The Black Friar

The Black FriarThe Black Friar
The Black FriarThe Black Friar
Bar, Eatery

174 Queen Victoria Street
London, England, EC4V 4EG
United Kingdom

+44 20 7236 5474 | map

Notes: Opening Hours: 11:30-23:00 Mon-Thurs; 11:00-23:30 Fri; 11:00-23:30 Sat; 12:00-22:30 Sun
View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 17 | Ratings: 21 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

I have had the distinct pleasure to witness this ‘Work of Art’ on at least two previous occasions. It is great to see that it is still going strong and has not been turned into yet another one of those high end Wetherspoons, or worse a trendy tourist oriented bar, but despite its architectural fame and high percentage of tourists (including myself) it still seems to retain a Pub like feel with a decent enough selection of Real Ales to woo the thirsty visitor.

It couldn’t be closer to the Tube station that bears the plural form of its name. The white stone frontage of the Black Friar is impressive enough without taking into account the myriad of wrought steel and decorative attachments that adorns it. Pride of place is given over to a rather chubby looking black friar that sits underneath a gold dialed clock face at the apex of this wedged shaped building.

But the marvel is all on the inside, the carved stone on the exterior makes way for an utterly stunning and literally breath taking interior. Completely clad in red, orange-brown, cream and dark green colored marble from head to foot that all helsp to exude a Cathedral-like ambience. The ceiling has a resplendence that is way over the top but still tremendous in its striking fine detail and marvelous intricacies. The main area is reasonably open but there is a back room which contains many bas-reliefs of monks going about their daily business with a host of sayings, mottos and general words of wisdom above them. Attention to detail is awesome; the theme is continued all over every square inch of the interior, this alone is quite remarkable.

It is hard to believe that all of this is just over 100 years old, started in 1904, and with contributions from several famous artists and sculptors, the latest part of the interior was finished just after the Great War.

I recall several Cask beers on Handpump, perhaps four and including Fuller’s, but it wasn’t my round so I was too busy taking in the décor to concentrate on the libations. When asked what I wanted, with a quick glance at the bar I noticed the familiar dark green pumpclip, so I opted for the Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, and it was served in reasonably good condition too.

It was probably the quietest it has ever been, on any of my visits, so RichLightWeight and I decided to sit in the room which sits at the back of the inside. It felt like being in Church at times but the little alcove seating was quiet something. The darkened interior just adds to the overall splendor. But if you have not been here before, by far the best option is not to sit down here, but to take your Pint and walk around to see as much of this place as possible.

One of my heroes from years past was Sir John Betjeman, the Poet Laureate who seemed to be able to bring poetry to the masses in an often cheeky yet poignant manner. Well he was one of several instrumental figures in saving this fine establishment for future drinkers from the wrecking ball. So raise a Pint to him next time you pop in here and marvel at the interior whilst walking around and drinking your Pint and then realizing in utter disbelief that someone once wanted it pulled down - my God, just think that there could be a McDonalds here today and you may never have even witnessed this!!!

Last Visit: Saturday 24th June, 2006.

Jul 05, 2006
More User Reviews:
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OompaMentor from Georgia

4.51/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

Visited here in 2013 while travelling the United Kingdom with a list of the top 100 beers in England and Scotland. From a historical standpoint, it is believed that Emporer Charles V, the Papal Magistrate and Henry Viii's court sat on this very spot during the dissolution of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1532. Not hard to find and the selection of beers is varied and local. Interior decor is nice and as noted, it is a small place that will fill up quickly!

Jan 01, 2018
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justme from Massachusetts

3.71/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Jun 26, 2015
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Georgiabeer from Georgia

4.21/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4

Absolutely beautiful pub justly known for its architecture and design, which is Art Deco. Nicely kept beers, and a reasonable range of casks. Definitely worth a stop for a pint.

Jun 21, 2015
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Highbury09 from North Carolina

4.26/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 3.75

May 29, 2015
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Fatehunter from Oregon

3.74/5  rDev -7.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 3

This place has great history and atmosphere. They had eight cask brews and 12 others on tap, those were mostly pale Euro lagers. The service was good too. It's small so it will get crowded quickly.

