.
As mentioned in our London post last week, Chiswick’s Strand-On-The-Green is the place to get away from it all in West London. The lovely quiet stretch of river, home to many 18th century houses also claims three period pubs: the Bulls Head, the Bell & Crown and the City Barge, site of Ringo’s famous request for “two lagers and lime and two lagers and lime” in the Beatles film Help! All have small outdoor seating areas for relaxing river views.