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Bell And Compass, Charing Cross

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user reviews of the Bell And Compass, Charing Cross

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

CLOSED. This pub is now a Cafe Rouge. Sad times!
Doug82 - 29 Mar 2012 12:57
Maybe the last review was an indication of what was about to come. I walked past this place at 9pm on a tuesday and it was shut, empty and no signs outside the premisis.
waveform - 31 May 2011 22:29
Forced to go here to avoid a Bank Holiday downpour.
General poor state of repair in the pub (hanging wires & damaged paintwork).
Unhelpful/rude bar staff (who refused to top up a pint, citing that they had provided the required 95% liquid and who claimed never to have heard of CAMRA).
Probably the worst plate of nachos I've ever been presented with!
Also, they can't spell "accommodation" on their chalkboard near the front entrance.
doctone - 29 May 2011 19:32
Busy on a wet Saturday night, but nothing special. Several ales on. Handy for a last drink before Waterloo. Better off visiting The Harp just across the road.
Jonnysaint - 3 Oct 2010 13:27
Being next to Charing Cross just reinforces the feeling that everything and everyone here is passing through,
That said i feel it probably deserves a better rating than it has.
Cannot say anything is bad and cannot say anything is good, just fair for what it is, a last stop before the train.

kisstaker - 3 Oct 2010 11:00
I hired the downstairs function room at the Bell & Compass in April 2010. There was a £350 minimum spend, which my function didn't meet, so I lost my £100 deposit.

The pub itself is a busy, well situated venue. But it's definitely seen better days and is badly in need of a lick of paint. The function room was spacious but neither clean or cosy. We had a dedicated waiter which meant service was much better than upstairs, where people had to wait 10 minutes to get a beer (no ale served downstairs). Food was very bland, hardly warm pub grub -- better off eating elsewhere.

I'd definitely recommend booking your event in a different pub. I found the three different "managers" I spoke to to be unorganised, and one of them was plain rude. The second one told me to call in to get my deposit back, and the third one kept me waiting for 30 minutes then told me that I wouldn't be getting anything back at all.
bensonf - 27 May 2010 16:49
Visited this pub on a friday evening. Nothing remarkable about the venue itself although range of lager on tap is good. Sadly, that's as far as it goes in terms of positive feedback. It took almost ten minutes to get served with only two staff serving although plenty more faffing around and hiding in the back; the barmaid that eventually served me broke off halfway through to berate someone through a doorway for lack of front line staff, but to no effect. I had my change thrust into my hand and, upon turning away with my drink, the barmaid shouted out "thank yooou" in a sarcastic manner as one might do to a petulant child. Absolutely priceless! That was after waiting nearly ten minutes for a beer and receiving sullen service and no thanks for my custom.
Daf111 - 13 Mar 2010 11:32
Not a bad place to kick off a nights drinking, simply because it's next to the station. Usually rammed in the evenings - I think they open the downstairs bar now, but then again it's fairly rubbish down there.
lennie384 - 2 Mar 2010 01:46
To Rex, I was in here and wanted to know who was responsible for such a dreadful place so I asked for a receipt. They usually have the owners details on it. Turns out it belongs to Marstons. Even Spirit Group would be hard pushed to find anyone shit enough to design and run this place.
thirstyboy - 29 Dec 2009 00:32
Several real ales on when I was in on Friday afternoon Ė Brakspearís Bitter; Jennings Redbreast; Marstonís Pedigree; and Marstonís Ugly Sisters. I went for the Ugly Sisters. It was OK, but hard work for the barmaid to pour a pint as all the ales are dispensed through sparklers. She was unwilling to remove the sparkler, because ďwithout it the beer would be flatĒ Ė but admitted that she didnít know anything about such things. The trouble is, unless you are really on the ball, by the time you realise that a sparkler is being used itís usually too late to do anything about it.

Anyway, I found the pub itself to have less character than the average Wetherspoons. Furnishings are mainly high stools and tables, many of the tables having metallic, faux copper, tops. I sat on something that I would guess is supposed to be banquette seat, but again was so high that you had to lean forward and put your feet on the bar at the bottom to stop yourself from sliding off. This is probably the pub with the most uncomfortable furnishings I have been in. I would normally turn round and walk out of such a place, but decided to give it a go having seen the couple of Christmas ales on offer. It has the Spirit Group style faux chalkboards on display all over the place. This is a classic pubco wasteland of a pub that has been made over to death, with no endearing features that I could discern. Itís nothing like the old Griffin that I recall going back to the 60s Ė even though that wasnít a brilliant pub, itís a darn sight better than its successor. I wonít be back.

