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Swan at the Globe (London)

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1 Review

Address: 21 New Globe Walk / London SE1 9DT / Tel: 020 7928 9444

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      11.09.2011 15:53
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      For some brilliant views as you sup a pleasant drink

      The Swan at The Globe is a large pub and brasserie restaurant situated adjacent to the reconstructed Globe theatre on London's South Bank and was the venue for a friend's birthday celebrations. It has a great location - it is 10 minutes walk from London Bridge tube and main line station and Blackfriars tube. It is also 15 minutes walk from Waterloo (mainline also), Southwark and St Paul's tube stations. I arrived at St Paul's underground station and walked around the massive cathedral they had thoughtlessly built in the way, to the Millennium footbridge where I walked across the river to the Tate Modern gallery. The Globe theatre is just 50m away and the entrance to the pub is just beyond it. I entered via some steps but I believe there is a ramped entrance on the other side. Alternatively you can also get a Clipper boat to Bankside Pier.

      My first impression as I arrived was that the bar was rather dark. Fortunately my friends were seated by a nearby window so I managed to spot them. Lighting in the restaurant is very low - mainly tea lights on the table and anglepoise type lamps on the walls, angled to light the wall rather than the room. However there was an amazing view of St Paul's cathedral across the river. After greetings I saw that others were ordering food and picked up one of the printed paper menus from the table to peruse. By the light of the tea light my friend and I managed to decipher the menu though it was somewhat of a challenge. You order and pay for your food at the bar and the staff will bring it over to your table. If you want a more formal experience there is a brasserie upstairs which is more restaurant like and has a slightly different selection (although there some overlaps). There are tables outside also, for when the weather is sympathetic.

      I thought the menu was quite pricey for a pub menu - the only vegetarian main was Macaroni Cheese for £10.50. My friend went for this which was served with a salad. She said it was nice but a bit cold in the middle. After calling one of the staff members over she explained that the dish was lovely but cold in the middle, the staff member just nodded and smiled and didn't seem to understand my friend, who then repeated herself several times before giving up. To her credit the staff member did send a colleague over, who came straightaway but by this time my friend had mixed the dish around a bit and the cold parts had mixed with the hotter side parts and she couldn't notice much difference. The second staff member was very apologetic and offered to change the dish, but my friend told her not to worry. The portion size was good however. For my part I just went for their chips at £2.50. They came in a small bucket and there were about 6 chunky chips. They were massive chips - approximately a quarter of a large potato each - and were lightly salted. The waitress asked if we wanted sauces and brought over our requests with a small plate. Another person had the hummus and flat bread dish which looked good and was well presented with a small selection of vegetable crudités also. It was billed as a 'small plate' and cost £4 I believe. There was quiet a good selection for most tastes - the gourmet burger at £11.50 was also well received. Apparently they also do a breakfast menu.

      I thought drink prices were quite expensive, and I am not sure I got charged the same price for my drink each time as I was buying other things also.
      First round - Vodka (single measure) & diet coke plus chips - £7.50 or thereabouts
      Second round - Vodka (single) & diet coke, organic cider bottle - £9.80
      Third round - Vodka (single) & diet coke, half a pint of Stella Artois - £6.20.
      However, considering the location of the bar, on the riverside opposite St Paul's cathedral, in central London these could also be considered competitive prices, I suspect most other venues in the area to charge similar prices - I probably have got used to suburban prices! They offered a number of bottled and draught beers, a good wine list and a varied range of spirits.

      Décor wise (from what I could tell in the dark) the bar part has a range of wooden stools and tables - some are low lying such as the long tables near the bar, higher tables and stools are available by the window. You can reserve tables if you are hosting a group of friends by prior arrangement. When I popped upstairs to the toilets I checked out the busy brasserie. It seemed to have marginally better lighting and people were seated on white chairs around wooden tables. It looked quite a smart, yet informal, place to dine. I would think you would need to book, especially if you came on a night when there was a show on in the theatre. The Ladies' toilets were upstairs and had an adequate amount of cubicles which were well stocked with toilet paper (although by the end of the evening there were some strewn on the floor). There was also plenty of Neal's Yard hand wash and hand lotion, and a Dyson power dryer. Men's toilets are downstairs and there is also a disabled cubicle downstairs. You can access the Globe Theatre public areas from the Swan also.

      They advertise a DJ on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings and live music on Sunday afternoons. We went on a Wednesday so I cannot comment on the type of music or the volume. I don't recall hearing any background music whilst I was there so it is either at a very discreet level or non existent. The bar seemed to be quite popular (but far from crowded - you could still get a table) even midweek, when there didn't seem to be anything happening at the theatre, and this meant that it seemed to generate its own lively atmosphere.

      Opening Times:
      Breakfast from 7.30am weekdays

      Mon-Weds 11am - 11pm
      Thurs - 11am to 12am
      Fri-Sat - 11am-12.30am
      Sun 11am-10.30pm

      The Brasserie is open at lunchtimes and evenings from 6pm (5.30pm when there is a show at the theatre). There are private rooms for hire.

      If you are in the area I do recommend popping in for a drink and a bite if it fits within your budget. It has a good atmosphere and seems to be well maintained and clean. I do think they should sort the lighting out a bit, as it is very hard to read the menus, and indeed spot friends across the room.

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