Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Ye Olde Cheshire CheeseYe Olde Cheshire Cheese
Ye Olde Cheshire CheeseYe Olde Cheshire Cheese
Bar, Eatery

145 Fleet Street
London, England, EC4A 2BU
United Kingdom

+ 44 20 7353 6170 | map

Notes: Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday: 11:00-23:00
Saturday: 12:00-23:00
Sunday: CLOSED
View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 15 | Ratings: 28 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

3.99/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

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.

Jul 01, 2006
More User Reviews:
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readyforthenet from New York

4.25/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Jul 18, 2020
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cratez from Canada

3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5

Came here with my wife during our honeymoon in London and Paris.

Classic dark wood bar / English pub atmosphere. Fairly busy on our visit.

Had two pints of St. Austell Tribute Cornish Pale Ale on cask, while my partner had a couple glasses of wine. The Tribute was drinking well and my wife enjoyed her wine.

Service was a bit underwhelming, as the bartender didn't know what I meant when I asked for something "hoppy." Cultural difference, I guess.

That said, our overall experience was good, and we would probably come back.

Feb 14, 2020
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mecmd from Tennessee

4/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

Sep 30, 2018
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TargaFlorio from Indiana

3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.75

Sep 22, 2018
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Danielr26 from Michigan

4.4/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Apr 26, 2018
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GrumpyGas from Illinois

3.79/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Very English. Very traditional. Interesting use of space with multiple levels and niches for seating. Uneven stair heights, no level floors, but guess what? It's old and that's not going to change.
Service is pleasant. Beer is Sam Smith's catalogue, so very good, but it won't challenge your taste buds.
Food is classic English pub fare, done well.

Sep 16, 2017
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justme from Massachusetts

3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Jun 26, 2015
Photo of Rye_Fly

4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Probably the coolest bar I have ever been too.

Jun 21, 2015
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herrburgess from South Carolina

4.31/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Jun 03, 2015
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Fatehunter from Oregon

3.7/5  rDev -7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Stop here for location and ambiance alone. All Sam Smith brews. Well worth a pint and a look around.

May 06, 2015
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EmperorBevis from England

3.98/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.5

Dec 20, 2014
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twb0392 from Wisconsin

4.75/5  rDev +18.8%

Sam Smith beers (cheap by London $), historic atmosphere, and mushy peas.

Dec 03, 2014
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rale from Canada

4/5  rDev 0%

Nov 26, 2014
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322wingedfoot from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

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.

Nov 21, 2014
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beer_bottle from Colorado

4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Oct 04, 2014
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drtth from Pennsylvania

4.11/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Review based on notes taken during a recent visit.

The atmosphere is authentic and some of the furnishings date back a few hundred years so if you appreciate history this is a must visit. Also if you want a sense of what a pub might have been like in the 1700s, this one has been around easily that long. One evening at dinner with friends, when the server appeared with food the head waiter pointed to me and said, "That plate goes to the gentlemen in Dr. Johnson's seat.)

The food and service were of high quality and pleasant.

The beer selection was much what would be expected from any ordinary pub in London. While not particularly exceptional it was definitely good.

Aug 07, 2014
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Dicers from Colorado

4.5/5  rDev +12.5%

Jul 21, 2014
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spointon from Illinois

4.06/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

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.

Nov 15, 2013
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ikats from New York

3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3

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.

Feb 18, 2012
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JohnW from England

3.38/5  rDev -15.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2.5

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!

October 2008

Oct 22, 2008
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DrinkbythePond from Pennsylvania

3.93/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

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.

Aug 04, 2008
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skittlebrau from Texas

3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

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.

Apr 08, 2008
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dougnboston from Massachusetts

4.38/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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.

Oct 21, 2007
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BlackHaddock from England

3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

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.

Aug 24, 2006
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in London, GB2, United Kingdom
Place rating: 4 out of 5 with 28 ratings