RexRattus - 21 Dec 2009 15:48
I actually think this pub is alright. i used to do some work at studio round the corner and we all always brought the models in after a shoot for some sandwiches and a few pints. We used to call it the Moral Compass, becasue ours were sooo broken! The scene up at Ku etc is a bit up itself. The Bell & C is quite honest and quite action packed.... if you know what to look for. Good pint of Budweiser and very clean toilets.
Ratters - 8 Dec 2009 14:20
This pub has the unfriendliest staff I've ever encountered in London. I have often stopped in there for a quick drink coming from Embankment tube station. You stand at the bar for ages until someone eventually comes over to you with a bored look on their face. I think the staff are mainly Polish girls. They never smile or say thank you. A smile would go a long way. I know avoid this place and go to the Ha Ha bar where at least the bar staff are friendly.
faithnirvana - 18 Sep 2009 12:17
As much as I welcome a clean pub, the overwhelming smell of bleach when you enter at lunch does make you wonder if someone vomited the night before. Don't bother with the sarnies. Friendly staff though.
YoungElvis - 21 May 2009 20:24
On the face of things, not a lot has changed since my last review nearly two years ago but I must admit that the atmosphere seemed a bit more appealing than before. The Jennings Golden Host was fine, and there were several other offerings from the Marston's real ale stable as well. Nothing special, but OK for a quick one before catching the train from Charing Cross or as a place to meet before swiftly moving on.
rpadam - 6 May 2009 22:30
Horrid place that always looks slightly tired and naff - even in the Griffin days.
DickiedeVere - 1 Dec 2008 16:40
I have to agree that this pub is boring with tables crammed everywhere so that no matter where you sit you feel like you are encroaching on another group of people. I found the staff to be nonchalant and Iíll let the barman off that served me as he was new, but his colleagues just stood around watching him struggle. The first pint of Pedigree was OK, but my half for the road was served up in an orange juice glass.

Huffkin, Jennings Swan Lake and Marstons were the other 3 ales and there is a variety off premium and standard lagers.

Not a great pub!
Strongers - 24 Oct 2008 13:51
Sorry anon, I read that as 'shit-house music' before realising what you meant. That must be Bog Blues as opposed to Swamp or Delta Blues.
rainlight - 17 Oct 2008 09:57
The makeover hasn't improved The Griffin much (if at all), so the best thing you can say about this place is that it's not as horrible as the Boadicea inside the nearby Charing Cross station. Not quite...
rpadam - 26 Jul 2007 22:36
so-so place, thats sells those crappy marstons beers (yuck) thankfully Jennings available so redeemed slightly, nothing much to make this place stand out, mute bar staff dont help either
moclips2002 - 1 Apr 2007 22:44
its still the griffin and all the crap that went with that place. it serves a purpose as somewhere to meet the uneducated in londons drinking establishments as its easy to find
westyw9 - 8 Mar 2007 16:39
As many reviewers point out this is a bit 'generic' so not worth seeking out but good for meeting the boys as a start point due to close proximity to tube & trains.
Harlap - 9 Nov 2006 19:03
how odd...started drinking close to work at the Kingsway Pitcher and Piano and stopped by this place later...same drinks...similar prices...looks like All-Bar-One...and plays shit house music. avoid like the plague...
anonymous - 13 Oct 2006 04:06
I really don't know what to make of the Bell and Compass; on one had it totally trumps it's former incarnation the Griffin, it's lighter tidider, cleaner, etc, etc. Yet on the other hand it seems to be going down the bland All-Bar-One, sterile look.

In an ideal world, it would reatin the sometimes cozy feel of the griffin, but keep teh vastly improved levels of services and general ridiness of the Bell.

One thing I have noticed since it's makeover is the number of people who don't just pop in for a quick pint before sprinting across the road to get the train home. Again, possibly due to change in direction of this pub.
PigPen_in_the_Fens - 14 Sep 2006 10:43
A bar I used to visit every now and again, but until a recent visit a couple of months back, itís not a place Iíve been too to often of late. Itís an okay bar on the whole, if a little trendy. The atmosphere always seems to be friendly and itís a decent enough venue to have a couple of drinks to start the night off. It is pricey of course, but aside from Wetherspoon type places, where isnít in the area? All in all, The Bell And Compass is worth a visit if passing by.
HTM69 - 11 Sep 2006 17:40
It's ok as far as "somewhere to start off" goes. They sell Paulaner in here which was a good thing. But £8.80 for a double JD&coke and a pint of Paulaner? 4/10.
mad_mullah - 14 Jul 2006 18:00
Er.... All Bar One. Just not as good.
anonymous - 29 Apr 2006 19:57
Its okay as a pub usual brands behind the bar the staff are very friendly and I know thats not the most important thing but it does bring people back
juzza - 3 Apr 2006 10:25
This pub is fine if you want a drink at the end of the night or at the begining of the day but to be honest its not that special. I much preferred it when it was called the GRIFFIN. Please stop trying to rebrand things.
dgriffin - 28 Mar 2006 11:37
a meeting place really
mitomighty - 5 Mar 2006 15:15
Not too bad, actually. Beer was in good condtion, quite busy. Staff were very easy on the eye. Very good service as the bargirl came over to our table to take the beer order and then brought then over. Can't argue with that. And she was fine!

