A couple of doors down from the Tate Britain, the Morpeth Arms is a smart Young's pub which puts an equal emphasis on quality real ales and pub grub.
The pub inhabits a corner at the end of a row of terraced houses, decorated very much in the simple style of many Young's pubs. There's one main bar room, where you can take your choice from sitting at high or normal tables or lounging at the bar. There are also a few additional seats at the rear of the pub for diners, plus considerable seating outside which can be popular particularly in the summer (although you can request snoods from behind the bar at no cost if it's chilly).
The clientele is said to be made up largely of workers from a certain government intelligence building nearby – we can't comment on that for reasons of national security, but can confirm that most customers are well-heeled and smartly dressed, although evidently also letting their metaphorical hair down after a hard day's work. It's at its most crowded immediately after office hours during the middle of the week, when the atmosphere is certainly lively if not rowdy and you may have to stand.
In recent years the kitchen has expanded from the days when it had just two or three cut price dishes on offer, and now boasts a 20-plus item menu of pub grub favourites from an excellent beer battered fish and chips to steak and kidney, chicken and vegetable pies and platters to share. The portions are certainly not stingy, but ultimately it's the quality and tastiness of the ingredients that justifies the slightly inflated price tag - expect to pay around £10 for a main course. For those with a sweet tooth there's a choice of a handful of desserts, from a selection of ice creams to warm chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pudding at just under £4. The service is excellent - unless you're bothered by staff regularly checking that all is well - and you'll never have to wait more than 20 minutes for your order even when it's at full capacity.
The usual excellent array of Young's beers, as fresh and well kept as you'd expect from the Young's name, plus Peroni, Kronenbourg etc for the lager drinkers. There's also a better choice of spirits than most of its competitors in the area and a long wine/champagne list as befits its upmarket punters. Prices are definitely at the top end of the pub market, with most beers/ciders approaching the £4 a pint mark, but for this relatively posh part of central London they're definitely not excessive.
The Last Word
You may have to dig a little - but only a little - deeper in your pockets than you're expecting to enjoy the full Morpeth Arms experience, but what you get for your (extra) buck is definitely a cut above most of the local competition.