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Old Doctor Butler's Head, Moorgate

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user reviews of the Old Doctor Butler's Head, Moorgate

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

The exterior of this 400 year old alleyway boozer is straight out of another era. Very beautiful indeed, as is the front half of the pub. The back section which goes up a few stairs is still very pleasant but a little more modern and serves typical pub food. The Shepherd’s Neame beers on offer are well priced and reasonably well kept. Clearly a suits pub but comfortable enough and enjoyably old fashioned atmosphere. I would return and give this pub a 7/10.
Richard_ReadingFC - 11 Sep 2013 10:58
Surprisingly quiet at 5.20. Reasonable pint of Late Red, old wooden interior of the sort that's in abundance around here. With nothing except Shepherd Neame and no great architectural merit there are plenty of better places close by.
djw - 25 Jan 2012 00:40
Love this place. Many an afternoon spent here. Always very busy, but service is always quick. Kent's Best is a lovely pint.

Spitfire posters on the way to the toilets is a nice touch.

A proper drinkers pub.
CorBlimey - 22 Dec 2011 16:54
Visited on a summer evening. Once again, almost all customers were outside - the (sparsely furnished) interior was almost empty, and lacked character. Well-kept Bishop's Finger and other Shepherd Neame on tap. Men's toilets were smelly, and odour penetrated to staircase to the toilets.
artieleblanc - 28 Jul 2011 09:51
One of those hidden pubs that you stumble on by accident.... Full of suits in the afternoon.... Don't they have jobs? Service was good, beer was ok, atmosphere not helped by the tour de france on the tv. Would return, if i could find it.
Mappiman - 5 Jul 2011 21:31
A 17th century pub of character which has managed to be retained amongst all the other modern rubbish around it. The Sheps beers were good but the telly and machines completely spoil the atmosphere of this passage-way pub.
JBGatelad - 7 Apr 2011 12:11
Nothing remarkable - full of suits as expected of course - sports on tv which I dont like........wouldnt go out of my way to return.
adamwalsh - 19 Aug 2010 18:12
I've passed this pub before without wondering in. But on Thursday, I finally ventured in. I have to say I was left a little underawed by the experience. The frontage in the alley is impressive. But the interior is fairly characterless with the often seen dark wood furnishings. The beer range is all Shepherd Neame - Spitfire, Bishops Finger, Master Brew, Kent's Best and RSA Celebration Ale. The clientele were mainly business people, but there were some tourists. There were more outside in the alley than inside. The TV was showing Sky Sports News. The downstairs toilets weren't too clean. I'm not sure what I was expecting here. But I didn't find anything that would particularly inspire me to make a return visit.
blue_scrumpy - 22 May 2010 12:52
I did prefer this pub when it was a freehouse, but I don't mind Shepherd Neame beer. Whitstable Bay, when they have it, is excellent.
Best pub (if not only) in the area for watching the cricket, and quite nice standing outside on a summer's evening.
Food's Ok, but the place get's a bit crowded, more of a drinkers' pub.
CricketnBeer - 18 May 2010 15:13
Fine old City pub, hidden away in a small alley. Quite a plain dark-wood interior, with little furniture in the 'vertical drinking' zone around the bar but some basic tables and chairs on a small raised area further back. Restauarant upstairs, but with no traffic you can usually find many of the customers outside. Six handpumps with a good selection from the Shepherd Neame range, including an excellent Late Red. Well worth seeking out.
rpadam - 19 Mar 2010 21:58
Nice, traditional, old pub and a favourite for our group. Has a couple of unusual lagers (Oranjeboom is a nice touch). Prices are fairly high but is atmospheric inside and it is also fine to stand outside in the alley.

The Plasma screens are actually the reason we go, there are remarkably few establishments with screens in the Moorgate area and it always shows the cricket / football with an approriate volume of commentary. Has recently been stading room only for the cricket as many cotton on to the same idea

Weaknesses are that the bar staff are friendly but you can wait a while before being served, particularly when it is busy as the bar is not very big. The food was also highly suspect the one time we ate here.

Definitely one of the best in the area.
thefourmusketeers - 23 Jul 2009 16:44
Well known ancient City watering hole hidden away in a quiet alley off Moorgate.

Dr William Butler was the doctor James 1st and was evidently a bit of a Tim Martin of his day, owning approx a dozen taverns, of which only this one remains.

The pub dates back to the 17th Century and features the obligatory low ceilings, wooden floor and wood-pannelled walls.

For many years a true free house, it was acquired by Sheps a few years ago. On my recent visit, both the Spitfire and the Whitstable Bay Bitter were on good form, but predictably expensive at £ 3.30p and £ 3.35p respectively.

There's an upstairs restaurant where the apparently acclaimed ODBH Steak and Kidney Pudding can be had for lunch.

There's several small plasma TV's - on the evening of my visit, they were showing the conclusion of the South Africa v India 20/20 match. Although there was no sound, the existence of these screens in an ancient inn like this does jar, I'm afraid.

