A London pub with more than meets the eye

This Soho landmark pub has been reborn as a Tardis-like free house, cocktail bar and intimate restaurant rolled into one

Image: Chris Burke

There are a number of pubs in the West End called The Blue Posts. There are three in Soho, one in Fitzrovia and another in St James’s. I learnt this the hard way when I agreed to meet a friend at the latest opening from Zoë and Layo Paskin, the duo behind the raved-about Palomar and Barbary restaurants. In the end, it took us three attempts to find their The Blue Posts, which turned out, embarrassingly, to be just a couple of doors down from The Palomar, on the edge of Chinatown.

I’m glad we persevered, because this place is a gem. Actually, it’s more of a Tardis, because its three skinny floors are a pub, a cocktail bar and a restaurant all in one.

The Blue Posts is what’s known as a free house, which means that, unlike most pubs, it isn’t owned by a brewer, so the owners are free to serve whatever they like. And the menu in the warmly lit ground-floor pub absolutely brims with interesting indie brews, such as the award-winning Cwtch Red Ale from Wales’ Tiny Rebel Brewing Co and the reliably brilliant IPAs of the Beavertown Brewery in north London.

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You could easily linger here for the night, sipping a pint of Titanic Stout and chomping on a sausage roll. But don’t miss the opportunity to sneak up the back stairs to the velvet-clad, candlelit Mulwray lounge on the first floor, where they also do a fine line in cocktails made with bittersweet aperitifs and craft spirits. I particularly liked the sparky Mexican Fizz, featuring Tapatio blanco tequila, orange sherbet and tonic, and a classy twist on a Manhattan made with peppery Rittenhouse rye whiskey, liqueurs and a dash of sherry. I never thought I’d taste cocktails this good within spitting distance of M&M’s World, Leicester Square.

The wine list is also exciting. The best place to explore it is over dinner at Evelyn’s Table, the 15-seater counter restaurant in the pub’s old beer cellar. Sitting in convivial cheek-by-jowl, we dined on crispy little mouthfuls of Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnuts, succulent presa Ibérica and red mullet cooked two ways, while general manager Kasia Sadowska bustled around serving Italian Cabernet Franc and starry Chenin Blanc from Swartland provocateur AA Badenhorst. “What we wanted to do with this list was to show familiar grape varieties from less familiar regions,” she explained, reaching over our shoulders to pour us a drop of Bulgarian Pinot Noir.

Prices are keen – most wines by the glass were less than £9. But they can do prestige too – a list of hard-to-find bin ends includes Château de Beaucastel and cult Sonoma winery Littorai, while topping the champagne list is Charles Heidsieck’s extravagant Blanc des Millénaires 1995.

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The lack of headroom in parts of the building might prove a sticking point for some (especially in the Hobbit-sized lavs). But as far as food and drinks go, this particular Blue Posts is head and shoulders above the rest.

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