Gunmakers, EC1R 5ET
- 020 7278 1022
- 13 Eyre Street Hill, EC1R 5ET
- noon-11pm Mon-Fri; closed Sat-Sun
A lovely little pub just off Clerkenwell Road, on a quiet back street.
Note: It changed hands in late 2014, the previous landlord having moved on to the Finborough Arms in West Brompton. We haven't visited since, and so some of the below may be out of date.
A modest and understated black frontage opens on to a small bar area near the front. Further seating is up two stairs, where wall-length mirrors are rather strikingly engraved with the pub's name and there are comfortable upholstered banquettes along the wall on either side. There's another room on the first floor. A small, whitewashed enclosed beer garden adorned with flowers hanging from a wooden frame is at the rear of the pub. The Gunmakers can be hired at the weekends, when it's not open).
There are seven handpulls, with regularly rotating beers and ciders. Beers are usually from London and Home Counties microbreweries, with Harvey's Sussex Best the only "house beer". All ales have always been very well-kept. There are also two keg taps offering imported Czech Budvar and Staropramen. A small bottled selection includes Bavarian and American craft beers.
When bob and elvum visited in June 2013, to coincide with the Northumbrian beer festival, a table had been set up in the back room with eight tapped casks behind it. These offered a selection of bitters, pale/blonde ales and a red ale from the north-east of England, priced between £3.80 and £4.30. All were in good condition.
It can get very busy in the evenings, though on all Ewan's visits (at off-peak times, afternoons and late evening), it has been an extremely pleasant place to spend some time. A Thursday lunchtime visit was busy at 1:30pm though there were a few tables spare in the back room, getting far quieter after 2pm.
Service is exceptionally friendly, and there is additionally table service during the lunchtimes, with attentive staff passing around the room on a regular basis. Requests for drinks, food and bill were accommodated very promptly, without any long waits.
As of June 2013, food is served noon-3pm and 6pm-9.30pm Monday to Friday. The menu covers a good range, interesting without being overly pretentious. It's chalked up on boards around the pub and posted to Twitter, and changes fairly regularly. There are also decent crisps (Salty Dog brand) and pork scratchings.
On a November 2008 visit, Ewan had a gnocchi of the day (stilton and spinach) which was very tasty and flavoursome, while his friend's sausages and mash featured three hefty sausages which were given the thumbs-up. On a May 2009 visit, Kake's steak sandwich was very good, decent meat cooked properly and served in ciabatta. Another of our party had the burger, which came with truly excellent chips; crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and not at all greasy. At the london.pm meeting in June, many people enjoyed the food, particularly the steak sandwich and the mixed grill. On a 2011 visit, Ewan had a paella which was utterly fantastic, while in August 2012, a BBQ chicken dish was also tender and succulent.
Ewan's verdict: The ale range may not pander to the 'craft beer' drinkers, but it offers some solid British cask ales in immaculate condition, while the food is among the best in any London pub that I've been to. I can heartily recommend it, and I like to pop in whenever I'm in the area.
Accessibility: There are a number of short staircases between each of the different areas, including access to the toilets. The steps between the bar and the main seating areas have a particularly low head clearance.