May 06, 2015
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322wingedfoot from Pennsylvania

4.75/5  rDev +17.6%

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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clydesdalepayne from Ohio

4.6/5  rDev +13.9%

Sep 06, 2014
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the_encinitan from California

5/5  rDev +23.8%

Jul 04, 2014
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endoderm from New York

4.11/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Made a special trip across town just to come here. One of our favorite pubs. We had a good lunch and I had two pints of Harviestoun Old Engine Oil. It is so delicious even though it is considered by many to be a non summer brew. I recommend it highly. Could even compete with Old Peculier. A beer festival was going on so they had some interesting guest ales.

Feb 18, 2014
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ogdenjd from Virginia

4/5  rDev -1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

I highly recommend this place for anyone visiting London. I found this place after reading one of the CAMRA books called London Pub Walks. This place had an excellent decor, which apparently was decorated in the early 1900s. The food was decent and the beer selection was from Nicholsons. I had their pale ale, which I liked but it wasn't very hoppy by American standards, yet still pretty tasty. The food was standard pub fare but was good. The prices were reasonable by London standards. The other great thing about this pub is that it is very convenient to London's mass transit system, which makes it very accessible to anyone in London.


Jun 28, 2012
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WizardofWaz from Texas

3.8/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Visited here in March 2012. This was a great place to sit and have a pint and a plate of food. Gammon Steak was very good, my daughter had bangers and mash and I thought it was also pretty good. I washed it down with a porter from the tap. Very mellow, nice roasted taste, very drinkable. I'm going back in July and won't hesitate to have another round or two with a meal here. Easy location to walk to or take the underground. Blackfriar station is right outside and Blackfriar bridge is a short walk. There was some construction going on outside and some of the workers were inside enjoying a pint and food. Quaint place, nice archictecture and everything I want in a British pub. People at the bar were helpful and chatted us up a little as we waited on our food. If you have a chance go in and enjoy.

May 11, 2012
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JohnW from England

3.86/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

I first visited this pub in 2002, when it was not known for its beer selection, but well known for its amazing interior.

Since then it is now under the Nicholson Group and has a decent selection of real ales, TT Landlord and Sharps Doombar plus 2 others were on at time of our visit, and the TT was on good form.

We were there about 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon and it was quiet, and thus able to appreciate the incredible marble interior and mosaic ceilings. Prices for the beer were average for London, and the food menu look reasonable, though we didnt eat here.

A decent beer selection and amazing interior make this a pub worth visiting, quite unique yet easy to find at the junction of Farringdon and Victoria Embankment by the Thames.

Bham UK May 2010

May 07, 2010
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drpimento from Wisconsin

4.2/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

At long last, after 13 years, got to return to this gem again. It exceeds my fond memories. Got to take my Brazilian friend and she was suitably impressed. I had about four or five cask ales that were pretty good. Also had some scotch eggs that were on the lame side. The bowl of pistachios was just that, the mixed olives were good. Service was decent and they were very open to providing free tastes. Friednly crowd. And of course, the aesthetically perfect pub interior. They accept credit cards and tips on plastic.

Jan 16, 2010
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Goldorak from Canada

3.79/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

After a good meal at the (something) Arms, we crossed over the bridge to Black Friars for one last pint. Right next to Blackfriars trainétube station.

Wow, this place is an absolute knockout. The little nook in the back with the marble and tile work is worth checking out by itself. The Beers were pretty good too. I wanted Tim Taylor Landlord, but they just ran out. No matter, my pint was just fine. They had a few pumps on, enought to keep you interested. But the decor is enough to keep you here longer than the Beer list. lovely. Prices are in line with other locals.

Sep 14, 2009
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surfadelic23 from Florida

3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I finally made it to this place! It was our 1st day in London and the first spot we hit after an 8 hr flight. Got to this pub for the atmosphere first. It is absolutely breathtaking. That being said, they had 4-5 ales on cask. We sampled the Landlord and the two guest ales as well. The food was pretty good too. I had a fish pie and my wife had a steak pie. Both came out hot and tasty and the wait wasn't long at all. This is a good place to stop if you're doing a tour/crawl in the city as it is near many of the major sites and not too far off the beaten path...

