Traditional British food and drink are the order of the day in this pleasant Tottenham Court Road pub.
Recognisable by its all-black exterior, offset by hanging flower pots and (weather permitting) an outside seating area, the Jack Horner is a vintage British pub located halfway up Tottenham Court Road, a short trek from Goodge Street station and very well situated with regards to nearby tourist destinations. The main ground-floor room is laid out in a traditional style, with the intricately carved and far-reaching bar placed dead-centre, and various nooks, crannies and booths around the periphery. Seating comes in the form of well-polished bar stools, and marble pillars and flower arrangements contribute nicely to the feng shui side of things.
Throughout the vast room, there are a great deal of old wooden tables and chairs for dining or simply taking the weight of your feet, and several fruit machines and TV screens for entertainment. The antique wood and glass lends a dignified feel to the place, which is undermined somewhat by the tacky merchandise (beer glasses, Union Jack mugs, etc) displayed in compartments near the ceiling – presumably tourists and pub enthusiasts lap it up, but it can all seem slightly jarring, in the otherwise amiable and comfortable surroundings.
The distinguished décor also has the unfortunate knock-on effect of whittling down the pub's patrons to either those of a senior disposition, or those just passing through en route to Oxford Street or the British Museum. Having said that, the large student population inevitably plays a part as well, and the atmosphere is usually enjoyable enough, if a little staid during the day. In any case the staff are very welcoming and talkative, and the music is fairly decent – all in all, the pub is passable as a stopping-off point for a meal or a drink, especially given the comparative dearth of alternatives around Tottenham Court Road...
The Jack Horner offers traditional, hearty British cuisine, specializing in pies of all shapes and sizes (£9-£10), which are lovingly served in a small fortress of pastry with chips, greens and gravy on the side. There is even a pie taster menu at £16, available during the evening for any connoisseurs out there. Elsewhere the menu is rounded out with burgers, fish and chips and lighter snacks such as wedges and chicken goujons (£4) – unglamorous for sure, but more importantly, extremely tasty and satisfying after a long trek around the West End. A small selection of starters and desserts (£4.50-£5.50) are also available, the chocolate fudge cake (eccentrically served with grapes and cream) proving to be a highlight.
In keeping with its traditional feel, the Jack Horner bar hosts a rotating roster of tasty Fuller’s ales (£4-£4.50) delivered from their Chiswick brewery. These are complemented by a wide selection of bottled and draught beers (£4), including the likes of Organic Honey Dew, and an adequate list of wines at standard central London prices. Overall, enough variety to keep things interesting over repeat visits, but nothing too flashy either.
The Last Word
The Jack Horner is a solid, unspectacular, but ultimately dependable choice in this part of town, and it does a damn good pie into the bargain.