Taps: 10 / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 19 | Reviews: 16 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
4.16/5 rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
Stop #8 on a lively Saturday pub-crawl of London was a real find, and a bigger surprise! By now RichLightWeight was working overtime to keep us (me!) on track, for I could have stopped in every single one of the last seven pubs for more than the one Pint that we had, and the The Harp was no exception either.
Now I could have happily wandered right past The Harp and I would have been penalized for my prejudice in thinking that this was just another faux Irish pub. Far from it, though the exterior hints little at the fine selection of Ales inside.
The frontage does have a classic Irish Pub appearance to it, the sign that spreads across the ~15ft width of the Pub is a painted glass one, the words The Harp are in gold and black text set against a dark green background. Carved black painted wooden fittings outline the ground floor frontage. The door sits to the right of what appears to be one large window above a wooden lower frontage - these in turn all sit below a row of small windows just below the Pub sign. All the windows are leaded ones comprised of colored glass rectangles, and the main window to the left of the door folds away to open up the frontage above the lower wooden portion. Against this lower wood paneled frontage two chalkboards advertise the Real Ales on sale. When I visited the main door was wedged open and the main window folded back to reveal a serving like hatch frontage. A pair of large antique street lights and pink and yellow flowers in five large hanging baskets complete the presentation. The overall appearance is one of great pride and personal stake holding, this is definitely not a chain pub.
The inside is not very big, a single main room has the bar area down the left hand side. Décor is traditional, dark woods and thick carpets lend a very homely and comfortable feel. Lots of pictures adorn the walls, Im not sure that there is much room left on the walls for any more.
A warm welcome awaits anyone who steps foot in here. Immediately we entered I recall the woman behind the bar catching our eye and was ready to serve us, sadly we were unsure which of the many beers to order so we paused for a while, not often that happens! Service was genuinely friendly and always with a smile.
Others mention 5 beers, but I counted Six (6) Handpumps serving; Smiles Zing Ale (4.3%), Caledonian Nectar (4.3%), Mordue Workie Ticket (4.5%), Black Sheep Best Bitter (3.8%), Timothy Taylors Landlord (4.3%) and Harveys Sussex Best Bitter (4.0%). Also had a real Cider, Malvern Magic Cider from Herefordshire. The usual keg taps make up the rest of the bar fittings. I dont recall balking at the prices so they seemed to be reasonable. Quality of the beers was excellent and the Landlord was some of the best I tried down South.
Deep in the Covent Garden area, this is a nice change of pace from the usual faceless high end bars and soulless corporate chains. This is a real pub run by real people serving a fine range of well kept real ales.
A small place that you could oh so easily not give a second glance to when walking past, but do not make that mistake, this is a superb locals bar serving high quality Real Ales that you really should not miss when in WC2!
Last Visit: Saturday 24th June, 2006.
07-05-2006 04:03:44 | More by TheLongBeachBum
More User Reviews:
4.73/5 rDev +11.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Small but tremendous pub just a short walk from Trafalgar Square. Street level room is long and narrow, a tight staircase leads to the uppr level and additional seating. Very well kept beer and friendly employee's. A tremendous real ale pub that should not be missed.
04-10-2014 05:40:23 | More by Mark
4.4/5 rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | $$
Visited the Harp with my wife on a recent trip to London.
There are basically three spaces to this pub - main floor, upstairs, and out in the back alley. The main (street) level is a narrow and deep traditional pub room with the bar running about half the length of the room. Seating other than bar seating is clustered right in the front door and near the back. Upstairs, there is a room that feels like a Victorian era parlor, painted pink (!), with a scattered collection of seating and small tables. On the night of our visit, there were also a fair number of people standing outside in the alley drinking and smoking.
We initially sat downstairs on stools in the front window area, but we were somewhat cramped and uncomfortable. We then moved upstairs and found a couple of nice seats.
Beers were fresh and well poured and the selection was outstanding. I had some boundary pushing hoppy ales on cask that were amazing.
Prices were usual and normal for London. Service (at the bar only) was excellent and friendly.
Overall, I would recommend this place to anyone. Super pub atmosphere and super selection.
11-15-2013 19:57:44 | More by spointon
4.15/5 rDev -2.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This is an excellent pub, especially for its very central location. It's very near to The Chandos, and a decidedly better choice.
The atmosphere is the best part. I came here twice on my most recent trip to London, and found two other foreigners on the first visit and none of the second. Conversations here were fun to eavesdrop on. Obviously popular with London suits, as well as with retirees and a few younger working people. A cozy, comfortable dark wood interior with a large open front window that encourages sitting at the window-ledge stools or standing on the sidewalk if the weather permits. There is an upstairs room, but it looks like a pink, frilly tearoom and was deserted on both of my visits. I would guess that it seats people on crowded evenings.
