Victorian Shenanigans | Mr Fogg’s Tavern, 58 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4EA
If I were a tourist in London, Mr Fogg’s Tavern is exactly the kind of place I’d hope to stumble across. Pure British eccentricity in Theatreland, a pub just a stone’s throw from Leicester Square tube, they couldn’t have found a more perfect spot for it.
A Victorian tavern with oddities hanging from the ceiling, staff kitted out in traditional overalls do a little bit of character playing – but not as much as you’d find in their sister bar, Cahoots. That’s not all, upstairs is a ‘secret’ Gin Parlour – with one of the largest selections of gins and tonics in London.
So the story goes, world-renowned adventurer, Mr Phileas J. Fogg, of ‘Around The World In 80 Days’ fame, having opened the doors to his Mayfair Residence, received the sad news of the passing of his beloved Aunt and the famed actress, Gertrude Fogg. He was made the sole beneficiary to her estate, including her enchanting pied-à-terre located at 58 St. Martin’s Lane.
My sister and I visited for an indulgent mid-week afternoon off work, starting with cocktails, of course. A Fanny in Mead (£7.50) for me and a Gertrude’s Gin Giddy (£9) for her, served in pewter cups with our orders yelled back to the barman by our corseted waitress. We’re hoping this was some kind of Victorian character-playing shenanigans.
The lunch menu is perfectly short and sweet, ideal for such occasions as this when my sister and I have 8 million things to catch up on and no time to read menus. Although either we made an error or they did, we ordered what we thought were a couple of starters but they arrived at the same time as our pies – hence this overloaded table picture above.
The Beetroot, goat’s cheese and pine nut rarebit (£6) appeared by accident and they let us keep it, much to my sister’s delight as she devoured all the cheese. Scotch quail eggs (£7) were actually regular-sized scotch eggs but with a tinsy little egg in the middle, we were starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the contents of our table and the lack of capacity in our bellies.
Sloe gin cured salmon, green beans, watercress and quail eggs (£9) was a hefty sized plate of food, we picked and we poked but we couldn’t quite manage it. Despite there being absolutely nothing wrong with any of these dishes, we possibly should have just ordered the pies. They were the perfect for lunch that involved more time dedicated to chatting rather than eating.
It didn’t help that I was eating out with the biggest grazer I know. I have never witnessed my sister actually finish a meal, despite her promises that she will. As a child, this meant she was lumbered with ordering from the kids’ menu for many years later than she should have been.
My sister went for the Fish pie (£12) which she found a tad disappointing, being a bit of a fish pie lover, she was hoping for something a little richer and more heavily packed with fish. The Dedham vale beef and bacon pie (£12) luckily didn’t arrive with the promised mashed potato, just savoy cabbage and a very cute metal jug of gravy. Luckily, I could eat cabbage and gravy all day long, must be a nostalgic school dinner thing. Sod these naked restaurants and avocado pop-ups, can’t someone do a school dinner one? For me?
We were incapable of consuming any more food, or drink for that matter. Over my sister’s shoulder I could see the sun beating down on the streets of London, a rare sighting these days. Whilst over my shoulder, she was eyeing up the taxidermy and wondering if she should get a pet ferret… What the hell did they put in her cocktail?
After checking out the quirky toilets, we headed off in search of a sun trap before hitting up Cahoots for one for the road, or should that be one for the tube? Had it been a rainy day we would have been up those stairs like a shot to check out Aunt Gertrude’s Gin Parlour & Salon. Next time…
58 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4EA
Telephone: 020 7581 3992
Book a table online
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 11am-11pm
Friday to Saturday: 11am-11.30pm
Sunday: 12 noon-10.30pm
Nearest station: Leicester Square (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Mr Fogg’s Tavern, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.