Out on a Saturday evening’s pub-skylarking with a friend we found ourselves in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and I have to say – I was very impressed!
Initially the heat from the fireplace seemed oppressive, but that was possibly in contrast from the frigid chill we’d come in from. As our eyes adjusted to the stygian darkness of the front bar we managed to find a couple of chairs and thought “Ah well, this is a tourist pub – we’ll just grab one and then be on our way”.
2 hours later we were still there, having shifted to pints of ale with port chasers & chatting to a few punters who’d rocked up – we met a couple of lawyers from Lancashire, and a couple of tourists who had romanced across 4 continents. Maybe it was the fact that the pub – erected in 1667 – claims to have played host to a couple of hundred years’ worth of literati, such as Dickens, Twain, Voltaire, and Dr Johnson, and so visitors entered eager for it to present a memorable trip and experience, rather than just another nice old building to stand in, look at, and walk out of again.
As we sat, sipped & extemporised more than one new group of tourists ingressed – typically a shivering & slightly dejected looking gaggle led by an excited young man in front clutching a guidebook: and all of whom warmed up nicely, put away at least a swift half, before returning to the arctic Fleet-Streetian wastelands.
I can’t comment on the quality of food, as we only supped of the hop & vine. The pristineness of the toilets was remarkable – we suspected a recent renovation, but in contrast to the ancient smoke-stained walls upstairs, the loos were almost hospital-like!
Having read other reviews here complaining about short pints & whatnot – the “standard” beers are dirt cheap (as Sam Smith’s pubs always are), so getting 1/4 of an inch more head on your pint than you’d like isn’t the end of the world… either let them know the tide’s out, or quit whining.
Realistically, the joy in this pub’s in sitting back soaking up the atmosphere & ambience and enjoying a snug fireside chat – so get to it! It’s a treasure.
The only regret I’ve got is that the darkness in there was so impenetrable that I wasn’t able to get a decent photo of the front room. And it had nothing to do with all the beer I’d drunk, honest.