1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Not Rated.
Ye Olde Cheshire CheeseYe Olde Cheshire Cheese
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

15 Ratings
Ratings: 15
Reviews: 12
rAvg: 3.95
pDev: 9.37%
Taps: 5
Bottles: 6
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

145 Fleet Street
London, EC4A 2BU
United Kingdom (England)
phone: + 44 20 7353 6170

view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday: 11:00-23:00
Saturday: 12:00-23:00
Sunday: CLOSED

(Place added by: texashammer on 02-14-2006)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 15 | Reviews: 12 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by JayTheFinn:
Photo of JayTheFinn
3.48/5  rDev -11.9%

Located in a narrow alley off Fleet Street, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is truly a "ye olde" sort of pub, having been around since the 17th century. Other pubs were there prior and the earliest public house known belonged to a 13th century Carmalite monastery, the cellar here being once used as catacombs. The hidden nooks, narrow corridors, steep stairways and myriad of rooms can attest to the truth of that. Drinking a couple pints of the Sam Smiths they have on hand and trying to find your way to the bathroom without getting lost or injured is an extreme sport within itself!

Upstairs in one of the rooms is a bar with a large open fireplace. The other room seems to be reserved for diners. Hanging on the wall is a picture of Dr. Samuel Johnson (his house is nearby), the creator of the dictionary

Down in the catacombs is a large room with another bar (and maybe another fireplace...I can't be sure, my mind was playing tricks on me and the beer wasn't helping.) You can order food (basic pub grub), grab your drinks and find yourself a secluded place to chat or hangout with a group in the main rooms.

Beware though, this pub is listed in all the tour guide books, so there's gonna be some loud, goofy tourists wandering in now and then, knocking into you with their huge backpacks, declaring "wow, this place is old!" and walking out.

JayTheFinn, Apr 09, 2006
More User Reviews:
Photo of 322wingedfoot
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

In terms of remaining original architecture, this is deservedly in the top 10 as listed in London Heritage Pubs, by Geoff Brandwood and Jane Jephcote (published in 2008 by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale). Absolutely worth visiting.

322wingedfoot, Friday at 02:19 PM
Photo of robotiks
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

robotiks, Oct 04, 2014
Photo of drtth
4/5  rDev +1.3%

drtth, Aug 07, 2014
Photo of Dicers
4.5/5  rDev +13.9%

Dicers, Jul 21, 2014
Photo of spointon
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%

My wife and I visited this place while in London recently.

Upon entering, this pub doesn't look very large, but what you can see looks very cool and historic. All of the woodwork has darkened to a nearly black color over hundreds of years of use. The really cool thing is that over the years, they have expanded the public space in every direction, most importantly downward into the cellars. Our favorite space was the deepest down, lowest level cellar!

The selection is limited to Sam Smith's as this is a tied house, but they had a nice wide selection of their offerings and everything was VERY reasonably priced, especially for London.

Service was at the bar only, but the bartender was friendly and knowledgeable about their beers.

Overall I loved this pub and will revisit it every time I get to London.

spointon, Nov 15, 2013
Photo of ikats
3.63/5  rDev -8.1%

This was my first step on my most recent trip to London. Got here before I checked into my hotel. I went here on the advice of a good friend who was not able to imbibe here on the account of his wife not being fond of old pubs.

The pub entrance is in an alley off busy Fleet St. Because of this combination it feels a bit like a place to get away from the busyness of it all. I was here in early afternoon on a weekday, and the place was almost empty. The pub is divided into separate rooms - some with table service, some small but with windows, some dark. It's interesting to walk around this place.

Here is my dilemma. It's in part a "museum." While I was having a couple of pints a considerable number of people were clearly tourists who got this place out of a guidebook. I believe I even noticed some who did not stop for an ale. In fact, a patron next to me discussed this very topic with the bartender. And I see their point. It takes a bit away from just relaxing in a friendly pub atmosphere. Feels a bit like a touristy checkbox. But, of course, I was there for the same reason and therefore contributing to the problem. Makes it hard to say were my opinion lies.

Regardless, I enjoyed my visit. It is an interesting place to see. Samuel Smith beer is good. Prices are unbelievably low for this area. I'm sure I would've enjoyed it more if I was there with a few buddies, visiting London, relaxing on a lazy afternoon.

Next time I'm in London, I'm not sure I'll make a point to stop by, but if I'm in the area, I will definitely have a pint there.

ikats, Feb 18, 2012
Photo of JohnW
3.38/5  rDev -14.4%

Amazing place just off Fleet Street, only few minutes walk from St Pauls Cathedral.

