For its small size, about one kilometre by two, the London village of Marylebone contains over 300 pubs and bars, homage to that favored activity after a long day’s work to unwind and enjoy a favored brew or cocktail with the villagers. There are five that will be featured here, not in any particular order because one man’s pub is another’s tavern is another’s inn is another’s bar.
It might be well to mention that these terms are often confused and, after all, what one calls a thing is merely a moniker and not always fully descriptive of the thing. For example, a pub, the long-standing foreshortened moniker for a public house, is any establishment serving liquor whether that means a fine brew on draught or a chemistry-induced cocktail of many colors and tastes.
But that also describes many bars, taverns and inns; the latter typically implying accommodations of rooms to let or food served. Although a tavern does not typically hold the distinction of rooms (but food is often available), a tavern may also be a liquor-serving establishment that accommodates rooms, and it may be a hotel with no liquor served.
Confused? Never mind. After a good drink, no one really cares whether one is in a pub or an inn..
Let’s begin with The Grazing Goat, an elegant pub located near the Marble Arch in southwestern Marylebone. On a quiet, cobblestone road, The Grazing Goat offers a small outdoor setting for a great drink and a great meal. It is listed first only because it offers every definition of a pub/inn/tavern/bar in that it offers great drinking, but also food elegantly prepared, with dining in and outdoors and a few rooms to rest the bones should that need arise.
The Duke of Wellington in northeast Marylebone features a larger accommodation of outdoor seating to enjoy the street life while sipping a fine brew. The Duke recently did a makeover to change the appearance, but not the atmosphere of the old pub. A 30-year valued customer looked around at the dark oak floor, the crisp, white tablecloths and walls, but the same cherished bar and commented something about the place being due for a good cleaning. He approved and continues to be a valued customer.
The Harcourt Arms, also northeast, is a Swedish pub that features the only beer garden in Marylebone. It is off the street, but outdoors (the tables have umbrellas), making it the most intimate of outdoor pub environments in Marylebone. On clear days in winter, the beer garden can still be enjoyed with gas heaters.
In far northwest Marylebone is found the Chapel. It features what may be Marylebone’s largest outdoor garden dpace for accommodating up to 60 people at umbrella-covered tables in a closed space away from the street noise.
Finally, in central Marylebone is found the Londonist’s top pub in Marylebone, The Barley Mow. It probably features the least amount of space in outdoor pub experience among these five, but it certainly makes up for that lack by great drinking, food and service.