The Wellington is the right combination of cosy and classic for a traditional Central London pub.
The pub is on the Strand - a stretch of road brimming with intense competition - but it manages to hold its own in terms of aesthetic appeal. It has history and warmth going for it with original fittings and an open fireplace at the back of the bar.
There are two separate levels to the ground floor and it's famous for the huge wooden bar that runs from level to level. When you're on the mezzanine you can enjoy the warmth of the fire in an old manor house environment. Although many pubs offer this kind of retreat, The Wellington pays attention to details like thick orange candles, a grand mirror and a marble mantlepiece. A pub's worth can be gauged by its ability to hold your attention, and from the floor to the gold sculpted ceiling you’ll be in awe from the moment you step through the door.
Although the pub stretches back quite a way, it isn't very wide so it doesn't take a lot of people to create a good drinking environment. It's tricky to make the space feel welcoming at all times, but its low lighting and candles set a soothing climate conducive to socialising whatever the weather, whatever the time of day. The clientele is mixed - being a traditional pub it has its old time regulars who keep the pumps ticking by throughout the day, but at night groups descend and vie for tables close to the mantlepiece, whilst couples canoodle by candlelight.
The Duke’s restaurant above is a little classier than the pub below but the same menu is served in both areas. In this type of pub a meal is far more enjoyable in the social company of drinkers in the bar, but if you're looking for a quiet retreat then the restaurant might be a better bet.
The Wellington is part of a group of pubs that place emphasis on British fare and the menu is very traditional. Corn-fed chicken in Suffolk ale with cheddar rarebit and corned beef hash with seasonal vegetables are just two choices. There is also a real treat for fish and chip fans. The batter is mixed with an ale that constantly changes and there is an array of different fish from breaded yellow fin sole to beer battered hake. Main meals cost around £6.95 but the fish and chips are £6.95 and £9.95 for standard and large respectively.
The Wellington is well stocked with ale. There's the Stonehenge Eye Opener, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Hobgoblin, as well as a revolving guest ale. Kronenbourg, Stella, Staropramen and Amstel all line the bar representing the lagers with Fruli also available. The wine list offers a good choice - the house red is a Chilean merlot at £7.95 a bottle and the Long Shadow Australian Chardonnay is crisp and refreshing in cold weather. The spirits are fairly standard but there is a special emphasis on gin.
The Last Word
The Wellington is run by a group that knows a wide range of beer, wine and ale is a must to survive the pub wars of the West End.