I did like the fine collection of framed, politically incorrect war-themed Sheps posters - "you stupid boy etc" - on the stairs down to the toilets, probably one of the best collections of these posters that I've seen.

This pub is worth seeking out when in the area
JohnBonser - 19 Jun 2009 13:11
Very pleasant establishment for drinking a very pleasant array of Shep ales and worth hunting down in the alley ways off Moorgate. Cannot better Trainman’s description below expect for the point that one of the two small flat screen plasmas he describes is actually bloody huge and out of place in this pub. Although last night the England v WI cricket was on and managed to see graphic close up’s of two Windies wickets whilst supping a very respectable Spitfire. Almost close to heaven that……………
Gann - 19 Feb 2009 11:52
Great pub with good beer and good staff. Lunchtime food in restaurant upstairs is good with good service but being in the city, is not cheap.
tim19thompson - 7 Oct 2008 02:21
Nice pub, nice beer, nice staff uniforms, shame about the clientelle.
loveleedshatebates - 11 Apr 2008 10:34
You’ve gotta love finding these pubs tucked away down old alleyways. This one states that it was founded in 1610 by William Butler, the eponymous Dr. & physician to King James I, rebuilt 1666 after Great Fire and reopened by Shepherd Neame 2002. Enter to wood-floored standing bar area and find good range of 5 Sheps beers, incl Porter, but £3.10 for pint of Spitfire! Beyond this is a seating area adjacent to a sandwich counter servery. Comfortable chatty atmos, albeit 80% suits, obviously, two small plasmas with low-volume SkySportsNews. First floor restaurant and function rooms, apparently. Contrary to previous reviewers, I found the place to be not remotely busy at 13:30 Tues.
trainman - 14 Feb 2008 11:49
Well worth the effort to locate this pub as its tucked down an alleyway. Traditional Sheps fare and the staff are usually good. Does get heaving at lunchtime (especially outside and the front of the pub), but usually there's room to be had toward the back. Recommended
bushwhacker1 - 21 Dec 2007 10:53
Pleasant little sidestreet pub, though no Mitre ! Beer OK but not the friendliest. Great part of London to explore.
mtaylor40 - 7 Nov 2007 22:05
A hidden gem-serves the whole Shepheard Neame range on draft, beer quality superb
BlindTiger - 17 Aug 2007 09:47
Great little watering hole, always enjoy wetting the pallet with a few oranjebooms, if only more pubs served it. Long live the boom.
oooh_chicken_salad - 6 Jun 2007 15:28
Genuinely nice pub. Good range of Shepherd Neame beers. Always seems busy. Went here lunchtime at 1245 and the place was heaving. Well worth a visit.
TheHorsesMouth - 1 Jun 2007 08:05
It was doing a pretty good trade at around 3.15 on a Tuesday afternoon, with a fair number of suits who looked as if they couldn't summon up the enthusiasm or energy to drag themselves back to the office. And they were not all watching the cricket. The Kent's Best was pretty good and the barman was friendly and helpful. As you would expect, being down an alleyway with tall buildings adjacent, not much natural light gets in so it is rather dark inside. But no matter, it is still the best pub in the vicinity.
RexRattus - 17 Apr 2007 18:20
Very good pub, excellent atmosphere, good ales and friendly staff.
Andy_Poole - 12 Mar 2007 16:28
Brilliant place - genuinely old feel to it (but as the last reviewer said TV looks out of place) and I've had a decent sandwich in here as well.

Has managed to steer clear of disastrous makeovers like the one the similalry named Butlers Head received just across the other side of Moorgate
murgatroyd - 11 Feb 2007 10:22
Nice pub; does have its share of the financial types - but it feels like a nice secret location there behind Guildhall. (TV definately out of place!)
Ktone - 10 Feb 2007 18:57
Vast improvement in the food offering; had a well cooked lunch with generous portions and friendly service.Beer first class as usual but smokey atmosphere in the bar spoils the drinking experience, roll on July!
leggless - 31 Jan 2007 18:38
Worth going just to read the full collection of Spitfire posters.
bertee - 27 Dec 2006 23:32
Good little pub in charming little city alley. I had hoped to bag a nice Porter but they were out. Shame. TVs look a bit funny in there.
mitomighty - 3 Dec 2006 11:42
Nice pub. Just had two great pints of Bishop's Finger and a doorstep sandwich with a work mate in here. Got pleasantly busy, lots of proper lunchtime drinking in here.
anonymous - 21 Apr 2006 14:16
Popped in the other day had a well kept pint of porter. Still retains an old world atmosphere pity about the plasma screen which looks so out of place.Food has never been that good but this is more than compensated by the choice of beers.Ideal for the liquid lunch!
leggless - 15 Jan 2006 10:01
Nowhere near as good as it used to be. Was very smoky and dare I say a little bit grottier than expected. Bar staff helpful and seemed happy - no issues with them at all.

Used to walk down the alley every day, and drop in for a pint, on my way from work; so we went there for old times sake. Had a crowd of City Idiots that maybe were a bit lost and should have been next door at Corneys, one of them dropped drinks at our feet - no apology came forward. When I said, in jest, he was lucky that he missed us - he took it totally the wrong way and I could see was itching for a fight.

