A vivacious and inviting pub with convenient location and a buzzing unpretentious vibe, The Volunteer can easily turn a quick stop for a pint into a very pleasant evening with friends and colleagues.
Perfectly positioned in between Baker Street station and the gates of magnificent Regents Park, this Victorian building is also right next door to the Sherlock Holmes museum, making it an ideal stopover on the way to or from any of them. In this context, it stands to demonstrate how the mix between tourists, after-work drinkers, and locals can work to benefit the overall ambiance, as opposed to creating an invisible divide. This is just what you need from a decent Central London watering hole.
The interior does not conform to the typical English pub style, since it has low key and simple decor and some retro touches, such as the leather couches. The general emphasis is, however, on functional, non-fussy furniture that serves its ultimate purpose – comfortably accommodating a large number of the pub’s guests. Last refurbished in 2004, it does need a bit of a touch-up, as some problems appear here and there, namely leaks and generally worn out toilet facilities, although it still somehow fits in with the overall image of the place.
The Volunteer definitely scores high points for its lively and friendly atmosphere. Both the helpful staff and bubbly visitors seem very happy to be there, which puts you in the mood for socialising and having fun. The people on the bar are great with remembering big orders and the speedy service contributes to the generally young feel around.
The pub is often full and quite loud, with groups spilling over to the outside area on Baker Street. When there are less people on the weekends, it also seamlessly pulls off the role of a place where you can meet with friends, chat and relax for hours.
All beers on tap at The Volunteer come with meal suggestions as an ideal complement to the taste, so it is worth trying their traditional steaks and fish and chips or go for something with a bit of a modern twist from one of the many vegetarian options. They have added a nice touch of writing the day’s menu and specials on a huge black chalkboard at the back of the salon, so you don’t even need to look at the menu to be tempted to have a nibble. Food is generally of good quality and arrives in reasonable time, depending on how busy the place is.
With 16 different beers running on tap at all times, you are bound to find something that satisfies everyone’s taste and mood. Choosing between fresh Peroni, Becks Vier or one of the more unusual options, such as the special Belgian fruit beer Fruli or the Bavarian wheat beer Erdinger, is a pleasant exercise since they all come at under £4 - standard for the area. Alternatively, for the same price you can try the house wines, with Australian Shiraz for red and Long Shadow Chardonnay for white.
The Last Word
A refreshingly unassuming hotspot on a busy street corner, The Volunteer is always worth a visit.