London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Crown and Sceptre


We've all got favourite pubs (or sanctuaries) where we can hide away from the hustle and bustle of the city and chill out with friends, cold pint in hand. Yet, often you’ll find that most of London's best boozers are away from the tourist heart of the city, away from watering-holes teaming with tourists and day-trippers, taking up all the tables and preventing us from getting to the bar. That's the problem with living in one of the world's best cities - everyone else wants to visit and it seems they all want a drink.

When you find a central London pub that is not colonised by tourists, it's worth making it your 'local' and becoming a regular. You may not live anywhere near it, but if it's in a central location between your house and that of your friends, what better reason could you have to visit.

The Crown and Sceptre in Fitzrovia is one such pub, too far north of Oxford Street for the visiting hordes, and too far west of Charlotte Street to have been taken over by media luvvies. It exists in the perfect location where it is easily accessible, but hidden away enough to remain secret. Telling you all about it in this feature may not help us get a table next time, but it's too good to keep secret.

We visited The Crown and Sceptre one Thursday evening after work for dinner and drinks. We arrived at 7.30pm and it was already packed to the rafters with a vibrant young crowd, so if you plan to eat, book ahead. The menu at the pub is pretty extensive, throwing up a few difficult decisions as we read through, and the food is well presented and served in very large 'Man v Food' sized portions. We were in a sharing mood so opted for the meat board for two, complete with cured meats along, garlic-flavoured mixed olives, cornichons and crusty fresh bread.

We then plumped for the southern fried chicken with fries and grilled sea bass with spinach and sautéed potatoes, and (ambitiously) a side order of mac 'n cheese. The chicken was delicious; four giant pieces coated in a crunchy, softly peppered coating served in a presentation fryer basket. The portion size was huge and contained more meat than any fast food family bucket. The chicken alone would have filled us up, but the accompanying ‘skinny’ fries were addictively moreish. The macaroni was, in hindsight, overkill and perhaps the one negative of the meal, with more garlic than the dish really needed.

The sea bass was much lighter, but still a huge portion that left us struggling to finish it. Again, a little too much garlic masked the delicate subtleties of the fish, but it was very well cooked, along with a generous portion of potatoes and green spinach.
Far too stuffed for a dessert, we finished our meal with a shot of Patron: a coffee flavoured tequila that isn't half as harsh on the throat as it sounds.

The food at The Crown and Sceptre is very good (if a bit garlicky), but it was the exceptional service and vibrant atmosphere of the busy after-work crowd that will make us want to visit again and again. Paradoxically, despite the liveliness of the venue, our little table tucked in a corner near the bar made it very it is easy to relax; a combination which is pretty unusual in central London. Well worth a visit.

86 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 6SD

Average price of main course: £12.00
Food/drink: 4/5
Value: 5/5
Service: 5/5


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