If ever in dire need of a dented trombone, a divers helmet or a mounted fish corpse whilst wandering around in central London then look no further than the Cross Keys. There is something pleasing about a pub which adorns its walls and ceilings with paraphernalia and junk the majority of which has no purpose or meaning other than to provide something for you to gaze at over the rim of your pint glass.
It’s easily accessible from both Covent Garden and Holborn (Holborn the wiser option as it’s mildly less clogged with tourists) stations. It’s unmistakable floral exterior is set back a few streets from the throng of one of London’s busiest shopping areas and provided a welcome niche of calm. To a casual wanderer it’d be fairly easy to miss the pub and assume that some window box obsessed street artist had gotten a tiny bit carried away and turned a derelict building into a giant petunia tribute. Fear not though, there is a door amidst the foliage and it’s well worth going through.
The antique store interior is red lit and warmly cosy comprising of a single room with a long bar, plenty of seating on the Sunday afternoon we chose to visit but it can get very busy and be reduced to standing room only. There is a real London charm to the pub with a conversational buzz accentuated by it’s size and layout.
On the more beer focussed side of things there are more great points to note about this cracking little boozer. Beer is served in ‘olden days’ dimple mugs which hang from the topside of the bar like a vast collection of smooth alien pineapples and there is an impressive array of ales to choose from. There are five ales on tap comprising of four local brews (two from the excellent London Fields Brewery), two from the owning brewery and Wandle all in all a modest but satisfying selection. Plenty of bar snacks to choose from too with anything from the humble scampi fry or pork snack all the way up to the fabled ‘posh crisp’. It’s fair to say that this is a really great all round pub and if you’re in Central London it’s worth making a beeline to.