In the winter months, the perfect drinking den is a place to take shared refuge from the cold, and plot adventure; in summer, it's a focal point where those adventures begin. It is a home away from home: a dining room, a living room, a games room and snug, all rolled up into one.
With those necessities in mind, we present The Grenadier, Hyde Park Corner -- one of our favourite pubs in London. We visited a few weeks ago, for a quiet afternoon drink with good friends. Built in 1720, it was originally the officers' mess for the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards and remained so until 1818, when it was opened to the public and renamed The Guardsman. After the Battle of Waterloo it was renamed The Grenadier in recognition of the Grenadier Guards bravery in battle. The Duke of Wellington, the victorious commander at Waterloo, was himself a regular, as was the famously-indulgent King George IV.
Present day pop royalty (Madonna) and actual royalty (Prince William) have also been known to poke their heads around The Grenadier's door. But more important than the pub's enduring popularity with the great and good is The Grenadier's sense of timelessness.
Squirrelled away in a narrow corner of treelined Hyde Park Corner, the white brick exterior decorated in complementary and suitably patriotic red and blue seems less like a manmade structure, and more like a naturally formed part of the street; a sort of permanent white cliff face that has grown up from the pavement over time. It is hard to imagine what stood there before it, or what might ever replace it.
The Grenadier is then, in the best sense of the word, a traditional pub: a place designed, first and foremost, with the express intention of making conversation and relaxation as easy as possible. The food is hearty and delicious too, the sort of simple yet high-quality fare you would expect from such a welcoming, homely place. All of which should explain why we have never been in The Grenadier for just a solitary drink, nor a brief chat, however hard we have tried. That quiet afternoon drink a few weeks ago quickly turned into two, then three.
And that fact, in itself, is a pretty neat illustration of The Grenadier’s charms. If you haven’t been, make the time soon.