On Monument Street, within a few feet and under the shadow of the massive Monument, erected to commemorate the Great Fire of London, is the basement pub/bar - The Britannia.
Recently refurbished, today it somehow manages to be both trendy and traditional at the same time; a place where both local office workers can unwind; or tourists in search of the atmosphere of a bit of old London, feel equally at home.
The room is more or less L-shaped which makes the pub feel quite cosy and intimate, yet there is plenty of space; it’s not at all claustrophobic as basement rooms sometimes can be. Wooden floors, a distressed-painted bar and chunky tables add to the atmosphere of a room decorated almost over-the-top with pictures and memorabilia of the British Empire.
Conveniently Britannia’s bar can be seen from both sections, which also has the added advantage that the lovely, wonderfully obliging, staff (thank you Lydia, Jasmine and colleagues) can easily keep an eye on the needs of customers who dine.
Along with a range of good value beers and wines the bar also has an excellent selection of gins, whilst the staff can also rustle up a smoothie, as well as a not unreasonably priced cocktail or two.
As for the food menu, dishes range from tapas and sandwiches to pizza and pasta to grills and burgers; some healthy sounding salads are available, but come somewhat obscured by meat and fish toppings.
Wine by the glass is from £3.05, but we decided to share a bottle of Pinot Grigio £14.75. We didn’t have starters but both enjoyed our calzone and fish and chips £10.29 and £8.99 respectively. Unusually for us, we did go for puds – Rocky-Road cheesecake with ice cream and lemon meringue pie, each £3.29.
I had muttered that the lemon meringue pie would not be as good as my homemade version; but I take it back; with its excellent thin pastry, nice tangy lemon filling and very good meringue, this was every bit as tasty.
Also on offer is a ‘two meals for £10.49’ option, plus special menus for Sundays (roasts), children and breakfast. Karaoke takes place Thursday evenings and Friday evenings finds a DJ on site.
The Britannia opens from 10am weekdays (11am Sundays) until late. Definitely worth a visit. www.britannialondon.co.uk