Tuesday, 28 June 2011
The Seven Stars pub.
It is the season of picnics. Redlegs is not keen on sitting on the grass dodging footballs and insects. But if there is good company and a fetching basket full of sparkly booze that has at least nodded in the direction of coolness I can stand in a park with the best of them. So am I going to suggest picnic spots? No not really. The good ones are jammed with tourists and foreign language students indulging in strange tribal rituals involving balloons. I had enough of jammed picnic locations in Japan. Cherry blossom viewing parties are the Armageddon of picnics, I'm scarred. Perversely after a recent picnic in a particularly good spot we nipped around the corner to one of my favourite pubs but one that is not particularly summery something I don't care about. Summer isn't really my favourite season anyway and pub gardens are full of big sweaty spuds and families (shudders...).
The diminutive Seven Stars in Carey Street, near Fleet Street is an old pub, as the Leg and Seven Stars it was built in 1602 and survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz. During the week it is infested with braying solicitors and barristers from the courts in front of it and Lincoln's Inn behind. Although if you are lucky you can squeeze inside and grab a table as the lawyers prefer to stand outside in packs and yell at the world. The staff are used to dealing with this lot and take no prisoners so even mobs of legal yahoos are no problem. At the weekend the place is a joy. The staff are part of the charm, the odd sullen barmaid is more than compensated for by the charming landlady Roxy Beaujolais and the generally lovely barstaff. In a world full of corporate pubs and short term tenants a proper landlady is a boon, especially one that cooks as well as Roxy. The food at the Seven Stars is not typical, it is genuinely home made and forays beyond the pub staples although the sausages in particular are very tasty. In fact all the food I have had there has been delicious., specially the meaty stuff. I don't drink beer but the white burgundy by the glass does the job nicely. No doubt some will moan the beer isn't cheap, but it is a free house and if you want to be cheap get thee to the local Wetherspoons.
The pub looks old and quaint but also highly individual, resisting the usual tendency to just go for a heritage look, when you are more than 400 years old you don't really have to try. The prints and pictures reflect the legal character of the area and the personality of the owner. It is also the home of one of London's most famous cats; Thomas Paine. A just so feline who pads around in a white ruff blinking nonchalantly at the clientele or occasionally being downright cross (what are all these people doing in his pub?). Animals in pubs split opinion. I'm not a cat lover but frankly I have always thought that dogs and cats belong in pub bars, rather more so than small children who sadly won't lie down quietly under a chair or obligingly kill rats.
I feel reluctant to recommend pubs I like, especially small ones but the Seven Stars is friendly, individual and despite it's legal environment, bohemian.