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Sutton Arms, Barbican

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user reviews of the Sutton Arms, Barbican

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

Love this place. Its often not busy in the evening so if you like things like not queuing, a decent enough selection of beers including guest ale, and a lack of noisy City-types, this is ideal. Also has an excellent jukebox featuring Bowie, Floyd, Dylan etc (free!) and very nice bar staff. Also does a good selection of food although I haven't tried anything other than the chips!
ghostnote - 24 Apr 2014 13:52
Popped in for a beer based on the positive ratings in BITE, and not disappointed - a nice little pub, with decent pint of Fullers and a good guest beer. However, the place was dead by 7pm - for a Tuesday night in central London, this was a bit of a surprise, and unfortunate, as with a bit more atmosphere, I could have happily spent the evening.
Oktup - 14 Sep 2011 22:33
This pub is now under new management - Kiwi Chris has left.
Nothing else seems to have changed though; still very good (Fullers) beer and still very cr*ppy sound system ! Still, I like it, and prefer it to the blue-neon-lit Bacardi-Breezer shop next door.

ThLoneBoozer - 3 Jul 2011 00:57
"On the wall opposite the bar are, most notably, three plaster busts of what are presumably famous people, although I didn't recognise any of them. Typically for London, and presumably to appease the PC lobby, one of the three busts features a black man"

Speaks volumes - its Othello. The other two are also characters from Shakespeare. The busts have survived at least one refurbishment and have been there for at least 30 years that I know of. They therefore predate the PC lobby.

On that basis I wouldn't trust the rest of the review either.

BarnsleyLad - 4 Jan 2011 12:36
Used to live about half a mile from here before moving Surrey way (pay rise!)

Very old fasioned pub with some good local Ales. The Cat Charles is a bit of a bloody pain though!
Gordon_Gekko - 29 Sep 2010 11:25
Close to Barbican Tube Station and the leafy Charterhouse Square, The Sutton Arms is an externally attractive looking pub featuring a bowed frontage, leaded windows and some fine wall tiling in the entranceway.

Formerly a Charrington's pub - as evidenced by the bar back - the longish single room features a number of wooden settles and chairs, providing a traditional, if not particularly comfortable, environment. Pleasingly - as Rex has previously told us - there's an absence of those horrible tall long perches and tables, and sofas. There's an upstairs lounge / restaurant.

At the far end of the room is a large framed aperitif poster - " bitter secrestat" - and an attractive skylight. On the wall opposite the bar are, most notably, three plaster busts of what are presumably famous people, although I didn't recognise any of them. Typically for London, and presumably to appease the PC lobby, one of the three busts features a black man, although there is nothing to indicate whether any of the three are gays or have special needs.

On the beer front, there's a clear emphasis on foreign lagers and bottled beers and, notably, the blackboard menu above the bar lists these drinks, but not the real ales, which, on my recent early evening visit, were limited to London Pride and Chiswick. The Chiswick, at a rather pricey £ 3.25p - was moderate, but, with only 2 real ales on from the 5 available pumps and no sign of any other pump clips anywhere, the lack of interest in promoting real ale seems all too evident.

Pleasingly - and I do wish more pubs would follow suit - opening hours are prominently displayed by the entrance. Somewhat surprisingly, we see that the pub closes between 2.30pm and 5pm between Mondays and Fridays. Rather less surprisingly, it doesn't do weekends.

On my recent early evening visit, it was disappointingly noticeable how relatively empty the pub was in comparison to nearby more modern establishments, such as a rather atrocious looking " Indulgence Bar and Grill" a few doors down.

