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Clarence, Whitehall

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user reviews of the Clarence, Whitehall

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

Saturday afternoon in rainy London. We opened the door to be met instantly by a waitress asking if we were dining. If we had said no, we wouldn't have been allowed to sit at one of the tables that all had reserved signs - although they were just being kept for food eating punters coming in off the street.

This meant that I couldn't see what beers were on and knowing it was a Youngs house, I asked for a special. It was that bad, I had to take it back to the bar, when I found out they dont do Youngs Special - just the standard.

It was swapped without fuss for a Naked Lady (who could resist?) which was in much better condition.

Food was OK. Service was good, seeing as how run ragged she was. Wouldn't necessarily come again.
Mappiman - 11 Aug 2017 13:00
This pub is certainly pricey - £7.60 for a pint of Sambrooks Junction and a small bottle of orange & mango juice. There were 6 real ales on offer and my pint of Junction was on the drinkable side of mediocre; it was a bit sour. The acoustics aren't great and it's difficult to hold a conversation. The bar staff were better than average for the area. This pub is aimed at the tourist trade with an emphasis on food. It's no better or worse than other pubs in the immediate area, and the beer's slightly better than the Shades next door. If you want real ale, try the Harp on Chandos Street 3 minutes walk away.
Number11 - 12 May 2016 21:25
I can only second Suedehead's comment, though can't recall the music.
eddybeer - 15 Nov 2013 13:55
This pub was a big disappointment. Looks good inside and out but the ale was bland,the atmosphere was non-existent and the thing I dislike most in pubs,reserved tables. The menu looked ok. One last thing,the music was bloody awful.
Suedehead27 - 19 Feb 2013 16:14
Popped in yesterday for a couple of pints of Sharp's Doombar and Coasters- typical soul-less London affair with the astronomical prices to match its location on the principal government avenue of the world's most important country. Anyway, menu was brief and usual british claptrap like curry, and the sandwiches were cheese etc etc - you know the story- £6 for a sandwich!!!! outrageous even in this over-rated town. Inside is a refurbed 80s London Overspill type bar- absolutely uninspiring.
alezilla - 2 Jun 2011 15:11
What a shame - AVOID!
This has the potential to be a decent Whitehall pub, with a great location and nice interior post refurb. The food isn't bad either.

However the service / quality of staff is well below what you'd expect anywhere in London and really lets the place down.

for example on a recent visit we were greeted by an aggressive and very poorly presented girl who insisted that we sat at a small table for two rather than a table of our choice despite the bar being only 1/3 full (it was towards the end of lunchtime). When we asked to sit else where we got a very rude response

No one would mind being asked politely or being told that if the placed filled up that we'd have to move. But the attitude was shocking and this particular member of staff was clearly not cut out for a customer facing role.

Unfortunately his wasn't a once off - and have hard many bad stories from friends and colleagues. If the Clarence wishes to retain customers and justify its high prices it needs to pay attention to more than just the food and the decor.

All in all there are better pubs on Whitehall, don't make the mistake of going here

khantengri1 - 1 Mar 2011 16:52
Horrendously pricey - £9+ for small wine, half a lager and a coke!!
cobradd - 7 Feb 2011 09:52
Since the refurb a year or two now?....The pub has got very expensive and has lost all its character.

It was rather dark but airy and comfy now its light and tasteless. A real shame but I no longer visit here.
mikeyr1234 - 18 Jan 2011 00:54
After several visits to this pub en route up Whitehall over many years, I have finally found time to write a review of it.

My recent visit a week ago found the place considerably re-vamped, with a far more contemporary Londonesque, gastro-ish, airy-fairy feel to the interior, whose pastel green colour scheme endures on the once sold redbrick exterior too, for better or worse depending on one's taste. Personally, I think I preferred the old incarnation of the Clarence, and certainly the refurb has been the perfect excuse the ramp up the pricing no end. Whilst it is routinely perceived that most passing trade in this part of the world has more than enough spare cash, it does not mean it is always worth them parting with it.

On balance, a no from me, although I am bound to say that the cask ale was found in good nick, and for that reason I would not rule out a quick pint whilst passing through in future. The single malt selection was also enticing, and on this rare occasion drew me in, via a double measure, despite the inevitable wallop on the wallet.

