City streets and squares are alive on Thursday nights, bustling with suits, the sound of heavy laughter drifting from after-work crowds gathered outside of pubs, red busses and black cabs moving and stopping. Lights set a more subtle tone on harsh brick buildings, leave an intriguing invite at the entrance of twisting passageways, illuminate shop fronts displaying cigar cases and chilli chocolate fudge.
We walked down to the Blackfriar pub, full of art deco mosaics and low lighting. It is wedge-shaped and was built on the site of a medieval monastery. The night air was refreshing so we sat outside on a low wall drinking and catching up.
For dinner, we ate in the cellar restaurant of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a pub famous for its association with old writers and journalists including Dr. Johnson whose house is around the corner, the one who said, “If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.” We ate steak and ale pies and big plates of chips.
The pub was built many centuries ago, has low ceilings with dark wooden beams, quirky artwork. You could easily be many decades in the past and if they killed the small electric lights and left only candles, centuries. To enter, you walk up one of those intriguing little alleyways. You have a choice of narrow corridors and twisting, awkward staircases, sawdust swept across the floors.
It was a drinking haunt for the likes of Voltaire, Thackeray and Charles Dickens among others. According to their website, “One famous resident was a parrot whose mimicry entertained customers for 40 years, its death was announced on the BBC and obituaries appeared in newspapers all over the world.”
Gorgeous old place, steeped in history and somewhere I will definitely return.
145 Fleet St., City of London, EC4A 2BU