London – City of London – Old Bank of England Pub

London is a strange place at the moment to establish when and where it will get busy. Usually when I’m walking down Fleet Street and this part of the city, pubs would be pretty packed out in the evening. I walked by this pub and thought it looked interesting, but also thought it might be one of those decadent food pubs who hardly wanted someone in there for a quick pint before their train home. But, whilst merrily walking by and already having pre-judged it, I checked CAMRA’s Whatpub and discovered that it was in the Good Beer Guide. So I walked back again, trying to not look like a confused tourist.

I had guessed the bit about decadent correctly. However, it wasn’t a gastropub at all as I had thought it might be, although their pies are apparently pretty decent. The building was from 1888 until 1975 used by the Bank of England as their Law Courts and then it was for a while used by a building society, before it was used for a much better purpose, as a pub. The building once had gold bullion in its cellars and the Wikipedia page for the building notes that it might have held the Crown Jewels for a time.

Going back to the pies that I just made reference to, the pub themselves mention that it’s located between where Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett operated (or allegedly operated since it’s likely entirely made up), noting:

“It was in the tunnels and vaults below the present building that his victims were butchered before being cooked and sold in the pies to Mrs Lovett’s unsuspecting customers”.

What a lovely selling point for the pies today…..

The service was professional and efficient, although it seemed slightly over-staffed, so maybe they had been expecting more customers. It got a little bit busier during my visit, but nothing that was going to be a challenge for the staff to cope with in terms of the numbers.

It’s a pub run by McMullen brewery, so it had their beers in, which is fair enough for their perspective, but gives less incentive for me to return to try something new.

Slightly mispoured, but by no great margin as I think this was a lined glass, but the beer range was slightly less riveting. I had half a pint of the AK and half a pint of the Country, which were both well kept and tasted fine, but they were perhaps just a bit routine. The Country had some interesting flavours, not least being biscuity as promised, and I like that clean taste. The prices were actually quite moderate (and looking through the food menu, they were reasonable too given the location), fortunately not matching the decadent surroundings.

One unfortunate omission is a photograph of the double decker bus that they’ve managed to move into their beer garden. I was going to take a photo from the beer garden after leaving the pub, but it transpired you now need to go through the pub, and I decided against meandering around the building again looking for it. But it’s worth Googling this double decker bus they’ve managed to position into their central London location.

All in all, I’m pleased I popped into here before my train back to sunny Norwich, certainly a memorable interior and the staff were friendly. Maybe I’ll come back for one of their pies at some point…..