Pub/Bar of the Month September 2009: Ye Olde Mitre
Ye Olde Mitre, Hatton Garden, London
While it’s tempting to say that the joy of Ye Olde Mitre lies in finding the pub in the first place, that would be rather harsh on its comforts, service and beer provision. But there is certainly something exciting about discovering a pub for the first time, especially one that has a reputation of being hard to find.
This one stands almost on a busy traffic intersection called Holborn Circus, but you’d never know it was there – not even from the swanky streets that immediately surround it, in an area known as Hatton Garden, once home to London’s jewellery trade.
That’s because this ancient boozer sits in between two streets in an enclave that was, it has been reported, still officially part of Cambridgeshire until the 1970s (all to do with the Bishop of Ely, whose palace was nearby). To reach it, you have to spot one of the alleys that provide access, so keep your wits about you.
Once arriving in this little lost world, you’re encountered by what looks like a Dickensian pie shop, with a brown façade made up of lots of tiny square panes of leaded glass. Inside, there are two bars, plus an upstairs function room.
The first is small but welcoming, with the date 1546 encrusted in the stained glass above the bar counter. This is the date the original pub was built; the current pub dates from the 18th century.
To the rear is the second bar, a boxy room with lots of dark wood panelling, a fireplace and its own servery. There’s also a snug – known as ‘Ye Closet’ – off to the left. Wrapping its way around the fabric of the building is an open passageway, now a smoker’s sanctuary.
The beer range is grounded in Fuller’s ales, following the Chiswick brewer’s purchase of the pub in 2009. Adnams Broadside and Caledonian Deuchars IPA are also regular fixtures, with more exotic guest beers adding a splash of colour.
If you want a creamy head on your pint, landlord Eamon Scott ('Scotty') and his staff are happy to oblige, otherwise the traditional southern light froth is the norm.
With food confined to snacks such as toasted sandwiches, Scotch eggs and sausage rolls, and flashing and bleeping amusement machines banned, there’s no distraction from a decent pint and a good conversation – as the genial mix of suited City types and intrigued tourists appreciate.
Once the achievement of tracking down the premises has subsided, you’ll quickly realise that Ye Olde Mitre is not just a great discovery, it’s actually a great little pub. Note, however, that it’s normally closed on Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays.
Ye Olde Mitre, 1 Ely Court, Ely Place, London EC1N 6SJ
Tel. (020) 7405 4751
Opening Hours: 11–11 (closed Saturday and Sunday, except for special events)