I don't believe this pub was the right place for such an overhaul, and whilst not an unpleasant experience, I for one won't be able to ignore the cosy comfort and stoical character that it used to provide.
TWG - 23 Nov 2010 17:08
Really expensive pub! Ordered a chese and pickle sandwich on a visit here the other day and for the princely sum of £6.00 I thought it would at least come with chips or salad but no, it was a basic sandwich stuck on a wooden plate - not even made from nice bread.

My mother ordered a side salad with her meal and that was basic and tasteless too. My Father ordered soup which arrived in the smallest soup bowl I've ever seen.

Service was slow and average - they insisted on not serving you from the bar even though it's a pub. Customers have to remain at their tables and wait to be served.

Wouldn't go here again.
jharriz - 23 Aug 2010 10:43
Personally I quite like this place since the refurb - also a good selection of beers on tap. Good place for a quick 'one for the road' before you get on a bus on Whitehall.
lennie384 - 2 Mar 2010 01:25
First visit to the Clarence the other evening, so cannot compare and contrast the new décor. But if the photo is of the previous interior and was as good as it looks in the photo, then I too am struggling to see how this is progress. I guess they want to be more of a restaurant for the tourists rather than a pub.
Cannot fault the beer though, as these included Sharp Ales and Sambrooks Wandel from the Battersea Micro brewer, and the Wandel I tried was perfectly fine. Although the price levels did appear to be on a higher level than the Shades up the road.
But as for the décor, sorry but I am a traditionalist, and if you are lucky enough to have large wooden beams, don’t coat them in Dulux duck egg blue, or what ever that colour is.

Gann - 21 Dec 2009 13:40
Dec 09 visit

Few months since I've been in. Changed hands recently. New decor ok but now there was fairly loud jazz music piped in which I am not made about. 4 female staff on when I went in. Couple of them I wouldn't be mad about. Not much by way of charm but wouldn't like to tar all of them. Not that cheap.
oscail - 16 Dec 2009 22:34
NO! This was never glam or chic. The beer was terrible & the staff suited that. But the building was stunning.

What have these fools done to it?

Stupid bowler hat lampshades. An overbearing Queen shrieking like a banshee as he flaps around, acheiving nothing, but upsetting everyone.

I had high hopes for this one. Thought I'd finally get a decent pint.

Not a chance. Over priced & short poured. Food. Ha!

Leave this one to the suckers (as I'm sure they call our visiting friends).

Stop trying to IMPROVE. At least if you do, be sensitive. Changing rooms is not the best way to think about updating venerable old pubs.

But at least we know this lot won't be around for ever with this poor showing.

Back to Hastings for me. Shame about my day out.
thescarymary - 27 Oct 2009 03:05
Update - it's open again.
Alex_Bradford - 5 Oct 2009 17:16
Currently closed for renovation.

Although, as the most recent comments below highlight, the decor wasn't the problem. It's target market is passing tourists, who won't be back a second time, so seemingly minimal effort is applied to every aspect of the pub, once the punters are inside.

Whether the Clarence is closed or open, the Old Shades is always a better bet, or even the Wetherspoons opposite.

But don't bother with the nearby Siver Cross, unless you're happy to wait 90 minutes for a cold, microwaved meal, that on closer inspection - you didn't order.
Alex_Bradford - 19 Sep 2009 09:51
I used to be a Clarence regular when I worked nearby in the 80's and loved it's sawdust floors, gas lighting and wooden beams. It was always very busy in those days with excellent ales and food and nowadays, we always call when in the area. We (two couples in our fifties) visited last Saturday week at around 9.00pm. It was raining heavily and the pub was very quiet, maybe 10 customers, no more. One of our party had been smoking as we approached the pub and he stood on the edge of the doorstep to finish his cig while the rest of us entered and ordered a round. The lady in charge got up from her seat in the bar and went outside to instruct this person to extinguish his cigarette immediately.
It took the extremely s-l-o-w barmaid at least 10 minutes to serve four drinks - 2 pints, 2 glasses of wine, while the aforementioned lady in charge played with till drawers and totally ignored us at the counter. At no stage did we encounter anything that could be called hospitality, even in its vaguest form. This resulted in us leaving after only one drink and finishing the night down the street in Shades, where unlike the Clarence, all beers were available and properly served with a smiles and efficiency.
Pubs like the Clarence who do not wish to compete with the likes of Witherspoons across the street on prices and variety of fare, have no chance of success if they do not even offer the simplest forms of hospitality and customer service. Who “trains” these people and who on God’s earth put them in charge of a pub without explaining to them that customers are not the enemy and should be afforded even the most cursory of welcomes. My advice; stay away until the management of this pub get a personality transplant.

