In the heart of Theatreland, the St James Tavern may not be original but it's certainly upbeat.
Located a short, bustling walk along Shaftesbury Avenue, the St James Tavern is nestled in the very heart of the tourist district. Pubs here are packed with patrons attracted to anywhere with a close proximity to the next shop, show or sports emporium.
The St James Tavern follows a ubiquitous pattern of mass appeal and little originality. High stools and small tables squeeze people in and there are few areas for privacy. In the evenings and all day at weekends, the pub fills up fast. Wooden partitions filled with stained glass add some shape and colour to the large square pub and the floor is made up of an attractive mix of terracotta tiles and wood.
Don't expect to find much more than a noisy hubbub dealt out by local workers and tourists during the evening and at weekends. This area could be renamed Little Essex, as easily recognisable party people trot by in four-inch heels ready for a night out - at three in the afternoon.
Turns out this isn't such a bad thing - as the shots and Chardonnays are knocked back, the atmosphere becomes more infectious until you end up in a round of I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, giving 'So What' glances to the glowers of the uptights in the corners. On a base level, the St James Tavern is actually rather appealing.
Photos of the food are splashed across the menus as if you didn't know what burgers and sausages look like. The pub grub menu has quite a claim when it states that it does the ‘best fish and chips in town'. The pie and chips shows a distinct lack of colour as vegetables seem to be left out the equation in return for more chip space, but then if there were carrots they’d be castigated and any greenery flung to the rabbits.
There's a fairly good range of drinks at the St James Tavern, where a bottle of wine from a choice of six or seven of each colour will cost you about £14. There are posters bombarding you with promotions such as extra spirits with your mixers and buy two get one free deals. The real positive is the lager pumps. Choose from a range of Peroni, Fosters, Heineken, Amstel or Kronenbourg.
The Last Word
The St James Tavern isn't a bad retreat during the week but it has its crazy days between Friday and Monday once in a while.