The Punchbowl Mayfair: dine in one of London’s oldest pubs

The Punchbowl Mayfair – one of London’s oldest pubs

It may be imbued with history but there is nothing outdated about this classy gastropub, hidden in well-heeled Mayfair

The Punchbowl Mayfair is not the most conspicuous of places – you’re hardly likely to stumble across it by chance, but rather it’s the type of place you go in search of.

And therein lies it’s appeal. Tucked away just a couple of roads from the historic shopping parade of Mount Street, it’s less tourist-trail cliche and more bona fide London boozer.

Of course The Punchbowl did attract a fair few celebrity chasers back in the day when it was owned by British film director Guy Ritchie and his then-wife Madonna, but today it’s back to doing what it does best: being an understated traditional British pub.

If you’re short of time, then stop by for a mid-shopping tipple – the pub has a good choice of fine wines, real-ales and Scotch whiskies. Stand at the wooden bar and staff (and the occasional friendly local) will fill you in a little on the history of the pub, which has been serving punters since 1729.

The Punchbowl Mayfair – one of London’s oldest pubs

The Punchbowl today

The building has changed little since Georgian times, but a major refurbishment in 2014 has given the interiors a modern lift, while retaining many of the original features. It was in 2014 too that the pub joined forces with British rifle and shotgun maker James Purdey and Sons: together they aim to bring a taste of countryside living to the city.

When it comes to dining you have three choices: eat downstairs in the pub, in the fancy 50s-inspired dining room, or splash out on a private dinner in the Club.

Our preference is the pub, where you can sit in one of the snug banquettes or at a fireside table, and soak up the history of the place. Framed cartoons hang on the walls, Toby jugs abound and candlelight perfectly enhances the cosy atmosphere.

British heritage dishes

The menu is unapologetically British with a good show of hearty classics such as fish and chips, sausage and mash, and steak. But this isn’t arun-of-the-mill pub grub – it’s cooked and presented with flair. The calamari with coriander and lime was deliciously fresh and dishes such as pan-roasted guinea fowl, butternut squash, pine nut & basil oil show a more grown-up edge.

For dessert you may want to steer clear of the Nutella donuts, banana compote, banana ice cream and choc sauce (unless you have a very sweet tooth), and opt for the plum tarte tatin & vanilla ice cream instead.

A historic pub with a British menu to be proud of, the Punchbowl is well worth making a detour for.

Read about more cosy inns and pubs across Britain