danwaits - 4 Feb 2009 18:29
They should install a revolving door on this place as I was amused by the number of tourists that came in, backpacks bulging, took one look around at the lunchtime clientele, then turned about face and marched straight back out, no doubt destined for the nearby Maccy-D's.
Anyway, not much to add to other reviews, except it wasn't as tourist-laden as I expected (see above) and is just a regular, not-changed-much-in-50-years West London pub. Had two Kroneys (beers, not friends) from two different taps. The first was lovely, the second a bit whiffy.
The united nations of bar staff have been well trained in "In-selling" i.e.
-"Pint of Kronenbourg please"
-"Would you like to try our olives?"
-"No thanks"
-"Garlic Peanuts?"
-"Plain burger please"
-"With bacon and cheese?"
-"Just plain, cheers"
-"Egg...?...Extra chips.."
and so on
Just to add, the burger (30 day aged rump apparently) was a bit dry (perhaps I should have accepted that egg) and the chips lukewarm, but I wasn't in the mood to complain as I had further drinking to carry out..elsewhere!
glenn9ball - 16 Jan 2009 11:38
I did quite a bit of summer evening drinking here in the early 90 as a close relative was in the FCO at the time - the interior remains as splendid as ever but the ubiquitous tourists have taken hold.

Hopefully the pub remains as it was in the evenings but it is almost impossible to recommend it to the discerning daytime drinker.

These pubs are becoming beyond parody - barstaff with heavily accented English serving fish and chips and Greene King IPA to clientele with similarly heavily accented English.

All desperately seeking to capture the traditional English pub environment. Why bother?
murgatroyd - 29 Dec 2008 19:54
Spirit Group's ridiculous prices for food and drink are a real turn off - especially as the Shades a few doors away offers far better food and drink at far more reasonable prices. A recent tendency to run out of beer has been noted!
DickiedeVere - 19 Sep 2008 15:56
Terrible Pint of Pride with a terrible price. At least the service I had was friendly.
pezza132 - 22 Aug 2008 13:18
My aunt used to manage this pub in the 50s, so took my parents there recently to see how the place had changed over the last 50 years. It's nice inside, and a welcome retreat from the mayhem of Whitehall on a weekend, but the single barmaid serving was slow, monosyllablic and rude. After waiting 15 minuets while she leisurely served just 2 other customers: "Do you have tea?" "No. "Do you have coffee?" "No". Is this any way to treat customers?
Greshon - 14 Jul 2008 14:49
This is a pretty standard Central London pub, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.

The barmaid was very friendly and the selection of drinks available included Old Speckled Hen, Bombadier (which was very good), Adnams, Pride, Leffe, Hoegarden, Staropramen and a few bog standard lagers.

There are four small tables on the pavement outside the pub, but it obviously gets busy with pedestrians and vehicles being on Whitehall. Good for people watching though, if you are that way inclined.

The toilets were a disgrace with piss all over the floor interspersed with bog roll and green towel. Funnily enough the toilet door was propped open with a “CAUTION CLEANING IN PROGRESS” sign. One of the staff obviously has a sense of humour!