A rabbit warren of little rooms on several levels, and downstairs into the 'dungeons' of celler rooms complete with wood shavings on the floor! Cellar bars area reminded me of "Fruh" in Cologne though here on a much smaller scale.

Fascinating place, though may be tricky for those with mobility concerns with steep narrow stairs.

As much as I enjoy Sam Smiths beer, have to say we were disappointed. The OBB Bitter was OK but nothing special, and the food menu not very good, and costly. Whilst in the cellar bar several customers complained about the food - waiting too long, or cold when it arrived. The food we had was nothing special and just acceptable. Much better beer and food to be had at the Cittie York Sam Smiths on High Holborn in my opinion.

We enjoyed visiting here, but not much impressed with the beer or food, obviously popular with tourists of course, but would not go again. Right opposite the entrance to the pub in the narrow Cheshire Passage is a sandwich shop with great value sandwiches and baguettes! Much better value for food!

JohnW
October 2008

JohnW, Oct 22, 2008
Photo of DrinkbythePond
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%

Back the cobblestone alley to a dimly outside lit bar into an old building and down the cellar, I was waiting for Marley's ghost to show up on a doorknob. It was what I envisioned a British pub to be. The cellar bar is at the lowest level with a series of small, low ceiling rooms on several levels. It was a Smith owned pub with at least 5 casts. The Bitter was tasty, but the atmosphere won the day. I'd go back to this pub everytime I'm back in London. I didn;t try the food, but the selections looked interesting.

DrinkbythePond, Aug 04, 2008
Photo of skittlebrau
3.65/5  rDev -7.6%

My first trip to England and my first true English pub. I guess I mainly went here because the place is so old. Apparently its latest incarnation was built in the 1600's. Unfortunately, there was some sort of private party and we were confined to the lower level only. The place smells like coal everywhere. Also, there was a distinct lack of seats in the back room. It wasn't crowded, but we still couldn't get a table. Anyway, I gave it big points on atmosphere.

Quality and selection were ok. It looks like since it is owned by Samuel Smith, that was all they had from what I could tell. They did have several ales on cask, which was nice.

Service was friendly and the food was good, if a bit expensive.

At the time that we went there, the dollar was very weak in the UK so it ended up being a little expensive, but it was a good experience.

skittlebrau, Apr 08, 2008
Photo of dougnboston
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%

I just need to go here every time I visit London. My job brings me here frequently enough and I long for a visit to the Olde Cheese. There are two bars at street level and a bar deep in the basement. Several seating areas make for plenty of room to find your spot. The first bar you’ll find is to your right as you enter. I always look to grab a spot here to admire the old photos, paintings, fireplace and bar. If there is a spot open on one of the benches, ask to sit, patrons are friendly and welcoming.

To the left on entering is the dinning room. I’ve eaten there a few times and always enjoyed my meal. You get the feeling that Dr. Johnson (do continue down the alley, out the door to the right, to see Dr. Johnson’s home … he authored the dictionary) is sitting with you defining the world. Dickens’s too sitting in his corner seat (look for the marker on his bench).

Beyond both the bar and dining room are two other areas, a smaller seating and a full bar. Downstairs (watch your head!) are several areas to sit at different levels even several tables in a cave like hall with cell like iron swinging doors. Walk down to the third and lowest level you’ll find another full bar with a full pub lunch and dinner menu. The steak and kidney pie was pretty good.

A good selection of quality beers. A couple different hand pulled cask conditioned ales sit next to four or five other taps. Sam Smiths Wheat was tasty on my last visit.

dougnboston, Oct 21, 2007
Photo of BlackHaddock
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%

Another fine Sam Smiths London Classic pub. Very cheap, because everything is brewery owned (the Gin, Vodka etc). Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter is always on draught, along with their normal selection of lagers and bottles.

Multi roomed, I like the first on the right when entering, it is a drinking room, the rest favour the eating type people. Jet Black wood is the order of the day in here. Fleet Street was the home of the British Newspaper Reporters before they moved out in the 70's, to be replaced by accountants and bankers, who don't seem to drink as much. They do come in and fill the place at lunchtime though, mostly to eat and get in the way!

If you like history and drinking it in, or if you like history and drinking in it, this is a must for a visit while in London.

BlackHaddock, Aug 24, 2006
Photo of trevorwideman
3.86/5  rDev -2.3%

Nice to see this Pub in BeerFly. It's a classic. My first day in London and I had a whirlwind early-morning tour with my friend who works at the London School of Economics, and she left me to my own devices during the day with the caveat that I meet her after work for a pint. I agreed, and this was the place she took me.