Oct 30, 2007
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FightingEntropy from Minnesota

3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

I'm going to follow the same line as everyone else--just go and see it, and you'll find out what's so cool about this place. Incredible decoration--unique and fun to drink in. My wife and I got in just before last call on New Year's Eve, about 7 pm, and had an Adnams Broadside and a London Pride. Beer was good, fresh, and well presented.

While admiring the incredible features of the pub, a nice Irish man starting talking about various points and feautures of the pub as compared to others he's visited. Back at the table, he came over with a small CAMRA booklet that lists bars across the UK with similar historic significance and architecture. He was as passionate about the pub as many of us are about the beer--seemed like a cool hobby, if you live a bit closer to the UK than I do in frozen Minnesota.

Jan 15, 2007
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BlackHaddock from England

3.55/5  rDev -12.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Although my scores are not brilliant for this pub, I love going to it, and showing it off, to people who have never been before.

The decor is so unexpected, when you walk through the door the place is just breathtakingly beautiful. I shall not describe it, you must come and see yourself.

What a pity the beer quailty, service and selection can't match the superb ornamentation.

It is in the money rich 'City' area, so it is not cheap to eat or drink here. The food is average at best, get it when it first comes out (it is placed onto a glass cage on the food bar), or you will end up with cold spuds like I did on my last visit!

Aug 16, 2006
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Xadoor from Texas

3.93/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

The pub sits directly across the street from the Black Friar tube station, so it was very easy to get to. I arrived just before lunch time on a Monday, so it was relatively quiet to start, but it slowly began to fill in. According to the menu, it was built in 1873 but remodeled in 1905 into what you see today. The ceiling and walls inside are amazing as they are covered in intricate woodwork and carvings, some depicting entire scenes in tribute to the Dominican friars who once resided there. Over the bar, a scene shows the Friars collecting fish and eels and the one over the fireplace shows them gardening. The back room with its high arched ceiling is particularly spectacular. May Bee (Seasonal from Mauldons), Old Speckled Hen, London Pride and a few others were on cask in addition to other lagers and Guinness of course. Lunch was delicious and relatively inexpensive as most pubs seemed to be. I would have loved to stay here all afternoon and check out everything on the walls and ceiling, but there was many other pubs to visit. Highly recommend stopping here.

Jun 29, 2006
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JayTheFinn from California

3.79/5  rDev -6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Very popular pub near the Thames. This seems to be a local for the Fleet Street business types. The crowd doesn't vary from it much aside from a few tourists.

The decor is the most noticeable thing. There's stained glass pictures, wood carvings and mosaics mostly to do with monks from which the place gets its name.

The building itself is quite unique, being that it's in a triangle shape due to it being the only standing part of a larger structure that no longer remains. It's not a big place, so it gets crowded inside. Luckily they have a little beer garden outside.

When I stopped in I got a Fuller's London Pride and and Timothy Taylor's Landlord. Both were decent. There was a weird puke like smell in the air, which I doubt is a regular feature.

This is a great Fleet Street and et cetera pub crawler, especially if you're looking to do a themed crawl on interesting/historic pubs.

May 02, 2006
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texashammer from Texas

3.38/5  rDev -16.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3

this a truly beautiful and historic bar, both inside and out. it's in a bizarre triangular building pointing out toward the Black Friar Bridge. inside, lots of polished marble and wood, tiny marble pillars forming little private-feeling areas, carvings, mirrors, and clever phrases along the ceiling. a very interesting space, which is why I initially insisted on drinking there, but it turns out they have some good beers, and 4-6 casks. I drank a Titanic IPA (very good) and the elderly Brit behind me sagely remarked, "ah, Titanic. two, and you go down." the bar staff was a disappointment -- I asked about one of the casks, whose pump clip was not informative, and he said, "uh, I think it's an ale." well, yes. then I requested the IPA, and he said they didn't have one. I had to walk him over to the cask and show him. also I remember seeing London Pride (Fuller's) and Old Speckled Hen casks. saw a food menu but didn't eat. so, overall, I had a nice time in this lovely space with some good beer, but be prepared to fend for yourself with the flunky at the bar.

Feb 17, 2006
The Black Friar in London, GB2, United Kingdom
Place rating: 4.04 out of 5 with 21 ratings