With its smart sports bars, old pubs reimagined for modern tastes, and enough whisky to float HMS Belfast, lads bound for London have a healthy choice of places to gather. None of which are gender-exclusive, do note – wives, girlfriends, mothers, and daughters are more than welcome too.
Mac & Wild
If ‘modern Scottish’ was an official cuisine, Mac & Wild would be its London poster boy. Especially with a menu that reads like a catalogue of Scotland’s greatest hits: venison, haggis, Loch Duart salmon, whisky cocktails, et al.
The Cinnamon Club
Neighbouring Parliament, this ‘fancy Indian’, as some call it, is also known to have vibes not dissimilar to a traditional gentleman’s club. Upholding a culinary ethos reminiscent of the ‘90s, but still considered innovative, The Cinnamon Club is all about Indian cooking given the white tablecloth treatment.
Most sports bars aren’t known for their chili pork scratchings, goat tikka bun kebabs, or co-brewing their own lager. But – and you saw this one coming – Brigadiers is not most sports bars. Its impressive Indian barbecue menu is supported by live Champions League and Premier League football, and international cricket and rugby.
Boisdale of Canary Wharf
Unless Prince Charles has an underground collection we don’t know about, Boisdale’s whisky reserves is London’s most extensive, at 1,000 bottles or more. The smart bar and restaurant is a good space to sample it, with live jazz providing the ideal backing track.
The Wigmore is what happens when Michel Roux Jr gets his hands on a Regent Street pub. Other reputable chefs have tried and failed at such a task, but dedication to high quality pub grub and well-kept beer is what sets this place apart. Oh, and an unwillingness to compromise on showing live sport.
Tayyabs remains one of London’s foremost venues for large parties (especially those on a budget) with its communal tables and share-worthy Punjabi food. Order in tarka dhal, karahi chicken and some naan – just don’t forget those flame-grilled lamb chops.
Tandoor Chop House
Chop houses, once men-only establishments of 18th century London, have all but disappeared. Tandoor Chop House is a nod to those times, brought up to speed with a north Indian influence and an openness to female guests. If you’re in a group, go for the Big Feast menu and try a bit of everything for £28 per head.
The Marksman’s an old school Hackney boozer given the 21st century treatment. Food is British-inspired and reassuringly rough round the edges (a bit like the furniture) – think rabbit pie, curried lamb buns, and chocolate stout ice-cream.
Showing as many as 12 sporting events in a day, including anything from F1 and European football through to Rugby League and boxing, sports fans have little reason to leave Greenwood save for sleep. Expect crowd-pleasing fan fuel – pizzas, cheeseburgers, wings, and fish and chips.
Crate is evidence that yes, when taken in moderation, pizza, beer, and canals do work well together. The indie brewery in Hackney is among London’s must-visits. Just so happens they know how to make a darn good pizza as well.
This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.