I found a nice selection of cask beers, most of which I don't think I encountered in any other pubs I visited. Two originals that I wrote down were an Elderflower Blonde Ale and Boggart Ray of Sunshine. Everything was poured nicely, and prices were average.
I didn't try any of the food here, but there are daily specials and the locals seemed to order the daily special sausage plates very consistently.
The service, in my experience, was average. Barkeeps talked amongst themselves, and while I did see the owner briefly, she didn't spend any time behind the bar. No complaints, but nothing particularly positive about the staff.
Highly recommended "boozer," as TimeOut London would call it (they seem to favor bars over pubs). I spent several very pleasant hours here.
07-13-2012 12:38:43 | More by withliterature
4.36/5 rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
I tight and cozy pub-- it was packed with local patrons when we were there, so tightly that we could barely squeeze past the bar to the stairwell in the back. Regardless, the crowd was friendly-- and many of them were there for the great beer and cider. The worn wood throughout the pub told of a long beer history, and it felt good to be a part of it.
All cask ales I had were served at perfect temperatures and poured without a sparkler. All tasted as fresh as can be, and were served in proper (and clean) glassware. Top notch.
In general, the speed of service was decent considering the size of the crowd... and despite the crowd, the bartendress was willing to help explain about each beer and guide our selections.
A free house, this pub had a nice selection (8 beer engines IIRC) of session ales ranging from light to dark and from mild to hoppy. At the time there were no stouts or porters available, and certainly nothing over 5% abv. They did, however, also have a nice cider selection. I had two of their ciders, which both exhibited a substantial brett note. Overall, this was one of the better selections of real ale I found on this trip to London.
01-10-2012 03:10:01 | More by jgasparine
4.64/5 rDev +9.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
With all of the excellent pubs throughout London, this is one of the gems to visit many times over on your trip to London without feeling you're missing out some other potentially great pub.
Owner and manager, Binnie Walsh knows her cask ales and was willing (enthusiastic) to explain her excellent offerings, although she was shy about having her picture taken.
Harp has a narrow, yet comfortable bar area downstairs with leather seating and a wide shelf to rest your ale and food upon. Stained glass windows and mirrors lend the illusion of a bigger space.
Up the round staircase is a small, but well-spaced lounge area with an eclectic mix of antique chairs sofas and tables.
Try to land the window seats if possible.
Speaking of eclectic mix, the crowd was from all walks, and all friendly and warm.
The Men’s room is oddly placed half-way up the stairs. Fortunately the door opens inward. Unfortunately, you may find yourself waving hello to passerby’s with your free hand.
This pub gathers its share of CAMRA and Cask Marquis awards and gets high marks from the local London Guides.
Eight handpumps serve a delicious range of cask-conditioned ales. The Sambrook’s Wandle, Twickenham Original and The Dark Star Winter Meltdown were all perfect! Sadly, it was early in the day and my wife had a schedule for us to keep for the rest of the day and evening. The rest of the day, by the way, seemed to float merrily along.
Just a very solid pub!
10-17-2011 18:51:25 | More by BeerResearcher
4.63/5 rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $$
Had this place targeted based on reviews here and the fact that it had just been named CAMRA's pub of the year in January of '11. The happy realization that my hotel at Trafalgar Square was a 5 minute walk away didn't hurt either. Checked into my hotel at 9pm after flying out of Boston that morning, freshened up and was at the Harp by 9:30; best Tube stop is Charing Cross for those coming from other parts of London.
Was a bit crowded when I arrived but manageable and quickly snagged a spot by the bar so I could survey the tap handles. Unless you get an actual spot at the bar, however, the front or back of the room is best for standing as the path past the bar is quite narrow. At the far left and right of the bar are your standard-issue taps; Guinness, Guinness Extra Cold (!) and maybe a Smithwick's or something along those lines. It's the middle 8 taps where the action happens. These prized spots are occupied on a rotating basis by greater-London breweries, including Harvey's, Sambrook and DarkStar.
Clientele (at ~10pm) seemed to be a mix of dyed-in-the-wool regulars, and after-work young crowd. I suspect this Yankee stood out a bit, but no one seemed to care. Atmosphere is homey and welcoming, overall.
There are pub towels scattered over every flat surface in the place, as the imperial pints are poured right to the rim by the expert bar staff. There are a few sausages available here and there, updated daily on the blackboard, but don't come here expecting much in the food department, as this place is all about beer.
I was so impressed with this visit, that I decided to come back the following evening, which was unfortunately St Patrick's Day, as I had a few hours before dinner. It was absolutely packed, but I counted no fewer than 7 staff behind the bar pulling pints. And the great thing about London pubs is the option to take your pint outside upon obtaining it, which I did - along with literally ~100 others - after battling my way to the bar.
All in all, I can't recommend this place highly enough for a "real" London pub experience and great selection of cask ales.
03-28-2011 16:43:38 | More by bosox941827
The Harp in London, United Kingdom (England)
93 out of 100 based on 19 ratings.