One of the more interesting aspects of London is that there are so many good pubs, it can be difficult to experience them all. When we’re visiting London, we’re generally rather spoiled, as my brother and sister-in-law live almost next to the very excellent Cask Pub and Kitchen (which I haven’t reviewed here, since I’ve only ever had bar snacks for food there). The good part of this is that a quality pub with a very good selection of beer is almost always at hand. The down side of this is that I tend to ignore a lot of other good pubs, even ones that are just down the street. One case in point is The Queen’s Arms, which is just down the street from the flat, but until this trip I had only been in there once, and that for a quick pint.
Our trip to London, however, was also coincident with my friends Rick and Sarah’s trip to London/Wales/Ireland, and they in particular enjoy getting together with friends from Metafilter (I’m semi-active there as well) for spontaneous meetups. So it was decided that their visit to London was the perfect excuse for a meetup on December 27th. Alas, much of London is shut down around the festive season, with publicans in particular using it as a good opportunity to take a well-earned break from their normal routine. So many of the pubs around Pimlico, including my well-loved Cask, were closed on the 27th. But Queen’s Arms was open, so the meetup was scheduled there instead.
I’m rather glad it was, since this finally represented a good opportunity to check out The Queen’s Arms. Your basic “gastro pub”, The Queen’s Arms has the basic upscale pub menu, with a variety of classic sandwiches, sausage dishes, and roast meals available, and my brother and sister-in-law had both already proclaimed it to have quite a good kitchen. My previous visits (including two visits to scope it out as a meetup location and verify that 15 or so people could get a table reserved) had already shown the place to have a friendly staff and a fairly cozy pub setting (albeit a little less “dank” and “stodgy” than many of the pubs in the area). So Carol and I made it a point to arrive early to the meetup, and use it for an opportunity to sample the dinner menu.
I opted to try out a classic of British cuisine: their bangers and mash. I rathered liked The Queen’s Arms’ rendition: the sausages has a nice, coarse grind to them and were perfectly seared on the outside and warm through. The onion gravy was flavorful, the onions nicely reduced down and not overwhelming the sausages, and the mashed potatoes plentiful and perfectly textured, without being salty or gluey in texture. Basically a good dish executed perfectly.
Dessert was an opportunity to final sample something that I’ve never yet had in my many UK visits: a proper sticky toffee pudding. Oh, I’ve had the dish before, but mostly at the sort of knock-off “British” pubs you find in most any larger US city. Sticky toffee pudding is indeed quite a pleasant dessert… I mean, what’s not to like about a nice dark, soft, cake absolutely drenched in a syrupy-sweet toffee sauce (similar to having a molten lava cake). Each little bit of cake nicely accompanied with the warm sauce oozing inward through the cake. A little bit of fruit in the cake, and you’ve got a nicely balanced dessert. Well, The Queen’s Arms didn’t disappoint, their’s was indeed a perfectly done pudding. The cake warm, moist, and fruity without being outright sweet. The toffee sauce strong and hot, without being too sickly sweet. And a nice dollop of ice cream atop it, this dessert was worth waiting for.
Overall, we really enjoyed The Queen’s Arms. A friendly pub with helpful staff, decent beer selection, and good food. A good place for meeting up with friends, as well. I’m looking forward to trying out more of the menu on another trip.