This is a fine proper pub, if somewhat lacking in comfort, but the lack of interest and emphasis on the real ale front means that an early return visit is not planned.
JohnBonser - 17 Aug 2010 09:14
I had a really bad experience in this pub recently and wanted to complain somehow, so I thought I'd register with beer in the evening. I was surprised that 'wonder_woman1' had a similar experience. I also use the pub occaisionally because it is around the corner to work. i was in there on a Friday early in the evening about a month ago with colleagues. Waiting to be served for a few minutes (it wasn't too busy) when clearly a 'friend of the barman walked up and the barman served him, when I mentioned we had been waiting the barman literaly 'went off on one' and told me I'll get served when he decides I get served. We stayed, spent about £25 between us and then left (note the barmans mate only bought half a pint!). I just wish I told him to poke his pub and leave. We haven't been back - so it wasn't the best business decision this 'barman' had made.
Also 'Fruitbags' and 'MagmaTimes' comments about the jukebox - it's on so low you can hardly hear it - on an earlier occasion in this pub we put in £2 and didn't hear one song properly.
My advice - walk an extra few minutes down to smithfields and use The Bishops Finger; nicet pub, good beer, polite staff.
John_T - 28 May 2009 11:50
I used to go to this pub fairly frequently, as it is near my workplace. However, in spite of my previous positive impressions of the quality of the wine and the comfortable surroundings, all goodwill has been ruined by the rudeness of the staff on my latest (and last) visit. My friend and I waited some time to be served, even though the pub was not busy - no one else was waiting to be served. But we didn't mind. We chatted happily as we watched the barman run back and forth with empty glasses, etc. Eventually (and for the first time that evening) he approached us and asked us what we wanted. Just as I was about to answer, my friend offered me a drink. In the split-second hesitation it took for me to think up a way of saying, 'don't worry, let's go Dutch,' the barman exploded into an expletive-filled rage. He said WE had kept HIM waiting for 10 minutes, and what's more, after all that time, we still hadn't decided what we wanted (he said). It was the most irrational display of bad temper I have ever seen in any pub/bar/restaurant. This 'gentleman' a) thinks he can read minds b) has no respect for his customers, given his language, and c) has no concern for the continuing success of his business in what are bound to be tough times ahead. I will never go there again, and will tell everyone in the 150-staff company (less than a minute's walk away) about my experience. As a manager, I will find friendlier places to take my team to for the usual birthday/leaving/Christmas drinks celebrations. Absolutely disgusting behaviour that left a very sour taste in my mouth without having a single beverage.
Wonder_Woman1 - 23 Jan 2009 18:59
Lovely pub. Excellent beer, friendly welcoming staff and great jukebox. Highly recommended.
MagmaTimes - 8 Sep 2008 16:42
Fuller’s London Pride and Chiswick on. The Chiswick was excellent, as was the BLT sandwich I had for lunch. The menu is limited – it is what is written on the blackboard on the right as you enter the pub. So, no sign of gastrification, which is a plus in my book. Seating is mainly dark wooden settles along the walls, with no sign of tall stools/tables or sofas ruining the place. Behind the bar is what looks like an original Charrington’s bar back, and in the porch what appears to be some original Charrington’s tiling. All in all, the Sutton Arms is a pretty decent real pub, and I would recommend a visit – as long as you appreciate a “real” pub.
RexRattus - 31 Aug 2008 22:41
Arrived at this pub in a state of advanced refreshment the other night and was happily tolerated by the very pleasant guvnor, who was good enough to recommend us both a whisky or two. Clearly a well-run pub, with a great jukebox, good beer, nice punters and a very short stagger to Barbican tube afterwards. Lovely.
Fruitbag - 13 Jul 2008 12:15
good well run pub - good quality food and great atmosphere - by far the best place in that area
adamsant - 4 Jul 2008 11:02
A lovely, friendly place I found by accident when exploring the area one evening. I'll hopefully be back. The barman is very welcoming and pleasant. The food looks and sounds delicious and at good prices too. The atmosphere is perfect - the place mustn't be renovated at the expense of losing the charm and character of this pub. There aren't too many like this left in London. Worth a visit.
redboy - 15 Jan 2008 22:13
a top quality old fashioned boozer. New landlord as of October is a charming bloke. Food menu all changed (and changes weekly) - top quality food at very reasonable prices. Highly recommended.
philks - 29 Oct 2007 11:25
Will be at a wedding reception at the Sutton Arms late June so the reviews were helpful. Any suggestions for other pubs in the immediate area for when the karaoke gets too much ! Not looking for bars or pubs that think they are clubs !
robcmar - 6 Jun 2007 16:30
Not been in since the arrival of the new landlord but serves decent range of well kept ales (including the bottled stuff if that's what rocks your boat) and worth a visit. Not tried the food so can't rate that.
Phantom_Raspberry - 14 Jan 2007 08:27
In need of a bit of a face-lift. Not too much - a good clean and a lick of paint perhaps. Wouldn't want to ruin it. Congenial atmosphere, friendly landlord and good beer.
Florrie - 2 Oct 2006 16:33
It's haunted too,apparently.
anonymous - 14 Sep 2006 13:19
Quinno, with respect (and I say respect because your reviews are good, you don't praise chain bars, use the term "cheeky pints", nor do you have a chip on your shoulder about London) I think you've missed something about this pub.

The reason its been rated so highly is because its extremely well run, and therefore presents the kind of haven on the edge of the city many of us need and crave. The beer selection is good - Adnams and Fullers may not be rare, but at least they done waste our time with the likes of Wells and GK. Also the bottled selection is fairly good. Admittedly a lot of other places have now caught up and overtaken - but I remember when this pub was serving Affligem on tap when the only Belgian beers you found in London were Hoegaarden and Stella. And yes the foods good.

