Hidden out of the way yet still very much an ongoing force in the Soho area, the Royal George offers entertainment (and alcohol) galore.
Although currently crowded out by the sprawling Crossrail building work at the top of Charing Cross Road, the Royal George remains open for business, if slightly off the beaten track for the time being. A daunting black exterior, complete with rather optimistic outside seating area among the scaffolding, gives way to a low-ceilinged, cosily-lit main room. Various booths, sofas, sturdy wooden tables and inviting stools are laid out with care around the compact, latticed central bar, which also includes the open-front entrance to the kitchen – meanwhile, individual high-backed chairs look out of the imposing front windows, towards nothing in particular.
The room, as well as the considerably-sized basement which offers extra seating and plays host to a great number of concerts, DJ sets and recitals, is lovingly decorated with pot plants, murals, fairy lights, TVs for major sporting events and various blackboards and neon signs announcing the day's specials, among other things. The overall effect is conducive to relaxing and stress-free chatter, in stark contrast to the industrial mayhem just outside.
The customers at the Royal George tend to be effortlessly trendy and in-the-know (the bars location doesn't exactly encourage fairweather patrons simply stumbling upon its whereabouts), without the insufferably smug atmosphere that this can often entail. Staff and clientèle alike are polite and amiable, and service is invariably excellent, even during the inevitable post-work crush. The basement hosts well-attended events almost every night of the week, with highlights including ukelele-themed jams and karaoke on Wednesdays and Thursdays respectively, and rock and blues open mics at weekends – there is also televised sport a-plenty on the big screens, as well as board games for lazy Sunday afternoons, should the need arise.
The menu changes daily at the Royal George, but the over-arching theme is one of simple UK cuisine done well, with fish and chips, sausage and mash and mouth-watering pies making regular appearances on the pub blackboards for around £8-£9. Sharing platters (£13-£14) and well-filled sandwiches (£5-£8) are also go-to specialities, and the pubs own “Boutique Burgers” (£7.50-£9) prove to be a daunting yet rewarding choice as well.
Out-of-the-ordinary beers include bottled Brooklyn Lager and Belgian favourites such as Vedett and Liefmans, all available for moderate prices (£3.50-£4) and a great companion to food or simple conversation. British real ales also get space at the bar, with Wandle and Doom Bar making an appearance, and the wine and cocktail list leaves nothing to be desired – a Royal George Bloody Mary on a board-game-fuelled Sunday is just the ticket for those nursing a hangover from the night before.
The Last Word
Hospitable, vibrant and surprisingly easy on the wallet, the Royal George remains an excellent mainstay in the Soho canon, despite outside interference from that pesky Crossrail...