London – Westminster (Borough of) – White Swan

I’m having a rather lovely time meandering around Covent Garden this afternoon, an area that normally annoys me (and indeed a chugger has managed to annoy me by jumping in front of me and nearly causing a pedestrian traffic accident by trying to impede my progress – I have complained to the charity involved because I’m post-annoyed about it). Anyway, other than that, the atmosphere here is relaxed and, most importantly (for me), not too busy.

This is the Good Beer Guide listed White Swan pub on New Row, operated by Nicholson’s. CAMRA note that this was once one of the many early morning pubs at Covent Garden when it was a market and had a special licence for the porters who worked there so they could get a drink. The building dates from the seventeenth century and it was at one stage a coaching house for visitors to London, so yet another pub with some considerable heritage. For several years, until 2012, it was an Irish themed bar operated by O’Neils and, to be honest, I’m not sure that this was an ideal usage for such an old building.

I love a pub with a history sign outside, it suggest that some quite exciting things might lie within! OK, I accept that I might need to get out more…. Anyway, as this signage states, the pub was used in a novel written by Dorothy L Sayers.

The interior of the pub and as can be seen, this is another pub not exactly heaving at lunch-time. It was a little busier outside, but it’s fair to say, this was a heavily under-used pub for the time that I was in it.

The bar area which all feels quite traditional. I had a little bit of a wait to get in as the pub felt slightly understaffed, but the barman was friendly and helpful when I called out to check that I could just go in. It was a very comfortable environment, and also considerably cooler than the previous pub that I had just sat outside, so that was reassuring to me.

There was a choice of four real ales available, which are seemingly the the same ones that are offered in nearly every other Nicholson’s pub, it’s not really very creative. But perhaps times are hard to get the appropriate supplies of beers flowing throughout the pub chain. This is half a pint of Wainwrights, a beer that was perhaps a little past its best, but I think it’s quite a bland beer anyway, so it’s hard for me to judge when that best was. The service though remained attentive and helpful throughout, although there were only two customers (including me) sitting inside the pub, so that likely made managing things a little easier. I purchased using the app, which gave me 25p off my half pint again, so the pricing was entirely reasonable and I didn’t encounter any issues with it today.

Apparently the pub is showing the Euro football matches, but is leaving the volume low or not on at all, something which seems to me to be a perfect compromise. I understand that football fans might not entirely agree with that though, but there we go. The pub was serving food, and has a restaurant area upstairs, but I’m not sure they had many customers for that when I was there. A decent pub though, aided by helpful service, although I would ideally like a more decadent beer selection to keep me amused and to want to come back. For the heritage alone, I can see why it’s listed in the Good Beer Guide.