Pub/Bar of the Month January 2017: The Star Tavern, London, SW1
The Star Tavern, London SW1
My quest to visit all the pubs that have featured in every edition of the Good Beer Guide has now returned me to London.
The select few boozers that have graced the pages of the book since its first publication in 1974 has now dwindled – sadly – to just five.
They each have their own merits and idiosyncracies, as befits a great pub, and one of the keys to the pleasure of The Star Tavern is its location.
The 19th-century pub is tucked in a quiet mews just off Belgrave Square, slap-bang in the heart of the capital’s diplomatic quarter.
Walk around the wide surrounding streets and you’ll find Bentleys and Daimlers parked outside grand old townhouses that fly the flags of assorted nations around the world, but just nip down this cobbled mews and it’s a different world.
The Star is always a welcoming sight, its glossy black façade often brightly bedecked with flowers. Step through the door and you’re faced with a broadly L-shaped drinking and dining area. To your right, stands the small, curved bar, surrounded by a handful of stools where regulars perch to while away an hour or two.
Gently Fading Grandeur
Along the other side is an opened-up lounge, bright with mirrors and gentrified by half-height wood panelling. Tall sash windows look out onto the mews, a fire burns in the hearth and flowers decorate tables of assorted sizes.
The rug-strewn floorboards are scuffed and the furniture has that slightly knocked about character that gives an air of gently fading grandeur, taking the edge off what might otherwise be slightly imposing and uncomfortable.
Up the stairs is a dining room/function suite where I once attended a launch of the Good Beer Guide itself, but the pub also claims to have hosted more nefarious activities, not least the planning of the Great Train Robbery back in 1963 at the time when it was a noted venue for some of the most hardened criminals around.
The Star is welcoming and genial today, well maintained in the reliable hands of Fuller’s, serving a selection of the Chiswick brewery’s favourites – London Pride, ESB, Gale’s Seafarers – and now also a regular guest beer. On my most recent visit, it was a pale ale from Gipsy Hill brewery.
With so many offices surrounding the site, The Star is inevitably a popular choice for lunches. Monday is pie day, Tuesday is steak day and there’s a traditional roast on Sundays.
But it’s a real cosy place to nip into in the afternoon, too, an oasis of calm and quiet after a spot of sightseeing or Knightsbridge shopping.
The Star Tavern, 6 Belgrave Mews West, London SW1X 8HT
Tel. (020) 7235 3019
Opening Hours: 11–11; 12–11 Saturday, 12–10.30 Sunday