I've never seen anything like it. I guess it's just the Canadian in me with all our "Irish Pubs", we have a certain image of what a place should look like. When I entered the Cheshire Cheese I realized what 500 years of history feels like. This is an intense experience of a pub, with a myriad of rooms, passageways, narrow staircases, and wood so black and old that it's almost oppressive. There appears to be different selections depending on which room you happen to be in, and there's many. Some real ale, although the actual selections escape me. I do remember having a good pint of Sam Smith's Wheat Beer before we had to make our way back to Tooting. Reasonable prices, though the bartender seemed to have other things on her mind than serving us for a while. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this pub, it's a true London experience.

trevorwideman, Aug 15, 2006
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.99/5  rDev +1%

Certainly worthy of the ‘Ye Olde’ pretext in the name, this is certainly no modern day wannabe with false wooden beams, polished coal scuttles and horse brass fittings that were never ever used. This is the real deal and the ‘Ye Olde’ is a hard earned moniker, for there have been several (many?!) Pubs occupying the current site, records clearly back this up all the way to 1538, but beyond that a guest house existed as a part of a 13th Century Carmelite Monastery, parts of which are thought to form the foundations and cellars for the current establishment.

Despite the address, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is hidden from prying eyes and passer-by tourists down a rather narrow passageway called Wine Office Court. Once off the bustling Fleet Street, the passageway seems to form a portal into a Dickensian time past. The stone flagged alleyway has stern black railings to the left, whilst to the right the ground floor has a dark brown painted frontage that seems to lean forward slightly. Only a Victorian style steel and glass illuminated hanging barrel shaped sign signals the entrance - to the right of which a large board lists the Kings and Queens, some 15, that have served Country since the Pub served its first brew.

Once inside, a catacomb of rooms leads off left and right, as well as upstairs, which I once to got to view, but they seemed to be closed off on this last visit. Dark aged wood paneling covers the walls; the smell of dust, dead people, ghosts and former imbibers seems to haunt the interior. Décor is traditional with lots of faded wooden fittings, well worn stone floors and a range of light fittings that would not be out of place in a Museum. Additional items are thrown in seemingly ad hoc at times. Of particular note though is a large painting of Samuel Johnson, he of Dictionary fame, hanging in one of the rooms, he lived nearby it seems, I couldn’t help but think of the BlackAdder III episode in which he appeared and the words which he missed from his Dictionary when I saw this.

We sneaked into a very quiet bar area to the right as you enter from the alleyway. The woman behind the bar was very friendly and seemed glad of some company during the warm but relaxed afternoon come early evening. Beer range is restrained, the only cask beer available is Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Bitter (OBB), but then that is the only one that Sam’s do. This is however supported by a full range of supporting draughts including the excellent Extra Stout and my first sight of the Samuel Smiths Wheat beer served from a rather Euro looking font. All this is supported by the bottled range of Sam’s beers, so all in the range of styles available is not actually that bad despite the lone cask ale. Nonetheless, the OBB was on fine form, a tight creamy off-white head topped a well conditioned and very fresh pint of North Yorkshire’s finest - couldn’t fault the quality of the Cask at all, top notch. And of course, all this comes at the usually great value from the thrifty Tadcaster boys, some of the best prices in London.

I have had the distinct pleasure of visiting this establishment several times over many years, and it always a pleasure to return, especially as I enjoy the malty tones of Samuel Smiths OBB from the Cask. But it was a true delight to hit the place up with BA’s LondonPorter and RichLightWeight on a quiet Friday afternoon, allowing us all the luxury to enjoy the interior a little more than usual and each others company.

Always worth a visit, just to see the place, but the Cask Old Brewery Bitter was in fine form I have to say, I could have stayed for a second pint, and even a third, but it was soon time to move on to the next stop, no rest for the drinker in London, far too much to see it seems and not even this grand old Lady of Fleet Street could keep us. Recommended.

Last Visit: Friday 23rd June, 2006.

TheLongBeachBum, Jul 01, 2006
Photo of texashammer
3.63/5  rDev -8.1%

the Chesire Cheese is in a very old building down a very narrow alley. the space is divided into several smallish rooms where you fight for space if it's at all crowded. low ceilings, and everything is very dark from what seems to have been many, many years of coal fires. the coal is still present, and the fire is almost obsessively well tended by the bartender in the front room. food menu looked nice but we didn't eat. maybe 4-5 casks as I recall. server was friendly and competent. appears to be a regular and local crowd, joking around with their bartender. felt like stepping back a century.

texashammer, Feb 17, 2006
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in London, United Kingdom (England)
90 out of 100 based on 15 ratings.