This wonderfully authentic pub off Farringdon Road works in cahoots with nearby Smithfield Market to deliver fine food and comfortable surroundings.
The Bishops Finger can be found on West Smithfield square, immediately adjacent to Smithfield Market and a short walk from both Farringdon and Barbican tube stations. The square’s leafy idyll is echoed in the pubs façade, which is covered in pot plants and shelters for the small drinking area outside. Indoors, the high-ceilinged downstairs room is dominated by a large black wooden bar, decorated in charismatic fashion with an ornate portico, signposts, bunting and beer-related placards. The rest of the space is replete with wooden tables, chairs and sofas both high and low, with fresh-cut flowers, gold lighting fixtures and a whole host of intriguing antiques lining the perimeter of the room. Every inch of wall is covered in framed prints and posters from days of yore, a theme continued upstairs in the small yet picturesque second floor restaurant, - “The Bishops Retreat”, complete with its own bar - which looks out over the square below.
The venue attracts a civilised, cosmopolitan crowd from nearby Farringdon and Barbican offices, as well as The City and Islington further afield. The roomy confines of the main bar make The Bishops Finger an attractive oasis of calm during the weekday post-work rush hour, with friendly service, a great view and excellent retro-themed music. The upstairs room makes for an ideal function room for private events, complete with a flat screen TV, used sparingly during opening hours.
The kitchen at The Bishops Finger sources its meat straight from the market next door, with gourmet bangers 'n’ mash a much-lauded speciality. Other mains include steaks, burgers and fish & chips, all at reasonable City prices (£7-12) and extremely tasty. Snacks and sandwiches (£5-6) are available for the faint at heart, and the simple British cuisine on offer is consistently satisfying on the whole.
The imposing bar lives up to its size with a hearty selection of drinks, starting with the selection of guest ales on tap, and draught lagers such as Oranjeboom, Asahi and Sam Adams (£3.50-4.50 a pint). Wine is plentiful and not too shabby, with a passable house white starting at £3.50 a glass, and there are more than enough spirits, softs and hot drinks to satisfy any particular craving.
The Last Word
Old-fashioned yet immensely appealing and comfortable, The Bishops Finger is one of many fine establishments around Smithfield Market.