Simpson's Tavern, EC3V 9DR
- 020 7626 9985
- Ball Court, 38 1/2 Cornhill, EC3V 9DR
- 11:30am-4pm Mon; 8am-10:30am, 11:30am-4pm Tue-Fri; closed Sat-Sun
Hidden away down a pedestrian alleyway photo, this pub and restaurant dates from 1757 and is a gem. It consists of a small bar for vertical drinkers only as there's no room for any seating, and a small dining room. Upstairs there is a restaurant and down in the basement a wine bar. The building was originally two late-17th century houses that were turned into a chop-house and coffee shop, and the business has since mutated into its present form.
As of May 2014, food is served noon-2:45pm on Mondays; and 8am-10:30am and noon-2:45pm on Tuesdays-Fridays. It's closed completely on weekends. The menu PDF rotates through daily specials, and concentrates on traditional English food.
DrHyde and parent visited for lunch on a Wednesday shortly before Christmas 2010. It was busy and we hadn't booked, but they managed to squeeze us in to the dining room. Seating is on hard benches with solid straight backs, six to a table, and there are maybe 40 covers crammed into a tiny space, so it's quite cosy and small groups may end up sharing a table. The house beers, at least when we visited, were Bass and Harveys, and the Harveys was well-kept, if a little on the cool side of perfection.
DrHyde had the roast duck with seasonal vegetables, which, it being winter, were roasted parsnip, carrot and apple, bubble n' squeak (there was also a choice of chips which the waitress clearly felt obliged to mention but would have sneered at anyone ordering them, and rightly so), and cauliflower cheese. Mum had the pork and leek pie. Both dishes were excellent. Particularly noteworthy were the pie crust, which eschewed the barbarous habit of puff pastry for something heavier and suety, and the cauliflower cheese which had a real cheesy tang to it instead of just being cream with a hint of a smidge of a passing mention of cheese.
Service was very quick and friendly.
DrHyde's verdict: Not only is the food really good, it's well-priced too. Yes, it's a little more than you would pay for lunch at most pubs, but the quality is so much better that it's worth paying for. I strongly recommend this place.
Accessibility: At least one step up to get into the ground-floor dining room and bar. The restaurant and wine bar involve steep staircases. I didn't check whether there were any steps internally or accessibility of the toilets. Wheelchair users will probably not be able to easily negotiate the ground floor passages as they are narrow and twisty, and in any case the interior is very cramped.