Wannabe a Writer?

Wanna Meet Up? – Venue Research

This article documents the results from various research expeditions, undertaken to locate suitable venues for our informal social meetings.

What's All This Then?

For those of you that have been before, this needs no introduction, but I know there are lots of new members on this site. We invite you to come and meet us by joining us for lunch. There have been seven such lunches in the past and judging by popular opinion, they've been a great success.

You'll get to meet like-minded writers, wannabes, soon-to-bes and is-bes. We talk about anything and everything – sometimes even writing. We'll have a lunch* and a few drinks of whatever we fancy, swap stories, gossip and ideas.

Have a look at the photos and articles from previous WMU events to get an idea of what it's all about.

* It won't be a shared bill, so there's no need to worry about the cost. We can order individually and have as much or as little as we want.

The Venues

Seasoned professional researchers Barry and Kevin have undertaken various missions. The results are given below.

Summary

Here's a quick summary of the venues. You can click the links in the right-hand column for more details.

Bold names indicate places we've actually used for meetings. Italics indicate places we have not yet researched.

Venue Area Details
The Yacht Greenwich See below…
Cutty Sark Greenwich See below…
The Old Brewery Greenwich See below…
King's Arms Greenwich See below…
Greenwich Union Greenwich See below…
The Lamb Bloomsbury See below…
Truckles of Pied Bull Yard Bloomsbury See below…
Queen's Larder Bloomsbury See below…
Salisbury Covent Garden See below…
Windsor Castle Kensington See below…
Havelock Tavern Kensington See below…
Portobello Gold Notting Hill See below…
Churchill Arms Notting Hill See below…
Lord Moon of the Mall Whitehall See below…
The Old Bank of England Fleet Street
Morpeth Arms Westminster
Descriptions

Here are descriptions of the places we've visited.

Summary The Yacht 5–7 Crane Street, Greenwich, SE10 9NP. +44 208 858 0175
  • Excellent river views.
  • Many tourist attractions in the area.
  • Food was okay; fairly standard pub grub.
  • A friendly pub and relatively quite (at lunchtime on a Friday).
Summary Cutty Sark 4–6 Ballast Quay, Greenwich, SE10 9PD. +44 208 858 3146
  • Excellent river views.
  • Many tourist attractions in the area.
  • Menu is extensive, though a bit more expensive than The Yacht.
  • Very nice multi-level arrangement, including a private function room: The Crow's Nest, which can be booked at lunchtimes for no charge.

Barry and I preferred this one slightly over The Yacht. However, it's probably not suitable for a meeting, due to the amount of stairs to be climbed.

Summary The Old Brewery Pepys Building, Old Naval College, SE10 9LW. +44 203 327 1280

This is the flagship of the Meantime brewing company and has an on-site microbrewery. Despite this, it had almost no pub atmosphere and resembled a waiting room or, at best, a theatre interval bar.

  • Good layout an nice gardens.
  • Café next door.
  • Wheelchair access and facilities.
  • Expensive – £5 a pint!
  • No real ales.
Summary King's Arms 16 King William Walk, SE10 9JH. +44 208 858 4544

Of all the pubs in the Greenwich area, this one is our favourite so far, given that the access in The Yacht and Cutty Sark is unsuitable.

  • Good pub atmosphere.
  • Wheelchair access – one small step at the entrance.
  • Garden at the rear of the pub.
  • Slightly cheaper prices ~£ 4.50 a pint.
Summary Greenwich Union 56 Royal Hill, SE10 8RT. +44 208 692 6258

Another Meantime Brewery pub. This one seemed promising at first, as it had much more of an atmosphere then The Old Brewery. However, it's let down by poor wheelchair access.

  • Nice garden with benches, though access involves several steps.
  • No cask ales.
  • Relatively cheap for the area – £4 per pint.
  • Only toilet access is via a steep and tight stairwell.
Summary The Lamb 94 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1N 3LZ. +44 207 405 0713

A very nice medium-sized pub with a little seating den that we liked the look of. Less busy than the others, so more suitable for a meeting. We felt this one was the winner of the three we visited on that day. The food was simple but good.

