Pub Review - The Montagu Pyke, Charing Cross Road, London

by WordChazer

The Montagu Pyke is a recommended West End pub, a hidden oasis in a sea of shops and theatres. It’s a normal ordinary J D Wetherspoon pub, not a chic eatery with inflated prices.

Bought tickets for the West End and fancy a quick bite beforehand but not willing to pay typical West End prices? Try the Montagu Pyke, a large pub in Charing Cross Road owned by the Wetherspoons chain. Because it's owned by a chain, prices are reasonable, and on a Saturday afternoon, it is busy enough to have an atmosphere, but quiet enough that you can talk normally while enjoying prompt service at the bar and on delivery of your food.

Thumbnail photo is by Ewan Munro, on flickr, available under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Thanks Ewan!

A Well-situated (and very Welcome) London Pub

The Montagu Pyke is conveniently located close to Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road Underground (tube) stations and on the edge of London’s famed Theatreland. It is within walking distance of The Dominion, The Phoenix, The Prince Edward and The Palace. For the bookworms reading, it’s also close to the famous Foyle’s bookshop and close enough to Skoob, the used book treasure trove in Marchmont Street, WC1N, that a visit to all of them in one day is possible, if maybe overdoing the printed word.

The Montagu Pyke – An Unusual Environment with a Range of Entertainment

The pub, besides being a former location of the famous Marquee Club, is a converted cinema, the last of those built by impresario Montagu Pyke in 1911. These days, it has two bars, a specialist beer range and, according to the website, ‘the biggest screen in the West End.’ In addition it has wifi access, a variety of seating (including tables and chairs as well as bar style stools) and TV screens with subtitles visible from just about anywhere in the main bar area. For those on, it is also a registered checking in location. There is music in the evenings but during the day, football or other sport is often shown on the screens. For such a famous venue, the entrance is quite understated, but as my friends and I have been using it as a meeting point for five years, it’s easy for us to find.

Menu at the Montagu Pyke, Charing Cross Road, London
Menu at the Montagu Pyke, Charing Cro...
Paula Thomas, November 2014.
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A Wide Menu of Food and Drinks Catering for All Tastes, Ordered from the Bar

The Montagu Pyke has a solid, familiar menu and reasonable prices, unlike many places in London. Inside, the seating stretches back for quite a distance, and the pub can hold a large number of people. It is therefore a popular venue for parties as well as convenient for a night out, or as a place to recover after some serious shopping.

The pub opened in 1996 and is always busy, given its locality. It has a standard Wetherspoons menu, changed for the seasons but always featuring old favorites such as ham and eggs, fish and chips and burgers as well as salads and a deli selection of flatbreads, wraps, baguettes and paninis. In addition, the range of food available caters for vegetarians and vegans as well as those requiring a gluten-, dairy- or nut-free diet, counting calories or wanting to hit 5-a-day or GDA targets. The menu states the calorie count beside each dish.

A burger and chips at the Montagu Pyke, Charing Cross Road
A burger and chips at the Montagu Pyk...
Paula Thomas, November 2014

The Wetherspoon Sunday Club menu features beef, chicken, pork or vegetarian roasts served with the usual trimmings: roast potatoes, vegetables including peas, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. There is an option to add a dessert, and all prices include a drink.

Both Sunday Club and regular menus also have children’s portions available.

The range of drinks is impressive and large. Draught beers, world beers, real ales and a selection of ciders are available, as well as wine by the glass or bottle, spirits and cocktails. Patrons will also find the usual offerings of coffee, tea and other soft drinks available as part of the meal-and-a-drink deals.

General Impressions of the Pub

A London-based friend describes this place as 'the nearest thing to a local' that she has found in the city. Like all pubs, it can be noisy, but because of its history, it has an atmosphere lacking in more modern buildings. Even at lunchtime it is easy to forget the rest of the world outside and concentrate instead on watching the patrons or the news screens. This is a recommended hostelry in which to relax, enjoy an uninterrupted drink and maybe some food. Just leave the rest of the day at the door until you're ready to deal with it.

The pub's main entrance is located at 105-107 Charing Cross Road, London. It is open from 9am until at least 10.30pm daily. There is also another entrance from Greek Street into the second bar area.

84 Charing Cross Road

written about one of the bookshops on this street at one time
84, Charing Cross Road84 Charing Cross Road84, Charing Cross Road 1st edition by...
Updated: 11/11/2014, WordChazer
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WordChazer on 11/16/2014

I feel the same way about the Pyke. Susan. It's a non-threatening location, even for me who usually gets IDed every time. I'm a shade over 5' and that grey hair doesn't look grey in the lights.

Telesto on 11/15/2014

I know the pub well. It's one of those places a woman can go into on her own without feeling out of place. I don't know of any bookstores with film screens.

WordChazer on 11/11/2014

I like the chain for that reason, Dee. Calories are important to many people for many reasons, and the simple ability to enjoy a meal out without hassle is also a plus point. My best friend is lactose intolerant so we have no choice but to find a place she can eat when we choose to eat out. My London-based friend has been vegetarian for 35 years, so the same constraints on diet apply. A Wetherspoons will help us all manage what we eat more easily.

DerdriuMarriner on 11/10/2014

WordChazer, My goodness, this pub sounds wonderful. It's so thoughtful to cater to a wide range of dietary and nutritional proclivities. Including the calorie total by each item is too too cute.

WordChazer on 11/09/2014

That's an interesting thought. I don't know of one. I'll have to ask my friend when I see her next: she's lived in London for as long as I have known her and she will know of anywhere there is.

Mira on 11/09/2014

I like your idea of browsing and picking books and having them sent home by mail. Unless, of course, mail costs a fortune, as it tends to these days. But still, it's a great option. I also like your other idea, of using a section of the city to indulge in movies, food and books. I was thinking more along the lines of having everything under one roof, the way I saw at a French library here in Romania, which had partitions for people who wanted to watch movies. I was thinking maybe you could have some sort of library/bookstore where you can watch movies on a larger screen while enjoying nice drinks and pastries.:)

WordChazer on 11/09/2014

London is about as close as you will get. Used books at Skoob, new books at Foyles. Movies at Leicester Square Odeon. Food at the Pyke. All within around 20 minutes or so of each other on the tube/subway/metro/underrground. Most bookstores have a coffee shop these days and the Pyke does a good hot drinks menu too.

WordChazer on 11/09/2014

It's not gentrified, ologsinquito. Wetherspoons is everywhere in the UK these days, offering the same menu in every outlet for slightly different prices depending on the local costs. The thing I like best about it is that it offers wide options for those with dietary requirements. The What You Can Eat section on the website allows dietarily restricted eaters to see what they can have before they arrive, which is good news for those with multiple intolerances. The Under 500 calories option would appeal to my keen Weight Watching friend, while the larger portion roast is something I've seen her partner, the son of a chef, down quite happily.

WordChazer on 11/09/2014

They're a proper antiquarian booksellers as well as a second hand bookstore, Mira. The age, condition and rarity of the book has a lot to do with the price. And yes, they will deliver by mail order, but browsing in real life is more fun. At least you could pick your books out in person and have them delivered home if your suitcase can't take the strain.

Mira on 11/09/2014

You're right about spending hours in such a place. That's the beauty of bookstores. I keep dreaming of an ideal place place with movies, new and used books, and coffee and tea. Ever seen such a place in the UK or elsewhere? Cause I'd like to visit :)

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