In my opinion, this is not a bad pub but there are better in the area.
Strongers - 23 Jun 2008 17:43
Had a great visit in here the other night. 4 ales on (2 quite obscure sounding ones).
Friendly staff and a nice,unthreatening cosy atmosphere.
bluetoad21 - 27 May 2008 11:37
OK nothing special wee pub its not to busy for the are but, if I was in the area I would maybe pop in again but there are so many nice ale houses in this area with a far better atmosphere.
dgriffin - 14 Apr 2008 15:58
the food is very disappointing, the drinks are not kept well and the quiz machine still owes me money.

one redeeming feature; the two fellas who seem to run the place are very accommodating and very friendly. pity that the fundamentals are so lacking.
istenem - 28 Jan 2008 15:49
Okak for a pint its cosy but certainly not a night ouy or session , nor would you eat in there.
SteveEast17 - 20 Dec 2007 22:31
I must admit that this place is slipping - quite often there are no real ales on although many are listed as "available soon". The food choice is poor (there now seems to be dozens of pubs with exactly the same menu) and the specials remain on the menu permanently - hardly special then. You can wait up to 40 mins for food. Not as good as it used to be.
DickiedeVere - 29 Oct 2007 11:58
I started coming in here to watch some of the early evening World Cup games after work last year and have found myself popping in here on the odd occasion ever since. I have always found it to be one of the more accommodating pubs in the area and there are 4 constantly changing Ales including the occasional unusual offering. The Deuchers that kept me and my entourage going for a few hours last night was as good a pint as I have come across and deserving of their Cask Marque accreditation. The knocked through interior is quite dim and there is a false Ye Olde Pubbe feel about the place with chunky fake wooden pillars and beams, lattice windows and old lanterns over the bar. I would like to think even the most gullible tourist would see through the pretence. Nevertheless, it has a pleasant atmosphere with friendly, efficient staff and tends not to get too overcrowded. For some reason the TV’s appear to have disappeared but there are the usual run of fruit and quiz machines to relive you of any change from the bar. The stairs to the Gents are a bit hazardous after a few pints and the toilets themselves leave a lot to be desired but I have generally had some decent evenings here. The pub that is, not the toilets.
RogerB - 24 Aug 2007 11:29
I like this place. It has a nice friendly atmosphere and is one of the more traditional pubs in the area. Good selection of ales with guest ones regularly. Good food as well. Lots of tourists in summer, but they tend to drift away as the evening goes on. Cash machine has proved useful as well on more than one occasion.
robfosters - 24 Mar 2007 18:52
Looks to have a good range of beer, but quite a few seem to be "available soon". Not bad for Whitehall, through.
rpadam - 29 Sep 2006 20:22
Awesome pub friendly staff and the manageress is brilliant. Went to there comedy night i nearly had to go to surgery to stitch my sides back up. Keep up the good work
Rockhopper - 16 Sep 2006 14:24
OK for a couple of pints but wouldn't want to spend an evening in here. Average beer, average atmosphere, average staff and average punters. Can only be an average 5/10 for this place.
johnkn7 - 17 Aug 2006 13:15
I went to this pub two days ago to use the table footballing facilities. However, it has no table football. It therefore does not fulfil its decription on this sight.
nolsie - 6 Jul 2006 11:45
Okay - it's in Whitehall, so you're going to meet Tourists. But hey, talk to them and enjoy it!! We met a Dutch guy who spent ages telling us about how he sees "dead people". Sixth Sense has nothing on the Clarence on a Wednesday night...

Bar guys are v nice - quite happily said they'd pay for the dry cleaning of Loose's top as the wall mounted candles dripped on it and said "it happens every day" - erm, remove the candles from the walls, perhaps?!

Good grub. Try the "speciality" sausages.
LooseVixens - 24 Jun 2006 23:06
Unadventurous selection of beer, and most of it was off when I visited.

Nothing to write home about.
AshingdonMan - 13 Feb 2006 22:16
Everything was average - look elsewhere for a pub to spend more than 15 minutes in !!
FattusBlokus - 5 Feb 2006 20:28
The problem with this pub is thus; It doesn't seem to know what market to cater for. Should it be the hordes of tourists, who want to sample the "delights" of a "traditional" English pub? Or the numerous Civil Servants who work in Whitehall? IMHO it (The Clarence) gets caught between the two and not offering anything for wither party to want to spend time in here.