This was the pub we used for our seventh meeting.

Summary Truckles of Pied Bull Yard Off Bury Place, Bloomsbury, WC1A 2JR. +44 207 404 5338

We've visited this place on three occasions; for the second, third and fifth meetings.

A nice wine-bar/pub with plenty of outside seating for warm summer days.

Summary Queen's Larder 1 Queen's Square, Bloomsbury, WC1N 3AR. +44 207 837 5627

This is where we went for our first meeting.

A cosy little place. Actually it's tiny! I didn't think we'd ever get everybody in there. However, there's another lounge upstairs with plenty of tables.

I can definitely recommend the ploughman's lunch. It's a full plate including desert (on the same plate!) with about a kilo of cheese. I only had one pint but I'm told that lunchtime drinking counts double.

Summary Salisbury St. Martin's Lane, WC2N 4AP. +44 207 836 5863

Very lively and busy. There were two private functions on the go when we were there. The bar person was very friendly and helpful, telling us that booking would be no problem. We felt that although it was a nice pub, it might be a bit too noisy for a meeting.

Summary Windsor Castle 114 Campden Hill Road, Kensington, W8 7AR. +44 207 243 8797.

This is a very compact little pub with lots of little cubby-holes for seating. There are some very small access ports between the various rooms, some of them resembling ships hatchways. It's quite easy to trip up and/or bang your head, as Barry will testify.

Jane arrived for a quick glass (zero is never enough) and we had a nice chat before she had to zoom off for her next meeting. Barry and I ordered lunch, and more drinks. At this point we thought it was a perfectly nice pub but that it would be a tight squeeze getting a group of wannabes seated inside.

The garden is a different matter. It's surprisingly big and roomy and it has a covered area with those "heater on a stick" gadgets. If we could guarantee good weather on the day, this would be ideal.

Summary Havelock Tavern 57 Masbro Road, Brook Green, W14 0LS. +44 207 603 5374

This pub was a bit more out of the way, but by no means inaccessible. It apparently boasts a good reputation for eating but, in our opinion, was a bit bare inside and lacking in atmosphere. My notes say "décor a bit like a fish & chip shop". To be fair it was at the time of day when it was likely to be almost empty of customers anyway. Nevertheless, we though this one was not as strong as the other two.

The menu, perhaps not surprisingly, seemed to be a bit on the posh side. The staff there were helpful and said that we could move the tables around if we wanted to have our meeting there.

Summary Portobello Gold 95/97 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 2QB. +44 207 460 4910/12

This is where we went for our sixth meeting.

It looked fairly ordinary from the outside but inside it's amazing. There's tons of seating in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Barry and I had a drink in the conservatory which is very pleasant. The place is plastered with old sixties music photos which can occupy you for quite a time if you're not careful.

The menu looked quite extensive; a bigger range than in the Windsor Castle. They also have a selection of at least 21 different wines on the list. If people wanted to stay overnight there, they have en-suite rooms from £ 80 per night.

Summary Churchill Arms 119 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LN. +44 207 727 4242

This is where we went for our fourth meeting.

A nice pub with flowers everywhere! It's cosy but surprisingly spacious inside. I had a nice lunch there, though very spicy!

The menu is predominantly Thai food. Having said that, there are a limited number of other dishes: fish & chips, ploughman's lunch, salads, sandwiches etc.

Summary Lord Moon of the Mall Whitehall, SW1A 2DY. +44 207 839 7701

A nice big spacious room for a pub, but they managed to cram it full of little tables. Pleasant enough but nothing special. About what you'd expect from a Weatherspoons chain pub. They were a bit less than enthusiastic about bookings.

Others

Here's a list of venues on our hit-list, that we haven't yet visited due to lack of time*.

* Or possibly too much inebriation.

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