On the south side of leafy Smith Square, in the heart of civil service territory, this smallish Nicholson’s is a bolthole worth knowing about.
The Marquis of Granby is one of a number of pubs named after John Manners, Marquess of Granby, an 18th century politician and military commander, who, it is said, was so personally generous to his men that many of them set themselves up as pub landlords using his retirement gifts. This particular example is set among the streets and squares running south from the Palace of Westminster and the Abbey along the Thames to Pimlico – these days dominated by the offices of various government departments. It’s also handy for concertgoers heading for St John’s church in Smith Square, and art fans seeking out the Tate Britain on Millbank, though note that it’s closed at weekends. The pub is near enough to Parliament to be equipped with a ‘division bell’, rung to indicate a vote is about to take place.
Now part of Mitchells and Butlers’ Nicholson’s chain of traditional-style pubs, the Marquis of Granby is smaller than many branches and pleasantly cosy and intimate. Downstairs is largely dedicated to vertical drinking with high stools and tables and a few inviting, though coveted, screened off booths, ideal for discreet conversations between Westminster movers and shakers. Upstairs there’s a separate Speaker’s Bar with more dining-style seating and big windows overlooking the street.
Unsurprisingly the Marquis of Granby is largely an after-work haunt used by civil servants and other offices workers in the area, with a weekly business card draw, but it’s a friendly place with a relaxed atmosphere, and you might well spot a politician or political journalist enjoying a pint or two. Note there’s a “no site clothing” dress code.
The Marquis of Granby offers the usual Nicholson’s choice of traditional pub grub that’s efficiently served, at moderate prices. A cooked breakfast is £5.95, for both standard and vegetarian options, and main courses might include salmon puff pastry (£10.45), aged rib-eye steak (£13.95), roast Shropshire chicken (£8.95), veggie or meat sausages and mash (£6.95) or roasted vegetable tart (£7.95). An early evening fixed priced menu offers two courses for £9.95 or three for £12.95.
Nicholson’s pubs can usually be relied on for a few good cask beers: this one doesn’t have the biggest range but it’s well served to Cask Marque standards. You’ll usually find around six real ales on, with Fuller’s London Pride, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Brain’s SA Gold as fixtures, and guests from the seasonal list that might encompass Kirkstall, Moor, Otley or Windsor & Eton. Bottled Sierra Nevada Pale and Budvar widen the beer choice. Around 24 wines are nearly all available by the glass (from £2.90), and there’s a short cocktail list too.
The Last Word
Though perhaps not worth a special trip, this Marquis of Granby is a decent, comfortable place that’s worth looking up if you’re in the area. You might even pick up some political gossip while you’re about it.