Despite the current cold snap, spring is definitely on its way. So, it’s time to eschew the warm, cosy pubs, red wine and open fires for something a little more summery. As you prepare for refreshing al fresco drinks this spring and summer, we take a look at some of our favourite riverside pubs in London.
The Gipsy Moth, Greenwich
With its prime location and fantastic menu, the Gipsy Moth oozes nautical style. Nestled in the heart of Greenwich, this pub is the perfect location to enjoy a drink and escape from the hubbub of London’s sightseers. Set in a grade 1 listed building next to the Cutty Sark, this pub’s relaxed ambience makes it perfect for whiling away the hours with friends over delicious food and maybe a drink or two. While the inside is great, the all-weather beer garden is by far our favourite place to sit and with its retractable roof, you don’t need to worry about the unpredictable British weather!
You will be spoilt for choice with the Gipsy Moth’s extensive drink menu, which features speciality beers and wines from around the globe, as well as delicious homemade soft drinks. The food menu brings classic British pub grub to a new level; personally, we don’t think you can beat the British line-caught cod, served in a crispy ale batter with thrice cooked chips and, of course, mushy peas. Or how about enjoying the perfect, sunny Sunday with a walk along the river followed by an unbeatable Sunday roast? Whatever the time, day, or, for that matter, weather, this is one riverside pub in London that is worth a visit.
The Dove, Hammersmith
Conveniently located west of Hammersmith Bridge on the Upper Mall Embankment, this Fuller’s pub is the perfect location to watch the Boat Race. Former patrons include Nell Gwynne, who frequented the place with her lover, Charles II, and A P Herbert, who used the pub in his book “the Water Gypsies”, renaming it “The Pigeons”. The Dove is still a favourite spot for locals, tourists and the rich and famous – above the fireplace in the lower bar, you will see the role-call of well-known patrons.
On the surface, the Dove looks like any other 17th Century pub, with low beams and the obligatory cosy fires in the winter. However, don’t be deceived by its external appearance; the pub boasts a stunning, vine-laden conservatory as well as a riverside terrace, which affords picturesque views of houseboats and river life.
The Dove offers a broad range of beers and ales, as well as classic cocktails. The wine list features delicious wines from around the globe, ranging in price from the perfectly quaffable to the indulgently exclusive. The seasonal menus feature delicious locally sourced produce and are carefully devised by The Dove’s Head Chef, Brett Heathfield, who works with his team to provide a unique selection of signature dishes ranging from classic seafood to hearty British fare. Personally, we can’t think of anything better than sitting on the terrace, watching the Thames roll by over a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a plate of grilled sardines.
The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping
Dating back to the 15th Century, the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping boasts the title of the oldest riverside pub in London. The pewter-topped bar, old casks and ships’ masts pay homage to the pub’s rich nautical history; in previous centuries, it was a in infamous den of iniquity, favoured by thieves, pirates and smugglers. Today, the Prospect of Whitby’s clientele is slightly higher end; visitors include Kirk Douglas, Princess Margaret and Paul Newman. Aside from its deep historical roots, the Prospect of Whitby has been sympathetically modernised to cater for the 21st Century London crowd, its classic wooden interior complemented by a beer garden, first-floor balcony and terrace, each of which offer stunning views of the Thames.
The menu features high-end pub grub with a focus on freshness and flavours, washed down with excellent cask ales and British classics such as Pimm’s and, of course, a fantastic range of gins. Whether you are sharing a bottle of wine and selection of olives on the balcony or fancy tucking into a steaming plate of pie, mash and ale, the Prospect of Whitby’s mouth-watering menus promise to tempt and delight you. Your only problem will be leaving your prime spot overlooking the Thames to go home – best have one more, for the road!
The Swan, Bankside
Situated next door to Shakespeare’s Globe, the Swan is steeped in history. Its prime location, irresistible menu, and links to the Globe make it one of the most famous riverside pubs in London. The Swan features four floors: the magical Underglobe function room in the basement; the ground floor, where you will find the bar and snug area; the first floor which boasts the main restaurant and two additional function rooms; and the balcony area on the second floor. All but the Underglobe offer stunning views of the river and Shakespeare’s London.
The restaurant serves everything from breakfast, through to lunch, afternoon tea and, of course, dinner, with group menu options available for larger parties. Craft beers and a broad selection of wines are available, as are classic and seasonal cocktails. Theatre-goers can take advantage of the Theatre Menu, which is available from 12.00 – 15.00 pm and 17.00-18.00 pm at £24.50 for three courses; the perfect way to enjoy the complete Globe experience. We love the Midsummer Night’s Dream-inspired Afternoon Tea, an impossibly beautiful selection of sweet and savoury treats featuring apricots (fed to Bottom by Titania), mulberries (from the Lovers’ Tree), and pea flower (from Oberon’s love potion). Proving that afternoon tea isn’t just for girls, there is a more savoury option: “The Gentleman’s Tea” which include sophisticated takes on the boys’ favourites, such as blue cheese and cider scones, fish finger sandwiches and potted smoked salmon washed down, of course, with a tankard of Hobday smoked brown ale – Shakespeare would be proud!
The Founders Arms, Blackfriars
One of our favourite riverside pubs in London, the Founders Arms’ menu is based upon the belief that most woes can be alleviated, at least temporarily, by good food and drink. Its riverfront location and Shaker-style interior make it feel simultaneously contemporary and classic; an ambience that perfectly matches the menu. Whether you are popping in for a coffee after a visit to the nearby Tate Modern, you fancy a cocktail, or you fancy treating yourself to a delicious, heart-warming meal, you won’t be disappointed.
The menu focuses on classic flavour combinations: beef, onions and beer; pork, maple and bacon; spinach and goats cheese; and, of course, fish, chips and minted mushy peas. What stands out among these simple flavour combinations are the fresh produce and exquisite balance; good, honest food that warms your soul and makes your taste buds sing. We love the sharing boards: served buffet-style, you can choose from a menu which includes bagels, burgers and seafood. At £30 each, the boards provide a “light snack” for 5 people – perfect to soak up an afternoon tipple. If you fancy the sharing boards, you need to book (and pay) at least five days in advance. The same attention to detail and emphasis on quality are applied to the drinks menu, with artisan gins, a vast wine list and an array of cask and bottled craft beers on offer. If you are looking for a relaxing, friendly pub with lashings of feel-good factor, this is the pub for you.