We drank up and moved on - not sure I'll be back in a hurry tho.
adamsant - 9 Jan 2006 18:11
The history attached to this pub makes it a temptingly attractive destination in the concrete wasteland of this area of the City. That it is difficult to find down an alleyway off one of the lesser used thoroughfares makes it all the more appealing. But be aware that other people feel the same way, so the pub is often very busy and very smokey.
The hustle and smoke add to the stained wood character of the place. Originally built in 1610 it was damaged in the Great Fire of 1666 and rebuilt and refurbished many times since, including a complete makeover when Shep's acquired it in 2002. Whatever Shep's did in 2002, the pub still retains an authentic feel of an ancient tavern.
We ate in here toward the end of lunch time so our experience may not be typical. The menu was restricted to three items, all of which were unpleasantly over-cooked. Portions were very generous. I would have preferred paying less for smaller portions.
The beer was in excellent condition, and we stayed until very late getting quite jolly on the Porter, then the Bishops Finger, then the Spitfire, the Masterbrew, the Oranjeboom, the Hurlimann and finally the bottles of Light Ale!
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
SilkTork - 20 Dec 2005 11:32
yea top gaff this, although if it's ladies you're after you'll have to pop next door to the Phoney & Shallow.

was gutted in the great fire of 1666 and re-built in 2001.... talk about cowboy builders!335yrs for a refurb is taking the p1ss a bit don't you think?
steveo500 - 9 Dec 2005 15:54
Despite location, this is not a back-street local so don't expect a cosy chat with barstaff - they are too busy pouring it at peak-times. In their haste, they tend to slop it about and do need nagging for a full pint - important at their prices. Normally excellent Spitfire etc. - should be, given the turnover. Had occasion to complain about quality once but that was not the regular manager. Strange, that!
Fine pub, worth diverting for.
Hopsucker - 29 Nov 2005 19:00
Love little pubs tucked down an alley. This one doesn't disappoint. Dark wood abounds, the plasma was off during my visit. Bar staff was not the most welcoming. Shepherd's Neame best bitter and Master Brew both made up for the staff's lack of interest. Didn't meet the landlord or get shorted so was luckier than most! Will go back.
jorrocks - 25 Oct 2005 01:51
Excellent watering hole with good selection of Shepherd Neame Ales. Bit frightening when 20 dark-suited clones walked in but good atmosphere if you ignore pasma screen. Foreign barmaid served short measure every time but filled up my glass with only a quiet groan on 4th occasion - didn't she get the message!
writtleman - 19 Oct 2005 09:47
My kinda boozer this,..although i agree with some of the less favourable comments here. The Landlord is a bit of a dick,..in a dizzy mediteranean kinda way and yeah you do get a smug vibe off him,...however the pub is nice, dingy,..oldy worldie and very cosy,..The clientele is a lot more "normal" than in a lot of the city egoholes and if you can get a seat by the fire in the winter then you're sorted. I don't usually give a shit about the selection of beers but here i would prefer a weaker lager option on draft to oranjeboum,..as this does tend to kick in after a few.
kmcs - 30 Mar 2005 15:27
Nice old-fashioned, with a good selection of beer & ales. Despite being hidden away, it can get very busy, but when it's warmer you can stand outside and as it's off the roads you're not breating in exhaust fumes.
pnorton - 13 Jan 2005 11:48
I haven't been there for a few months and not likely to go back. The Masterbrew bitter was appalling - flatter than water! The landlord wasn't particularly happy when I asked for the pint to be changed; "Real beer is supposed to be flat." Ho, ho! If you like crowded, quaint pubs, where you don't mind what you are drinking then this is the place to go. If you want a decent pint go somewhere else.
Mike - 18 Jun 2004 14:10
The plasma screen may not be to everyone's taste but if you want to sneak out of the office at 11:30 in the morning, have a pint of Bishop's Finger and watch cricket, there is no finer pub in the City of London. Superb.
GregP - 4 Dec 2003 12:20
This is a must for shepherd neame fans. truly a great pub with possibly the fastest bar service i've ever experienced in the city, on a friday night. Unfortunately it has installed a plasma tv for sports fans, but with a fine choice of ales on tap, and plenty of space to stand outside....there's not denying this is worth finding.
Marc - 28 Oct 2003 12:17
Excellent Range of Beers, Orangiboom on Draught. What more could anyone ask for.
jamie - 27 Oct 2003 17:02
I concur that it is a bit difficult to find but it is certainly worth the effort. Great atmosphere and the beer selection was better than the ordinary fare.
Jeff - 8 Oct 2003 00:58
A bit difficult to find, this is a traditional English pub in the heart of the City of London. With a history going back to the early 1600s this pub was recently bought by Shepherd Neame and now offers an excellent arrange of beers including Bishop's Finger, Spitfire and Oranjeboom Pilsener. Highly recommended particularly if you want to introduce any american friends to a traditional pub as this place is twice the age of their country!
Darren - 6 Aug 2003 13:05

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