On the odd ocacsion that I have been here it has been because it is the nearest pub to the office (no small feat considering how many pubs there are in Whitehall!). Beer is okay though.
Robbo73 - 21 Nov 2005 19:45
Excellent selection of (apparently homecooked) food until 9 p.m. and of real ales. Hey, and we managed to get a table on a Friday night. It empties out earlier than most pubs. Good 60s/70s music too.
Trev - 10 Oct 2005 10:56
Great location, big sized pub. Had some food, but the trouble in getting it wasnt worth the hassle as it was only so so.
anonymous - 29 Jun 2005 01:11
Shame - nice looking trad pub, reasonable beer (Youngs et al - freehouse?), decent family room upstairs. Just don't bother eating: surly staff with limited linguistic skills. Fish'n'Chips £6.95 luke warm, crusty mushy peas, tiny portion of french fries (hardly Great British fare) took 45 mins on fairly quiet Sunday afternoon. "Award winning" barely warm Sausage in inedible chewy roll returned - waited another 20 mins for replacement. Went to ask what was happening and found it lying on counter downstairs and was told it had just arrived! Best that can be said was that refund given without quibble. Wished we had gone to Lord Moon opposite, OK service + food for half the price.
tonytroy - 13 Feb 2005 18:04
Thoroughly enjoy every visit that I make here. Beer is great, food is ok, music is terrific and the babe behind the bar is mine!!
Graham - 10 Nov 2004 16:47
Location not exactly great, the pub looks OK, but doesn't work somehow - You can even sit outside and watch the annoying tourists/Chavs/Civil Servants(delete as appropriate) go by
TheGP - 13 Sep 2004 11:04
Apart from being close to a number of government departments and therefore ideal for Civil Servants, I would avoid this boozer, especially over a Friday/Saturday night. No atmosphere, no talent and a poor excuse for a 'big screen TV' in the corner. Music played here is fairly decent though and who wants to go drinking with (YAWN) Civil Servants anyway!!?
Mckenzie on En ger land tour - 26 Jul 2004 11:17
La Clarence - a fantastic pub, especially popular with the people who work in the building opposite,civil servants i think and they're a lovely bunch of people. i look forward to hearing their conversations every friday. i also like the way the staff never appear to recognise you, however many times you go in there. priceless.
redbear - 9 Jul 2004 15:36
London 11-04-2004 evening about 7pm
Horrible service very improfessional ass. manager loosing his nerv with customers. First impression- never recommend to anyone.Left this place very upset and offended. Waiting for meals aprox.30min, wrong portions given us by mistake. No apologies from the staff espec. person in charge which asked us to leave. Thanks never see U again
Simon - 11 Apr 2004 20:25
Worl local. Very nice inside. Best thing though, apart from the fine and indeed very cold beer. Is the Honey behind the bar. Always put's a smile on my face!!!
Rob - 1 Sep 2003 15:49
Most disappointing, despite extensive recent refurb. Seems unsure of whether it is a traditional English Pub [as imagined by tourists] or a hybrid American bar. Food very bland and meagre fillings to sandwiches & baguettes made from tastless US style bread.
Martin - 30 Aug 2003 22:49
Huge ham and cheese sandwiches but utterly without taste!
Michael J Merry - 15 Aug 2003 16:38
It's not as soulless as the wetherspoons but can't help feeling it's soul is a bit... off? Strange atmosphere, should be ok but isn't.

It's got a bit of a pro-tourist slant- perhaps that's what feels unreal about it.

Justine - 10 Jul 2003 14:17
Has re-opened after refurbishment - a few more tables for the lunchtime tourist crowd, and the bar looks better. Unfortunately they haven't touched the gents toilets (bad thing...) and have removed the jukebox (very bad thing)!
Pauly H - 23 Jun 2003 17:17
Glad someone out there agrees with me! Be warned - closing for a refurbishment on 28th April, although I don't think its giong to be anything too drastic...
Paul - 22 Apr 2003 08:48
The best pub this side of London. Friendly and Gorgeous Barmen and Barmaids. Great selection of Drinks. Jukebox, fruit and golf machines, TV.
Sasha - 11 Apr 2003 13:07
Oh, and one of the most attractive barmaids this side of chucking out time!!
Paul - 9 Sep 2002 14:39
Good old spit-and-sawdust stuff if you're fed up with the Wetherspoons over the road. Billiards table sadly replaced with table football, but there is a jukebox and a TV. Lunchtime tourists generally fade away by early evening.
Paul - 9 Jul 2002 15:45

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