In conclusion; Beer good, service good, barstaff good. Certainly a step up in quality from the Griffin!
Robbo73 - 26 Jan 2006 08:25
I have just wasted 90 seconds of my life in visiting the Bell & Compass, time I will never get back. This used to be a dump of a pub called the Griffin until a recent makeover and re-branding. I thought I would give the new look pub a try and can honestly say it was better when it was a dump. The interior suffers from the ďjust came out of the boxĒ look and is totally soulless and lacking in any character. The only bitter (Marstonís Pedigree) was unavailable, and unless you have pockets of Roman Abramaovic proportions and can afford to pay £3.30 and upwards for trendy continental and Belgian lagers, there is nothing to chose from unless you like Carlsberg. Not even a token keg bitter. I left without even having a drink and I know people who would send me for conselling if they ever found that out. It may appeal to some but the only positive note I can make is that I spent 30 seconds longer in here than the Theodore Bullfrog down the road.
RogerB - 17 Jan 2006 14:39
Waaaaay too busy to be any fun. It looks clean and fresh, but you'll never get a seat and it can take forever to get a beer. There's plenty of better places to go in the area.
steve5312 - 24 Dec 2005 16:49
Dreadful. Crowded out with youngsters; couldn't physically get to the bar at all on a Friday night. And customers got very agressive if we brushed past them - which was unavoidable. Some people had resorted to standing outside to drink - despite the rain! But we just went to another pub ...
Trev - 5 Dec 2005 12:09
It's now re-opened and is a huge improvement on The Griffin.
MissLilac - 1 Aug 2005 11:11
Being shut can only be a good thing.
YoungElvis - 5 Mar 2005 13:00
Apparently not gonna be re-opened until late April/May time.
joeljenk - 22 Feb 2005 12:19
It's being refurbed at the momemnt.
runnerbean - 15 Feb 2005 13:50
re: big screen - It's got one in the front bar.
Phil - 3 Sep 2004 15:48
This is actually officially the best pub in the whole of Europe. Except the bloke in the toilets trying to sell you aftershave and stuff, but I think Gordie B had him fired. All it needs is a big screen for the footy. Gordie, can you sort that out for us?
Rob - 3 Sep 2004 15:24
Atmosphere-less woodened floor type of a place.

OK for an after work drink but little else.
TheGP - 10 Aug 2004 14:52
High tables and bar stools make this a no-no for folk with bags. Bar staff friendly, easy meeting place but wooden floors and lack of ambience lend it the impression of a 'one drink then move on' kind of place
Wullie - 28 Jul 2004 15:35
I used to be one of those PWC workers in here. Good for the first couple of pints after work but then gets too crowded.
Aaron - 23 Jun 2004 04:08
Gordie - do you really never drink elsewhere? What do you do when you're in (say) Birmingham and gasping for a beer?

Seriously, the Griffin is still a solid pub; the only thing wrong with it is that endemic non-ambience which is suffered by almost all central London pubs who depend for their custom on a transient crowd of post-work pre-train drifters. This one's full of people from PWC.
Matt - 7 May 2004 15:16
The pub is awesome, has been my local for 6 years. I never drink elsewhere
Gordie B - 23 Mar 2004 10:54
No atmosphere, but an okay place to meet before going on somewhere else. Last time I was in here my friend had her bag nicked.
lolly - 10 Feb 2004 17:24
More a meeting place than a venue in itself, as suggested by other reviewers.Can be OK if you get a relatively secluded table, but when do you ever get a truly decent pub next to a station?.
Matt - 12 Jan 2004 13:17
Not a bad pub right in the centre of things, but better places around.
Mark - 17 Aug 2003 12:09
Always crowded and full of tourists. The wait staff is mostly foreign - nice Aussie girl the last time I was there and a very cute Colombian here learning English. If its quality you're looking for, look elsewhere but as mentioned, large place that entertains groups of friends easily.
James - 31 Jul 2003 14:27
An OK pub, good if there's a group of you meeting up.
Gary - 11 Jul 2003 11:50

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