I judge a pub by what it offers, and a lot of that depends on its location. A pub on the isle of Skye might be magical, but its probably not going to light up many people's lives. The Sutton Arms and its ilk on the other sit amidst a sea of conformity and deliver and for that they deserve praise.
anonymous - 12 Sep 2006 20:57
Bog-standard olde London (from the outside, but not inside) pub. Only two ales, Adnams Bitter and Fullers Discovery (tasted fine) just boring really. It promises a lot from distance, but fails to deliver in my view.

Can't see what the fuss is about when compared to the Wenlock Arms or the Nags Head. Perhaps it's the food? It's certainly not the beer, and, being a pub, that's what I'm in there for first and foremost.
Quinno - 12 Sep 2006 20:27
First ever visit yesterday early evening from yours truly - about 5 pm. Place was virtually deserted

Nice traditional pub in the shadow of The Barbican. Note in particular the skylight at the far end and the large whisky mirror. Beer is ambitiously priced - London Pride £ 2.95. Adnams £ 2.80 and this pub seems to be more food / wine orientated than many of its ilk.

I can only imagine that it is the food / wine that gets this pub into the top ten on this site - if not then I'm baffled why it's so highly rated.

Can't see myself doing this one again in a hurry, at least not when The Fox and Anchor nearby is open, where in contrast the London Pride was a more acceptable £ 2.50p and it tasted better as well.

Probably no more than 3/10 from me, I'm afraid

JohnBonser - 15 Aug 2006 13:11
Agree with the others, great pub, great atmosphere not too busy. If in the area (not that often) the one I'd choose above all others.
adamsant - 10 Jul 2006 16:54
Dunno whether the landlord has changed since i was there,..but my experience (of asking for a glass of the house red,.. and being given the second most expensive wine on the menu (£6.75 a glass)), did leave a bit of a sour taste!
kmcs - 10 Jul 2006 16:25
This pub has been pulled up by its bootstraps by that rarity - a landlord who knows what he is doing and does it well.

Good well kept beer, including interesting selection of foreign beers bottled and on tap. The wine list is excellent and affordable. Food has a good reputation though I've not tried it myself.

Only downside - the good landlord is about to leave. Lets hope his replacement doesn't mess it up.
BarnsleyLad - 9 Jul 2006 15:34
A fantastic pub, run with imagination, care and attention. The landlord is both friendly and professional, the jukebox is the best in London, the beer top notch, and both the bar food and the full meals are genuine value for money. If there's a better pub anywhere nearby, I'd love to know.
hogsflesh - 6 Jul 2006 14:42
Excellent. Serves COLD lager and cider which is more difficult to get in most places than it should be; and Nongo's right, it's a pleasant change from all the faceless chain pubs round here. Food's a bit expensive though.
DPC2704 - 3 Jun 2006 20:42
salright. Had London Porter on tap. a rather rich splash.
mitomighty - 31 Mar 2006 13:18
Friendly landlord, great beers, either no music or something great from the duke box, food is good and reasonably priced, lovely decor, great for wine lovers too, doesn't get too packed and attracts great people, I could go on and on...
anonymous - 4 Mar 2006 12:54
They don't get much better than this - great wine and beer, lovely decor, great food. Best pub in the immediate vicinity and a welcome respite from chain bars and music bars in area.

Classic jukebox in the corner plays for free.
anonymous - 2 Mar 2006 15:03
First class pub run by a great landlord who clearly knows precisely what he is doing. Recently started serving Fullers ESB - couple that with Leffe on tap and a range of Belgian bottles in the fridge and you are on to a winner. Food is good too. Great place.
anonymous - 14 Dec 2005 14:38
It#s the nuts.
mitomighty - 9 Dec 2005 22:02
Went on a Saturday night. I didn't mind that we were the only people in the pub. Perhaps 6pm is too early for some! It got a pleasant crowd though and decent beer. It's in a great area too. I suspect a different vibe in the week though!
mitomighty - 29 Nov 2005 15:30
This pub is now open on Saturday, Hooray! Can get very smoky, and crowded on Thurs/Fri evenings, otherwise to be recommended. Bar food is a bit pricey (sausage+mash = 8 quid) but it's good quality. Good beer, not full of loud city types.
jhsp - 17 Feb 2005 12:50
Had a good meal upstairs with a decent pint. Can't comment on the main bar as on the day we just walk through to the stairs at the back so as to dine. Are planning an early return (and hopefully more lenghy stay downstairs)
lout_from_the_lane - 6 Dec 2004 14:03
Nice pub good selection of beers - The restaurant has a new owner and the food is great
anonymous - 13 Oct 2004 11:51
A friendly pub, serving good beer including Litovel on tap. A good place if you want to get away from the overpriced barn-sized bars down the road. Chav free.
Andrew - 23 Sep 2004 18:27
Nice pub with good beers. Used to have great restaurant upstairs but sadly is now to be avoided at all costs. Great windows too!
flashman - 30 Jun 2004 13:39

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