The Banker is a well-run Fuller’s house on the north bank of the Thames. In a most historic part of the City of London, its romantic location and ‘under the arches’ setting give it great physical appeal. This appeal is reinforced by home-cooked food, splendid real ales and efficient service.
“Sweet Thames run softly” wrote the great London poet, Edmund Spenser in 1593. He could equally write this in 2011 when referring to its journey past The Banker and this quote embodies the sweet qualities of the Elizabethan hostelries which sustained him in “merry London, my most gentle nurse...”. They also sustained another local resident, William Shakespeare, and, fittingly, the Banker is opposite the Globe Theatre.
Honouring this romantic location, The Banker, although built twenty years ago, beneath the railway arches from Cannon Street Station to the river, has a physical resemblance to taverns of the past. The arches provide high rounded ceilings and exposed red-brown brickwork. Other features include a conservatory and an outside deck terrace affording splendid views of river traffic and the iconic buildings of the South Bank – the Globe, Tate Modern, Oxo Tower and, now, the Shard.
Being hidden away in Cousin Lane, The Banker has to be sought out and its attraction is such that it is a local to hundreds of nearby City workers. It is thronged at lunchtimes and early evenings as it’s a venue that’s spacious and well-lit. Food is a main attraction but it also has its drinking regulars.
These drinkers appreciate the two pool tables, which are popular, and two TV screens which show sport and other events. Background music is played but the conservatory, dedicated to eating, is a music-free zone.
Clientele at The Banker are invariably those who use it often. As a result, there is cheerful camaraderie among folk who know each other. Pleasant staff help the camaraderie and the pub manageress presides amiably.
The Banker’s lunchtime menu is geared to an efficient buffet-style service. There’s a rotisserie offering a varying selection of meats with the half-chicken often chosen. The hot deli counter gives a wide selection of soups, vegetarian dishes, fish stews and pies. The slow-roasted lamb shank is much applauded. Lighter meals are also available including sandwiches and a cheese platter.
Service is effectively geared to work lunches and pricing is very reasonable for a City venue. But quality is maintained - it’s fast food without compromising standards.
The evening menu centres around ready-made sharing boards – vegetarian, cheese, pies and pasties, and a gourmet Banker’s. Enough for four people, they’re great value at £15-£25. The pork pie is especially famed but aubergine wraps, goat’s cheese tartlets and salmon Scotch egg feature among the selection.
Given its historic feel, it is appropriate that the Banker dedicates itself to real ale and it has Master Cellerman status. So popular are the ales that the Banker can achieve a turnover of each barrel in 2/3 days so perfection is constant.
A London pub serving London beer, The Banker offers the Fuller’s range. Always on hand pump are Chiswick Bitter, Discovery golden, London Pride and ESB. A fifth hand pump rotates other seasonal Fuller’s ales.
Lagers include Czech Litovel Pilsner and Blue Moon, an American variant of wheat beer, is also on tap. The wine list is extensive reflecting The Banker’s food status. Two uncommon Spanish whites are Rioja Blanco and Albarino. The reds include a Pinotage from South Africa and a renowned Chianti Classico from Villa Calafaggio.
The Last Word
Soak up the riverside atmosphere at The Banker. Look out at the river that shaped the city, sup London ales and raise a glass to one of the most exciting cities in the world.